In Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon as the local call it, my friend and I stayed in Pham Ngu Lao, the backpacker area of the city. There are plenty of hostels – always try to negotiate and see how it goes. We stayed at New York Thien Phuc Hotel. The hotel is ok, nothing fancy, price was 15 USD a night, so I expected stains on bed sheets, a bit of noise, and a shaky internet connection. I wasn’t disappointed.
After a long nap, we went out for our first visit of the city. We first grab some lunch at a restaurant near the park. After the lunch, we were going to Ben Thanh market walking in the park.
The park is between two huge boulevards; it’s a very relaxing walk. There you’ll see kids playing Jianzi, families walking with their children, older chilling and smoking, etc. Saigon, like any other city in Vietnam has a busy traffic, thus is quite noisy. See for yourself…
After 30 min walk, we found ourselves in the Ben Thanh market.
It’s not an exceptional market, especially if you have visited other markets in South East Asia. However, you will find anything and everything, from the very useful to the very useless. Regardless, if you’re looking for electronics, shoes, and artistic things it’s a good spot to buy in the city – make sure to negotiate. I bought some fancy American brands sneakers and headsets for an awesome price.
Nearby the market, there are plenty of restaurants with locals dish. We tried several of them; but, overall we were not amazed.
However, there are many restaurants around the Ben Thanh market, so obviously you may be luckier than us and find better food.
When returning to the hotel early in the evening, we walk back again through the park. On Friday evenings, the park turns itself into some nightclub…
More seriously, there are three huts with a different ambiance; one for rock n roll, one more pop music and the third for folklore music. Anybody is welcome to join and show his or her moves.
Reaching the hotel, we fall asleep. Next morning was a trip to Can Tho, to see the famous Cai Rang floating market.