Terima Kasih Wonderful Indonesia

newlist countries

Updated List of Countries That I Would Love to Visit

Fifth on my list of countries that I would love to visit is Indonesia. After my trip in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, I headed to another ASEAN country. This time it is touristy and near the beach. The place is also famous to a lot of beach and surf lovers but it is widely popular to most Australians. I went to Bali, Indonesia and I am so grateful that I have decided to come over. It was a great time when I was there and terima kasih wonderful Indonesia.

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Indonesia’s Travel Logo

Indonesia is a Southeast Asian nation made up of an archipelago. It is the world’s largest island country with numerous volcanoes. The capital of the country is Jakarta. Indonesia shares land borders with Papua New Guinea, East Timor, and the eastern part of Malaysia. Other neighboring countries include Singapore, VietNam, Australia, Palau and the Philippines. It has 34 provinces and Bali is one of those. Bali is the most popular island holiday destination in the country. It has iconic rice paddies, beaches, temples and forested volcanic mountains.

Flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Bali, Indonesia took about 3 hours. I arrived in Bali at 2230H almost midnight. I went directly to the beach resort which I booked in advance. I was staying in Legian Beach area. The trip from the airport to Legian was about 30 minutes. When I got to the resort, finished with check-in procedure at about 2AM. Then, I called it a day and let my feet rest and shut my eyes. I checked-in Fourteen Roses Beach Hotel.

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Fourteen Roses Beach Hotel Street Logo cr. agoda

I woke up early at 0500H even though I only slept for 3 hours but I got to see the sunrise in Bali. It was just a 5-min walk from the beach hotel to Legian Beach. I could say that I’m in Asia because I got to see the same sunrise I used to witness when I was still in the Philippines. The sea breeze was refreshing, the sand were fine to touch, the water was cold to the feet, the waves were relaxing, the view was splendid. It was a well deserved vacation.

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Legian Beach

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Kuta Beach

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Sunrise at the beach

After the watching the sun rising, I headed back to the hotel for a free Indonesian breakfast. I took a rest in my room after that delectable breakfast and after an hour, I went out to explore the place. I was looking for a pair of slippers so, I decided to go to the nearest mall which is the Beachwalk. The Beachwalk was still closed when I got there. They opened at 1000H. To kill the time, I sat and ordered some delicious dessert and drink in Starbucks.

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Purple yam cheesecake and green matcha frappe

Few minutes, the Beachwalk opened and I strolled around. It was a decent mall but what caught my attention were the stores just across the mall. They were a lot of stalls selling Indonesian and Balinese products. Since I am a frugal traveler, I bought some unique Indonesian souvenirs.

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The Beachwalk

After I was done doing my business at the stores, I walked back to the hotel and took a nap. The weather in Bali was humid and warm, it makes you sweat like a dog and makes you tired easily. An hour after I had a nap, I took a dip in their enticing swimming pool.

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Fourteen Roses swimming pool

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Swimming Pool

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Swimming Pool with Bar

I enjoyed swimming that I didn’t notice the time that I forgot about dinner, so, I just had room service sent my supper. Then, I got some zzzs. The next day, I got my tour to the northern part of the island province of Bali. The driver/ tour guide picked us up at 0830H. It was an hour or two drive to Bedugul from Legian.

Bedugul is famous for its picturesque location. Much more added fame to the world is its water temple surrounded by mountains that has been advertised worldwide. Bedugul is a mountain lake resort area in the province. It is located near Lake Bratan and enjoys the mild mountain weather which is cool. Major site in Bedugul is the water temple I was talking about. It is the Pura Ulun Danu Bratan.

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Pura Ulun Danu Bratan

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan or Pura Beratan is a major Shaivite water temple. Shaivite or Shaivism is one of the major and oldest Hinduism sect that reveres Shiva as the Supreme Being. Pura Beratan serves the entire region and the complex is situated on the shores of Lake Bratan. This water temples were built to used as a site for offerings ceremony to the Balinese water, lake and river goddess Dewi Danu due to the importance of the lake as a main source of irrigation in Central Bali. Lake Bratan is known as the Lake of Holy Mountain due to its fertile land.

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Within Pura Beratan’s grounds

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Closed gate in Pura Beratan

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The Most Photographed View in Indonesia

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Pura Beratan showing 11 pelinggih meru as the principal shrine of the Balinese temple.

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Pura Ulun Danu Bratan in Bedugul

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Pura Ulun Danu Bratan

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Pura Beratan’s own mouse deer, I guess lol

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Before entering Pura Beratan’s gate

We were in Pura Beratan for an hour. It was an amazing vista. Not only that, the coolness and freshness of the air were awesome. It was the main point of my visit in Bali. After getting some great photos of the water temple, we headed to this restaurant with the view of rice paddies. It was an all-Indonesian food buffet. The name of the restaurant is Pacung Restaurant in Tabanan-Baturiti in Bali.

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Rice Terraces view while dining in Pacung Restaurant

After we had a delectable lunch, our tour guide/ driver sent us to another temple. This temple is situated in Ubud, Gianyar Regency of Bali. It is the Ubud Palace or officially called as Puri Saren Agung which is a historical complex. The palace is the official residence of the royal family. Unfortunately when we were there, the palace was under renovation. We left a little bit early since they were doing some remodeling. The palace usually hosts Balinese dances in the afternoon but Ubud is somehow distant to my hotel and there are more locations to visit so we can’t stay til the cultural dance.

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Under renovation

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Inside Ubud Royal Palace

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Ginormous Gate in Ubud Royal Palace

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Another huge gate in Puri Saren Agung

The next stop was another temple. The temple is located in Batuan. Batuan is a village and is noted for its artwork and style of painting and has since emerged as the major Balinese artistic style known as the Batuan painting. The village is known as the major painting center and contains a number of galleries and cooperative art societies which have played a key role in promoting Batuan art. There are two major temples in the village, the Pura Puseh and Pura Dasar. These temples are built in classical Balinese temple architecture style with elaborate carvings.

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Batuan Temple

The Batuan temple area consists of a meeting hall called Wantilan where visitors can borrow from local people for ‘kamben’ which is a traditional Balinese costume. Every guests has to wear kamben to show respect and honor about the holiness of Puseh Temple of the Batuan village. The entrance is for free but they accept donation for the maintenance of the temple. There are many stunning ancient relics from prehistoric sites that will show how Hindu culture influences Bali and these temples have been a place of worship both to their ancestors and worshiped Hindu Deities.

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Batuan Temple grounds

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Batuan Temple grounds with tourists

Few minutes to almost an hour of touring the temple, we left the temple. We traveled on the road again and we had a few stops while trying to get back to our hotel.

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Stores near Ubud Royal Palace

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Balinese Souvenirs

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The strongest and famous Luwak coffee comes from this furry animal, Luwak.

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Pretty and intricate sculpture statue in the discount store in Kuta

My Bali adventure was outstanding. I got enough rest and relaxation and on top of that, I also got to explore some part of the island. My temple experience was memorable and I took a lot of nice memories while I was there. One thing I can say is terima kasih Wonderful Indonesia. It was indeed a wonderful vacation I got.

Check my YouTube vlog for my Bali adventure at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7bnqMTg3A8

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Visa to the Republic of China (Taiwan)

Visa is a form of documentation issued by the nation’s government allowing the bearer to enter or leave that country.Photo Aug 09, 2 35 41 PM copy

Travel Authorization Certificate is issued to citizens of  India, the Philippines, VietNam, Indonesia, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos to enter the country of Taiwan or Republic of China. Travel Authorization Certificate serves as visa to gain entry to the said country.

The residents of the Philippines have been given the freedom to apply for travel authorization certificate thru online or eVisa. It has been amended a lot of times. Before it used to be single entry visa but nationals of the countries mentioned on the certificate seen above can have multiple entry.

The basic requirements for a traveler to be eligible are:
1. the applicant’s passport must have at least 6 remaining months validity starting from the date of the arrival in Taiwan;
2. the applicant must possess an onward/return air ticket; and
3. the applicant has never been employed as a blue-collar worker in Taiwan.

Additional requirements are applicants must possess at least one of the following documents issued by Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, any of the Schengen countries, the United Kingdom, or the United States such as valid resident or permanent resident card or status, valid entry visa, or resident card or visa that has expired less than 10 years prior to the arrival date in Taiwan, and the applicant possesses an entry visa or resident card issued by Taiwan at any point in the past 10 years and has no record of immigration irregularities or law violations in Taiwan.

The travel authorization certification is valid for 90 days making multiple entries allowed within those number of days. The holder of the certificate can stay in the country for 30 days starting from the arrival day. For online application of ROC travel authorization certificate, click this site here.

I got my travel authorization certificate in a jiffy. It took me about few minutes with my information at hand. I made sure to have my passport and permanent resident card ready. After I filled out the form and submitted it online, I automatically got the visa right at that moment. It was convenient and easy breezy. Now, it’s time for me to fly and discover Taiwan.

2 Nights and 1 Day in Ho Chi Minh City, VietNam

I started a new segment in my blog since a lot of my followers asked for a sample travel itinerary. I called it, the Globetrotter’s Path. In this section, I’ll be making blog entries on how I spent my travels in a very brief and detailed way which includes tour destinations and timetables. Here is my travel route when I was in HCMC or Saigon, VietNam.

Night 1: Arrival in HCMC, VietNam

0100H – Arrived at Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport and went directly to Passpor Control.
0200H – Arrived and checked in at N.Y. Kim Phuong Hotel

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N.Y Kim Phuong Hotel Contact Details

0300H – Settled in the room and got some rest.

Day 1: Free and Easy Tour within Ho Chi Minh City, VietNam

0700H – Call time! Took a bath, getting dressed, and ate breakfast.
0930H – Start of the free and easy day tour in Saigon. First on the itinerary was Saigon Opera House.

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Saigon Opera House

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The AO Show in Saigon Opera House

Seeing Saigon Opera House will only take minutes if  you are not planning to get inside the opera house. It was never in my schedule to take a peek on the insides of the opera house. I only spent 10 minutes just taking photos of the Saigon Opera House.

1005H – Next was the famous Dong Khoi Street which is also known as the famous shopping street in Saigon. Since Saigon Opera House is already located in Dong Khoi street, I just followed the street to my next destination.

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Dong Khoi Street

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Versace outlet in Dong Khoi street

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1010H – Following the Dong Khoi street, we got to see Ủy Ban Nhân Dân Thành Phố Building or also known as the People’s Committee Hall but unfortunately, Ho Chi Minh Square was currently under renovation when we were there.

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UBND Thanh Pho Building

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1030H – Got to Reunification Palace which was my next destination but I also didn’t include it in my itinerary to see the inside of the museum and its gallery.

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Reunification Palace

It has an entrance fee and opens from 0800H to 1200H with 1 hour lunch break and resumes from 1300H to 1600H daily. It is known also as the Independence Palace.

1100H – Few blocks from the Reunification Palace was the Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica. I spent 30 minutes in the basilica and took the time to pray for all the blessings I received. I also had time to snap some photos.

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Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica

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Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica

The basilica is in honor of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. It is located in downtown city and is also inspired in a French architecture.

1130H – Across the Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica is the Central Post Office.

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Central Post Office

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1200H – Left the Central Post Office and went out to grab lunch. Whenever I travel, I always make sure to have time to take a rest. I went back to the hotel and took a nap.

1600H – Went back to the road and that time, I went out to the market. The most famous market is the Ben Thanh Market. It took about almost an hour to get there by walking even though it was just 1.3km away from the hotel due to I got easily distracted by how the Vietnamese people spend their everyday life on the streets. The very reason why I like walking and wandering around downtown cities.

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Ben Thanh Market

It is a large marketplace in central Ho Chi Minh and is popular with tourists seeking local handicrafts, textiles, souvenirs, as well as local food cuisine. I spent an hour in the market just to get souvenirs.

Night 2: Possible Night Attractions

1800H – I passed by Mariamman Hindu Temple but the neighborhood where the temple was located was a little bit suspicious at that time so, I didn’t bother checking out and went out to get dinner before heading back to the hotel and sleep.

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Mariamman Hindu Temple

Tourist attractions at night:
-view of Saigon at night at Saigon Skydeck in BiTexco Financial Tower
-gamble at a casino in Saigon’s famous hotels
-getting drunk in Pham Ngu Lao which is the Backpacker’s hub
-enjoy music bars and night clubs
-cruise down the Saigon River while having dinner
-watch performances in Saigon Opera House
-shop until you drop in Ben Thanh Night Market

0600H – the next day, I checked out from the hotel and went to the bus station in Pham Ngu Lao Street to head to my next destination.

Journey To The Border

In a big continent with lots of countries, going through other nations is fast and easy. It is just a journey to the border. I experienced that when I had my trip to Southeast Asia. I was in Saigon, Viet Nam and I planned to cross border going to Cambodia. I did a lot of research in different blogs and web and it was really helpful. I found out that there are bus companies that drive directly to Cambodia if you are from Saigon/ Ho Chi Minh City. But, it wasn’t confirmed yet since it was only online until I got to the hotel and let them arrange a transportation for me. I was staying in N.Y. Kim Phuong Hotel at Hai Ba Truong Street, check out my blogpost by clicking here.

I have different choices of bus companies such as Sapaco Tourist, MaiLinh, Mekong Express, and etc. I chose Mekong Express Limousine Bus since I read good feedback about it. I made sure that I have arranged it ahead of time like a day before my scheduled trip. They have different time trips. Anyway, I paid the ticket for USD15.

Departure Time Schedules with Route

Departure Time Schedules with Route

Ticket from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh

Ticket from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh

Instructions to Passengers

Instructions to Passengers

The bus station is just located at 275F Pham Ngu Lao Street, District 1. For a trip from HCMC, Viet Nam to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, it will take about 6-8 hours but it depends on the border and immigration process.

Pham Ngu Lao Street

Pham Ngu Lao Street

Mekong Express Limousine Bus banner

Mekong Express Limousine Bus banner

So, I started the day early since I have booked an 0830H bus going to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I had a taxi drove me from my hotel to the bus station and paid only 50,000VND. When I arrived there, the bus still hasn’t arrived so, I have to wait in their office. But 10 minutes before the schedule departure time, the bus arrived and with the assistance of the staff, they took our bags and placed it on the compartment area in the bus and we also showed our tickets since they needed to put the seat number on the bags so when we will claim it, there will be no loss or picking up the wrong luggage issue.

Mekong Express Limousine Bus office

Mekong Express Limousine Bus office

At exactly 0830H, we went our way to our destination. Snacks were served while en route.

The bus spacious with toilet at the back.

The bus is spacious with toilet at the back.

Snacks for the passengers

Snacks for the passengers

Snacks

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Snacks en route to the border

Snacks en route to the border

It took about 3-4 hours to get to Moc Bai, Tay Ninh Province which is the border of Viet Nam. We went inside the immigration office and have our passports taken by the bus staff. Staff will bring the passport for exit stamping in Viet Nam. We waited there for about an hour since there were a lot of travelers crossing borders and also waited for our names to be called. Once they called you, you just get your passport and go back to your bus since it will be another ride going to Cambodia border. You will see these views in the border.

Moc Bai Viet Nam International Border Gate

Moc Bai, Viet Nam International Border Gate

Moc Bai Viet Nam International Border Gate

Moc Bai, Viet Nam International Border Gate

Bavet, Cambodia International Border Gate

Bavet, Cambodia International Border Gate

Bavet, Cambodia International Border Gate

Bavet, Cambodia International Border Gate

For just 5 mins, you will get to see the Cambodian immigration building and directly proceed to the immigration officer to have your passport stamped for entry. The officer usually asked for how many days you will be staying in their country. It was fast and easy. I had mine stamped in just a minute. Then, I crossed the border with ease and stepped my first foot on the land of Cambodia. I was in Bavet, Svay Rieng in Cambodia and traveled about 3-4 hours again to get to Phnom Penh. We even passed through the Mekong river via ferry.

Neak Loung ferry crossing at Mekong river

Neak Loung ferry crossing at Mekong river

I arrived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia at 1630H. I headed directly to the hotel to take a long rest. The whole experience was amazing and it was my first time to cross borders and hopefully, it won’t be the last.

Note:

Contact details of Mekong Express Limousine Busmekongmekong1

Sightseeing While Venturing Viet Nam

If you are wondering why sightseeing in Viet Nam is venturing, then you need to find the answer when you get there and you will be amazed. If you have been there, then, you definitely know it is a risk doing sightseeing by foot on the road.

Well, Ho Chi Minh City is indeed an amazing city. It has a lot to offer to a traveler like me who is seeking for fun and adventure. In Ho Chi Minh City or also known as Saigon, you will see great and magnificent piece of architectural designs inspired from Europe. To mention the places I’ve been to are:

1. Saigon Opera House
It is located in the famous shopping street of Dong Khoi. Saigon Opera House is inspired in a French colonial architecture. Every night, they have a show for an affordable fee.

Saigon Opera House

Saigon Opera House

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The AO Show in Saigon Opera House

The AO Show in Saigon Opera House

2. Dong Khoi Street
The street itself is a tourist attraction. It has wide choices of store known locally and internationally. Thus, a lot of tourists comes to this street to shop.

Dong Khoi Street

3. People’s Committee Hall
They also called it Ủy Ban Nhân Dân Thành Phố Building. Too shame that I didn’t appreciate the view due to the current construction of a subway yet I was able to get some photos of the building. The façade of the building was amazing.

UBND Thanh Pho Building

4. Reunification Palace
The Reunification Palace is also one of the attractions in Viet Nam. It has an entrance fee and opens from 0800H to 1200H with 1 hour lunch break and resumes from 1300H to 1600H daily. It is known also as the Independence Palace. I have decided not to go inside because there were a lot of tourists and maybe it was overcrowded. I saw almost 5 big buses coming inside so, I have thought to just take pictures outside the palace.

Reunification Palace

5. Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica
The cathedral is in honor of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. It is located in downtown city and is also inspired in a French architecture. Upon seeing the cathedral, I was astonished with its magnificent design. I have the opportunity to look on the interior design and it was stunning. Since I am a Catholic, I sat down and spent almost an hour of prayers there. I made also a wish because it was my first time to get inside the church. My family does that whenever we entered a new church.

Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica

View Inside the Basilica

6. Central Post Office
It is just across the street from Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica. Currently, they are doing restoration on the right wing of the building. But it still looked great.

Central Post Office

7. Bến Thành Market
This market is so famous in the country. It is a large marketplace in central Ho Chi Minh and is popular with tourists seeking local handicrafts, textiles, souvenirs, as well as local food cuisine. Most vendors here were wearing the national costume called áo dài. When you want to buy something, you can haggle the price until you can buy it at its lowest cost. I bought my souvenir here.

Ben Thanh Market

Ben Thanh Market

Souvenir

Souvenir

Here is the tour map I followed during my free and easy tour and I did that by foot without any help of anything that has wheels.

Tour Map

Tour Map

OK, too much has been featured about this city yet you might still wonder why sightseeing in the country is risky. Well, in Viet Nam, most of the locals travel by motorcycle. They can take the motorbikes wherever they want to go, they even use footpaths as roads just to get away from traffic. So, if you are not careful enough, you might get hit by motorbike while walking in the sidewalk.

To sum it up, wandering in Ho Chi Minh City felt like I was somewhere in France. As you all know, Viet Nam has been under the French for quite some time during the years of 1862 to 1945. That might be the reason that most structures and buildings in the city are influenced by French.

Staying at N.Y. Kim Phuong Hotel

It was my first out of the country trip and I made sure that I will not miss any fun, thus, I always picked a hotel closest to a lot of tourist attractions. I was searching the entire web as well as the application I installed in my electronic device which is Booking.com. Then, I found N.Y. Kim Phuong Hotel.IMG_1100

I flew from Manila, Philippines to Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam and arrived there at 0020H. I was kinda nervous that the taxi cab drivers don’t know the place. Yet, I was proven wrong. I just told them the address and the taxi driver knew it at the back of his hand. It only took about 30-45 mins drive from Tan Son Nhat International Airport to the city centre which is near the hotel. I paid around 150,000VND (Vietnamese Dong) to get there.

When I arrived there, the receptionist welcomed me and took my passport. No need to fill out any form for personal information, she just told me to head to my room to take some good sleep since it was dawn already. In the morning, I checked the room and it was ok. There is a cable TV, a free wi-fi connection, toiletries, towels and a fridge full with different kind of sodas and water.

Queen Size Bed

Queen Size Bed

Flat Screen Cable TV

Flat Screen Cable TV

The Toilet

The Toilet

My room was in the 10th floor. Good thing there was a lift. It has also free breakfast in their own restaurant downstairs and that made the hotel the best since it served the most delicious pho noodle soup. I also tried chao trung or a rice gruel with eggs. It made me feel really good after sipping those soup from the days I didn’t eat well.

The Menu

The Menu

Chao trung or rice gruel with egg

Chao trung or rice gruel with egg

The hotel's restaurant

The hotel’s restaurant

Pho Bo Soup

Pho Bo Soup

Additional points for the hotel is the superb services of the receptionist. He assisted me on booking my next trip to another country. He even offered a tour by bike within the city but I refused. Instead, he gave me a map and pointed out what directions to take so I won’t end up exhausted.ny2ny3

The star of the hotel may not be the facilities they have but the people working there. They are the ones making your stay memorable. I would definitely recommend this hotel to my friends who are going to Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam.

Decorations in the Receiving Area

Decorations in the Receiving Area

Receiving Area and the Lift

Receiving Area and the Lift

The Best Staff of N.Y Kim Phuong Hotel

The Best Staff of N.Y Kim Phuong Hotel

Receiving Area

Receiving Area

Just outside the hotel

Just outside the hotel

Here is their contact card if you want to get with them and a map.nyny1