Favourite Ho Chi Minh drinking hubs

We went to a fair few bars in Ho Chi Minh but here are my 3 favourites! 

The view hotel bar A very cool 8th floor bar on the main strip with surprisingly inexpensive beer.

  333 beer at 20,000 dong? That’s traveller prices in a roof top bar which was highly unexpected. Or why not have a giant Tiger for a mere 50p extra. 

  
This place has a super relaxed atmosphere, pretty lights, lovely scenery and an OK view of the city. I’m sure you can find better views in sky bar or other rooftops but this is well worth a drink. 

   
 
Guess what, it even had a swing!

  
Donkey bar

  Although the prices here aren’t very traveller friendly (unless you buy 3 drinks for the price of 2 or again.. drink beer), it’s well worth a stop. The bar is situated over 3 floors and include foozeball, darts and pool tables making it a super fun place to hang out.   

Both of these bars are located on the very long ‘Bui Vien Street’ which is a strip of bars, hotels and restaurants 

Universal

 One for those with sports obsessed boyfriends.

This is a sports bar with the added luxury of a really good singer who performs there every other night, keeping us girls occupied while the boys shout at the tv. 

This ones around the other side.

What’s your favourite bar in Saigon – or which one of these looks like one you’d most enjoy?

LwL X 

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Manila vs Cebu

 

This is my view and my opinion based on my own experiences. By no means do I intend to offend anyone, needless to say as a tourist you may have a completely different experience to mine.

Manila

I am sorry to say that my time in Manila was less than magical. Although the city is a main hub for the whole country and its home to an international business district; the place itself for me was undesirable.

I got an unsafe vibe from this city from the moment I set foot there, resulting in me not really wanting to leave my hotel.


It’s so hard to explain and I can’t put my finger on it.

Maybe it was the way people stared and laughed at us as we walked down the street? Now I’m no stranger to locals staring us at us questionably, I had travelled Asia for over 3 months after all. This time it just felt very different. It was more judgemental than inquisitive.

Continue reading “Manila vs Cebu”

The 5 must see’s of Saigon

AKA Ho Chi Minh city, whatever you prefer to call it.

These are what I believe to be the tourist necessities when visiting the city of Saigon. 

1. Cu Chi Tunnels
To come to Ho Chi Minh and not travel to see the Cu Chi tunnels is almost criminal. 

A system of underground access tunnels and living space at 3, 6 and 10 metres deep, that spans over 250km. The area inhabited 48,000 people over its decades. 

  Equipped with live booby traps, deliberate misdirected pathways to confuse and capture the enemy and hidden termite holes on all levels to allow oxygen to pass through the caves. The place is a well thought out architectural phenomenon.

I cannot, for the life of me, understand why this hasn’t been voted as a man made wonder of the world? 
  
There was so much creativity and genius involved in the building and upkeep of the Cu Chi tunnels. It really reflects the intelligence, strong will and pride of the Cu Chi people and the lengths in which they went to to survive and fight for their country. 

A Tour guide takes you around the area to show the different entrances, weapons made and gives you a great history lesson of the war and its affect on Vietnam and Cu Chi. My favourite part was when we had a chance to crouch through the caves. The holes have been expanded by 30% to allow for tourists to pass through and they are still tiny! 
  
The tour only cost around 120,000 VND per person which includes an English speaking tour guide and your transport. Entry fee at the tunnels is 110,000 VND. Well worth the day out for 7 or so pound. 

2. War Remnants Museum

This is not a place for the weak stomached. 

The War Remnants museum documents the decades of war between the Vietnamese and the U.S. from a Vietnamese view point. This is achieved through a series of 8 themed exhibits including ‘aggressive war crimes’ and ‘Historical Truths’.

  
The outside area is filled with various war tanks and fighter planes that were used over the decades. 

Inside, you can expect some facts, figures and showcases of weapons but its mostly filled with graphic war photography. Including my personal favourite ‘Requiem’; a collection of photographs taken by photojournalists who died in Vietnam and Indochina.

  The outside display of the prison conditions are gruesome and barbaric. This was a tough one, even for me. I had so many mixed emotions when visiting here and left in a state of shock. I witnessed a few tears shed by fellow tourists too.

  
It remains open to promote World Peace and saying no to war. Such a lovely message to promote.

To think that the Vietnamese and Americans now have a good relationship is quite remarkable; considering that millions of Vietnamese (10% of the population in fact) are still affected by Agent Orange. It really reflects the loving, forgiving and peaceful nature of the Vietnam people. 

There isn’t really any way you can prepare for this beautiful yet terrifying tourist attraction, but it’s a definite must see. 

3. Notre Dame Cathedral

This 60m high attraction officially known as the ‘Basilica of our Lady of Immaculate Conception’ was built by the French colonists following their conquest of the city.

The attraction was purposefully designed to show the influence that the French civilisation and Christianity had over Saigon and was the most beautiful of its kind when it was built in the 1860s.  

 In front of the Cathedral stands a statue of the Virgin Mary, surrounded be a very well kept and picturesque garden setting (perfect selfie background inserted here).

4. Saigon Post Office

..parked right next to the Cathedral so you can kill two birds with one stone (Not literally. I love birds).

 
5. The Independent Palace

Aww what a beautiful site. The palace is symbolic of the end of the Vietnam War. 

On April 30, 1975, the famous 843 North Vietnamese Army tank crashed through the gates of the palace, which at the time was the residence of the President of the Republic of Vietnam.

There is a lovely fountain out front and lots of perfectly mowed grass which makes it a great picnic spot. Unfortunately I hit the town early doors and the park didn’t open until 1.20pm, so I only see the view from behind the high security bars. Fear not, just go at the right time and you can take a tour around the palace and it’s grounds. 

What we missed/passed on that may be of interest

We missed another puppet show! I completely forgot that they had them in Saigon as well as Hanoi. 

There is also a lovely big theatre if you have time to catch a performance.

A tour across the Mekong Delta – I’ve heard this is great from fellow travellers but we just didn’t have the time. An alternative to a day trip would be 2 days border crossing to Phnom Penh which includes getting a boat across the river if you’re heading this way. 
Feel free to add your own must sees or opinions on these below! 
LwL x

Hanoi: City nightlife & a day at the Lake

Exploring Day 3

On our last day in Hanoi we headed towards the area of Ho Hoan Liem as I’d seen lots of good reviews online.

Ho Hoan Liem

Meaning ‘lake of the returned sword.’ The centrepiece of the city. 

 Legend has it that Emporer Le Loi threw his sword into the lake at a turtle dwelling there; after conquering the Chinese army in the 15th century. 
The lake has two islands, one built in the middle in honour of the tortoise named ‘Turtle Tower’..

  
 ..and another on the Eastern side named Jade Island.  

  

  

  
 Surrounding the lake are many beautiful patches of garden and flowers, it’s very picturesque. 
   
   
 It’s also beautiful at night..  On one side of the lake (over the road) is a statue of Ly Thai To (founder of Hanoi). 

  
The other side; King Le Temple, built in 1896 in honour of King Le Loi, and is home to a crowned statue and a rock carved with a poem written by the King himself about his determination to defeat the Chinese. 

  
    
Later on we wandered for the last time around the old quarter. I got myself a nice pair of Fonverse too for only £11! (Fake converse). Then we headed for the sleeper bus. 

What we missed
A Water Puppet show: Unfortunately we missed this as we planned to go on our last day near Ho Hoan Liem, but the show didn’t start until 5pm that day and our bus was at 6. Its a shame as this is a big part of vietnamese culture and I would’ve liked to have seen a show.

Hanoi ceramic mosaic mural: This one was a bit far out and doesn’t look like it was surrounded by much so we didn’t bother going but may be of interest to you. 

   Ho Chi Minh Museum: we only walked passed but you can actually go into the Ho Chi Minh museum. We was a bit museum’d out after spending that morning at Hoa Lo. It depends how much information your brain can take in a day I guess! 

Hanoi Nightlife
There are lots of bars and restaurants around the old quarter.

Of a night there is also a big long street market down the main road; selling everything from fake Adidas to pop-up birthday cards.

  

   
My highlight: witnessing a baby  riding an electric car beside me ha  
   

  

 Here are two of my favourite bars we went to:

Prague Bar 

Super relaxed, very chilled vibe with artistic paintings, low coffee tables and sofas. It reminded me of being Back in Amsterdam, which I imagine Prague is quite similar to? 

  This serves food and drink and a lovely array of flavoured sodas 

Rock Store/stone Bar
Sorry I can’t remember the actual name.. Rock something ha. 

This place has great wallpaper; all the names and logos of familiar rock’n’roll legends. 

The bar plays sports and has a great live band there every night singing some classic anthems. 

   
 The licence to party closes at midnight in Hanoi, however there are a few bars around the area that continue the party with locks ins. Ask around to see where to go, we heard that Toms bar do late night secret parties but we never went there. 

Anywhere I’ve missed that you’d recommend? 

LwL X 

Hectic Hanoi: Exploring day 1 and 2

Where the weather is shitty but the sights are quite pretty.. 

Ah, the political capital of Vietnam, a peaceful living yet crazy place with a population of 7 million people. 

You could easily lose yourself in this place for 3 days, just don’t forget to look, and look again when you run across the roads. Unfortunately Vietnam is very similar as Thailand in the sense that there are no rules on the road! (You think I’d be used to it by now) 

  
Hanoi as a city boasts lots of attractions that educates on the history of Vietnam. There’s the Hoa Lo Prison, the Museum of Literature, Ho Chi Minh museum and Saint Joseph’s Cathedral, not to mention the beauties of the Botanical Gardens and Ho Hoan Kiem Lake. Most of which we have visited over our time here. 

Here is a low down of our itinerary and the sites/attractions we saw in those days. I hope this helps if your wondering what to see/how much time you may need etc. 

Day 1

We arrived in Hanoi at 9am from Bangkok. As we had slept at the airport the night before; or not slept should I say, we went straight to our hotel and slept until about 3pm. Basically we wasted a whole morning where we could’ve seen more things but we sleep was more important at that time. 

Temple of Literature

We spent the afternoon at the temple of Literature. This was Vietnams first university. It is one of several temples in Vietnam which is dedicated to Confucius, sages and scholars. 

   
 The area has a lovely garden, shrines and rock carvings of doctors and graduates and is only 30,000 VND to enter (just under £1).    

 Location:

  

Day 2

On our second day in Hanoi we went to Hoa Lo prison museum and took a walk around the area of the Botanical Gardens 

Hoa Lo Prison

What a fascinating museum! A prison built by the French that detained up to 2000 political prisoners and US pilots during the Vietnam War. 

Most of the prison was knocked down in 1997 to make way for the Hanoi towers. Don’t be disheartened though, architects preserved some of the old prison to create the museum. What lies in tact is a creepy enough atmosphere for you to experience.  

 There’s a horrifying array of instruments of torture and solitary confinement cells (of which you can enter) also on display is the sewage pipes in which  some prisoners escaped in August 1945. 

  Definitely worth a few hours of your time, and it’s only 30,000 VND to enjoy!  

Bach Thao Park/Hanoi Botanical gardens   This is a big beautiful park with a lake and home of many rare species of plant. It is one of the few green areas left in industrialised Hanoi. 

 
 In the 1890s, the French imported many exotic tropical plants from all over the world to make up a rainforest right at the heart of the city. Cool huh? 
  Lots of people come here to relax, socialise, admire, study and participate in Tai Chi exercise (yes I crept in for a few moves).

  
  

I presume this would be lovely to lunch in on a hot sunny day, unfortunately we didn’t have that luxury, being January and cold.

Entry fee is just 2000 VND (6p). 

  
There’s lots around the area of the garden, including the Presidential Palace, One Pillar Pagoda, the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and museum. All of which we passed for a photo op of course. 

   
One Pillar Pagoda

 
   

 

Ho Chi Minh Museum
  
Mausoleum  


The presidential palace is located right next to the gardens, which was completed in 1906 to house the Frend government-general of Indochina. You can do a tour here and see the palace for a 25k entrance fee but we chose not to, we was all info’d out for the day. 

So that’s our first 2 days, keep an eye out for day 3 and a Hanoi nightlife post! 

LwL x 

Chiang Mai Night Bazaar

A 15/20 minute walk outside the west of the city centre or a short 5 minute tuk tuk ride away lies Chiang Mai’s Ploen Ruedee Night Bazaar. 

 Thai, Italian, American, French, Mexican, Indian and Japanese cuisine!

There are cocktail stalls, healthy stalls, shakes, pancakes, milkshakes and a band to entertain you while you sit on bundles of hay stuffing your face. Heaven. 

  

 
  

  

  
 

This food court is the mother of all food courts, you have to visit here! 

Beef noodle soup from ‘noodle soup’
Chicken katsu kare from ‘Yummy Curry’

We took full advantage eating 5 different dishes between us!

Lemon red soda

There is also a really cool stall that does fresh soda flavours and unusual mojitos  

 
Just to the right of the square is where the shopping night bazaar begins.. 

  Rows and rows of elephant print shirts and shorts , paintings, handmade jewellery, souvenirs, copies of DVDs, shoes and trainers, blankets; it’s like a Thai eBay that you don’t have to pay postage and packaging for. 

   

 
  The bazaar is open until midnight every night.  

LwL x 

5 things to do on a night in Bangkok

I spent my second time in this city for the past day and a half. Although its one of my least favourite places I’ve visited in Thailand, I admire it and I will never forget the first night i walked in to Ko San Road. Culture shock city.  

  
When travelling across Thailand it’s very likely that you’ll see Bangkok more than once, as it is a main hub to travel North to South (We’ve just arrived in Chiang Mai). 

After spending a total of four nights there between two trips, I have come up with 5 things that I would recommend to do on a night in Bangkok. 

  

1. Buy friendship bands

If you’re with a group this is a must, or if you want to take small presents home. Many stalls do 25 baht each or 5 for 100 on bracelets and different necklaces. I am yet to see anywhere cheaper than that. I grabbed 5 of these for my friends back home, they don’t take up hardly any space in my bag either. Winning. 

2. Get a Thai massage

I spent a whole month in the South of Thailand and no where is cheaper for a massage or for shopping than Bangkok. A 1/2 hour shoulder, back and neck massage is just 3 English pound. (I have a further post to come on my Thai massage experience)
  
3. Grab a bucket (or 2, or 3) on the street

Street vendors off of Koh San road are much cheaper, you can get a bucket of rum, Coke and red bull for just 150/200 baht. If you want to take a stroll with a drink down the strip, this is the way to do it. Bars can charge as much as 350 baht a bucket. 

   
 4. Eat the street food

40 baht for a chicken pad Thai made fresh in front of your eyes? Yes please. Not only are the vendors 3x cheaper than going in a restaurant, the food tastes twice as tasty! 

  5. Beetle on a stick? 

Bear Grylls eat your heart out. There are many a stalls that serve some lovely insect treats! With a varied range for you to choose from, including small maggots and scarily oversized cockroaches, I’m sure you’ll find something that ticked your fancy. 

I have to admit, I’m a scaredy cat and failed to have one of these but the boys did. Go for it if you’re brave enough. 

Any other recommendations for Bangkok? Feel free to share below!

LwL x 

Liverpool Rememberance day Parade

I’m currently on the way home from a weekend in Liverpool! After yet another night out it remains my favourite city. I will posting pictures later of my night here but first I wanted to show everyone some snaps I took of the lovely Rememberance day parade happening this morning in Liverpool City Centre. Continue reading “Liverpool Rememberance day Parade”