Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon as many still call it, is a city buzzing with life wherever you turn. Whether you’re walking down the street, visiting a museum or navigating your way through markets there will surely always be a friendly face offering you a place to eat and some pho.
Or sometimes a not so friendly face. You might encounter one or two people who won’t leave you alone and make you feel uncomfortable, but just try and get away from these kinds of people as quickly as possible. If worse comes to worse just hop in a taxi back to your hotel for a quick breather.
That being said, one of my favourite things about Vietnam so far is that despite not speaking the same language it’s so easy to communicate with people just by smiling.
Trying out local cuisine is one of the best parts of travelling, so why not go all out by trying out the street food in Ho Chi Minh City.
Đề Thám is a street brimming with fantastic street food that I was lucky enough to have right around the corner from where I was staying at the Sunland Hotel. In the evening there are heaps of vendors selling a variety of dishes that are sure to satisfy your taste buds.
Another good location for cheap dishes during the day is Bến Thành Market. You can sit down here and enjoy your food after bargaining for those harem pants you desperately think you need.
There are always some places that are busier than others as well. It’s definitely a good idea to go to these because it probably means there are returning customers who are happy with the food there, meaning you’re not going to get sick.
Another upside to eating street food is that you can see it being made and all the ingredients that go into it. This, again, means that your food will be fresh and piping hot so there’s no bacteria that could make you sick.
Here are a couple of good dishes to try
Pho: This classic Vietnamese noodle soup dish is one that you can find everywhere
Fried Banana: The ones I tried had rice wrapped around them as well and were strangely delicious. Wait for it to cool down first though!
I only had time to visit one market in Ho Chi Minh City, so I decided to go to Bến Thành Market.
This is a place bustling with stalls selling everything from clothes, to food, to makeup to knock off yeezy boosts. Haggling was an art form that I was a bit rusty with at this stage, but rest assured I have since improved.
Vendors will start with their prices at their highest, so just keep making the price as low as you think is fair for the item in question. A handy trick if you are prepared to possibly forgo the item is to walk away saying it’s too expensive, as they are likely to hurriedly agree to your price.
Some stalls do have fixed price signs though, so you won’t be able to bargain there!
I had a limited amount of time in Ho Chi Minh City so I didn’t get to see a lot of sights, but here are some of the ones I did get to and one that I really wish I had the time to visit.
The Reunification Palace: This was an interesting building abundant in history. There are
descriptions of all the rooms in the palace in Vietnamese, English and French so don’t worry about being unable to understand anything!
With many of the rooms here having seen important moments in Vietnam’s history, particularly during the Vietnam War, you can really envision the moments taking place in these rooms.
That’s one of my favourite things about Vietnam. The history is so recent that you can still kind of feel it in the air, especially in places like the Reunification Palace. I don’t know if that’s just me being a corny history nerd, but it’s definitely a tangible atmosphere.
War Remnants Museum: I though this was an excellent museum that was really well put together.
When researching, and upon entering the museum I thought that it was just going to be a couple of rooms filled with old weaponry from the Vietnam War. It is so much more than that though.
On the lower levels there are walls filled with propaganda posters from the Vietnam War period that derive from all over the world. Rooms on the upper two levels are dedicated to showing pictures and journal articles from the war, and also showcasing the effects of Agent Orange.
I’ve seen a lot of comments about this museum saying that the way in which everything in displayed is biased, but really what kind of war museum isn’t? As a westerner I’m used to seeing history presented a certain way, so to see the Vietnam War shown through a different light in the War Remnants Museum was really interesting and only added to its intrigue.
I think I’ll write an entire blog post on this museum, so stay tuned!
Pho Binh: A simple restaurant where you can buy some great pho, or so you thought. I didn’t actually make it here, which I am bummed about, but I still wanted to write about it though because it sounded so cool! This place is, in fact, where the Viet Cong often met to discuss their tactics during the war. There is a free museum upstairs that you can visit after eating as well.
Overall, Ho Chi Minh City is vibrant place full of life, history and great food. It’s a bit more built up and modern than other areas of Vietnam, which I think is a good way to ease into a new culture.
Thanks for reading my blog post! I’ll be posting a lot more about my trip in Vietnam so be sure to stay tuned and follow me on any of my social media pages to keep updated!