Date: 30th December 2014
Guys, we tried the 2 hours cyclo trip around Saigon city and the route that we took were amazing. Perfect for those who wishes to witness how the local Vietnamese daily life's are in a local transportation.
We saw the pamphlet about this Cyclo ride at Hotel Cherry lobby when we got back from our night walk. The next morning before taking our breakfast we made the necessary booking. You may either do that (get the hotel to do the booking) and/or book their offer from the official website at http://www.cycloresto.com.vn. The trip price is USD14 @ 290.000VND per person. A motorbike ride cost at USD40, both offers a private trip. It's so unfortunate that the man who cycled for us did not know any English at all though they tried very much to make a conversation. We hope our huge smiles and 2 thumbs up will made them happy somehow. For information, the hotel staff has properly briefed him our destination as written on the map earlier.
You may take the trip anytime in a day or at night for 2 hours of booking. Mineral water is included, where the cyclo driver put on your seat together with the map. I would like to recommend to all of you who wishes to discover Saigon's daily activities in a pleasant local way. Cyclo two hour trip is the best way to do it. The first stop was at Notre Dame Cathedral where you can also explore a beautiful Saigon Central Post Office seated just next to the cathedral. Both buildings and its surrounding were the images of French buildings. The next stop was at War Remnant Museum. Last but not least, we made quite a long stop to get a real experience of local life at flower market. We asked the cyclo driver to bypass the animal market and Tan thanh market (motorbike apart market) in district 10.
There’s 2 option that you may take, the first 1 is Saigon central cyclo trip. The option include a visit to History Museum, City Post Office, Notre Dame Cathedral for photos, Dong Khoi street ( first street in Saigon), Old Market ( first market in Saigon), Opera House and to both Giac Lam pagoda (a Vietnamese style) and Jade pagoda (a Chinese style).
2nd option is a cyclo trip outside Saigon city center. Pick-up point is either from District 1 or District 3. In this option, the Cyclo will takes you to China Town to Thien Hau temple and Binh Tay Market. We would be able to understand more about Vietnamese daily life. The cyclo drivers will take the passenger along Small Street up to Tan Thanh Market (selling motorbike parts for those who interested in bikes). It is actually the best way to see real activities of local people. In addition to the trip, you may also would want to enjoy the Ho Chi Minh City excursion to end your day visit.
Other mode of transport, i.e. in a proper tourist special bus, tourist are able to learn the history of each famous site from the unique perspective of the train guides. In addition you would be able to learn some fun and interesting facts about of each of the places they take you on the tour as the guides will share things only a true native of Saigon knows. For example, Generation Y likes to hang out in parks at late hours due to less privacy at home. The park is a great place for friends and couples to hang out without having to spend money. It is also a perfect place to drink iced Vietnamese coffee and try cheap food sold by the many street vendors in Saigon.
If you don't want to be crammed onto a big, hot bus wasting an entire day going to places you aren't interested in, then I would say that this is the perfect tour for you. The cyclo driver can easily cover the same number of sites in 2 1/2 hours that would require half a day on most other tours. Rest assured, based on our experience, our pace is very leisurely, no one will rushed you and you cane easily directed the cyclo driver to skip or added any places in between should you wish to stop. At each stop, we were free to get off the cyclo and walk around for us to have as many photos as possible. Another important thing is the cyclo driver nor their agent will force you to stop at typical tourist traps which sells an overpriced souvenirs like most of the tour agent does.
For ease of reference, some of the places included on the tour are the Central Post Office, The Notre Dame Cathedral, The Reunification Palace, The Jade Emperor Pagoda, The Secret CIA Building, Tan Dinh Market, The Thich Quang Duc memorial, Cholon (Chinatown), The Binh Tay Market, Thien Hau Pagoda, etc.
Above all that I said, the sights tour with cyclo ride offers a good mix of both famous attractions and lesser known markets and sites that the big tours cannot go to. The best time to explore is in the morning, when the weather is at its coolest state. The local markets are also busiest in the mornings so it's the best time to experience all the hustle and bustle of local’s daily life at this hour. My favourite sight was seeing the locals having breakfast at local shop in those special chair (see below photo).
It's almost lunch time when we arrived at Ben Thanh Market, being a famous shopping place for most Malaysian. We bid our farewell to the 2 nice gentleman and headed for our halal local meal for lunch. Guided by the restaurant staff, we safely back to the hotel after we have done with our shopping using a city metered cab who charged us at enormously cheaper fare, all based on the rates and km displayed inside his cab. The metered in the cab that we took last time has been adjusted to a much higher rates.