After taking a taxi from the airport, the first thing I noticed was the crazy amount of motor bike traffic…everyone and their mother was riding one (and in some cases, literally the whole family on one motorbike including the baby). It was quite the sight. There’s nothing quite like watching a father text and operate a motorbike with his 2 kids on the back. Definitely not the kind of thing that would ever be tolerated in the States, but no one blinked an eye in Vietnam, so on they road.
We didn’t stay in the City long, but something happened here that I will surely never forget. I got my very first root canal done in Ho Chi Minh City. Dental work in your home country can be pretty scary stuff, but add a foreign country with non-english speakers to the mix and it may just become the most traumatic experience of all your travels!
Vietnam dental work is actually very popular among Americans due to the costs being a fraction of what we’d pay in the States. The reputation for the work is also topnotch. So, we wandered into a dentist’s office for a quote, and ended up making a day of it. For me, the scariest part was that I thought I was going in to get an impression done on the first day, but instead I came out with half of my front tooth and a very hillbilly looking temporary fake. I certainly was not the highlight of my trip. The only person who spoke English in the Dental office was the secretary. After explaining the cost of everything and what’s included, she was as good as gone. I was on my own trying to talk to these Vietnamese dentists who didn’t speak English…not to mention, I could barely speak English. I bet you didn’t know just how necessary a front tooth is to speak…well I do! I have always handle any unfortunate situation thrown at me throughout my travels quite well, but in this instance all I wanted to do was cry. Long story short, I cannot recommend getting impulsive dental work done while visiting a foreign country where none of the dentists speak English….I just can’t. However, the final crown that they placed on my dead tooth is still looking fabulous and has received my American Dentist’s highest approval :D Fun times.
Elegant Inn Hotel, www.elegantinnsaigon.com : As far as a budget hotel in the city goes, this place was great! Every time we walked through the reception area, we felt like rock stars. Each person in there would stop what they were doing to greet us…it was nice. They upgraded our room on the first night, but then we had to move back down to the one that we booked for the rest our time there. Both rooms were nice and clean, with air conditioning and wifi. Our rooms were equipped with free bottled water, toiletries, and a little fruit plate upon arrival. Breakfast was included each morning—all in the very affordable price of 26 USD. As it was in the middle of the Ho Chi Minh, it was a bit noisy. But it’s to be expected in any busy city. Earplugs are really just a travel necessity!
Cu Chi Tunnels, Lac Hong Service Tourist Construction Company Limited:
We bought a ticket on this tour from a travel agent for $100,000 VND (5 USD) per person. All I have to say is…you get what you pay for…or lack there of! We were piled on to a bus completely full of people with insufficient air conditioning. The ride was over 2 hours long, and there was 1 guide for 3 buses full of people (70 tourists total). The tour usually takes 45 minutes and it took our group over 2 hours. The guide had his hands full, but also just really dragged the tour out, telling the same stories over and over and over again…so annoying! The place itself was quite interesting, but the concept of turning something that should be a memorial into a tourist trap seemed wrong. You do have the opportunity to go into the tunnels, but it is exactly what you would expect…a cramped damp dark hole through the ground. After doing this particular tour, I think that it is safe to say that you are better off paying the extra money for a private tour!
War Remnants Museum: A horrific and necessary way to spend an afternoon (or morning). The experience is educational, shocking, and moving. A must-do.