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Ho Chi Minh City Off the Beaten Path

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Venture off the tourist trail for a more authentic glimpse of Ho Chi Minh City — crowds, sights, smells, sounds, tastes, and all.

Good for
  • Thrill Seeker
  • Shopping Fanatic
  • Art and Architecture Lover
  • Nightlife Seeker
  • Foodie
  • Thrifty Traveller
  • Trendsetter
  • Like a Local

8 Places

6 City Tips

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8 Places

Binh Tay Market

Flea & Street Markets

Mariamman Hindu Temple

Sacred & Religious Sites

Dong Ba Hue Restaurant

Restaurants

Tao Dan Park

Parks

Mekong Delta Private Day Tour

Private Tours

Banh Xeo 46A

Restaurants

Acoustic

Bars & Clubs

Saigon Unseen

Sightseeing Tours

Rachel H's City Tips

  • Street traffic doesn't stop for pedestrians, so be cautious, and follow the locals’ lead.
  • Taxis are an inexpensive way to get around, but make sure that driver runs the meter — if he or she tries to negotiate, you risk getting ripped off.
  • The US dollar is accepted in many places, but carry Vietnamese Dong (VD) just in case.
  • Tipping is not expected, but is appreciated for good service.
  • Dress for heat and humidity, and bring light rain gear if visiting during the rainy season.
  • Don’t be shy with bargaining at the local markets.
  • Binh Tay Market
    Flea & Street Markets
    See more photos
    Rachel H Says:

    Many tourists don't go beyond Ben Thanh Market. If you’re feeling adventurous, head to Chinatown for Binh Tay Market, a big, busy wholesale market that’ll give you a good feel for local culture and lifestyle. Covering two stories with more than 600 stalls, this is the spot where locals stock up on their goods. Prices here are slightly cheaper than at Benh Thanh, and stall owners are generally friendly and don’t hassle you like they do at the touristy places. You can find everything from clothes and accessories to fabric and home decor — plus food vendors with fresh produce, meats, and seafood.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    Tips
    • Space and ventilation is limited.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #50 of 210 things to do in Ho Chi Minh City
    • Lots of items to buy 18/08/2016
    • Biggest wholesale market at HCM 15/08/2016
    • Binh Tay Market
    Address:
    57 Thap Muoi,
    Ward 2, District 6
    Ho Chi Minh City 70000
    Vietnam
    Phone:
    +84 166 913 3398
    Other:
  • Mariamman Hindu Temple
    Sacred & Religious Sites
    See more photos
    Rachel H Says:

    Though not a destination temple like Cao Dai, Chua Ba Thien Hau, Chua Vinh Nghiem, and Quoc Tu Pagoda are, this local Hindu temple is worth a visit if you’re in the area. Situated near Ben Thanh Market, Mariamman Hindu Temple is open to devotees and tourists from 7:30am onwards. Managed by a family, it has an intimate, small-scale feel — a good place to seek some peace, meditate, and watch locals practice their faith away from the city hustle-bustle (though it can get busy with worshipers and curious passers-by).

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • Entry is free, unlike at many other temples and pagodas in the city.
    • Combine your visit with a walk to the nearby park, surrounding churches, and must-see Ben Thanh Market.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #31 of 210 things to do in Ho Chi Minh City
    • Amazing Hindu Temple 24/08/2016
    • Very pretty 23/08/2016
    • Mariamman Hindu Temple
    Address:
    45 Truong Dinh
    Ho Chi Minh City 70000
    Vietnam
  • Dong Ba Hue Restaurant
    Restaurants (Asian, Vietnamese, Soups)
    Rachel H Says:

    The quintessential Vietnamese dish is pho, and there are pho restaurants literally everywhere around the city. But a lesser-known specialty is 'bun bo hue,' a variety of soup deriving from its namesake city, Hue, the former capital of Vietnam. Made with lemongrass, chili, paprika, annatto oil, and fermented shrimp paste, the broth renders a citrusy, tangy flavor that’s delightfully light and refreshing; then rice noodles and layers of meat perfectly balance spicy, sour, salty, and sweet flavors. Dong Ba, a bustling, bright restaurant, serves only bun bo hue, so ordering is made easy.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • This spot is so "off the beaten path" that you'll likely be be one of the only foreigners enjoying the "daily special."
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #305 of 2,144 restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City
    • Yummy local noodle 26/08/2016
    • Excellent bun bo hue 20/08/2016
    • Dong Ba Hue Restaurant
    Address:
    110A Nguyen Du - P. Ben Thanh - Q.1 - TPHCM Ben Thanh - District 1 - Ho Chi Minh City
    Ho Chi Minh City 70000
    Vietnam
    Phone:
    84901457845
    Price range:
    US$2 - US$3
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    07:00 - 22:30
    Other:
  • Tao Dan Park
    Parks
    See more photos
    Rachel H Says:

    Since Tao Dan is one of the city’s most popular parks, the secret to experiencing the real thing is going in the early morning, when many locals convene to exercise and do tai chi, and bird-keepers come to show off their birds. Located in the heart of the city, this lovely little oasis has treelined walkways perfect for strolling, and benches that invite you to pause, people-watch, and admire the flowery gardens, animal sculptures, and temple replicas.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Pick up a Vietnamese iced coffee from a mobile bike vendor along the way.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #17 of 210 things to do in Ho Chi Minh City
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Good place for Family activities with young children 27/08/2016
    • Birds at breakfast time 24/08/2016
    • Tao Dan Park
    Address:
    Between Cach Mang Thang Tam Street and Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street
    Ho Chi Minh City 70000
    Vietnam
    Phone:
    +84 97 396 33 72
    Other:
  • Mekong Delta Private Day Tour
    Private Tours
    See more photos
    Rachel H Says:

    It’s not a little-known sight, but the Mekong Delta offers a rugged, scenic escape from the chaos of the city. Vietnamese rural life thrives just an hour or so southwest of Ho Chi Minh City, and these famous waterways are dotted with serene mangroves, fruit orchards, fish farms, and local villages. The biggest draw is the famous floating markets, such as Cai Rang and Cai Be, where local merchants sell their goods directly from their boats. The canals are brimming with colorful produce, herbs, and flowers you can smell from a mile away.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Book a multi-day tour if you have the time to spare.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #69 of 274 Tours in Ho Chi Minh City
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Gem in the delta.. 26/08/2016
    • Vietnam adventure 24/08/2016
    • Mekong Delta Private Day Tour
    Address:
    32 3, Cao Thang Street
    Ho Chi Minh City 70000
    Vietnam
    Phone:
    +84 4 6684 7479
    Other:
  • Banh Xeo 46A
    Restaurants (Asian, Vietnamese)
    See more photos
    Rachel H Says:

    A local hotspot made famous by master chef and TV host Anthony Bourdain, Banh Xeo 46A is rumored to be the place where 'bahn xeo,' a Vietnamese rice-flour pancake, was invented 70 years ago. Tucked down an alley, the al-fresco restaurant is not easy to find, but it’s worth the effort. It's still run by the same family (three generations later), and the cooks in the street-side kitchen tirelessly whip up some seriously good banh xeo, stuffing bean sprouts, prawns, and pork into the crispy pancake shells. Wrap your bahn xeo with fresh herbs and lettuce, then dip into a tangy sauce, and you’ll be eating like a local in no time.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • One order is usually enough for two people to share.
    • Banh xeo can be hard to eat, so watch how the other diners do it and follow suit.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #194 of 2,144 restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Banh xeo crispy and hot. 23/08/2016
    • Worst service ever 02/08/2016
    • Banh Xeo 46A
    Address:
    46A D Dinh Cong Trang
    District 3
    Ho Chi Minh City 70000
    Vietnam
    Phone:
    (08) 824 1110
  • Acoustic
    Bars & Clubs
    See more photos
    Rachel H Says:

    When it comes to nightlife, many tourists opt for swanky rooftop bars or Western nightclubs. If you’re in the mood to rub shoulders with locals, expats, and adventurous visitors, make your way to Acoustic Bar, one of the best spots in town to catch a live show. This vibrant performance venue is regularly packed with an excitable crowd, and musicians offer entertaining renditions of popular songs, plus original tunes with a distinctly Vietnamese flare.

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Hidden Gems
    • Nightlife Seeker
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • Come before 8pm to snag a table, or reserve one ahead of time.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #26 of 88 Nightlife in Ho Chi Minh City
    • A good variety of performers 20/08/2016
    • Not what I expected 24/06/2016
    • Acoustic
    Address:
    6e1 ngo thoi nhiem ward 7
    Ho Chi Minh City 70000
    Vietnam
    Phone:
    8 39302239
    Other:
  • Saigon Unseen
    Sightseeing Tours
    See more photos
    Rachel H Says:

    If you really want to go behind the scenes of Ho Chi Minh, arrange a guided tour on a motorbike — the true way to get around like a local. Different from standard tours that center around tourist areas, Saigon Unseen lets you discover the city’s nooks and crannies for a glimpse of authentic local culture and lifestyles. Navigate coiling lanes and backstreets, stumble upon hidden treasures, and embrace the chaos that are the Saigon streets. You'll get to peek into homes, cruise through busy markets, find tucked-away restaurants, and meet local people.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • Riding a motorbike may seem scary, but your guide is an expert, so don't worry!
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #47 of 274 Tours in Ho Chi Minh City
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • A great way to see how the locals live 24/08/2016
    • Made our trip a lot fuller 14/08/2016
    • Saigon Unseen
    Phone:
    +84 90 831 70 84
    Other:
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