Hi fellas! How are you doing? Hope you are doing great and feeling all inspired! 🙂 So a while ago, I went on a trip with my best mate, Wayne to Indochina. My best trip so far! For those of you who might be wondering what Indochina is, lemme enlighten you guys 😉 Indochina is actually a peninsula in Southeast Asia with countries such as Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia and Singapore. We had 2 weeks for this trip and after a really long discussion (it takes weeks to decide which countries to go to with such limited time), this is how our trip looked like. This is how we broke it down:
- Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
- Phnom Penh, Cambodia
- Siem Reap, Cambodia
- Phuket, Thailand
- Bangkok, Thailand
Now let’s start with PART ONE: Shop and Eat in Vietnam!
Ho Chi Minh City from above
If this is your first time to Ho Chi Minh City, you’d be surprised with the traffic here. Why? This city has so many motorbikes on the street. I mean they occupy like 70% of it! The road is just full of bikes! Be really careful when you are crossing the street here cos they don’t really seem to care about anyone’s life.
Benh Tanh Market
Our first stop is this place. Benh Tanh Market is a big market. If you are looking for souvenirs, this is your place. I suggest you to have something in your mind before you come here. Why? Because there are so many products they are selling here. And you might get lost in your head.
And one more thing: Haggle! Haggle! Haggle!
As a proud Indonesian, I am accustomed to haggle in my home country. I have been haggling ever since I was a little kid. Haggling for toys. Haha.
Ok. Below is how I usually haggle and I am proud to say it works like 90% of the time.
Please note that this is how most of the sellers converse with tourists in Indochina. I just shared what I experienced 😉
Seller (S): 1000 for this
Jonny (J): No… Expensive… 500
S: How many you take? (They ALWAYS ask this)
J: Just one pair and I’d take it for 400 right now.
S: Can not sir… Can not… 900 OK?
J: Let’s make it 600 OK?
S: 850. No profit. Cheap. Cheap.
J: Nah.. Thanks. *I walk out and turn my back to ask again* 600?
S: Ok. Ok. 700? *frowned face*
J: No. No… 650?
S: Ok. Ok. 650… You buy more?
My tips on how to haggle:
- Start with at least half of the asking price. Actually you can get lower than that. Just use your common sense. The way I usually do it is compare it with the price I’ll have to pay in my country and then lower it down a notch. I was told goods in Vietnam is much cheaper than in Indonesia.
- Be confident. Act as if you know that the original value of the item is actually much lower than the asking price.
- Be flexible. Being persistent won’t take you anywhere. And you will end up pissing off the seller. So adapt with the seller. If he lowers his asking price, you go up from that insane numbers you just gave him.
- Smile. Haggling don’t make that seller an enemy. Smile 🙂
After you are done with this market, I strongly suggest you to go to this next place. It’s right across the street of Benh Tanh. It’s on a second story of a coffee shop. If you have never tried Pho in your life, this is your time. Pho is Vietnam’s traditional noodle soup and this place serves the best kind! You are a vegetarian? No worries! They have a tasty vegetarian soup too! Pho in this place is so good that we had both lunch and dinner in this place haha
L’usine, such a hidden gem
Before we got to Ho Chi Minh City, I had done my research and decided that we had to find this French cafe/restaurant called L’usine. It is on Dong Khoi Street. On the second story of an art gallery. I read good reviews on it and I wasn’t disappointed!
This place is full with expatriates. A way to blend in into local scene, non?
I really like the atmosphere in this place! It might be a biased opinion, coming from a French aficionado like me ;p but hey! That guy in the photo enjoyed it too. He was thinking for some small-bites but eventually opted for lunch. :p
Monsieur Wayne enjoying his lunch
Alas we didn’t spend more than 2 days in this city so not much restaurants/cafe to visit. That concludes my post on Shop and Eat in Vietnam! On my next post, I’ll share some of the cool places we visited in this busy city! Until next time, Jonny