Shopping Trip – Ho Chi Minh City

I’ve just returned from a 3 days shopping trip from Ho Chi Minh City.  Here’s my review of the trip:

Airlines – Tiger Airways (  SGD 220 for return tickets. No frills flight and seats were not in good condition and rather uncomfortable.  Little leg space too.   Acceptable as a budget airline.   However, may not be suitable if you bring along small children.

Budget Terminal at Singapore – I like the fast clearance when I returned to Singapore.  As compared to Terminals 1, 2 & 3, took less than half hour to collect luggage and check out from the custom.

Hotel at HCM City – Liberty Central Hotel ( at District 1.  Relatively new 4 start hotel.  3 minutes to Benh Then Market.  Lots of perks like free transfer to hotel from airport, free laundry, free welcome fruit basket.  The staff are very helpful and polite.  Room is very comfortable and cosy.  For triple sharing, it costs USD105++

Shopping – Benh Thanh Market, west end of Le Loi, is like Chinatown Market in Singapore.  Lots of small shops selling similar products.  Bargain needed, prices are usually marked up by the stall owner.  The market is closed at around 5 pm.  After which, there will be night market around the market which sell similar products.

Another shopping hit spot is Saigon Square (not Saigon Centre) at 77 – 89, Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, District 1.  It’s less cramp than Benh Than Market and ventilation is better.  Varity is lesser as compared to Benh Thanh Market. However, worth the visit.  Some of the stuff there, you can’t find at Benh Thanh Market.

Tax Department Store at Tax Shopping Centre – get your regular local products at the supermarket. It’s much cheaper than those small store near the hotels.

Le Loi Street – lots of small shops.  Tailored made clothes are cheap as compared to Singapore.  A dinner dress costs about USD55 (100% silk).  The tailor usually needs a day to make the dress, you can go for fitting the next day and they would do alteration for you, thereafter deliver the dress to your hotel free of charge the very same day or the day after.

Some recommendation:

1) Embroidery Shop – Ninh Khuong Embroidery at 44 Le Loi Ave, District 1 (  Good quality of embroidery cloths (though some designs can be found at Benh Thanh Market / Saigon Square but quality is definitely different!)

2) Tailor – Anh Silk Boutique at 151 Dong Khoi Street, District 1. 

3) Food –  (1) Quan Nam Giao at 136-15 Le Thanh Ton, District 1 (small alley – opposite Liberty Central Hotel); (2) Ngon, 138 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia (near the Reunification Palace); and (3) Pho 24.  23-25 Tran Nhat Duat St | Tan Dinh Ward, District 1 (must try – beef noodles).

Some tips:

1) Taxi – Go for those company registered taxi with metered-fare (the drivers wear uniform and tie).  If you are leaving from hotel to airport, get the concierge to help hail a taxi and pre-negotiate the price for you.

2) Safety – The traffic is chaotic there.  Lots and lots of motorcycles!  When you cross the road, be care of your belongings, hold them close to you.  Cross the road one step at a time, maintain eye contact and move forward slowly.  Don’t move backwards.

3) Currency – accept both Dong & US dollars.  If you want to change Dong, you can do so at the airport or at the money changer near Liberty Central Hotel.  The rates are pretty good! Remember to compare rates.


Before You Depart for Holiday …

A lesson I’ve learnt from my recent 5 day holiday to Hong Kong is that no matter how prepared you are, you can never tell when you will be facing an unforeseen situation.

Before departing Singapore, I done as much preparation work such as checking the weather in Hong Kong, have the embassy information ready just in case, draw up an itinerary, have some drawing materials, games, toys to keep the kids occupy while on plane, medication, etc.  I thought I was well prepared, but when my 2 years old Genzkid was down with gastric flu upon reaching Hong Kong, I was helpless.  She was vomiting furiously and as I did not have any anti-vomiting medication and we reached the hotel around evening time on Sunday, we decided to wait till the next day to see if she gets any better.  Unfortunately, she was still vomiting and we decided not to wait further and to bring her to see a doctor.  As we are unfamiliar with Hong Kong, we visited a doctor recommended by the hotel manager.  I must say I was lucky to have met a good doctor.  He was very patient and thorough when examining my girl.  Finally, he decided to give her a jab to stop the vomiting.  After injecting her, he kept us in his clinic for at least half an hour and came out of his consultation room at least 3 times to check on her.  Before leaving his clinic, he gave us the information of a hospital nearest to our hotel and told us to send her to the hospital if her vomiting did not improve by the next day.  Thereafter, we returned to hotel for her to rest.  I was relieved that she stopped vomiting that very night and was better the next day.  Our holiday actually start only on day 3.  

I guess one of the important information we need to prepare when visiting another country, especially if it’s one you are not familiar with is to get ready some medical information such as a clinic and/or hospital nearby your hotel.  

If you are visiting Hong Kong, I would strongly recommend that you keep this doctor information handy just in case (you really won’t know when you need it) – Dr Lee Ka Ling at Room 1610, Argyle Centre Phase 1, 688 Nathan Road.  Tel: 852-2396 0023.  The clinic is near  Mongkok MTR Station.

Thank you Dr Lee Ka Ling!