2017 Spring Getaway – Perth, Australia

perth-australia

ABOUT PERTH, AUSTRALIA

australia-map

Timezone : UTC+08:00 (same as Malaysia)

Seasons: Summer (December – February), Autumn (March – May), Winter (June – August), Spring (September – November)

Currency: Australia Dollar (AUD)

Visa: Required for everybody who is traveling to Australia, except for Kiwi’s

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GETTING THERE

Went to Perth in September 2017 (Spring) by Malindo Air and bought the tickets during promotion period. Each ticket for adult includes 30kg check-in luggage and meal. For infant it includes 10kg checked-in luggage. Meaning total luggage for me, my husband & son was 70kg! The plane took off from KLIA (and not KLIA2, reminder to those who will be traveling to Perth on Malindo Air) and safely landed at Perth International Airport after 5 hours and 50 minutes. At the airport, make sure to grab ‘Hello Perth’ booklet for discount vouchers and purchase local SIMcard to stay connected!

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From the airport international terminal, you may choose to take a taxi or bus to go to your hotel. At first we were planning to take a taxi but took the bus instead since we were assisted by locals on how to go to the hotel we were staying at using the bus (we save around $40 but we need to walk to the hotel with 2 luggage, a stroller and an infant on a baby carrier – since he refuse to sit on the stroller).

The bus number that we took was 380, fittingly named after the Airbus A380 and it has dedicated luggage racks and runs daily between the Elizabeth Quay Bus Station in the Perth city centre and T1 and T2. However, it is a limited stops service with connections to other services available at few points.

For more details of the airport, visit https://www.perthairport.com.au

VISA

Visa is required for everybody who is traveling to Australia, except for Kiwi’s. It is quite easy to apply for it. Just go to https://www.australiavisa.my/ , fill in the form and make the payment. You can choose either to get a regular visa (RM26) or express visa (RM50). I manage to get my visa approved within the same day of submission (regular visa). Make sure to print a copy of the visa even though in your email it will state that you do not need to print it. I was asked to show the printed visa twice, once at KLIA and also at Perth airport during check-in (because they are not able to find my son’s details).

GET CONNECTED

If you would like to stay connected, you can purchase Optus or Vodafone simcard at the airport. The counter is near the arrival hall gate – you will see it once you exit arrival hall. When we were there, my husband and I purchased Optus simcard. We decided to use the simcard for 6 days so we purchased a 7 days package which is worth $15 (there’s also different packages based on number of days you would like to use it). The package includes free call & text to any Australian number, plus 1GB data daily.

optus

BIOSECURITY AND QUARANTINE

For most Muslims traveling abroad, it is very common that we will bring food from home, just in case it is difficult to find Halal food. When traveling to Australia, you can bring food but you need to make sure that you declare it in the declaration form – else if you get caught, you might get fine.

Here’s a list of foods that we bring to Perth. Before flying, I have printed a list of foods that we are bringing in and put it all in the same luggage. All food that we bring passed the inspection – actually they don’t really inspect much. Only the chicken rendang was being inspected and it got through.

  • Brahim’s nasi lemak
  • Brahim’s fried rice
  • Brahim’s chicken rendang
  • Maggi & mee sedap instant noodle
  • Nescafe 3-in-1
  • Biscuitss
  • Knorr’s instant porridge
  • Infant formula

From my own understanding, we can bring in food which are commercially prepared & packaged, shelf stable, no refrigeration required to store the food, and for personal consumption. However, you may visit this link for more details: http://www.agriculture.gov.au/travelling/bringing-mailing-goods#check

ACCOMMODATION

If you are planning to stay around Perth CBD (CBD stands for center business district), it is good to find a hotel which is close to the bus stop so that you can go around CBD for free (using CAT bus or any buses if you are traveling within the free transit zone – FTZ). Would also help in getting to places outside of CBD if you are taking public transportation.

For our 6 days 5 nights holiday, we stayed at Season’s of Perth which is located at Pier Street and booked it through Agoda. Before decided to booked the hotel, we read reviews saying that the hotel was old, dirty and smelly, the receptionist was rude, etc but we still booked it since we like the location, the room is big (36 m² – good for an active infant) and it was RM800 cheaper compared to another hotel we were considering as well.

When we reach the hotel, the receptionist was very friendly and polite. Please note that the deposit for this hotel is $100 per night (max $400). However the receptionist only charge us $50 per night.  When we entered our room, we fell in love with it. Clean, big, comfortable room! Lucky we didn’t really focus on those negative comments – or maybe we were just lucky to get the nicer room. 🙂 Halal eateries is also close by (Insan’s Cafe, halal kebab, etc) and same goes to Woolworths – for your groceries shopping. Will definitely stay here again if we have the change to visit Perth again next time 🙂

94941618   standard king room

* Image source: https://www.agoda.com

Other hotel which I did consider staying was Pensione Hotel. This hotel is just opposite of Season’s of Perth. However please note that most of the rooms are very small. The biggest room is 26 m² and it is also the most expensive room (Premium King Room – right image). I am OK with small room but since I brought along my almost 2 years old son, I prefer to stay in a bigger room so that he will have space to play and run around. This hotel is also quite new compared to Season’s of Perth. Read good reviews of this hotel as well.

pensione hotel pensione room

* Image source: http://www.pensione.com.au/perth

Another hotel that was on my list was Bailey’s Motel. Even though it is a motel instead of a hotel, the rating on Agoda is 8.2=Excellent and the room is big. Fridge, kettle, microwave, stove, cutlery, etc. is also provided. The motel is also close to Yellow and Red CAT bus (Wellington Square). The motel provide free WiFi and free parking, which most hotel doesn’t provide and some might charge for it.

bailey's motel bailey's motel room

*Image source: http://www.baileysmotel.com.au/

GETTING AROUND

  • TRANSPERTH – They provide the Perth metropolitan region with bus, train and ferry public transport services. As for the ticketing, there are few options provided, and some can even help you to save more especially if you are a budget traveler. There’s a standard fare, concession fare, DayRider (unlimited all day travel, can be used for bus, train & ferry, however please check on availability of this ticket – day and time), FamilyRider (a cash ticket that gives a group of up to seven people unlimited travel on the day of purchase, provided no more than two of them normally pay full fare. However please check on availability of the ticket – day & time. Wanted to purchase for my trip to Fremantle on Friday, however FamilyRider only available after 3pm on Friday). There’s also free buses provided which is call CATs bus. The normal buses are also free if you are traveling within the Free Transit Zone.
  • CATs bus – Free buses in Perth are known as CATs, short for Central Area Transit Services. There’s 4 different colours which have their own route – blue, red, yellow, green. It also covers different area such as centre of Perth, Fremantle and Joondalup. You may view and download CAT map here: VIEW CAT MAPPerth Free CAT bus route
  • Visit their website to learn more about their services, routes, fare, etc.: Transperth. You can also download their mobile apps, which I found quite useful. It will show you different route to reach your destination, plus how much you need to pay for the fare as well! To download, search for ‘Transperth’

Transperth Train Route

  • Car rental – there are a lot of car rental companies that you can choose from. Each have their own pros and cons and it also depends on what you are looking for. Please note that if you are traveling with an infant or toddler, using a baby seat is a MUST. Here are some of the car rental company in Perth: Bayswater Car Rental, Thrifty, Aries Car Rental. For Malaysians, international driver license is not required as Malaysia driving license is accepted in Australia. Please also note that you will need to pay some bond or deposit. Do check on that as well when booking for a car.

INTERESTING PLACES

  • Elizabeth Quay – To go here, you can take blue or green CAT bus and stop of Elizabeth Quay. Can also take any bus which stop nearby as well since there’s a bus station near Elizabeth Quay. At the jetty, you can take a ferry to cross to the other side, or just remain on the ferry if you are just want to enjoy the ferry ride.

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            Image source: mra.wa.gov.au

  • Swan River – Take a ferry from Elizabeth Quay jetty and enjoy the ride on the Swan River.
  • Bell Tower – Bell Tower is located near to Elizabeth Quay. You can just walk over to Bell Tower from Elizabeth Quay. Blue CAT bus stop no 2 (Barrack Square) is just opposite of the Bell Tower.

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  • Northbridge – Northbridge is an inner city suburb of Perth.  It is a vibrant and exciting area with cafés, restaurants, bars, shops, nightlife, cultural events and festivals. By the way, we were able to walk from Northbridge to Perth CBD.

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  • Crawley Edge Boatshed – This is one of the most famous icon of Perth! To go here, take bus 950 towards Qeii Medical Center and stop at Mounts Bay Rd Before Wingfield Avenue (stop id 23000). To go back to Perth CBD, cross the road to the bus stop opposite the road (stop id 10384) and take bus 950 towards Elizabeth Quay.

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  • King’s Park & Botanic Garden – Kings Park is a 4.06-square-kilometre park located on the western edge of the central business district in Perth, Western Australia. There’s several options on how to go here, however we took bus 935 to Fraser Avenue King’s Park (stop id 17501). Went there at night since our day was full of other activities but it was too dark for us to go explore. Only manage to take Perth skyline and then immediately cross the road to go back to our hotel.

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  • Fremantle – Fremantle is a port city and known for its maritime history. Amongst tourist, Fremantle is a famous place where you can get cheap souvenir (scroll below to learn more)! Famous Fremantle attractions include E-shed (souvenir), Fremantle Prison, Fremantle market, maritime museum, shipwreck museum, etc. It is also famous for its fish & chips! Went here twice during our Perth trip! To go to Fremantle by public transportation, you can take a train on Fremantle line and stop at Fremantle station (not North Fremantle). There’s also free CAT bus in Fremantle.
  • Caversham Wildlife Park – Caversham Wildlife Park showcases many of Australia’s unique native animals, including koalas, wallabies, possums, Tasmanian devils and wombats – providing visitors with the opportunity for a close-up encounter with some Australian icons! It is open from 9am – 5.30pm everyday, except Christmas. Admission fee: Adult $28, Child 3-4 years old $12.50, free for children below 3. There’s Halal food sold there. To go here, take a train on Midland Line and stop at Bassendean Station (Zone 2, around $4.70). Walk out from the station and you will see bus stops no 1&2 and 3&4. Walk towards stop 3&4 and wait for bus 955 or 956 to Ellenbrook (you do not need to pay for the bus ticket if your previous ticket is still valid). Stop at Lord St Before Youle-Dean Rd (Whiteman Park, stop id 15529). When you reach Whiteman Park, you can choose to either walk (around 1.7km) or take a free shuttle van. To take the free shuttle van, use the intercom available at the entrance of Whiteman Park and a van will come and pick you up. However the free shuttle van is only available on weekdays. To go back Bassendean train station, take the shuttle van back to the entrance and cross the road to the bus stop opposite (stop id 15526). Take bus no 955 or 956.

Since we had limited time in Perth (should stay there longer) and we didn’t rent a car (some places is unreachable by public transportation), we didn’t manage to visit places listed below. However since I have done some research, might as well share some of the details here.

  • Margaret River Chocolate Factory – Located in 3 different locations (one of them is Murray Street), The Margaret River Chocolate Company brings a taste of Margaret River to the city, combining hundreds of delicious, award-winning chocolate products with a range of gourmet products and homewares. By the way you can try some of their chocolate for free!!
  • Perth Zoo – Perth Zoo is widely known as a unique events and functions destination and can offer a host of amazing experiences. Thousands of visitors come to the Zoo not only to see the animals, but to be entertained by the many and varied events held in the Zoo’s spectacular setting.
  • Swan Valley – World-class wineries, breweries, distilleries, countless gourmet artisan goods, handcrafted wares, bustling markets, vibrant studios, top-notch eateries and endless experiences.
  • Western Australia Museum – will be close until 2020
  • Western Australia Art Gallery – Gallery visitors are offered unique and exciting experiences of historic and contemporary Australian artists, as well as the art of the world. Open Wednesday – Monday, 10 am – 5 pm.
  • Pinnacles – The Pinnacles desert is the major tourist attraction of the region. Attracting around 250,000 visitors every year, the Pinnacles desert covers an area of approximately 190 hectares, and contains thousands of limestone Pinnacles, some up to 5 meters high. The variation in colours and the stark relief of the Pinnacles against a backdrop of constantly shifting sand dunes creates an eerie landscape of ever changing moods often viewed at it’s best at dawn or sunset when the shadows create remarkable patterns and shapes that ripple over the sands. Entrance fee of AUD12 per car

Pinnacles

Image source: www.australia.com

  • Lancelin Sand Dunes – Sand, surf & sunset! Lancelin is Australia’s premier sandboarding destination. Pure white sand rises three storys high and entry to the dunes is free and open every day from sunrise to sunset. Board can be rented at nearby shops or petrol station for around AUD20 for 2-3 hours.

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Image source: www.lancelin.com.au/tourism/sandboarding/

  • Yanchep National Park – Yanchep National Park is located north of Perth. Its bushland and wetland are home to western gray kangaroos and rich birdlife. Trails include a raised boardwalk among trees inhabited by koalas. One of many caves in the park, Crystal Cave is an underground limestone cavern with stalactites and stalagmites.
  • Busselton Jetty – Busselton Jetty is the longest wooden jetty in the world, stretching almost 2 km out to sea from the town of Busselton. A day pass to the jetty (to walk, swim, fish, dive, etc) costs AUD2.50 for adults (17 and over) and free for kids (16 and younger). If you don’t feel like walking, there’s a train which you can ride. The train ride costs AUD13 for adults aged 17 and up and AUD6.50 for children aged 3 to 16.
    There’s a museum and interpretive centre at the start of the jetty is open from 9 to 5 in winter, and 8:30 to 6 for the rest of the year

Image source: www.busseltonjetty.com.au/

  • Araluen Botanic Park – Situated in the Perth hills with a north-south valley aspect, Araluen Botanic Park is home to many species of Australian and international flora.

Image source: http://araluenbotanicpark.com.au/

  • Cottesloe Beach – Cottesloe Beach has been the favourite seaside destination for Perth locals for more than 100 years. With more than a kilometre (0.6 miles) of pure white sand, Cottesloe Beach is one of Perth’s most popular spots for swimming, snorkelling and surfing.

Image source: www.australia.com/en/places/perth-and-surrounds/guide-to-cottesloe-beach.html 

  • Scarborough Beach – Scarborough Beach has the best white sand surf beach in the world. This Perth beach is the ideal Indian Ocean vacation destination to relax.

Scarborough Beach

Image source: http://www.scarboro.info/

  • Penguin Island – Located in the spectacular Shoalwater Islands Marine Park, just 45 minutes south of Perth is Penguin Island – a beautiful, unspoilt nature reserve home to WA’s largest colony of little penguin as well as dolphins, sea lions, stingrays, pelicans, ospreys and more.

penguin island

Image source: www.penguinisland.com.au/

  • Rottnest Island – Rottnest Island sits just offshore from the city of Perth. A protected nature reserve, it’s home to the quokka, a small wallaby-like marsupial. White-sand beaches and secluded coves include the Basin, with its shallow waters, and Thomson Bay, the main hub and ferry port. Strickland Bay is known for its surf breaks, while reef breaks occur at Radar Reef, off the island’s far western tip.

Image source: www.experienceperth.com/region/rottnest-island

SHOPPING

  • Woolworths – A place for your groceries shopping. My usual shopping list from Woolworths includes chocolates & coffee!! 🙂
  • Target – Went to target just to buy Hotwheels! Manage to get Hotwheels at only $1 each, meaning its half of the price selling in Malaysia!

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  • E-shed Market (Fremantle) – E-shed is the place to go if you want to buy some souvenir since the price is way cheaper compared to if you buy from Perth CBD. E-shed is actually a warehouse that houses several shops. The most famous shops inside are Megabes and Assin. There’s also food court and Halal food is available there. E-shed is located quite close to Fremantle train station. Parking is also available nearby. However please note the E-shed is open only on Friday, Saturday & Sunday + selected public holiday.
  • Fremantle Market – Fremantle market is a busy indoor market selling fruits, food and drinks, souvenir, etc. Megabes (shop selling cheap souvenir) is also available here!

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  • Watertown Brand Outlet – The venue for outlet and specialty shopping, with all the best brands at all the best prices, it is Perth’s home to outlet shopping (basically similar to Johor Premium Outlet). You can go here on Yellow CAT bus and stop at Sutherland Street (stop no 17). There’s 2 food outlet selling Halal food – Ispa Kebabs and Nenem’s (do try their gozmelez. Delicious!). Opening hours: Monday – Thursday: 9am – 530pm, Friday: 9am – 9pm, Saturday: 9am – 5pm, Sunday: 11am – 5pm
  • London Court – London Court is an open-roofed shopping arcade located in the central business district in Perth. There’s souvenir shop & cafe along the whole stretch of road. We didn’t buy anything here but it is definitely a nice place to take photos!
  • Chemist Warehouse – you can get cheap perfume, vitamins, skin care products, etc here! There is one Chemist Warehouse located in Perth CBD (Murray Street). It is also close to Insan’s Cafe (in case you want to eat Halal food afterwards). To come here, you may take Red CAT bus and stop at Murray Street (Red CAT stop no 25). There’s also other branches that you may visit example Northbridge (can take Blue CAT bus stop no 8). For opening hours, please refer to their website because different branches will have different operating hours. When we were there, I bought few bottles of perfumes and also lotions for my son (since he has eczema). Regret didn’t buy more lotions since the price are wayyyy cheaper compared to those selling in Malaysia! Bought Cetaphil, Aveeno and Dermaveen.
  • Joondalup Laketown Shopping City – This is a Perth’s major and largest shopping centre, located in Joondalup, a satellite city in the north of Perth. The Centre is home to Myer, Target, Kmart, Big W, Coles, Woolworths, as well as over 300 specialty retailers, a cinema, two food courts and multiple outdoor dining options. For Muslims, there are 2 eateries selling Halal food – Kebabbque and Maya Masala. To go here by public transportation, take a train on Joondalup line and stop at Joondalup station. The shopping centre is just outside of the train station.

FOOD

  • Danish Patisserie – Delicious pie & pastries and the best part is, the food is also Halal. It is close on Sunday and open on the remaining days. However please note on the opening hours; Saturday (7am – 11am), Monday to Friday (6am – 2pm). Click on the link to visit their website for more details.
  • Corica Pastries – Located in Northbridge and selling the most famous Halal apple strudel in Perth. To go here, you may take the free Cat bus and stop at Blue CAT bus stop no 8 (Aberdeen Street). Their opening hours: Monday to Friday 8am – 5.30pm and Saturday 8am – 12pm

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  • Charcoal Chicken Express – The food sold here are Halal and it is famous for its lamb rib but if you don’t eat lamb (just like me) there’s chicken as well. To go here, take bus 960 towards Mirabooka bus station and stop at Dianella Plaza (stop id 12838). Opening hours: 10am – 8pm
  • Insan’s Cafe – Halal food & own by a Malaysian. Located at Murray Street and located close to our hotel. By the way, we went here almost every day 😛

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  • Pondok Indah – Halal & own by an Indonesian
  • D’Ankasa – A Malaysia restaurant located in Perth CBD, selling Halal food. We went here once and ordered chicken rice and nasi lemak!

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  • Kaili’s Fish and Chips (Fremantle) – Famous for its Fish and Chips!
  • Cicerello’s (Fremantle) – Similar to Kaili’s, Cicerello’s is also famous for its fish & chips. It is located close to Kaili’s

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  • Chocolateria San Churro (Northbridge) – A very nice cafe to just relax while enjoying a cup of coffee and churros!
  • Halal Kebab – can’t really recall the name of this place but it is located on Murray Street, opposite of Insan’s cafe

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  • Ice-cream! – Enjoyed ice-cream on a cold windy night! LOL
  • Twilight Hawkers Market – located along Forrest Place in Perth CBD, Twilight Hawkers Market is the original & biggest Street Food Market bringing the tastiest street food from around the globe to the heart of Perth. It it open every Friday, 4.30pm – 9.30pm, October to April each year. We didn’t have a chance to visit this market since we went to Perth in September.

twilight hawkers market

Image source: www.facebook.com/Twilight-Hawkers-Market-220654328006092/

USEFUL LINKS

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#Throwback Port Dickson Getaway – Hotel Review

port-dickson

ABOUT MALAYSIA

Timezone : GMT +08:00

Currency: Ringgit Malaysia (RM or MYR)

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ACCOMMODATION

Went for a short ‘first wedding anniversary’ in 2015 (yes this is a ‘throwback’) to Port Dickson. Just me, my husband and of course our son who was 2 months old that time! Stayed at Lexis Port Dickson, booked via Agoda. There’s a choice between staying at the water chalet or the main building/tower sea view. Since our son was still so small and we’ve read that the buggy might be a bit slow and late (also the weather can be quite hot) we decided to book a room at the tower sea view. Room is spacious, with 1 king and 1 queen bed and the view was great! However if you would like to swim and relax on the beach, this hotel might not be the choice for you as you will need to drive out to the beach.

  • Image taken from Agoda

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Basically we didn’t really do much or go out much. Most of the time we were in our room, relaxing (and baby was sleeping most of the time and the weather was hot!) However we did stop by at the Upside Down House Gallery Port Dickson before heading back to Kuala Lumpur.

Hello again Melaka! – 2016

melaka

My last post on Melaka (also known as Malacca) was in 2012 (You may read my post by clicking on this link: Melaka 2012). So let me update what are the new interesting places to visit when you are in Melaka.

ABOUT MALAYSIA

Timezone : GMT +08:00

Currency: Ringgit Malaysia (RM or MYR)

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ACCOMMODATION

Went to Melaka for a short getaway (3 days 2 nights) and stayed at Bayview Hotel Melaka. My comment? Spacious room (deluxe) with jacuzzi! Limited choices of food for breakfast though but acceptable. Nice location. Not sure the attraction is within walking distance since we drive there and also drive to the places we wanted to visit.

* Image taken from Agoda

bayview-hotel-melaka-1  bayview-hotel-melaka-2bayview-hotel-melaka-3  bayview-hotel-melaka-4

INTERESTING PLACES & THINGS TO DO

Since my husband & I have visited the ‘usual’ attractions, example The Stadhuys, A Famosa or Porta de Santiago, etc. and this time we have a 14 months old infant with us, we decided not to go to those places (we will wait until our son is bigger and can understand better). This time around we only visited few places (to shop :p). If you would like to read on other attraction, visit my previous post as mentioned above.

  • Freeport A’Famosa Outlet Village – offers over 70 fashion, sport and accessories brands in some 180,000 sq.ft. The outlet is set in an open air mall featuring a lake, fountains, carousel and windmill with architecture loosely themed on Malacca’s Dutch heritage. Brands open at the centre include Nike, Cotton On, Esprit, Puma, G2000, Carlo Rino, Clarks and many more. Description and images are taken from their website http://www.freeportafamosa.com/

freeport-a-famosa-outlet

  • The SHORE shopping gallery – a shopping complex with few other attraction especially for kids such as Oceanarium, 6D Motion Ride, Toy Museum. The Sky tower is also located here – http://skytower.theshoremelaka.com/

the-shore

  • Jonker Street – a place to be at night! Street market with interesting stores. Also don’t forget to buy some Nyonya pineapple tarts!

FOODS

The only special place we went to for dinner was Ee Ji Ban Chicken Rice Ball Restaurant. The food was delicious and Halal so no worries to Muslims! Must try!

ee-ji-ban-chicken-rice-balls

We also went to search for the famous kuih keria & Klebang coconut shake but the queue was soooo loonngg!! Instead of waiting, we went back home

Airbnb – Welcome to the world of trips!

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Founded in August of 2008 and based in San Francisco, California, Airbnb is a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodation around the world — online or from a mobile phone or tablet.

Basically Airbnb acts like Agoda, Expedia, AirAsia Go, etc. except it is meant for homestay instead of hotels, and it enables people to list or rent short-term lodging in residential properties. So instead of staying in a hotel, you will be staying at someone’s house! How cool is that! Airbnb is a good option when you are traveling to a place where the hotel rent is high.

Start using Airbnb now and experience the world!

Click here to join: JOIN AIRBNB

The serene Da Nang & Hoi An, Vietnam

DaNang HoiAn

ABOUT VIETNAM

Timezone : UTC+07:00

Currency: Vietnam Dong

Visa: Not required for Malaysia

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GETTING THERE

Went there by Air Asia. The flight will take you from KLIA2 to Da Nang International Airport. If you are flying back from this airport, there will be no airport departure tax.

From the airport I went directly to Hoi An. There’s a shuttle bus and taxi but I took a taxi instead. Paid around 500,000 dong for the one way trip. The journey to Hoi An from Da Nang took around 45 minutes.

hoi-an

Hoi An is one of the city in Vietnam and it is recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. In my opinion, Hoi An reminds me of Amsterdam…an Asian Amsterdam or maybe Amsterdam would be a European Hoi An 😛 One more thing about Hoi An is that at night it will be brightly lit with colourful beautiful lantern (You can also buy lanterns there)

ACCOMMODATION

Stayed at Thanh Van II hotel (currently known as Like Hoi An Hotel) and booked it through AirAsiaGo (you can also book through Agoda or Booking.com, etc. Booked it through AirAsiaGo because I’m using a voucher code so manage to get cheaper price). The hotel is located around 15 minutes walk from Hoi An Anchient Town, but if you are too tired to walk, you can use the free bicycle or take the free shuttle bus which they provided on hourly basis. The shuttle bus will take you from Thanh Van II – Thanh Van (located near Ancient Town) – Thanh Van II. On overall I’m very satisfied with my stay at this hotel. The staffs were very friendly and helpful, the room is clean and big (booked a suite), Wi-Fi connection was fast, etc. Below would be the image of the room I stayed in, the suite, and the hotel (taken from their website)

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GETTING AROUND

Most of the tourist in Hoi An walk or cycle. Most of the hotel provided free bicycle. If not, you can just rent a bicycle. There’s also a lot of taxi around. From personal experience, you may use Vinasun taxi.

SHOPPING

There’s row and rowssss of shops at Hoi An Ancient Town. You can buy souvenirs, silk, clothing, coffee (Vietnamese coffee taste really good!), etc. You can also get a tailor made clothes and shoes. Actually the whole area of Ancient town are mostly shops.

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INTERESTING PLACES

  • Hoi An Ancient Town: This is a must visit place in Hoi An. There are a lot of shops for shopping and monuments and museums to visit. One of the famous monument would be the Japanese Bridge.

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  • My Son: The second day in Hoi An, I took a day tour to My Son, which means beautiful mountain. My Son is actually a cluster of partially ruined Hindu Temples constructed by the king of Champa. My Son is perhaps the longest inhabited archeological site in Indochina, but it was then destroyed during Vietnam War. Too bad when I was there, it rains through out the tour so not much of a photo to share but you can try to goole. It is such a beautiful place. As for the whole tour, went to My Son by bus but took the boat back to Hoi An. It was a better choice since there are more things to see and enjoy.

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FOOD

There’s a lot of place to enjoy local or western cuisine. However if you are a Muslim, make sure to bring a lot of packed foods since I didn’t find any place selling Halal food and most of the restaurant sell pork. Since Vietnam is famous with coffee, make sure to try out their coffee, especially if you are a coffee lover like me. You can find a lit of coffee shops along the road.

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da nang

Da Nang is one of the major port cities in Vietnam and is situated on the coast of South China Sea, at the opening end of Han River.

ACCOMMODATION

Stayed at A La Carte hotel and booked it through AirAsiaGo (you can also book through Agoda or Booking.com, etc. Booked it through AirAsiaGo because I’m using a voucher code so manage to get cheaper price). The hotel is very beautiful! Friendly and helpful staff, big and comfortable room, beautiful decoration and a lot of services you can get from this hotel. (Images below taken from Agoda)

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GETTING AROUND

You can get a taxi or just walk around. From My Khe to the city center is a bit far so taking a taxi is a good option.

SHOPPING

Didn’t find much place for shopping in Da Nang (or maybe i didn’t look hard enough). However if you would like to buy souvenir, coffee, clothing, cloth, etc., you may head to Han Market. The souvenir and coffee there are cheaper compared to Hoi An.

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There’s also a souvenir shop called Da Nang Souvenirs located opposite Novotel Hotel. The souvenir sold there are a bit more different compared to those sell at Han Market or Hoi An so you have ore choices of souvenirs to bring back.

INTERESTING PLACES

  • My Khe Beach – one of the beautiful beach in Da Nang (the hotel that I stayed in faces My Khe Beach). Too bad I was there during monsoon season so the sky is not as blue and its too cold for a dip at the beach or pool.

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  • Ba Na Hills – a mountain resort with indoor theme park

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  • Marble Mountains (didn’t manage to visit but saw it on the way to Hoi An)
  • Han River Bridge & Dragon Bridge (picture credit to Philips)

Philips lights Vietnam’s iconic Dragon Bridge in Da Nang with sustainable LED lighting solutions (b)

  • Monkey Beach

FOOD

There’s one halal restaurant in Da Nang called Mumtaz. It sells nice and Halal Indian food. Throughout the 3 days in Da Nang, I ordered food from there and ask for delivery, which is very convenient!

An island getaway : Phuket, Thailand

phuket thailand

ABOUT PHUKET, THAILAND

Timezone : UTC+07:00

Currency: Thai Baht (THB)

Visa: Not required for Malaysian

Plug adapter:

plug

GETTING THERE

Went to Phuket by Air Asia. The flight will take you from LCCT Kuala Lumpur to Phuket International Airport.

From Phuket International Airport to Patong Beach (I stayed there), you can take a taxi (around 800 baht per taxi) or a mini van (180 baht per person). Took a mini van since it is still early & the condition of the mini van is good! Air-condition mini van. However you will need to wait until the mini van is full, only then they will make a move. I only waited for less than 30 minutes (make sure you ask how many people have paid for the mini van so that you can expect how long you need to wait). You can see the taxi and mini van in the image below.

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When flying back from Phuket to Kuala Lumpur, there is no airport departure tax.

ACCOMMODATION

Stayed at The Palm Retreat Inn and booked the hotel through Agoda.com. The location of the hotel is quite strategic. It is located opposite Holiday Inn and maybe 2 minutes walk to Hard Rock Hotel. You can get halal food just next to the hotel. To go to Patong beach, it will take around 5 minutes of walking and maybe around 10-15 minutes walk to Jungceylon Mall and Bangla Road. However there are no lift at this hotel. My room was on the highest floor so I need to walk up the stairs. Not a problem though. The room is a big and clean air-conditioned room, they provide free Wifi, complimentary drinking water, mini bar, TV, hot shower, safety deposit box, towel, etc. The staff is quite helpful and friendly especially this one lady but I don’t know her name. I forgot to take photo of the hotel so I use those from their website.

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GETTING AROUND

Since I didn’t really go out from Patong area (except for tour), I just walk. Most of the attraction in Patong are within walking distance. However you may hire a tuk tuk or taxi (you can even hire the taxi driver for a day tour but I am not so sure about the rate), or rent a car or motorcycle.

PATONG

Patong is quite a happening area. The beach, massage center, shopping, food and also the famous ‘Bangla road’.

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TOURS

You can find a lot and loootttts of kiosk providing tour service. Just choose any but make sure to haggle for best price. Booked 4 tours from Fun Infinity Phuket Tour. The lady is very friendly so end up booking all tours from this place.

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  • Fantasea + Buffet Dinner = 1550 Baht (without dinner for 1350 Baht)

For this, you can choose either to include buffet dinner or not. Since the lady charge only 1550 Baht for a package which includes buffet dinner & only 200 Baht more than package without buffet dinner, I chose the one that includes the buffet dinner. If you are a Muslim, you do not have to worry. You can get Halal food at the dining place. When I was there, Halal food was served at Counter B. But please ask around to confirm since they might or might not change. By the way, the food was delicious!! The whole area in FantaSea are beautiful but the show is not as what I expected it to be. A bit dull for me but different people might have different opinion. The package also include return transportation from hotel-FantaSea-hotel.

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  • James Bond island tour = 1000 Baht

A tour that include 2 canoe sessions at James Bond Island and Hong Island, lunch on the boat (Halal food) and swimming (or just relax by the beach) session. Transport from hotel-jetty-hotel included.

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  • Similan Island tour = 1900 Baht

For this tour, return transfer from hotel-jetty-hotel is included. A mini van will pick you up at your hotel early in the morning since it takes around 2 hours+ (from Patong) to reach the jetty. Lunch (Halal) is also included. During this tour, there will be a few stops for a snorkeling session (goggle & life jacket provided). When you reach Similan Island, make sure to go up to the viewing point for a breathtaking view of the island! Just make sure to be careful climbing up & down!

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  • ATV + Elephant trekking tour = 1100 Baht

This tour include return transfer from and back to hotel, elephant ride & ATV. During the ATV session, you will stop by at the viewing point and also Big Buddha.

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SHOPPING

  • Jungceylon: A big shopping mall that carries local and international brand. You can also get souvenirs and massage at the lower level and there’s also Halal food there.

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  • For me, the best shopping would be the shops by the road side. If you want to get cheaper price for t-shirt, magnet, etc., do walk further from Jungceylon Mall going towards Tune Hotel (opposite direction to Hard Rock Cafe). The price at most of the shops there are even cheaper!

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FOOD

When I was there, I can see a lot of restaurants with Halal sign. So if you are a Muslim, you don’t have to worry about food. If you are not confident enough, you can go to Halal restaurant and eat the seafood.

  • Patong Promenade (opposite Jungceylon Mall): there’s a food court upstairs but they sell pork, so not an option for Muslim. However there are a lot of restaurant with Halal sign on the ground floor and rows of stalls selling food. There’s a shops there for shopping!

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  • There’s also a lot of restaurant (including those with Halal sign) along the road. Don’t forget to try our the Pancake Crepe! Quite similar to those selling in Krabi. However here there’s 2 version, either quite similar to roti canai or crepe! And also kebab at Bangla Road going towards the beach is delicious!

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MASSAGE

Don’t forget to go for a massage (I went for a massage everyday!). Tried out several places but I only manage to find one place that really provide good massage. Look out for VIP massage! However after dinner, there will be a lotttt of customer there! VIP massage is located opposite the road of Jungceylon Mall, but a bit further away. Walk towards Tune Hotel or opposite direction of Hard Rock Hotel. When you a reach an area where there are a lot of seafood restaurant, you are almost reaching the place.

Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

vietnam

ABOUT VIETNAM

Timezone : UTC+07:00

Currency: Vietnam Dong (you can also use USD. RM is accepted in most of the shops at Ben Thanh Market)

Visa: Not required for Malaysia

Plug adapter:

type_f_large type_c_large

Others: Saigon is another name for Ho Chi Minh. Usually local will use Saigon instead of Ho Chi Minh. If you are there, you will be shocked of how many motorcycles there are!! It will look scary at first especially if you need to cross the road. One tip if you NEED to cross the road, be confident! Walk slowly. The motorcyclist there are quite good. They will avoid you instead of you are the one who need to avoid them.

When I was there for a week, there are 2 sides of the city that I can see. The backpackers area (a very busy area), where you can see a lot of shops (selling things at a cheaper price), people and motorcycles, and a more sophisticated area of the city, which I’m not so sure what they call that area. Maybe it is the city center. Here you can see a more modern building with French architecture and lots of worldwide brand boutiques.

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GETTING THERE

Went there by Air Asia. Bought a ticket during promotion season for only RM200+ for a return ticket! The flight will take you from LCCT to Tan Son Nhat International Airport. The arrival hall is located at the ground floor while the departure hall is located at second floor. If you are flying back from this airport, there will be no airport departure tax.

The airport is located around 8km away from the heart of the city. To go to the city center from the airport, you may take a bus or taxi. If you would like to take a bus, turn right upon exiting the terminal. You will see Burger King. The bus will be waiting around that area. Take bus no 152 if you are staying around Ben Thanh Market (a famous area to shop!). Bus fare is around 5,000 dong per person. If you would like to take a taxi, turn right upon exiting the terminal and walk straight towards Burger King. Turn right and take the lift to second floor. Walk out and you will see the taxis. I would recommend you to take VINASUN taxi. The fare that I paid for from airport to hotel in the backpackers area is 170,000 dong. There are several other taxi from different company but I would strongly recommend VINASUN. You can see the taxi in below picture.

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ACCOMMODATION

Stayed at Hoang Lien Hotel and booked it through Agoda. Paid around RM60+ per night. The hotel is quite nice and clean. The staffs are very friendly and they can speak English. They also provide tour booking service & I booked 3 tours from there and the tours are quite cheap! However there was one incident that almost gave me a heart attack! I was awaken by the sound of a siren. Later on I could hear people screaming and running up or down the stairs, I’m not sure. After few minutes wondering what was going on outside, I went out and to my surprise there were several fireman going down the stairs and there were smoke everywhere! Seems that the hotel was on fire but they manage to put out the fire before I went out to have look! I’m just lucky nothing bad happen.

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For Muslim, it is better to stay at Thanh Thu Hotel, Hoang Hai Long 2, Saigon Pink 2, Blessing 1 Saigon Hotel or any other hotel close to those mentioned hotel since there are a lot of Halal food around that area. Just walk out of the hotel and you can see Halal food around. It is also close to Ben Thanh Market (around 2-3 minutes walk). People usually refer to that place as Malaysia Street because you can see A LOT of Malaysian there! If you stayed at the hotel I stayed in, you will need to walk around 15 minutes or more (and need to cross the super busy road several times) to reach that area.

During my second visit to Ho Chi Minh, stayed at Thanh Thu Hotel. This time around I didn’t have to walk too far to enjoy Halal food & shop at Ben Thanh Market! 🙂

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Most of the hotel will keep your passport during your stay. You can choose to give your passport or a copy of it. I just give my passport for them to keep (which might be a bit risky but there are several cases of snatch thief so it might also be a good idea to do that)

GETTING AROUND

Most of the time I just walk (I don’t mind walking) since most of the places around backpackers area are within walking distance. If walking is not your thing, you can take a taxi. I would recommend VINASUN taxi since they use meter and the rate is not expensive. From the hotel I stayed in to Ben Thanh market is around 27,000 dong (around RM5) only. You can also find the taxi everywhereee!! Just stop a taxi, hop on and let the driver know where you would like to go. To be on a safer side, make sure you have a name, address & picture of the place you want to go printed on a piece of paper, especially your hotel! I did that to the hotel I stayed in. The trishaw there is quite expensive. 1,500,000 for a ride! So DO NOT take the trishaw especially if you are from Malaysia. Trishaw in Malaysia is cheaper. But if you do not mind paying, you can try it.

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SHOPPING

When you shop in Ho Chi Minh, make sure to haggle!! Most of the time, try to reduce at least half (or more) of the price from the price tag. If the seller will not give you the price that you want, just walk away. Sometimes (or a lot of times) they will call you back and agree to the price that you want!

  • Ben Thanh Market – This market is the most famous place to shop. You can find clothes, shoes, fabrics, bags, souvenirs, coffee, etc. I did most of my shopping here. By the way, if you want to buy coffee, you can buy from shop no 1095. The guy is so friendly and among all the shops that I went to, his price is the lowest.

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  • Ben Thanh night market – during the day you can shop at Ben Thanh market but during the night, there will be a night market around Ben Thanh market.

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  • Saigon Square – An air-condition complex with lots and lotssss of shops selling clothes, pants, accessories, souvenir, etc.

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  • Parkson – located at the city center. If you are hungry, there’s a food court at the upper level and there is one Halal restaurant

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  • Zen Plaza – There’s not much of shops here so I guess you can just skip 😛

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  • Binh Tay Market – located in China Town, District 5. This market is actually a wholesale market where most sellers will buy things in bulk and re-sell. Most of the shops in this market sell in bulk but there are some which allows you to buy in smaller quantity

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INTERESTING PLACES

  • Handicraft Center – here you can see victims of Vietnam war make beautiful handicraft. You won’t believe how they turn egg shells into beautiful art of work! You can also purchase the handicraft as a way to help them

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  • Cu Chi Tunnel – Located 60km away from Ho Chi Minh City, Cu Chi is now considered as heroic district for its role in anti-American war in Vietnam. It is legendary for its tunnels system of over 220km and is a popular spot for both Vietnamese and foreign visitors. (Entrance fee: 90,000 dong)

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  • Cao Dai Temple – located in Tay Ninh and built in 1926, is considered as one of the most striking structures, a place of pilgrimage for quite a few Vietnamese  people and those who are interested in Caodaism. This temple is located several hours drive from Ho Chi Minh City

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  • Mekong Delta – Few hours bus ride with green paddy fields view along the way to the jetty in My Tho. The boat trip will then bring you through the Bao Dinh canal, with view of stilt houses and the fruit plantation along the river sides. You will then stop at a bee farm where you will be served with honey tea & some snacks. The boat ride will then continue to bring you through Tan Thach natural canal in Ben Tre, and cruise under the shadow of the water coconut trees. Next stop is a place where local makes coconut candy. You can have a try and if you like it, you can buy it. Lunch will be served at the fruit orchard and you can go for a bicycle ride after that. The tour that I paid for doesn’t provide Halal food. There’s vegetarian but then they also serve pork. Luckily I have packed with me bread with peanut butter so I just ate my wonderful lunch that I have prepared earlier. Finally you will be served with local fruits at the orchard while enjoying folk music, performed by locals.

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  • Floating Market, Can Tho, Rice Noodle Factory – Since I have paid for a 2 days tour, my journey (after the Mekong Delta tour) continues on a several hours bus ride (again) to Can Tho. Stayed at a hotel there (hotel included in the package). The next morning, walked to the jetty and went to the floating market. It is not similar to the floating market in Thailand. Here, there will be big boats (act as seller) and smaller boats (act as buyer). They sell mostly fruits and vegetables in wholesale. However for tourist, you may buy in small quantity. Bought sweet potatoes and it taste awesome! (also act as my lunch since it is difficult to find Halal food when we went back to Can Tho). After visiting the floating market, went to a family own ‘factory’ where they make rice noodle and later on we went to see a place where they store rice and learn how they make money from it. (not that interesting :P) Tour then ends and went back to Can Tho for lunch. Since there’s no Halal restaurant around, I just went to a coffee shop & the coffee they serve is the BEST coffee I had during my 1 week travel to Vietnam!! After lunch, went back to Ho Chi Minh city in a 4 hours bus ride! By the way, we stop at a very nice and green place which I don’t know the name. It is such a beautiful place for a toilet break 😛

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  • Opera House – discover Vietnamese culture with the magic of live theater at the opera house. However there will be a performance ONLY on 15th and 23rd at 5 pm every month. So there’s only 2 performances per month! Price is 800,000 dong for adult and half price for children under 12 years old. Located at the city center

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  • City Hall – I don’t think public can just simply enter but you can take photos in front of this beatiful building (located at the city center close to the Opera House)

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  • War Remnants Museum – This museum was opened in September 4, 1975. It specialized in research, collecting, preserving, and exhibiting the remnants proof of Vietnam war crime and their consequences.Through these, the museum tends to call the public to say no to war and yes to peace for world people solidarity. (Entrance fee: 15,000 dong)

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  • Thien Hau Pagoda

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  • Reunification Palace – formerly known as Independence Palace. It was the home and workplace of the President of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. (Entrance fee: 30,000 dong)

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  • Municipal Post Office

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  • Notre Dame Cathedral

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FOOD

You can find several cafes & restaurants selling Halal food around Ben Thanh market, especially in the same street as Hoang Hai Long 2 hotel (and other hotel mentioned earlier)

  • Amin Halal – went here to eat several times. I ordered the same thing which is chicken noodle soup (50,000 dong) and coffee (20,000 dong). LOVE IT! This roadside shop is located at the same row as Hoang Hai Long 2 Hotel.

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  • Basiroh – This shop is located opposite Hoang Hai Long 2. Do try their pho because it is awesome!! Pho (pronounce as fur) is a famous beef noodle soup. Also do try their coffee (Vietnam is all about coffee!). They also sell the coffee powder that they used at their shop. If you would like to try the original taste, ask for black coffee without sugar.

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  • Warung 1Malaysia – also located within the same street as the above

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  • Kampung Melayu Halal Restaurant – Located opposite Hoang Hai Long 2 hotel and next to Basiroh

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  • Nabil Biryani House – located close to the previous restaurants but a bit further. I can’t remember the exact location but you can just walk around the area to look for this shop

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  • Saigon Seri Penang -Can’t remember the exact location but close to the other Halal restaurant

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  • Street snack – worth trying! Love it!

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  • Fruits – the fruits there are HUGE!! Do try the ‘ciku’. You can buy the ready cut & packed for 1 USD at Ben Thanh night market

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