Vietnam Part 3: Inside Ho Chi Minh City

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

I will admit we stuck to the touristy route this time but we were happy with it. We may not have a new thing to report, we’re okay with that nonetheless. So what should you do in HCMC?

Drink an abundance of coffee from street vendors and Trung Nguyen Coffee
If you go to Vietnam and NOT try their coffee then you should hit your head, seriously! Haha I only tried the Ca phe sa dua (strong iced coffee) and loved it, it’s like drinking Kopiko candy. Haha It’s coffee with a taste of chocolate which works for me. Try their famous coffee in a coffee house or just the side of the street – you’ll be happeeeee. We were so happy, we brought some home! (More on that in my pasalubong post!)

From Green Leaf Café

From Ben Thanh Market

From Trung Nguyen Coffee

Breakfast at Green Leaf Café, Bong Sen Hotel

We opted to do the out of city tours first so that we’d have breathing time to explore the city on our own. After 2 days of Vietnamese road side food, which was okay don’t get me wrong, we “leveled up” and started our day leisurely here.

Danix’ pick, Tom Yum Soup.

My pick, continental breakfast plate at 170,000 VND was worth every dong.

It has the modern feel of Makati without the pollution or toxicity.

The French Quarters
The French’s influence in Vietnam is evident to this date and is one of the attractions to the country. District 1 has 4 of the most popular tourist spots in HCMC: the Opera House, Post Office, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Town Hall. I don’t know why but we weren’t able to go to the Town Hall. Haha
The 3 that we did go to are walk able and in the same area as Green Leaf Café. We made our way up by starting with the Opera House. How I wish our architectural gems are as preserved as these. I didn’t have time to watch anything inside the Opera House but would love to do so when I go back.

I was expecting the Post Office to be bigger for some odd reason. We ducked in here in time to get away from the sizzling heat and saw a lot of fellow tourists.

How can you NOT write a post card and use the services of a beautiful Post Office like this?

The Post Office is a good place to take a breather, stop and chillax. We let ourselves just sit back, relax and observe the happenings inside. One postcard inside the starts at 4,000 VND.
Upon seeing him, Danix and I immediately thought of romantic storyline for him! It just looked poetic, an old man using an old means. So our plot for this scene: His wife passed away years ago and he found out recently that his first love is a widower as well. He’s writing to his first love, the one that got away. This is how their 2nd love story starts.
This was taken by Danix on our way to the Post Office wanting to hide from the sun.
Unfortunately after when we went back outside, the sky was gloomy and the lighting was off. Sadly, I was uninspired to shoot the legendary Notre Dame Cathedral.

I suggest going to this area during the day and at night because they invoke a different feel. District 1 felt oddly familiar; there are parts that look like a smaller scale version of Makati and some parts of Singapore.

Water Puppet Show
If you enjoyed Bangkok’s Siam Niramit, you will appreciate the Water Puppet Show of Vietnam. Again, it’s another Vietnamese thing that is so simple yet impressive. Working in production sometimes ruins things for you because you tend to think of the process behind the beauty you are seeing. I had that problem initially but let it go; it was remarkable how the whole show worked.The show had different sections telling different stories, we didn’t understand the language but we understood the storyline perfectly through the music and the puppets. It’s not as grand as Siam Niramit but the 80,000 VND you spent will still make you smile afterward.
The talented men and women behind the puppets.

I wish we had a Philippine counterpart. The closest I could think of is the Anino Puppet Show which we featured on one of the shows I worked on. The concept of the Water Puppet Show and Siam Niramit is pretty much the same – music and amazing visual to tell a story. They didn’t even use a single drop of English in the Vietnamese and Thai shows. I would rally for something like this in our country.

One thing I would want them to improve on is their seating; it wasn’t fun to take photos of the show with heads of other attendees. Haha

Fanny Ice Cream
All of my friends know about my love affair with ice cream, heck I’ve proclaimed it here in my blog in the past. For fellow ice cream lovers, Fanny’s is a non-negotiable stop in Vietnam. We already had dinner at the Ben Thanh Market and vowed to leave ample space for dessert. They have so many creations it was overwhelming to pick just one.
We originally wanted just 1 concoction but loved it so much we had get one more even though we were filling up already. So our compromise, to get a light second dish - raspberry sherbet.

Whispers, they have an ice cream buffet every FIRST Friday of the Month! We arrived at the Thon Tiep branch and were greeted by a long line and the hostess telling us about the ice cream buffet. We also cried, seriously! We were too full to have that much ice cream, it was our last day in HCMC and Fanny was one of the things we were looking forward to. After pleading and sharing our story, the hostess informs us of another branch that doesn’t have the promo. Yay! We hit the Vincom Center back in District 1.
Quan An NgonThis is where I had the best meal in Vietnam! As in! My photos don’t do the food and place justice cos we were severely hungry already so I grabbed some from friends Kim and Mj. Haha Don’t take our word for it, GO THERE. I wish I ate here more than once but we also wanted to try other places. Boo. Not only is the food glorious, it’s NOT 5 star-hotel expensive.
The Lotus Salad, first time I heard about it and tasted. 2 thumbs up.

Danix loves pho.

The beef on skewers served with the Vietnamese combination of lime + salt & pepper that again, I fell in love with! Saaaraaaap! (Yuuuuumy)

Photos from Kim and Mj (from Top to Bottom): Quan An Ngon during the day; my fellow kaladkarins enjoying their lunch; Fried Spring Rolls; Prawns in Tamarind Sauce; Special Fried Rice

Quan An Ngon is like an institution in Ho Chi Minh enjoyed by locals, expats and tourists. Mark my words; you’ll want to go back for more. Food is exceptional, service is ok and ambiance is ok as well.

Greenleaf Café, Bong Sen Hotel
123 Dong Knoi Street, Ho Chi Minh City

Opera House
Intersection of Le Loi and Dong Khoi Sts, Lam Son Square, District 1 Ho Chi Minh City

Notre Dame Cathedral
Duong Nguyen Du, District 1 Ho Chi Minh City

Post Office
Top of Dong Khoi St opposite Notre Dame Cathedral Ho Chi Minh City

Water Puppet Show
55 Nguyen Thi Minh Kai, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

Fanny Ice Cream
Check their website for all their branches and establishments that carry their products.

Quan An Ngon
160 Pasteur St., District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

Additional Photos from:


Kim and Mj

Fanny Ice Cream Website

The rest of my Vietnam posts are here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 4 and Part 5. Looking for a place to stay in HCMC? Check out this link

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