Off the beaten path in Saigon
April 27, 2014 11:23 PM   Subscribe

I will be in HCMC for the next 48 hours (including Reunification Day.) Other than the obvious sites, what are some quirky and worthwhile things to do/see and places to eat in Saigon? Also what is the best place to go to witness the parades and holiday celebrations?

I am definitely going to be taking a street food tour, checking out the War Remnants Museum and possibly the tunnels. But what else is a hidden gem in this town? Any advice is much appreciated!
posted by egeanin to Travel & Transportation around Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I really enjoyed just walking around the city since I felt like Moses parting the sea of motorbikes at every single intersection and it's a nice way to get to know a city. Made it through most of Districts 1 and 3 on foot in a day. I liked the Emperor Jade Pagoda (also known as the Turtle Pagoda) and the Xa Loi Pagoda. There's also the big Ben Thanh market and there are also smaller markets scattered throughout the city.

Make sure you also take at least 1 moto ride (and to haggle the price beforehand)! Pretty neat way to see the city.

The tunnels were definitely interesting, but keep in mind that getting to and from there takes up most of a day.

Not sure where I ate when I was there though, so can't give you many tips there, but everything was tasty!

I will say that you should probably keep yourself bug sprayed when you're there. I was only in Ho Chi Minh for 3 days this past December and am pretty sure that's where I was infected with dengue fever.
posted by astapasta24 at 11:43 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

I spent a long time in Vietnam, mostly in the north, but I've been to HCM a few times, and the one universal truth that established itself over time in my psyche was that if you stand in one spot long enough, the whole of Vietnam will pass by in front of you.

As there's an event/celebration on while you're there, I'd ask a local if there's a special place to hang or, if the celebration is following a route, and bearing in mind the 'standing in one spot' truth above, I'd just wander around the route and see if there's somewhere that's comfy for an hour or two of people and parade watching.

The Vietnamese have a LOT of celebratory events. They're "ok", in their way, but the *specialness* of Vietnam, for me, is the bustling life: the diverse and fabulous people and how they live; and it's as though it was set up as westerner entertainment destination, because it all plays out in public, on the streets.
posted by peacay at 12:30 AM on April 28, 2014

There is an old, semi-abandoned (or at least it feels that way!) building in District 1 that has at least three cafe/bars and a vintage shop (plus other stuff, too, I think). Very cool vibe. The address is 14 Tôn Thất Đạm, District 1. Here is an article that has descriptions of the cafes in the building.
posted by Shebear at 4:36 AM on April 28, 2014

You should definitely try to do Sophie's Art Tour while you're there.

It's a half-day tour through some private galleries, the big museum and a modern art space that ends up being like a brief history of 20th Century Vietnam through it's artists. You'll definitely get to see great things that you wouldn't otherwise (gallery of political posters) and insights into some of the work in the main museum that would be easy to miss (great sketches of North Vietnamese soldiers).
posted by brookeb at 8:12 AM on April 28, 2014

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