In Transit: how to spend an epic 14 hours in Saigon.
Address: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Passing through Ho Chi Minh City and want to make the best of it? Fear not we’ve compiled a list of tried-and-true spots to make the most of a leisurely layover in the city, with an emphasis on eats and drinks.
Whether you’re catching Saigon in the beginning or on the tail end of a journey, we contend it only takes a few good meals, a whiskey sour and some strong coffee (or drinks) to make even a brief stopover a high point.
SPECIALTY COFFEE – La Viet
Although it’s no challenge to find a solid cup of coffee—be it specialty or a classic Vietnamese style cup for a dollar on the side of the road—wish a short time in the city it’s best to try something from within the country. For this reason, among others, La Viet is an excellent choice. The Dalat-based coffee collective hasn’t cut any corners for their Saigon locations, serving up expertly-crafted cups of pour-over, Vietnamese phin filter, and espresso in a beautiful space. Our favorite location, at Hai Ba Trung, is just around the corner from Le Van Tam Park, which is worth a stroll-through while the caffeine is still running strong.
For our full list of coffee shops, smash this!
💲35K – 70K
🕞 7AM – 10 PM | 📍191 Hai Bà Trưng, Phường 6, Q3
LUNCH, Pho Gà Pho Sure
Even though the south of the country is known for beef pho, when the chicken variety is done right it’s hard to beat. For this variety, head to Pho Miến gà Kỳ Đồng located in nearby district 3. The chicken is ultra tender and served up in a sweet broth with plenty of greens; to make it even better, this joint boasts their own homemade hot sauce. It’s a famous and always busy stop for good reason.
For our full list of local brotheries, click here!
🕞 6:00 – 23:30 | 📍14/5Bis Kỳ Đồng, Phường 9, Q3
DESSERT, Tofu Custard (tàu hũ đường).
The friendliest of street-food stalls also serves one of the best desserts in the city for a whopping 25 cents ($). “đậu hũ đường” is essentially a tofu-like custard served with caramelized tapioca balls in a ginger syrup. The proprietor is the nicest lady with the biggest smile who can be found squatting next to her pots of goodness. The location does not have an actual address, so we provide a approximate google maps location. Otherwise you will find her across from The Coffee House, link here.
🕞 7:00 – 13:00 (irregular) | 📍10°47’25.7″N 106°41’48.1″E
ROOFTOP BAR: Happy hour & sunset at Mgallery Social Club.
The best rooftop happy hour in the city is a controversial topic when you have so many choices, but for the Streatery crew Social Club is hard to beat. Perched above the the 5 star Des Arts hotel on Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, this hip bar provides an unbeatable view of the city, along with some of the best sunsets and one of the better happy hours. All drinks are 50% off from 5-8pm, 7 days a week. For our full list of bars, smash this link.
🕡 17:00 – 20:00 |📍76-78 Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai, P6, Q3
DINNER, fancy or street food? Your choice.
1. High End: ANAN, Modern Vietnamese.
Chef Peter Franklin has in a way managed to re-invent Vietnamse food from the perspective of a culinary school-trained chef. Situated on the street of a traditional Vietnamese wet-market with a spectacular rooftop view of Saigon’s bustling financial center. AnAn essentially serves a mix of Vietnamese fusion food and modern Vietnamese food.
On the fusion side of the menu, for example, the Imperial spring rolls are delicate fried spring rolls with Foie gras filling. Our favorite go-to dish is the Banh Xeo tacos: a taco shell conceived of the local specialty Banh Xeo ( made with rice flour batter) and filled with Bo Kho (traditional Vietnamese stew) beef filling, pork and shrimp, fish and vegetarian options available.. On the other hand their signature lemongrass Pork chops are a modern take on the grilled pork chops seen for sale at local eateries, AnAn serves it perfectly grilled in a layer of sweet fish sauce and covered in a garnish of Vietnamese herbs. We cannot forget to mention that AnAn also serves a spectacular menu of vegetarian dishes, and even have a vegetarian tasting menu that is devine! For our full list of eateries, hop on over HERE.
💲Appetizers – 100K, Mains 300-500K
🕞 17:00 – 00:00 | 📍89 Tôn Thất Đạm, Bến Nghé, Q1
2. Saigon Street Food at it’s best, Roast Duck
Our favorite roast duck place is made up of everything that makes street food in Vietnam great. First of all, you have your typical little metal chairs and plastic stools. The family that owns and runs the restaurant is extremely friendly. The duck (vịt nướng) stands out for its seasoning, which is on a level much higher than the usual duck shops in town. And they serve the duck with an amazing in-house specialty dipping sauce, composed of roasted sesame and duck drippings.
💲 260K/entire duck
For our full review of this awesome duck spot, drool your way over HERE!
COCKTAILS, – A pop up bar with attitude.
For something on the informal side, having a solid cocktail at street level gives you the chance to take in the hum of the city up close and personally. Among our favorites places to do this is at City Beer Station, a sidewalk pop-up bar. Check their Facebook page to get the exact location during your visit. At present, it’s got prime real estate in the Dakao neighborhood of District 1. Furthermore, they have an extensive list of cocktails for such a lean operation, but the whiskey sour is perhaps what they do best.
For our full list of our favorite watering holes in Saigon, click here!
💲Cocktails: 70K – 95K, beers from ~30K
🕞 19:00 – 1:00 (varies) | 📍28 Mac Dinh Chi, Da Kao, Q1
LATE NIGHT Com Tam, a very Saigonese dish.
A stay in Saigon wouldn’t be complete without its quintessential dish: Com tam. A plate of rice, a tender, caramelized pork chop, and a runny egg: does it really get any better? You can find it pretty much anywhere at any hour of the day or night—for us, though, it’s unbeatable as a late night snack. A tried-and-true after-hours com tam comes courtesy of Com Tam Di Tam, located on the sidewalk just outside Tan Dinh Market (on Hai Ba Trung Street).
💲Com Tam Suon Op La: 50K
🕞 22:00 – late | 📍319 Hai Ba Trung, Phuong 8, Q3 🔗
Did we miss anything? Comment below if you think one of your favorite spots should be on the list!