Sunday, July 16, 2017

Top 5 things to do at Ho Chih Minh

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Yazz I'm finally back from my Vietnam trip! It was pretty impromptu and I headed over there with Jonathan this time. This was a real treat for us as we haven't been on a holiday together since 2009 and it felt like our bromance has sparkled up again LOL

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We took Airasia flights (RM300 return) and stayed at Walkabout Boutique Hotel in Ho Chi Minh (RM400 for 4 nights) which wasn't too exp if you think of overseas travel. One thing i loved is that the location of this hotel is smacked right in the middle of District 1 (one of the most popular places in Ho Chi Minh). It was only 5 minutes walk from Ben Than Market, 10 minutes walk to the City Square and 10 minutes to Bui Vien Street (Party street)


So anyway, without further to do, Here are the top 5 things on my list to do at Ho Chi Minh City:


1) Overdose on Pho & Vietnam Coffee

PRIORITIES RIGHT? As a coffee lover, Vietnam Coffee is one of the most "kao" stuff you can have. It is super strong and full with flavour and you can get it anywhere in the city. Do try their vietnam drip coffee and traditional coffee and their most famous brands would be such as Phuc Long and Trung Nguyen. a cup of coffee can range from 30K VND to 120K VND depending on location and brand

Pho as Vietnam's most popular dish is another thing you should go OD on. I would definitely recommend eating by the roadsides at food stalls as it is the most authentic you can get. And honestly it is pretty clean and you won't need to worry about food poisoning. A bowl costs about 50-70k VND

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Phuc Long

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Pho Galore



2) Walk about Ho Chih Minh City
Ho Chi Minh is a very lively city and you should explore as much as you can. The famous places to visit is such as the city square where many people will just be chilling especially at night, take away some food, and sit like the locals and eat on the street.

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The Central Post office is a historic place to go to, and you can send postcards to your loved ones easily (>20,000 VND for postcard and stamps)

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Notre dame Cathedral
in Saigon is another historic place as  it has been erected in the late 1800's. You can check out their 40m towers, or their beautiful stained glass around the cathedral. There are English tour guides from 9-11am daily (excluding Sunday) and if you wanna attend mass, it is held every Sunday at 9.30am.


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Ben Tanh Market is the best place to get as much cheap original/counterfeit items. Do note you would need to have superb bargaining skills when you head there. As example, I bought a North Face Backpack over there, I haggled from 1.5m VND to 550k VND, and another smaller UnderArmour bag from 900k VND to 300k VND.

Other than that, you can buy food products there such as your coffee, nuts, dried fruits etc and there is a food court in there as well where you can try their local delicacies there

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3) Cu Chi Tunnels

This tour will take about half a day as it is located about 1 1/2 hours away from the city (depending on traffic) I bought my tour at a tour agent over there which is pretty much cheaper compared to what you get online. I paid 260k per person, inclusive of the bus ride, tour guide and entrance fee (150k bus ride, 110k for entrance fee)

Why should you go there? You're able to see how amazing Vietnamese masterminds dug the tunnels during the vietnam war, and how they managed to survive it! You're also able to see how scary it was to be living in the past and how gruesome the terror was.

As a treat, you can also fire the M1 rifle or M3 machine gun over there at the shooting range. It costs 400k VND for 10 bullets.

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I can fit!

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Booby traps


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Remnants of the war

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inside the tunnels

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Testing the M1



4) AO Show
The AO Show is held at the Saigon Opera House a few days a week. Do you need to know the Vietnamese language to understand it? Nope! It is basically the story of how Vietnam was in the past and how it evolved to the modern city it is today. The show contains a lot of acrobats and interesting acts, and it shouldn't be missed! Price per ticket is about 500k VND

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Saigon Opera House

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The stage area

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The Cast



5) Party your night away
A city that never sleeps! I would say the best place to party is Bui Vien Street, where there are plenty of bars there. The culture is to sit down on small chairs on the road side, drink your beer and watch performing acts happen around the street. A beer would cost about 30k-50k VND depending on the brand and shop.

If you would like something more high class, head to the rooftop bars/clubs located around the city. Prices are much more expensive where a beer will cost at least 150k VND but you get to see the skylines of the city, and honestly in my opinion, the music there was better too :)

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That's my take on Ho Chi Minh! I hope it gives you an eye opener before your upcoming trip!

Monday, May 8, 2017

RM1,074 Budget in Berlin for 5 Days (excluding flights)

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Hi All! This is a long overdue post, but here it is! I went to Germany during winter earlier this year as part of my Euro Trip, and was there for 5 days. I spent my time in Berlin and here is how I did it with a small budget :)


During my trip, the rate was: 1 Euro - RM4.70


Itinerary


Day 1

- Arrive at Berlin Mitte & Check In (About 9pm)
- Chill at Alexanderplatz and enjoy the night markets

Day 2

- Berlin Walking Tours
- Jew Memorial
- Reichtag building
- Checkpoint Charlie
- Typography of Terror Museum

Day 3

- Charottenburg Palace & Gardens
- Berlin Cathedral
- Night Markets

Day 4

- Underground Tunnels
- Berlin Wall Memorial
- East Side Gallery

Day 5

- Chill at Alexanderplatz
- Flight back to Ireland

Accommodation & Flights

I wont be counting in my flights for this trip, as I traveled from Ireland - Germany with RyanAir (RM480 return), so I'm not sure where you're flying from so I'll just put this budget aside

as for accommodation, I stayed at CityStay hostel berlin, which is smacked right in the middle of Alexanderplatz. It is really easy to navigate as you'll have the Berlin Tower as your land mark, and it is walking distance to Museum Island, and to the other attractions. It is slightly more expensive compared to the hostels along the east side gallery, but It is much nearer to the other attractions I thought of visiting. 



I booked a bed in a 8 person mix dorm and had 3 Taiwanese & 2 Singaporeans as my room mates in the hostel, so it was pretty asiany LOL

I paid 19 Euros per night (76 Euros Total) and I got a 6% discount from Shopback.my as I used the App (76 - 4.56 = 71.44 Euros).


Accomodation Cost: RM336 (71.44 Euros)


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This is how the room looks like. its pretty spacious with our own lockers


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The Radio tower as the landmark

Transport

I would say as long you have a strong pair of legs you wouldn't need to worry :) Most of berlin is walkable, but if you're slightly lazy, you can always just get on the S-Bahn or U-Bahn (Trains) or rent a bicycle :)

The train system is pretty crazy over there and you're able to get to many destinations easily. 



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Their tariff system is based on the region, so as you see the map there is Region A, B and C.


For example You're travelling from Schonefield Airport (Region C) to Alexanderplatz (Region A), you'll get an A-B-C Ticket which will cost you €3.40

but if you're travelling along Region A-B only, it'll be  2.80

Of course if you're travelling throughout the day, you can opt for the Day Tickets, which will cost about  €7+ per day


Total Transportation Cost: 15.20


Food

Food is pretty affordable in Berlin, and I would honestly say I went OD on Bratwursts and Beer. I ate pretty Simple allocating about €3 for breakfast, max €5 for lunch and max €10 for dinner. The only expensive meal I had was €15 for a Pork Knuckle. 
Beers are pretty cheap as well, priced at €0,75 per 500ml bottle at the market, and if you wanna get a glass at a bar, it'll cost about €4-5 Euros

Food: €70
Beer: €30 (I drank quite a lot)


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A simple lunch

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Currywurst

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Pork Knuckle

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Warsteiner

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Weissbeer

Things to do at Berlin

1) Berlin Free Walking Tours

There are a few free walking tour providers around Berlin (The Original Free Berlin Tour, Sandemans New Europe Tours, etc), so you can always just register online for your slot, and walk around Berlin for a few hours. The guide will give you a brief history of the famous places they'll bring you to, and they work for tips, so you can pay them how much you think they deserve :)


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Our Guide

I started my walking tour with The Original Free Berlin Tour, and we started off at One80 Hostel, Alexanderplatz (I chose this cos it was the starting point was closest to my hostel), Our guide was pretty awesome explaining the places we'll be visiting, and 


Cost: €5 tip


Some of the places that the walking tours cover:



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The Neue Wache 


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St Mary's Church

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Trabi World

Checkpoint Charlie

This used to be a place that the East & West Berliner's will go through to get to the other side. Over here you're able to take a picture with the guards (10) or get your passport stamped with their old East/West Berlin Passport Stamps (€5)

Another random fun fact that I realized is, its called Checkpoint Charlie and the Photo of the American guard stationed there is called Harper. If you watched Two and a Half Men you'll think its funny yet a real coincidence?


Cost: €5 (For passport stamps)


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Jew Memorial

The Jew memorial is one of the most iconic place as it serves as a remembrance during the troubled times of the Nazi's when they murdered all the Jews. This is a pretty interesting place to go as it is created in such a landscape where you'll be able to get lost in the middle of it. There is also a Jew museum over there if you have the time to go for it.


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Brandenburg Gate

One of the most popular places to visit in Berlin, as been around since the 1800's and has always been rebuilt after heavy damage from the wars. It has been the site of major events in the past and now, Commissioned by the Prussian Monarchy, Napolean's been here, John Kennedy's been here, why not you? LOL


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This ends the "Free Walking Tours" part


2) Topography of terrors Museum

This is a place that I truly loved as you're able to know about all the history of the Third Reich, and all the terror that happened in the past. There's also preserved sections of the Berlin Wall where you're able to get a good photo of

Entrance is free :)


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Typography of terror centre

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Part of the wall

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Look Ma, an escape route!!


3) Reichstag Building

You're able to go into the Reichstag building if you have already registered for a spot online. You would just need to collect your tickets at the counter near to the building, and head in at your designated time slot


The glass dome at the top is what you definitely want to check out



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Just had to LOL


4) Museum Island

There are a few key museums over here, such as the Pergamon Museum, Altes Museum, and more. I decided to visit the Berlin Cathedral on the island instead. and I was in luck! The Berlin Philharmonic was rehearsing for a show coming up. I quickly sat down, and just enjoyed the orchestra and choir while they rehearsed

Another great part of the Berlin Cathedral is that you can go to the rooftop to get a great view of the city!


Cost 7 for Berlin Cathedral Entry



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The Altes Museum

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The Pergamon Museum

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The Berlin Cathedral

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Inside the Berlin Cathedral

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a 360 Shot of the Cathedral

The Berlin Philharmonic:



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The rooftop view:



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5) Berliner Underground

This is a great place to know how the German people survived in WW2. There are a few tours organized everyday for your choosing, and you're able to go down their bunkers and shelters where they took cover during the bombings of WW2. I went for the Dark Worlds Tour which costed me 11

There is a strict no photography allowed in there, so I've just took some photos from their website here: http://berliner-unterwelten.de/home.1.1.html


Cost: 11


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6) The Berlin Wall & Memorial

After visiting the Berlin Underground, I took a 15 minute walk to the Berlin Wall Memorial. Over here you're able to see how the Berlin Wall used to look like with the guard towers and barricades, and also you'll see the vast contrast of how East & West Berlin looks like in the past

Entrance to the memorial is also free, so all you need to do is just walk there!



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During my walk, Beer break!

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7) East Side Gallery

The most vibrant place which is flocking with visitors everyday. The remains of the Berlin wall, covered in graffiti is definitely a must during your trip to Berlin.

Do note there are a lot of gypsies there doing their games so just be careful of their scams



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8) Charlottenburg Palace & Gardens

Away from the main city, Charlottenburg is a place where you're able to see how the royals enjoyed their life in the past. I took a train there as I was slightly lazy. Entrance to the Palace is 10 Euros and you would need to pay another 3 if you would want to take photographs in the Palace

I honestly would say that I was not really impressed with the interior of the palace, but if you have the time to spare, why not? The gardens on the other hand was really big, but since it was winter, nothing was blooming. probably if you're around during spring, it is definitely a place to go to


You can check em out here: https://www.spsg.de/en/palaces-gardens/object/schloss-charlottenburg/

Cost: 13


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Walking towards the palace

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The Charllotenburg Palace

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A 360 shot

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The banquet hall of the palace

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Displays of antiques

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Portraits in the palace

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The small library

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The view behind the palace

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The Charlottenburg Gardens

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Must Dabbbb

9) Night Markets

Berlin has night markets once in a while, and it is a great place to taste their local cuisine and see their live performances. Entrance to the market was 1 Euro, and I ate my heart away in there

Cost: 1


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Some of their live performances

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All em sausages grilling

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Trdelnik

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Cheese Raclette with Bacon

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A nice cup of Gluh Wein


So all in all that summed up my Berlin Trip. Definitely I could have done more, but I wasn't feeling too well during that time, so I had to pace out my activities

So here's the total cost for my 5 day trip:
71.44 Accommodation
15.20 Transport (excluding flights)
100 Food & Vwwe
42 Attractions
€228.64 (RM1,074) Total Cost

So actually its quite affordable to just chill at Berlin for a few days if you want to :) The main thing i spent for over here is food, so if you wanna budget a bit more, definitely you can! :)

Thanks for reading!