The storied Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is a destination that is sure to captivate travellers with its rich history, French colonial influences, vibrant street food scene and burgeoning nightlife. Planning a visit in the coming year? Here’s a quick guide on how to explore the city like a local.
Located close to Nguyen Hue street, Katinat Saigon Kafe offers a calm and cosy atmosphere and light bites along with excellent Vietnamese coffee. Meat lovers will enjoy the best banh mi in town at Banh Mi Huynh Hoa, where the sandwiches come with heavy layers of grilled pork, jambon and vegetables. For variety, you can also opt to visit the food stalls at Nguyen Thuong Hien Street where you can dine like a local.
Chill Skybar on the rooftop of AB Tower is a stylish and vibrant club and lounge where you look out at the spectacular views while the DJs spin hip hop, R&B and electro tracks. For something even more luxurious, QUI is a sleek spot with warm-toned wood décor. This place is a perfect destination for seasonal cocktails.
I highly recommend the Independence Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Saigon Central Post Office – all remnants of colonial times. The War Remnants Museum is also a good place to learn about the past. In contrast, you can also check out Landmark 81, now Vietnam’s tallest building. There’s an observation deck on the top three floors that offers a panoramic view of the city, as well as a classy lounge a few floors down should you want to rest your feet.
For something truly unique, you must check out the A O Show. It’s Vietnam’s renowned bamboo circus, combining acrobatic acts with visual drama and presenting the charming beauty of southern Vietnamese living. Alternatively, embark on a Vespa Adventures scooter tour to experience the city from a different perspective – you’ll be ferried by expert drivers through the narrow alleyways – or visit the Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre for a dose of old-world culture.
You should definitely try a coffee with condensed milk, called ca phe sua da, and do a dinner cruise on the Saigon River. For all your explorations, the most convenient way of getting around is by using Grab, a popular app for booking private hire vehicles.
Illustration by Toma Nguyen
Singapore Airlines flies to Ho Chi Minh City two to three times daily. To book a flight, visit singaporeair.com
This article was originally published in the December 2019 issue of SilverKris magazine