“He who fails to plan, plans to fail.” -Proverbs
And that quote meant planning three months in advance. Yes, my first trip to Vietnam was three months in the making. It began with booking Cebu Pacific’s Zero Fare for International Flights last June 2011. I always make it a point to travel on a budget yet create everlasting memories.
In those three months, I allotted time to research on my itineraries. The members of the Pinoy Travel Bloggers Group on Facebook, TripAdvisor, and The Thorn Three Forum of Lonely Planet helped me in deciding where to go, what to do, and other relevant information for first-timers.
I have so many stories to tell. But first, I’d like to share a rundown of our itinerary for 4 Days and 3 nights in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) and in the Mekong Delta.
Sept. 28- Day 0- Leaving Manila
-A cheap international flight means a midnight flight. Travel time from Manila to Ho Chi Minh City is 2 1/2 hours.
11:00 PM- Goodbye Manila
Sept. 29: DAY 1- Goodmorning Vietnam!
12:30 AM- Arrival at Tan Son Nhat International Airport (Vietnam is one hour behind Manila time. Manila time of our arrival was 1:30 AM)
1:00 AM- Check-in at Seventy Hotel (70 Bui Vien St., District 1)
2:00 AM-6:00 AM- SLEEP (bitin!)
6:00AM-7:30 AM- Preparation for Cu Chi/ Breakfast at Seventy Hotel
7:45 AM- Assembly at Sinh Tourist office
8:00 AM- Depart for Cu Chi Tunnel
9:00 AM-11:30 AM- Roam around Cu Chi and learn about the Vietnam War
12:00 PM- Visit the Handicapped Handicrafts (This was the touristy part of going into a shop when on a group tour. I’ll write a separate post for this)
12:30 PM- Back in Saigon
1:30 PM-2:30 PM Late Lunch at Nhà hàng Mimosa (88 Bùi Vi?n Street)
2:30-4:30 PM- Return to Seventy Hotel/ Rest.
4:30-6:30 PM- Cross the busy and “death defying” streets of Saigon & Roam Ben Thanh Market
6:30 PM-7:30 PM- Eat dinner at Quan An Ngon Restaurant (160 Pasteur Street)
7:30 PM-Getting lost and familiarizing ourselves with Saigon
8:00 PM-Back at Seventy Hotel and rest
Sept. 30-Day 2: Going to the Mekong Delta
5:00 AM- Wake up
6:00 AM- Breakfast and check out from Seventy Hotel
7:00 AM- Assembly at Sinh Tourist Office (246 – 248 De Tham Str., Dist.1)
7:45 AM- Leave Saigon for Mekong Delta (Travel Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes)
9:30 AM- Arrival at port in Ben Tre
9:35 AM- 10:30 AM- From the bus, we hopped on to a boat to visit the BRICK FACTORY (Touristy but then I realized why this was important to see and learn about. I will tell more about this in my comprehensive post)
10:30 AM-11:00 AM- From the brick factory, we sailed and stopped by at a shop selling honey and other coconut products. We ate fruits (dragon fruit, lanzones, rambutan, papaya) while a group of Vietnamese sang a song about the Mekong Delta.
11:00 AM-11:30 AM- We returned to the boat and visited the COCONUT CANDY Factory. Ben Tre is known to be Vietnam’s leading producer of coconut products.
11:30 AM- 11:40 AM- Xe Loi (Motorcart) Ride along the narrow roads of the communities in Ben Tre.
11:40 AM-2:00PM – We had a scenic row boat ride along the canals of Ben Tre on the way to Green Coconut Riverside Restaurant, where we had our lunch.
2:00 PM- Return to mini bus on the way to Can Tho City
3:00 PM- Stop over at a roadside Ca phe (coffee) shop / Toilet break
5:00 PM- Arrival in Can Tho City
5:00 PM- 5:30 PM- Motorcycle ride to Minh Viet Homestay in Cai Rang
6:00 PM- Settle at the Homestay
7:00 PM- Dinner home-cooked by Minh’s mother
8:00 PM- Rest
Oct. 1- Day 3: Immerse at Cai Rang Floating Market
5:00 AM- Wake up
5:30 AM- Shoot sunrise by the river in front of Minh’s house
6:15 AM- Visit the local land market in Cai Rang, near Minh’s house/ Take a glimpse of the public school in Cai Rang
7:00 AM- Eat breakfast prepared by Minh’s mother
7:15AM-8:00 AM- Boat ride to the station to meet the tour group
8:00AM- 10:00 AM- Get to know the life and business of the Vietnamese trading and selling fruits and vegetables along Cai Rang River.
10:00 AM-11:00 AM- Pass by the flooded community in Cai Rang, see the lush vegetation.
11:00AM- Boat Ride to Victoria Station, where Hoa Su Restaurant is.
11:30-12:30 PM- Lunch at Hoa Su Restaurant, Can Tho City
12:30-1:45- Visit Vinh Long Market and see the exotic goods being sold.
3:00 PM- Stop over Mekong Rest Stop
5:00 PM- Back in Saigon
5:30 PM- Check-in at Saigon Mini Hotel
6:30 PM- Photoshoot: People’s Committee and its surroundings
7:00 PM- Dinner at Pho 2000 (Known to be the President’s Pho. Former US president Bill Clinton dined at Pho 2000)
8:00-9:00 PM- Night market outside Ben Thanh Market
October 2- Day 4: Sunday is love /Free day/ Shopping
7:00 AM- Breakfast at Saigon Mini Hotel 5
9:30 AM- Mass at Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica
10:30 AM- Photoshoot around Saigon Notre- Dame Basilica/ Opera House
11:00 AM- The search for the North Face bag at Saigon Square
1:00 PM- Lunch at Pho 24 (near Ben Thanh Market)
2:00 PM-4:00 PM- Shopping at Ben Thanh Market
4:30 PM- Back in Saigon Mini Hotel
6:00 PM- Check out of the hotel
7:00 PM- Check-in at Tan Son Nhat Airport
8:00 PM-11:00 PM- Roam at the airport. Flight back to Manila 1:00 AM.