I wanted to start this day right.
Originally, according to my itinerary, I’m supposed to go to Cu Chi tunnel today. But I’m dead tired. Cu chi tunnel tours usually leaves Saigon at 8am.. and that's too early... All I wanted was to relax myself… having this in mind, I am heading to Dai Nam Park.
After talking to J on the phone, I took my express breakfast nearby my guest house, then headed to Ben Thanh market. Past 9am, I found myself inside bus 616 bound for Dai Nam Park. One of the biggest theme parks Saigon has to offer.
Travel time was about 1.5 to 2 hours, including traffic. Bus fare to Dai Nam park is 25, 000 vnd.
I was asleep the entire trip, so when I saw big signs about Dai Nam park entrance, I hurriedly got off the bus. Just to my surprise, it wasn’t the entrance yet. Booo! I crossed the street, and asked for a motorbike service to drive me to the real main entrance, charged 30, 000 vnd. Tsk tsk.
Believe me when I say this one’s a huuuuggge park. Though I really can’t compare this to HK Disneyland or even HK Ocean Park. This place is more laid back. I didn’t even think this is a tourist spot. Almost tourist-free, hassle-free day trip, I think, I made a right decision.
Dai Nam park is divided into four areas: the temple, the leisure park, the zoo and the beach. You need ride this blue shuttle to reach all those areas. The shuttle ride is free. But there's entrance fees for the four different parks.
|the park map|
I first went to the Golden temple. It’s right next to the entrance. You just have to walk a bit. Please bring some sun protection, an umbrella maybe, it’s an open park and expect to be exposed to the sun. One can go inside the temple, you’ll be given an shoe-sock, so you need not to remove your shoes or slippers, but no cameras are allowed. I can smell incense on every corner of the golden temple. And when I say golden, yes… all were covered with gold, even trash bins inside. The temple, I think, houses all Buddhist gods and goddesses.
If there’s one thing I regret not learning when I was a child – it’s how to ride a bike. During these travels, I see the need for this particular skill. All over Vietnam and Cambodia, I saw a lot of bike rentals, for just 1 USD a day, it could’ve made my life easier.
|bike for rent|
I then visited the leisure park. As I mentioned earlier, a separate fee has to paid for the rides and other amusements.
After you pay the entrance, you just need to go inside these scary creatures.. and just be amazed whatever’s inside it.
I didn’t bother entering one, because I can already hear the sounds of whatever’s happening inside, and it’s in Vietnamese dialect. So even if I go inside, pay some hefty price, and don’t understand what’s the story about – never mind. Just by a look at it, it's kinda creepy anyway.
But one thing that got me excited in the leisure park - 'twas their space-shuttle-like ride. Who care's if it's worth 40,000 vnd, I want to try it. Too much excitement huh, still, I wasn’t able to experience it because the queue was very looong!
Tired and sweaty, I took the shuttle to see the Dai Nam zoo. Entrance fee is 40, 000vnd. I think I stayed for more than an hour inside the zoo. I’m just fascinated with animals.
I’m not a beach fan, so I didn't waste a second to visit Dai Nam beach. Good thing the shuttle picked up some passangers at the beach entrance, so I had a peek of it... and I think it’s more like Club Manila East, only bigger.
Yeah, Dai Nam park is still worth a visit… but it’s ok to miss it, too. It’s really more like Enchanted Kingdom by nature, for families like this.
So what made this day, a classic one?
Walking around Dai Nam park for more than 5 hours under the cruel heat of the sun can be very tiring. On my way to the exit, I saw BUS 616 leaving the parking area… much as I wanted to ran into it, and make it stop, I can’t for two reasons. First, my feet was begging me to rest them. Second, I’m kinda shy, as in, nakakahiya tumakbo papunta sa bus, sumisigaw ng para! Para! Ahahaha..
After 10 minutes, another bus came. Thank heavens. I immediately hopped in the bus, along with no less than ten passangers. I’m just so used to our culture that we need to fill up all seats in the bus or jeep before it leaves any terminal.. so assuming just the same, I got off the bus and bought myself some sugar cane juice.
Just less than 1 minute before I reached the store, the bus left. I can see them, right in front of me. All I need to do was to wave and halt the bus driver. Ahahaha. Easier said than done. Nakakahiya kasi talaga tumakbo sa bus, tapos mag isa lang ako.. hahaha… so I let them pass again, thinking there will be another bus.
An hour passed by and no sign of BUS 616. I was thinking maybe that was the last bus. I started to ask around, and it’s positive – ‘twas the last trip for bus 616. Tsk tsk. There were a lot of taxi around Dai Nam park entrance. But they will cost me a fortune going to Benh Thanh market. One offered 500, 000 vnd, Whaat? That’s like a more than a thousand peso-ride. A big no-no-way!
Motorbike services are like everywhere in Vietnam. It’s the best alternative than taking a cab. So I bargained one not-so-old-and-trustworthy-looking driver. He asked for 200,000vnd, I haggled for 150,000vnd. In the end, we agreed to 180,000 vnd (that’s around 450 pesos.)
It’s way cheaper than taking a cab… plus you’ll have a firsthand experience of riding a bike in the midst of busy highways of Vietnam. A complete Vietnam experience.
I left Dai Nam park quarter to 7pm, I reached Ben thanh market half past 8pm – just in time for the night market. Ate a decent dinner at Pho 2000 (where I accidentally left my tripod...huhu). Bought some souvenir shirts, magnets and keychain in the night market ... and head back to my guest house.