Tan Son Nhat Int Airport, Ho Chi Minh

Januari 2019
Awal bulan Januari 2019, saya menemani isteri dan adik2 nya ke Ho Chi Minh. Actually saya tidak berapa minat nak ikut memandangakn 3 ladies pegi memborong, tak kan saya nak ikut sama? Ini bukan lawatan first time bagi isteri saya sebab dia pernah ke HCM dengan adik dia previously. Being a supportive husband kita ikut aje lah. Jadi, no itinerary untuk trip ni yang perlu saya buat. Otherwise, lawatan2 ke destinasi percutian, saya akan buat detailed itinerary yang kekadang mengambil masa 3-4 bulan untuk prepare. Kali ni, kita jadi follower aje.

(Regular readers to this blog, my apologies for this post being in my native language. This trip to Ho Chi Minh was unplanned, rather to accompany my wife and her siblings to do more serious shopping thus no itinerary needed to be drawn up by me. This time, I am just a follower but this post and a coming few, may offer some information to my local readers).

Tan Son Nhat International Airport

Kuar/masuk pesawat adalah mengguna aero-bridge.

Setiba di Tan Son Nhat Int Airport, Ho Chi Minh, saya agak surprise juga apabila mendapati airport HCM ni moden. Lantai airport pun berkilat. Process immigration cepat and in no time, kami sudah berada di baggage carousel  untuk claim bag-bag kami.

Flight MAS kami dari KUL ke SGN hanya 1 jam 55 minit. No wonder ramai rakyat Malaysia di HCM, memandangkan waktu penerbangan lebih singkat dari pulang ke kampong. Flight ke Kota Kinabalu pun lagi lama.

Tan Son Nhat Int Airport, Ho Chi Minh

Berjalan menuju ke imigresen. Airport yang moden, comparable to some mid-size European airport.

Tan Son Nhat Int Airport, Ho Chi Minh

Menunggu bag di baggage carousel.

Internet Connection
Memandangkan kami perlu internet connection untuk WhatsApp, Maps & Grab, berdasarkan experience wife sebelum ni, data only connection yang paling murah di tawarkan, adalah dari Vinaphone. Booth mereka ni paling kiri bila kita kuar dari arrival hall. Kami memilih pakej 5GB data menggunakan simcard 4G berharga VND100,000 (+/-RM17.50). Amat murah berbanding sewa pocket wifi dan 5GB lebih dari cukup untuk penggunaan 7 hari kami di sana. Signal reception pakej Vinaphone ni, sungguh stable and solid all the time. Recommended. Don’t be surprised, Vietnam bercadang untuk launch network 5G tak lama lagi, ahead of Malaysia ya. Ni berita yang saya dapati (01/19) dari siaran televisyen mereka.

Vinaphone, Tan Son Nhat International Airport

Counter Vinaphone sebelah kiri arrival hall exit.

Vinaphone, Tan Son Nhat International Airport

Pakej lain pun ada, tapi untuk kami, memadai 5GB untuk 7 hari.

Transportation ke bandar Ho Chi Minh
OK, dah sampai airport, camne nak ke downtown Ho chi Minh? Dari pembacaan blog2 mereka yang sudah ke HCM, avoid all taxi kecuali taxi2 dari syarikat Vinasun. Yang lain kebanyakan cekik darah atau penipu. Mula2 dah study cara nak naik shuttle bas, tapi bas-stop ke Ben Thanh di mana hotel kami berdekatan situ, agak jauh nak berjalan, walaupun Google Map kata 4 minit saja. Last2 kami decide naik Grab aje lah. Cost Grab VND87,000 (RM+/-15.40) termasuk tol. Kerana kesesakan jalan raya, perjalanan 8 km mengambil masa 45 minit.

Grab in Vietnam

Dapat naik Innova you. Passenger 2 orang aje pulak tu. Adik2 wife akan tiba flight VN petang nanti.

Vinasun taxi, Ho Chi Minh

Jika perlu naik taxi, make sure pilih yang dari Syarikat Vinasun.

Interior Tan Son Nhat International Airport.
Jika tak silap, renovation/extension airport ni siap pada 2016. Tak pernahlah saya jangkakan airport ni setaraf dengan airport2 moden negara lain. Yang pastinya, airport ni belum sesibuk airport negara2 lain, tapi facilities kira bagus. Boarding dan disembarkation adalah mengguna aero-bridge. Check-in counter pun banyak dan di sini saya rasakan layanan customer adalah lebih mesra dan lemah lembut. Otherwise, di kedai2 di Ben Thanh, sesetengah seller2 mereka agak kasar dan ada juga yang kurang ajar dan biadap melayan customers terutama pelawat Malaysia. Macam nak bergaduh pun ada.

 Tan Son Nhat International Airport

Check-in counters.

 Tan Son Nhat International Airport

Ni check-in counter khusus untuk Vietnam Airlines.

 Tan Son Nhat International Airport

View apron dari departure terminal.

 Tan Son Nhat International Airport

Kedai2 di dalam airport.

 Tan Son Nhat International Airport

Kedai2 style gerai pun ada.

 Tan Son Nhat International Airport

Departure Information board.

 Tan Son Nhat International Airport

Departure hall di penhujung airport bagi penerbangan MAS.

 Tan Son Nhat International Airport

Kerusi2 yang agak banyak di departure hall.

Kami fly business class yang mana perkhidmatan nya agak serupa yang telah kami dialami ketika ke Phuket. Review business class MAS short-haul ada di sini. Baggage allowance untuk bag ckeck-in ialah 40kg dan hand carry 7kg. Total 94kg untuk 2 passengers yang amat diperlukan bila bershopping.

MH750/759 business class

Cabin business class MAS B737-800

MH750/759 business class

Configuration 2X2 X 4. Total 16 business class seat aje.

MH750/759 business class

Lunch yang di hidangkan dengan penggunaan piring kaca, bukan plastik.

¥1000 Shuttle Bus From Tokyo Station to Narita.

November 2018
After more than a fortnight in Japan, it’s time to bid Sayonara and head home. Our Malaysian Airline flight is scheduled at 21:40. We have entered Japan via Kansai, left Osaka through Itami for Haneda, Tokyo and will be leaving for home from Narita.

Prayer Room At Tokyo Train Station
As our flight is at night, we checked-out of our hotel at the very last minute we could and headed for Tokyo train station via JR Yamanote line from Akihabara. By the time we reached Tokyo train station, it was prayer time and we proceeded to the prayer room provided by Japan Railway (JR). It is located at 1F close-by Marunochi North Gate inside the JR East Travel Service Center to the right of the entrance door.

Tokyo station prayer room

JR East Travel Service Center. The arrow points to the prayer room inside.                              Credit:Twitter.com

Tokyo station prayer room

Right side frontage of JR East Travel Service Center, Tokyo train station.                    Credit:themoslemtraveler.com

To use the prayer room, you do not need to go to any counter. Just communicate through the intercom at the door of the prayer room and you’ll be given access. The room has a wash basin and to block public view from outside, there are 2 portable screens provided. The room is clean and has prayer direction. It is a little small, odd shaped with probably two praying alongside being the maximum. Please note there are no chair or stool for those who may require the use of it. Thank you JR for providing this facility.

Tokyo station prayer room

The intercom is to the left of the door.                                                                     Credit:musallah.com

Tokyo station prayer room

The wash basin inside the prayer room with the stool bolted to the floor.                  Credit:halamedia.jp

Tokyo station prayer room

The prayer area will be a squeeze for two praying at once.                                        Credit:halamedia.jp

Access Narita Shuttle Bus
From Tokyo train station, we will be taking the Access Narita shuttle bus to Narita airport. Access Narita is a bus shuttle service from Tokyo station (and Ginza) to Narita airport Terminals 1,2 &3 (vice versa), costing ¥1,000 one way with services as frequent as every 10 minutes during peak times. You line up and board the bus at platform #7 outside the Yaesu South entrance of the train station.

The buses are clean, comfortable and has a toilet. Ticket payment is to the driver either by cash or pre-paid (Icoca) card. You could also make advance reservation using credit card from their site but it’s in Japanese. Platform #7 for the Access Narita is within the train station building, so you do not have to cross any street or bridges. It is diagonally opposite JR East Travel Service Center, however is a long walk to circumvent the large Tokyo train station.

Access Narita

Platform #7. Just line up there and board the bus. Make payment to the bus driver.

In case you have bought a ticket in advanced through their web site and you wish to change your timing, just inform the bus personnel at platform #7. Your request will likely be accepted but you have to wait in line the next time around instead of getting priority. The queue does grow rather fast but the bus service is frequent nonetheless.

The advantages of getting the bus to Narita is it’s cheaper, takes just over an hour and it’s street level from the bus stop at the terminal (T2) all the way to your airline check-in counter.  No requirement for elevator or escalator. Depending on which airline you’re flying, your check-in counter could be just 30 meters away. There are 2 stops at T2 due to the airport being large. You’ll be asked which one you’ll be getting off and your checked luggage tagged accordingly. In case you’ve chosen the wrong stop for T2, it’s just a matter of you having to walk a distance to your check-in counter, nothing to panic.

Access Narita.

There are personnel to assist you with your luggage.

Access Narita

Walking route from JR East Service Center to Platform #7 for Access Narita. Click to enlarge.     Credit:tokyostationcity.com

Downtown Tokyo

View of downtown Tokyo from the station.

Prayer Room at Narita T2 Landside
At Narita airport, we again require the use of a prayer room. On the landside of Narita Terminal 2, lanside prayer room is located at 1F, International Arrival level, beside the Information counter, nearby North Exit 1. You might miss it if there is a big crowd at the counter blocking the entrance. No registration is required, just walk in and use it.

The prayer room is large and has a common wash area. A portable screen is used to segregate the men & women. Chairs are available for those who require it. If you are at 3F, Departure Level of T2, you’ll need to go down to 1F. Escalators and elevators are available here. For more information regarding other prayer rooms either airside or landside of Narita airport, click here.

Narita Terminal 2 prayer room

Narita T2 landside prayer room beside the arrival Information counter.                                    Credit:fun-japan.jp

Narita Terminal 2 prayer room

The large prayer room at Narita T2 landside.                                                         Credit:his-travel.co.id

Halal Food At Narita T2
There are two Halal food outlets at Narita T2. La Toque & Tentai are both located on the same level at 4F, one level up from the departure level. Halal sign and certification are displayed prominently. We had dinner at La Toque simply because it was nearer to our check-in counter.  Food tasted good and surprisingly at an airport, the meal was reasonably priced.

La Toque Narita T2

La Toque, 4F Narita T2, serves Halal food.                                                                     Credit:youcojapan.com

Tentai Halal Narita airport

Tentai also serves Halal food at Narita. Located at 4F Narita T2, same level as La Toque.

Halal Food Narita T2

Location of La Toque & Tentai at 4F, Narita T2.                                                Credit:www.narita-airport.jp

Sayonara Japan
After dinner, we check-in for our Malaysian Airline flight home. It was really a long walk to departure gate #98 (#99 last) as it was located in a satellite building. This flight will be our first time we will be experiencing flying the A350. The entire flight was relatively smooth and we reached KUL early the next morning at 04:00 local time. Our favorite is still flying with B777 and A330 which seems a little ‘more spacious’ and comfortable with their seating layout. Just for statistics, we flew into Kansai on A330, departed Itami for Haneda on B777 and flew home on A350.

Narita airport T2

Narita T2 airport architecture.

Narita airport T2

First time seeing a duty free outlet by an airline.

Narita airport T2

LAOX also has an outlet in T2 Narita airport.

The Book Store That Sells Louis Vuitton

November 2018
With no itinerary for the rest of the day, we made our way to my wife niece’s house in Tokyo. We took the bus instead of being picked-up to experience riding one in Tokyo.  It’s a straight forward matter of getting on the right numbered bus and getting off at the right bus stop. The Shibuya bus stand is right in-front of Shibuya JR train station exit. Pre-paid Icoca card were used for ticket payment.

We have heard that in Japan, pre-loved items are of good quality, reasonably priced, are original and no fakes. With that in mind, wife’s niece drove us to Book Off Super Bazaar located at Kawasaki, a 45 minutes drive away. Kawasaki is mid way between Tokyo & Yokohama. While I have toys and gadgets in mind, wife is itching for an LV.

Pre-loved LV

The ‘Damier Azur’ range of LV. ¥53k & ¥56k respectively.


Book Off
is Japan’s largest chain store for pre-loved items primarily dealing in books, CDs, DVDs, video games and game consoles. In their larger stores called ‘Super Bazaar’,  they also sell mobile phones, consumer electronics, musical instruments, toys, fashion, shoes, brand name items and precious metals to name a few. Super Bazaar typically occupies a whole floor of a mall carrying a wider range of product categories. You could easily spend hours browsing one section to the other in their Super Bazaar. Other than Book Off, this chain group also has Hard Off, Off House, Hobby Off, Garage Off, Mode Off as well as Liquor Off, each specialising in different range of products.

All branded items such as handbags, purses, wallets, watches and other high priced items are displayed in locked showcases. Louis Vuitton has quiet a large selection but other brands such as Coach, Hermes, Gucci, Prada & Furla are also on sale albeit in smaller numbers. Quite a large selection of watches are also available. And did we mention for tourist, you’ll shop duty free. There are lots of pre-loved stores around Shinjuku, Shibuya, Akihabara, various 2nd street as well as chain store Don Quijote. It all boils down to your convenience, preference and budget where you’ll end up going to.

Book Off Kawasaki

Nicely arranged in glass showcases.

Book Off Kawasaki

A couple of LV travel begs are also available.

Book Off Kawasaki

The whole stretch of LV’s on display right till the back.

Book Off Kawasaki

Purses and wallets.

Book Off Kawasaki

More purses and wallets to choose from.

Book Off Kawasaki

This section for guitar enthusiast.

Book Off Kawasaki

Fishing rods and reels.

Book Off Kawasaki

A long row of golfing equipment.

Rows and rows of infant & toddler needs

Book Off Kawasaki

At a smaller Book Off stores, this is the only range of items you’ll find. Books, CD’s, DVD’s, Video Games, etc.

Book Off Kawasaki

Begs & briefcases.

Book Off Kawasaki

Section for winter apparels.

Book Off Kawasaki

The extensive range of TOMY trains.

Book Off Kawasaki

Yet an extensive range of TOMY train accessories.

Book Off Kawasaki

A rather small section of figurines.

Wife ended up with an LV handbag, comes complete with dust bag and myself a bagful of TOMY train accessories. Having spent more than two hours at Book Off, we had dinner at Yakiniku Panga, which serves Halal Wagyu located close to our hotel at Akihabara. After that hearty dinner, thanks to wife’s niece, husband and their children, we were dropped off in-front of our hotel. It was a sad moment to leave them as we will be flying home the next day.

Tokyo Tower

Passed by Tokyo Tower on the way to Yakiniku Wagyu.

Yakiniku Panga, Tokyo

Couldn’t say it’s within walking distance from our hotel, but it’s a mere 4 minutes drive away.

Yakiniku Panga, Tokyo

Yikiniku Panga serves Halal beef.