Ho Chi Minh city to explore and when 10 days isn’t enough
by Stefanie Michaels
Ho Chi Minh City (also known as Saigon) is the largest city in Vietnam and a major economic and cultural hub. It has a vibrant street food culture, a rich history, and a range of attractions to visit. The city is also known for its lively nightlife and shopping scene.
As for where to eat, there are many great places to try local Vietnamese cuisine in Ho Chi Minh City. Some popular options include street food stalls, markets, and small family-owned restaurants. Some dishes to try include pho (a noodle soup with broth, noodles, and meat), banh mi (a sandwich made with baguette bread and fillings like meat, vegetables, and herbs), and bun cha (grilled pork with rice noodles and herbs).
For things to do, there are many interesting sights to visit in the city, such as the War Remnants Museum, the Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Ben Thanh Market. There are also several temples and pagodas to visit, such as the Jade Emperor Pagoda and the Giac Lam Pagoda.
As for where to stay, there are many options ranging from luxury hotels to budget guesthouses. It’s a good idea to research and compare prices and reviews before booking a place to stay. Some popular areas to stay in include District 1 (the city center), District 3 (a residential area with some good budget accommodation options), and Phu Nhuan District (a more upscale area with some good mid-range and luxury options).
- District 1: This is the city’s central district and is home to many of the top tourist attractions, such as the Independence Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral, and Ben Thanh Market. There are plenty of hotels, hostels, and serviced apartments to choose from in this area.
- District 3: This is a more residential area, located just west of District 1. It’s a bit quieter than the city center, but still has plenty of restaurants, bars, and shops. There are also some good budget-friendly accommodation options here.
- District 7: This is a newer district, located on the outskirts of the city. It’s known for its modern buildings and upscale shopping centers. There are a number of high-end hotels and serviced apartments here, as well as some more affordable options.
Ultimately, the best place to stay in Ho Chi Minh City will depend on your personal preferences and the purpose of your trip. If you’re traveling for leisure and want to be in the heart of the action, District 1 or District 3 might be the best choice. If you’re looking for a more luxurious stay or want to be a bit further from the city center, District 7 could be a good option.
What to do in Ho Chi Minh city:
Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, is the largest city in Vietnam and a vibrant, bustling metropolis. There are so many great things to see and do in this city, it can be hard to narrow it down to just eight.
Here are a few recommendations for your visit to Ho Chi Minh City:
- Visit the War Remnants Museum: This museum offers a sobering look at the Vietnam War and its impact on the country. It features a range of exhibits, including weapons, photographs, and personal accounts from both Vietnamese and foreign perspectives.
- Explore the Ben Thanh Market: This is a great place to get a feel for local life in Ho Chi Minh City. The market is a bustling, crowded place with stalls selling everything from fresh produce and souvenirs to clothing and jewelery.
- Take a stroll through the Botanic Gardens: The Botanic Gardens are a peaceful oasis in the midst of the city’s chaos. The gardens are home to a variety of plants and flowers, as well as a lake and a small zoo.
- Visit the Notre Dame Cathedral: This beautiful cathedral, built in the late 1800s, is a striking example of French colonial architecture. It is located in the center of the city and is a popular tourist attraction.
- Check out the Saigon Opera House: This historic building, constructed in the late 1800s, is an architectural marvel. It is home to the city’s opera and ballet companies, and offers a range of performances throughout the year.
- Eat your way through the city: Ho Chi Minh City is a food lover’s paradise, with a range of delicious local dishes to try. Some must-try dishes include banh mi (Vietnamese sandwiches), pho (a delicious noodle soup), and bun cha (grilled pork with vermicelli noodles).
- Visit the Củ Chi Tunnels: These tunnels, located just outside the city, were used by Viet Cong fighters during the Vietnam War. They offer a unique glimpse into the history of the conflict and the ingenuity of the Vietnamese people.
- Take a boat tour of the Mekong Delta: The Mekong Delta is a beautiful region of Vietnam, filled with waterways, rice paddies, and small villages. A boat tour is a great way to explore this region and get a feel for life in the countryside.
TIP: If you are fascinated by this city’s history, there are many titles to read up on it before you go.
Where to Eat Ho Chi Min City:
It was a chance of luck to be in the same city over the holidays as two of my dear friends— one from San Francisco, the other from Southern California. How random that neither of us had planned our trips together, but here we were sharing a cab in Ho Chi Minh city.
All of us are foodies and even though I can’t cook, my gal-pals can so hitting a variety of places to dine was a “thing” for the week. We were there as they each tried to figure out how they could recreate each dish we tried.
The first restaurant we experienced, was called The Republique. It’s one of Ho Chi Minh city’s chic and modern eatery that serves a variety of international dishes. My friends loved the burgers and fries—I don’t eat meat so opted for some veggie-pho (pronounced phah). Their cocktails are also a thing to try and for that evening, Mai Thais were on the lips.
For our next meal, we went to a local street food stall called Banh Mi Huynh Hoa. They’re famed for their famous banh mi sandwiches, filled with fresh vegetables, herbs, and savory meats (optional).
For one of our dinners, I made a reservation at the standout Cuc Gach Quan, a beautiful colonial style mansion-turned-restaurant. The menu featured traditional Vietnamese dishes made with locally sourced ingredients. It was a toss-up between the pho and crispy spring rolls, so each of us ordered differently to try a range of deliciousness.
On our last day in Ho Chi Minh city, we all decided that our last meal together should be at one of the best fine dining places in town. We dressed up, slapped on heels and headed to Le Corto, a French-Vietnamese fusion restaurant known for its elegant atmosphere and innovative cuisine. I savored every bite of my roasted salmon with wasabi potato mousseline, while they shared the lobster with homemade black ink pasta.
As we left Ho Chi Minh City (I moved on with my trip to Hoi Ann while they headed to Da Nang), we agreed that our time in Hoi Chi Min city was tops on our “tasty food” adventures list.