Ho Chi Minh City is a vibrant, interesting place and should definitely be explored during your time in Vietnam. It is a vast and busy city that at times makes New York feel like a small, quiet town.
Where to stay
Mai-Sky's awesome Airbnb
We stayed in two of Mai-Sky's apartments in HCMC and they are definitely amazing options for anyone who is looking for a great, central locations with a chic, local feel. A huge plus is the over-the-top service, which included city tips and guides as well as a free WiFI hotspot to take with you while touring the city. Approx. $44 per night. She also has bigger places you may want to check for more $$$.
Where to eat
HCMC has tones of French influence, from its beautiful architecture to some of the food. This French-owned restaurant is a great example of that. Awesome menu and tasty French flavors. Pro tip: The restaurant is located on the second floor and the entrance is through a "hard-to-find" alley, so don't give up if you miss it at first.
Great authentic Vietnamese cuisine. Tasty stir fries. Beautiful rooftop view of HCMC.
Do not let their 100 page menu fool you, this vegetarian restaurant is one of the best we've ever had. Ever. And their cocktails! An absolute must-have: Cinnamon and Star Anise Spiced Margarita. Seriously. And an additional plus is the service - they have the sweetest manager and staff.
True to its name, this place is a work hub for many of Ho Chi Minh's freelancers. It is a great place for breakfast and some artisanal pour-over coffee while catching up on some online reading or work. Coffee culture in this place tops most places you can find in NYC or SF.
What to do
Do yourself a huge favor and do not miss their street food night tour! It was one of the best experiences we've had during our travels. The "tour guides" who also drive the scooters with you in the back seat are young local girls that are sweet, knowledgable, and attentive beyond words can describe. Plus, they give you a real peek into the local Vietnamese life and food culture. We learned a lot of fun facts and even some Vietnamese slang! On the tour, you get to visit some of HCMC's most authentic and off-the-beaten-path food spots, and everything is absolutely delicious. A few other team members drive alongside you throughout this 4 hour tour and take care of you like royalty -- including constant hand sanitizer before meals, beers, and photographs. Pro tip: when booking you have the option to add $30 per person in order to make the tour "private" instead of possibly being accompanied by other people on the same tour. This is a completely unnecessary expense, as each individual gets their own driver/tour guide and the experience is nothing less than exclusive anyhow.
Cost $67 per person, worth every cent. Duration: 4 hours.
Another awesome company with an equally awesome staff. We opted for their morning Site-Seeing Tour and had a blast. Highlights include: Getting to meet and chat with the sweetest 86 year old legend, who has been working at the city's Central Post Office for 70 years, since he was 16! Visiting the intersection and monument where the Buddhist monk burnt himself to death in protest against the [...]. A very sad, very moving site to this day. We also stopped in HCMC's largest food market right at lunch time. This is THE place for a peek into real Vietnamese city life.
Cost: $34 per person. Duration: 3 hours.
What we didn't have time to do but is worth exploring:
- Visiting the Mekong Delta in the south (4 hour drive so might be worth spending more than one day there).
- The historic Cu Chi Tunnels (about an hour and a half drive from HCMC).
- American War Museum
Have fun and comment below or email us with any questions or feedback!