Enchanting Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon); 1 of 2 parts
Enchanting city is a fitting description for Ho Chi Minh. Named as Paris of the East, this is a place that's so rich in history and culture. It's not surprising then why foreigners are enticed to visit the place. Going around, you'll see distinct French influences through architectures, foods and other establishments. These are just some of the famous landmarks that you must see.
The streets are always bustling with motorbikes. Almost everyone knows how to ride on it since it's the usual and more affordable form of transportation. However, the toughest challenge to face in Vietnam is to cross the street amidst a crazy throng of this type of vehicle. Albeit dangerous, I'm amazed how one motor bike can fit in as many people as possible. It can even shuttle a whole family!
I stayed in Rex Hotel. It's a five star luxury hotel situated at the heart of the busy District 1. It's a nice hotel to stay. The ambiance and service are generally good. Although, the breakfast spread is a bit limited in terms of choices. Nonetheless, it's a fitting choice if location is of prime importance.
This is the view in the morning from the roof top of the hotel.
Hoa Mai Restaurant where breakfast is served.
In terms of shopping, there's so much more to grab in Ho Chi Minh. However, if you're eyeing for designer goods and high end labels, this is not the best place for that. They are way too expensive compared to other countries at least in Asia.
The only Louis Vuitton shop in the city, located in District 1.
Night markets, bazaars and outlet stores are your best bet for shopping here. Since Vietnam houses factories of some popular brands, you can find stuffs that are priced relatively cheaper. Here are my top picks for shopping in HCMC:
1. Saigon Square - it offers mostly clothes / apparels, shoes, bags, accesories etc. Bargaining here is a must.
2. Ben Thanh Market - a large market place for souvenirs, clothes, shoes, slippers etc. Bargaining is also a must.
3. Parkson - a relatively big department store that offers a wide array of goods. Retail prices are less expensive here compared to Vincom Center
4. Saigon Tax Trade Center (Thuong Xa Tax) - it might look already old for a shopping center but it has an interesting mix of merchandise. You can find good souvenir items at level 4.
5. Diamond Plaza - A typical shopping center
6. Vincom Center - A high end shopping center where the typical designer labels can be found.
7. Outlet Stores - Sports goods & apparels such as Adidas, Puma, Nike etc. I even saw a ZARA outlet but I forgot its exact location.
8. An Dong Shopping Center (beside Windsor Plaza Hotel) - it offers clothes, jewelries, purses etc. It reminds me of Platinum Mall in Bangkok but smaller in size.
With such a wide array of choices, it's inevitable not to fill your luggage with good finds in Ho Chi Minh City. It's certainly a place where value shopping is love!