Staying Sleepless with Saigon, Why Not?

This article is the last-minute tip for those passengers or tourists who aren’t able to find accommodation for the first night travelling to Saigon. Don’t worry, Saigon will kindly host you a safe place somewhere. Follow my lead, I’ll show you the spots to rest your exhaustion.

Saigon – the generous night owl’s nest.
Saigon at night. photo; lozi.vn

I am as young and wild as many of you. I enjoy travelling and partying and sometimes when the night gets too wild, I have no choice but waiting outside until the dusk activates the city’s busy flow. I am sure this happens to all of you once in a while, regardless of wanderlusts or party-animals.

Here in Saigon, staying outside the street at night is not safe, at all. Dear wanderlusts, don’t even think of this idea – it’s my sincere advice. But where will you stay in Saigon at night for free if you are yet to find your lodging? Or if you have to catch a plane/bus in the early morning? Don’t worry! I’ll show you some (secret) tips right away!

24/7 cafes – Seeing Saigon nightlife in the box.

You can easily find many of those cafes around the town. Some even offer benches for night owls to have a quick nap. All you need is to order a drink, and stay as long as you want.

SNOB coffee chain:

These cafe shops open 24/7 with great interior designs and Saigon views. However, since the cafe shops are so well-known to the Saigonese youth, they can get crowded sometimes very late at night. But if you’d like a nice place to get to know the local’s nightlife, this is the place to be.

Seeing Saigon nightlife in a box @SNOBcoffee
photo: @zacmillionie

Address: – SNOB Coffee Trần Hưng Đạo  –  147A Trần Hưng Đạo St, District 1.
                – SNOB Coffee Minh Khai           –  185 Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai St, District 1.

Opera Tea Club:

Opera Tea Club offers benches and cushions and a fairly quiet space to sleep. Feel free to enjoy these amazing benefits because you are exhausted enough from a long travel day.

Opera Tea Club – A Feel-Free-To-Sleep Coffee
photo: @wilbowoarry

Address: – 1st Floor, 39 Lý Tự Trọng St, Bến Nghé Ward, District 1.

Thức coffee chain:

The chain is quite popular in town. You can find one of their stores in many places around Saigon. The places are quite small and often stuffed. Thức cafe is suitable for late night football match audiences. You’re a big football fan? Welcome home! Come, enjoy the matches and get as much wild as you can. The more, the merrier!

A small and cosy box full of Saigonese to warm your soul through the night.
photo: dendau.vn

Address: – 37/11 Lý Tự Trọng St, Bến Nghé Ward, District 1.

               – 48 – 50 Huỳnh Thúc Kháng St, District 1.  

               – 182 Pasteur St, Bến Nghé Ward, District 1.

KAI Coffee: 

Let me tell you a small story. Last year, I had a crazy night outside partying. When it finished, it was 2:00 in the morning, and by chance, I stopped by this place. Not only that I had a place to stay for the night, but I also received the cutest paper heart from the barista working at KAI coffee. Even though I was too drunk to remember anything had happened before, the paper heart was still the most memorable gift that it made me drop a smile every time I rode my motorbike cross this cafe. 🙂

🙂
photo: me

Address: – 139 Nguyễn Thái Bình St, Nguyễn Thái Bình Ward, District 1.

Convenient Stores – The ideal place for your late night munchies!

Convenient stores such as Family Mart, 7 eleven, B’s mart, and so on are ubiquitous in Saigon. Many stores have tables for customers to stay in. Moreover, most stores have wifi, air conditioning and a large number of food items including warm serving food. I stayed in those stores overnight sometimes when I partied too hard that my mom locked me outside the street! That’s why I recommend you those stores. It’s not a problem for the staffs if you stay in for long hours. Please kindly enjoy the food and drinks, and get yourself some rest. It is often quiet at late night in these stores.

Convenient stores are ubiquitous in Saigon. You can bump into them without even seeking one.
Challenge: find a 7eleven in Saigon!
photo: @traammiao
Other Choices:

Airbnb, Couchsurfing and other travel websites such as Agoda, Booking.com, Expedia, etc. are not strangers for wanderlusts, plan your trip to Saigon beforehand and get greatest deals from them. Prices for accommodation in Saigon is quite affordable, starting from $9.

Enjoy your time in Saigon! Don’t forget to spend some crazy wild nights in this sleepless town. I hope you’ll have one of the most wonderful memories here.

.Levi.

Ho Chi Minh Fine Arts Museum – A Must Visit Place in the Heart of Saigon

Saigon traffic is Vietnamese life, a continuous charade of posturing, bluffing, fast moves, tenacity and surrenders.” Andrew .X. Pham

I dropped a smile when reading those lines, cause being a Saigonese myself, I agree with the author that it is truly a delightful chaos. However, finding a peaceful place to temporarily rest your soul in the centre of Saigon isn’t that hard. For those who are looking for a quiet spot in Saigon, Ho Chi Minh Fine Arts Museum is the place to be.

A brief introduction to the Museum

This building was constructed by a group of French architects between 1929 and 1934 as formerly a villa owned by the Chinese wealthy businessman Hứa Bổn Hòa (Uncle Hoa). The structure of the blocks combines between Art-deco style and Oriental fusion. It is one of the typical fusion buildings amongst several legacies that Saigon earned pending its colonial period. The museum was first opened to the public in 1989, storing collections of paintings, potteries, religious and non-religious sculptures from ancient to temporary time.

Little fact: the building has totally 99 windows. For those who want to retrieve their childhood, try a hide and seek evening here!
photo: saigoneer.com
Reasons to visit Fine Arts Museum

Saigon owns its fame for the complex historical backgrounds. When travelling here, you might find most museums have historical, but particularly, Vietnam war concept. Fine Arts Museum, however, is unique as it is the only art museum in the city. Personally, it is my most favourite museum in Saigon and here are some reasons that I think you should write it in your Saigon travel list:

*Approachable

Fine Arts Museums is located in district 1, considerably opposite to Ben Thanh Market. So, it is not difficult to find the way to the museum. You can walk there after visiting Ben Thanh Market. From the market’s main entrance, cross the roundabout, continue straight to the big gasoline station, the museum is right behind!

Direct address:  97A Phó Đức Chính, Quận 1

*Unique Vietnamese arts experience

Blocks, floors and exhibition rooms are categorized by certain periods of arts development in Vietnamese society. Maps of the museum are available at the ticket counter. But it doesn’t matter visiting the museum with or without guidance. For me, I prefer getting lost from one little corridor to another while admiring every charming piece of art inside the museum.

Temporary and modern arts are displayed in the main building. Items in here are paintings and sculptors represent arts during colonial time, wartime and post-wartime. You will find in here many spectacular artworks, especially, Vietnamese lacquer paintings – an authentic Vietnamese painting technique.

Famous lacquer painting: Spring garden Central-South-North by artist Nguyễn Gia Trí.
*A journey to the vintage Saigon

Spending an easy afternoon in the museum is like taking a mind gap from the busy atmosphere outside. The 90-year-old building holds the perfect vintage view since it has kept the original design since its first construction.

Patterned ceramic tiles swap colours from rooms to rooms.
photo: vntrip.vn

Right at the entrance, there’s a retired elevator that was one of the first lifts ever introduced to Saigon’s fancy villa. From rooms to rooms, the playful tiles swap colours and patterns gives the kaleidoscope effect. Towards the corridors, sunbeams slant through half-opened windows, reveal the mystery of the hidden art treasure in town.

Mysterious corridor, the mistress of the sunbeam.
photo: tapchikienthuc.com.vn

In the third block of the museum lies a truly mesmerizing work of arts. A spiral stair accompanying a stained glass window leading towards the floral pattern ceiling. Witnessing this corner might make you respect the architects for their wonderful aesthetic in interior design.

Mesmerizing spital stairs in the smallest building – a diamond in the rough.
photo: mytour.vn

A thorough visit takes approximately 2 hours, but it is possible to stay longer. Just bring a book (or sketchbook) of your choice and enjoy a quiet and peaceful afternoon apart from the busyness outside. The museum’s open hours is from  8:00 to 18:00. Tickets price is 45,000Đ per entrance.

Writer: Levi

 

Which Food in Ho Chi Minh City Should You Try?

Tell me, my fellow readers, what is it that keeps you alive until today? What is irreplaceable and is the utmost pleasure in life? F – O – O – D. Food. One word which contains one of the best delicacies of this world.

Here in Ho Chi Minh City, so many, too many kinds of food are available. From national to international appetites, nothing is out of the reach of Saigonese. Along with adapting, importing and appreciating other regions and nations’ cuisine, we also possess strong desires to share our personalities to the world, through the amazing dishes which has been cooked and developed through generations.

Most of our food is served on the street. That is the way we do things. Simple and convenient. We do not care about fancy places, for what we crave for is not luxuries, but the feeling of utter satisfaction in taste.

A street food stall in old Saigon. Photo: https://thanhnien.vn

I always find myself drowned in the ocean of choices that HCMC has to offer. Sometimes more is less. There are so many kinds of food to choose from, whenever I decide to eat out while living in this city. With that bears in mind, I would like to give you a list of several street foods of HCMC, and let’s figure out if you can make the decision faster than I do every day.

* ‘Bánh mì’ (bread with everything)

Bánh’ stands for all types of cakes or anything made of rice or wheat in Vietnam.

Bánh mì’ is what we Saigonese can eat at any time of the day. There are bread and everything inside it. We have cucumbers, all kinds of herbs (vegetables) and meat of course. Ham, grilled fork, ‘chả cá’,… Anything you could ever imagine of, we can put it in ‘bánh mì’. The ingredients of ‘bánh mì’ are usually not put into the bread before the orders from the customers are received, for everyone has a different opinion on how they want their ‘bánh mì’ to be served.

Photo: http://afamily.vn

For more information about bánh mì, we have another article for you:

Recommendations

**Bánh mì Sáu Minh

Address: 170 Võ Văn Tần, phường 5, quận 3 (170 Võ Văn Tần Street, Ward 5, District 3)

Hours: 8:00 – 22:00

Price: ~30.000VND (~1.32$)

This price is three times higher than the average price of ‘bánh mì’, because there are usually lots of ingredients inside and the bread is fully stuffed.

This famous ‘bánh mì’ stall on Võ Văn Tần Street is often crowded with customers. The place was recommended to me by my father, and our family usually buy ‘bánh mì’ there. Besides, they also sell dumplings and sticky rice.

**Bánh mì Huỳnh Hoa

Address: 26 Lê Thị Riêng, Phường Phạm Ngũ Lão, Quận 1 (26 Lê Thị Riêng Street, Ward Phạm Ngũ Lão, District 1)

Hours: 14:30 – 23:00

Price: ~33.000VND (~1.45$)

This place is where you can get the biggest ‘bánh mì’ in HCMC. This is, of course, to make sure you can’t eat anything else for the rest of the day.

* ‘Cơm tấm’ (broken rice)

Now, this is a truly special dish of Saigonese. We created this dish, and it is one of the best dishes that we are most proud of. Interestingly, the history of this dish goes way back into the past.

Photo: https://www.vietnamtravel.co

The main ingredient, broken rice, is fragments of rice grains, broken in the field, during drying, during transport, or by milling. It used to be considered as the cheaper grade of rice for only the poor had to consume the “incomplete” rice. However, now it is considered a special part of Saigon cuisine, a dish that is loved by many people.

Nowadays, ‘cơm tấm’ is served with grilled pork (either ribs or shredded) plus the Vietnamese dish ‘’ (thinly shredded pork mixed with cooked and thinly shredded pork skin) over broken rice. Various green pickled vegetables are added along with a prawn paste cake, steamed egg, grilled prawns and egg meatloaf (the customers decide what to be put on their dish, really). Typically, restaurants will serve this popular combination with a small bowl of fish sauce, as well as a small bowl of soup broth with garlic chives (to cleanse the throat). Sometimes, ‘cơm tấm’ is served with omelette.

Recommendations

**Cơm tấm Trần Quý Cáp

Address: 260 Võ Văn Tần, Phường 5, Quận 3 (260 Võ Văn Tần Street, Ward 5, District 3)

Hours: 10:00 – 21:00

Price: 20.000VND – 50.000VND (~0.88$ – 2.2$)

This place is my family’s all-time favourite Cơm Tấm Restaurant. There are so many factors joint together to create the delicious dish of ‘cơm tấm’, and this place is most famous for its broken rice. However, one of the restaurant’s drawbacks is that there is only one kind of soup served here which is bitter gourd soup.

**Cơm tấm Nguyễn Văn Cừ

Address: 74 Nguyễn Văn Cừ, Phường Nguyễn Cư Trinh, Quận 1 (74 Nguyễn Văn Cừ Street, Nguyễn Cư Trinh Ward, District 1)

Hours: 6:00 – 20:00

Price: 50.000 – 100.000 (2.2$ – 4.40$)

This ‘cơm tấm’ restaurant owns the market of pork-chopped in ‘cơm tấm’. Their pork is big and delicious, with as much amount as you could ever imagine having for a day. And yet you still crave for more on the next. This restaurant is most famous for its pork in ‘cơm tấm’, because who doesn’t like BBQ? Therefore, the average cost of each serving in this place is more expensive than many others.

* Hủ tiếu/ Hủ tíu (Kuy teav)

Kuy teav is a noodle soup consisting of rice noodles with pork stocks and toppings. Kuy teav is generally assumed to be a dish with Chinese origin. It can be found at marketplace (phsar) stalls, roadside vendors, and restaurants across the country, and is highly regarded for its clear and soothing broth and a dazzling array of herbs, aromatics and other garnishes and condiments.

Photo: https://news.zing.vn

Recommendations

**Hủ tiếu Nhân Quán

Address:

  • 488 Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai, Phường 2, Quận 3 (488 Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai Street, Ward 2, District 3)
  • 27Q Âu Cơ, Phường 14, Quận 11 (27Q Âu Cơ Street, Ward 14, District 11)
  • 122 Trần Quang Khải, Phường Tân Định, Quận 1 (122 Trần Quang Khải Street, Ward Tân Định, District 1)
  • 239 Âu Dương Lân, xã Bình Hưng, huyện Bình Chánh (239 Âu Dương Lân Street, Ward Bình Hưng, District Bình Chánh)
  • 72 Nguyễn Thượng Hiền, Phường 5, Quận 3 (72 Nguyễn Thượng Hiền Street, Ward 5, District 3)
  • 448 An Dương Vương, Phường 10, Quận 6 (448 An Dương Vương, Ward 10, District 6)
  • A68 Nguyễn Trãi, Phường Nguyễn Cư Trinh, Quận 1 (A68 Nguyễn Trãi Street, Ward Nguyễn Cư Trinh, District 1)

Hours: 6:00 – 22:00

Price: 50.000VND – 66.000VND (~2.2$ – 2.91$)

This is the most famous system of ‘hủ tiếu’ restaurants of HCMC, as you can see above this brand has many locations all over the city.

**Quán Cả Cần

Address: 213 – 215 Nguyễn Tri Phương, Phường 9, Quận 5 (213 – 215 Nguyễn Tri Phương Street, Ward 9, District 5)

Hours: 6:00 – 22:00

Price: about 44.000VND (~2$)

This restaurant is not only famous for its ‘hủ tiếu’ but also all kinds of Chinese dumplings. We Saigonese usually go there for family breakfast.

* Phở

Phở’ is a Vietnamese noodle soup consisting of broth, rice noodles called bánh phở, a few herbs, and meat, primarily made with either beef (phở bò) or chicken (phở gà.) ‘Phở’ is a popular street food in Vietnam and the specialty of a number of restaurant chains around the world. ‘Phở’ is originated in the early 20th century in Northern Vietnam, and was popularized throughout the rest of the world by refugees after the Vietnam War. The Hanoi and Saigon styles of ‘Phở’ differ from each other by noodle width, the sweetness of broth, and choice of herbs.

Photo: http://www.baoquangninh.com.vn

Recommendations

**Phở Thanh Cảnh

Address: 101 Nguyễn Cư Trinh, Phường Nguyễn Cư Trinh, Quận 1 (55 Nguyễn Cư Trinh Street, Ward Nguyễn Cư Trinh, District 1)

Hours: 6:00 – 22:00

Price: 40.000VND – 60.000VND (~1.46$ – 2.64$)

This is my personal favourite ‘phở’ restaurant because I used to study English at ILA in the building next to the restaurant. Every Sunday morning, I, my sister and my father would enjoy a hot bowl of ‘phở’ before we go to English class. Despite that, I love the place because of the memories there and of course also the unforgettable taste of ‘phở’ in this old restaurant.

**Phở Đoàn

Address: 574 Kha Vạn Cân, phường Linh Đông, quận Thủ Đức (574 Kha Vạn Cân Street, Ward Linh Đông, District Thủ Đức)

* Ốc (Shellfish)

The eating of shellfish is unique to Vietnam. We eat every creature with a shell that lives in water bodies. There are lots of ways invented to make them, such as grill, stir-fried, boiled, raw, etc.

Photo: https://huracars.com

Recommendations

**Thảo Ốc

Address:

  • 229 – 231 Hoàng Diệu, Phường 9, Quận 4 (229 – 231 Hoàng Diệu Street, Ward 9, District 4)
  • 99 Vĩnh Khánh, phường 8, quận 4 (99 Vĩnh Khánh Street, Ward 8, District 1)

Hours: 11:00 – 23:00

Price: 70.000VND – 150.000VND (~3.08$ – 6.61$)

This restaurant will bring you the truest taste of the ocean. The seafood is usually fresh and amazing, but what attracts customers here is actually the way the cook makes all the dishes. Incredibly strong favour. Everything is unforgettable.

**Ốc Đào

Address: 212B/D28 Nguyễn Trãi, Phường Nguyễn Cư Trinh, Quận 1 (212B/D28 Nguyễn Trãi Street, Ward Nguyễn Cư Trinh, District 1)

Hours: 10:30AM–11:30PM

Price: 60.000NVD – 110.000VND (~2.64$ – 5$)

* Bánh xèo (Sizzling cake)

Bánh xèo, literally “sizzling cake“, named for the loud sizzling sound it makes when the rice batter is poured into the hot skillet is a Vietnamese savory fried pancake made of rice flour, water, turmeric powder, stuffed with slivers of fatty pork, shrimp, diced green onion, and bean sprouts.

>>>For more information about bánh xèo, please refer to this link

Photo: https://www.youtube.com

Recommendations

**Bánh xèo Ăn là Ghiền

Address: 74 Sương Nguyệt Ánh, phường Bến Thành, Quận 1 (74 Sương Nguyệt Ánh Street, Ward Bến Thành, District 1)
Hours: 10:00 – 21:30

Price: 25.000VND – 110.000VND (~1.1$ – 4.84$)

This restaurant is our family’s favourite ‘bánh xèo’ dinner. We love the crispy of the cake here, and the stuffing is no different.

**Bánh xèo Mười Xiềm

Address: 204 Nguyễn Trãi, Phường Phạm Ngũ Lão, Quận 1

Hours: 10:00 – 22:00

Price: 50.000VND – 110.000VND (~$2.2 – 4.84$)

* Bánh ướt (Steamed rice crêpes)

Bánh ướt’ is one of my favorite choices of breakfast, thanks to its simplicity and undeniable deliciousness. Bánh ướt, literally “wet cakes”, is a Vietnamese thin pancake wrapper consisting of rice noodle sheets, served with dipping sauce, fried shallots, and slides of chả lụa (Vietnamese pork sausage).

Photo: https://cachlammonngon.vn

Recommendations

I usually eat ‘bánh ướt’ in the marketplaces.

* Bánh tráng

Bánh tráng or bánh đa nem, a northern Vietnamese term, (literally, coated cake and nem skins, respectively), sometimes called rice paper wrappers, rice crepes, rice wafers or nem wrappers, are edible Vietnamese wrappers used in Vietnamese cuisine, primarily in finger foods and appetizers such as Vietnamese nem dishes. The term rice paper wrappers can sometimes be a misnomer, as some ‘bánh tráng‘ wrappers are made from rice flour supplemented with tapioca flour or sometimes replaced completely with tapioca starch. The roasted version is bánh tráng nướng.

Recommendations

All over the street.

Bánh tráng nướng. Photo: https://thedriftbackpackershostel.com
Bánh tráng trộn (Rice wrappers mixed with everything). Photo: http://huongrung.net

There are many varieties of bánh tráng, about which we will discuss in another article for you.

If you have any questions about this article or are in need for assistance about travelling in Vietnam or just anything at all, please do not hesitate to contact us, and we are sure to be thrilled to help.

Ngọc Lê

New High-speed Boat Route Saigon – Can Gio – Vung Tau

From now on, everyone who loves traveling from Saigon to Vung Tau (or vice versa) can try a brand new means of transportation: A high-speed boat. The boat route Saigon -Can Gio – Vung Tau is officially put into use on December 23rd.

This new route will make traveling among these cities easier. It is also a solution to ease the pressure of landline traffic among them.

The project is launched by GreenlinesDP company, providing 3 types of speedboats: 50 seats, 96 seats and 136 seats. The boats’ interior holds comfortable accommodations: mini bars, VIP rooms for 10-person group, air conditioners, big screen TVs, cameras, wifi, fire alarm systems, life-saving jackets.

Modern seats with beautiful view inside the new high-speed boat. Photo: Foody
Inside a VIP room. Photo: Quang Dinh

1/Detailed Route Schedule:

There are 4 trips going from Ho Chi Minh City to Can Gio and 8 trips from Can Gio to Vung Tau.

The boats start at Bach Dang dock (District 1), go to Thanh An dock (Can Gio) and then arrive at the last stop Ho May dock (Vung Tau). It takes the same route for anyone wants to go from Vung Tau to Ho Chi Minh city. 

The C8 boat is on trial for the very first Saigon – Can Gio – Vung Tau route. Photo: Thanh Nien

2/Ticket Fee:

People can buy tickets online or directly at the docks – the price is 200,000VND/person (approx. 9 USD).

Besides that, local people living in Can Gio or office workers who have to commute between Can Gio – Ho Chi Minh on casual can get a 50% reduction on ticket fee. The tickets are free for the handicapped.

You should book one seat for experiencing this!

Source: Tuoi Tre, Thanh Nien

Translator: Diem Nguyen

Street cafés in Saigon

Coffee is an essential part of Saigon residents’ daily life. People can drink coffee in early mornings, at noons or even in the evenings (for those who work the night shift.) Drinking coffee has become a popular culture of Vietnamese in general and Saigonese in particular. People can drink coffee at many cafes around Saigon, but there is one coffee drinking style unique to Saigonese and interests a lot of visitors. It is Street Café! Continue reading “Street cafés in Saigon”