Following on from the Ho Tram post, this is the second leg of our Christmas holiday to Vietnam. Next, we’re off to Ho Chi Minh. It’s amazing and great to see how much it has developed since the last visit. With Cara being older now, we have been able to enjoy travelling more and this trip has been no different!
Date Visited: Overall stay from 14th to 26th December 2022 for me. Cara stayed slightly longer.
Locations: Vietnam – Ho Tram and Ho Chi Minh
Getting There: London Gatwick to Ho Chi Minh City via Istanbul with Turkish Airlines. A 14-hour flight with a 2 hour layover in the nice Istanbul airport.
Cost: Return flights for me were £1,000 as I booked a bit late, usually about £800 if booked in advance. Accommodation varied but averaged about £120 per night with a buffet breakfast included. Food, drinks and transportation are extra, but as it’s South-East Asia, it’s cheap compared to the UK.
Christmas in the city
A two-hour transfer from Ho Tram back to Ho Chi Minh with kids is not the easiest on Vietnamese roads. Cara and her friend were troopers for toughing it out and the reward was a nice room at the Hotel Nikko. We had booked the Lounge access, which means some extra goodies like extra afternoon tea and happy hour on the top floor. It is slightly more dated compared to the previous two hotels we stayed at in Ho Tram. The benefit though was it’s connected to a small shopping centre with a good selection of restaurants and a gaming arcade.
We didn’t have many plans in Ho Chi Minh as we had previously ticked off all the tourist sites. This visit was to enjoy the family time and food. One highlight for Cara was the cat cafe, Catfe, down the road. Cara enjoyed it so much we went three times in total. For the small entry fee of c.£3 per person, you have unlimited drinks and snacks while you sit and play with 3 levels of cats of all varieties. Initially, we thought the snacks were for the cats until we saw other visitors eating them. For those who are worried about cleanliness, the staff keep the place spotless and clean up any mess as soon as it happens.
Food and shopping
Whatever you feel like eating, Ho Chi Minh has it. Local food, Japanese, Chinese, Western. It has it all and at all times. Cara’s favourite dish was the beef noodle soup, Pho. Instead of cereal, she had it for breakfast each morning. As with the previous hotels, the buffet breakfast at the Nikko was varied and delicious. Outside of the hotel, there’s a street vendor every few steps where you can grab yourself a banh-mi. Cara was thrilled to be able to hitch a lift on her aunty’s scooter to pick some up!
If street food isn’t for you, there’s a myriad of shopping centres with its own restaurants or food courts. It’s great wandering around seeing all the local crafts and dishes. At the Saigon Centre, you can even pick up some animal themed cotton candy!
When it comes to Christmas buffets, Ho Chi Minh does it in style. We started with a Christmas Eve buffet at the Nikko where they kept delivering lobsters, oysters and crab to our table until we had to tell the waiters to stop. It was ridiculous. Just when we thought we couldn’t eat anymore, we had booked a Christmas buffet lunch at the Caravelle Hotel. Although smaller in size compared to Nikko’s offering, the quality of food was a lot better. By the end of it though, we were thoroughly over seafood.
Cara is not always a keen shopper, but when it comes to cute things, she’s on it. There are a lot of knick-knack stores dotted around the city. Here she is modelling one of her purchases for the plane ride home. Along with the Kirby neck pillow is a whole collection of head bands and toys that squish.
Pampering – because you deserve it
After all the eating and shopping that you’ll do, it’s time to treat yourself. For Cara and her friend, this meant getting their nails done and feet washed. For the parents, it was a nice massage. At about £10 per person, you can pamper yourself with a 100-minute massage and hair wash.
Till next year…
There are holidays where you go on which are fun and relaxing, but don’t make too much of an impact in your life. However, this visit with family and friends to Ho Tram and Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, will be tough to beat. In fact, we’ve enjoyed it so much that we’re planning on going again next year, this time with even more family and friends to share it with.
ABC Dad Tips:
- If you’re visiting for Christmas, book the Christmas Eve or Day meals ahead of time as it does get booked out.
- It always helps to have someone local show you around outside of the tourist spots. If you know someone that’s from there or understands Vietnamese, it’s a big plus!
- Download the app, Grab. It’s the Vietnamese version of Uber and does everything. Instead of hitching a lift in a car, you can opt for a scooter.