Over the Easter holidays, M and I took a lightning tour to Ho Cho Minh City, Phnom Pehn, and Siem Reap; all in the course of 4 days and 3 nights. Why did we do such a crazy tour? Because we are awesome and we were using some frequent flyer miles and almost all other routes were booked full except this one.
We arrived at HCMC (Saigon) at 1030am, and passed through customs in under 20 mins as M Swedish passport allowed him to travel visa free and I had gotten my visa in HK. We proceeded to catch the local bus at the domestic terminal instead of taking a taxi like everyone else. Without any difficulty we found our hostel in District 1 and proceeded to hop on another bus to find the infamous Lunch Lady.
The Lunch Lady was made famous by the chef Anthony Boudain during his travel show and with the thought of lunchtime ending soon, we rushed to find her. With the help of our bus driver, we found the stall and
proceeded to feast on spring rolls, rice rolls and her daily noodle special. There was only one other foreigner there and he said that the Lunch Lady meal was different depending on the day amd each bowl of noodles cost 40,000 dong. With us feasting on all the other dishes, our meal came to 150,000 dong. ( Vietnamese currency has too many zeroes).
Afterwards we checked out the Cathedral, old train station and market. The market was nothing special, just selling knick knacks for tourists. After a while inside the hot market we opted to find some yummy ice coffee at the many coffee shops around town instead.
We found a delicious ice coffee place on a side alley for only 15,000 dong. Considering the coffee stores price was 88,000 dong, this was a bargain. I have had many Vietnamese coffees before in Canada but this was much better as they put chocolate into the very strong iced coffee.
At dinner time it was time to try my first `real` pho. We found a small local restaurant and had delicious pho. I am not sure if it tasted any different than Pho Japalo in N. Vancouver, but they sure give you a lot more basil leaves and a lot less beansprouts.
After some Saigon beer and a walk around the night market we went back to the hostel to sleep. (We had woken up at 5am).
The next day we spent some time walking along the Mekong river, bought ourselves some Bahn Mi sandwiches and got on the bus for a 6 hour ride to Phnom Pehn.
I enjoyed Saigon, there was not a whole lot to do there but I would definitely go back for the food and coffee.