Ho Chi Minh City (also known as Saigon) is a vibrant and bustling metropolis in southern Vietnam. The city is not only famous for its rich history and cultural landmarks but also for it’s incredible food. Street food culture thrives here, with countless food stalls and markets lining busy streets. From Vietnamese coffee and egg coffee to steaming bowls of pho and banh mi.
Vietnam is the second-largest coffee producer in the world and has a thriving coffee culture. One of the most iconic Vietnamese coffee styles is known as "Cà Phê Sữa đá" or Vietnamese iced coffee, which is made by combining coffee brewed using a Vietnamese coffee filter called a "phin" with sweetened condensed milk. The result is sweet, strong, and smooth and often served over ice, perfect for the country's tropical heat and humidity. Padma de flour is a tiny little tucked away florist/cafe that served the most beautiful Vietnamese coffee.
"Cà phê trứng" is Vietnamese egg coffee, which sounds bizarre but is a unique and delicious hot coffee shot with a creamy, frothy, meringue-like top made from whipping egg yolks and condesned milk. The absolute best spot to try your first egg coffee is the wonderul Little Hanoi Egg Coffee Cafe, also try their mango on toast - I was obsessed.
Whether you're a street food lover or prefer higher end dining, there's a huge culture of food in Vietnam.
Phở (pronounced "fuh") is a traditional and iconic Vietnamese dish that is considered a staple in the cuisine. It's a noodle soup consisting of a clear and aromatic broth made from simmering beef bones, herbs and spices for hours, flat rice noodles, thinly sliced beef or chicken (depending on what type you get) and various other toppings such as Thai basil and bean sprouts, lime wedges and chilli. Hoisin sauce and sriracha are commonly used as condiments for personal preference. There's phở on every corner in Ho Chi Minh, the portions are often huge and it's a super cheap meal, I was recommended and went to 'Pho Hung'.
Banh mi is a Vietnamese sandwich made with a crusty French-style baguette, filled with a variety of savory ingredients with various cuts of pork, sausage, pâté, pickled vegetables, fresh herbs, and chili sauce. 'Bánh Mì Huỳnh Hoa' is probably the most famous and highly regarded banh mi shop in Ho Chi Minh City (District 1), it's one of the most expensive too but still only about £1.50.
Cafe Phượng Các was a random find close to my hotel that I loved and visited several times. They did a great steak, eggs and baguette hot breakfast and their Bò xào sả (a lemongrass beef stew served with a crusty baguette) was so good I had it 3x in the week I was there.
If you have a sweet tooth, Maison Marou is worth visiting. It's a highly praised Vietnamese chocolate company known for their high-quality, artisanal chocolate bars made from locally sourced cacao beans. As well as bean-to-bar chocolate they also do wonderful chocolate cookies, brownies and other treats.
There are loads of food tour experiences and tasting available to book. Ben Nghe Street Food Market is a popular tourist spot for a street market experience with lots of the popular vietnamese dishes. It's more commercialised for tourists, I ate there a few times and it was quite good but nothing on the authentic pop-up stalls and restaurants dotted within the city.
other GOOD TO KNOW
Transport is cheap and easy in Vietnam with widely available from taxis in the form of cars or motorbikes. The main way of commuting in Ho Chi Minh is by motorbike or scooter and the first thing you'll notice is how busy the roads are (you'll rarely see tourists on scooters because of this).
Yoga + Movement
With a big expat culture, there's lots of gyms and studios around Ho Chi Minh. Yoga Pod had 2x studios and some great classes.
ATMs are widely available and there are some incredible shopping malls with International brands. I stayed in La Vela Hotel (beautiful rooftop pool and really great gym and yoga studio) and Fusion Suites, both well located in District 1.
This post was based on a trip in April 2023. None of the experiences or places mentioned have been sponsored or gifted - they are all recommendations based on my personal and unbiased opinion.