To wrap up our holiday in Vietnam, we headed back to Saigon for New Years Eve. We landed on the afternoon of the 31st and were here until midnight on the 2nd January.
We stayed in a different hotel, the Novotel Saigon, so we were in a different part of town. Our location turned out to be more central than our previous hotel, which helped us see more of the city. We headed to the pool for a few drinks and some food before heading out to ring in the new year. I checked out the plans for the city and there were two firework displays, one in District 1 and one in District 11 (this seemed further out of town). We headed out about 9pm and walked from our hotel down to Nguyen Hue. On the way the street started to get packed full of mopeds and traffic came to a standstill. A few minutes later we found ourselves on the footpath surrounded by mopeds. We had to crawl over the mopeds to make our way down the street, pretty soon we gave up and stopped into the quietest Irish bar I’ve ever seen. We left their after one quick drink and walked towards Bitexco as loads of locals were sitting around waiting on the fireworks.
We found it exceptionally hard to get a drink around so we strolled until we got to one pub where we were told the fireworks were coming from the Saigon river and not Bitexco. We made our way back to the waterfront where we sat on the road for a good hour. Expecting a count down to midnight and some atmosphere we were momentarily disappointed when the fireworks started at midnight without any build up. They were really unbelievable (photo below) and lasted for 15 minutes when everyone then made their way home. As we made our way to the roundabout by the Renaissance Hotel, we found hundreds of locals on their mopeds who had been stuck there for a few hours. As the crowds from the river front and the mopeds began to made their way out of the city, it got very interesting to walk through!
We woke up late on New Years day and planned our day. Brunch followed by the War Remnants Museum and then a walk around the city. We set off for Au Parc Cafe which was a mix of Mediterranean and Vietnamese cuisine. I got an Greek style open smoked salmon sandwich which was amazing. We next set off for the War Remnants Museum which told the story of the Vietnam War from the side of the Vietnamese, a lot of the descriptions and photos were quite hard to look at. After another stroll around the city we went back for another swim in the hotel pool. After eating in KOTO in Hanoi we decided to check out the one in Saigon as it was close to us. We arrived and were told there were no seats available that evening (half of the restaurant was empty). Feeling pissed off we sat outside and decided on where to get dinner. The restaurant side of Au Park Cafe is called Propaganda and was highly recommended as a place to eat while in Saigon, so we headed that way. There was a lot more on their menu than what it showed online. Thankfully we weren’t disappointed. I also got a sample of a beer from a local brewery we were planning on checking out. After dinner we took a quick walk to the brewery to find out it was closed for the night. We went for the second best option of ice cream and a walk around the area back to our hotel.
On our last day in Vietnam we wanted to visit the Independence Palace and the brewery we came across the night before. The Independence Palace is well worth a visit, the large rooms are still on show with a detailed description of its importance in Vietnamese history. Also the fact that the meditation room at the top of the palace was turned into a nightclub was interesting. After our trip here we headed to Pasteur Street to the brewery. Sadly I didn’t get a beer flight, but the beer I did get was worth it! We headed back to the hotel to get packed and ready for our flight home. Before leaving for the airport we headed to the hotels rooftop bar for some cocktails which were almost as good as the view. After 2 hours here we set off for our 16 hour flight back to Dublin!