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Saigon Trip Report (9/2017)

Saigon Trip Report (9/2017)

Old Sep 15, 17, 7:08 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 114
Saigon Trip Report (9/2017)

11day trip from IAD (Dulles airport,va) - SGN (Saigon)

Day 0:
originally, was going to take a 22" carry-on and a backpack. then discovered that checked-in luggage was free! (im used to domestic travel.)
but still was undecided on whether to take my 22" carry-on or my 26" check-in luggage.
after 3/4 of the way packing the 22", it was clear to the use the 26". lol

day 1:
United flight was uneventful. had a 3hr layover at Tokyo.
was tempted to spend $10US on the Narita lounge but after spending an hr on the free airport wifi on my laptop catching up on stuff, I was down to 2hrs.
and I estimated that boarding was to begin 45min before takeoff, so only 1hr 15min to kill.
nah on the lounge. decided to walk around the airport.
Found the McDonalds..lol.

United doesn't feed you much for a 13hrs flight.
small lunch, turkey sandwich as snack, small breakfast.
but beer and wine are free.

after landing in Saigon, was expecting to use the free airport wifi to contact them.
they had a Vietnam sim for me so wasn't going to buy one at the airport.

well, airport wifi wasn't working.
so after my luggage arrived, I gave up on trying to get it to work and walked over to the many sim dealers.
the vietel booth was empty.
so picked a booth that did sims and taxis.
they couldn't get the sim to work in my phone.

luckily, I spotted my friends thru the window.
got dropped at the Hotel. they came up, talked a little, handed me the sim, and left.
well, I got the sim recognized on my phone but the instructions to load $ onto it was in Vietnamese. doh!
Airpay 3g Vietel 30day (1gig)

Day 2 in next post.

Last edited by snail; Sep 15, 17 at 9:18 pm
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Old Sep 16, 17, 2:36 am
  #2  
 
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If it's any help, you can buy minutes/data from any convenience store.

Just say Vietel 100 (for 100k duong) or 200. They'll give you a receipt with a code.

Use the code on the receipt by calling.

*100*code#

To check your balance
*101#

To buy data from your balance, text to 191

Dmax (1.5 G 120k duong)
MiMaz (600k 70 duong)

Check your data balance by texting kttk to 191
Jaimito Cartero likes this.
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Old Sep 16, 17, 3:49 am
  #3  
 
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Originally Posted by 5khours View Post
If it's any help, you can buy minutes/data from any convenience store.

Just say Vietel 100 (for 100k duong) or 200. They'll give you a receipt with a code.
Just for clarification - when you buy SIM, it does not come with funds which can be used to buy data?
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Old Sep 16, 17, 7:43 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 1,660
Originally Posted by snail View Post
11day trip from IAD (Dulles airport,va) - SGN (Saigon)

Day 0:
originally, was going to take a 22" carry-on and a backpack. then discovered that checked-in luggage was free! (im used to domestic travel.)
but still was undecided on whether to take my 22" carry-on or my 26" check-in luggage.
after 3/4 of the way packing the 22", it was clear to the use the 26". lol

day 1:
United flight was uneventful. had a 3hr layover at Tokyo.
was tempted to spend $10US on the Narita lounge but after spending an hr on the free airport wifi on my laptop catching up on stuff, I was down to 2hrs.
and I estimated that boarding was to begin 45min before takeoff, so only 1hr 15min to kill.
nah on the lounge. decided to walk around the airport.
Found the McDonalds..lol.

United doesn't feed you much for a 13hrs flight.
small lunch, turkey sandwich as snack, small breakfast.
but beer and wine are free.

after landing in Saigon, was expecting to use the free airport wifi to contact them.
they had a Vietnam sim for me so wasn't going to buy one at the airport.

well, airport wifi wasn't working.
so after my luggage arrived, I gave up on trying to get it to work and walked over to the many sim dealers.
the vietel booth was empty.
so picked a booth that did sims and taxis.
they couldn't get the sim to work in my phone.

luckily, I spotted my friends thru the window.
got dropped at the Hotel. they came up, talked a little, handed me the sim, and left.
well, I got the sim recognized on my phone but the instructions to load $ onto it was in Vietnamese. doh!
Airpay 3g Vietel 30day (1gig)

Day 2 in next post.
Thanks for the report!! I am planning to go to SGN next year
SQTraveller is offline  
Old Sep 16, 17, 8:53 pm
  #5  
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Day 2:
with my friends help, loaded the $ for internet onto the 4G sim.

but I cant get my phone to see it.
whenever I try internet (wifi off), it goes at 2G/Edge speeds and uses the $ from my cellular/phone service, not from the data.
I have 60k VND (50k + 20% bonus?) on the cellular side and I think im being charged 10 VND per 50 KB of data.

luckily there;s plenty of free wifi.

when I txt kttk to 191, the only thing I recognize is '0 mb' which means I either have 0 data left or have used 0 data.
i'll ask my friend later today on what it says.

anyway, I wandered around near the hotel.
saw my 1st Starbucks, McDonalds, and 7-11. lol.

went up to the highest building (Bitexco Financial Tower) in Saigon. it costs $10 US for the observation deck around the 50th floor.
wasn't worth it. it's small.
you circle around in 5 min, including stopping and admiring the sights out the windows.

also, when I landed, I got cash from the airport atm.
when I tried yesterday at a couple of atms, I couldn't get $!
thought did my debit card got locked?!
finally was able to get $ from an ANZ atm.
go figure...

anyway, since I now have a Vietnam phone #, I'm going to book the XO food tour on motor bike ($75 US).
probably will schedule it on mon or tues.
I expect traffic to be really bad today (sun) since I assume a lot of people are off.

speaking of traffic, it's an adventure crossing the street!
it's like you're playing the game Frogger.
hop, hop, splat.

lets see what Day 3 holds...
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Old Sep 16, 17, 9:01 pm
  #6  
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Originally Posted by invisible View Post
Just for clarification - when you buy SIM, it does not come with funds which can be used to buy data?
correct.. it's just a 4G sim card with nothing loaded on it.
I had a 50k vnd cellular phone service and 50k vnd data (1gig) cards/slips. (2 separate pins for 100k vnd total, which is ~$5 USD.)

cant get my phone to see the data side. can only get 2G/Edge speeds from the cellular side. SLOW!
put the sim in my friend's phone. he can get 4G.
so it's my phone (Moto E, 2nd generation made in 2015).

i'll live with 2G/Edge speeds (.2 mbps )

Last edited by snail; Sep 16, 17 at 9:12 pm
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Old Sep 17, 17, 2:23 pm
  #7  
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Day 3:

visited the Ho Chi Minh museum. thought it was a museum about Saigon.
oops.. it's about President Ho Chi Minh and the happenings around that time. and the museum looks a lot bigger on the outside.
admission: 15k vnd or 1 USD... yeesh exchange rate. luckily I had 15k vnd.
should have went with a tour guide group.

went to the post office and mailed some post cards.
why are the stamps SO FREAKING BIG?!?!
had to strategically place the stamps like a surgeon as to not to cover up the writing.

found a high end indoor mall. since it was HOT outside, I decided to visit.
ahh.. air conditioning.
one thing I noticed were all the security guards for anti-theft.

visited Ben Thanh Market. unfortunately, it was around 6pm and it's closing time. many merchants were packing up/closed.

Found the buffalo bar on Bui Vien street.
unfortunately, it was only around 7pm and everything around the area was dead.

i see a theme... too late or too early.
will try again later in the week.

in a convenience store, saw that 333 brand beer was only 12k vnd (~$0.60).
Pretty good beer.

Booked a 4 1/2hr food tour from XO Tours for $75 for Day 5 (tues).

i am surprised i haven't seen any accidents yet from the crazy way people drive and the way people cross the street.

and i am shocked the city doesn't have cops waiting to issue tickets to the lawless motor bike drivers.
ie: driving on the side walk, running red lights, 4 people on a bike, speeding. (i heard a few times of tires screeching.)
imagine the revenue the city could be getting.

Day 4 tomorrow...

Last edited by snail; Sep 17, 17 at 7:13 pm
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Old Sep 17, 17, 7:06 pm
  #8  
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Day 4:

Some things are not cheaper in Saigon.
for example, I just paid 48k vnd ($2.40 usd) for 1quart of orange juice at a convenience store.
in the states, I pay $2.50 for 2 quarts of OJ.

(will add more as the day goes by)

Last edited by snail; Sep 17, 17 at 7:11 pm
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Old Sep 17, 17, 8:46 pm
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I don't want to derail your narrative by switching it to (heated) discussion but just couple of points:

- In a country/place where corruption on all level is endemic and population is (generally) poor, putting policemen on streets to regulate traffic and issue tickets is 100% sure way to enrich their pockets - NOTHING will come from this action into budget and even it will, nothing will going to benefit people.

- Again, in poor country imports are expensive. The orange juice you got is most likely import and due to import tariffs (another feature of mostly poor countries) it will be more expensive. The same applies to big brand names - you might want to check how much drinks are at Starbucks and it should be come as a surprise that they are more expensive than in States.

Enjoy the rest of your stay.

P.S. The fact that your phone works only on 2G speeds means that it does not have local 4G/LTE frequencies.
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Old Sep 17, 17, 10:11 pm
  #10  
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Originally Posted by invisible View Post
I don't want to derail your narrative by switching it to (heated) discussion but just couple of points:

- In a country/place where corruption on all level is endemic and population is (generally) poor, putting policemen on streets to regulate traffic and issue tickets is 100% sure way to enrich their pockets - NOTHING will come from this action into budget and even it will, nothing will going to benefit people.

- Again, in poor country imports are expensive. The orange juice you got is most likely import and due to import tariffs (another feature of mostly poor countries) it will be more expensive. The same applies to big brand names - you might want to check how much drinks are at Starbucks and it should be come as a surprise that they are more expensive than in States.

Enjoy the rest of your stay.

P.S. The fact that your phone works only on 2G speeds means that it does not have local 4G/LTE frequencies.
ahh.. didn't think of the angle of law enforcement as an entrepreneurial job.

I guess they don't grow oranges locally here?
im doing the calcs and its cheaper to get fresh fruit juice from a street vendor than what I paid for OJ at the convenience store.

my phone:
http://www.phonescoop.com/phones/phone.php?p=4726

It has frequency bands for both 3G and 4G.
but I guess viettel uses a band that my phone doesn't have.
so far haven't needed to use my phone on the street. just been using free wifi when at restaurants and hotel.
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Old Sep 18, 17, 3:17 am
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Originally Posted by snail View Post
ahh.. didn't think of the angle of law enforcement as an entrepreneurial job.
Old as world....

Originally Posted by snail View Post
im doing the calcs and its cheaper to get fresh fruit juice from a street vendor than what I paid for OJ at the convenience store.
Exactly. And this applies to anything which is locally grown/prepared.


Originally Posted by snail View Post
my phone:
http://www.phonescoop.com/phones/phone.php?p=4726

It has frequency bands for both 3G and 4G.
but I guess viettel uses a band that my phone doesn't have.
Correct. Here is your phone's specs:

LTE 4G
band 2 / 1900 MHz PCS (Americas)
band 4 / 1700 MHz AWS (Americas)
band 5 / 850 MHz Cellular (Americas, Oceania, Brazil, Israel)
band 7 / 2600 MHz IMT-E (Canada, South America, Europe, Asia)
band 12 / 700 MHz Lower 700 (USA (AT&T, T-Mobile, regional))
band 17 / 700 MHz Lower 700 (USA (AT&T))
WCDMA 3G / 4G
band 2 (II) / 1900 MHz PCS (Americas)
band 4 (IV) / 1700 MHz AWS (Americas)
band 5 (V) / 850 MHz Cellular (Americas, Oceania, Brazil, Israel)
You don't have 800/1800 band on your phone.

At the same time, most networks in Asia use frequency 1800Mhz/Band 3. So yes, as expected, you will get only 2G speeds.

Originally Posted by snail View Post
so far haven't needed to use my phone on the street. just been using free wifi when at restaurants and hotel.
Yep.
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Old Sep 18, 17, 9:17 am
  #12  
 
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Originally Posted by snail View Post
Doesn't look like it supports LTE in Vietnam
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...tworks_in_Asia
But yeah, there's free wifi in MANY places in Vietnam.

Skip Starbucks and go to a Trung Nguyen coffee shop and order one of the fancier options.
Otherwise coffee at pretty much any place in Vietnam will be good.
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Old Sep 18, 17, 10:59 am
  #13  
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Originally Posted by CrazyInteg View Post
Skip Starbucks and go to a Trung Nguyen coffee shop and order one of the fancier options.
Otherwise coffee at pretty much any place in Vietnam will be good.
went to a coffee place today.
surprised the prices are like Starbucks back in the States.
iced small white coffee 35k vnd, which is $1.75.
and lots of ice. should have ordered hot.
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Old Sep 18, 17, 12:41 pm
  #14  
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I am hoping that you are enjoying your visit.

If you want cheap, get out of D1. Almost everything is more expensive because that's where the tourists are.

Vietnam is full of oranges, they have green skin, and most places squeeze them fresh. Just ask for "cam vat" at a restaurant or street vendor that sells them. I prefer the fresh sugarcane juice myself since it's pretty cheap. It usually costs me 70 cents in Vietnam and over $5 in the US. Of course expect a mark up since you're a foreigner.

If you go to a fancy coffee shop, then expect fancy prices. Most Vietnamese drink cafe sua da which is Vietnamese ice coffee. The reason why there is so much ice is because you're supposed to let the ice melt to balance the strong coffee taste. Drinking coffee in Vietnam is a slow process, not like how it is in the US where it's about to go everything.

Bars and clubs tend to be dead until around 11 PM, where they start picking up and go to 3 AM. I once stayed out until 6 AM club and bar hopping with strangers, grabbed pho for breakfast, went to bed at 7 AM and got up 2 hours later.

It all depends on what you're looking for in Saigon.
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Old Sep 18, 17, 12:47 pm
  #15  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
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Originally Posted by snail View Post
went to a coffee place today.
and lots of ice. should have ordered hot.
Seems you've been in a wrong place, pick up from the list:
https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Ho_Ch...ity#Caf.C3.A9s

In addition to above - SaiGon Coffee Roastery, Shin Coffee and Ciao Cafe - all three are in the same block.
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