I – Best restaurants in District 1
1 – Cuc Gach Quan
Source: Fb CucGachQuan
Entering the restaurant space, you will feel like you are lost in an old Vietnamese house from feudal times because the interior, the decoration as well as the arrangement are all in the architectural style of this period. Of course the main dishes on the menu of the restaurant also bear the taste of the countryside in Vietnam such as Sour Soup, Pickled Egg Plants or Roasted Meat, etc are all special dishes that often appear in Vietnamese meals.
Address: No. 10 Dang Tat, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Price: 180.000 – 210.000d/dish
Opening hours: 10:00 AM – 11:30 PM each day
2 – An Nam Quan
The menu of the restaurant serves famous Vietnamese dishes such as braised fish with bamboo shoots, pork rice paper, waterfall fish hot pot, chicken on the tray or snakehead fish in banana leaf, etc. These are specialties bearing the flavor of the sunny and windy Central region.
Address: No. 59, Nguyen Binh Khiem Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Average price: 120.000 – 140.000 VNĐ/dish (5.17 – 6.03 USD)
Opening hours: 11:00 AM – 10:00 PM each day
3 – Sen Dong Duong restaurant
The space is inspired by lotus – the national flower of Vietnam, bearing characteristics of gentleness and elegance of ancient Vietnamese people. These lotus dishes will surely make you mesmerized: Lotus Root Salad, Sen Dong Duong Shrimp, Lotus Root Hotpot or Coriander Beef with Corn Salad, etc.
Address: No. 64, Vo Thi Sau Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Average price: 200,000 – 250,000 VND / dish (8.6 – 10.77 USD)
Opening hours: 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM every day
Quan Com Me Kong
This is the best restaurant in Ho Chi Minh for a big hunk of grilled pork. It’s totally delicious and surprisingly cheap. We were randomly walking around District 1 when we found this hidden gem.
The fantastic smell is what drew us here. We followed our noses and discovered this place packed with nearby office workers.
As reflected in our list, noodle soups are huge in Vietnamese cuisine. They are wonderful, but sometimes you just want a slab of smoky pork. They serve them up here with a pile of fresh rice for a hearty, filling meal at an incredible price.
Price: 60,000VND ($2.5USD)
136 Suong Nuyet Anh St. P Ben Thanh, Q 1, Ho Chi Minh
The Secret Garden
Finding a hidden, back-alley restaurant is an experience every Ho Chi Minh visitor should have. Many of the best restaurants in Ho Chi Minh are off the main roads. And the Secret Garden is one of our favorites.
It’s not that difficult to find, but you have to venture down a couple alleys, make a few turns, and climb several flights of stairs to get here.
When you finally arrive, the rooftop garden terrace seems like an oasis of calm in the chaotic city.
The menu is a collection of delicious “home-style” Vietnamese dishes. For detailed directions, check our full review of Secret Garden.
Price: 50,000-80,000VND ($2.25-3.5USD)
158 Pasteur St. P Ben Nghe, Q 1, Ho Chi Minh
Moo Beef Steak Prime
- Address: 35 Ngô Đức Kế, Bến Nghé, Quận 1.
- Hotline : (028) 38228628
Price range: 100.000 – 1.500.000 VND
Moo Beef Steak Prime is located in the middle of District 1 on Ngo Duc Ke street, a couple of minutes from the walking street of Saigon.
Moo Beef Steak Prime owns a classy surrounding with yellow light mixed with warm shimmering of the candle.
The restaurant has a romantic vibe suitable for the couples intending to have a nice date. The menu includes European dishes and the high-class chefs make sure the presentation is appealing. Besides good food, Moo also offers the customers with its variety of fine wine from all over the world to combine with your dishes if desired.
Stop by Ben Thanh Market
Image courtesy of Tdo / Getty Images
AddressĐ. Lê Lợi, Phường Bến Thành, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
The Ben Thanh Market is a popular, crowded market where overpriced junk and excellent bargains are found side by side. A hodgepodge of goods, souvenirs, and food items can be purchased for cheap in the sprawling market.The Ben Thanh Market is a good place to buy unique coffee – an excellent cultural gift for friends at home. Be on the lookout for Vietnam’s famous “Weasel coffee” which is created by feeding coffee beans to civets and waiting for the finished – and relatively expensive – product to be “processed”!
Read about the world’s most expensive coffee: civet coffee.
Taste of Saigon – at home!
And that concludes the RecipeTin Eats’ Saigon Top 10 Street Foods List! It’s just a small sample of the amazing food Vietnam has to offer, with specialities in various regions across the country.
In fact, the food here is SO GOOD, I tell people it’s worth visiting Vietnam just for the food – and it’s certainly the reason I keep coming back!
I hope you get a chance to visit one day. But even if you can’t, you can still get a taste of Vietnam at home using my recipes, such as these:
Vietnamese food recipes
Vietnamese Pho recipe
Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls
Vietnamese Noodles with Lemongrass Chicken
Bun Cha (Vietnamese Meatballs!)
Vietnamese Caramel Pork
While some of these aren’t on our Top 10 Saigon List, or are specialities of other regions (such as Bun Cha which is a Hanoi dish), these recipes stay true to the authentic versions and will transport you straight to the streets of Vietnam! – Nagi x
The Best Accommodation in Ho Chi Minh City District 5
Budget hostel: Natural House Hostel
Rocking a solid 8.9 rating on booking.com, Natural House Hostel is another budget option where travelers can grab a bed from as low as $6 per night. They have a 24-hour check-in desk, for people arriving late at night and are located in the heart of Chinatown.
The Best Hotel in District 5: Hotel Equatorial Ho Chi Minh City
If you’re someone who prefers staying in a hotel and on the hunt for a good option in District 5, Hotel Equatorial Ho Chi Minh is a good option. They have an onsite swimming pool and a buffet breakfast you can purchase if you wish. I must say it’s not the best place to stay in Ho Chi Minh, but possibly the best hotel in D5.
Photogenic apartments spotted in Chinatown
Pho Cao Van Restaurant
Pho Cao Van Restaurant | @ajenopotd
Speaking of Cao Van Pho (25 Mac Dinh Chi, District 1), the patrons of the restaurant will immediately remember the elderly over 90 years of age who collects money at the corner of the shop. That is the owner Tran Van Phon.
From the Pho cart in Hanoi, then sold in Saigon along streets, after that, a shop was opened on Tran Cao Van Street in 1952, finally moved to Mac Dinh Chi. The traditional North Vietnamese Pho followed Mr. Phon to supply a tasty one nowadays.
One of falvorful Pho in Ho Chi Minh | @kalelaw
Among modern buildings and many new eateries on Mac Dinh Chi Street, Pho Cao Van still quietly marks its presence with patrons who love Pho North. It is because when you must be familiar with the new North Vietnamese taste, you like Pho Cao Van.
The shop has tasty broth, not greasy like many other places but a very rich flavor. With their own secrets and valuable experience of making noodles, the owner of Pho Cao Van has created this typical flavor, making customers when eating will remember it forever.
- Address: 25 Mach Dinh Chi Street, Da Kao Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
- Opening hours: 6:00 am – 9:00 pm (early morning to evening)
- Phone: 028 3822 0509
Bep Me In
136/9 Le Thanh Ton Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1
We love the atmosphere of this lively, colourful restaurant with yellow walls. If you’ve been to Hoi An (my favourite city in the world), you’d agree this is exactly where it reminds you of.
This place is very close to Ben Thanh markets which is a must do in Ho Chi Minh City. It’s likely you’ll have built up an appetite shopping up a storm so head on down for a feast.
The classic street bites are done really well here. Grab a few plates to share around. If you’re feeling adventurous and want to try something a little different, give banh dap thit nuong (Vietnamese pizza on sesame rice) a go. There are also a few desserts to choose from for only 35k – 40k VND.
Main Dish: Fried noodle with beef for 95k VND
Side Dish: Banh mi xiu mai (Vietnamese shumai) for 75k VND
10:30 am – 10:30 pm daily
Unit 28, No 6 Cach Mang Thang Tam Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1
Cycle Resto is quite close to the Buddhist temple, Monument of King Hung and the movie theatre, Galaxy Nguyen Du.
There is such a great atmosphere when you walk into the restaurant and a welcoming atmosphere. The walls are covered in signatures of diners who travelled to Vietnam.
They offer a family meal for 160k VND per person. It’s a good way to try many popular Vietnamese dishes.
The combo comes with the following:
- Deep fried spring roll
- Green melon soup with shrimp
- Stir-fried vegetables with pork
- Stewed snakehead fish in a clay pot
- Fried chicken with lemongrass
- Steamed rice
- Egg coffee
A unique feature of Cyclo Resto is they offer a cooking class so you know how to cook these amazing dishes when you’re back home. The class is 750k VND per person, and there’s the option to book private classes at a higher cost. The class includes a 30-minute cyclo trip, visit to the market to buy ingredients, recipes to take home and refreshments. You’ll learn how to make four Vietnamese meals.
160k VND per person for a selection of Vietnamese dishes and egg coffee.
Watch a Vietnamese Water Puppet Show
Address55B Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai, Phường Bến Thành, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
+84 28 3930 2196
Vietnamese water puppetry dates back to the 11th century and has changed very little since. Bulky wooden puppets are actually controlled from beneath a pool of water; the performance is accompanied by traditional music. How the puppeteers do their jobs underwater is a well-guarded secret.Although the authentic shows are exclusively in Vietnamese, the tales depict rural life in villages and are easy to understand. Vietnamese water puppet shows typically last for one hour and offer a colorful way to enjoy an ancient tradition.The Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre is the most popular place to see a puppet show in Ho Chi Minh City. Find the theater at 55B Nguyen Thi Minh Khai in District 1 – east of Tao Dan Park.
Vietnamese Spicy Beef Noodle Soup (Bun bo hue)
WHY IT’S A MUST-TRY: It’s Pho – on steroids. And it’s hard to find outside of Vietnam!
PRONUNCIATION: boon bo HWAY
THE PITCH: Everybody who loves Vietnamese food knows and adores beef pho, and we are equally hopeless pho tragics. But travelling to Vietnam offers the chance to broaden your noodle soup horizons and open your mouth to some of the country’s lesser known but equally scrumptious offerings.
Bun bo hue is another of our favourite noodle dishes and is revered across Vietnam. Hailing from Hue, this noodle soup is a flavour disco of rich beef broth, lemongrass, shrimp paste all turbocharged with a good slap of fiery chilli oil. Have a laugh when you see me suffer in the video!
BEST PLACE TO HAVE IT: Bun Bo Hue Dong Ba, District 1 ()
It’s been around since the 1920s and though it might look like it hasn’t seen a renovation since, look past the tatty interior. With its friendly staff, convenient location, and deliciously fragrant bun bo hue, Dong Ba is still a Ho Chi Minh City local favourite and one of the best bowls we’ve had in the city!
Vietnamese Cuisine Restaurants
Cuc Gach Quan
Cuc Gach Quan (English name – “Brick Restaurant”) sheltered inside an old French colonial villa that has been restored and designed by an architect named Tran Binh. This restaurant is known as one of the best 10 places to eat when traveling to Ho Chi Minh City. It becomes more famous after two well-known Hollywood movie stars Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt dined here when paying a visit to Ho Chi Minh City.
The special menu and the cozy atmosphere at Cuc Gach Quan are suitable for dinners with close friends or beloved family. The restaurant serves Vietnamese traditional homemade dishes. The antique design combined with plants and a little pond in the middle of the villa creates a friendly environment.
Especially, 80% of vegetables that Cuc Gach is using are grown on its own at Cuc Gach Out-of-Town. That solves the problem of food safety and hygiene in Vietnam.Address: 10 Dang Tat, Tan Dinh Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh CityOpening hours: 9:00 am – 11:00 pm, dailyPrice: From 250.000 VND
Hum Vegetarian, Lounge & Restaurant
Hum Vegetarian, Lounge & Restaurant serves the excellent Vietnamese-inspired vegetarian cuisine. Vegetarian eating is a common practice followed by Buddhist in Vietnam. However, if you are not a vegetarian, you can still try vegetarian food and this tranquil restaurant extremely deserves your attention.
This is not only a place for you to experience the unique vegetarian dishes, but also a place to nourish the soul with the peaceful space. Special dishes and drinks are prepared from the freshest ingredients that are carefully selected for your health-giving benefits. Inspired by traditional Vietnamese cuisine combined with other typical flavors in Southeast Asia region, delicacies are created based on the harmonious combination of tastes: salty – sweet – sour – spicy with a variety of native spices and sauces. Menu at Hum Vegetarian Lounge & Restaurants includes many special dishes such as: lotus tuber in sesame salt, summer rolls, spinach fried rice, braised heart of palm, saffron flower soup… and a variety of salads like banana blossom salad, button mushroom salad…Address: 32 Vo Van Tan, Ward 6, District 3, Ho Chi Minh CityOpening hours: 10:00 am – 10:00 pm, dailyPrice: From 100.000 VND
Den Long Quan – “Lantern Restaurant”
Being one of the most famous restaurants in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Den Long Quan specializes in serving attractive and delicious Vietnamese dishes with the dedicated service style. The menu includes a lot of dishes with the suitable price. When coming to Den Long Quan, visitors will have the chance to experience the old flavors that we think have been forgotten in modern society.
Address: 130 Nguyen Trai Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh CityOpening hours: 11:00 am – 10:00 pm, dailyPrice: 30.000 – 300.000 VND
Sea Snails ????Top Pick!????
WHY IT’S A MUST-TRY: Eating snails while rubbing shoulders with the locals is one of the most authenticate eating experience you can have in Vietnam!
Mud crawlers in coconut sauce – ridiculously delicious!! We ordered it again and again and again…
THE PITCH: Eating snails is a social tradition deeply embedded in the culinary culture of Vietnam. Groups of friends gather at speciality snail restaurants or street stalls to chat, share plates of molluscs and wash them down with beer over an evening.
Diners choose from piles of shellfish and water-dwelling snails of all shapes and sizes on display. The kitchen will then cook up the snails in one of many lip-smacking preparations, from stir frying with garlic and butter to braising them in rich coconut curries.
BEST PLACE TO HAVE IT: Oc An, Phuong 1 ()
Snail joints can be found everywhere in Ho Chi Minh City but the one we ate at was a modest but busy little street restaurant called Oc An. We loved the vibe sitting side by side with cheery locals, sucking down delicious molluscs and tossing the shells on the ground. It’s on the edge of the Street Food Ghetto area, which in itself isn’t a huge area ().
Hanoi vs Ho Chi Minh City: Where To Go After All?
So it’s a tie 5-5! What to do now?
The truth is Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh are contrasting cities in many ways and they shed a different light on Vietnam as a country. If you have enough time on your hands, include both on your itinerary for a more well-rounded experience.
However if you have to take a pick, this has to come down to your travel style and what do you plan to do in Vietnam. In a sense it’s a showdown of history vs innovation, tradition vs modernity. The below can help:
Why to choose Hanoi over Ho Chi Minh City
Street vendor in Hanoi.
Somehow, Hanoi feels like a big village. Even though it’s a massive metropolis, the Old Quarter has managed to keep grasps of authenticity. The artistic, traditional and creative side of Vietnam is more evident here.
If you’re in Vietnam just for leisure and in a short schedule, I’d definitely choose Hanoi. It has a fascinating mix of culture, parks and architecture and overall enough things to keep you busy for days.
It’s also closer to some of the most amazing experiences you can do in the country such as cruising Halong Bay and exploring the Ninh Binh region.
Why to choose Ho Chi Minh City over Hanoi
As the business and economic beating heart of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City feels much more busy and lively. There are more things happening and it has superior better infrastructure for tourists. It’s more Westernized and boasts a wider range of options for eating out, shopping and partying late. Surely one of the most exciting cities in Asia!
If you’re in Vietnam for a longer period, Ho Chi Minh City is definitely your place to settle. It doesn’t come as a surprise that many entrepeneurs and digital nomads choose Saigon to settle for a few weeks/months. Side note: the coffeeshops and co-working spaces are the best I’ve seen in the entire world.
In between the chaos, there are great opportunities for a high standard of living in HCMC.
Best time to go to Vietnam
Vietnam is a huge country so the weather is highly dependent on the region you’re traveling to. It’s a rather complex weather picture.
The North experiences distinct variations through the seasons (spring-summer-fall-winter). While summer highs easily hit 30-40°C (June-August), the winters (December-February) can be cold and misty.
In southern Vietnam – Saigon included – the temperatures remain more or less constant and warm. The dry season lasts from December to late April/May, while the rainy season hit between May-November.
Altitude and monsoons make weather patterns in specific regions to be completely different. Did you know it can even snow in Sapa during the winter (December-February)? And that typhoons hit central part of the country often during August to November?
It’s hard to recommend one particular period to visit Vietnam. But considering all the factors, fall (September- December) and spring (March-May) seem to have the mildest temperatures throughout the entire country.
In any case try to time your visit well so that you’re prepared and pack accordingly. Have a read at the below:
Having trouble figuring out what to pack for your trip?
Make sure you check out my postWhat to pack for Southeast Asia if it’s your first time!
Other travel blogs from Vietnam
Here are some more reads to inspire you on your upcoming trip to Vietnam:
- Best hotels in Hanoi
- Best hotels in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City
- How to Choose a Halong Bay Cruise
- Ninh Binh Itinerary
- Ninh Binh Travel Guide
- What to Pack for Southeast Asia
- Weather in Vietnam
Drinks along Pham Ngu Lao Street & local street food
Known as the backpacker hub of the city, the drinking scene along Pham Ngu Lao Street is legendary. This place welcomes a mix of foreigners and local Vietnamese who prefer drinking cheap beers while enjoy local street food on small plastic stools all along the street.
Though this is the place where most backpacking travelers stay during their holiday, Pham Ngu Lao Street is not limited to only low-budget travelers, but draw people from everywhere due to its close proximity to the city’s prominent landmarks.
More local street food dishes can be found at some other streets such as:
Street Nguyen Canh Chan, District 1 (24/7 service): The unique food here is bun rieu (noodles with crab chowder), crab soup, fruits, etc.Street Nguyen Thuong Hien, District 3 (8.00am – 8.00pm): The unique food here is banh trang tron (mixed rice paper cake), hu tieu (Cambodia rice noodle soup), ha cao (shrimp dumplings), etc.Street Le Van Sy, District 3 (8.00am – 8.00pm) The unique food here is Fried Half-Dried Cuttlefish with Fish SauceStreet Tran Binh Trong, District 5 (6.00pm – midnight): This street is famous for com tam (broken rice).
Crawl through the Cu Chi Tunnels
Source: daphnusia / shutterstockCu Chi Tunnels Entrance
The main draw in Ho Chi Minh City is the Cu Chi Tunnels which would have been used by the Vietcong guerillas at the time of the Tet Offensive in 1968. The tunnels are made up of a series of underground chambers which stretch for 30 kilometers out of the city and you can now visit sections of the tunnels and crawl through the small spaces to experience the conditions of the Vietcong during the Vietnam War.
Note that this is not an ideal place to visit if you suffer from claustrophobia as the tunnels are very small indeed.
Recommended tour: Cu Chi Tunnels: Half-Day in Small Group
IV – Best restaurants in District 5 Ho Chi Minh City
1 – Viet Pho
For those who love fresh seafood, you have to visit Viet Pho once. Seafood here is really fresh and diverse, especially, diners will be able to choose fresh seafood before it is cooked by the chef.
Address: No. 53, Nguyen Trai St, Dist 5, Ho Chi Minh City
Price: 400,000 – 700,000 VND / person (17.2 – 30 USD)
Opening hours: 9:00 AM- 11:00 PM every day
2 – Banh Bo Thot Not restaurant
The main dish served is Pandan and Coconut Tapioca Cake. Being made from jaggery sugar, the cake has a sweet taste with the typical iridescent yellow color.
Address: No. 83, Huynh Man Dat St, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City
Price: 10,000 – 100,000 VND(0.43 – 4.3 USD)
Opening hours: 4:30 PM – 6:45 PM daily
Though it may seem terrifying, because of the famously insane traffic, a motorbike tour is the best way to take in the sights, sounds and smells of this city, and most of the drivers speak English, so they double as guides. Just remember to wear a helmet – if you’re not wearing one, your travel insurance won’t cover you for any accidents.
City tours usually start with the colonial buildings and then take in the hectic alleys and side streets of outlying districts, with stops for street food along the way. You could just ask a motorbike taxi driver (xe ôm) to show you around, but you’ll have a much better experience if you book with a reputable company, such as Tigit Motorbikes or VN Bike Tour.
By Matthew Pike,
World Nomads Contributor – Wed, 11 Jul 2018
WHY IT’S A MUST-TRY: You’ve never had soft shell crab this fresh, this delicious, this cheap.
PRONUNCIATION: KOO-ah (means “crabs” in general)
THE PITCH: If you’re as crab-crazy as we are you won’t pass up the opportunity to try crab in Vietnam. The clawed critter is widely loved in Vietnam, with crab-based dishes such as bun rieu and banh canh cua hugely popular across the country. For a truly crab-centric experience, head to one of several specialty crab restaurants in the city where you can try crab served in a multitude of ways. Whatever you order, don’t miss the live soft shell crab, fried to absolute crispy perfection!
BEST PLACE TO HAVE IT: 94 Thuy Restaurant, District 1 ()
We got the tip-off on this restaurant from the always-excellent Serious Eats website. 94 Thuy specialises in crab and is a paradise for lovers of this tasty crustacean. All kinds of crab dishes can be had here but a particular specialty is the soft shell crab. Crab spring rolls, vermicelli crab noodles, and fried rice with crab are the other popular dishes, all overflowing with huge chunks of sweet, sweet crab meat.