3 travel Saigon HCMC

This page is for all who are interested in travelling and living in Saigon / HCMC.
Thanks to all friends and helpful strangers, on forums, email and the internet, who have contributed information to this page.     Here is the collection offered back to you :-)
You can leave questions & comments at the bottom of this page -  or email me:    heikorudolph@yahoo.com    about the author of this page

Where is ? maps - Ho Chi Minh City / Saigon

Events, Social scene

 Saigon mentioned in this Leonard Cohen song - "The Captain"....

Contents

  1. 1 Where is ? maps - Ho Chi Minh City / Saigon
    1. 1.1 Events, Social scene
    2. 1.2 Cafés in D1 Saigon / HCMC
      1. 1.2.1 La Fenetre Soleil:
      2. 1.2.2 The Creperie Cafe:
      3. 1.2.3 Geisha’s Coffee and Tea House:
      4. 1.2.4 Pacey CupCakes:
      5. 1.2.5 Hoa Da Cafe:
      6. 1.2.6 Regina Cafe
      7. 1.2.7 Fashion Coffee 
      8. 1.2.8  Tango Juice Bar
      9. 1.2.9 Kita Coffee House
      10. 1.2.10 The Princes and the Pea Cafe
  2. 2 Cacophoney cafe Cacophony http://www.ghiencaphe.com/2010/12/cafe-cacophony.htmBonbonniere cafe 214 nguyen trai d5Pictures of cafes of Saigon on Facebook.More: Cliché coffe, ally 20 trần cao vân st, D1  http://www.ghiencaphe.com/2012/01/cliche-coffee.html          this site lists lots of other cafes in Saigon.
  3. 3 Cacophony http://www.ghiencaphe.com/2010/12/cafe-cacophony.htm
    1. 3.1 Vegetarian Restaurants 
      1. 3.1.1 Halal Restaurants in Saigon
      2. 3.1.2 Tea shops
      3. 3.1.3 Restaurants
    2. 3.2 Social Stuff, meeting people  blah blah....blah...
      1. 3.2.1 Social Hanoi Connections
    3. 3.3 Accommodation - Budget
    4. 3.4 Touristy stuff, places to see, what's where....
    5. 3.5 Blogs about Saigon / HCMC & Vietnam:
    6. 3.6 Airport to center of town:
    7. 3.7 Movies & Cultural events
    8. 3.8 Dancing in Saigon / HCMC
    9. 3.9 English teaching: Work -Qualifications
      1. 3.9.1 Getting the basic CELTA qualification from Language Schools in Saigon
      2. 3.9.2 Getting the basic TEFL qualification from Language Schools in Saigon
      3. 3.9.3 English teaching sites ( Jobs, Schools, Forums etc..)
      4. 3.9.4 English speaking clubs
    10. 3.10 Expat/foreigners hangouts
    11. 3.11 People doing unusual things
    12. 3.12 Learning Vietnamese
    13. 3.13 Getting around Saigon / HCMC - transport
      1. 3.13.1 Motorbikes
        1. 3.13.1.1 Buying a bike: Saigon
        2. 3.13.1.2 Bicycles
        3. 3.13.1.3 Busses
    14. 3.14 Finding a place to live:
    15. 3.15 Expat  info
    16. 3.16 Supermarkets:
    17. 3.17 When to go: Weather:
    18. 3.18 Volunteering, helping out.. charity.
    19. 3.19 Visa
    20. 3.20 Computer parts, electronics, second hand stuff:
    21. 3.21 Antique Street & Camera repair
    22. 3.22 Meditation, yoga, outdoor stuff, exercises - traditional practices
    23. 3.23 Aikido in Saigon
    24. 3.24 Leather shops:
    25. 3.25 Bus to Phom Phen
    26. 3.26 Bookshop Eng & Viet used paperbacks.
    27. 3.27 Facebook blocked in Vietnam
      1. 3.27.1 Proxy servers.
      2. 3.27.2 Third party proxy servers.
        1. 3.27.2.1 "Free" proxies
        2. 3.27.2.2 Dedicated anonymizing proxy networks
      3. 3.27.3 Alternatives to third party proxies:
      4. 3.27.4 Social effects of blocking, censoring, filtering content
    28. 3.28 Odd bits n pieces I can't fit in anywhere else:

Cafés in D1 Saigon / HCMC

My favourite described so well here   What I miss from Vietnam: L’usine and Friendship 

from  the article https://lilvn.com/what-i-miss-from-vietnam-lusine-and-friendship/


on the site Lill.Vietnam






La Fenetre Soleil:

Funky design, breezy, fans going, curtains blowing in the wind and a real artistic touch. My first love in Saigon Cafes now reincarnated in the 1st floor of 44 Ly Tu Trong Str, D1 corner Pasteur Str, and known as " La Fenetre Soleil  " on Facebook (Facebook is blocked in Vietnam, but there are ways around I'm told)  What's on at La Fenetre Soleil ? see http://anyarena.com/en/cityguide/view/la-fenetre-soleil  See photo on the right ->
A point of interest: When I first met my great "Cafe-Love" she lived on the 2nd Floor, 135 Le Thanh Ton, D1, Saigon  in June2010 she had to move when the whole block was demolished.    The old location had these websites: agirlinasia.blogspot.com/2008/08/cafe-crush-la-fenetre-soleil.htm     photos of the old location www.flickr.com/photos/toomanythoughts/3040703104
On Wednesday nights Le Fenetre Soleil has Salsa dancing in its central room. It's a low key, informal affair, you can do as little or as much as you like, or just sit around smoking a Shi-Sha. (The dance nights change from Thursday, to Wednesday to... whenever... better check first)

"Treat your dreams-including yourself--as you would treat your beloved."      --Florinda Donner-Grau

The Creperie Cafe:

an old French mansion, overlooking the park in front of the Presidential/Reunification Palace and Notre Dame Cathedral. Staff are friendly and fast, the menu has Western food, Vietnamese traditional, Steaks, Beer, Wine all the way to Cafe food, Crepes of all types and my FAVOURITE: Chocolate Crepe !!!  A stylish place that has great food and atmosphere.  They don't play funny buggers with the bill by adding VAT and percentages, what you see on the menu is what you pay. Nice. No bullshit.
It's in
  Han Thuyen Street, Ben Nghe Wrd, Dist 1 about 20 seconds from near the corner with  Cong Xa Paris, and the Notre Dame Cathedral.      To find on a map: go to http://www.diadiem.com/  enter:  Han Thuyen, Dist 1
a review of the Cafe/Restaurant  http://www.saigonscene.com/crepes.htm


Geisha’s Coffee and Tea House:

Small an cosy, - a clothes shop on the ground floor, a fancy girly type of coffee shop with curly table and chairs on next and for the adventurous: up some narrow head bumping stairs and you emerge into a nice top floor of sofa and laid back furniture. Balcony of plants and greenery and below you is the street. A perfect hideaway to write your magnus opus... Their homepage http://geishacafe.com/
 85 Pasteur Street, District. 1, Saigon,  HCMC,  Vietnam  pictures of the place on the Vietnamese site here http://giacucsoc.vn/rao-vat-tong-hop/72163-noi-ng-ai-m-cui-ng-geishaa-s-coffee-tea-house.html      and this one   http://24hmua.com/showthread.php?t=628966
WEB: www.geishaclothing.com   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ho-Chi...9195636?v=wall   (Photo on right)

Pacey CupCakes:

 A very small cute Cafe that serves just CupCakes and drinks.   From the street you can see the CupCakes lined up on their shelves.   The first time I missed the fact that there was an upstairs.  Then I read the sign at the front door. "Oh is there an upstairs ?" "Yes.", "Great, I'll go and read upstairs then".   You have to go up a tiny little staircase to an upper room that overlooks the street (photo on left).   It feels like a cubby house. Their website is  http://paceycupcakes.com/  they are on 53G Nguyen Du, Dist 1, Saigon,  HCMC,  CupCakes are well, not the first thing I look for in a Cafe, but hey, that's all they got and it's about the atmosphere and a nice place to sit and write.  It's run by a group of young-ish people, and just recently opened. Very friendly and relaxed atmosphere.


Hoa Da Cafe:

for quiet conversation in small groups. Its dim, red lanterns on the ceiling and people sit on the floor
on cushions in little low cubicles. Not surprisingly a lot of couples come here, but it's for anyone. There is also a designer loft and an aircon room, but the main room has a billowing parachute as a ceiling with a big red lantern in the middle.
Address: Hoa Da Company LTD 20 Tran Cao Van P. Da Kao, Its just off Hai Ba Trung and corner Tran Chao Van, D1, Saigon,  HCMC,behind the petrol station. Best to get a local to show you, it's hidden.  Phone 08 6299 1445  http://thodia.vn/cafe-hoa-da-ho-chi-minh-3.htm  Thanks A. for showing me this one.




Regina Cafe

in the back is a hideaway of trees, running water and relative privacy outdoors. A big place with many corners and rooms to explore. It's high up and overlooking the street below.  http://www.hotspots-vietnam.com/en/coffee/cafe/regina-cafe.html    http://www.reginacoffee.com    Address:  84 Nguyen Du, District 1, not far from Pasteur Street. 

Fashion Coffee 

You will see fans blowing billowing curtains hanging from the ceiling, little groups of table and chairs, a mannequin watching a real TV. The atmosphere is clean, cool and muted. Beautiful clothes, add to the decoration, except they are also for sale. There is a balcony. Not sure if the double bed is just decoration, for sale or ....  
 115 Ly Tu Trong Street, Dist 1, HCMC / Saigon corner with
Huyen Tan Cong Chiua  Street Close to Benh Thanh market (approximate map here).  A newpaper post about the fashion cafe here     



 Tango Juice Bar

Casual, neat, clean & musical. I keep returning for the fruity smoothies and the yoghurt and muesli crunch. 86 Ngo Duc Ke, Dist 1, right across the road from the Bitexco Finanacial Tower. http://juicebar.vn  ( facebook.com/viectot   viectot.vn )
  <- photo on left - Bitexco Finance Tower is the tallest building in Saigon

 

Kita Coffee House

Kita Coffee House, 39 Nguyen Hue, D1, Saigon,  HCMC,  agirlinasia.blogspot.com/2009/01/cafe-crush-kita-coffee-house.html  (night photo on right ->)


Aisha Lounge
It's actually down a tiny little alley and past a small shrine/temple: 63/1 Pasteur, Distrit 1, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City  Phone: +84-8-6660 9040    www.aishalounge.com

The Princes and the Pea Cafe

- In a tiny alley, it's easiest to find if you first go to the  Geisha Coffee & Tea House in  85 Pasteur Street, District. 1, Saigon,  HCMC.
Right next to the Geisha place is a little alley - look for the sign "The Princes and the Pea".                                picture on right ->

above: Sign at foot of stairs to cafe.



 Java Cafe  Just South of the opera house:  http://heikorudolph.blogspot.com/2009/10/26nov09-java-cafe-saigon.html

Fanny's Ice Cream Parlour  in 29-31 Ton That Thiep Street, which is between Pasteur and, Nguyen Hue, Dist1 (close to Sunwah Tower) They have monthly all you can eat ice cream buffets on the first friday of the month (best to confirm and double check).
Location map  http://www.fanny.com.vn/en/parlors/hmc/tonthatthiep.html    or look up "Ton That Thiep" on http://www.diadiem.com/ on English mode.
- in the same building on the next floor is: The Temple Club restaurant. On the roof is an open air grill place called Quan Nuong

Shadow Cafe - I need to investigate this one myself - have heard nice things - 34 tang bat ho phuong 11 quan binh thanh http://thodia.vn/shadow-cafe-quan-binh-thanh.html   &  http://www.metis.vn/show_biz/shadow-cafe/39678

If you are a member of Couchsurfing.org, and can log in, then this forum post http://www.couchsurfing.org/group_read.html?gid=5558&post=8839882  has a great list of Cafe's collected from many different people.

More cafe's to check out on my list next time:
    

Cacophony http://www.ghiencaphe.com/2010/12/cafe-cacophony.htm

Bonbonniere cafe 214 nguyen trai d5





Pictures of cafes of Saigon on Facebook.

More:
Cliché coffe, ally 20 trần cao vân st, D1  http://www.ghiencaphe.com/2012/01/cliche-coffee.html          this site lists lots of other cafes in Saigon.

Vegetarian Restaurants 

Vegetarian Restaurants

District 1:
Thien Duyen Ben Thanh
174 Calmette

Dinh y
171B Cong Quynh

Tin Nghia
9 Tran Hung Dao,
District 1

District Bink Thanh:
Hoa Sen
74 Duoung D1

District 3:
Saigon Vegan
378/3 Vo Van Tan

District 5:
Tri Di
17C/c Phan Ven Tri
Le Hong Phong

Tuong Vien
58 Huynh Man Dat

Huoun Vien
101 Duoung Vuon Chuoi
Simple totally Vegetarian food. Monks, nuns, and vegetarians eat there. Cat lovers will like this place, I saw at about five cats in the restaurant when I was there. It's called: Tin Nghia Tiem Com Chay open from 0700 - 1300 and 1630 - 2000hours. Tel 3821 2538  at 9 Tran Hung Dao Street, District 1,
Directions: Ben THanh Market has a huge roundabout south of it. Tran Hung Dao Street comes off the roundabout at West -South-West, or about the 8 o'clock position if you overlay a clock dial on the roundabout. The restaurant is at the start of Tran Hung Dao Street on the south side (on your left with the roundabout behind you).

- Here is a blog with lots of info about Vegetarian restaurants in Saigon http://saigonvegetarian.wordpress.com/   parent blog:  http://machspeedwhippets.wordpress.com/

Saigon Vegan restaurant  in 378 / 3 Vo Van Tan Street, towards the west end near Cao Thang Street.

If you are a member of Couchsurfing.org, log in and see this forum post  http://www.couchsurfing.org/group_read.html?gid=5558&post=8563259  it  has a list of vegetarian restaurants.

Halal Restaurants in Saigon

This blog page has a list of halal places  http://www.saigonnezumi.com/halal-restaurants-in-saigon/
 

Tea shops

- Tan Sanh Tea and Coffee shop, 78 Ham Nghi Dist 1, near the Bitexco tower. They have great teapots, the tea sets for the full ceremony.
   The smell of the coffee in the shop is fantastic, I'm not a coffee drinker but its a great aroma. If coffee tasted the same as it smelled I'd convert to coffee drinking immediately
   http://www.tansanh.com
- There's a place called Royal Tea House on Ngo Thoi Nhiem, one block north of Nguyen Dinh Chieu. They are good for Vietnamese teas, as well as some Chinese/Taiwanese
   Oolongs.          Ben Thanh Market is also an option for tea and coffee.
- If you want some Japanese Teas you can check out on of the Japanese markets on Le Thanh Ton between Ton Duc Thang and Hai Ba Trung.
- Tra Viet 48 Út Tịch, Ward 4, Tân Bình District,
- 148 Ben Van Don, D4.
- There's supposed to be a tea shop and macrobiotic restaurant at address, 96H Võ Thị Sáu St, go right  to the end of the alley: Chan Nguyen in D1 on Hai Ba Trung and Vo Thi Sau, down an alley across from the park in D3. I've not been able to find it...yet.... if you do please tell more more how to get there.

Teashop list from CS

Quán trà KT
480/5 – Nguyễn Tri Phương – Quận 5
207/69 Đường 3/2, District 10, Ho Chi Minh City
11A Hòa Hưng, P.13, Q.10, TP. Hồ Chí Minh

Thư Giãn Trà Quán

159 nam kỳ khời nghĩa p.6 q.1 dt: 912 3045
91 võ thị sáu p6 q.3 dt:823 1199
204 lê văn sỹ p10 q.phú nhuận dt:912 3047
211A Nguyễn văn thủ p.đa kao q.1 dt:827 5532
1 sông đà p.2 q. tân bình dt: 845 2021

Cát Khánh trà quán

372/2B Cách mạng tháng 8, Phường 10, Quận 3, TP. Hồ Chí Minh
1/12A Sư Vạn Hạnh (nối dài), P.12, Q.10, TP. Hồ Chí Minh

Mộc trà quán

339/18 Tô Hiến Thành, F.12, Q.10 TPHCM

Trà Đạo Trúc Diệp

Địa chỉ 7/89 Thành Thái, Q.10, TPHCM

Trà Quán Việt

17 Trần Quý Khoách Q.1, Quận 1, TP. Hồ Chí Minh

Trà thiền Padme

280/14A Huỳnh Văn Bánh, P.11, Q. Phú Nhuận

Tao quán

237 Vĩnh Viễn, P4, Q10(gần ngã tư Nguyễn Tri Phương-Vĩnh Viễn)WIFI
181/4 đường 3/2, P11, Q10. (đối diện Kỳ Hòa Hotel)

many thanks to PMT for this list :)
- Teas of the world, humourous book with three authors   Curiosi-tea, a Tea Book by Camellia Cha

Restaurants

Small alley off Mac Thi Buoi  D1, with Thai, Vietnamese, Moroccan, restaurants... map of the alley here

List of popular spots to eat in Saigon, by the "Saigon rat/cat" https://foursquare.com/saigonnezumi/list/saigonnezumis-guide-to-saigons-best-spots

Social Stuff, meeting people  blah blah....blah...

Films, Concerts, Music - What's on sitesMore specialized events:

Social Hanoi Connections

... this will go on the new Hanoi page when I get enough stuff to start a new page
The New Hanoian: The New Hanoian       http://newhanoian.xemzi.com/
Young ex-pats in Hanoi live by this site. It's got everything relating tor social networking, housing, classifieds, "What's on", etc, and general forums about pretty much anything
- on a recent trip to Hanoi I noticed that there seems to be some trouble in paradise: So presenting both sides of the story for completeness sake http://hanoiwatchdog.blogspot.com  a site critical of the New Hanoian. Make up your own mind.

Artistic, films, blogs The Hanoi Grapevine -The Hanoi Grapevine at       http://www.hanoigrapevine.com

Accommodation - Budget

Budget area:  Pham Ngu Lao - the backpacker's area has plenty of cheap nice options from $8 upwards,  the Lonely Planet has the details, - see their Thorntree forum as well.   Map of the area   www.wordhcmc.com/maps - of Pham Ngu Lao
 
A list of websites for hostels of all prices  here https://sites.google.com/site/heikorudolph/accommodation-anywhere
Not much else to say about this topic, the Lonely Planet has the local details.

A semi random selection is below:
Madam Cuc's hotels: Nice budget hotel in the backpacker area, $18-30 www.madamcuchotels.com  I stayed there 2008, enjoyed it. Madam runs a good ship. She has three hotels       1)  64 Bui Vien Street Q1 Pham Ngu Lao (Hotel 64)
2) 127 Cong Quynh Q1 Pham Ngu Lao (Hotel 127)
3) 184 Cong Quynh Q1 Pham Ngu Lao (Hotel 184)
+ a new one somewhere else.

Other travellers recommended: N. Dung at 185/6 Pham Ngu Lao (above Viet Viet travel.) It's nice, clean, and quite, with cable and decent wifi. Rooms on the sixth floor are $10

Medium level 3 star, but still in backpacker area, $55-80  Elios hotel Saigon www.elioshotel.vn

Budget Plus Higher Area: The next level up from backpacker:  The area around the North of the Ben Thanh Market and right up to the Presidential/Reunification Palace, has plenty of choice from around $20+ / night - all the way up to 5 star.   Most hotels are in Ly Tu Trong Street & Le Thanh Thon Street, directly north of Benh Thanh Market where they cross .
(map on left- click to enlarge).

I personally like the Thanh Hung Hotel, it's hidden, quieter, clean, family run, safe and small.  Some pictures of map and rooms   here http://www.couchsurfing.org/image_gallery.html?id=1JAEEYF&folder=414129  approx 300,000Don/night/room (larger room, 2011).


Luxury level: (when work pays) I love staying at the Continental Hotel, the 1880 architecture,  old old big high ceiling rooms with an inner courtyard that has Frangipani trees where they serve breakfast. The fact that Grahame Greene wrote the novel "The Quiet American" there and the old solid furniture really get me in. It's a 4 star place though, well out of the low budget range   http://www.continentalhotel.com.vn  Good for a biz trip when work pays, better rates if you go through wotif.com or one of those types of websites.  Try wotif.com if you don't want to directly give your cred card details to the hotel

 For places to live longer term see the heading Finding a place to livefurther down on this page.

Touristy stuff, places to see, what's where....

Blogs about Saigon / HCMC & Vietnam:

enjoy your research.... you never know what you will find ... things like this for example.... http://www.whattofuckingdoinsaigon.com/.

Airport to center of town:

(ho hum.... the old story, air travellers are rich, let's charge 'em a lot to get to and from the airport. Tourists are naive and know nothing, we charge even more ! Yeeehaarrrr! )

Motorbikes charge me 50,000 dong, but if you have more than just hand luggage not so convenient. If you get a guy who drives like a maniac, weaving in and between traffic and cars to impress you, - ask him to calm down (sign language). If that does not work stop. There are plenty of other motorcycle taxis, or car taxis.

"Call me a taxi !"
"You're a taxi !"
ta dum!! ha ha ha  - The Goons

Taxi usually about 100,000 to 130,000 dong. US $5 - $7
Vinasun and Mailinh are known for honesty (so my Vietnamese friends tell me, so Vietnamese  passengers on my plane told me before landing).

To walk or not to walk that is the question
Coming out of  the International terminal you will be greeted by a barrage of "Taxi!!!" "Taxi Sir"
I get the feeling of entering a feeding frenzy, and I'm the food. After a long plane trip that kind of overload makes me defensive, and so I just say no to everything and pretend I have friends picking me up.
Call me Over-Cautious, but I usually (always) walk to the domestic terminal and get a Vinasun cab there. Why ? Because the intensity at the International terminal is too much for me. The barrage of taxi offers, very keen, very enthusiastic.
That tells me I'd be overcharged by a fair bit extra from a normal run of the mill. Why else so keen to get green 'know nothing' tourists ?
I never caught a cab from International yet, too scared.
Anyone offering me anything too enthusiastically usually has a catch to it.

The domestic terminal is an easy walk and there isn't anyone accosting me with offers for taxis.
At the domestic terminal there's an orderly queue, and I recently noticed a Vietnamese man specify the taxi company he wanted to take "Vinasun". So now I do that too. "Vinasun please". So far so good :-)
            I myself used think this is all a bit overly cautious. Then one day a security guard at the domestic terminal asked me where I was going. Ok I told him. He wrote it down, noted the number of the taxi and gave me a piece of paper with writing on it.
Then I understood:  It was a double check, in case something went wrong, or there was dispute or a super high fare, I the customer would have a come back.
Most of the people there are locals. They wouldn't do this without good reason... interesting.

To get to the domestic terminal: As you come out of the International terminal turn right. I still remember the earthy blunt advice from the Lonely Planet book of 1978, "look like you know where you are going, like you did this 101 times already....." Try not to look lost and have a silly durhhhh? expression on your face. "durhhhh =equals=> I'm lost, help me, take advantage of me, offer me expensive options...."  People who arrive at the domestic terminal are mainly locals or some foreigners with a modicum of experience.



"Mr Cautious"
:-) 
There is a funny sign on the way to domestic terminal (you need to change trolleys - from an international trolley to a domestic trolley. Don't ask why - picture below )

Bus is the ultra cheap option: 154 or 152 (not sure which) goes to Ben Thanh Market. Walk out of the airport: The Bus stop is on the opposite side of the aiport entrance. Fare about 4,000Dong (Mar2011).

Movies & Cultural events

Listing of all major commercial movie theatres in Saigon by WordHCMC.com    http://www.wordhcmc.com/listings/artsbooks/cinemas-and-movies-theatres

The Saigon Times (English) has a nice summary of movies at  http://english.thesaigontimes.vn/Home/entertainment/movies/  

German films in Saigon
(and Hanoi) - English & Vietnamese subtitles are normal.    Google map for Saigon Goethe Institute  here.
Goethe Institute Vietnam main page http://www.goethe.de/ins/vn/han/    Website for the Goethe Inst are in English, German and Vietnamese.
 Pictures of Goethe Institute Saigon  ADDRESS in HCMC/Saigon: Viện Goethe/Goethe Institut, TP Hồ Chí Minh    Số 18, Đường số 1, Cư Xá Đô Thành   Phường 4, Quận 3, TP HCM       (Đoạn Điện Biên Phủ – Vườn Chuối – Nguyễn Đình Chiểu) 
Goethe institute Vn lang site at http://www.goethe.de/ins/vn/han/lrn/hcm/viindex.htm
They often have films so it's worth subscribing to their newsletter (both in Saigon & Hanoi)
           May2011 film festival: http://www.goethe.de/ins/vn/han/de7466934v.htm            the cinema is: Dong Da Cinema - 890 Tran Hung Dao, District 5

European Union, Delegation to Vietnam
French movies at the Idecaf
, (i.e. the French Lang Institute )    English subtitles are UNusual, often there are Vietnamese subtitles.  French site http://www.idecaf.gov.vn
All the info is in French or Vietnamese. If you can't read either of those, and you want to find out what is going on I found googling "idecaf saigon film program"  works.
The Saigon Times English version has summaries of French Idecaf movies, but watch the dates carefully, I almost went to a 2009 screening in 2011 !

Vietnamse movies
are screeened at Idecaf: most evenings  Thanks to Google Translate I found the site  http://www.kichidecaf.com   :-)

Amateur Film Group on Facebook (if you know how to get around the blocking in Vietnam) Saigon Amateur Film - http://www.facebook.com/pages/Saigon-Independent-Movie-Amateurs/113594756636

Future Shorts Short film network around the world  Twitter Future Shorts https://twitter.com/#!/futureshortsvn   Description of Future Shorts in Saigon HCMC http://anyarena.com/en/magazine/view/future-shorts-one-2001

Hollywood Stuff (mostly) at Bobby Brewer's Cafe-movie place www.bobbybrewers.com   English flicks at 45 Bui Vien Street Backpacker area, movie schedule is at: www.bobbybrewers.com/bv_schedule.html


Hollywood and British stuff:
Galaxy Cinema
- 116 Nguyen Du, Dist.1, Tel: 38 228 533 ; 38 235 235
- 230 Nguyen Trai, Dist.1, Tel: (08) 3920 66 88
- Website: http://www.galaxycine.vn/

MegaStar
- 126 Hung Vuong Street, Dist.5
- Megastar CT Plaza, Level 10, 60A Truong Son St.,Tan Binh Dist., Tel: +848 62 971 981
- Website : http://megastar.vn/en/

Lotte Cinema Nam Sai Gon  - 3 Floor, Lotte Mart, 469 Nguyen Huu Tho Street, Dist.7, Tel : 8 3775 2521

Diamond Multiplex Cinema  - 34 Le Duan, 13th floor, Dist.1, Tel: 3822-7897

Cinebox
- 240, 3thang2 street, Dist.10
- 212 Ly Chinh Thang street, Dist.3


Dancing in Saigon / HCMC

La Salsa 
on FB: http://www.facebook.com/lasalsa.club
The address:    212 - 214 Nguyễn Đình Chiểu st, Dist 3

Swing 1 Studio NBK - 25 Nguyen Binh Khiem - D1
http://www.saigonswing.com/regForm1.html

Swing 1 - *Complete Beginners*
This class is for those who want to learn Lindy Hop. Lindy Hop is the most important dance in the swing dancing family of dances. It's what everyone who is serious learns. It's not an easy dance, but once you get it, it's by far the most enjoyable one. East Coast Swing, Jitterbug and 6-count fun dances.

Cost - for the whole 6-week session:  Single Person: 400,000 VND each
Couples: 600,000 VND each (couple = follow + lead)
Risk Free Policy: If you don't like our class on the first day, we'll gladly refund you the whole session.

Swing Cats Saigon  http://www.saigonswingcats.com/

A list from CS about Swing dancing in Saigon thanks  R.T. (-may be out of date)
  • Tuesday: Saigon Saigon Bar (Caravelle Hotel, 19 Lam Son Square, Dist. 1) with Warapo Band from Cuba playing Latin music
  • Thursday: La Fenetre Soleil Cafe (44 Ly Tu Trong St., Dist. 1 (at the corner of Ly Tu Trong St. & Pasteur St.)) with DJ from XSalsa playing all Salsa, Bachata, Merengue
  • Friday: Regina Cafe (84 Nguyen Du St., Dist. 1) with DJ from XSalsa playing all Salsa, Bachata, Merengue
  • Sunday: Molinari Cafe (1st Floor of Molinari Cafe, Petro Tower, 5 Le Duan St., Dist. 1) with DJ from XSalsa playing all Salsa, Bachata, Merengue
  • Restaurant/bar/club called La Habana at 6 cao bao Quat D1
  • Other place La Salsa club at 212-214 Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street, D3
On Wednesday nights Cafe Le Fenetre Soleil has Salsa dancing in its central room.  It's a low key, informal affair, you can do as little or as much as you like, or just sit around smoking a Shi-Sha. (The dance nights change from Thursday, to Wednesday to... whenever... better check first)


Massage (yes just massage)
body scrub and Sunflower therapy www.sunflower-spa.com

The Qi Swedish body massage http://www.qispa.com.vn/e/sebody.html at Qi at MÖVENPICK Hotel http://www.qispa.com.vn/e/lomni.html
Ngoc Anh Spa has a good staff that is trained: http://www.ngocanhspa.com/   map of the place near Tao Dan Park, very nice, been there many times  

English teaching: Work -Qualifications

This scene changes a lot and fast. It's best to talk to others, network to get a feel for the job market.
Getting qualifications for teaching English herehttps://sites.google.com/site/heikorudolph/english-teaching
An older Couchsurfing post about English teaching here (2010)  http://www.couchsurfing.org/group_read.html?gid=5558&post=6137573

Getting the basic CELTA qualification from Language Schools in Saigon

English teaching sites ( Jobs, Schools, Forums etc..)

English speaking clubs

around Saigon    log into Couchsurfing to see  http://www.couchsurfing.org/group_read.html?gid=5558&post=8300983

Expat/foreigners hangouts

Bread and Butter bar and restaurant on Bui vien street, has a place to post, rent, roomates, buy sell notices
Anywhere in District 2, such as: Snap Cafe D2    http://maps.google.com/maps?q=snap+cafe+an+phu&ie=UTF8&hl=en&hq=snap+cafe+an+phu&hnear=&z=16

People doing unusual things

Learning Vietnamese

  • A Vn lang school in Saigon USD $7/hour class of 3 students: http://vlstudies.com/
  • "Dai hoc khoa hoc Xa hoi & Nhan Van". http://www.hcmussh.edu.vn  The university is on Dinh Tien Hoang Street, District 1.  It is said that their "Deutsch Zentrum" which belongs to the University of Social Science and Humanity is good for learning German as well.
  • online learning via skype www.language-school-teachers.com
  • Ask the Couchsurfing community www.couchsurfing.org  there is a subgroup under Saigon main group.

Getting around Saigon / HCMC - transport

Motorbikes

Vietnamese Government site outlining the procedure: http://sgtvt.hochiminhcity.gov.vn/web/tintuc/default.aspx?cat_id=592&news_id=4501#content
You can download the application forms online.

There is an August2010  Couchsurfing post which explains HOW To get a licence and where here  www.couchsurfing.org/group_read.html?gid=5558&post=6313519, buying or renting one seems relatively easy, walk down Backpacker street: Pham Ngu Lao and its parallel sister street: Bui Vien and you'll see places that rent bikes by the day, week and month.
I'm told that for about $50 a month you can get a reliable bike from Saigon Motorbike, on Le Loi. Try 097 999 290.(anyone can confirm experience with them ? )

NB:
I have been told by the HR manager at my company: if you have an accident and no VIETNAMESE license, any medical/travel insurance will simply wipe their hands and walk away. It's happened in two cases in the last year, costs >$10K each. 
I was told by a few people "don't worry 50cc bikes don't require a license!". I found out this is not true. The official line is that 50cc IS included in bikes that require a license.
 Vietnamese text
English Translation by Google translate:
Xe 50 cc co can bang lai không?
HỎI
Tôi có một cháu sinh năm 1991 đang học lớp 11. Xin hỏi cháu có thể đi xe 50 phân khối đến trường được không? Có cần bằng lái xe gắn máy không? xin cám ơn

ĐÁP
Theo quy định Giấy phép lái xe môtô hạng A1 cấp cho người lái xe để điều khiển xe môtô 2 bánh có dung tích xi-lanh từ 50cm3 (50 phân khối) đến dưới 175cm3.

source http://sgtvt.hochiminhcity.gov.vn/hoidap/kb/default1.aspx?pt=d&qid=1964
 50 cc car balance is not there?

QUESTION
I have a grandson born in 1991 were in Grade 11. Ask your child can ride to school is 50 cubic not? There should no motorcycle license? thank
 
ANSWER
Prescribed class of motorcycle license to drive for A1 drivers to control two-wheel motorcycles with a capacity of 50cm3 syringe (50 cc) and less than 175cm3.

An insurance company will obviously try to minimize costs to themselves whenever they can... so they will most likely go the very letter of the law i.e. 50cc requires a license. See  the Government site above which seems to include 50cc as part of a license.

Results of a quick Google search:"driver license in vietnam" about driving in Vietnam: Oz Embassy http://www.vietnam.embassy.gov.au/hnoi/Driving_in_Vietnam.html
Local guy provding fee for service http://paperworkservice.wordpress.com/vietnamese-drivers-license/

Buying a bike: Saigon

  • Tips on buying a bike http://positiveworldtravel.com/10-tips-buying-motorbike-vietnam/
  • Phillip Mai sells used bikes ( www.saigonmotor.com or here)- BUT make sure you check the bike FIRST: do a test drive and check lights are bright, check for oil leaks, make sure lights, indicators, horn work and try to figure out if the charger actually charges the battery or if it's still running from the latest recharge from a battery charger  :-)  Ah...one more thing:  frame and engine number on the registration paper should be the same as on the bike - (all stuff I learned to look for the hard way :-)    )
  • Video of what it's like to ride in Saigon is here http://www.saigonmotor.com/charity-scooter-run
Hanoi - General bike sales, tours, tips.
These look interesting but I've not checked them out myself:
- Motorbike tours around Vn http://www.rallyindochina.com/         
-Vespa tours around Saigon  http://www.vietnamvespaadventures.com/tours/hochiminh
- BBC's article on motorbiking in SE Asia http://www.bbc.com/travel/feature/20110322-motorbiking-in-southeast-asia-two-wheeled-adventures-from-m

Bicycles

  in Saigon
(yes bi-cycles in Saigon, strange as that is in a place dominated by cars and motorbikes)

I had this advice about Bicycles from CS friends :-)   
      Vo Thi Sau st at the end of Pham Ngoc Thach st in Q3 has a good conglomeration of cycle shops, including the classic Martin 107 shop. You should find a good range there. I got my Chinese copy of a Giant Mtn bike from down there. There's also 1 shop behind New World hotel which has some cycles. If you want a more upmarket bike let me know & I'll dig out the address of a special shop. There's also a western style shop in Q7, pretty pricey though.

For the high tech cycle stuff go here  (can cost a bit) they also do tours (can cost a bit)  http://saigoncycles.com
For cycle tours and meetings by expats and locals look in http://www.wordhcmc.com/   the cycle tours  are free as far I can figure out, but you DO need to bring your own bike.

  Touring - on  Bicycles

Bike touring in Vietnam, http://travellingtwo.com/resources/10questions/cycling-in-vietnam
and this overview of Vietnam, cost of living etc.. for cyclists. http://www.tour.tk/country-information/vietnam.htm


Taxis: Vietnamese people tell me that Vinasun and Mailinh are the most trustworthy. They are professional.
If you ever encounter the "magically incrementing meter", then FIRST take pictures, SECOND ask for a receipt, then pay and leave, don't argue,  then ask a Vietnamese friend to ring the company and tell them the story.

Busses

- website for a Saigon bus company  http://www.buyttphcm.com.vn  you may have to use Google translate..... A map of the buses here http://www.buyttphcm.com.vn/admin/Images/so%20do%20xe%20bus.jpg

Finding a place to live:

A simple strategy is to find a hotel with a rate you can afford for a month, stay there. Then ask your friends, look around, network with expats, look on the expat websites and you will likely find the place just for you.

- Rooms for rent in family homes:  Attached to this page are a few photos with the addresses of family houses that rent rooms, hidden in  courtyards in District 1. They are run by Vietnamese families, not a formal hotel, often part of the family home but especially built for renting out. They have ensuite, TV, double bed, internet etc... . Rent ~300-450 thousand Dong/day or 350-450 $'s / month.   The photos are just of the addresses.

Guest houses around 171 Co Bac in District 1   teachers live there, so nice, non-transient neighborhood in a local area and only 5-10 min. walk to BuiVien. Rent ranges from $220-300/month for a room. (CS)

An Phu group helpers in Saigon http://groups.google.com/group/helper-for-foreinger-in-vietnam


Expat  info

  • This site is for expats sent by their company/work to live in Vietnam: rental and other services are aimed at above backpacker rates. http://www.livinginvietnam.com
  • An Phu group helpers in Saigon http://groups.google.com/group/helper-for-foreinger-in-vietnam

Supermarkets:

Expensive, more for foreign stuff:
  • Top floor Parkson District 1
  • Diamond Plaza District 1
  • A small supermarket is in the big department store, Corner Le Loi, and Nguyen Hue, second floor.
Cheaper, for locals
  • A really big one "Coop Mart": Nam Ky Khoi Nghia corner Nguyen Dinh Chieu, it's even marked on http://www.diadiem.com/en
there are plenty of others around town.

When to go: Weather:

From a Vietnamese friend: "Weather is great end of October till Tet, we don't really have hot and sticky weather in Saigon that much, but I don't love April to August much however may be your friends in Oz will like sunny weather?

Details and figures of rainfall & temperature are at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saigon#Climate

Volunteering, helping out.. charity.

Helping Hand is a group of local Vietnamese, Việt Kiều and expats who want to make a difference where the difference is felt.
Whether it's painting an old lady's house, cooking spaghetti for orphans, supporting a business start up or renovating a house for cancer kids, Helping Hand believes in making it personal by working predominantly with small groups and individuals.
Where possible, project costs are funded by Helping Hand or our sponsors so donations are always welcome.   http://www.helpinghandsg.org/

Blue Dragon helps street kids, jobs, shelter...... http://www.bdcf.org/   and a blog at http://vietnamstreets.blogspot.com/

KOTO = Jimmy Pham's kitchen  main site of how Jimmy set up restaurants and gave street kids a practical education http://www.koto.com.au   video about his work http://www.factualtv.com/documentary/Jimmys-Kitchen

Catholic Relief Services, has written about street kids in Vietnam:Getting Vietnam's kids off the street      http://crs.org/vietnam/getting-vietnams-kids-off-the-street/

VIP Bikes Social enterprise http://newhanoian.xemzi.com/fr/venue/show/2003/VIP-Bikes-Social-Enterprise

English teaching  Volunteering to teach English. Informal arrangements. This is the University http://www.couchsurfing.org/people/tdmu/   and this is the post that describes the experience of one Couchsurfer   A great way to get to know the real Vietnam.   http://www.couchsurfing.org/group_read.html?gid=5558&post=8428259   (cut n paste it)

It is at: Thu Dau Mot University, 30 kms north from Sai Gon. (one hour by bus from Ben Thanh market in District 1)

Vietnam volunteers network   http://www.vietnamvolunteernetwork.com/volunteering--aid-required.html lists some orphanages and their locations. One of them Go Vap Orphanage in/around HCMC has over 200 children (newborns to 17 years of age) many suffering from mental and physical disabilities, who are sick, disabled or malformed as a result of Agent Orange.

Cleft lip repair in Vietnam, a poster I saw here. See the photo attached at the bottom of this page.
There are many opportunities to volunteer in Vietnam.

 Best use of skills - A friend gave me this advice about volunteering in Vietnam:

I have done several ones, and realized that it’s best to volunteer in my area of expertise, which is career development counselling and/or education.
When I tried to help in HIV orphanage and others, I found that my time is not used most effective.
You must try on your own several ones before you know which one fits your interests and talents the best.

I am sure many places don’t just need money, especially when you are in the country. They need your commitment, strategic thinking ability, and many other skills that you have.

Visa

Has anyone had experience with these guys ?
https://www.myvietnamvisa.com/apply.html     they have a large section in the travel forum on Vn   http://www.vietnamtravelforum.net/tags/vietnam%20visa.html
and here http://www.vietnamtravelforum.net/21366-information-you-should-know-get-vietnam-visa.html
From the info above:
It sounds like a service to issue a "landing visa" - I had one of those once. You get a letter from Immigration that says you are approved for a visa.
Then you go to an counter at the airport before immigration, pay your visa fees and get the REAL visa.
Then you go through immigration as usual, now you have a proper visa. The Joys of Bureaucracy.

Friends of mine want to come to Vn but are a bit cautious about using this service
I could not tell them anything, I recommended they go to the Embassy directly.
Answer: I've had lots of positive comments, seems legit and works well. CS post about this here http://www.couchsurfing.org/group_read.html?gid=5558&post=8301950

There are rumours of being able to go to Ha Tien from Cambodia without a visa. They tell you that you aren't allowed to go past Ha Tien, but as far as I know there aren't any internal visa checks. Can anyone give me advice if it is worth the risk to go onto Saigon for a weekend anyway without a valid visa? I know I have to exit through the same border crossing, but is there any reasonable chance of me getting caught without a visa in Saigon? (from a post on a forum-unconfirmed)

2012 update: Vietnamese seeking to come to Hong Kong  7 days travel, pay 5- or 60$  www.vemaybayanquang.com  

Foreigners wanting to come to Vietnam, online visa VIETNAM VISA CORPORATION visa@vietnamvisacorp.com   they can do a visa in an hour (approx USD160)

Computer parts, electronics, second hand stuff:

0) Saigon electronics shop that has the lot http://tme.com.vn  Connectors, development boards, chips, tools, PCB stuff....  (finally found it :-) thanks to my students)
 Thien Minh Electronic Solutions Co.Ltd     173 Tan Phuoc Ward 6 District 10 Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam    TEL: (84) 8.39573224    Fax: (84) 8.22643029     Email: tminh@tme.com.vn   map here

1) Computer hardware, computer parts, geek toys in Bui Thi Xuan street District 1. Next street from Nguyen Trai behing Zen Plaza,  parallel and South East of  Nguyen Thi Min Khai Street, and North West of Nguyen Trai Street. North West of the park that borders on Pham Ngu Lao and Le Lai streets. This is the place to get external hard drives, laptop hard drives, cases etc... details on this page https://sites.google.com/site/heikocomputer/external-hard-drives   look for corner of Ton That Tun Street and Bui Thi Xuan Streets

 
click on picture to see full size map of where to get computer parts such as Laptop Hard Drives, external Hard Drives, USB sticks,  etc.....

This place has consumer goods, and a little bbit of raw hardware such as Hard Drives and USB connectors.

2) Computer shops at: Corner of Cach Mang Thang 8 and Nguyen Thi Minh Khai 2 largish stories of IT goodness, the whole area to the south-west has many computer hardware shops. This area is near to the area described in 1) above. .

3) Market: Electronics bits and pieces such as resistors, chips, soldering tools etc... are at: Nhat Tao Market, in Lý Thường Kiệt, P. 7, Q. 10 (  Ly Thuong Kiet, Wrd 7, Dist 10 )

4) Market: Yersin Street market  near Nguyen Gong Tru District 1 -> Tools, meters, hardware, old coins, junk, nuts n bolts, generators, pressure meters, electronic stuff.

5) Kim Tan, 63 Nam Ky Khai Nghia, Dist 1. Shop that has a mix of electronic components and consumer electronics, from chips and soldering irons to amplifiers and video equipment. There is another smaller shop nearby. This is the easiest one to find and is right in District 1, near the Saigon Center, just off Le Loi. The range of parts is limited but a good start.

6) All the above places (1-5) have some things, but none of them have the complete range of electronics components and parts. This shop based in Hanoi has a good online catalogue and stocks more electronic components and tools than any of the other places I've seen http://www.tula.vn/en/  ( catalogue http://www.tula.vn/en/modules.php?name=monline&file=sdtc1 )  online at http://embeonline.com/  
 
7) laptops and consumer electronics http://www.hoanlong.com.vn/may-vi-tinh-a-linh-kien.html  (one of many -  just a suggestion)



Antique Street & Camera repair

Pham The, 11 Lê Công Kiều, district 1,  close to Ben Thanh market. The guys will look at your camera and give you a quote before working on it.
This street is also "Antique Street" - lots of shops selling cheap to expensive antiques, cameras, record players, and the usual vases, urns, statues, Buddhas etc ....

I also found the Canon repair center very good. (pricey but good)

Other people recommended: Khanh Long Camera, 35 Lê Lợi, Q.1, Tp.HCM.


Meditation, yoga, outdoor stuff, exercises - traditional practices

On the weekends the park on Hai Ba Trung bordered by Dien Bien Phu  at the south and  Vo Thi Sau on the north is FULL of people doing things from meditation, chanting, yoga, funny stuff, to chi gong and I think Tai chi. its a regular hot bed of traditional practices.
The park is called   Cong Vien Le Van Tam - it's walkable from the center (Opera House).

Chi Gong  (Qi Gong) in District 1 on weekends in the mornings 
https://sites.google.com/site/secretchigong/

Yoga in Pasteur D1

Aikido in Saigon

Website:http://www.aiki-viet.com.vn  - pictures here. It's in Vietnamese - use Google Translate to get a rough idea. 

There is a private site that was was mentioned on CS: http://www.indochinalegendtravel.com/default.asp?/=&loading=33&newsID=80  - if you go and have some comments please let me know.

If you are member of Couchsurfing here is a post about Aikido in Saigon http://www.couchsurfing.org/group_read.html?gid=5558&post=9136190   thanks KD

Leather shops:

  • Leather shop Custom Made Shoes, but they can make whatever you want, Time to be creative -Shop name: Hieu Giay; Mr Tran Zuoc Lan…. 97 Le Thanh Ton Q1 ph: 3829 5453  quoclan97@yahoo.com.vn  (Thanks for the tip Fiona)  near Pasteur Street.
  • Large quantity commerical quantities of leather PHAN THI HOANG MY Cell phone: 098 276 9992   Email: hoangmyphan@yahoo.com
  • Skins for 200 to 500,000 dong at: Cua Hang, Vinh Hung, 468 Hoa Hao P.7, Q11, near Ly Thuong Kiet, see picture below of the shop front. (click to enlarge)

More commercial finished products:

Bus to Phom Phen

  • Sapaco : 11$ - at : 6.00am or ; 7.00; 8.00; 9.00; 10.00; 11.30; 13.00; 14.00, adress : 325 Phạm Ngũ Lão, phone number : 08.39 203 623
  • MaiLinh Express 12$ - at 7.00am; 12.00 - address : 520 Lê Hồng Phong, district 10 number :08.38297979 - 38477888
  • Thesinhtourist 12$ - at 9.00 am - address 246 – 248 Đề Thám, Q.1, Tp.HCM - phone 08.38389597
  • Kumho Samco Buslines 12$ - at : 7.30; 10.30; 15.00 - address: 239 Phạm Ngũ Lão - phone: 08.6291 5389
Thanks TM


Bookshop Eng & Viet used paperbacks.

  Found this bookshop in 337 Tran Hung Dao Dist 1. (click on pictures for larger size)
Mostly Vietnamese but also a back room full of English titles, all in random order.

There are also second hand books in Pham Ngu Lao.

A Couchsurfing post about bookshops - log in as a member to see post:
Bookshop second hand & new http://www.couchsurfing.org/group_read.html?gid=5558&post=9056811

Backpacker street, Bui Vien and Pham Ngu Lao have shops where paperbacks are traded.

Manga and anime shops.
 Pu Shop (9AM-9PM)
453 HUỲNH VĂN BÁNH St., Ward 13,PHÚ NHUẬN District,HCMC
http://www.manga1.com.vn/diendan/showthread.php?t=27

VANG ANH shop
58 Cô Bắc St.- Ward Cầu Ông Lãnh - District 1 - TP.Hồ Chí Minh
thanks HPham

Website: Germany, manga and anime.
German site, all things manga and anime... http://www.connichi.de/


Facebook blocked in Vietnam

If you ask the Ministry of Foreign affairs they say that there is not such directive from the Government (to block Facebook).
So there is not "official block" - but in reality there is. Try to access it and you will get nowhere.
You will find many businesses and people use Facebook anyway. There are ways around the block.

The funny thing is: Facebook is even used by the Vietnamese Govt in situations like the protests against China in June 2011 http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Vietnamese-take-to-streets-against-Beijing%E2%80%99s-incursions-in-the-South-China-Sea-21745.html it's ironic, more...

If you had the job of gathering  intelligence information, one of the best ways to do this would be to offer 'free' proxy access to the public and then scan and analyze the content.
Just a thought. :-)               Using the principle of: Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.

Proxy servers.

One way around firewall content blocking is to use a proxy server. You go to a proxy address and that address acts as a middleman to connect you to whatever you want.
Some proxies you pay for, as a commercial service, others are 'free' to the public.

Third party proxy servers.

The problem with all proxies is the same and is very simple: trust.
You have to trust the proxy with all your data, whatever you do via the proxy the proxy can see it and look at it. Every password you use whatever you do via the proxy, in theory the proxy can access it all. So if you trust the proxy fine. If you don't then .... make your choice. 
I would not recommend doing anything like banking or payment via credit card using a third party proxy (even though passwords and cred card numbers are encrypted, so the risk is low "in theory"..... )
  • eventually the people blocking Facebook will figure out what proxy servers are being used and block those too.  That's why commercial proxy servers have so many different internet addresses. In other countries this has sometimes led to a situation where the proxy server address changes daily, it becomes simply a list of internet address numbers for that day. It gets blocked, and a new number is generated, - cat and mouse game. When I visited: As soon as I sat down in the internet cafe I'd get the new list of today's numbers. Things are not that crazy in Vietnam.

"Free" proxies

  • Ask yourself some questions about FREE proxy services. Why are they free ? ....is there such a thing as a free lunch ??? 
    • Someone is paying real money to give 'free' access to the public ? Why ? out of the goodness of their hearts ?  Do you really believe that ?
    • Why are they so keen and  eager for you to use their "free" service ?  What's in it for them ?
    • Your choice.    A deeper look here http://www.abuse.ch/?p=2534
Using private, commercial  or "FREE" proxy servers: Whatever way you use, make sure you understand the risks, and are comfortable with them. Just because there IS a risk does not mean you should not take it. Just be aware of it and choose to take it or not.
Some examples:

Dedicated anonymizing proxy networks

These networks operate on ideological basis, they believe that anonymous internet access should be possible.  The same questions of trust apply as for all third party proxies.

      1. TOR = Serious privacy/proxy: A much stronger and better system for anonymous proxy browsing is TOR here http://www.torproject.org/   TOR
      2.  I2P =  Similar to the TOR system above, official website  http://www.i2p2.de          Wikipedia I2P summary here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I2P

If you had the job of gathering  intelligence information, one of the best ways to do this would be to offer 'free' proxy access to the public and then scan and analyze the content.          Just a thought. :-)  

Alternatives to third party proxies:

  1. For longer term private use:  Run your own [rivate proxy server.  This is the only way to avoid the problem of trusting a third party.
You could set up your own proxy server. It means you need to have your own hosted domain name. Possible, not that hard, but requires some IT experience.
Benefit:  Unlikely to get blocked if you use it just for yourself, use it carefully (strip page headers etc....). Stay moral.

Some semi-useful links
- Web cache proxy software you can install http://www.squid-cache.org/
- Apache proxy server http://httpd.apache.org/docs/2.0/mod/mod_proxy.html

       2. Virtual Private Networks, tunnelling, - use secure systems and things should be ok.

Social effects of blocking, censoring, filtering content

In a sense the Vietnamese Government is educating people in IT technology and ways to get around censorship. A useful skill for a population, any population, of any country. Blocking something as popular as Facebook puts the issue right into the middle of everyone's awareness.  Whether facebook is really worth getting all this heat over is another question ;-)

When a Government or Corporation bans/blocks sites (Social Networking Sites like Facebook etc...) there are often consequences that can be worse than NOT banning those sites. A very good explanation of this is here http://www.abuse.ch/?p=2534   The "solution" is worse than the original problem, although it takes a while for people to understand that.  There are also much  'smarter' ways of restricting a site which don't have such  negative effects.


Odd bits n pieces I can't fit in anywhere else:

Radio controlled models shop, 265 Vo Van Str, Ward 5, Dist 1  www.tlchobby.com  with videos of models in action.

English speaking clubs around Saigon      http://www.couchsurfing.org/group_read.html?gid=5558&post=8300983

Amateur Radio Ham Radio in Vietnam   http://www.qsl.net/oh2mcn/3w.htm    International licenses   http://www.qsl.net/oh2mcn/license.htm
 Some interesting stories about radio in Saigon http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio_First_Termer    
 CB radio equipment sales in Vietnam  http://search.muahangmy.com/search.html?key=cb+radio&go=T%C3%ACm+ki%E1%BA%BFm&search_title=1

Xanqui Chinese Chess - people play it around town   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xiangqi

Tailor shop, they do silk, and  are great at custom requests Lien Chi - name of shop 78 Ly Tu Trong Dist.1  http://fashionlienchi.com

Business Cards Ly Thai To Street


German language learning in Vietnam https://www.goethe.de/mmo/priv/8862401-STANDARD.pdf


Things to add later, For Couchsurfing.org posts you should be a member and log in.
Good tea shops http://www.couchsurfing.org/group_read.html?gid=5558&post=8976643
Scanning of books http://www.couchsurfing.org/group_read.html?gid=5558&post=9008855
Renting an appartment  http://www.couchsurfing.org/group_read.html?gid=5558&post=8881580
Driving a car in Vietnam discussion http://www.couchsurfing.org/group_read.html?gid=5558&post=9027378
Cafes (quiet ones) around Saigon http://www.couchsurfing.org/group_read.html?gid=5558&post=8839882
Bookshop second hand & new http://www.couchsurfing.org/group_read.html?gid=5558&post=9056811
English Teaching jobs   http://www.couchsurfing.org/group_read.html?gid=5558&post=6137573
Cheap Vn to Europe airline tix http://www.billetsdiscount.com/v01/price/pricelist.php?id=135
Aikido (not kill, not injure opponent - martial art) in Saigon http://www.couchsurfing.org/group_read.html?gid=5558&post=9136190

Victoria Health Care in Phu Nhuan and in District 1 www.victoriavn.com   can do hospital type things, HIV testing, and supposedly speak English.

 About links on this page:
Links on this page are usually shown expanded so that they are easy to copy and paste, and if printed all the information is contained.
Most links are "deep links"  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_linking

Acknowledgments:

this page like all the pages on this site, is a mix of my own writings, cut and paste from blogs, posts, and emails in answer to questions on networks such as Couchsurfing, Thorntree, and others.  Material copied is often pure information, sometimes actual text. Thanks to all those who posted and wrote answers.
As a way of thanks this page of accumulated information is offered freely to all. - Haiko
Older version of this page on Google Docs     https://docs.google.com/document/d/1t_yfgUXsYh_AW_LAXbTJN6MMUYxpiXAhasYK37-5W9A/edit?hl=en_GB&authkey=CNGAsY4J
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Heiko RUDOLPH,
Apr 30, 2011, 7:03 AM
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Heiko RUDOLPH,
Jul 18, 2011, 11:50 PM
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Heiko RUDOLPH,
Mar 12, 2011, 5:17 PM
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Heiko RUDOLPH,
Mar 4, 2011, 10:48 PM
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