Stay Safe in Saigon

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It has been alarming to hear and read lots of untoward incidents happening to tourists in Saigon. If these were happening in Manila, I’d say it’s because the holidays are rolling in soon and well…it’s a seasonal thing. But hey, we’re in Saigon and it’s just October. Tet is months away.

A friend of a friend who is visiting got her bag snatched while touring the city. Her passport was inside her bag. Similarly, a friend of a friend who was having breakfast in a hotel left his bag unattended to get food. When he came back, his bag was gone. Another incident was that of a friend who got off a taxi cab — the taxi ran off with his laptop bag as he completed the payment off the cab.

I’m sure this doesn’t happen in Saigon only but better be reminded —

Do not leave your belongings unattended. Saigon is a relatively safe country. The word is RELATIVELY. That doesn’t mean it’s void of bad elements. Do not flash your jewelries. Maybe just don’t bring any.

Do not bring your passport with you when touring. You won’t need to show your passport! Better yet, store it in the hotel safe.

Wear a body bag. Don’t make it easy for snatchers to drive past you and snatch your bag!

Beware of non-metered taxis. Stick to Mai Linh, Vinasun, and Vinataxi. Better yet, if coming from a hotel, ask your hotel to get you a cab. Steer clear of taxis with all-tinted windows. Read more about it here.

When riding a cyclo, clarify the cost. I’ve heard of friends complain all the time about cyclo drivers asking them to pay way too much. A couple I know was asked to pay 1MVND for each cyclo for an hour ride. That’s 50USD, and yes that’s way too much.

Be vigilant. Secure your belongings.

If you still have tourist questions,  here are my 10 Tourist Tips in Saigon.

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Food Trip: Sticky Fingers

 photo stickyfingers_zpsf750de12.pngEvery now and then, I check Tripadvisor to find out what’s new in Saigon when I came across Sticky Fingers. It garnered a lot of good reviews so hubby and I were interested to try their menu.

 photo menu_zpsb64a38a3.pngThe menu had us at Ribs.

 photo 20141028_190224_zps1eb6f068.jpgSince they only do delivery and only within District 1 during peak hours, I decided to have Sticky Fingers Pork Ribs and BBQ 1/2 Chicken delivered to our office before I headed on home.

 photo 20141028_190246_zps1e65882f.jpgOrdering was easy through their website. And a few minutes after hitting the check out button, I received a call to confirm my order. They delivered right on the dot. No delivery fee within District 1.
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Despite the huge traffic jam on the way home, the food still tasted delicious. I liked the chicken better over the ribs though. I have to admit that I still consider Red Tomato’s ribs more mouthwatering than Sticky Fingers’. Red Tomato’s is more tender with the meat falling of the bones with just a nudge of a fork. And, though the signature sauce of Sticky Fingers is savory, it didn’t completely seep through the meat. But it still left me licking my sticky fingers. :)

Will I order again? Absolutely! Can’t wait to try the other food in their menu.

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The Hungry Pig

 photo P_20141016_174120_LL_zpscc8441aa.jpgIf you love bacon (who doesn’t?), get over to The Hungry Pig and indulge in a scrumptious sandwich. Bacon mandatory.

 photo P_20141016_173714_LL_zps22596139.jpgYou can also make your own sandwich!

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Hubby and I ordered the Notorious P.I.G. and Little Miss Piggy.

 photo P_20141016_175420_LL_zpsd7e7a2e8.jpgLove the crispiness of the bacon and the distinct taste of the chorizo of the Notorious P.I.G.

 photo P_20141016_175444_LL_zps9c0f3607.jpgLove how the Avocado brought so much flavor to Little Miss Piggy.

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If you’re in the Pham Ngu Lao area, do check it out!

The Hungry Pig
144 Cong Quynh, Pham Ngu Lao, District 1

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The Return of the Rocky Horror Picture Show

 photo RockyHorrorMark_zpsc0de5787.jpgSo it’s October and Halloween will be here in a few weeks. And with that is the return of The Rocky Horror Picture Show which was first shown here in HCMC in 2012.

 photo BradandJanet_zps3c9b9d42.jpgTo get the full Rocky Horror experience, guests are encouraged to dress up as their favorite Rocky Horror character.

 photo floorshow_zpsbf1752a0.jpgThis time, the Saigon Players will have 2 shows in HCMC and one show in Mui Ne!

 photo rocky_zpsf7d164fd.jpgJoin them on:

October 31 (Friday) and November 1 (Saturday), 7:30 PM, McSorley’s 4 Thao Dien, D2
November 8 (Saturday), 7:30 PM, Joe’s Cafe Garden & Resort 86 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Ham Tien, Phan Thiet

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Waiting for Godot by Dragonfly Theatre

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Dragonfly Theatre is back with their new production, “Waiting for Godot” by Samuel Beckett. According to the British National Theatre poll of 800 playwrights, actors, directors, and journalists, it is “the most significant language play of the 20th century.”

Directed by Ryan Burkwood, “this black comedy takes a lighthearted and irreverent look at the biggest questions in life: Who are we? Why are we here? What are we waiting for? The play follows two men as they wait for the seemingly never present Godot. At times striking and thought-provoking, at others down right silly, this is a play for all.”

Buy your tickets through Ticketbox.vn to get your 5% discount in celebration of Ticketbox.vn first year.

Waiting for Godot will be performed at Cargo Bar, 7 Nguyen Tat Thanh.

Reserved seating tickets are 300,000 VND if booked before midnight on October 6th from Ticketbox.vn

After 6th October, Ticketbox sales will end but tickets can be purchased for 350,000 VND on the door.

Performance dates:

Thursday 9th October at 7:00pm

Friday 10th October at 7:00pm

Saturday 11th October at 3:30pm

Sunday 12th October at 7:00pm

Show duration is 2 hours.

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Feast at La Fiesta!

If you love Scott and Binh’s in District 7, you’re going to love the new Tex-Mexican place Scott and his wife, Duc just opened in District 1 called, La Fiesta! Fellow blogger and friend, Grace Maling shares their gastronomic experience.   —–>

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I always look forward to the weekend as everybody else does. My Friday after work routine starts and ends early and not the typical ‘weekend’ drinks or party for some. I usually finish work at 3pm, do a bit of window-shopping around the city, and have coffee with a friend whilst I wait for my husband to finish work as well. Last Friday was a bit different, I, my husband and another couple friends decided to try the newly opened Tex-Mex restaurant ‘La Fiesta’. This is owned and run by the same guy behind Scott and Binh’s in District 7. When we learnt that Scott is opening a new food haven in District 1, I was really excited! When we used to live in PMH (we moved to D2), visiting his restaurant was part of our weekend activities. Scott and Binh’s is very special to us as they catered for my daughter’s baptism and 1st birthday parties. So imagine how ecstatic it is to know that we can have a taste of what Scott can offer right in the middle of the city!

I made the reservation just like old times and got a call back straight away from Scott. When we arrived, tortilla chips and salsa were served immediately. Scott and his team were waiting patiently when he started presenting the menu and what La Fiesta can offer.

The menu is extensive but it helped that I am already aware of what La Fiesta has to offer (thanks to social media!) so choosing was not difficult. We really came with an empty stomach so we ordered a lot to share amongst the 4 of us. We had ‘Quezo Mac’, fish taco, quesadilla and the lamb enchilada. When our orders came, we were in awe with the servings! They were huge! They were really meant for sharing!

 photo P_20141002_181812_LL_zpsdbfc1377.jpgQuezo Mac is not your ordinary Mac and cheese! You can immediately taste the tex-mex twist with the first spoon!

 photo IMG_1265_zpsd071aa0c.jpgThe fish taco is spot on! The fresh herbs and spices play beautifully in the mouth!

 photo P_20141002_181828_LL_zps2c9c4bf5.jpg*** Chipotle Lamb Shoulder Enchiladas is to die for. The meat is so tender and the flavor is delectable!

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By the end of our meal we were already stuffed but we did not pass up on having desserts and a cocktail. We thought we were already there so might as well try what we can.

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*** Desserts were too hard to resist, we had the La Fiesta Parfait and Chocolate Brownie Sundae with Ice Cream, Peanuts, Caramel, Hot Fudge, Whip Cream and both brought us to dessert heaven!

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I could not help but share a Facebook status in the middle of my meal to my friends because it was unfair not to let them have the experience I was enjoying! Scott and his team were very welcoming and most especially the food was great. A superb Tex-Mex experience in HCMC!

La Fiesta
33 Dang Thi Nhu, District 1

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Visiting Saigon with kids?

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Saigon has a rich cultural and political history but when you have kids tagging along in your vacation that doesn’t really translate to FUN, right? So how do you keep your kids entertained? Where do you bring ‘em in Saigon?

So here are some places where you can take your kids.

Vietopia

Start teaching your kids early about the value of money and hard work while they have fun trying different “jobs”. Vietopia is an indoor venue where you can take your kids try different hats — like being a doctor, pilot, engineer, construction worker, gas attendant, archaeologist, and more. They also get to try to do fun activities.

Kizciti

Kizciti has the same concept as Vietopia. It has actually been running in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi longer than Vietopia. What sets it apart from Vietopia is that it has both indoor and outdoor activities. Outdoor activities include mini golf and farming.

Suoi Tien 

Suoi Tien is a Buddhist-inspired theme park with indoor and outdoor activities. What I love most about this place is the water park. It just seems a bit crazy with the Buddhist theme going on but these days, there are a lot of things going on in this place and has upped the ante.

Damsen Park

Another  amusement park in the city is Damsen Park. Your child will pretty much have a whole park of activities to choose from. I am pretty sure the only time your child will cry is when you leave the park.

Dainam Park

Dainam Park is quite far from the city center (Binh Duong) around 2 hours away but you can stay here overnight at their hotel. Your family can enjoy the theme park, zoo, and water park and not have to travel back to the city with a cranky toddler.

Paintball Saigon

Paintball Saigon is for the bigger kids. If you and your kids want to blow off some steam or play strategy, suit up and aim.

Water Puppet Show

The Water Puppet Show is an interesting show about Vietnamese culture with puppets performing on the water. I am in awe of the puppeteers! They have a show daily. And although the show is in Vietnamese, foreigners will still get to understand what the stories are all about. Traditional Vietnamese instruments are also used for the show. My son was up from his seat the whole time watching!

AO Show

The AO Show is an acrobatic cultural show that uses indigenous materials as props. This is a real fun show that my son enjoyed. There never is a dull moment with the AO Show and best of all you get to watch it from the majestic Saigon Opera House.

Cu Chi Tunnels

I know this sound like a sad part in the history of Vietnam. But yes, the Cu Chi Tunnels tour is kid-friendly. If you’re up for it, why not also check out the tunnels yourself?

Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens

On our last visit this year to the zoo, both my kids loved it. They were actually asking about when they can see the dinosaurs. <insert roll eyes here> When you go here, spend half a day or more to explore the botanical gardens, see the animals, and spend some time at their mini amusement park.

Mekong Delta

My sons love riding boats and the Mekong Delta trip gives them that. Best of all, I get to try the different delicacies from Mekong. The floating market is a must see!

Food Tour

Who doesn’t love a food tour, right? Saigon Street Eats is the best in the kiddie food tour. I took my eldest for a food tour in the city and he enjoyed it immensely while also learning about the everyday life of the Saigonese.

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