We are still in need of accommodations for the next few nights in Saigon and end up booking a room online at Tan Hai Long Hotel And Spa located at District 1 near Ben Thanh Market. Tan Hai location makes it ideal for us to get there from the airport, we think.
In search of transportation to our hotel, we leave the airport building close to 6pm. An almost not surprising light rain is falling as we bargain with a few taxi cab drivers for a reasonable fare into town.
I do not know if it is because of the rain or because they could tell we are foreigners despite my best “Sin Cho” but the prices are double what we expected. It is time to at least explore other options.
Not far from the taxi stand we spot a local parked bus and head that way. We are waved off as we approach the bus driver and we soon realize that “Ralph Camden” is done with passengers for the day. The last direct bus from the airport to Ben Thanh Market stops at 6pm.
Fortunately, this bus driver is more accommodating and gives us a good plan to get to Ben Thanh.
Using his best English, he tells us he will take us outside of the airport for about US$0.50 to another bus stop where we can transfer to a direct Ben Thanh Market bus. So far, what a deal compared to a US$25 inflated taxi cab fare.
The rain has picked up pace as we leave the bus at a stop somewhere along a busy highway that makes us feel like we are still in Hanoi minus one or two beep, beeps. It is not long before our connecting bus arrives and we are enjoying the scenery of Saigon at night like locals.
We do stand out on the bus and get a few curious stares as more local passengers board the bus. However, we also manage to get a smile or two probably for our courage or insanity to ride the bus which hopefully is not known here as “The Flying Coffin” like in Hanoi.
We are at the Ben Thanh Bus Station. Not quite sure where our hotel is from here as Ben Thanh Market is a huge square complex, we set out in search of Tan Hai Long.
As luck would have it, leaving the bus station staring down at us like a huge sore thumb is a lighted sign. However, there is only one of many small problems between us and it. Beep, beep, beep, we must now navigate across a busy intersection to get to our destination.
It is a good thing we had a lot of practice in Hanoi if not we may not have made it across the street to Tan Hai Long Hotel in one piece. All in all a great experience from the airport to our hotel for US$0.75 per person, a grand total of US$1.50.
Leaving our backpacks behind, it is time to check out the Ben Thanh Night Market.