During our Vietnam trip in 2016, my dad and I spent a few days in Saigon, officially called Ho Chi Minh City. It is a huge city, with lots of things to see and do. In this post, I will share 4 of our favorite things to do and/or see in Saigon. The best thing? They are probably not on every tourist’s radar!
Ride a scooter
The first thing we noticed when we arrived in Saigon were the many scooters… Scooters everywhere! We decided to tour Saigon the Vietnamese way, so we took a scooter tour with a company named Saigon Lovers. Two (English speaking) students drove us around Saigon on the back of their scooters. The first few minutes we had to get used to the chaotic traffic, but we quickly came to enjoy the ride, the views (for example: a hot pink colored cathedral) and the cool breeze. Our guides brought us both a facemask to protect us from breathing in the smog. That proved necessary: at the end of the day I wiped my face and the towel turned almost black. We now understand why the Vietnamese people wear a mask, long gloves and sort of an ‘apron’ on top of their clothes on their scooter. Even though this scooter ride probably cost me 5 years of my life, I would totally recommend it.
Mieu Noi Phu Chau (the Water Temple)
The scooter tour promised to take us off the beaten path. Well, it sure did! In a district far, far away from the backpacker’s area, we were led through the backyard of a house (with chickens and kids walking around) to arrive at a dock. There we boarded a small boat, that took us to Mieu Noi Phu Chau, a floating temple located in the middle of the river. We liked this temple for several reasons. Firstly, we were not just the only tourists there, we were the only visitors. We had the place to ourselves. Secondly, the detail and ornaments in the temple were amazing. There are dragon images and statues everywhere, from floor to ceiling (literally, see below pictures). We tried to count them, but stopped counting after around 30 of them.
Bitexco Financial Tower – the Heli Bar, not the viewing platform!
The viewing platform on the Bitexco Financial Tower in itself is not off-the-beaten-path at all. We had however been told the Heli Bar on the 52nd floor offers the same views and is not as touristy. We know why: it is super difficult to find the entrance to this bar! We had to find a security desk tucked away in between shops in the mall area and go through several security gates. The views are the same as from the platform and value for money is much better. Even though drinks are overpriced, entry is free here, whereas entry to the viewing platform is €7,50 per person. We went here about an hour before sunset, ordered a cocktail and watched the sun go down over Saigon.
Pasteur Street Brewing Co.
My dad and I both love specialty beers, so when we heard that Saigon has a brewery, we had to visit the adjacent bar. This bar was again difficult to find, in a small alley, then up a sketchy-looking staircase. It is very small inside, but the atmosphere is nice and the beers are great. Pasteur Street Brewing Co. mixes American brewing recipes with typical Vietnamese ingredients, such as dragonfruit, watermelon and passionfruit. What beer lover can resist trying that?!