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.

Phu Quoc 2019 Day 7 – Vinpearl Land and Waterpark

Woke up late since it was a day of fun at the water park which we got unlimited entry because of our stay at the the resort. But the slow pace of life continued from the day before.

There were 2 restaurants for breakfast and we were directed to the second one, not sure why. After reaching the start of the queue, we were supposed to scan our faces for entry but nothing was detected. Of course, as it wasn’t set up because during the night before, we were supposed to do it and now we realized why we were told to go to the concierge after check in (and we realized that was what was mumbled to us about). Anyhow they took our room numbers and we went in.

The area was in a mess, like a food war zone with many tables either taken or not cleaned up. One of the staff directed us to one table and she herself starting to clean up the table. The restaurant seemed severely understaffed. We settle K down and started to go to the buffet line.

Like many buffets before, this one had quite a variety and like many Vietnamese ones, there were options with pretty heavy, meaty stuff and rice. What was interesting here was that there was a kids station where the tables are shorter in height, designed for kids to go pick up their own food. It was an interesting concept, only thing that it was not that workable since I didn’t see any kids doing that.

However the pace at which the clean plates and bowls were being replenished was slow. I had to wait a while to get bowls so as to get K some yoghurt. And the hard boiled eggs tray had invisible eggs cos I never saw them. I couldn’t get omelette from the egg station and didn’t know the reason cos I couldn’t understand what the staff said, so I settled for scrambled eggs. K was disappointed without hard boiled eggs and didn’t like the scrambled ones.

Plate full of food for breakfast
Buffet line

Returned to the room to get dressed and brought along the water gun we bought in Da Nang and his safety vest and then we proceeded to the reception to get our photos taken and tagged to the individual room cards.

Along the way, we stopped by the kids club to check the place out. There were quite a number of children in there already. Most of the stuff in there looked more for kids in pre-kindergarten and K loved to play with those stuff meant for younger kids so he spent some time there and at the ball pool before we managed to get him out and continued our journey to the water park.

Kids club on the inside, lots of space.

The tickets of the water park were tagged to the room cards and so we only needed to provide the cards for access into the park. Inside the small water park (by area), it did have quite a few options of fun. While mommy settled herself under shelter at the cafe, we went onto the lazy river, which in my opinion wasn’t lazy, the water was moving pretty quickly! So fast that some kids actually found themselves being washed away (it’s not deep so it’s ok). It felt nice sitting on a float as we went around pretty quickly.

Swimming pool of the resort
Water Park entrance
Lazy river going into the cave.

We then went over to the wave pool which generated waves at certain periods (but I don’t know what’s the schedule as it seemed pretty random) and enjoyed some play time there. There was the usual play structure for children but K was afraid of the water splashes from the overhead big bucket and didn’t want to go there. He only tried twice on kiddy slides and then he was back at the wave pool.

Waves in the wave pool

For the adults there were bigger slides, I got on one with a mat (as K wanted me to go try and he watched) and it was pretty nice and decently fast. We couldn’t do the rest since those were for bigger boys but we can see that not all the slides were operational since there weren’t a lot of people.

Sliding down this with a mat is fun
High speed slide for bigger boys
Big tubes available too.

We stopped for lunch and found that the only eating place was that cafe but it only served western food and had lots of people. We exited the park to go to the beach only to find a beach bar. In the end, we decided to go to Vinpearl land for lunch instead.

We walked back to Tower A where the pick up can be arranged and took the buggy there after it arrived (which was full as many people also had the intention to visit the theme park). It was a quick ride there taking only a couple of minutes. Went to the ticketing counter and was informed that there were no discounts for guests staying at Vinoasis but the only freebie was that guests who buy their tickets at the hotel itself would get unlimited entries whereas if we got the tickets from the counter itself, there was a dinner buffet from 5pm to 730pm. We didn’t have much of a choice and got the tickets for 1.4M (500k for adults and 400k for child).

To our dismay, we couldn’t find any other restaurant with sit in options other than Lotteria. Found ourselves seated with quite a crowd there and mommy went to purchase food while K and I waited and spent some time on phone games. And it was quite a long wait! The supposedly fast food only arrived after about 20mins of waiting.

Looked pretty empty for a theme park
There’s more food in the castle in the middle
Water park inside the theme park that we skipped

Once done with lunch, we went on to look for rides (we missed the mermaid show and shark feeding show that happened during our lunch time and we decided to skip the water park there since most of the rides there were for heights 1.2M and above and K only already been to the water park within the resort) and got onto some of the rides like dizzy teacups and bumper cars (which was one of the popular ride) and later went into the much appreciated shelter (as it was freaking sunny) of the arcade zone. This was where we spent the most time (again), going from machines to machines to try out the different games, like what we did in Ba Na hills, even though the area here was not as big. There was a mini pirate ship but no one was operating it. K had a go at the indoor playground but there was no routes that led to the slides – the slides were more like a display.

Tree display
Some castle looking buildings
Round about bee ride
Arcade building
Indoor playground
Arcade machines with the pirate ship
Fake slides

After much persuasion (for K to leave), we managed to proceed to the aquarium. The aquarium was not very big but still there were some nice marine life to see, like one with a huge blue coloured fish with the huge moray eel, a baby shark tank with open surface and a long glass tunnel where we saw a stingray slapped against the wall. But compared to the time we spent at the arcade, we simply breezed thru.

Inside the aquarium
Water feature within the aquarium
Many tortoises
Baby sharks
Cylindrical tank
Moray eel with blue fish
Shows that we missed

Walked to the ferries wheel and there was a small queue for it. The wheel was going pretty slowly ( much like the pace of the entire island).  While at the top, we were treated to a nice view of the surrounding in sunset hue. But soon after, we were down to the ground and it was over.

View from the ferries wheel

Went to the free dinner buffet which was close to the entrance of the musical fountain show and it was there that we saw most of the crowd (whereas the park wasn’t having a lot of people most of the time)! We got ourselves a table quickly and went to get the food from the buffet line which didn’t look good. Ate whatever we could eat (and worse off for K being a super choosy eater) for our dinner and proceeded to the fountain show to sit in.

Night view of the castle
Xmas tree lighted up
Other buildings also lighted up
Dinner place
Our dinner
Within the restaurant

K was looking extremely tired from not having enough sleep so we decided to skip the musical fountain show, thinking that we have seen enough fountain shows to know which were the good ones and which not. Also, coupled with the fact that after the show, there might not be enough transportation back, we decided to return. We boarded the buggy as soon as it arrived and we were back to the room, after getting ourselves some scopes of (paid but delicious!) ice cream from the stall near the bar for 55k each cup.

Doesn’t that tag look awfully familiar?
Musical fountain entrance
Quite a big seating area

We spent the night watching YouTube videos of the fountain show and were gutted to find out that we were wrong! The fountain show looked really impressive but it was too bad that we made the choice to return to the room earlier. Spent the remainder of the night with K with his Beyblades and bath time before going to bed.

Delicious ice cream
Room service for supper with fried rice and rice rolls

Phu Quoc 2019 Day 6 – My Khe Beach and transfer to Phu Quoc

Our last day in Da Nang and with nothing planned, we slept in late but woke up just in time to allow us to have breakfast at the buffet.

After breakfast, went up to the 23rd floor to check out the kids club as K was interested to see what’s there. Spent a couple of minutes there as he tried the kiddy slides and small ball pool and a tiny fussball table that he played with other kids. Then we managed to get him to leave for the beach.


My Khe beach was just across the road as we made our way there. This was supposedly one of the best beach in the world with long stretches of white sand going as far as the eyes can see. We spent some time playing at the beach making sand shapes and volcano but the weather wasn’t good, with moments of rain mists and a very cloudy view. The waves were extremely choppy removing the possibility of any water play at all.

My Khe beach in bad weather
The other side of the beach
Promenade along the beach

After the visit, we returned to the room to check out at 1230pm, after successfully requesting for late check out after our breakfast. We booked a Grabcar for 34k that brought us to a shopping more called Vincom Plaza. This was a decent sized mall and a couple of stores selling kids stuff on the 3rd floor. We went into one and bought some Beyblades toys which we thought was pretty cheap deal (5 starter beyblades, 1 booster and 1 launcher for 899k dong and the arena for 445k dong). Maybe it’s because it was made in Vietnam and these were older season ones.

Xmas tree at Vincom Plaza
On the inside of the mall

The fourth floor had all the food restaurants which was weirdly most BBQ or hotpot related food but we found one Caracoli coffee that had Vietnamese meals of pho and sandwich. Paid 250k for lunch and we went to the ground floor for some window shopping and a visit to Starbucks before getting onto another Grab back to the hotel for 30k. Our driver to the airport was already waiting for us and as I quickly packed the luggage with the stuff that we bought, while mommy and K made their last visits to toilets before we were on our 30mins trip to the airport.

Ice skating rink at the top most floor
The restaurants take most of the 4th floor
Caracoli restaurant

We alighted at the international airport but found that it was the wrong one, so we went back to the ground floor and walked the 5 mins to the domestic terminal before checking in at the Jetstar Pacific counter for our flight to Phu Quoc.

International airport, wrong one!
Directions to the Domestic airport

The domestic airport was quite small, after we got through the checks and did some window shopping, we ended up waiting at the gate. The plane we were taking was small too and we had to take a bus there to board. The bus arrival was very infrequent and we had to wait for quite a while before we could board it to get to the plane. It took a while for us to board the plane and settle in with a line of people doing the same. Soon we were in the air and K was also fast asleep.

Domestic airport
Inside the Domestic airport
Family check-in is good service!
Within the departure gates

The 2 hrs flight was pretty uneventful to say the least, most of the time I spent sleeping, and while seated at the aisle, I missed the sunset outside the window. We landed in Phu Quoc ahead of time.

View arriving into Ho Chi Minh

The luggage came from the belt and we found stickers pasted onto them, with the information that we were winners of some gifts and thought that these might be scams. We brought them thru the to the arrivals (and after a stringent check by one of the airport staff there to ensure we got the right luggage by checking the luggage tags, so luckily we got the sticker luggage tags with me), a staff gave us some gifts in exchange for a photo. The gifts were Vietnamese candies.

Phu Quoc candies

Immediately after the arrivals outside was a Vinpearl counter where we confirm our registration for the shuttle bus to the Vinoasis Phu Quoc Resort. We then realized that as more and more people gathered, we weren’t going to get to the resort quickly. As predicted, things were moving pretty slowly. We only got onboard the bus at 710pm and by 8pm, we arrived at the sprawling resort.

Ho Chi Minh Airport
Vinpearl counter

Went to check in and took a while before we were given our rooms. There were so many people moving around and trying to check in that it felt pretty chaotic. Plus I couldn’t quite catch what the staff was saying so we just proceeded to our rooms.

The room looked luxuriously designed though not big as the previous ones but I wasn’t complaining and was happy to be in the room. We settled down for a bit before we went to the Almaz cuisine and leisure center to check out the place for dinner.

Main bedroom
Shower and toilet
Tub included
Balcony view

The night view of Almaz center looked pretty nice. The retail shops didn’t look fantastic though, mostly retailing goods that we had no interest in. There were quite a few restaurants and we ended up in a Almaz beer club. There were not many patrons inside the bar itself and the staff was playing Vietnamese KTV music inside. The food took a long time to come and it was just frustrating that we had to keep asking for the food. K spent his waiting time with books (amazingly in a bar and waiting patiently). The food was ok though but it was just taking too long. We left the bar at only 1030pm and paid 807k for the dinner.

Almaz center
Large walking space with some retail
Colorful design at night
Almaz beer club
Inside the bar, still quite empty
Fish fillet
Grilled chicken
Potato wedges

We returned to the room walking after exploring the ground floor of the resort for a bit, the place had many Xmas decorations of balloons to take photos with. The night was spent mostly on battles with beyblades and we went to sleep reluctantly at close to 1am.

Xmas trees made of balloons
Gingerbread house deco
Long mall
Train made of balloons
Kids club
Beyblades with the stadium

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.