Top 5 Unknown Things To Do In Saigon

Heading to Ho Chi Minh for a few days? Or just a whistle-stop tour of the city? We have you covered for the Top 5 Unknown Things To Do in Saigon.  If it’s your first time in this bustling city and you want to see things the tourist guide doesn’t tell you, then read on.

Firstly, you can easily blend in like a local or ex-pat by calling the city by its previous name, Saigon. This city has oozed charm and romance for decades, and now more than ever those vibes haven’t flat lined.

Rush hour on Cách Mạng Tháng Street, District 10

5. Landmark 81

This has made the list because it’s a brand new attraction in Saigon and the views are just breath-taking. It’s the highest point you can get to in Saigon without actually flying into Tan Son Nhat International airport. It towers over the whole city and the now infamous Bitexco Financial Tower looks quaintly small in comparison when looking from the outside Skydeck. There is a downside to this attraction; that being it is not cheap, especially for Vietnam, but if you have a few extra hundred thousand Dong to burn then you won’t be disappointed.

The newly completed Landmark 81 at night.

4. Drive Along The Canal

This might seem trivial, but if you rent a bike or even book a Grab bike, take a ride along the canal in the early evening when the sun is setting. There are two parallel roads either side of the canal; Trường Sa and Hoàng Sa, it doesn’t really matter which you choose and you can always do a full loop and do both. These two roads are a gem in the heart of Saigon, you get away from the crazy traffic on the busier streets and it’s slightly cooler with a nice breeze in your face to keep you cool. Admire the never ending local coffee shops and restaurant, or sneak a peek at the daily going-ons of the locals who are just going by their every day lives.

Saigon Temple Milkyway
Riding along the Canal where there are many places to stop and take it all in.

3. Eat At Bánh Xèo 46A

This is rather specific tip, but this restaurant is true Vietnamese essence and the food is to die for. It does get busy, but waiting times are short as the staff work hard, making sure they get you seated quickly. As the name of the restaurant suggests their specialty is the Vietnamese cuisine Bánh Xèo, which is a delicious savoury pancake with shrimp and vegetable filling. Eaten in a unique Vietnamese way of fresh salad leaves wrapped up with the pancake, it’s a must try if you are a foodie. If you are not sure what to do, look around you and there will be Vietnamese families, couples and groups of friends tucking in, you learn fast and another exciting and unique way to have your dinner.

Bánh Xèo 46A restaurant. The rain just adds to the experience.

2. Eat Street Food In Phu Nhuan

Phu Nhuan District is a great way to experience locality in Saigon. Not far from District 1, the overall vibe changes, but perhaps for the better. Hidden away just off the main road is a Petrolimex Petrol Station (pin on Google Map) Okay, hold on, stay with me. If you get to this Petrol Station you know you are in the right place. Motorbikes are whizzing by and stopping at various food stalls, people are sat on tiny plastic chairs enjoying the local foods available. What makes this small corner of Phu Nhuan special is that if you are lucky (or unlucky), depends on how you look at it; the police can turn up at any point and shut everything down. What I didn’t mention is, is that all the said food stalls are completely illegal. So you can enjoy your street food and watch food stalls frantically leave the area, but return shortly after the police have left. A funny and entertaining way to have your dinner. For the foodies out there go to Thanh Mai food stall and order Bánh tráng cuốn, a quintessential Vietnamese cuisine that everyone should try at least once.

Street Food in Phu Nhuan. The now infamous Thanh Mai

1. Watch Sunset From Mary Jane’s Rooftop Bar

Top of the list is heading to Mary Jane’s Bar in Tân Định. Located 2 minutes walk from the Pink Church. If you didn’t know it was there then you wouldn’t know. Perched at the top of an unassuming office building, this alternative bar has great views and reasonably priced drinks.  But, the main reason to go there are the 360 degree views in an unpretentious bar. Yes, there are higher skybars downtown and yes, there are higher class skybars in the city, but none of them have the character Mary Jane’s has. Make sure you get there around 5pm to get a table with a good view. Order a cocktail or a beer and enjoy the evening as Saigon buzzes by 10 floors below you.

Sit back and relax at Mary Jane's Rooftop Bar.

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