3 days after an exhausting tour of China, I found myself once again in a plane, now bound for Vietnam. It was a busy Friday for me, and I arrived around 10PM for our 11PM flight to Vietnam. This time, I was with 9 people, most of whom are my friends from Fonterra Brands, which is one of our clients. We flew Cebu Pacific (average of P7,000 roundtrip), and arrived at an ungodly hour past midnight. It was my third time in Saigon, but it was my first time to arrive in the new airport that looked like our new NAIA T3. I wasn't pleased with my previous trips to Saigon, so I wasn't expecting anything. I arranged our trip that includes the following destinations:
1. Cu Chi Tunnels near Saigon
2. Siem Reap and the Angkor Wat Complex
3. Mu Ne in Phan Thiet, Vietnam
I built an itinerary for all of us, since I wasn't traveling alone. I had to plan in advance as much as I can. I was careful in choosing accommodations. I also decided to hire a van wherever we went, as it will be more convenient and economical. So, it was like a tour, but with all the freedom. For the first night, we stayed at the Saigon Mini Hotel ($25 to $30 for a private room with bath). The mini hotel was located near the backpacker center of Saigon, Bui Vien Street. Bui Vien would be our home when in Saigon.
It's been years since I've been to Bui Vien, and I was shocked at how much it has grown. It now resembles Khao San Road in Bangkok, the center of backpacking universe. Anyway, we checked in at 1:30AM and some of us still managed to find a roadside stall that sold noodles. It was great pho for only $1.
It was Night 1, and tomorrow was crucial since I had to complete the rest of our trip. I decided to book our transport in Vietnam because it would be more expensive if I did it from home. In the meantime, we slept in our clean rooms in Saigon Mini. It was a good budget choice.