Things To Do: In Ho Chi Minh

 

Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam also known as Saigon was a good time for The Yarbro’s. It wasn’t exactly a love connection but it was a nice little get-away. The city is an orgy of sights, sounds, smells and delights. It is beautiful, seductive, compelling and alive. It was also overcrowded, dirty and brimming with poverty.  We needed to do a boarder run and decided to hit-up Vietnam just because and it was a good choice. We really enjoyed the mix of old french colonial architecture set in a modernist cityscape; lots of A+ street food stalls, open air markets,  modern malls and a shitload bevy of sassy little coffee shops ❤ . We really, really, really  enjoyed the food culture there. The local food was so f%$#’n unique and good! Their crops of spicy, broad leaf vegetables and savory herbs were the highlights of their local cuisine. The dishes were distinctive and delicious! -just pain ole good!

Honorable mentions: Check for these spots if you get the chance you will not be disappointed. We had some delicious dishes from

Royal Saigon Restaurant  Homemade noodles, cheap beer, and a menu full of local delicacies in a chill ambiance on a wild and raunchy street. This place really knocked our socks off. (S/n they play hip-hop pop and R & B) No better place to chill on a Friday night.  If you are nervous around big crowds go during the day light hours.

Journeys Sandwich Cafe  & Bistro offerings include a variety of sandwiches from across the globe all on an array of freshly baked breads (of your choosing). And they all looked and read goooooood! We had a Meatloaf Sloppy Joe  and the Pulled Pork Burger.

Pulled Pork Grilled Cheese
House-pulled pork, two slices of bacon, cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese, caramelized onion jam, house-bbq sauce, house roasted garlic sauce.
Meatloaf Sloppy Joe
House-made meatloaf (contains beef & pork) smothered in our sloppy joe sauce, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, shaved ham, shredded romaine, shallots.

Pasha Restaurant  a delicious Lebanese late night spot in the tourist area of District 1 adjacent to Union Square.  Aye!!!  This little spot was on! We were on one of our empty headed roaming adventures and forgot to eat and it got late, everything was closing up! I was craving some Lebanese earlier in the day and it just so happened that this was the only spot we could find that was still open and #WeWalkWithJesus. We fell upon this spot after walking blocks looking for a restaurant that was willing to take another patron. The waitress asked us in and we looked at each other, smiled and walked to a table in the back and proceeded to order up a storm. The food was great and the mood was chill.

Vintage Emporium   This little gem was also a happenstance type of ordeal. There was a restaurant we wanted to hit for their world class breakfast and when we got there the entire restaurant was permanently closed. Rather than catch a grab back to our side of town we decided to stroll a little through District 2. We walked less than a block and ran into this spot that looked promising.  The vibe and the food was that thing that we didn’t know that we needed. The food was fang’ah-lickin good best breakfast we had in a while set in a complete hipster-type vibe of restaurant. House music pumping in through a dual cassette deck,  boombox in the corner. We ordered some juice, tea and had the best bruschetta and salmon croquettes. This two piece was on-point! Good service and great flavor! The menu was stacked with items but we were full from that two piece.

Saigon is rich in unique flavor profiles and history. We only spent 5 days in Ho Chi Minh and we don’t cram when we travel #philosophy.  Here is a short list of the things that we enjoyed while we were there.


Sorry, no war tours or crawling through the Cu Chi Tunnels #NotUs, so you will not read anything about that. What we did enjoy was…..

# 1. Saigon Back Alley Food Tour

 #TheCulture, nothing gives you exposure to a culture like food. A foodie from The Saigon Back Alley Tour picked us up from our Airbnb at 6 pm and took us around the city to experience eating with #ThePeople, in their hangouts.  We dined on authentic Vietnamese dishes served without the tourist fanfare. This local foodie, her name was Vin Anh, took us to her favorite spots and educated us along the way about  Vietnamese food and the Vietnamese people. This was a walking tour and we walked through a few different neighborhoods and districts. We ate food from 7 different delicious street vendors. She dropped us off back at our place at 10 pm happily stuffed. The entire time we spent with Anh was educational and fun! Honestly, witnessing the living conditions of ThePeople was enthralling but painful to my soul. I wish I could testify to their spirits being so filled that the conditions didn’t matter but that would be bull-shit it was hard to witness but the food was good! She told us about the different neighborhoods and the crops that supported the flavors. She educated us about the areas (like little Cambodia), the food, and the people we were eating with. We played a game of name that herb and the flavors were sensational! That walking tour was a fun and memorable experience! To read more about our food tour click here.

# 2. Open Air Street Markets

– Souvenirs, spices, t-shirts, shorts…. knockoff everything….anything you are looking for can be found at an open air street market in Ho Chi Minh. We visited more than our fair share; here are a few were more memorable ones…

  1. Ben Thanh (day and night)Markets -Iconic. Everyone hits this one so the deals are not quite what they could be. I think it is still a must visit (especially at night!) and you can find just about anything.
  2. Ho Thi Ky Night Market (flower/ food) market is around the corner from a Cambodian neighborhood. It is a busy little space and great for grabbing a late night bite. There are several food stalls in this compact area and the food (and beer) is good. I only suggest going there if you want to get away from tourist and be around locals who are too busy living to give a thought to your presence.
  3. Saigon Square – AKA the “Russian Market,” located in District 1 between Ben Thanh market and the Saigon Opera House, is full of fashion boutiques and designer knock-off shops. It is in the middle of action so stopping in won’t detour you from any exploration. It is worth a look-see.
  4. Everywhere – we roamed around the touristy areas of District 1 around the Vincom Mall and Time Square and found a lot of different markets and it was all a good time. My suggestion would be to roam and check out what you see.

# 3. Bui Vien Walking Street (Backpackers Area)

Bui Vien walking street……. “the backpackers area” is an experience. Seedy looking characters and cheap looking prostitutes do combat with travel agencies, bars, and restaurants for your attention. At night you can feel the pounding of the baseline in your soul.  Loud megaphones scream out the latest drink specials from the heralds of bars that fill the area with a windows-to-the-wall atmosphere. You can shop, dine (well), party, pass-out, crash at a hostel, wake-up and do the same thing again in this centralized area. It is an endless escapade of excess….but it is a good time!!! Watch your back and have fun. Great restaurants,  souvenir shops, massage parlors, hostels, hoes, addicts and plenty of coffee shops with 2nd floors and big windows to sit and watch the spectacle from. It’s New Orleans, Bourbon Street minus all pretense and with much more affordable goodies.

# 4-5. WALK DISTRICT 1 Food Stalls (City wide)

It ain’t hard to tell whats good in Ho Chi Minh. The locals know good food. When you see a crowded corner and folks eating outside you should stop and pay attention to what is being served.  Local food stalls (street vendors) cook 1 or 2 dishes but they do it expertly. The locals know where to get the best everything from basic pho to savory banh xeo (Vietnamese pancake) to rich creamy desserts like chuoi nep nuong so pay attention and indulge!

We had some good times from just walking around in District 1. There was always something else to see. Another experience calling us ….something else to get into. There are tons of museums and tourist attractions to see but again that was not our thing on this trip. All we wanted to do was hang, eat some good food, drink some good coffee and people watch (culture vultures). Here are some spots to have your driver drop  you off at and you can just walk around and find something to delve into.

  1. Vietnamese Cafes; Cong Cafe, Phuc Long Cafe, Trung Nguyen… pretty much go outside spin in a circle and walk ten paces and you’ll be in a swanky cafe. Sit down and order a Vietnamese Coffee
  2. Union Square (fantastic place to bum around and shop)
  3. Vincom Center (mall in the middle of a lot of action)
  4. Saigon Notre Dame Basillica and Central Post Office
  5. Saigon Municipal Opera House
  6. Royal Saigon Restaurant on Bui Vien street. Delicious(!!!) we ate at a lot of restaurants and this was one of the cheapest priced, authentic spots we ate in. 

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