Saigon (Ho Chi Minh) as it is called by locals is full of hidden treasures, including hole-in-the-wall cafes, fresh street food, handicraft shops, quirky sights, and quality accommodation. Here are 10 places you must not miss out on when you visit Saigon.
The Best Cafes
There are tons of great cafes here. Most of them have great WiFi and serve unlimited iced green tea for free. It is quite hard to pick a favorite cafe when there are at least 3-4 on every street, but I love these 2 for their unexpectedness.
La Rotonde incorporates French interior design with a bit of Vietnamese charm. Once you go through the front door you are greeted with a black wrought iron spiral staircase that leads you up to a 2-level restaurant with beautiful skylights. You can go at lunchtime for their set menu, but I personally enjoy their long list of specialty juices and smoothies. It is located at 77B Ham Nghi, 1st Floor, District.
Loft is inside of an old, unassuming colonial building. You go past an art gallery, up the stairs that circle around an open elevator, go down a hallway to the right and tall glass doors straight ahead. Inside are white brick walls, marble tables, wrought iron chairs and a huge round, black clock cut out of the front wall letting in loads of natural light. I love going here on a Sunday to have a western breakfast and work on my computer for a couple of hours while sipping on a hot mocha. The Loft 1 is located at 1st floor, 26 Lý Tự Trọng, District 1. The loft 2 is on Tầng 2, 95 Pasteur, P.Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Tp.HCM
The Best Places to Eat
Vietnam is known for its soups and seafood. If you are looking for exotic eats, Saigon is the place to be.
You will find snail places or ‘ốc’ all over Saigon where you can eat many different kinds of fresh seafood and sip on local beer. My favorite snail place is down an alleyway close to where I used to live at 212/C79 Nguyen Trai Street, Nguyen Cu Trinh Ward, District 1. I didn’t find this place until I decided to wander the back alleyways one day and then I came across a large open-air restaurant with big fish tanks and lots of locals.
The Lunch Lady
No trip to Saigon is complete without visiting the Lunch Lady who was featured by Anthony Bourdain on No Reservations. You can find her stand at 23 Hoang Sa St., District 1, Phuong Da Kao, District 1. She rotates different kinds of soup depending on the day of the week.
The Best Places to Shop
You cannot come to Vietnam without experiencing their handicrafts and markets. Here are my two favorites.
The House Of Saigon
The House of Saigon is the place where you can buy beautifully made handicrafts from local Vietnamese artisans. It is located at 16 Thu Khoa Huan Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1. Every time someone comes for a visit, I take them here to get their souvenirs.
This is the market that I often go to for fresh fruit, veggies and flowers at 48 Mã Lộ, Tân Định, District 1. It is also a great place to go to if you are looking for special material that you can take to the tailors. It is a lot more local and without the scammers you will find at Ben Thanh market.
There is so much to look at on the streets as well as old colonial architecture.
Little alleyways off of Trần Đình Xu, Nguyễn Cư Trinh, District 1 by Nguyễn Trãi. You will find lots of locals, a market, small restaurants, street food and cafes.
Exploring old colonial buildings Explore old colonial buildings and walk through them to see what you will find. The building that has the popular restaurant L’Uisine at 151/1 Dong Khoi Street, 1st Floor, District 1 is quite interesting to walk through and check out the views.
South East Asia is a great place to travel around if you are on a budget. In Saigon, you will find beautiful places at great prices. Use these two resources to find the perfect accommodation.
Airbnb is the best place to search for accommodation in Vietnam. You will find some really great places at reasonable prices. I recommend staying in either District 1 closet to Pham Ngu Lao if you want to be in amongst the action or in District 3 for a more local feel.
Another way to find great accommodation is to go off of what you find on Tripadvisor. You shouldn’t have to spend more than $30/night for standard accommodation at good locations. If you want to scale up a bit then $50-$60/night is about average.
Saigon is one of my most favorite places in Vietnam as it boost with energy and has a very entrepreneurial mindset. David has also written a nice blog about living in Saigon.
Have you been to Saigon? Did you like it? Please leave a comment. Thanks!
Looking for some off the beaten things to do or places to sleep in Vietnam? Check out these amazing local travel experiences!
Danica Ratte is a sustainable travel addict who is now an expat living in Australia AND Vietnam. She is the Founder of Wild Tussah; a weave and leather handbag line that preserves ancient weaving cultures in Vietnamese ethnic communities. You can also read more on the Wild Tussah blog.