Trip: November 2017
Below is our Top 5 Things To Do in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam part of the Just Carrying On – Top 5 Things To Do series. These lists are favorite activities, eats, and drinks from our travels around the world—in no particular order.
After a week on the island of Phu Quoc, we spent two weeks traveling the rest of Vietnam with Jason’s brother Jon in mid-November 2017. We started in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon).
1. The Workshop Coffee
As natives of Portland and people who love coffee so much we are traveling with our own french press around the world, we usually try to limit our expectations of a place claiming to serve amazing coffee. So we were quite surprised, not just with the delicious and creative coffee at The Workshop Coffee, but also to learn new ways of brewing coffee we had never heard of before. The place epitomized the creative and burgeoning food/coffee/drink scene in HCMC, filled with locals and tourists all in need of a great cup of coffee in a beautiful space. Also, with excellent AC which will also be memorable to anyone else who finds themselves in HCMC in November.
2. Walking Tour
Ho Chi Minh City is big but quite walkable, and we’re suckers for walking tours. This time we opted to guide ourselves, although if you prefer, Saigon Free Walking Tours came recommended. Our route was a mix of websites (here and here) and the suggested route from our Lonely Planet guidebook. The city lends itself to seeing the sites on foot, as they’re clustered and it is obvious what should be seen. Don’t miss the Saigon Central Post Office.
3. Anan Saigon Rooftop
We spent our days in the city in search of bia hoi and it seemed ever elusive (we later discovered it is much more common in the northern cities of Hoi An and Hanoi). Bia hoi refers to fresh locally brewed beer. It is light, very cheap and brewed daily. We were pointed towards Anan Saigon at some point on our search. On arrival we found a hip, trendy restaurant…not exactly the hole in the wall local joint we were expecting. But they assured us they had bia hoi so we sat down. The bia hoi was served in a chic metal growler and was cold and delicious. The manager then invited us to see the roof and we ascended a flight of stairs and an elevator to emerge on a beautiful rooftop with a petite bar and beautiful views of the city. Oh, and the vegetarian Vietnamese tacos were delicious, if a bit pricey.
4. Bahn mi on the street for breakfast
We stumbled upon this street banh mi and strong motor-oil Vietnamese coffee while searching for a breakfast bite. When you’re hungry and walking in what feels like circles, longing for breakfast somewhere that won’t slip meat into your food, and you end up enjoying banh mi like these, you know it’s going to be a good day. We saved the location of this banh mi cart, located in a random alley, in case the lovely women who run the cart are still there on your travels. It is worth the effort to try to track them down.
Google maps / Not on Trip Advisor 🙂
5. 5KU Station Restaurant
If you enjoy a participatory meal in a hip spot, check out 5KU Station. It’s a fairly large and busy outdoor place with wooden tables and chairs and a fun vibe. You order your food raw and cook it yourselves in a steaming hot pot of broth over open coals on your table. The beers are cold and the staff works hard.
We’re always up for an opportunity to try local craft beer and Pasteur Street Brewing was really good. Their Jasmine IPA is available throughout the country actually. We also tried Heart of Darkness but didn’t like the beer nearly as much. For live music, we saw a fun albeit out-of-place Latin act at Carmen. The drinks are super spendy but the setting was lively.
Top 5 Things To Do in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam is part of Just Carrying On – Top 5 Things To Do series, which offers our best travel recommendations from around the world.