Updated: Jul 31, 2021
They said one of the things you have to eat before you die is Vietnam's famous pho. Well, I got that crossed off my list when I went to Vietnam last July of 2019.
We went on an all-homeschooler trip to the famous Tri-City Tour of Southeast Asia that spans across three countries: Vietnam, Cambodia, and Bangkok. Our first stop is in Vietnam and we landed on Tan Son Nhat International Airport.
Tan Son Nhat International Airport is a clean and nice airport, though, my first impression is that it is very similar to the layout of Philippine airports. All the walkalator (aka the moving walkway) are all working and since we arrived in the morning, the immigration lines are not that long yet. The baggage carousel also is quite organized. After you exited the inner part of the airport, money changers, tours, and car rentals are all available. We changed some money at the airport but some blogs did say that banks or gold shops are the best way to exchange money in Vietnam. That was our first plan but it was really hard to look for a gold shop or bank when you have your itinerary full to the brim. So, we just did ours on money exchangers. We just made sure that they have a reasonable price for dollar rates.
One of the cool things is we became millionaires when we were in Vietnam. The exchange rate is 1$ = 23,172.50VND. So for 50$, we had a whooping 1,158,625.00VND!!! It was quite exciting for all of us but also a huge headache in computing our expenses.
After we exchange some money, we went outside and look for a Vinasun or Mai Linh taxi. A lot of people said that these two companies are the safest in Vietnam. If you can't find one of these, then you better get your taxi from Grab. But in our whole stay in Vietnam, we didn't have any problem hailing Vinasun or Mai Linh taxi. Mai Linh's color is green while the Vinasun's color is white.
I do prefer the Vinasun taxis, though. A porter helped us hail a Vinasun taxi from the airport and one of the things we always made sure of is that they turned on the meter of the taxi the moment we started to roll.
From the airport, we traveled around 30 minutes to our Airbnb. We even got to see a Vietnam train! We chose to rent a place near the Ben Thanh market. You can read all about our Airbnb on this blog. It was just perfect for our group since it's very affordable and it has two bathrooms, which is very important for us.
After resting for a little bit, we head out again to finally try the famous Pho of Vietnam. The first group who arrived in our Airbnb said that they tried the pho in our building and that we have to try it because we would need to seat on little chairs right on a side street where motors will just pass you by any minute. Sadly, I never got to experience it due to our busy schedule. We did try the pho on Pho Le Beef Noodle Soup Restaurant. Pho Le Restaurant appeared quite a lot of times when I was doing my research on where to eat the best Pho. I'm sure everybody has an opinion on where is the best and delicious pho but we decided to try the Pho Le since it was one of the top restaurants in the 'best pho' list and a lot of people said that it appears much cleaner and that the broth is more savory than other restaurants. TripAdvisor even named it as the "Best Pho in Saigon"
Pho is a Vietnamese soup consisting of broth, rice noodles, herbs, and meat, which is usually beef but it can also be chicken. It is a popular street food in Vietnam and served in restaurants around the world. I also learned that the Pho in Northern Vietnam is very different from the pho in Southern Vietnam. Northern Vietnam's pho focuses on the taste of its clear and simple broth, whereas its Southern counterpart is slightly sweeter and bolder. You can read the great debate between these two kinds of pho here.
Pho Le was an experience. Once we arrived, they let us in and directed us to the second floor. First-floor was not aircon while the second floor is enclosed and has an AC. When we were on our table, they immediately gave us towels for our hands and a plate full of vegetables. I got the Meatballs Noodles which is 70,000VND or $3.45 (P175). Pretty cheap, huh?
Pho Le restaurant is serving Sothern pho. They are really clean and very transparent in their process of making pho.
I have to admit, pho has a similar taste with our soups in our country so there were no fireworks when I first tasted it. But it was still very delicious. The broth was very tasty. All in all, if you haven't tried it yet, I would still recommend it for you to eat before you die.
You can watch our whole day below, from arriving at the airport to our Airbnb and on to the Pho Le Restaurant.