As I mentioned in my last post, my daughters and I decided to join my husband on a last minute trip to Hong Kong and Ho Chi Minh. His layovers allowed us one full day in each city, which is a short amount of time to experience such large and interesting places. Not only was it our kids’ first trip to Vietnam, but it was mine as well, and I always love the opportunity to travel some place new.
Fortunately, my daughter’s surfing coach mentioned to me a few days before our trip that we needed to apply for a travel visa to Vietnam, but that we could do it online since we were going to be there for less than 30 days. Trip Advisor offers a helpful summary about this process.
We stayed at the New World Saigon Hotel centrally located downtown. It was across from a lovely park, where couples danced ballroom style in the gazebo. Countless shops and restaurants were within walking distance, as well as many tour companies that catered to westerners and offered great suggestions about things to see in the short time we were there. We just had to be careful crossing the street while weaving in and out of the hundreds of mopeds and other vehicles traveling in a massively chaotic group.
We booked a tour that took us about two hours outside of the city to the Mekong River Delta and Unicorn Island. I was disappointed that we didn’t spot any actual unicorns. (I had really gotten my hopes up that THIS would be the time!) However, we did get to tour a fruit and honey farming community, sample many delicious foods, take rides on two different types of boats as well as a small horse-drawn carriage, and see Thai musicians sing and perform. The kids complained a bit about the long van ride out to the Mekong River region, but they admitted it was worth the wait.
All of the Vietnamese ladies fawned over our daughters, especially our fair-skinned, freckle-faced eight-year-old. They kept wanting to touch her face and hair and ask her questions. Many even took pictures. Fortunately, my daughters are becoming accustomed to this reaction. The Japanese tourists in Guam do the same.