Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam): Getting A Knack of It!

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Ho Chi Minh City, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, HCMC and more commonly known for Filipinos as Saigon is my destination for my first trip out of the country for 2010. With my friends Jean,Arlene and my brother Allan in tow, we had a wonderful taste of adventures in the largest city in Vietnam from March 17-20 and then on March 23, 2010.

Our first contact with the City itself was quite daunting. Things I take for granted at home, such as riding a motorbike or crossing a street was unsettling at first but soon enough we got the knack of it!

The xe om is a moto-taxi that abounds HCMC. It is probably the quickest way to reach one's destination. But considering the traffic chaos in the city, I don't think I will have a heart to try one!

Cyclos is a means of transportation in HCMC where the driver sits on his bicycle behind the nacelle, while the passengers sit in the front. There are very few cyclos now but it can still be hired to explore the heart of the city. Due to the intense traffic and our limited time though, we were not able to try this one!

So for a more familiar means of transport in getting around HCMC, we hired a taxi. There are many taxi companies in HCMC but the major ones are the white and green and the green and yellow. (Because I still have the Kelly Benefit Strategies Cycling team fever we chose the green and yellow taxi!hehe, no actually, the green and yellow taxi terminal is just in front of our Couch Surfing host place in Levan Sy Street in District 3) . In taking a taxi, make sure you have the address written and the meter is on before starting. It cost 10,000 vnd to 60,000 vnd in traveling from and around district 1 and 3.

In exploring the Region, the cheap alternative to car rental and flights is the xe byuit (bus).There are many options available from official city bus companies to independent bus operators running regular routes using air conditioned vehicles. We took the regular bus to Cu Chi Tunnel from Saigon and paid only 18,000 vnd instead of the 90,000 vnd being charged by tourist bus and 1,000,000 vnd on rented taxi.

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