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48 Hours in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Earlier this year, in between our trip to Japan and Thailand, we stopped in Vietnam for a couple days.  We landed in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), still affectionately referred to as Saigon to many even after being renamed after the war in 1976.

The city is super busy, full of motorbikes everywhere and people all around. We did a short two days in Saigon, before heading to Hoi An & Da Nang. When visiting Saigon, its mainly all about the food. We just walked around and ate all day long! There are a bunch of touristy things to do, which I’ll showcase the few we went to, but you can easily find a list through Tripadvisor.  I’ll mostly be reliving the delicious, mouth watering foods we ate!

EAT
26 Le Rieng Ben Thanh 1, HCMC
Hours: 3:30 PM – Midnight, Daily
– One of the most popular and well known banh mi places in HCMC
– I can’t believe how delicious the banh mi is in Vietnam! The bread is so soft yet flaky!
– I love mine with an egg added on- order Thit Nuong & Heo Qua (Roast Pork): get one of each!
– Around 30,000 VND for one banhmi
– Check out the other popular Banh Mi places by Mark Wiens
banhmi
53 Cao Thang, Phuong 3, HCMC
– Morning breakfast spot we stopped by, close to Ben Thanh market
– Get banh mi op la and try the banh cuon
– Finish off breakfast with some fresh coconut juice or a traditional caphe sua da
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40B Tran Cao Van Phung 6, District 3, HCMC
– Food to try: banh xeo, banh khot, goi cuon
– Huge crispy banh xeo!
– You can definitely find cheaper street vendors selling banh xeo, but my husband’s cousin wanted us to try a mix of street vendors and restaurants.
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DRINK

26 Ly Tu Trong Level 1 HCMC
– Little hipster viet cong themed coffee cafe
– Waiters speak English
– Definitely get the coconut coffee drink, its delicious!
– I really liked the amarella drink for a fruity drink, its called “coc” in Vietnamese. I’ve never seen this drink/fruit in the US before
– You can find this cafe through an alley way full of art work and up some stairs
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SHOP
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– Always bargain for goods
– Lots of little stall restaurants, definitely get some che (vietnamese dessert pictured below). The store owners are quite pushy in terms of trying to get you to eat at their particular stall!
– Check out the outdoor night market in the evening
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breakfast-benthanh
Our last meal before we left
PLACES TO SEE
The Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon & Central Post Office are right next to each other, so you can appreciate the French architecture and then walk to the park nearby and have some street food snacks

 

We ordered food from this cute little cute old lady at the park (probably need a Vietnamese speaker since she doesn’t know any English). We ordered some drinks, mangos mixed up with nuoc nam and spices, and snacks. They even give you newspaper to sit on top of if you don’t want to sit on the ground (just in case you were wondering what it was for)! It was a nice little break from walking around.

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PARTY
76A Le Lai Rooftop of AB Tower, HCMC
– Go for the view & some expensive drinks
– Mix of locals and expats
– Strict dress code
Pham Ngu Lao Street (Backpacking district)
– Crowded and lively at night
– Good place to bar hop
– Many foreigners
PAMPERING
MERCI Nails & Bistro17/6 Thanh Ton, District 1, HCMC
-Tues to Sunday 9 AM – 9 PM
merci1@merci-space.com
08 3825 8799
– Luxury nail experience in Saigon, expensive for Vietnam, but compared to American prices, it was about $20 for a fancy design manicure
– Owned by a French lady, super nice atmosphere
– Not dingy, clean, non water manicures and pedicures
– Able to make RSVP ahead of time by calling or emailing
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Definitely get a cheap massage as well! There are so many stores you can check out. Just be careful because many of them like to do reflexology, which is great, but also hurts if you aren’t too familiar with them!
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There are so many good street food places as well, but unfortunately I don’t know the names and addresses of many of them (bun rieu, street food pictured above). Make sure you eat pho, of course! That’s a MUST when in Vietnam. Food is so cheap, so if you see something good or a popular shop, don’t be afraid to try it! It was a quick trip to Saigon, but we’ll be back once again!
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Leaving you longing for a big bowl of pho!
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25 Comments

  • Reply Suzanne - Travelbunny

    That food looks amazing. I love Vietnamese cuisine, so good. We’ve spent two NYEs in HCMC and both were fabulous – so much life, colour and buzz going on. Our favourite bar is Saigon Saigon on the rooftop of The Caravelle – best Gin and Tonic in the city and a pretty good view too!

    September 5, 2016 at 4:17 PM
    • Reply Julie

      I’ll have to check out those places the next time I visit!

      September 13, 2016 at 6:19 PM
  • Reply Mel

    Ok, I am starving now! That fruit market and fruity drink look so good.

    September 5, 2016 at 4:17 PM
  • Reply Maggie

    This is my kind of trip! We travel for food, and Asia definitely tops the list of best places to eat. Love all your photos, I wish we had time to go to Vietnam when we visited Thailand in August!

    September 5, 2016 at 4:21 PM
  • Reply Marta

    Your photos are amazing, they make me so hungry! I have never been to Vietnam but would love to: it seems a really welcoming, beautiful place and its history is so interesting too

    September 8, 2016 at 9:34 AM
  • Reply Christine

    Your food photos look AMAZING! Makes me mis Vietnamese food so much! I can’t wait to visit one day.

    September 13, 2016 at 2:22 PM
  • Reply Jennifer

    I really want to visit Vietnam. The food looks so good!

    September 13, 2016 at 3:56 PM
  • Reply Debbie

    Vietnam is such an amazing place. Your food pictures are making me hungry

    September 13, 2016 at 7:37 PM
  • Reply Cat

    You’re making me crave viet food! Thanks for an informative post!

    September 14, 2016 at 7:54 PM
  • Reply Christina

    I can’t wait to visit Vietnam. The foods you had all look amazing! I don’t even know where to start with all the food choices.

    September 14, 2016 at 10:02 PM
  • Reply GiGi Eats

    48 Hours ONLY?! I had 24 hours in Sydney once and man did I go to town! I kind of love shorter trips because there is NEVER A DULL MOMENT!

    November 29, 2016 at 5:04 PM
  • Reply Flo @ Yoga, Wine & Travel

    I adore Vietnamese food! Love that there are so many street food options – thanks for sharing these beautiful photos and for making my mouth water!

    January 25, 2017 at 9:09 AM
  • Reply Jenn Coleman

    OMG!! I should have had breakfast before reading this….I want to eat it all!! The food looks like a reason for a trip in and of its-self 🙂

    January 25, 2017 at 1:33 PM
  • Reply Renata Pereira

    What’s the che exactly? Fruits with something I guess? It seems very tasty…

    January 26, 2017 at 12:47 AM
  • Reply Cassandra

    In 48 hours, you did ALL OF THAT?! Oh my goodness! My sister is in Vietnam right now and all of the pictures she sends are amazing!! I can’t wait to be able to travel there in the future – hopefully with my family! Thanks for all of the tips!

    January 26, 2017 at 8:06 PM
  • Reply Ivy

    Oh my lord… I LOVE Vietnamese food, especially banh mis! I just had breakfast but I could totally fit more food in my belly

    January 28, 2017 at 1:30 PM
  • Reply Nina Tekwani

    I love Vietnamese food so so so much! You captured all of this so beautifully! Thank you for all the recs!

    January 30, 2017 at 12:00 PM
  • Reply Agness of Fit Travelling

    This is a detailed guide for Chi Minh City, Julie! I am saving your post because I must visit this wonderful place.

    February 19, 2017 at 3:32 PM
  • Reply Dhaval

    I LOVE Vietnamese food, especially banh mis! I just had breakfast but I could totally fit more food in my belly. That fruit market and fruity drink look so good.

    March 11, 2017 at 6:25 AM
  • Reply Tasha Amy

    I love Saigon and Vietnamese food is amazing! This would have been such a good food adventure, bet you were full at the end though 😛

    August 26, 2017 at 12:26 AM
  • Reply Christina

    I just had breakfast and now I’m hungry again, damnit. How am I supposed to live on a budget like this?! Haha no but seriously, some good advice where to get food is really vital for me. I’ll figure out places to see and stuff, but some local street deliciousness like that crispy banh xeo (I’ll never be able to pronounce that) is highly appreciated!

    August 26, 2017 at 12:31 AM
  • Reply Tina

    Haven’t been to Vietnam (yet!), so this is a really good primer for when I do get to go! I really like Vietnamese food and your food/drink photos are making my mouth water!

    August 26, 2017 at 6:24 AM
  • Reply Caroline

    Toying with the idea of going to Vietnam over thanksgiving and this is making me really want to do it! Omg these food photos! Everything looks so delicious

    August 26, 2017 at 4:28 PM
  • Reply Valerie Ferguson

    Great guide! I’m off to Vietnam for the first time today and just can’t wait to get there now!

    October 14, 2017 at 5:46 AM
    • Reply Julie

      Awww great! You will have such a good time! Try everything and drink a Vietnamese iced coffee everyday! haha!

      October 15, 2017 at 2:56 PM

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