When I was booking our airtickets to visit Vietnam, I was debating between Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Since we have never been to Vietnam before, actually either city would be fine with us. We decided on HCMC due to its shorter flight time from Kuala Lumpur. Our flight was an early one and we landed in Tan Son Nhat International Airport at just after 8.00am (Vietnam time is 1 hour behind Malaysian time).
Our airport pick-up from Hotel Equatorial was all ready for us when we exited from the arrival hall. I must say the hotel certainly does things in style!
Like any person visiting Vietnam for the first time, we gaped and marvelled at the notoriety of the motorbikes on the road. The ride from the airport to the hotel was harrowing, to say the least. Although we knew we were cocooned inside a very safe and sturdy car, the sight of motorbikes coming from every direction with seemingly no traffic rules, was pretty un-nerving and we were actually cringing at how close those bikers got to each other and our car!
Miraculously, everyone seems to get through unscathed!
With more than 5 million motorbikes on the roads and a road system that allows every car and bike to go any direction simultaneously, it’s a culture shock to us that somehow they are able to maneuver their vehicles within centimetres of each other. It’s quite eye-opening to see women all dressed up and wearing high heels perched daintily on their Vespas weaving in and out of traffic easily. I also wonder how those women pillion-riders can sit sideways and cross their legs yet don’t lose their balance!
The Hotel Equatorial Ho Chi Minh City
Lovely floating lotus lights at the entrance
The Main Lobby
The Hotel Equatorial is located only 7km from the Tan Son Nhat International Airport and the car ride took about 30 minutes, due to the haphazard traffic. After being greeted by Mr Siegfried Steindl, the General Manager and Ms Marn Tan, the Director of Sales & Marketing, we were whisked up to the 11th floor where the Equator Club is located. Here, checking-in was a breeze and our luggage promptly deposited in our room.
Press the lift button to the 11th Floor please!
The Equator Club Lounge
As we were famished, we headed straight to the breakfast counters at the Equator Club. The selections were really good, with many choices of western and Asian menus. I particularly love their Noodles counter as they serve different types of noodles every day.
Real crispy bacon
Look – they even have Nasi Lemak Bungkus at the breakfast counter!
My very first bowl of pho (Vietnamese Beef Noodles) was taken here and it’s scrumptious – strong flavoursome beef broth, silky rice noodles and soft tender beef slices. I had 2 bowls of these that very first morning. Another favourite is the Vietnamese coffee and throughout our stay there, the service staff made us countless glasses of the aromatic coffee. Depending on the time of day, they knew whether to make us hot steaming cups or long cold glasses of this coffee!
Really good beef noodles (pho)
My favourite Iced Vietnamese Coffee
These pastries were my favourite!
I must admit we spent a lot of time in the Equator Club – there’s plenty of food there throughout the day (complimentary breakfast, afternoon tea), evening cocktails and alcohol is available free-flow from 5-8pm and the wi-fi there is superb. We had our breakfasts there and that’s also the first place we plonk ourselves down after a day out from the hotel. It’s a great place to chill-out and drink endless cups of coffee.
Our Equator Club Deluxe room was spacious and comfortable. I love the soft plush pillows and luxurious bed. The working table has a glass top and clever location due to the natural light streaming in from the windows.
Of course staying on the Equator Club floor has many benefits – among them the complimentary use of the Equator Club Lounge and its services, you also get complimentary laundry and pressing of 2 pieces of clothing each day, personalized check-in & check-out, complimentary high-speed in-room internet (this was awesome!) and a host of other facilities which you can checkout from their website. One of the unique services (which we didn’t make use of!) is the Personal Shopping Assistant for 3 hours within Saigon Business District.
The hotel has several F&B outlets: Chit Chat at the Café (all-day dining), Orientica Seafood Restaurant & Bar, Flo Lounge and Pool Bar. A separate post on our dining experience will be coming up soon.
Chit Chat at the Café
The elegant Orientica Seafood Restaurant & Bar
Recreationally, there’s the Equinox Fitness & Leisure Centre which offers an outdoor swimming pool, gym, Step aerobics studio, massage centre and a hair & beauty salon.
Welcome to the Equinox Fitness & Leisure Centre
The Equatorial Hotel is located on the border of District 5 & District 1 so it is actually right in the middle of the city centre. The hotel provides complimentary every 2-hourly shuttle service to several popular spots in the city. We took this comfortable van ride to the tourist spots in the city and shopping several times. Public taxis (take only Vinasun and Mailinh cabs as they are more reliable) are readily available and it costs only about USD5 to get into the town centre from the hotel.
The Ho Chi Minh City skyline – a colourful and eclectic mix of new & old buildings
Look down to the roads and all you see are motorbikes!
Rates at the 5-star Hotel Equatorial Ho Chi Minh City are affordable, they can start as low as USD75++ per night (non-Club rooms) under their “Best Available Rate” scheme – really great value if you ask me, considering the top-notch facilities and services offered.
Please check out their website for the latest rates and other information.
Hotel Equatorial Ho Chi Minh City
242 Tran Binh Trong St., District 5
Ho Chi Minh City
Phone: +84 8 3839 7777
Fax: +84 8 3835 9970
*Look out for more posts coming up soon on our food and other HCMC experiences!