Although I didn’t manage to discover as many amazing food spots in Ho Chi Minh City as I did in Hanoi, there are nonetheless more than I could include in a single post on what to see in Saigon as a first timer.
Here is my experience exploring the food scenes that involves riding on the back of a Vespa and stuffing my face with pizza:
Vespa street food tour at night
Ho Chi Minh City has over 25 million motorcycles, so it seems only fitting to explore it on the back fo a Vespa in style. We booked a Saigon by night tour with Khiri Travel a Saigon by night tour with Khiri Travel to sample the street food as well as experience the nightlife of Saigon!
We each get our own Vespa Driver, hilariously mine is called Viet and I’m Nam – so we are Vietnam!
The Vespa has a spacious back seat for the passenger, as well as a helmet so it’s all very safe. There are 5 stops in total:
Beer and snack
We first stopped at a cute little bar and restaurant for a snack and beer. We were greeted by our guide, Tri, who introduced himself and explained the tour to us. I tried the local Saigon beer which was very nice and easy to drink, and we had some lovely corn chips to go with it.
After the beer, we got back on our Vespa and went off to sample some seafood in district 4. We drove on bridges across the canal, and it was a lovely experience for me since I personally don’t drive a motorbike. The restaurant is in a local neighbourhood, and our guide has already beaten us to the restaurant. A feast was soon laid out before us with salty crab, clams in broth, razor clams, and frog legs as well as stir-fried noodles.
Tri showed me how to eat the clams properly by adding some fish sauce before slurping it off, which really adds the flavour.
Banh Xeo (Vietnamese pancake)
Our next stop is close to the famous pink church. Banh Xeo is a Vietnamese pancake that looks like an oversized taco. The Banh Xeo is cooked using wood and charcoal on an iron plate, and they expertly add in ingredients such as shrimps, pork, and bean sprouts.
If you think you’re just going to eat the whole thing, you are wrong! Tri showed us how to wrap the Banh Xeo as part of a rice paper roll along with young banana, star fruit, and other veggies. The Banh Xeo adds a nice crunch to the roll and tastes a little like sweet corn to me.
Acoustic live music
My favourite stop of the night is this acoustic live music cafe. Tri had taken our drink order – you can choose tea, coffee, beer or wine, prior to our arrival. We have ushered down an inconspicuous alley and up a flight of stairs into a cosy little cafe. The live music had already started and a man was singing Vietnamese opera. We sat through 3 singers and 6 songs, and it was all so magical and surreal that I didn’t want to leave.
Name: Vung Oi Mo Ra Cafe
Rock and Roll bar
Despite being reluctant to leave, we left the live music bar and hopped on over to our last stop – a rock and roll live music bar. The bar was crowded when we got there, but Tri found me a seat and got me a margarita. The singers rotate as it did the last place, and the highlight was a Vietnamese old man saying ‘all by myself’.
Tri then said goodbye to us outside, but not before giving us a photo with him and the driver. Our Vespa Driver then dropped us off at our hotel and thus ended a great night!
If you have read my Hanoi foodie guide, then you are no stranger to my love for Pizza 4P. Honestly the best pizza I’ve had in Asia, their burrata Parma ham pizza and four cheese pizza is sure to induce foodgasm.
Booking in advance is highly encouraged, but I managed to snag a bar table by turning up alone and shock the staff by eating a whole pizza by myself.
Even then, I hadn’t spent more than 13 USD!
There are multiple Pizza 4P in Ho Chi Minh City, the most central one is near the Ben Thanh Market. Check here for a full list of location, you can also book online there, too.
Ben Thanh Street Food Market
Not far from Ben Thanh Market is the Ben Thanh Street Food Market. With a plethora of food stalls offering a variety of cuisine, you are sure to find something you like here. Though it is a bit touristy and pricier than Vietnamese street food, I enjoy the vibe and convenience of ordering from several stalls.
They also have a nice clean bathroom and plenty of seatings. Some of my personal favourite there are the mango lassi, boa, and bbq pull pork Banh Mi. There is even live music by a local band during certain evenings.
Address: 26-28-30 Thủ Khoa Huân, Phường Bến Thành, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh 700000, Vietnam
Opening times: daily 9:00 – 23:00
Want to get some good Vietnamese food? Quan Bui is a great chain in Ho Chi Minh City that offers a comprehensive Vietnamese menu with good vegetarian options. Their restaurants are also beautifully decorated, ideal for any kind of occasions. Sara from the Life of a Solivagant suggested it for a meetup and the clay pot chicken is so delicious.
The coffee and tea culture in Vietnam is huge, but Cafe Apartments are unique to Ho Chi Minh City. I have talked about it in my first timer’s guide to Saigon, but I want to add it here as a place to sit and chill.
Disclaimer: I was hosted for the Vespa Street food tour but all opinions are my own. Also, thanks Lola from Miss Filatelista for taking the photo of me on the back of Vespa!