Last year I was able to visit HCMC (Ho Chi Minh City formerly known as Saigon) Vietnam because of an Air Asia promo fare which we booked about a year ahead. (Yep budget flyers must plan waaaaayyy ahead!) I will be sprinkling the weeks ahead with posts on our trip to HCMC.
FLYING AIR ASIA
We love Air Asia because it allows us to travel with out budget. The good news for us is that interntional flights are now in the newer nicer Air Asia Terminal in Soekarno Hatta Jakarta Airpor. The bad news is that lately we’ve noticed a deterioration in cleanliness of the flights (i.e. floors and chairs littered with crumbs, chewed up bubble in the magazine pocket, sticky/oily in-flight menu and magazines. Good thing I am always armed with PocketBac and alcohol free wet wipes though so no sweat!
Tan Son Nhat International Airport
We arrived to a nice clean n modern airport. It was so cool not needing to fill up immigration and customs papers for Vietnam. All we needed to do was present our passport to immigration & have our bags X-rayed for customs. No forms. How efficient! (*NOTE: it was also the same for departure – no forms on the Vietnam side, we only filled out arrival n customs for entering Indonesia)
Tan Son Nhat International Airport (IATA: SGN, ICAO: VVTS), is the largest airport in Vietnam. It is located 4 mi (6 km) north of the center (District 1) of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). source
LA JOLIE HOTEL & SPA
We arranged for pick up from the hotel just to be sure. The driver was pleasant and polite. He gave us ice cold water which was welcome after the dehydration of flying. He didn’t speak much English though.
#DiploTips: Print out basic Vietnamese phrases when traveling to HCMC to help with basic communication with cab driers and hotel staff.
If you opt to take a cab, a Vietnamese friend advised us to look for Vinasun and Mai linh taxis (they are the HCMC version of Jakarta’s ubiquitous Blue Bird Taxi). But be careful and check the spelling on the cab, because there are a lot of fakes too!
The front desk wanted to hold our passports during our stay, but we refused because it’s not a good idea to leave our DiploPassports around. So we offered our credit card details instead. We got worried though when he started taking down credit card info that he shouldn’t have been so we made sure he erased it.
OUR HOTEL ROOM
Our “suite” was a great deal for 65usd/night. It’s a bit more modern n new than most of the cheap hotels I could find on Agoda.com. We took a risk and booked it, even if we couldn’t find reviews on Agoda or the net (at that time it was that new). The important thing for us is that it is clean and has free WIFI. We weren’t disappointed. The room is definitely smaller than the photos, but no matter!
The suite has a view of the river. it’s not so clear though because of the double panes – soundproofing because of the loud club somewhere nearby (we never figured out where it was!). If you are sensitive to noise bring ear plugs. I brought mine, but didn’t use it because I was so tired from all the wonderful walking that I would just pass out. Haha!
Basic toiletries are provided, however if you have sensitive skin/skin asthma/allergies you might have to bring/buy your own.
BY THE BEDSIDE
The makeup button is a bit tricky because it only works if you are in the room. But if you remove your card from the slot by the door, the room loses power and the Make-up room light up sign doesn’t work. =P I thought it was funny that they have a “Damage Price List” – I guess based on the other hotels by the same owners, they need it hehe! =P
DON’T LET THE BED BUGS BITE
Brought my own bed bug sprayed and used it. I’m allergic to bedbugs and dust. Because the room/building is new, as expected there was tons of leftover construction dust. TD didn’t notice any bedbugs though so if you aren’t sensitive, it’s nothing to worry about. The bed was lovely – beddings of good quality (relative to the price of our room) and the duvet was soft and plush. Perfect for cuddling and passing out after a long day of travel/walking!
In conclusion we were extremely happy with our hotel choice. Not just because of the cleanliness and newness of our room, but because of it’s location in District 1. It’s in the less stressful area near Dong Khoi. It is also close to the opera house, nice restaurants, and great shopping. If I went back to HCMC, I would definitely stay in the same hotel.
4D Thi Sach St, Dist 1, District 1 – Riverside, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam | map
We booked via Agoda and got such a great price