How wonderful is it to travel with local youth, to embark on an exciting adventure with enthusiastic, friendly young people from Ho Chi Minh City. You’ll have the opportunity to take a free walking tour with a local guide who is also known as “Mr knows-it-all about Saigon.” Feeling curious about this? Here are some places we highly recommend to make your unforgettable day in Sai Gon.
MORNING – CULINARY ADVENTURE LIKE A LOCAL
One of the most popular ways to eat like a local and to kick start the day is to start with a Banh mi. Banh mi has long been an essential dish on every Vietnamese menu, serving as a light, easy-to-eat, tasty breakfast also high in nutrients.
“Banh mi was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2011, defined as “a sandwich consisting of a baguette (traditionally baked with both rice and wheat flour) filled with a variety of ingredients, typically including meat, pickled vegetables, and chilli” (Credit: vietnamlife.tuoitrenews.vn)
A delicious banh mi with all of the ingredients inside (Image source:flickr.com)
1. Banh Mi Ha Noi
Address: 83 – 85 Nguyen Thien Thuat, Ward 8, District 3, HCMC
Opening time: 5:30AM – 10:00PM
You can easily find a good Banh mi for breakfast at Banh Mi Ha Noi – one of Saigon’s most famous and oldest Banh mi brands in Saigon. It’s a combination of meat and vegetables from local Vietnamese cuisine, such as roast pork, fried meat, bacon, egg, cilantro, cucumber, pickled carrots, and so on, with French condiments like pate, chilli, and mayonnaise. For locals, banh mi is typically eaten for breakfast because it is considered too dry for lunch and dinner.
2. Cheo Leo coffee
Address: 109/36 Nguyen Thien Thuat Street, Ward 2, District 3, HCMC
Opening time: 5:30AM – 6:45PM
Locals also start a new day awake and energetic by sipping a cup of coffee in the morning. We highly recommend you Cheo Leo coffee – 83 years of Cà Phê Vợt in Saigon. This coffee shop has witnessed Saigon’s changes for nearly a century. The coffee here has a strong taste and a soft fragrance that are characteristics of Vietnamese coffee.
Bac xiu – Cheo Leo’s most famous beverage (Image source: english.vietnamnet.vn)
Especially, coffee in Cheo Leo has become an essential beverage, a morning habit that some people find difficult to substitute, thanks to its peculiar and rare concoction. Cheo Leo coffee often plays red and yellow music to create a particular mood, in addition to a comfortable, bold old room.
Probably the oldest coffee shop in Saigon, Cheo Leo opened in 1938. This café still goes old school, using the cloth mesh to strain coffee after brewing. It is the place for those who want to enjoy the feeling of the old days in Saigon.
AFTERNOON – HIGHLIGHTS OF SAIGON INSIDE
Want to experience like an actual Saigonese? Here are some of the most popular destinations for locals and a unique feature of Asia in general and Vietnam in particular. First, you should try exploring some wet markets in Vietnam with the help of a local guide. You will be introduced to new things as a Saigonese and will have a chance to try out some exclusive experiences that you won’t find anywhere else.
“For those who may not know, a wet market is a traditional open-air food market and it receives this name because the floors are normally washed with water. Live animals, fresh produce and anything that you can imagine are all sold at these joints, where many Vietnamese do their daily shopping.” (Credit: citypassguide.com)
A wet market in Ha Noi (Image source: flickr.com)
3. Chessboard Market
Address: 664, Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street, Ward 3, District 3
Opening time: 6:00AM – 6:00PM
For foreigners, the Chessboard Market would be an ideal wet market that will quickly blow your mind and awaken your senses. Within, the houses are arranged in parallel lines that intertwine into a chessboard of small blocks.
If you are a second-hand aficionado, the Chessboard market will be an ideal place for you to find the right items at highly reasonable prices. In addition to typical secondhand clothing, the board market is also famous for various clothing from apparel to dining. Furthermore, you can observe the market’s dining style as a true local.
4. Tan Dinh Market
Address: 48 Ma Lo Street, Tan Dinh Ward, District 1
Opening time: 5:00AM – 11:00PM
Continue exploration with your local guide at Tan Dinh Market. It was known as the ‘market for the rich”, selling expensive goods for expats and Vietnamese officials who lived in nearby streets. Lines of car sand carts used to park along the sides of this market. It is well-known for selling fabric, clothes, accessories, and shoes.
Tan Dinh market under the sunset (Image source: exotictravelvietnam.com)
The market is particularly well-known for its reputable fabric business, and the food sold here is authentically Saigon. So far, its architecture hasn’t changed much; the outside of the main gate is quite beautiful and emphasizes the ancient architectural style. Tan Dinh Market is one of the markets that bear the imprints of Saigon’s history.
*TIP: “Avoid taking photos in the market because when it is vacant, Vietnamese people feel that if tourists do not populate their scene, it will bring them bad luck. On the other hand, when it is busy, bad guys will notice your acts and try to steal your belongings.”
EVENING – DINE AND CHILL
Your local guide will recommend some fantastic places to finish your day in Ho Chi Minh City with a taste of contemporary Vietnam. The evening will be a perfect moment to sightsee from a high place like Landmark 81 and enjoy the bustling and dynamic atmosphere of Saigon at night.
5. Landmark 81
Address: Vinhomes Central Park, 772 Dien Bien Phu, Ward 22, Binh Thanh District
Opening time: 9:30AM – 10:00PM
Landmark 81 in the city that never sleeps (Image source: pkientruc.com)
“Located in the center of the deluxe Vinhomes Central Park, Landmark 81 promises to establish a modern active lifestyle and boast extravagant comforts for people living in the area. Moreover, it has convenient access to service and utility areas, the riverside park, and main roads.” (Credit: tuoitrenews.vn)
Further to that, there is a complex of restaurants and eateries around Landmark 81 that offer various foods ranging from local dishes to global cuisine. This location will not disappoint you; with its diversity of manufacturing, it will turn into culinary heaven with a wide range of choices for tourists. Additionally, it is suitable for a business trip, whether short or long.
Are you feeling adventurous? If you’re looking for more free walking street tours in Ho Chi Minh City. Don’t hesitate to sign up for our Saigon Inside out tour package or visit our blog to check out more content like this!
Written by: Như Ý
Image Sources: Google + Như Ý