We stayed in District 1 for the entire duration of our stay in Saigon (also called Ho Chi Mihn City). It’s hard to get a real feel of the city when you’re restricted to a 2-day travel schedule. Fortunately, District 1 isn’t a bore. You can spend the day exploring remnants of the city’s colonial past and the night — by letting the locals show you how to have a good time.

Get Dazzled by Light

District 1 lights up by night. With the evenings being relatively cooler in the month of July; it’s perfect to walk around and soak in the the night scene. Almost every building  (including Saigon Opera House and City Hall) or high-rise puts on a splendid show of lights.

 If you’re walking around Ho Chi Mihn Square, along Nguyen Hue Walking Street, keep your eyes peeled for the ‘Cafe Apartment‘. I had read about it before our trip and didn’t think we’d get to see it. As the name suggests, the ‘Cafe Apartment’ is an old apartment building that has been converted into a series of hip cafes, restaurants, and boutiques.

Get High on Flavour

Sampling local food should definitely top your list. Vietnamese cuisine is high on flavour and I couldn’t get enough of it. You could choose to dine at local chains or expensive hotels. Over the years, the expat population has contributed to the gastronomy of the city. So, it wouldn’t be hard to find global cuisine around. Tempting as it looked, we preferred to stick to authentic Vietnamese cuisine.

If eating fancy isn’t your thing, you could head to Nguyen Hue Walking Street. Street food stalls dot the paved street and are a big hit with the locals. Everything looked interesting and curious as we were — I wasn’t brave enough to try any of it.

Watch Street Performances

At night, Nguyen Hue Walking Street transforms into a performance venue for local entertainers. Honestly, it was hard to understand what was going on between bobbing heads. Some performances were theatrical and seemed to effectively combine humour with drama. I preferred the musical performances instead. It’s easier to appreciate music without understanding the language. Although I could be mistaken, some tunes seemed vaguely similar to the OST of Korean dramas. I wouldn’t be surprised given the influx of Korean tourists and the spread of K-Dramas across Asia.

Not to be left behind, some expats/tourists decided to give their musical abilities a shot.

Wander Around

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It’s hard to capture the energy of an evening in Saigon in words. The air is filled with a celebration and one would expect foreign tourists to line the streets. Instead, the locals came dressed in their best. Given the short duration of our stay, it would be difficult to say if this was a seasonal occurrence (coinciding with tourism) or just a way of local life. I’m tempted to go with the latter. If I’d be living in Saigon, I guess, I would love to enjoy a gentle breeze and the energy of being surrounded by people. Families with kids, young adults, and couples seemed to melt together. It could be just me, being a tourist looking from the outside, but I did feel a general sense of happiness.

The Saigon River lies on the opposite end of Ho Chi Mihn Square. It wore a deserted look by the time we made it there. Flags fluttered high and lights blurred the night sky. The gates were closed and we couldn’t get a clear view of the river. The closed gates didn’t stop couples from trying to get away from the festivities — on the other side of the street.

Put your Bargaining Skills to the Test

We’d heard a lot about Ben Thanh Market and wanted to end the night with a visit to this famous local market. Sadly, it didn’t live up to our expectations. There were some interesting eating options and you can find good deals on souvenirs. I loved the intricate (eggshell) artwork of the Vietnamese women in traditional attire. Basil being the tough negotiator tried to get a good deal for a set of two. I’d have just paid the price and turns out Basil got a good deal and it was a great way to end our stay in Saigon — before we left for Hanoi.

And just in case you’ve missed our previous post on Ho Chi Mihn City (Saigon):

HOPPING BACK AND FORTH IN TIME IN HO CHI MIHN CITY

You can also download this post on the GPSmyCity app. Click here

 

 

 

 

Posted by:twobrownfeet

Walkers. Wanderers. Travellers. Now in Seoul.

41 replies on “An Evening in Saigon

    1. Thanks a bunch, Miriam. Our travels have kept us away. Things have also got really busy here. The weather is kind of iffy. How could I forget our weather updates? 🙂 So good to have you back, Miriam. xo

      1. Haha, our weather updates, how awesome. I’ve missed them. Well here goes, here right now at 9.03pm in Melbourne it’s a cool 8C and drizzling (and I have a massive head cold). 😕 xo

      2. Awww! It’s cool with grey skies turning dark. Only an hour difference from Seoul? Wow! I’ve got a headache from pre-travel jitters. Need to write a post on it. Hope your cold clears out. Sending you warm hugs! xo

  1. “Instead, the locals came dressed in their best. ” – Not a seasonal thing but common, especially on a Sunday night . I love this city though it has been a few years since I have been there. Incidentally, I will be in Hanoi for work a few days next week but will have this Sunday free to explore. Cant wait to revisit.

    1. It’s always nice to exchange travel notes. I wish we could have stayed longer. Hanoi was equally brief. We have to go back to Vietnam. There’s so much that we missed. Look forward to reading your posts (I know I’ve been a little slow on the reading). 🙂

    1. Really? It’s surprising how two different places or cities can look similar. 🙂 I try to find a bit of home in almost every place we travel. Thanks for stopping by, Alok. Have a great weekend!

  2. Ah, this makes me want to visit Saigon, more.
    Actually, I am into fancy things and food, however my travel budget usually varies around that Nguyen Hue Walking Street. 😀 😀
    Just let’s say the dress up is the way of life of Saigon citizen. 🙂 🙂

      1. I mean, Saigon is also on my list, not on top, but I want to go there. 😀 😀
        For me, sometimes, especially in tropical land, being comfort is the main issue for dressing. 🙂
        I have been so well.

      2. Hahahaha, zonk. Okay, okay, I know that. 🙂
        Yes, even myself wonders that I still feel well. 😀 😀 😀
        Wish you re-adapt well with the activity after travelling time. 🙂

    1. Oooohhhh! Thanks, Anjali. You’ll have to just add it to your list. I wish we could have spent more time in Vietnam. We’re back in Seoul and it’s so grey today. 😦 Have you started missing Seoul? 🙂

    1. I hope so too! 🙂 There are so many countries on our list and it’s a tough call between choosing to revisit a place or explore a new destination. I think it’s dried squid or something similar. I’ve seen it in the local markets in Korea too.

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