Firstly, a couple of words about scams and thieves in Ho Chi Minh City...
There are all sorts of warnings and reviews about taxi scams and bags/jewelry being stolen in Vietnam. We have just returned from two weeks in this wonderful country and we found it to be as safe as anywhere in the world to travel. Like all major cities, you have to be sensible about your belongings but there are no thieves lurking in dark corners and as long as you don't have an extremely easy to grab bag hanging off your shoulder you have no hope of being robbed.
Being charged an extra 40,000 dong for a taxi is NOT being scammed - it's US$2. Don't hop in an old beat up taxi after being approached (in English) by a dodgy driver. Just give them a smile and a no-thank-you (a smile and a no-thank-you works well for all the touting you will encounter and it is never threatening) and find a Vinasun taxi. Vinasun taxis are everywhere. They are metered, they are clean and they are very reliable. You can't help but TIP the drivers as the fares are very cheap by Western standards.
The Caravelle Hotel is brilliantly located in the centre of town and a couple of hours self-guided walking will see all the sights. The decor is old IN STYLE but not in quality - we stayed in a Signature Club room which was adequate in size and had every amenity you expect in a five star hotel. The bed was THE most comfortable I have ever slept in. The Signature Lounge is well worth paying for with great light food and free drinks in the evening, looking out over the Opera House and skyline sunset. Breakfast options were great - very happy to dine in the Signature Lounge as the main breakfast room on the ground floor seemed noisy and a bit cafeteria-ish.
The pool area is absolutely superb considering it is half way up a building. We had some wonderful spa treatments on our last day (located next to the pool) and while they were probably the most expensive in Saigon it was a bargain by Western standards. Also must mention here the highlight of our trip which was a night "Foodie" tour with XO Tours on the back of a motor bike! Look them up - it was a most memorable night.
What else? ATM is on the first floor and you need to visit that daily to get a stash of dong - Vietnam is still mostly a cash economy. Transfer from the airport? The hotel quoted us a ridiculous US$58 for a one-way pickup. Take a Vinasun taxi for around US$10 - after you exit the airport doors, turn left and walk all the way to the end of the taxi rank. The Vinasuns operate from there and they will have a guy who will help get you one. The drivers all know the Caravelle.
A fantastic stay in Saigon for us and we can't recommend the Caravelle any higher!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Caravelle Saigon is one of Ho Chi Minh City's leading international 5-star hotels - in the centre of the business, shopping and entertainment district, 8 km from Tan Son Nhat International Airport. The Hotel opened in 1959 with modern design combining French and Vietnamese architecture and to this day the address and service ensures we have kept our iconic landmark status in the Heart of Saigon. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Caravelle Ho Chi Minh City
- Caravelle Hotel Saigon