While I still have a few more posts from my other trips (Lyon, Paris, and Hong Kong), I thought I’d blog about my recent visit to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) – commonly known as Saigon – the largest city in Vietnam and the former capital of the Republic of Vietnam.
This post is a simple guide to Saigon based on my trip there. Since I only had a few days to try some places, this is by no means a complete eating guide to restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). I’d love to go back again and eat at more places, but we’ll have to see how that goes.
So for now, here’s my Travel Guide on where to eat in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Vietnam has that old-world charm where everything is untouched by civilisation. I don’t think I will ever love Saigon as much as I love Bangkok, but I was very happy to walk around the city, look at the locals at work, and eat all day long.
Like any other cities, it is quite difficult to explore if you do not know any locals. Especially so in Saigon as most of the people do not speak English. I am quite lucky as I managed to eat at a few nice places. Before leaving for the trip, I did some research on the must-go restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City, but I have to say that there are limited information online. So I hope that through this guide, you will be able to enjoy Saigon in a different way.
Note: 1 Singapore dollar = 16 559.3542 Vietnamese dong
Places to eat in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon):
Com Nieu Sai Gon (6 Tu Xuong Street ward 7 District 3, Ho Chi Minh City +84 8 3932 6388) is probably the most famous restaurant in Vietnam because of Anthony Bourdain’s recommendation. We had the Vietnamese Pancakes, Springroll, and their famous Clay Pot Rice. The food while good, was not amazing. Prices range between VND80k to VND130k for a main dish.
One interesting thing that I noticed in Vietnam was the absence of McDonald’s. So if you are craving for a burger, check out Black Cat Restaurant (13 Phan Vat Dat, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City). They have a wide variety of burgers on the menu ranging from VND115k to VND185k. Besides burgers, they also have all day breakfast and sandwiches that are reasonably-priced.
Just down the road from Black Cat, is Todam Korean Restaurant (Phan Vat Dat, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City), a place frequented by Koreans – certainly a good sign.
I was told to go to Al Fresco (27 Dong Du, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, +84 8 3823 8424) for the Best Baby Back Ribs in Ho Chi Minh City. And I’m happy to say that it’s really quite good.
The medium portion of the famous ribs comes with 5-6 pieces and it costs VND335k. The other main courses are much cheaper: you can get a Chicken Corden Bleu for VND185k, and a Spaghetti Seafood is only VND150k.
One of the best hidden finds in Saigon, Le Jardin (31 Thai Van Lung, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City +84 8 3825 8465) is a lovely French restaurant that serves good food at affordable prices. We almost missed it as we were walking along Thai Van Lung – a street lined with restaurants.
The al fresco garden terrace is a lovely place to enjoy your meal, while sipping a glass of wine. Main courses like steak are available for VND140-160k, and there are also fish like Tuna Steak VND120k and Sole & Salmon VND140k on the menu.
I’d highly recommend that you go there for a meal. Definitely one of the best restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City.
Just directly opposite Le Jardin, Le Bouchon De Saigon (40 Thai Van Lung, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City) is a French Brasserie that is worth checking out if you want more French Food.
Since we are talking about French Food, another restaurant that you can try is L’entete (139 Nguyen Thai Binh, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City +84 8 3821 2049) near the Art Museum. Like Le Buchon De Saigon, prices are slightly steeper. Starters like French onion soup is VND120k, while you can get a Foie Gras Terrine at VND360k. They serve main courses like Duck a l’orange at VND300k, and beef tartare at VND280k.
If you find yourself venturing to District 3, do check out Stix Restaurant (15 Le Qui Don Street District 3, Ho Chi Minh City +84 2224 1781) – a gorgeous seafood restaurant.
And of course, you can’t go to Vietnam without having Pho.
Pho 24 (various locations) probably doesn’t have the best pho in Vietnam, but it provides you with a nice and clean environment to slurp up a bowl of delicious pho. Moreover, there’s no culture shock as there is a simple menu which makes it very easy for overseas visitors.
There’s also Pho 2000, which became famous after former U.S President Bill Clinton patronised it.
While on our way to Le Jardin, we stumbled upon Pacey Cupcakes (53G Nguyen Du, Ben Nhge Ward District 1 Tel: 08 38 233 223) – a cutesy cupcake cafe. The good thing is they provide free wifi, so if you are tired after a day of walking, go there hang out and use the free wifi to check your twitter and facebook accounts.
Near to the famous Ban Thamh Market is Line Journee (234 Le Thanh Ton D1 Tel: 08 382 777 23), a French patisserie where you can get macarons, lemon tart and creme brulee. The desserts are not fantastic, but good enough to satisfy your sugar craving.
Besides Line Journee, you can also try La Doree (216 Ly Tu Trong and 65 Pasteur District 1, Ho Chi Minh City +84 8 3822 1718). Their cakes were pretty decent and you can get sweets like Pain Au Chocolat, Macarons, Eclairs and other French desserts.
We also dropped by Sushi restaurant Tokyo Deli (24 Le Thanh Ton Street D1 5404 2244) for dinner. The food was average, but for the price, I’m not complaining. You can get a Salmon Sushi for VND90k, and Maki roll for VND42k.
Cafe de L’uisine (151 Dong Khoi District 1, Ho Chi Minh City +84 8 6674 3565) is a charming space that reminds me of PS Cafe. So if you are in Ho Chi Minh, do go there for a break.
One of the hippest restaurants in Saigon, Windows Cafe (12 Alexandre De Rhodes, District 1, Vietnam +84 8 3823 8408) is located opposite the entry to reunification palace. While the uber-chic restaurant/bar has a wide menu serving food like Pizza and Pastas from VND 75-85k and mains from VND 100-120k, it strikes me more as a cool watering hole. Definitely the place to go if you want to chill out and have some drinks.
Just across the road from Reunification Palace is Quan An Ngon (138 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City), a pretty restaurant housed within an old French villa. It has nice ambience, but the food is average, and slightly more expensive.
Another cool restaurant in the area is Nha Hang Ngon (160 Pastel Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City +84 8 3827 7136). Prices range from VND50k for a simple Vermicilli in soup to VND200k for the more elaborated main courses.
Places to go in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon):
Ben Thanh market is probably one of the most famous tourist attractions in Ho Chi Minh City. You can find almost everything there, but be warned, bargaining is required. My suggestion is to go there and have a look, if you have lots of food products that you want to buy, head to Binh Tay Market – the local distribution centre – and you can easily get the same product for 30-40% cheaper.
Do note that the journey from city to Binh Tay Market is around 20 minutes, and it can be a little overwhelming as there are many locals getting their goods from the sellers there.
Saigon Square is another popular place in Ho Chi Minh City. It is an air-conditioned market that sells clothes, again, bargaining is required.
Notre Dame Cathedral
Places to stay in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon):
There are quite a few good 5 Star Hotels in Saigon (for about USD$120-170/night) like Park Hyatt, Rex Hotel, and Caravelle Hotel, while you can also get a decent 4 star hotel like Palace Hotel or Oscar Saigon is around USD$80-100/night.
I hope that this Travel Guide to Restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) will be useful when you visit the city, I have another post on 10 Things to eat in Saigon coming up next, so look out for it!