A year passed by since I last visited Ho Chi Minh City. Exactly one year ago ITE HCMC 2017 was a great trip and since I kept so many good memories about visiting Vietnam I decided to come back this year for ITE HCMC 2018. The largest travel trade show in Vietnam is called the International Travel Expo and is annually held in Ho Chi Minh City.
As you may have noticed I stopped writing weekly adventures lately and reordered my articles and my website a little bit. Don’t worry all the weekly adventure travel blogs are still there but are now categorised under the country where the adventure took place. Take a look at the new structure of my website in my sitemap.
Curious about the things you need for a Vietnam visa on arrival? Click here
Journey to Ho Chi Minh
I flew from Amsterdam to Ho Chi Minh with Emirates and even though I never worked with them personally I must admit I really like all of the Middle Eastern airlines. Their up-to-date planes and excellent service is a big plus. Transit in Dubai is always very smooth, but I obviously prefer direct flights. In total my journey from Amsterdam to Ho Chi Minh City was still more than 17 hours.
My favorite airliner? I might be biased but that is Qatar Airways, when you click on the link you will find out why. Enjoy the video! 😉
Arriving in Ho Chi Minh City
From last year I remember the hectic arrival hall in HCMC, but as always there was a volunteer of ITE waiting for my arrival. I told him this time I not only needed some time to arrange my visa on arrival in Vietnam, but I also wanted to find out about the best sim card in Vietnam for tourists. The young guy waited patiently when I did my research. Read the outcome in the link.
Checking in Grand Hotel Saigon
It was already late and unfortunately I missed one of the pre tours around Ho Chi Minh City. I definitely would have loved the boat trip on the river to enjoy the city from a different perspective. The Ho Chi Minh City skyline is fabulous and Im sure it would have looked even more awesome form a boat.
I only arrived at Grand Hotel Saigon around 22.00 and when I got to my room I immediately took a bath. A few minutes later the bell rang. Confused I wrapped a towel around my waist and opened the door. A hotel employee handed me a bag with some sandwiches and a tea. He urged to tell me this is not from the hotel, it is from your friend.
Until today I still have no clue who delivered this food package to my room, but massive thanks!
I often get asked if I write honest reviews even if it is a sponsored post. Yes totally! I don’t like to lose my authenticity as a blogger and no the Grand Hotel Saigon was definitely not my favorite hotel, read the full review in the link above. Across the road is the amazing boutique hotel The Myst Dong Khoi I stayed in last year. Recommended!
Ho Chi Minh City sightseeing tour
Last year I already visited a bunch of tourist spots in Ho Chi Minh City including some cool temples and botanic gardens. This year we went in another direction and paid a visit to the Post Office and the Notre Dame Basilica. Unfortunately the cathedral is under construction for the next coming years and surrounded by scaffolds, but getting to know the history behind the Post Office was pretty cool. Mr. Eiffel, yes the one from the tower in Paris, designed this building himself.
After we walked around for a bit we headed to the War Remnants Museum, one of the most famous tourists spots in Ho Chi Minh City. This came as a total surprise for me, but it made me really happy, because long time ago I had been here already and I was eager to come back and relive the memories.
What most of you probably don’t know is that I traveled loads before I started blogging. In 2008 I started a trip around the world in Cancun, Mexico and ended up in Thailand exactly 1 year later. Vietnam was back then one of my last stops and as a 20 something year old I walked around Ho Chi Minh City on my own. Back then the War Remnants Museum made a huge impression and it actually was the first time I learned more about the Vietnam War.
When you visit Ho Chi Minh City you have to visit the War Remnants Museum.
AO Show at the Opera House Siagon
Built by the French more than 120 years ago, the Opera House in the Dong Khoi area is a must visit in Ho Chi Minh City. They have great shows in such an iconic atmosphere. The theater is like one you see in the movies. Unfortunately it is not allowed to take pictures inside or I would have showed you. Anyway last year I already went to the AO Show and I was able to attend this spectacular performance again this year. Of course I did not hesitate a moment.
Compared to last year the AO Show changed a little bit, but the story line is still the same. During a marvellous and dynamic performance the actors will show you the two faces of Vietnam: the bustling city life and the huge contrast with the simple but hard working life in rural areas. These two worlds are constantly coming back in the show and after an upbeat part with a lot of quick movements the show slows down again back to the peaceful country side. If you are willing to see the Vietnam lifestyle in a different kind of way then I would most definitely recommend you to go to the AO Show in the Opera House in Saigon.
Tickets start from around €25, check out their Facebook Page here.
Dinner at Vietnam House Restaurant
One of the best restaurants in Ho Chi Minh and may be even Vietnam was hosting us for dinner one night. From the outside it looks very stylish and its great location right in the heart of hip and trendy Dong Khoi makes it a hotspot in Saigon. May be just another fancy restaurant night you may think but no this was a special night. The famous Vietnamese/Australian tv-chef Luke Nguyen was our host tonight. Meeting this Masterchef was already a privilege, eating a 6 course meal cooked by him and his team was even better.
Have a look at the menu for that night!
Vietnam House Restaurant owned by Luke Nguyen and is running for the first Michelin Star in Vietnam.
Besides the fact that the food was extremely tasty, Luke also appeared to be a sincerely nice guy! In a little chat I found out he was actually living just a couple streets away from me at the time I was living and working in Sydney.
If you are looking for a great culinary experience in Ho Chi Minh City I would surely recommend you trying out the Vietnam House Restaurant.
ITE HCMC 2018
Of course the main reason for my trip to Ho Chi Minh City was ITE HCMC 2018. This travel fair is the most important MICE event in Vietnam where buyers, sellers and media meet to discuss travel in Vietnam and South East Asia and create networks to set up businesses. As a media representative I roamed around looking for opportunities for future trips.
Last year I also visited ITE HCMC, read here more about my trip to Ho Chi Minh City in 2017.
On the opening gala dinner we were already introduced to some new tourism destinations in Vietnam through a great show. Bikes play a huge roll in the daily life in Vietnam and that came back in the show, really cool to see. Another very interesting region that caught my attention was the Quang Binh province, a hidden gem in Northern Central Vietnam. Luckily on the post show media tour we were able to visit the Quang Binh Province and could see the beauty with our own eyes.
Here are some more impressions of ITE HCMC 2018.
Delicious Vietnamese food at the gala dinner show.
The gala dinner opening show had a lot of great performances showcasing tourist destinations in Vietnam.
The delegates for ITE HCMC 2018.
The opening ceremony brought a lot of Press together, luckily I was one of the tallest people.
The Award show at ITE HCMC 2018.
The hosted media team: bloggers, publishers, printed media, online media, journalists, tv-crew and many more interesting people.
Thank you for keeping up with my travel adventures from around the world. Interested in reading more about traveling in Vietnam? Last year I visited Mekong Delta, just southwest of Ho Chi Minh City. A great multi day trip close to the Cambodian border.