VietnamHo Chi MinhA Guide to the Hidden Alleyways in Ho Chi Minh City

A Guide to the Hidden Alleyways in Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh usually surprises tourists with various city dynamics and charms. However, besides its hustle and bustle, there are some peaceful places where you can escape from the noise of a developing city: the hidden alleyways in Ho Chi Minh City. They hide among the crowded roads and skyscrapers, and the residents have their own “culture” and characteristics. Some are just ordinary alleys, some are hundreds of years old, and some specialize in coffee shops, street foods, arts, and even religions. Here is a guide for exploring other sides of Ho Chi Minh City.

Coffee Shops in the Alleyways of Ho Chi Minh

Coffee is a must-try drink when you visit Vietnam. You can easily spot a coffee shop on every street. While the ones on bigger roads can be spacious and have some green spaces, those in hidden alleyways in Ho Chi Minh City would rather be smaller, cozier, and have their own styles. Note down the addresses of some suggestions that you can take a look at when you are in this delightful city:

VietGangz Brotherhood

Address: 2/45 Cao Thang, Ward 5, District 3
Price: VND 40,000 – VND 80,000
Opening hours: 8 AM – 10 PM

If you are interested in the underground style, this is the place for you. Its decor, which includes huge motorbikes, colorful barrels, and a weird yet unique model, makes this store peerless.

Oromia Coffee

The location has moved to 85 Phan Ke Binh, District 3
Price: VND 36,000 – VND 146,000
Opening hours: 7 AM – 11 PM

This coffee house serves drinks, cakes, and snacks. Its decoration is modern and refreshing, and it has many ornamental trees and a lake of Koi fish. The furniture is also wooden, which creates a harmonious feeling with the background.

Gio Day Thun Cafe

Address: 80/78 Tran Quang Dieu, District 3
Price: VND 30,000 – VND 49,000
Opening hours: 10 AM – 10 PM

With a capacity of 20 – 30 people, this is a quiet hideout with mysterious, bohemian decorations in this lively city. On weekends, there is also an acoustic live show.

These coffee stores can be challenging since they are built in a maze of alleys, so don’t hesitate to ask locals for directions.

Street Food Alleyways in Ho Chi Minh

Street food is a remarkable part of Vietnamese cuisine. You can find all kinds of food on the sidewalks, from main courses to desserts. In hidden alleyways in Ho Chi Minh City, plenty of hawkers sell dishes from different regions of Vietnam. The food may not be decorated elegantly like in luxurious restaurants, but the taste will not disappoint you, and the price is much more affordable. Therefore, these Ho Chi Minh’s food streets are the preferred places for students and office workers to hang out with their friends after school or work. Food stalls here only open from afternoon to evening, when the weather is cooler, after that the hawkers would move to other locations or come home to prepare for the next day. It can be very crowded sometimes, so keep an eye on your belongings while enjoying your meal. It is worth customizing your food tour to have time to try street food. Here are some alleyways that you can find without difficulty:

76 Hai Ba Trung Alley, District 1

Estimated price per person: VND 10,000 – VND 20,000
Opening hours: 3 PM – 6 PM

This alley is not very wide, so there is just enough space for the hawkers sitting on both sides with their ingredients and a small path for customers to walk through. Here, you can find Vietnamese noodles such as Bun Thit Nuong and Bun Rieu or snacks like tapioca dumplings, pan-fried rice cake, and sweet soup.

284 Le Van Sy Alley, District 3

Estimated price per person: VND 15,000 – VND 55,000
Opening hours: 8 AM – 11:30 PM

Instead of hawkers with small mobile food carts, this alley has some ordinary food stalls with several plastic tables and chairs. These stores are open from morning till midnight, so you can explore this place more. There are varied types of dishes for you to choose from.

181 and 200 Xom Chieu Alley, District 4

Estimated price per person: from 10,000 VND
Opening hours: 4 PM – 11 PM

The two alleys on the two sides of Xom Chieu Street are familiar addresses for low-income workers and students. The food here is exceptional quality and, of course, inexpensive. Xom Chieu is also an area with many eating destinations, so you can go around and discover more.

Arts Alleyways in Ho Chi Minh

Have you had enough of alleys with two boring white walls? There are many hidden alleyways in Ho Chi Minh City, and beautiful paintings or unique structures await you to discover. In the past few years, many young Vietnamese have learned about graffiti, so compared to other modern styles and freestyle drawings, it is more commonly available in art alleyways. These alleys do not have any opening hours, but if you want some nice photos of Instagram-worthy places, we recommend coming there before the evening for better lighting. While enjoying your midday work, take a break and visit the alleys mentioned.

15B Le Thanh Ton Alley, District 1

This alley creates a vibe of Little Japan of Ho Chi Minh City. Hundreds of Japanese households have lived here and considered Vietnam their second home. Some of them have opened their restaurants, so you might see those first when you come to this place. It also has a long wall with graffiti drawings. The residents do not think that it is vandalism; it has become a feature of this intoxicating alley.

144 Pasteur Alley, District 1

Although it is just a tiny path leading to a restaurant, its walls are full of pictures of must-visit destinations in Vietnam and some kinds of delicious fruit.

288 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Alley, District 3

The alley is decorated thanks to a graffiti project by some young people. They sketched portraits of Vietnamese people and colored them, making the area more outstanding and dynamic.

Stay at a top-rated hotel in Ho Chi Minh City’s city center:

Old Alleyways in Ho Chi Minh

Ho Chi Minh City is more than 300 years old. Therefore, it is understandable that the age of some alleys in this city is up to several decades. One of the most famous old alleyways is Hao Si Phuong, the name of an alley at 206 Tran Hung Dao, Ward 10, District 5. At first, only Chinese who immigrated to Ho Chi Minh City lived in this alley. Years after years, people moved in and out; now, although most of the residents here are still “nguoi Hoa” (Chinese Vietnamese), there are also “nguoi Kinh” (Vietnamese). Every house has a similar structure. However, their colors differ depending on the owners’ interests. Because of this, this alley has an ancient yet bright, colorful look.

There are many ways to explain the name, Hao Sy Phuong. The most well-known explanation is that Hao means generous, Si is equal to authors, and Phuong is a group with the same job. Besides, there are some theories, such as the alley used to be home to some workers whose boss is Hao Si, or it was named by Mr. Hao, who built and leased all the houses there. Whatever it means, Hao Si Phuong is still peaceful without loud noises or vehicle exhaust smoke.

Zen Alley in Ho Chi Minh

Zen is a Japanese sect of Mahayana Buddhism that aims at enlightenment by direct intuition through meditation. The alley at 498 Le Quang Dinh, Ward 1, Go Vap District is called “Zen Alley” since four pagodas are located here, which makes both the residents and the visitors feel relieved and lighthearted. Chau An Pagoda was built in 1952 and is also the first to be built here. Many Feng Shui masters, the experts in geomancy, state that this alley is located on the land of a dragon, and Chau An Pagoda, Ngoc Phuong Vihara and Gia Lam Pagoda are, respectively, the head, belly, and tail of the dragon.

This kind of land is said to have considerable influence on its inhabitants’ destiny. Many years ago, people in Zen Alley were very poor and lived in shabby houses, and the pagodas’ infrastructure was also poorly built. It was not until every pagoda was reconstructed that the living conditions of the households developed; at least, that is what the residents say and believe. Most of the time, the alley is serene, tranquil and clean. It is only crowded on the first and fifteenth day of the lunar month when many people come to pray.

Statue-making Alley

Located at 1017 Hong Bang, Ward 12, District 6, people in this alley has made statues of Buddha for more than one hundred years. More than ten families keep the tradition of making Buddha or statues of other gods and pass it down from one generation to another. Walking down the alley, you can see sculptures of different sizes and shapes and the workers who are sculpting, painting, or completing them.

Everyone would be working hard in silence for intensive concentration, but the sounds from their manufacturing processing still create an active and lively atmosphere. In the past, the statues were made from the wood of jackfruit trees. However, nowadays, popular materials are concrete and plaster. The products can be customized and after completion, they are shipped to many places in Vietnam and the world.

Summary on a Guide to the Hidden Alleyways in Ho Chi Minh City

When searching online, the internet might only show you just flashy photos of this city. And if you want to understand why hidden alleyways in Ho Chi Minh City are the gems of this city, check out our Saigon’s Other Sides tour. Many hidden destinations and special activities are included so you can have another view of our city.

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