vietnam favorites part 1 – HCMC
Here is part one of the long-promised tips for my friends who are traveling to VN to get their babies later this week…
[candles at Notre Dame]
‘Ho Chi Minh City Tour’ –We did sign up for a city tour through the Duxton entertainment desk (different from the concierge). The name of the tour company was Hoi An Express. It was $36 per person + tip and was well worth it. We typically avoid tours, but this was a great way to hit a lot of sites without having to do much thinking. (This was towards the beginning of our stay in HCMC and we had only had the babies for a few days…) We went to the General Post Office, Notre Dame Cathedral, Reunification Palace, a Chinese Temple, the War Remnants Museum and a few other places.
[Darren and sleepy P at the zoo]
Saigon Zoo –The zoo is a great way to get out of your hotel room with your new baby, but still be very low-stress. Piper fell asleep right after we got there and we ended up riding the zoo train 3 or 4 times because it was the coolest place there was. It was boiling hot and humid, but it felt good to get out and see the gardens. It was pretty cheap, and I am sure that older kids would love to see the animals and ride the carnival rides. You can walk to this from the Duxton, but if it’s hot, I would take a cab for sure.
Underground – (69 Dong Khoi Street, District 1) Yup, an English pub was Darren’s favorite place to eat in HCMC. Marginal ‘American’ pub food and beer tasted really good by this part of the trip. You will also get a good chuckle from the waitresses outfits.
Pho 24 –This is like the fast-food of Pho and is pretty good and very cheap. They are all over the city, but the closest one to the Duxton is 1/2 block away. Go out of the hotel and head left towards the Tax Center. It will be down a little way on your left.
[an amazing feast by the Saigon River]
[I liked this picture until I just now noticed that I don’t think that guy is wearing any pants]
[up-close of man sans pants!]
Saigon River Center –No one in our group ever figured out what this place was really called, but it was beautiful. It was a beautiful outdoor restaurant and events center on the river. We were told that a lot of weddings take place there, and we actually saw a few brides and grooms getting photos taken while we were there. Our facilitator and his wife took us and treated us to an amazing feast. Delicious food just kept coming and coming… For those of you traveling soon, you could ask Quoc and I am sure he could figure out where it was. It was quite a bit out of town, and the bus ride seemed to take 45 minutes or so.
Italian – We ate at a really good Italian restaurant several times that was recommended by Kelly. (Darren thanks Justin for the suggestion!!!) It was just across the street and to the left from the Duxton. You can ask the front desk to call ahead and make reservations for you so that you won’t have to wait.
Shopping: (the part Kristin has been waiting for – Sorry Brett!!!!)
The Tax Center –This is located just a few blocks from the Duxton. Exit the hotel and turn left. It is down 3 or 4 blocks on your left. It is full of good shopping and has a grocery store on the upper level. We had a hard time finding the right formula there so we ended up asking Quoc to get some for us somewhere else, but they seem to have just about everything else that you would need. There is also a Highlands Coffee there that made Darren very very happy.
Ben Thanh Market –This is about 10 blocks from the Duxton, but I would recommend that you take a taxi. It is a huge open air covered market where you can find anything. The day we went it was SO HOT and humid that we thought we were going to die inside so we bought fans and were a little anxious to get out of there. I suggest that you go to this market either in the morning or late in the afternoon/early evening when it is cooler. Remember to barter, barter and barter some more. Walk away if you have to. They will come running after you!
Side-note: I know there are several other markets around town that are more ‘local’ markets and sound great in theory because of the experience. It was suggested to us that we NOT go to these markets with our babies because there is a higher instance of diseases and other local bugs that our babies may have never been exposed to and won’t have the immune systems to protect against. I don’t know how true this is, but we didn’t test it.
(ok – the good stuff now – drum roll pleeeeezeeee…)
Nkids –Fabulous dress shop where I went crazy! There are 2 locations. The first is on the East side of Le Loi near the tax center. (44 Le Loi Avenue, Dist. 1) If you are walking down Nguyen Hue towards the tax center from the Duxton, go to the end of the Tax Center at the intersection of Nguyen Hue and Le Loi. Cross the street to the far side of Le Loi and go left. The store is a little bit down on the right. It is NOT clearly marked Nkids (it says Nihn Khuong) so you have to really look for it. Trust me, when you see it you will know you are there. The second location (189 Le Thanh Ton Street near Dong Khoi) we saw is also close to the Duxton. It is a few doors down from…
D & H Hand Embroidery – (89 Dong Khoi Street) I went a little crazy here too. Great linens and more children’s clothes!
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