Every trip has to have a least favorite spot or experience and on this Asia trip, Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) was it for me. The humidity alone made for a miserable experience but overall the city was pretty lackluster, just a big, dirty city. There were high points of course, like the Night Market and my favorite coffee of the whole trip.
After checking into the hotel, we immediately cabbed it in the pouring rain to Pho 2000. This is definitely a touristy spot but still quite good. Bill Clinton came here many years ago and it is still the claim to fame.
The house specialty beef pho was good but the spring rolls stole the show. My table of four ordered way too much food and it was fun but so very hot on this 2nd floor restaurant! The ungodly heat, humidity and rain dampened our touristy efforts around Ho Chi Minh City for the most part. Eiffel’s Saigon Central Post Office was highly touted as a must-see and I’m not sure it is but it was something to do.
It is still a working Post Office so people are here mailing things as well as tourists checking things out (although mostly tourists).
Across the street is the Cathedral of Notre Dame, modeled after the one in Paris. It is closed for extensive renovations when I was there. Crossing the street in Ho Chi Minh was not as difficult as Hanoi but I feel that we are pros now and that might be the difference!
The Reunification Palace is the epitome of Communist-style architecture. It is a museum but no one was really that interested in going in. The day before we all went on a tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels a few hours outside of Ho Chi Minh and the War Remnants Museum so we had our Vietnam War history already under our belts.
Then it was amazing coffee time! I was feeling a little shaky at this point and felt like I was going to pass out. We found the best coffee place filled with locals. I ordered an iced coffee with fresh milk. The other way to order it is with sweetened condensed milk. It is delicious that way too but it is too sweet for me! The coffee place also gave us ice water which I downed!
A monsoon blew through while we were here which was magical. Still humid but way, way better!
My favorite place in all of Ho Chi Minh was the Ben Thanh Street Food Market. Located near the gigantic Ben Thanh Central Market, the separate street food market was filled with delectable eats! Also a fun band was playing. We spent hours here hanging out both of our nights in Ho Chi Minh.
Between the main market and the street food market were loads of outdoor stores selling the same stuff you find at all the markets in Vietnam. Since this was my last stop in Vietnam, I had already purchased my souvenirs and made a beeline for the food.
Fried oyster bao buns were the favorite pick from my group. We probably had 10 of these among us all both nights we were here for dinner. The first night I had a soft shell crab summer roll that was sooooooooo messy but divine.
The second night I had my oyster bao bun and the freshest shrimp summer rolls for less than a dollar.
Weaving in and out of the food stalls making dinner choices was half the fun.
There were so many options. Others in my group had pork belly, scallion pancakes, curries, waffles, craft beer, and more.
It was very crowded both night we went but we wore our banana clothes so we could find each other. At the night markets and stores in Vietnam there is a plethora of fruit-themed clothing. We thought it would be funny to be the banana gang. Two of us had banana moo moo/dresses (which will become a swimsuit cover-up for me), one had banana pants, while most got button down shirts.
And that brings my Vietnam portion of this Asia trip to an end. Vietnam was an amazing experience and exceeded every expectation! While Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon was not my favorite, it is the biggest city and has the biggest airport so it makes sense to at least fly in or out from here. Make sure to hit the street food market if you do make it here someday!
Reader Question: Would you get a banana dress, shirt, shorts, or pants? Or would you go for pineapples or watermelons?