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Guide to Saigon

In less than a decade, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam, has transformed itself into Asia’s most dynamic boomtown.
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Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Easy
Duration: Multiple days

Overview :  It was, for years, a prisoner of memory—memories of colonialism, the war, and the failures of the Communist era. Through the final... more »

Tips:  Saigon’s iconic cyclos (three-wheeled bicycle rickshaws that fit one passenger comfortably, two with some effort) are a cheap and easy... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Bon Bo Xu

A spin-off of the trendy Xu restaurant down the block, this upmarket fast-food joint specializes in bun bo Hue, the spicy noodle soup customarily found at humble sidewalk stalls across Vietnam. Dished up in a polished storefront with smart wooden tables and effective air-conditioning, Bun Bo Xu’s version is equally delicious, albeit twice as... More

2. Café Terrace

A veritable fantasia of white leather and Lucite copped from Philippe Starck, this all-day café serves good lattes and smoothies with a lounge-y soundtrack, from early morning to late at night.

Address:
Nguyen Duc Canh, Grand View Building 3
Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnam

Phone:
84-8-3-825-1330

3. Cantina Central

This cool Mexican bar-restaurant—owned by several members of the design collective from Gaya, just up the block—has quickly become an expat favorite for its mean margaritas, micheladas, and tacos al pastor.

Address:
51 Ton That Thiep St.
Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnam

Phone:
84-8-3-914-4697

4. Caravelle Hotel

Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2009, this slightly corporate feeling but exceedingly comfortable hotel on Lam Son Square is the runner-up to the Park Hyatt for the title of the city’s top hotel. And it certainly has history: among many other foreign correspondents, Walter Cronkite stayed here before delivering his famous “stalemate” broadcast... More

5. Luong Son (a.k.a. Bo Tung Xeo)

At this open-air barbecue-and-beer garden, patrons grill strips of tangy marinated beef—bo tung xeo—on tabletop braziers and share pitchers of foamy local beer. The kitchen also dishes up specialties like deep-fried scorpion, bonded chicken feet, and fried pig’s stomach. If it’s available, order the “fresh shrimp”: your waiter will bring a plastic... More

With an enviable location on Lam Son, Saigon’s central square, this gleaming upscale hotel with colonial accents delivers splendidly assured service and has one of the finest spas in town. Each of the 120 guest rooms is swathed in tasteful beiges and glowing hardwoods and decorated with historic photographs of Saigon; some rooms and suites have... More

Pho, Vietnam’s national dish—a rich beef consommé spiked with clove, star anise, and ginger and laced with noodles and fresh basil and cilantro—gets the fast-food treatment at this popular chain, with surprisingly inspired results. Follow the Vietnamese and go for breakfast.

Address:
5 Nguyen Thiep St.
Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnam

Phone:
84-8... More

This rough-and-tumble joint with metal tables and plastic chairs serves the very best crab in town. Order cha gio cua (crab spring rolls), mien xao cua be (cassava noodles sautéed with mushrooms and crabmeat), whole roasted crab, and when available, deep-fried soft-shell crab with tamarind or sweet chili sauce. Note: This restaurant used to... More

9. Sri Thendayutthapani Temple

The temple is topped by a colorful gopuram bedecked with Hindu gods and goddesses.

Address:
66 Ton That Thiep St., District 1
Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnam

In Vietnam, restaurants with incandescent lighting generally serve dull food, while fluorescent-lit joints with toilet-paper dispensers for napkins turn out the tastiest cooking. (This shall be known as the Inverse Relation of Atmosphere to Authenticity.) However, said rule does not apply to the Temple Club, whose interiors and food are both... More

In a prime setting where Dong Khoi Street meets the Saigon River, this 1925 French colonial landmark, like its sister “heritage hotels,” the Continental and the Grand, is managed by Saigontourist, Vietnam’s state-run tourism authority, which is—well, decidedly not the Four Seasons. Still, its history (it was used as military barracks by the... More

Run by Bien Nguyen, a 30-year-old Australian Viet Kieu, this high-priced upstart is both a see-and-be-seen nightspot (serving well-made cocktails at the street-level bar) and a high-end restaurant with ambitious, mostly assured nouvelle Vietnamese cooking. The menu changes regularly, but you can’t miss with any dish made with local fish or seafood... More