Travel Thursdays: Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon), Vietnam

by Karisa

Towards the end of July, bestie Leigh and I embarked on a flirty 10 day trip through Vietnam.  We booked our flights through which offered the best options by far.   We flew with Emirates Airlines via Dubai arriving in Ho Chi Minh in the South of Vietnam and then on the way back we departed from Hanoi in the North and flew back via Bangkok and Dubai (for some reason we couldn’t avoid the extra Bangkok stop on the way back, not sure why).

The total cost for our international flights was R13094.  There was an option via Kenya Air that worked out to about R2000 cheaper, but we figured it wasn’t worth the risk of flying with an airline we’d both never used before.  Here’s what the breakdown of our flights & stops looked like:

Cape Town to Ho Chi Minh Son Nhut
Departure date: Fri, 22 Jul 2016, 20:05
Arrival date: Sat, 23 Jul 2016, 07:30
Departure date: Sat, 23 Jul 2016, 09:30
Arrival date: Sat, 23 Jul 2016, 20:00

Hanoi to Cape Town
Departure date: Tue, 02 Aug 2016, 16:15
Arrival date: Tue, 02 Aug 2016, 18:05
Departure date: Tue, 02 Aug 2016, 21:25
Arrival date: Wed, 03 Aug 2016, 00:50
Departure date: Wed, 03 Aug 2016, 03:50
Arrival date: Wed, 03 Aug 2016, 11:35

We probably also could’ve saved by arriving & departing from the same city, but we figured the cost of an internal flight to get back to our starting point would level it all out and we didn’t have that much time to play with already, so it saved us not having to do so.

Our 10 nights in Vietnam looked as follows:

  • One night in Ho Chi Minh (one of their bigger cities)
  • 3 nights in Phu Quoc (a remote little island off the coast of Vietnam)
  • 3 nights in Hoi An (known as their “foodie” city)
  • 3 nights in Hanoi (their capital city – and while there we also did a day trip to Halong Bay)

Ho Chi Minh City (commonly known as Saigon) is actually known for the key role it played in the Vietnam War, but we loved how green, clean and modern it was.  The city also has a really nice energy, for example you’ll see lots of people (including kids and teens) still roaming the streets around 11pm on a Saturday eve.

Our hotel was the Saga Hotel (Khách Sạn Saga) which we booked through  It wasn’t the sexiest hotel (in fact our room didn’t even have a window… haha), but we were only there for one night and were just looking for something central & easy.

They did at least have free wifi, friendly staff, a well-priced airport transfer and a cute rooftop brekkie area (with breakfast included in your stay)…

OK so yeah, breakfast was a bit of a mixed bag… but let’s rather not focus on that part…

The best feature by far was that it was dirt cheap!  The room cost for the night came to just only R438. * happy dance *

With that little price win, we decided to kick off our exploration with a string of potent cocktails in a nearby bar which we later figured out offered sexy ladies who acted kinda like “fluffers” by flirting & hanging out with guys who wouldn’t normally stand a chance.  It was a little weird at first, but hey – they made a mean margarita… so who are we to judge 😉


The next day we had a few hours to kill before we had to catch our flight to Phu Quoc, so we decided to walk around the city and also check out the Bến Thành Market.

As I mentioned above, the city is very green – much greener than you’d expect it to be… just check it out:

Pretty hey?  There is of course also lots and lots of scooters everywhere… This is Asia after all.

The other thing that was really cool was that you’d find a rundown shack-style building right next door to a fancy-pants shop like so:

But overall the city just has tons of character, which to me made it a very cool place to explore…

The market was bustling.  You can buy everything from knockoff bags & shoes, to fresh produce and seafood. It’s quite an odd mix under one roof, but it’s definitely interesting to see.

I don’t know what any of these strange things are… and I’m too scared to Google it…

Coffee’s a big thing in Vietnam. You’ll see stands like these everywhere. The big ticket item is what they call Weasel Coffee (or Kopi Luwak) which is coffee that includes part-digested coffee cherries eaten and defecated by the Asian palm civet. This used to be a highly sought after coffee for which people paid ridiculous prices, but then all kinds of fakes entered the market along with reports that civets were being kept in tiny cages, etc. So today it doesn’t seem to be such a big thing anymore. The ones you’ll find at these kinds of stands are definitely fake, but I was actually much happier with the idea of fake poop than real poop in my coffee anyways… 😉

Another important thing to mention:  It’s very hot & very humid there…  Not even the most intense long wear, waterproof mascara stands a chance.  My advice would be to find a little chill zone as much as possible:

Ah yesssssss…

Another must is trying out some weird & wonderful local “refreshment” options. This unfortunately was a big NO on the awesome finds front:

The “Bird’s Nest” part should’ve given it away I guess…

But this on the other hand was rather tasty:

Fishy breath soon becomes a thing in Vietnam… they love their seafood flavoured everything…

Next week: It’s all about Phu Quoc island baby! So do keep an eye out for that…



Boring Cape Town Chick Sep 15, 2016 - 10:01 am

Great pics, lovely to read 🙂 xx

Karisa Sep 15, 2016 - 12:35 pm

Hey lady! Thanks so much. Would love to be back there right now 😉

I visited Vietnam with my bestie and it was awesome | Lipglossgirl Travels Aug 24, 2017 - 10:16 am

[…] are the links for you to love – Ho Chi Minh (Saigon), Phu Quoc, Hoi An and […]


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