I spent a long weekend in this city without much planned, but managed to stumble across some pretty cool places. Here’s what I got up to, and things to do in Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon):
- District 4 is right by District 1 (the CBD), where it’s still being developed, but you can get pretty decent Airbnb flats without the hustle and bustle but still be close to District 1.
- Bitexco Tower – the highest restaurant/bar in the city. Head on up to the 52/F for a drink and an amazing panoramic view of the city.
- Dau Homemade – okay this is a chain, but I enjoyed the food there as a tourist. We had the Bun Dau Mam Tom which is a vegan platter (meat options available) with this super stinky shrimp paste dip which the Chinese in me loved (think stinky tofu). The Banh Goi is like a deep-fried pasty with pork, salted duck egg, Chinese sausage, mushroom, vermicelli, and all-around wonderfulness.https://dauhomemade.vn/
- Okay, I feel bad calling this a tourist trap. It’s good food, but what kind of tourist doesn’t stop to at least watch her make this? “Vietnamese pizza” – crispy rice sheets topped with cabbage, dried shrimp, minced pork on a charcoal grill (option to add cheese and quail eggs). You can find these on the road side in the evening where street food is found, say along the Nguyen Hue (the avenue leading towards the Town Hall in District 1); or during the day right outside Saigon Centre like I did.
- Ben Thanh Market. You see it in the video. That’s what it looks like. Food, bags, copy watches, fabric, shoes, candies, coffee, an atm that didn’t work, you name it.
- No address for this one, just a random place I stumbled into, expecting it to be amazing, and it was. Don’t be afraid, people are friendly and the food is cheap.
- Also stumbled across this street. I was staying in District 4 and we went exploring until we found this street full of semi-outdoor (al fresco, if you will) food stalls – pretty much like the Dai Pai Dong’s (大排檔) of Hong Kong. Cheap food, cheap beer, eating like the locals, happy days.
- Backpacker Street! What’s a booming tourism city without a bar street? Mega clubs spanning over 3 floors, themed bars, cafes, backpacker hostels, and yea, kids spitting fire just trying to make a buck (actually really sad). Find the video on my Instagram (@RachiePn)’s story highlights – RachelVisitsHCM
- District 2 is a whole different scene. About 30 mins’ cab ride from District 1, it’s where you’ll find a lot of expats and businesses that can make money off them – international grocery stores, hipster cafes, bars with craft beers, burger joints, coworking spaces… prices much closer to that of Hong Kong. Kaching. KOKOIS is this cute cafe/bar/restaurant/shop THING that again, I stumbled into. What is it? Does it matter? It’s got it all.
- ChinChin Bar & Rice Field. Okay, are you sick of hearing me say “I stumbled into this cool place” yet? Because I really did. I was looking for a place to have dinner around the Bitexco Tower area, looked up and saw this bar ChinChin that reminds me of Fang Fang in LKF, Hong Kong. Walked in before they were technically open (but immediately opened for us, awww), and realized it’s F-A-N-C-Y. Yet somehow, my super strong, pretty over the top cocktail cost me less than US$4 during happy hour.
What are your Saigon / Ho Chi Minh City recommendations?