A Taste of Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City was the last stop on our tour of Vietnam. We were only going to be in the city for three nights, but we were determined to make the best of it.
What We Did
Day 227 (3/11/17): We were staying in the center of the backpacker area in the city, near Pham Ngu Lao Street, and one of the benefits was that there was a free walking tour that started just down the street from us this morning. So, we snagged breakfast and met up with our guide. He took us around the city explaining various legends and describing the historical events of the city and the country. We all found the life of Ho Chi Minh to be particularly interesting. Our tour guide took us to all the main sights including the Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica, Saigon Central Post Office, Imperial Palace, the Municipal Theater, the Ben Thanh Market, and the Mariamman Hindu Temple. We were all particularly moved by the Venerable Thich Quang Duc Monument, a memorial to honor the monk who set himself on fire in protest for the fair treatment of Buddhist’s in the city. After the tour ended, we grabbed some lunch and Adam and I headed back to the hostel while Katie and Justin headed off to cool off at a roof top pool party a few blocks away from us. We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing. That evening, we went out for dinner at a place around the corner. We had a few drinks on our balcony and played some cards before heading out into the chaos of the backpacker’s street. We got a couple more drinks at a bar on the street and watched the world go by. We stopped at another bar for a little bit of dancing before we headed back to our place for the night.
Day 228 (3/12/17): Today, on our last day in Vietnam, we decided to expand our horizons and go out on our own food tour of Ho Chi Minh City. We walked around the city trying banh beo, banh tom bi, bun cha Hanoi, banh da xuc hen, banh khot, and com tom bi cha suron trung op la throughout the course of the day. And, in the middle of all of our eating, we spent a couple hours at the War Remnants Museum, one of the most interesting museums on the Vietnam war I have ever seen. Stuffed and happy, we headed to bed early in order to ready ourselves for the long bus trip to Cambodia the next day.
What We Learned
- Although I have already said this, I must reiterate that Vietnamese food is amazing. I have found that making up your own food tour in a city is easy enough with some research. All the stops on mine were courtesy of the Legal Nomads website, except for the last one, which I found on my own. If you are interested, I included it at the bottom.
- Ho Chi Minh is worth a visit. We were a little worried about going, not sure what to expect mainly because we hadn’t heard very good things about it from the other travelers we had met throughout Vietnam. Once I got there, however, I could not figure out why. While it wasn’t my favorite big city in Asia, I definitely thought it was worth seeing when visiting Vietnam. One valid complaint I heard was that it is a city that is under almost complete construction. I would agree with this. Ho Choi Minh is seeing an astronomical amount of development right now. It has been for the past five or ten years though as more and more people are visiting the country. However, the main sights were all open, it is still easy enough to get around, the people are friendly, and the food is fantastic.
Food: banh beo – soft rice flour cake with dried shrimp dust and pork rind – appetizer comes with 10 of them
Location: Nam Giao – 136 Le Thanh Ton Street, in an alleyway behind Ben Thanh market – District 1
Tip: You may have to look around the market a bit to find it, you will turn down a small alley and walk past a bunch of manicure/pedicure places on the way.
Food: bahn tam bi – tapioca noodle dish with mild coconut sauce and shredded pork
Location: Quan Sadec – 154 Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street – District 1
Tip: We split one between two of us since there were so many stops although this was a lot lighter and more refreshing than expected.
Food: Bun Cha Hanoi – pork patties and pork belly in a sauce served with dry noodles and herbs
Location: Quan Anh Hong – 34A Mac Dinh Chi – District 1
Tip: We had issues finding this one. It does not appear to be at #34a but actually closer to #25 next to the circle k market just down the street and it’s a 2 story building with a terrace on the second floor – again we split the large portion of this.
Food: banh da xuc hen – tiny clams fried in chili, onion, and garlic served under a rice cracker
Location: Where: Hong Hanh – 17A Nguyen Thi Minh Khao Street – District 1
Food: bahn khot – fried rice cakes topped with pork or shrimp or crab and served with greens to wrap them
Location: Banh Khot Co Ba Vung Tau – 40B Trần Cao Vân near the Turtle Pond
Tip: These were some of my favorites even though they were a bit more expensive than most things – we ordered a second helping of the pork ones after we ate the first…
We went to the war remnants museum at this time to give ourselves time to digest… dinner is a big portion, a bit out of the center so we could do the museum, return to our hostel and take a break.
Food: cơm tấm bì chả sườn trứng ốp la – this is an amazing fried pork chop served over broken rice, topped with a fried egg, shredded pork skins, and some kind of pork meat loaf (do not be deterred, it is all about the pork chop and it is huge)
Location: Com Tam Ba Ghien – 84 Đặng Văn Ngữ, phường 10, Phú Nhuận, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Tip: You will need to take a cab here as it is in district 10, but they are easy to get and fairly cheap. This was one of my favorites and the place is ALL locals and a bit grungier. They do not speak any english, but just show them the name of the food I have typed out and use your fingers to get two (You will want your own).