Chinese New Year in Saigon

Mein Schiff Southeast Asia cruise: Day 8 – Phu My/ Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam

Today we have decided for the transfer to HCMC offered by the ship, since we have found on the one hand comparable prices in the net for cab transfers, on the other hand again a little expenditure would have been connected with it.

From the port Phu My to Ho Chi Minh City: After in Bangkok the cab mafia has struck neatly and about 100-200 percent on the normal fare surcharged, if you had not previously reserved, here the port mafia neatly. The cabs within the barriers take regular prices, as long as you negotiate a little, but the port officials demand a decent surcharge of USD 30 per head. So there is no point in sharing a cab with four people if you get in inside the port area. It is better to walk a few steps outside (about 5 min walk) to look for a transfer there. Since we were only two, we have done nothing wrong with 45 euros per head and then official bus transfer from my ship, about 90 euros we would have spent there and back even with the cab (without bounty).

For Chinese New Year, it is custom to give each other gifts. Even on the shuttle, there was a Vietnamese guide on the bus who followed this tradition and gave each passenger a bill. We were told that it was the gesture and not the amount that mattered (he gave everyone a few cents). So we have the first souvenir of Vietnam in our pocket before we arrive in Saigon.

In HCMC itself, not only 34 degrees Celsius await us, but also a bunch of festivities for the celebration. The wide promenade … Has been expanded into a flower exhibition and the artistic formations decorate everywhere, of course, pigs, which we finally bring the Year of the Pig. Pigs as flower pots, pigs as skiers, golden pigs, blue pigs, pigs as gateposts flanking the entrance to the market, everywhere a sea of pigs. oink.

To my great disappointment, the big market in the center, Ben Than, is closed for the holiday. I guess there are not many other occasions throughout the year for the Vietnamese traders to close the gates.

However, since everything is close together and the city planning was done by the French through colonial times, all other sights are not far away in District 1, the city core.

Tip: If you can’t find your way around with analog folded paper city maps, and instead want to use the navigation of your cell phone even without data volume, the app of Google Maps is a great thing. Logged into my Google account (unfortunately I can’t do it without), I can download certain map sections that I can choose myself before I travel. Without data volume, I can then not only display my current location on site, but also mark the most important sights in advance (e.g. as “Favorite”, “Want to go there”, etc.), which are then permanently displayed at each zoom level.

The Cathedral Notre Dame (how else should the French have called it..), the Main Post Office, the City Hall, the Bitexco Tower (very good view from the bar in lofty heights – consuming a drink in the “On 51” is cheaper than the entrance to the Sky Deck with a view of all of Saigon), the promenade, the Rooftop Bar in the Rex Hotel, the Ben Than Market, the War Remnants Museum as a documentation of the US-Vietnam war from a Vietnamese perspective including not easily digestible visual material, are noteworthy stops that can be explored on foot within five hours of shore excursion (incl. 1.5 hours in the museum).

From a culinary point of view, Banh Mi, Vietnamese sandwiches, summer rolls with fish sauce as a dip, chicken skewers, Bun Bao, hearty steamed noodles e.g. with pork meatball filling, should not be missed. Vietnamese pizza” is also a must. Here, one of the round rice sheets is briefly heated and folded when the filling of quail egg, greens, dried shrimp and sauce has mixed a little and become cooked. As a snack, unbeatable for 20,000 dong (between 70 and 80 euro cents).

On the way back, it’s a lean 1.5 hours to the container port of Phu My, we finally get a serenade from our guide as a parting gift. “You’re just too good to be true…. I love you baby” and another serenade he gave to the best and thus entertained the whole bus.

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