Ho Chi Minh 2019 Day 9 – Home Sweet Home

On the first day of 2020, I woke up disappointed to find the sun already up so early in the morning. Nonetheless I took a few photos of the late sunrise and then forced myself to get changed and go for a run.

Sunrise from the room

Had googled a running route and as encouraging as I saw that there was one safe enough to run ( didn’t want to get knocked down by the motorcycles or breath in the exhaust from them), I was unable to do so smoothly. Once I exited the hotel and crossed the road to the riverside promenade, I headed in the north side direction in the hope of reaching a park. But after running some 600m, the route ended and to continue I had to cross the road and run in the street which I thought was a bad idea. Made a complete U turn and ran south which was not too bad as there was a nice pathway all the way for 2km. The pathway was littered though due to yesterday’s night countdown and there were a few people lying on benches but nothing unusual.

Rubbish strewn on the street


Ship restaurant


Bitexco Financial Tower that reminded me of Stark Towers


Running along the river view

Completed my run with some stops along the way for photos and returned to the hotel. Went to the club house to get some bottled water before a visit to the swimming pool which was at the roof top together with the sky bar and spa.

The swimming pool was rather small but the surrounding sitting area provided a paranomic view of the surrounding. Took in the view and the fresh air and panoramic photos before returning to the room.

Sky bar and pool


Rooftop pool


Panoramic view from the pool


Gym near the pool

Had my bath and went back to bed since both mommy and K was still sleeping. Mommy was awoke soon and we were concerned that the breakfast time was going to be over so I went down first (we had the option of going to the clubhouse for breakfast but knowing that the area was much smaller, we would rather go to the main restaurant which would have more variety). The staff was excellent and they had no issues for me taking out food so that I can bring it back to the room. However I was given quite a small packaging so I couldn’t back take a lot of food, which made me decide to just pack those that K liked and later have my breakfast in the restaurant itself.

Packed breakfast


Buffet line


My plate


Egg benedict


Restaurant with excellent food and service

Went back to the room to tell mommy the plan and I returned quickly to the restaurant. They gave me a seat and acknowledged that mommy would be coming later. Then I ordered an egg Benedict which would be delivered to my table, went around to get samples of the buffet and gobbled down quickly. Though I missed the enjoyment of tasting the food, at least it filled my stomach and honestly, I thought the quality was pretty good. Returned to the room with my bottle of tomato juice and mommy went down for her breakfast.

It wasn’t long that K also woke up and then he would have his breakfast in bed while I fed him, talked about enjoying breakfast in bed! After that, I called to request for late check out and was given 1pm and we spent the rest of the morning packing and enjoying the last bit of TV and comforts of the room before bringing down all our luggage to the left luggage.

Room view of the right in the day


Left view

We returned to the Vincom center again as we saw some brands of clothes that were having a sale the night before and wanted to see if we could get anything. We visited the Old Navy store and got something as well as from OVS store. Left at 215pm and ended up at a Trung Nguyen Legend Cafe, one famous coffee brand of Vietnam and bought some 3-in-1 coffee for home and drank their Legend coffee in the cafe, which was going at 170k per glass. The coffee was indeed very good, and so was the air conditioning that we enjoyed as we escaped the midday heat outside!

Church seen along the way


Inside Trung Nguyen Legend Cafe


The Legend is drip coffee of course!
This is where you can find Trung Nguyen Legend Cafe.
The Map thanks to Wanderlog, a road trip planner on iOS and Android

We returned back to the hotel to retrieve our luggage and booked a Grabcar to the airport for 137k+10k (not sure what the 10k was for) which arrived very quickly. The journey to the airport was so much faster than the time we took from the airport to the hotel as they weren’t any jams during that time. We arrived with plenty of time to check in for our flight at 555pm.

Ho Chi Minh City Airport


Inside the airport

Went through immigrations which took a short while to clear and proceeded to go to Big Bowl for our last Vietnamese meal (about USD14 for fresh spring roll and big bowl of pho) before returning back to Singapore and a ice cream sundae from BK just next to it (as K was asking for ice cream).

Big Bowl Vietnamese fast food


Pho and spring rolls

Window shopped around for a bit, used the toilet and then waited at the gate before the call to board.

We were on the Scoot flight back to Singapore and the plane was late coming into Vietnam. Once onboard there weren’t much biggies. Our pre-ordered food arrived and we swapped to suit to K’s taste. The food package was simple and tasted ok, not fantastic. Then later K spent the rest of the journey on the iPad. We landed 10mins delayed into Changi, a big part was due to the initial delay.

Scoot meal


Sunset view arriving into Singapore

This year end trip planned for NYE celebration overseas in Vietnam was pretty enjoyable, largely because we had most of the land tour and private transfer being arranged by a tour agency (Went with Sparrow Travels, the same team that arranged for our Hanoi trip) for a hassle free journey. The weather was pretty decent most days and the costs were not very expensive. Because of the guides, for the visits especially to the old towns and ruins, we had learnt quite a bit on their history and culture which we would never have if we had gone by ourselves. But because the tours were private, we had more flexibility on timing and not under time pressure to push on, which would be a problem given K would have a hard time keeping up or I would need to carry him around more often then as it is.

Ho Chi Minh City 2019 Day 8 – Bai Dai Beach and transfer to Ho Chi Minh NYE 2020

Day 8 was supposed to be our last day in Phu Quoc before our onward journey to the last destination of the trip, Ho Chi Minh City! It was the also the last day of 2019 and we thought that HCMC should be the best place to countdown.

We woke up with enough time for breakfast and this time, there wasn’t a queue and our faces were registered pretty quickly. We tried to get a seat and this time we were closer to the buffet table. But the egg station is still serving invisible hard boiled egg. I managed to get my omelette though.


After breakfast, we were on our way back to the room and met a balloon artist in a clown costume. K asked for a red sword which he made promptly but he’s had the capability to come out with more intricate designs like a 2 coloured water gun that he made for another kid. While waiting, I asked for an extension of check out to 130pm which was also when the shuttle was arranged for us to the airport.

Clown making shape balloons

We spent some time in the room getting ready and playing with K’s toys for a bit before K and I went to the beach leaving mommy in the room. It was quite a distance from our tower and K was already complaining about walking so long and wanting me to carry him. We got our towels from the pool counter and walked along the pathway that separated the Vinoasis resort and the Radisson Blu.

The beach was pretty crowded with all the seats under the shelter taken. So I just found myself a tree and placed our bags and towels there before getting onto the super soft but hot sand of Bai Dai beach! The beach was quite wide and a distance to the decently calm waters where K could enjoy the wave crashing into him. We busied ourselves with playing sand, myself trying to build a sandcastle and K just scooping and dumping sand inside the water, simple joys. The clouds were helpful in shielding off the hot sun most of the time and it was great fun. But when the sun came out, we could see through the clear water and sometimes caught sight of a few tiny fishes.

Panoramic view of Bai Dai beach

Lots of loungers on white stretch of sand

Calm waters suitable for swimming

Can you spot the fish?

A nice day to beach

We returned to the room close to 1230pm and quickly ate some food for lunch that mommy had ordered for room service. Then we hurried to check out at 130pm. Check out was no fuss but waiting for the shuttle was a blur, but I’m kinda used to the chaos and the relaxed pace already. We were told to just stand around and wait and when the big bus came, we figured that’s the bus and asked again before we loaded up the bus.

Room service

Once onboard we slept all the way to the airport arriving at 230pm. We unloaded the luggage and proceeded to check in at Jetstar pacific for 405pm flight to HCMC. Went through to the departure area and went window shopping for a bit at the multiple stalls selling different products. Saw a few Kipling bags that looked very suspicious. Then we proceeded to have our small lunch at Star Cafe, having just a sandwich and 2 coffees for 193k.

Phu Quoc domestic airport

At the departure terminal

Star Cafe for lunch (inside)

A short wait at the gate before we boarded the small plane and it was just a short hour trip before we arrived into HCMC for the final leg of the trip.

View landing into Ho Chi Minh City

Upon arrival, we picked up the luggage and was stopped for the random luggage checks (we sort of have this thing of getting stopped at these checks). After exit, we booked a Grabcar to our hotel for 88k ( no one picked up my request but mommy got a match quickly) and it took almost an hour to reach our hotel, the Renaissance Riverside Hotel Saigon, after negotiating the heavy traffic to district 1, made worse by the fact that it was New Year’s eve and revellers were all heading to popular pedestrian street of Nguyen Hue in district 1 for the countdown.

Ho Chi Minh City Airport

Pillar A-11 was one of the pick up place for Grab

We paid 100k for the ride and the bell took over our luggage. The check in was smooth and quick and we were happy that we were given the 2nd highest floor which would boost a good view of the river and the New Year fireworks! I had to confirm a couple of times to ensure that our room had also the view of the fireworks and was assured so. Thankfully the room was booked really early with a bet that the fireworks would be at the river and it paid off! In terms of costs, I didn’t think there was anywhere else that cost less for a room with a window view of the fireworks so it was definitely a good value!

The room had a really good view of the river and we were really glad! Because the room also came with club benefits, we proceeded to the 18th level to get some food.

Room view



Left view from our window

Looking straight

Right view

When we arrived, we were shocked to find it extremely crowded, and I supposed it’s because of the view, which fortunately for us, we have the same view in our room. We initially wanted to go back to the room to consume our takeaways from the club and the staff actually agreed and even suggested to help us bring the food there (very impressive service)! However, one couple left and let us have the table and so we stayed.

There was quite a bit of variety but because we were not there early, the cakes were not being replenished so we took the leftovers. This was probably why the food didn’t taste fantastic.

Looking down from the corridor

At the clubhouse

Food from the clubhouse

The window seat had a good river view

We left the hotel to walk the streets and enjoy the festivities that’s going on. A walk thru the Nguyen Hue walking street, we saw the concert stage with the lights flashing and music booming. We walked away from the stage towards government building (People’s committee of Ho Chi Minh) at the other end and saw many people making their way or just sitting around waiting for the countdown to happen. The atmosphere was electric!

Crowded walking street

Large LED screen for the countdown

Concert stage all the way to the front

Many people there already

Beautiful lighted display

Beautiful lotus fountain seen along the way

Street with lotsa lights!

We made our way to Vincom center and entered that building with so many floors of shopping. We wanted to go to Funnyland check out if there were more affordable toys and using their free wifi, we could find these stores on the B2 with other similar children related stores. There weren’t any differences with what we saw in Da Nang and so we didn’t get anything. There was also a big Lock N Lock store here as well.

Vincom center mall

Another mall, Parkson mall just beside

Kid’s store level

Went down one level to B3 and settled for some Japanese Ramen at Hachiban Ramen for dinner, as K was missing his ramen fix. Spent about 160k for a bowl of ramen, fried rice and apple juice. We ate till the mall was closed and had to climb up the escalators to the main entrance to exit the building.

Inside Hachiban Ramen

Fried Rice


Returned back the same way we came and this time, the walking street was getting more crowded than earlier on. We had to exit one of the street to a parallel street to continue, if not we would have been stuck in the crowd.

Back in the hotel, we spent the time on some play time and bath (unlike the previous rooms, this bath tub was a little small). And then it was time for the countdown.

Turned off the lights in the room to reduce the reflection from the windows and then we were treated to not one but 2 views of fireworks going off at 2 different places! The entire duration of the fireworks was about 15mins and we enjoyed the view in the comfort of our room. The street below us was full of people and we were glad we weren’t there!

Left view fireworks

Right view fireworks

Massive jam on the streets

After that it was lights out for the night, our first morning of 2020 in HCMC.

Escape Plan to Vietnam December 2019

A brief summary on the itinerary

Escape Plan to Vietnam:

Total duration 9D8N
Singapore is 1hr ahead of Da Nang.
Flight time is 17hrs 15mins on Singapore Airlines from Singapore to Newark Airport, New York. Return flight is 2hrs 10mins on Scoot from Ho Chi Minh to Singapore.

Evening flight on 24th Dec at 650pm and arrival in Da Nang in the Night at 835pm. Return flight from Ho Chi Minh on the 1st Jan at 555pm and arrival in Singapore at 905pm.

Day 1 Arrival into Da Nang and transfer to Hoi An
Day 2 Hoi An Old Town tour and My Son tour
Day 3 Hoi An free and easy
Day 4 Day trip to Hue
Day 5 Ba Na Hills and Dragon Bridge
Day 6 My Khe Beach and transfer to Phu Quoc
Day 7 Vinpearl Land and Waterpark
Day 8 Bai Dai Beach and transfer to Ho Chi Minh NYE 2020
Day 9 Home Sweet Home

This escape plan was to getaway to somewhere close and not too expensive while at the same time, see how people are doing Xmas and New Year’s Eve.

Budget nature: Inexpensive except when in the resort

Costs of living was pretty low in Vietnam and thus we found that things were relatively inexpensive. We catered SGD$800 but wouldn’t have overspend if we didn’t buy stuff along the way. It could also be that we had paid upfront for private tours and transfers and even so, it was still affordable.

Complexity: Easy

It was easy since most of the transportation was taken care by our private transfers and tour. Phu Quoc transfer was taken care by the resort while Grab app worked pretty well in both Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh.

Escape Plan to Cambodia and Vietnam January 2008

A brief summary on the itinerary

Escape Plan to Cambodia and Vietnam January 2008:

Total duration 11D10N
Siem Reap and HCMC is 1hr behind Singapore.
Flight time is 2hrs 5mins on Jetstar from Singapore to Siem Reap. Return flight is 2hrs 20mins on Jetstar from Siem Reap to Singapore.

Morning flight on 24th Jan at 6am and arrival in Phnom Penh in the same morning at 705am. Return flight from Siem Reap on the 2nd Feb at 750pm and arrival in Singapore at 1110pm.

Day 1 Arrival into Siem Reap, Angkor Wat, Bayon, Ta Prohm, Prasat Kravan, Pre Rup
Day 2 Kbal Spean, Banteay Srei, Srah Srang, Preah Khan, Phnom Bakheng and old town
Day 3 Neak Pean, East Mebon, Bakong, Tonle Sap Lake and Floating Village
Day 4 Bus to Phnom Penh, Phnom Penh Palace and Phnom Penh visit
Day 5 Bus to Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh city tour
Day 6 Mekong Delta River cruise and village tour
Day 7 Cu Chi tunnel tour 
Day 8 Bus back to Phnom Penh, Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide 
Day 9 The Killing Fields and mine museum
Day 10 Bus back to Siem Reap, Beng Mealea, Tonle Sap river and mangrove tour
Day 11 Home Sweet Home

This escape plan was planned as a trip to celebrate our anniversary and a visit to a Angkor Wat, a re-owned monument in Cambodia, and also then taking a chance to visit Phnom Penh and also a first visit to Vietnam.

Budget nature: Cheap

Costs were generally affordable due to the lower standard of living, stronger currency and choices of transportation (mostly by Tuk Tuk around Siem Reap, Buses for interstate travel) and accommodation (hostels)

Complexity: Not too difficult

We got around Siem Reap in a tuk tuk and booked the same driver to take us everywhere, even to far away temples. The interstate buses and border crossing is a little more trickier but not too difficult too as we just followed the instructions on the bus operators. Walked mostly in Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh and took tours or taxis to out of reach attractions.