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Basementcello

Vietnam first time TR - HCMC April 2019

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Basementcello

I was thinking of a suitably corny name for my newbie report - “The Leer Hunter” “Full Latex Jacket” , “Scamburger Hill” etc... answers on a postcard.

 

So I went to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) for a few days last week and I thought I’d draft out a few thoughts on the place. Now before I get into the meat of it, I must say I had intended this trip to be pretty much a sightseeing, conventional holiday with the side option of either P4P or conventional dating/pick up. As it was my first trip, I made a lot of mistakes and without the touristy stuff, this trip would have sucked badly.

 

First the cliff notes...The good:

 

The food - Vietnamese food was way tastier than I expected and I can’t wait to have more

The girls - Vietnamese girls are really beautiful and quite often blow Thai girls out of the water looks wise

The prices - Vietnam was super cheap for everything, with some exceptions

The people - for the most part, Vietnamese were friendly, kind and left a good impression on me

The tourist activity - the organised tours and navigating the city was cheap and easy to do

Grab bikes - if they had this system of getting around everywhere I would be a happy man

 

The bad:

The traffic - holy hell it was stressful crossing the street!

The hustlers - couldn’t leave my hotel or even sit and have a meal outside without getting offers for trinkets, girls or drugs

The language - It was so hard to remember or pronounce even a few words of Vietnamese. And it was a shame locals couldn’t use or pronounce much English.

 

The ugly:

Mongering activity - I’m sure I went wrong somewhere but girl quality was mediocre, service was abysmal and money making was the order of the day.

Scammer behaviour - I was unfortunately scammed twice early on in the holiday, but partly my own fault for letting it happen. Vietnamese have a habit of trying to milk more money out of you at the expense of being fair to tourists.

 

The full report to follow...

 

 

 

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biggles

"The language - And it was a shame locals couldn’t use or pronounce much English."

yes, something that surprised GF and I during our month stay. Even in tourist type places, hotels, bars etc little English was spoken. We had 2 weeks in Nha Trang, a beautiful beach place that could show Pattaya how to do things. Yet little English spoken and the town was full of Russians, menus, signs etc. By the time we got to Dalat I had downloaded Google translate, a boon to us. 

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ctp2018
8 hours ago, Basementcello said:

The tourist activity - the organised tours and navigating the city was cheap and easy to do. Grab bikes - if they had this system of getting around everywhere I would be a happy man.

Did  you have a chance to try the XO bike tours? I hear they are a lot of fun. Looking forward to your full report very much! 

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Basementcello
Did  you have a chance to try the XO bike tours? I hear they are a lot of fun. Looking forward to your full report very much! 

I did try a motorcycle tour I’ll post everything tomorrow mate, trip was really an experience


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Madzar

Love hcmc gets a bad rap but have been twice and really like it. So much to see and do prices are cheap and the food is excellent. The nightlife has started to pick up and it is the type of place where going alone or with a group is no problem what so ever

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Basementcello
Love hcmc gets a bad rap but have been twice and really like it. So much to see and do prices are cheap and the food is excellent. The nightlife has started to pick up and it is the type of place where going alone or with a group is no problem what so ever

Yeah I agree. I want to go back as I felt I had a combination of bad luck and poor planning but had a good time overall. As you’ll see...


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Basementcello

Day one

 

 

Vietnam has always held a mysterious quality for me, raised on a diet of violent Vietnamese war movies followed by Cold War historical tomes, I took an avid interest in the country but never once considered going there. With a few days off work in Tokyo and a cheap JAL flight in hand, I set off.

 

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After a red eye from Haneda airport to Saigon, arrived and drifted through immigration to the tune of my visa free entry courtesy of my British passport, soon to be made worthless by Brexit. I soon made my first mistakes by changing 10 million worth ($500) of Dong at the airport and not hitting the metered taxi line. I paid almost half a million for a unlicensed taxi to Bui Vien (which I kind of knew I had screwed up on). When I got to the hotel, I had several hours to kill before I could check in at twelve, so I went to grab a coffee nearby. Upon examining my wallet I found I had only been handed 7 million dong at the airport and was short of about 150 bucks.

 

Suffice to say it was not a good introduction to Vietnam and I was convinced at the outset that this country sucks, petulant perhaps but what can you do? If you’ve been doing trips mostly in Thailand and the Philippines you’re going to be spoiled because in Vietnam you have to be on your guard.

 

My hotel was called the Gia Vien hotel, tucked away in an alleyway behind Bui Vien. Although I booked online on Agoda I was to pay in cash at the hotel. Unfortunately because I had been scammed at the airport I didn’t have enough cash and I wanted to pay on credit card but was charged 3% surcharge. Once again norms that you take for granted from other countries do not exist here.

 

My hotel room was pleasant in itself. I’ve booked the VIP room for about $25 a night including a rather paltry breakfast. After taking a wander around the city I decided to go and get a massage. The Bui Vien area is notorious for scamming behaviour and you need to be careful. The first massage place I went into charged way over what was advertised on the prices outside. After a fairly standard foot massage the staff brought out a card demanding tips which brought the price of an average massage to over $25. It seems to be common around this area that what is advertised is never what you pay.

 

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At night, I had a date lined up from Tinder, a 28 year old office worker girl, and quite cute but not really my type. We hit the Walking Street of Bui Vien for dinner and observed the chaos. Then onto the magnificent Chill Sky bar for some late drinks overlooking the fabulous views. The drinks came out to over 10 bucks each however, and they mixed even basic gin and tonics in tiny glasses.

 

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After our date, there didn’t seem to be enough chemistry to move things back to the hotel, and she was subtly giving me shit for being a playboy so called it a night. Meanwhile outside the hotel, the night doorman perhaps sensed my tension over the day and swiftly offered to hook me up with a girl...perhaps the next day I answered...

 

 

 

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ctp2018

 I have read that using ATMs in Ho Chi Minh City works OK. I guess you would advise changing currency in to dong at the airport? 

 What is your advice on using tinder or other apps to date in Ho Chi Minh City? 

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Asiansarefun

Enjoying your trip report so far and  you’re list of the good, bad, ugly is generally consistent with my experience there. The history sites from the Vietnam war I found fascinating.

 Looking forward to reading the rest! 

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ctp2018

Correction: I meant to say that you would advise against changing currency into dong at the airport.

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Basementcello
Correction: I meant to say that you would advise against changing currency into dong at the airport.

Like the blundering fool that I am, I didn’t check how much was counted out at the airport kiosk. As it looked like Monopoly money to me with no coins, my ignorance got me. I think the booth I used was before the security check point.

That being said I found a good currency exchange booth near Bui Vien in the park next to the Yolo pub that I would use again

Location here

YOLO Pub & Cafe
4 Phạm Ngũ Lão, Phường Phạm Ngũ Lão, Quận 1, Phường Phạm Ngũ Lão Quận 1 Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
+84 90 924 68 38
https://goo.gl/maps/jcb1zrqp5Kr


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Mognam

The OP's description of the good, the bad and the ugly pretty much exactly matches my opinion of HCMC after my fist trip last year.

It is a nice place to visit put don't go if your priority is mongering.  The worst part for me was the girls hassling you for tip, taxi driver hassling for a tip as soon as I sat in the cab, guys on Scooters hassling you to buy drugs or women.

I think you could have a better time if you met up with an ex-pat that could show you around and teach you the ins and outs.

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dnaliaht
Posted (edited)

Nice trip report. The currency exchange shops just as you exit the SGN airport are notorious for short changing. I had them try that shit with me but luckily I counted it and called the bitch out. I can't imagine how many trips are ruined right off the bat with that crap. The good thing was that every hotel I stayed at from SGN all the way up to Hanoi would exchange currency at the best rates, so I bypassed all the shady shops for the duration. 

Edited by dnaliaht

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Basementcello

Day two

 

Took a tourist trip to the Cu Chi tunnels from a tour office in Bui Vien. Any kind of tour you want from historical sights, nature or city tours are really good value for money in Vietnam. It was ludicrously cheap at $7. When the bus arrived with my designated tour group, I was the last one on and unfortunately got stuck with a folding chair in the bus aisle. Again, good with the bad.

 

After my legs falling asleep on the 90 minute journey to the tunnels, a kind Vietnamese student offered to swap seats with me, whilst the foreigners on the bus ignored my plight...that impressed me with how nice most Vietnamese were. The tunnel complexes themselves are a well trodden path, but it’s fascinating to see how the war was fought. Going through the 100m tunnel is a stifling and awful experience but worth a try and nothing compared to what the soldiers on both sides lived through. Throughout an old Vietnamese guy was our guide and because he lived through the war he had a very interesting take on the causes of the war. It surprised me that he believed the Vietnamese communist party now fears for the future and are now the corrupt ones. He also believed that Vietnam is much closer to the US now and that most people hate China nowadays for stealing Vietnamese islands. Again, not what I expected

 

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Back at the hotel and after a quick dinner and nap, I ventured back into the Bui Vien area to see how it compares to Walking Street in Pattaya. Bui Vien is an uninspiring mess compared to the beautiful chaos of Pattaya. Huge, cookie cutter bars slowly invade the limited street space with an ever advancing battle line of plastic chairs and tables, populated by hordes of backpacking western tourists and fat Korean guys huffing bottles of cheap beer and balloons filled with Nitrous oxide to an endless thudding EDM soundtrack. Eventually, you can’t walk down the street or take any more of it, leading me to duck back into a nearby bar.

 

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In GO2 bar, I tried to have a quiet beer but was immediately set upon by a rounder, tattooed freelancer girl. After she translated her offer of sex to me, I asked how much to which she offered 3 million ($130) an hour. She just wasn’t worth it so went off to another place. After another Sky bar, trundled back to the hotel.

 

On the tiny streets in Bui Vien, the day doormen for the hotels soon turn over to the night shift, each of whom was ready to offer me a girl. The deal was 1 million ($50) in cash straight to the doorman for delivery of a hot girl. I decided to take the plunge. After ten minutes there was a knock at the door and a cute girl came who said I was handsome and seemed happy. Nhi was 25 cute with small tits but very slim, told me her parents had died and she had come to Saigon to study IT but ran out of cash. My first impressions were that she wanted to get paid quickly but she soon relaxed as we chatted and I gave her a foot massage on the bed. However the upsell began straightaway. “Give me a tip for good service now” etc. Whilst I understand their plight, Viet girls are not set on providing the same relationship that Thai or Filipino girls are used to giving. Pattaya it isn’t.

 

After a quick BJ and sex for about ten minutes she asked me to finish up promptly or tip her for more time. I took the latter, we swapped numbers and said goodbye. I think Vietnamese girls have a lot to learn about being with guys for P4P. Onto the day three and more silly situations...

 

 

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ctp2018

Great report! Thanks for posting, looking forward to the next part. So far it sounds like the p4p experience is hampered by the lady’s quest for money.

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Basementcello
Great report! Thanks for posting, looking forward to the next part. So far it sounds like the p4p experience is hampered by the lady’s quest for money.

It gets worse haha. I’ll type it up at work tomorrow


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Basementcello
Nice trip report. The currency exchange shops just as you exit the SGN airport are notorious for short changing. I had them try that shit with me but luckily I counted it and called the bitch out. I can't imagine how many trips are ruined right off the bat with that crap. The good thing was that every hotel I stayed at from SGN all the way up to Hanoi would exchange currency at the best rates, so I bypassed all the shady shops for the duration. 

So glad I’m not the only one they tried to scam...unfortunately it worked with me


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ctp2018
Posted (edited)

I guess you don’t have much choice if you need taxi fare (in dong) prior to arriving at the hotel.

As far as using the unlicensed taxi, you can either choose Vinasun or Mai Lin or pay for the hotel taxi. Not sure which is the best choice?

Finding a bonafide Vinasun or Mai Lin can be difficult.

Edited by ctp2018

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dontpanic

Following as I intend making the trip next year very much to do the touristy stuff, yes the traffic seems crazy even by Thai standerds. 

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Madzar

First mistake only change minimum cash or enough to cover your taxi fare at any airport. Airports have some of the worst exchange rates no matter where you are in the world.

 

Second mistake only use vinasun or mai linh taxis they have dedicated stands at the airport and will not rip you off. If you have mobile internet data use Grab as they are reasonably priced as well.

 

Third mistake your hotel was in the central hub I realise it was your first time but their are atms and exchange places in abundance. If you went for a walk around the vicinity of your hotel you could have easily avoided paying by cc at the hotel.

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ctp2018
Posted (edited)
21 minutes ago, Madzar said:

Second mistake only use vinasun or mai linh taxis they have dedicated stands at the airport and will not rip you off. If you have mobile internet data use Grab as they are reasonably priced as well.

I have read that there are counterfeit Vinasun and Mai Linh taxis that show up as the real thing. Currently it’s not always easy to find a bona fide taxi in HCMC, as it seems the taxi stands change location from time to time.

Does Grab work the same as Uber where you download the app and have a credit card associated with the app also? 

Hard to imagine getting a taxi can be so problematic! :)

 

Edited by ctp2018

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CyberPro
Posted (edited)
15 hours ago, Basementcello said:

After my legs falling asleep on the 90 minute journey to the tunnels, a kind Vietnamese student offered to swap seats with me, whilst the foreigners on the bus ignored my plight...that impressed me with how nice most Vietnamese were.

No surprise. Speaking as a Vietnam Vet, I've found the Vietnamese people to be hard-working, generous and kind. If you come onto them as acting superior, aggressive or stupid, don't expect a good experience.

Throughout an old Vietnamese guy was our guide and because he lived through the war he had a very interesting take on the causes of the war. It surprised me that he believed the Vietnamese communist party now fears for the future and are now the corrupt ones. He also believed that Vietnam is much closer to the US now and that most people hate China nowadays for stealing Vietnamese islands. Again, not what I expected

Yep, the Vietnamese have been and are our friends (in my opinion), want to thrive and are doing that. Good on them.

 

 

5 hours ago, ctp2018 said:

Hard to imagine getting a taxi can be so problematic!

Well it _shouldn't_ be. 30 min on YouTube or other online research should reveal how to avoid that. :wacko:

Anyway, thanks for the thread. :)

Edited by CyberPro

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Madzar
7 hours ago, ctp2018 said:

 

Not hard at all just catch vinasun or mai linh. Grab is also easy to use and cheap.

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Basementcello
Not hard at all just catch vinasun or mai linh. Grab is also easy to use and cheap.

I learned about Grab after a day and never went back. Great app and so easy to order taxis and bikes


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Stokielad

Always wondered about Vietnam and P4P, this report is giving an excellent insight. Looking forward to teh res of your report, thanks for sharing.

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