Ho Chi Minh City has gone through many changes, but the pace of its youthful life hasn’t. This dynamic city is not only famous for its glamorous splendor but also well-known for numerous fun experiences. This Vietnam travel guide brings you some exciting and outrageous things to do in Ho Chi Minh City.
Try Delicious Street Foods in Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnamese street foods are among the top street foods worldwide, and Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, is considered a “street food paradise.” When you visit this busy city, do not focus only one dish because you will miss out on a lot of others. Here are some popular places to check out for street foods.
· Alley 76, Hai Ba Trung Street, District 1. The Vietnamese street foods here are quite cheap but very delicious with various choices. The prices are from VND 10,000 to 30,000 per dish.
· Turtle Lake, Ward 6, District 3. This roundabout is in the city’s center and is usually crowded from 6 PM onward. You can enjoy the fresh air and the variety of foods around the area, like Vietnamese pizza, quail egg cake, and stir-fried corn.
· Tan Dinh Market, at the corner of Hai Ba Trung Street and Nguyen Huu Cau Street, Tan Dinh Ward, District 1. The food stalls around Tan Dinh Market have become a “street food heaven”. You can try many kinds of dishes, such as fried rice, Pho, beef rice noodles (bun bo), crab soup, and Vietnamese pancakes.
· Bui Vien Walking Street. This backpacker’s street is always crowded, especially at night. There are numerous food stalls along the sidewalks, often packed with people sitting on plastic chairs enjoying the street foods and chit-chatting. You can come here to enjoy foods like seashells, stir-fried corn, hot dogs, street BBQ, and cheap Vietnamese beers.
Master the Art of Crossing the Streets in Ho Chi Minh City
An economical way to discover the city is by going on foot. The traffic in Vietnam, especially in Ho Chi Minh City, is extremely complicated. Over the years, people from other regions moved to the city to live and start their own businesses, making the streets busier and more crowded.
Crossing the streets is both an extraordinary thing to do in Ho Chi Minh City and a “survival skill” for anyone settling down in this city. This is not an exaggeration, but don’t worry. It’s not too hard once you have mastered crossing the streets in Vietnam.
When you cross the streets, look on your two sides and keep walking. The tip is not to run, as unexpected dashes will make drivers unable to avoid and go behind you. Do not stop to wait until they let you through since the traffic won’t stop for you. Ignore other distractions, be brave, and go slowly; they will avoid you. You can use hand gestures; it is very “powerful” and may slow down the lines of motorbikes and cars. If you are worried, you can follow the locals and walk beside them. Another important thing is holding your valuable things tightly or putting them out of sight. Pat yourself on the back once you’ve made it to the other side; you have just learned a new survival skill while traveling in Vietnam.
Bargain at the Local Markets in Ho Chi Minh City
When traveling to any country, you must bargain for reasonable prices to save your travel money. Bargaining for deals is in the Vietnamese culture and an essential skill to avoid being overcharged at local markets like Ben Thanh Market, Binh Tay Market, and Saigon Square. Fashionable souvenirs like t-shirts with printed Vietnamese writing or symbols are inexpensive, but the sellers always overcharge twice as much as the original price.
Bargaining is an art. Consider it a game or practice for your new skill. At first, the salesmen will tell you the highest price of your chosen item. Be friendly and patiently suggest your counteroffer. Name any price you find reasonable and willing to pay. In some touristy places, don’t hesitate by cutting the price by half, the bargain could continue until you reach a fair deal. Unless the sellers agree with your price, walk away. They may call you back and sell that item to you. To some people, when shopping, this bargaining activity has become a fun thing to do in Ho Chi Minh City.
Try the Weasel Poop Coffee in Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnam is one of the few countries in the world that produces weasel coffee, which is the byproduct of the weasel’s poop and coffee beans. If you are a coffee addict, you better try this premium coffee.
Their sharp sense of smell helps the weasels choose the best-ripened coffee beans to eat. After hours of digestion, the farmers collect and dry the coffee beans from the weasel’s excrement. Then, the coffee beans will be carefully cleaned. However, the production process seems terrible. The weasel coffee’s taste is exceptional and different from other coffee in the world. It is one of the Vietnamese coffees you must try when traveling in Vietnam.
You can try or buy it at Trung Nguyen Coffee shops.
Location: Trung Nguyen Dong Khoi – 80 Dong Khoi, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Price: VND 800,000 – 1,500,000 for a 250-gram pack
Get Immersed in the City’s Traffic
Getting out in the traffic during rush hours is what many find an unfavorable experience in Ho Chi Minh City. Nevertheless, it may be a unique experience for travelers, especially those rarely ride on motorbikes. There will be many things to test your patience, such as waiting for 2-3 red lights to get out of a small street, buses picking up guests and blocking the way, or the continuous honking. However, sitting behind a local professional driver on a motorbike to discover Saigon in rush hours allows you to slowly observe the dynamic city and see things from the locals’ perspectives.
Play with the Wild Monkeys at Can Gio
In Ho Chi Minh City, there is a place that not many visitors know. Can Gio, a coastal district, is about 50 kilometers away from the central districts of Ho Chi Minh City. This place is famous for its mangrove forests, plexus of rivers and canals, and diversified fauna and flora. You can travel here by bus or motorbike. If you use the motorbike, remember to bring along a map.
You can explore the vast Vam Sat mangroves first, then go to Monkey Island, take photos, and feed over 2,000 wild monkeys. After that, you should visit Can Gio Beach – the only beach in Ho Chi Minh City, and enjoy fresh seafood reasonably priced at Hang Duong Market. Finally, walking around and enjoying the fresh air in the peaceful town of Can Thanh would ideally end your day exploring Can Gio.
Other attractions you may find interesting are the local Whale temple, a holy place for fishers, and Can Thanh Island and Thieng Lieng Island, which haven’t been exposed to tourism.
Crawl through the Cu Chi Tunnels
Cu Chi is 70 kilometers away from Ho Chi Minh City. The Cu Chi Tunnels are historical landmarks where thousands of Vietnamese soldiers and people used to hide during the Indochina War and the Vietnam War.
The tunnel system is about 250 kilometers long and was designed to be very intricate; each tunnel is connected. Besides, there are many kinds of rooms such as the kitchen, infirmary, and commander’s office. The tunnel system is like a small underground city. You will have to stoop your way through the underground passages. Once you reach the end and get out of the tunnel, you can enjoy boiled cassavas with sesame – a familiar food to Vietnamese during the war. You can also visit the tunnel hall to watch historical movies about the resistance of the Vietnamese and Hoang Cam field stoves. The admission ticket costs VND 90,000 per person.
Eat a Balut on a Food Tour in Ho Chi Minh City
Balut is a favorite and nutritious street food of the Vietnamese. Balut is a fertilized duck egg collected after 18-23 days of incubation. It will be boiled for about 8 minutes and then ready to serve. Vietnamese coriander and salt mixed with black pepper in kumquat juice to make the unique dipping sauce to complement the balut. To many travelers, this is a challenge because of the duck embryo. Balut is always at the top of the list of delicious street foods in Ho Chi Minh City that are believed to be nutritious. You can easily find balut at any corner of the street. Furthermore, as a superstitious belief, when a person experiences bad luck, eat the balut in odd numbers, such as 1, 3, and 5 eggs, to make the bad luck disappear.
Location: Street Vendor at 43 Cong Quynh Street, District 1
Price: VND 7,000 – 12,000 per egg
Read more on Unusual Foods you should Try in Vietnam.
Try Snake Wine
Snake wine is a kind of medicinal wine. Many people believe that snake wine can cure diseases and increase the male’s testosterone level. It is made by soaking snakes in a big bottle of rice wine. First, dry the snake, remove all of the viscera from the snake, and put the snake’s bile into a separate jar of alcohol. People use alcohol to clean the blood, then soak the snake in fresh ginger and use alcohol to deodorize the smell.
When drinking, people take bile first because it’s the most critical part of a snake. Not many people dare to try this scary drink, but if you are planning to experience outrageous things to do in Ho Chi Minh City, this should be on your list!
Location: Ran Ca Mau, 159 Tran Tuan Khai Street, District 5
Spend a Night at a Homestay in Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City is one of Vietnam’s most dynamic and modern cities. Besides some famous places to visit, such as the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Post Office, and the Independence Palace, the city is also well-known for its traditional homestay. You can live with the locals to experience their lifestyle and culture. Many homestays in Ho Chi Minh City combine Vietnam and French styles in the 80s, which could be ideal for anyone who loves old architecture. Besides, many beautiful homestays are located in the central districts, so it’d be convenient to walk around exploring the city.
Wear a Conical Hat and Funny T-shirt Around Town
The conical hat is a traditional Vietnamese symbol. No one knew precisely when the conical hat appeared, but they discovered an image of it carved on the surface of the “Dong Son” drum from 3,000 years ago. Since the old days, the conical hat has always been presented in Vietnamese daily life due to its usefulness. It can be used to cover you from the radiant sunshine and the unpredicted rain, or as a fan to cool the heat, and even as a bag to contain your stuff.
Nowadays, the conical hat is not as famous as it used to be; in the past, it usually went with the farmers’ costume or the “ao dai”. It would be exciting for a Vietnamese to see a foreigner around town wearing a conical hat with a fun graphic t-shirt. The locals may give you stares, but you will find it an amusing and beautiful memory in Vietnam.
Read more on Souvenirs to buy in Saigon.
Summing up on the Outrageous Things to Do in Ho Chi Minh
Many visitors love Ho Chi Minh City because of the modern, beautiful, and simple things familiar to the locals but quite exciting to foreigners. When you visit, discover new things to build the most memorable experiences of your trip to Vietnam.
If you are ready to try one of these outrageous things in Ho Chi Minh City, contact us.