Ho Chi Minh, formerly called Saigon, is the biggest city in Vietnam and is the South East of the Country. When travelling Vietnam in 2017 we stopped by to visit some friends who live there and stayed for only a few days but loved it right away and went again the following year, with plans to hopefully go again soon, it’s a kind of city we wished existed in Thailand so we could live there or at least visit more often.
So why do we love it so much?
It’s just such a cool city, the busy roads, the yummy varied Vietnamese food, the culture, roof top bars, spas and the list goes on.
Also with-in only 1-2 hours you can visit the Mekong Delta and Cu Chi Tunnels, there are many tours you can get from Ho Chi Minh to visit this part of Vietnam, most are kind of the same and each tour is around $15-$20. We did tours to both areas and really enjoyed it, especially the Cu Chi Tunnels, they were so fascinating and such an insight to that time.
Our Ho Chi Minh Notebook is a list of just some of the things worth experiencing, where to eat and places to go in and around this bustling city.
WHAT TO DO:
There are many great things to do in and around the city, our mainly revolved around the food and drink you can find.
Here is a list of all the places we would recommend in Ho Chi Minh:
- THE CAFE APARTMENTS – Located on Ho Chi Minh city’s famous Nguyen Hue walking street is this completely unique cafe Apartment at No.42. As you climb the stairs and explore this fascinating building you will find many great surprises, from cute little tearooms and coffee shops to restaurants that serve European and Vietnamese food. And if you love fashion there are many quaint clothes boutiques for you to explore to or maybe you just fancy a nice cocktail in one of its hipster bars. With over 30 different businesses in this unusual space, you have to visit to see for yourself!
- BEN THANH MARKET – At this market you will get a great feeling that is truly Vietnamese. There’s so much you can buy here, from authentic souvenirs to Vietnamese art and all kinds of branded goods, then there is the unending amounts of different kinds of food. We had a ‘Banh Mi’ which is the Vietnamese word for bread and is a sandwich filled with wonderful meats and vegetables, and you can’t have one of these without a Saigon beer 😋 we enjoyed this sitting on little tiny stalls taking in amongst the bustling atmosphere.
- GOLDEN LOTUS HEALING SPA WORLD – Golden lotus Healing spa world- After a busy morning around Ho Chi Minh we headed to this Korean style jjimjilbang sauna and spa place. Its good for resting in the different saunas or baths and getting those toxins out! it’s so different to any other spa we have visited. When you arrive you are given an outfit which you wear throughout the spa, you will also be given 3 towels and a personal locker. Before you head to the healing zone on the 1st floor make sure you order yourself a refreshing drink to take with you, these are good for hydration and help with other health things to, we had the rice water which was delicious. On the 1st floor you will find 7 sauna rooms which vary from Himalayan Rock salt room to the volcanic balls room. Then you have the igloo ice room to cool you down. This is a fascinating place because on top of that you also have flat screen TVs incase you want to enjoy a movie, people are also wondering around chatting on their phones. And because it’s a family friendly place there will be children, but this all adds to the experience and entertainment. The 2nd floor is the entertainment zone with karaoke, hot and cold pool for relaxing your feet, games room and mini movie theatre. Then you can finish off by enjoying a cup of coffee and having a chat on the top floor. When you head back to the changing rooms here they have an area with jacuzzi hot tubs and 2 saunas, you also have everything you need to get ready from hair dryers, combs, shampoos, conditioner, hair wax, razors, bath salts and much more! If you really want to try something different this is a must 😊
- PIZZA 4P’s BEN THANH – Your probably thinking, why would I want pizza when I’m in Ho Chi Minh city, but this isn’t just any pizza because although it’s sticking close to Italian style, this is a Japanese owned restaurant and so it’s Italian pizza with a Japanese twist. We enjoyed the mozzarella pizza which comes with a whole mozzarella ball and it is truly delicious. The drinks and desserts they offer are also out of this world and the prices are so reasonable. So come and enjoy an amazing pizza accompanied by a wonderful atmosphere and friendly staff.
- WINKING SEAL BEER CO. – This is an awesome bar to visit, especially if you’ve been in Asia for a while as a good craft beer is hard to come by! When you enter you see just how well the bar is designed, it feels so welcoming and cool but also cosy. The staff are super friendly and not only was the beer fantastic but the snacks were great to! What more can you ask for other then great beer, fantastic atmosphere and friendly people.
- THE WORKSHOP COFFEE – Inside an old colonial building up a dark stairwell with old wooden stairs you will find this super modern coffee shop. But it’s not just any old coffee shop, here you can choose from a variety of beans from all over the world and it doesn’t stop there because then you can choose how you would like it brewed, either expresso, V60 pourover, chemex and Aeropress. If your a bit lost no worries for the staff here are highly trained and they can help you pick out your perfect flavour and the perfect brew! We are sure you can see why we love this place. Not only does it offer fantastic coffee but the atmosphere and view are pretty amazing to.
- CHILL SKYBAR – This is a cool modern sky bar that offers amazing views and great vibes, along with fantastic crafted cocktails! We came here for happy hour which is 5.30pm to 8pm when all cocktails, beers and some wines are half price. If you go outside of happy hour it is more Money then other places. So we would recommend this place if you just want to drop by for a quick cocktail at a great price with some great views.
- BAOZI RESTAURANT – Baozi is one of the best places we ate at in Vietnam, actually one of the best places we have been in Asia. It serves Gua Bao, chinese steamed buns, each containing various fillings. We had a deep fried chicken and traditional pork Gua Bao that were amazing, our friends had other things from the menu and all of it was so tasty. Not only is it yummy but also such a good price, for 2 people with drinks we paid less than $10. Writing this blog makes me wanna go back there now.
HOW TO GET AROUND:
BUS – This is not the fastest way to get around due to traffic, but its cheap. You pay the driver cash and it costs around 3,500-10,000 VND ($0.15-0.45 USD) per journey. There are over 100 routes and they go to all major tourist destinations.
BIKE – The traffic is a little manic, but for the experienced riders you could rent a bike for about 130,000 VND ($5.60 USD) per day. There are many companies that will rent a bike to you, but if you choose this option be very careful, there is a lot of traffic in the city.
TAXIS – Taxi’s work out to be around 12,000 VND ($0.50 USD) per kilometre, so it can work out quite cheap. Also getting a taxi from the airport is one of the easiest ways to into the city centre, HOWEVER PLEASE NOTE: To get from the Airport to City (and Back) takes around 30mins and will cost around 200,000-330,000 VND ($8-15 USD). BUT there are many scam taxis in Ho Chi Minh, so get metered ONLY and even then sometimes they can cost a lot more.
Best thing to do is download an App Called GRAB (The Uber for Asia) this tells you the price in advance and is safer.
MOTORBIKE TAXI – This is the cheapest and fastest way to get around, with journeys averaging out to be only 30,000 VND ($1.30 USD) to get most places in the city its a great option. Although again the 1000s of motorbikes can make this feel a bit crazy but we did feel very safe, these guys have been driving in the traffic all their lives. AGAIN we would recommend using the GRAB App for a Motorbike Taxi also.
WHERE TO STAY:
We have some lovely friends that live in the city, so we have never had the need to stay in a hotel or AirBnb.
We would highly recommend though getting an AirBnb because this city has some really cool condos with good amenities for a very good rate. CLICK HERE for some money off your first booking with AirBnb
If you are after any hotel recommendations here are some we have heard good things about: