10 Must Do before You Leave Saigon

Okay, I get it. You came to Saigon, visited Chill Skybar, Bier Garden and the Post Office and now you want to leave soon and visit the cleanest city of Vietnam, Da Nang. But before you board that plane, remember to try at least a few of these:

Get a Bánh Mì Thịt

But not the ordinary run of the mill bánh mì thịt! Check out this small bánh mì shop on Xô Viết Nghệ Tĩnh street, somewhere around 105 or so. I have eaten there a couple times and the bread was always crispy, the pork nice, the sauce savory… Try it!

Shop at Nguyen Trai Street

As Zoe already stated in her three step guide to Saigon’s fashion street, this place has everything when it comes to shopping for shoes, shirts, helmets or dresses. If you are not out for shopping, it doesn’t matter: Just visit this busy blend of night market and arterial street.

Get a Massage

They are everywhere. Massah sir? Fu massah, body massah? Just do yourself a favor and don’t pick the cheapest options out there, because your experience may be… not as relaxing as it’s supposed to be. Read more about spas, massage salons and general well-being in Saigon.

Eat Mi Quang

Every day for breakfast, I wanna eat mi quang! Yes, while mi quang is my favorite noodle dish in Vietnam, I have to confess that it’s different here than in central Vietnam. I love the version with the thick yellow noodles we have here at some kitchens and I strongly recommend that you try them once in Saigon, so you can compare them to Da Nang, where the noodles are so delicious, that they got their own song:

Drink Bia Saigon on Bui Vien Street

Bui Vien street is the notorious backpacker’s street in the Pham Ngu Lao quarter and usually packed with tourists. You know these scenes from documentaries about Antarctica, where the shores are swarming with thousands of penguins. The difference is, the penguins huddle together because it’s cold, while the backpackers do it because the beer is cheap. Over a bottle of your favorite Bia Saigon you can join a heated discussion which type is better. Red or green?

Dander Along Dong Khoi Street

If Pham Ngu Lao is not your cup of beer, try the more upscale Dong Khoi street. The restaurants are more elaborate and the girls who try to get you to enjoy a spa treatment wear the traditional long dress. If you go there on Saturday morning, you may witness a free concert in front of the Opera House. In the evening you may see colorfully lit shops and people playing traditional instruments.

Visit Chinatown

Try to visit the famous Cho Lon Market (Binh Tay Market) when you are here. Yes, I mentioned that recently in “9 Alternative Things to Do in Saigon”, but it’s true. Also hang out there and try a plethora of Chinese food. If it’s August or September, check out the lantern market for the Full Moon Festival. However, don’t bother with Chinatown during or right after Tet Holiday. There will be nobody there because everybody is traveling to visit their relatives.

Take a Cyclo Ride

Not the most efficient method of cruising through the city, but a very old and popular way of experiencing Saigon. However, due to recent events when travelers have been scammed by cyclo drivers on a regular basis, I’d advise you to book at your trusted travel agency around the corner, Loi Dat for example.

Drink a Ca Phe Sua Da

Well, even if most of the street coffee is fake and made of corn, chemicals and soybeans, having one cup of this typical Saigonese beverage is an absolute must when you are here. Avoid when pregnant though! Read more about fake coffee at this article about Vietnamese coffee culture!

Photo by: Khánh Hmoong.

Ride the Chaos!

Take a xe om, our good old favorite motorbike taxi, on a Friday at around 6:00 or 6:30 pm from District 1 and tell the driver to take you to Nguyen Van Cu Bookstore in 551 Xô Viết Nghệ Tĩnh street, Bình Thạnh District. To be fair, this may be the horror of your life, but interesting if you want to witness a Vietnamese traffic jam on a main street at rush hour, clogged with motorbikes, the air thicker than at Buena Vista Social Club on cigar day and your ears ringing from all the hooting that’s going on.

Updated: Jan. 16, 2017

Feedback

If you liked this then you might like ...

Escape Hunt and Ubiquest in HCMC

Escape Hunt and Ubiquest in HCMC

City Pass tries out two of Saigon’s most popular live detective games, Escape Hunt and Ubiquest, playing the role of a hard-nosed detective investigating a murder mystery. Outside of theatre and video games, you don’t see much role play or interactive activities in Ho Chi Minh City. Luckily, we uncovered two detective games that drop you in the middle of a murder mystery, letting you live out those Sherlock Holmes fantasies (minus tobacco pipe and risk of death). Escape Hunt and Ubiquest are difficult (to an extent), immersive and rewarding – read on to find out exactly why they are ...

Read More
Things to Do with Kids in Saigon

Things to Do with Kids in Saigon

Many of Ho Chi Minh City's things to do are suitable for families with kids of all ages. If you are living in Vietnam as an expat or just visiting, we list the 10 best things to do with your children in Saigon. Don’t forget to comment below to let us know what are your recommendations! City Parks and their Playgrounds The city's parks are places where childish exuberance, which can be hard to contain in a hotel room, can be unleashed. Van Thanh Park in Binh Thanh District has paths and a field for little people who just need to ...

Read More
Top 11 Casinos in Ho Chi Minh City

Top 11 Casinos in Ho Chi Minh City

A list of the top casinos (or gaming centers, as they like to be called) in Ho Chi Minh City, as of May 2015 Before we get into the nitty gritty of what casino beat out the competition for the top spot in our list of top casinos in Saigon, it’s important to establish a few things about gaming in Vietnam.  Firstly, all the games mentioned (roulette, blackjack, baccarat, poker) are ‘electronic’ versions – table games with real croupiers are strictly outlawed in Saigon. There is one exception to this, the Grand Ho Tram Strip mentioned at the end of ...

Read More
XO Tours: Much imitated but never replicated!

XO Tours: Much imitated but never replicated!

We all know that it is near on impossible to copyright an idea and protect intellectual property in Vietnam. But what does that mean for your day to day business when you have an original idea and an excellent product? Luckily although people can steal your ideas – in minute detail – and almost totally replicate your offering - it’s the little things that make a brand – and ensure that brand still stands head high above any pale imitations. Spend 5 minutes with Tung who is the founder of XO Tours and his passion and enthusiasm for what he ...

Read More