In our 3rd and 4th day in ho chi Minh city, we decided to take a couple of tours in the morning and experience the famous “ben thanh” market.
1) The most famous tours in Saigon
There is a lot of tours offices in ho chi Minh city, they practically offer -more or less- the same tours to the same places.
Those tours are:
A) Cu chi tunnels (half day)
B) Mekong delta (1 day) (rice terrace)
B.1) Mekong delta (1 day) (floating market)
C) Mekong delta (2 days+ homestay)
D) Mekong delta (3 days+ exit to Cambodia)
2) The new horizon
Beside our hotel, there was this tours office called “The new horizon“, it offered really great prices for each tour.
We also used to change USD for dong over there as they had a great rate of (1 USD=20.8k dong) which was highest in our area.
We also booked the open bus to the rest of Vietnam from there and it was also cheaper than the rest of the offices.
3) Our first tour
For our first tour, we chose the half day cu chi tunnels tour.
Cost: 80,000(office) + 90,000(entry fee) Dong
Duration: (8 am – 2.30 pm) or (noon-6.30 pm) ( hint: morning tour is cheaper)
Level of awesomeness: pretty awesome.
It includes: bus ride+ English speaking guide
4) The Cu Chi Tunnels
Meet Jacky, our tour guide, a 67 years old guy which basically makes him an English speaking Vietnamese history book.
He did a pretty awesome job throughout the whole tour and we bombarded him with questions on the way back, to which he generously answered, we got to know everything about the Vietnamese war from this fella, it’ll be great if you have him in your tour.
I’ll walk you through the different stations/stages we went through in our tour:
A) The handicapped handicrafts factory
This was our first stop, and it was indeed a great way to start our tour.
This factory stand witness to the fact that humans with a strong will are capable of anything and everything.
All the workers in this factory are handicapped, their misfortune was generally the result of the chemical weapons used in the war.
However, in this factory they make -by hand- some really astonishing pieces of art and souvenirs.
If you would like to buy something from there, they will greatly appreciate your support.
B) The Cu Chi village
Our second stop was the Cu Chi village, where we paid the entry fee and went inside to the area of the tunnels.
B.1) First tunnel
This was our first stop inside the village, this tunnel has the smallest entrance that you can imagine.
It extends for 10 meters underground, completely dark, REALLY narrow, it’s fun and everything but I honestly wouldn’t recommend it to a claustrophobic!! xD
B.2) Bobby traps
The next stop is a demonstration for some really badass Bobby traps who makes you cringe when the guide tells you how the work.
As an engineer,I gotta say that a LOT of thought went into making those traps, starting from the mechanism to the execution.
Putting in mind that the Vietnamese had nothing but bamboo and they mostly used pieces of metal from US tanks and bombs.
B.3) Shooting range:
That gotta be one of the best stops in the tour, you get to fire your selection of weapon from M16, M30, AK47 and couple of other weapons.
Bullets prices range from 25,000 to 40,000 per bullet, minimum to buy is 10 bullets.
Also at the shooting range, you can buy souvenirs like key chains that looks like bullets and stuff like that. (Price is from 45k to 100k++)
B.4) The long tunnel
I’d say this is the highlight of the trip, a 200 meter tunnel underground, linking to various rooms that was used in the past for babies deliveries, cooking food and sleeping.
According to Jacky, those tunnels were modified and enlarged to fit the bodies of tourists xD, nevertheless they are still pretty narrow.
Those tunnels are well ventilated and well lit, so I’d recommend you go for it, keeping in mind that you’ll be walking for quite a distance while bending your knees which is REALLY tiring.
B.5) The documentary
After getting out of the long tunnel, you’ll go to a room and have a seat.
A guide will be explaining some facts about the tunnels and then will play a small documentary movie about the Cu Chi village.
That marks the end of the tour ….
5) Ben Thanh market
The market has 2 parts, the building itself, and the stalls and booths outside.
The building closes everyday at 7 pm, while the stalls outside stay open all night.
The first time we went to the market was at night, so we just checked the stalls and we tried out some kind of a dessert made of like 7 different kinds of RICE.
surprisingly it actually tasted nice and costed 50,000 dong.
Sooo in the market, you must be ready to bargain like you never did before, although the sellers are all friendly and nice, they’ll tell you a price that’s double or triple the actual price, so make sure you ask around a LOT and never buy from the first shop you stop it 😉
In the next blog post, I’ll tell you about the second tour we took and the ben thanh market building (inside)
Basel ….. OUT
(All pictures are captured with Samsung Galaxy Note I & Note II phone cameras)