Woke up early for 10 am flight and realized it was domestic flight from Ho Chi Minh City so I actually didn’t need to go to the airport that early. Arrived at domestic airport at 8am and while waiting for drop-in baggage saw an email from Vietnam Airline saying the flight has been reschedule to 12pm! Okay… So, I waited for my friend and we decided to check-in the baggage first and go somewhere else. My friend wanted to go to shopping mall, but at that time none opened yet.
Since I was hungry, I suggested to go have breakfast. But they’ve eaten already at home so it was just me. At first I wanted to try com tam ba gien. I’ve been wanting to try it but changed it to banh cuon (which I regretted later). The place is very close from airport. We went there by taxi. It only cost us 27k vnd but the airport surcharge is 10k. So total 37k. Only me ordered banh cuon. The place is very local. Their banh cuon was disappointing. I didn’t like it. No minced pork! Only the rice paper with fried onion on top of it. And they charge me 40k for that. I think it was a tourist price…
We went back to airport, which is very near, only 5 mins. The taxi cost 26k vnd but he asked for 10k surcharge as well! Next time if you are stranded in the airport, just stay inside unless you go back to your house/hotel which worth the cost.
We decided to wait inside and just proceed to security check. The queue was very long! Embrace yourself.. enjoy every moment… Once we got through the security, we went to food court to get snack for my friend’s son. I ordered cajun fries in the end. Too tempting. But it was around 10am already. So it was well calculated 😀 I knew we will get lunch on the plane.
By 11.20am we went to the gate and not long after we heard an announcement that our flight will have another delay to 12.30pm due to technical problem. Oh well, already waited for hours, another 30 mins was not a big deal.
Boarding the plane. They served lunch in the air so it was good. Arrived in Hanoi at 2.30pm. My friend have arranged a pick up service by Binh Minh Limousine so we just needed to wait for them. She already told them that we were gonna be late to arrive there and they knew it. She tried to get in touch and it was really hard to get in touch with them. The phone number listed in their website and facebook were not responding. I tried to look for their phone number through other website and called them. It was the same number that my friend tried earlier.
They finally picked up my call on the 3rd tries. It was already late for 1 hr since our arrival time and they asked us to wait another 10 mins. We were told before that an executive van will pick us up directly from airport and take us to our homestay. But when we arrived in Hanoi, they told us they were sending a small car to pick us up from airport and bring us to their center then we will use the limousine van. We didn’t understand why they couldn’t pick us up with the van because we saw many vans on the airport as well. They said vans are not allowed to go into the airport. After so many communication back and forth and still no car, we decided to take taxi to our homestay instead. It was more expensive but we were just too tired of waiting.
They called my friend when we were on the way in taxi. Asked my friend to hand in the phone to driver but she didn’t do it. And they hang up on her! So rude. After that, they called her many times but she didn’t pick it up. Dude, manage your business better if you don’t want to lose customer…
It took us 2 hrs to go to our homestay in Ninh Binh, Sierra Homestay. And the taxi cost was 1.6 mil vnd. We paid more than if we used the limo taxi. It would be 300k vnd per person if we used the limo from binh minh company. But anyway we finally arrived in Ninh Binh! Yay.
The people from our homestay are very friendly. We got our rooms and immediately headed out for the chance of taking photo before dusk. I got a few good shots. The man with the water buffalo was very nice. He couldn’t communicate with us but he still tried to get us a scene with his buffalo. He tried to tell us that the buffalo were heading to a certain direction so he asked us to wait there.
We didn’t know where to eat since it was just our first day here and no chance to look around yet. I ordered fried noodle with pork. It was good. But it couldn’t fill me up for long enough. I got hungry again…
Last day in Siem Reap! We only had time in the morning until a little bit after lunch time, then needed to head back to the airport. Since we haven’t looked around the Old Market, I suggested to go there. It should be a great place to buy some souvenirs from Siem Reap. Besides, I love walking around in the market and seeing what kind of product they sell and if they have any local / authentic product to bring home as souvenir.
This place is in the center of city near Pub Street so it is very easy to reach. If you have been to Vietnam or Thailand, you will not be surprised with the scenery around the market. Although, this one is dirtier than the other two. As expected, there are a lot of things to see! I enjoyed strolling around but I don’t think my friend enjoyed it as much as I do. It is really a great place to look for souvenir or just to shop for yourself. Don’t forget to bargain for a lower price though. I usually try to lower it around 20% to 50% of the offered price, depending of the item. If they don’t agree, just leave and find another shop. BUT, if they agreed with it, you should buy the item. That’s the general rule of bargaining in the market to avoid angry seller, bargain and if they accept then you have to buy it. Unless, you don’t care if they angry at you then it’s up to you 😀 So, try to bargain as lower as you can as long as it’s still reasonable. I bought some peanuts with special spices from this market to give to my friends. They said it was nice but I didn’t buy it for myself. Bummer! Anyway, to see the overview of the market, please take a look at the pictures below 🙂
Hap Guan Street
Hap Guan street is a very nice area to hang out, and even shopping! There are cafes and small local shops standing side by side along the street. It is a perfect area to hide from the buzzling city center. Too bad a lot of shops were closed when we were there. At least, we managed to visit a local spice shop and a coffee shop!
Located in Hap Guan street, this place is a must-visit for spice lovers. They are selling local spices and also the mixture of it. There are some unique mixtures that is great to buy for a souvenir or even for youself. Assorted spices that they sell are kampot pepper (famous from Cambodia), curry powder, wild turmeric, lemongrass, amok spices and many more. While the mixture of spices for example chili & pepper and salt or black pepper and salt. They also have a unique mix spices such as wasabi and salt, sun salt ( turmeric, chili, pepper, salt), flower salt ( white hibiscus, butterfly pea, keffir lime, marigold, salt), healthy salt (white maringa, spirulina, green tea, lime, salt) and many more. All of the salt mixtures are homemade with kampot salt. Other than spices, they also sell Alcoholic Jam. Interesting, isn’t it? Even the jam in Cambodia has alcohol in it! lol
The Little Red Fox Espresso
After shopping for spices, we found a small coffee shop nearby so we went inside. The name is cute! The little red fox espresso. It was packed inside so we sat on high chairs until we found out there is a second floor! So we moved upstairs. More spacious and artsy. My friend was up to the challenge and ordered Charcoal Latte ($3.75 (small), $4.25 (large)). Unfortunately, it was disappointing. We couldn’t taste anything but milk. Even too milky for a latte.
After a long chat over coffee, we felt hungry (if you think how is that possible to feel hungry right after a cup fo coffee, it is very possible for us! lol). We looked for a place nearby for lunch and found Vibe. It’s a vegetarian restaurant, but hey it won’t be that bad right?! I ordered Japanese Macro Bowl ($6.5) and it was a very huge portion! It has a lot of vegetables (well doh! it’s a vegetarian restaurant…). So what’s in it? It contains wild seaweed, homemade kimchi, miso tempeh, radish, cucumber, pickled ginger salad, sesame, peanut, with ginger dressing. Yup, really huge and packed with veggies. I couldn’t finished it. Apparently, this restaurant is famous with their campaign . For every meal we buy there, the money will go to The Good Vibe Foundation that aims to feed 10.000 healthy meals to school children in Cambodia. How nice is that! I just wish the food tasted better as well to support that.
We decided to go back to hotel by walking (also decided no more vegetarian food for a while). As we walked, I took some photo of the city and enjoyed it the last time before we headed to the airport.
At the airport has a lot of souvenirs to choose. If you don’t have time to shop in the city, or too lazy to haggle in the market, can go directly to the airport and buy from the shops at the airport. They are combined in one big area and you will pass by there anyway to go to the boarding gate.
The trip to Siem Reap has come to an end! Thank you for everyone who gave suggestions to us and for those who stop by at my blog to read the story 😉
Woohoo! Finally visited Siem Reap! As Indonesian, I don’t need a visa to visit Cambodia, but my friend needed one because she is Dutch. To learn more about whether you need a visa or not and what kind of visa you need to enter Cambodia, please read this post here. Other than a visa, we also needed to fill out 2 forms, an arrival card (and departure card) and customs clearance card. I didn’t bring my pen so I had to borrow from my neighbour on the plane.
Once we landed in Siem Reap, we entered the arrival hall and I went straight to Passport Control, while my friend had to go to Visa on Arrival counter with many other people. After she finished with the visa and paid $30, she then proceeds to passport control. I was done before her so I just waited near the baggage belt. We didn’t have checked-in luggage though, only 1 small bag for the cabin. But I think if we checked in a suitcase, it wouldn’t take long to retrieve it since the queue for passport check and visa takes some time.
Once we’ve done inside, we went to customs area and handed over the form to the officer. We tried to find our shuttle from the hotel but couldn’t find my name so we decided to buy a sim card first. The sim card seller is located on the right side from the exit. I bought the one from metfone because of what I read before I flew. It said metfone has the best coverage even in suburb area. The price is $3 for 7 days tourist sim card with 5 GB data. My friend bought cellcard sim card from the next shop because it was cheaper. Tourist sim card for 7 days was $2 with 1.4 GB data and 50 cents balance for call. At first, I thought I needed a lot of data and no need of phone balance but later that day I found out I was wrong…
Once we got our sim cards, we went back to exit area to look for our driver. This time we found him! A guy name Bun Rong held my name on the paper. He introduced himself to us. His english is really good! We walked to the gate where he asked s to wait for him there while he picked his tuktuk. We called it tuktuk because it’s easier. The vehicle is called remorque in Cambodia. Hence, there is remorque tour.
I was excited to ride it! It can fit 4 adults and less shaking than Thailand’s tuktuk.
We arrived at hotel 20 minutes later and proceed to lobby to check in. The staff explained many things but he has an accent when he speaks so we hardly understand what he said. I got better understanding at his English compared to my friend, maybe, because I’m used to Vietnamese speaking English with their accent as well. Even so, I missed some words too.. In short, he explained about the tour and how to reserve it. We told him that we want to see Angkor Wat for sunrise and he told us the normal price for tuktuk is $18 but since it is very early, there is a charge of $5 (so total $23 for 8 hours tour, sounds reasonable!). He also told us that the hotel will prepare our breakfast in a box so we can carry it and eat it at Angkor Wat. Great service!
After all the explanation, he showed us our room at 2nd floor. Holy molly, the room is huge! We picked room with 2 twin beds and it is not two-single beds but two-queen beds! The bathroom also spacious, it has shower area on one side and a bathtub on the other side. They provide bath robe and slippers as well. A fridge, and a safety box. In one corner, there is a dressing table with a huge mirror. Really nice for a very good price!
We tried the safety box but it said error and nothing we could do so we called the reception to ask about it. The staff came to our room to check and he told us how to do it. I explained to him that we followed the instruction on the leaflet but still error but he insisted that we should try again later after 20 minutes. Fine. To be honest I didn’t like that respond but I let it go since we wanted to go out first. We were hungry and want to find some food!
Our hotel is located near city center. The famous pub street is about 10 mins walk. Our destination that time was something else. I saw it on the app and it has good review so we were interested to try it. We walked with the help of google map and took some photos on the way. The road was busy and there is no pavement which made it hard for us to walk. The weather was nice at that time and it was almost sunset. After about 15 mins walking, we reached Genevieve, the restaurant that we wanted to try. Unfortunately, they were closed! 😦 We didn’t know there is a holiday going on at that time. We found another restaurant nearby but it was also closed. There is another restaurant, about 6 mins walking, called Wat Damnak which is also nearby. My friend suggested we call the restaurant first. This was what that phone balance for! I couldn’t call the restaurant because I didn’t have any balance on my sim card. Luckily, my friend’s 50 cents balance saved the day. She called the restaurant and found out they are open but they are fully booked for the night. Bummer.
We decided to walk back to city center and find something there. On the way, we saw a Cambodian restaurant in a guest house, named The Oasis Siem Reap, so we decided to try it. We ordered the curry, steamed amok fish and mango salad. For the drink, I ordered Cambodia Beer because what’s more refreshing than beer after a long walk 😀
The mango salad was good, fresh and a little sour. It has fish in it though. Curry was just so-so. It was very bland and the curry taste also very thin. Also, the chicken was very small pieces and less than 10 pieces (yes, I counted it!). Amok fish was okay, a bit bland as well. In the end we didn’t satisfy with our food. I was still thinking that it might be because of the restaurant was not good enough. The total cost for two persons was $11.
Cambodian Chicken Curry
Steamed Amok Fish
We continued our journey to City Center and this time our destination was the famous Pub Street. It took about 10 minutes to reach the Siem Reap old market area. There are a lot of shops on the side of the street selling Cambodian handcraft, souvenir, massage, snacks, clothes, and many more. The streets are very vibrant and lively. And there we arrived at Pub Street! You won’t miss it. They put a big sign with lights on it. Cafes, bars, restaurants are there along the way. Even if you don’t like night life, you will still enjoy it. Okay, maybe for a shorter time. It actually reminded me of Pham Ngu Lao area in Ho Chi Minh City. Very busy and loud street but this one not as loud though.
There are some local restaurants that offer Cambodian Cuisine cooking class in the area. One of them is Khmer Family Restaurant. We went there to order cocktail because we were still full. My friend ordered Kampot Pepper Mojito and I ordered Passion Fruit Mojito. Somehow I couldn’t taste the alcohol in it. The prices for cocktail and alcohol in general is cheap though, especially compared to Singapore (well doh! lol).
After we finished our drink, we head back to hotel because we need to get up very early the next day. The pick up to Angkor Wat will be at hotel by 4.30am, which mean we have to get up at 3.30am at least. Eek! We really hope the sunrise and Angkor Wat really worth the effort…
It was my birthday trip and I never been to Nha Trang before. Excited to see how it looks like! We took flight with VietJet in the morning, and was delayed for almost an hour! My husband booked a car from the hotel to make it easier. But actually you can take taxi to the city as well. There are Mailinh and Vinasun in Nha Trang. The trip from the airport to our hotel took about 40 minutes. Yes, it was far!
We stayed at Alana Beach Hotel because the location is good and their price is reasonable. One of the reasons for their low price is the new construction building next to them which block the view to the sea! From our room, we could see sea about half of the window. Not bad, but would be better without that building though! The most damage made by that new construction is in the bathroom. There is a big window next to bathtub intended for guests to enjoy the sea view while taking a dip. Now it is blocked by the construction, and of course we need to close the curtain. Unless you don’t mind being watched by the workers lol.
The hotel provided a flower bouquet and a small cake for my birthday! I’m sure it was a request from my husband though for the flowers because the color was red and white. Just like our flag color. My birthday is the same as Indonesian Independence Day. Hence the color of the bouquet. The upsetting part was when I realized that I couldn’t bring the bouquet home 😦
It was past lunch time when we arrived at the hotel. We ate the cake to fill up our tummy before going out to find a place to have lunch. My husband reminded me about nem nuong which I love in Saigon. He said new nuong in Nha Trang is different. More authentic and taste so much better. He found a place called Nem Nuong Ninh Hoa, not far from our hotel. About 13 minutes of walking. Off we go to that place!
The place was very empty when we arrived. It was past 1.30am so no wonder no one was eating there. I just want the nem nuong. My husband ordered beef as well. They served the food quite fast. Nem Nuong consists of crispy fried rice paper (which I like so much) and grilled pork. They came with vegetables and dry rice paper. We need to make the roll our self by putting everything we want on the rice paper and rolled it. Can add the sauce as well.
First bite and I was in heaven! It was so good. The combination of vegetable, pork, crispy rice paper, cucumber and mango were really nice. I loved it! Totally recommended this place for lunch or dinner. They have another branch on the same street just a bit further away.
After lunch, we walked to Sinh Tour which is close by as well. I wanted to ask about private tour with them. When my friend came to Vietnam last time, they went to Mui Ne and they used Sinh Tour’s private tour and it wasn’t expensive, so I wanted to try it in Nha Trang as well. For private tour, the minimum is 4 people. Since there were only 2 of us, the price was too expensive. The guy then offered us to rent a car, which would cost about 700k vnd for 4 – 5 hours. Still a bit too much for us. We also asked about Island Tour. And in the end, we didn’t use their tour service.
I haven’t made any itinerary for this trip, so everything was decided on the spot. For next destination, my husband suggested Long Thanh Photo Gallery. On google map, Long Thanh Gallery is located near Nha Trang Cathedral and Long Son Pagoda. Both about 10 minutes walk from the gallery. So first we go to Long Thanh Photo Gallery by taking a taxi, and it cost us 31k vnd which is not bad.
At the door, there is a sign “Please press the bell”. I pressed the bell and waited until someone showed up to open the door. It was a lady who opened the door. Followed by a guy which is the photographer, Mr. Long Thanh. It is a small gallery but filled with many beautiful photographs. All in black and white style. We strolled around the gallery and found some interesting photo to buy, but the problem is we didn’t know the price.
I started a conversation then with the photographer. He is very friendly and helpful as well. He gave me the price list and explained about his work. All of those photographs were taken with an analog camera in black and white film. So it is different than the one taken with a digital camera in monochrome style (Yes, he is very proud of his work. I would too! if I were him). He developed and printed it himself. He also told me that he likes to collect cameras. There are about 45 cameras that he owns now. That’s a massive number! I asked him why didn’t he exhibit his camera to the customer, like in a museum. He explained that he doesn’t have a proper storage to store his camera downstairs, and it is hard to maintain it. Now he put all camera in his working room inside special boxes that will protect the cameras. Make sense. Truly a photographer who loves his camera.
It is not allowed to take picture in his gallery, so I asked him to take photo with me instead after he packed up my purchases. If you are visiting Nha Trang and love photography, make sure to stop by at this gallery. He gave me discount as well for my purchase! And you can pay with credit card, not necessarily pay in cash. The photos are packed in a sturdy tube (We put it in our luggage and it is still good when we arrived back in Saigon).
After saying goodbye to Mr. Long Thanh, we continued walking to Long Son Pagoda. It took about 10 minutes of walking to reach it. This pagoda is huge and there is a certain area (the main hall) that you can’t go in if you don’t wear appropriate clothes, but you still be able to explore another area. My purpose here was to see the big Buddha statue! We climbed up the stairs and found something on the left area. Sleeping Buddha statue!! It is so majestic and nicely made. After taking some photos, we continue our journey to the top. Bring a bottle of water with you if you do this. Or you can always buy a drink there. There is small shop which sells drinks and coconut.
From the top area, we could see the city as well. The other part of the city though, that is full of buildings. The Giant Buddha statue reminded me of the one in Lan Tau Island, Hong Kong. But this one slightly smaller. Took some pictures and off going down back to the entrance. After the climbing, I felt very exhausted (getting old??) so we decided to go back to hotel first to rest. At the entrance, we took taxi from another company (not Mailinh nor Vinasun) and already prepared for getting scam with the fare. The trip from Long Son Pagoda to our hotel is about 12 minutes of driving, and it cost 61k vnd. My husband thought this is too much but maybe not really. Need to compare more.
After resting for a while, it was time for dinner. I wanted to eat seafood since we were in beach city. My husband found a place in Nguyen Thi Minh Khai street number 79. In the afternoon we passed by a place in that street that looked interesting. We checked them out to see if it’s the same place. Apparently not. This first place (I forgot the name) has smaller number than 79. And while we were waiting to be served, my husband checked on their review. It was 4.5 out of 10! Time to keep moving.
We walked to the other direction for bigger number, and tried to find number 79. It was a long walk and all we could see was number 75! There are so many building with number 75 (even inside a small street, still have number 75). When finally we arrived at number 79, we were disappointed because the place has changed. It is not a seafood restaurant anymore but selling Vietnamese noodle instead 😦 We also visited a restaurant with 79 on its name just in case, but they also don’t sell seafood.
With hungry stomach and tired legs, we decided to try Lee’s Grill. It has a good review as well. The place is clean and comfy but their menu is very minimal. I couldn’t find any interesting dish to order! (Well there was a spicy Korean noodle with seafood on the menu, for 70k vnd, but nope!!). My husband ordered assorted seafood skewers to share, and a Korean style clam soup. Then we got a portion of salad and garlic bread for free!
The skewers were pretty good. My favorites were grilled baby octopus and bacon with cherry tomato. Baby Octopus was not hard to chew and it tasted yummy as well. Marinated well. Bacon is bacon. Never wrong.
After dinner, we walked back to hotel but made a stop at T-shirt shop, named Ginkgo. Their t-shirt has a unique design and good material. They are using organic cotton. The price is a bit high though. Average prices are 310k vnd for a man t-shirt and 400k vnd for ladies t-shirt.
Continued our journey to the hotel afterward. Around 9 pm, we went to Sailing Club. It is a famous club in Nha Trang. Entrance fee was 150k vnd and we got a ticket for drink. We had to choose which drink we want, was it beer or a cocktail (vodka mixed with orange juice). I chose cocktail of course for that price!
When the drink came, I just remembered that I don’t like vodka! Silly me. Fortunately, this cocktail was acceptable. The portion also quite big for a cocktail. We also ordered chicken wings because we suddenly felt hungry. It was very yummy! The sauce on the wings were delicious and it tasted like they were using worcestershire sauce. Must try! Then dip it in cheese sace if you fancy. But even without it, already finger-licking good!
The Sailing Club that night was full, but not many people were dancing on the floor. Music was cool and updated. MC was trying so hard to ask people to join her dancing. There were some people smoking but I didn’t mind it because it was an open-air. What I hate about pub in Asia is they smoke in the room!
After enjoying the music and atmosphere for a while, we went back to hotel and rest for the day.