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Beyond the quaint provincial landscape of coastal south central, we’re off to another city in Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon). This city reminds us of the fast-paced metropolis life and how time passes quickly – where the remnants of war found in historical museums, the pagodas showing indelible marks of Taoism, the café culture and flea markets in the heart of the city give us a glimpse of the sights and experiences that we can’t simply miss a day’s worth of tour and activities.
Princess and the Pea Cafe
Saigon is known for its café culture. You’ll find cafes all over the city, and I’m not talking about Starbucks or international franchise coffee shops because you won’t find them here.
For breakfast, I found this hidden gem in District 1, Princess and the Pea Café. You really have to venture through the Pasteur St. alley to find it – laid-back, with a relaxing space, offers free Wi-Fi, and with casual cushioned seat floors and affordable meals.
The café serves light food such as baked sandwiches with strawberry jams, tiramisu and chocolate cheesecake; please, don’t get the bill until you try the Smoothie Banana.
63 Pasteur, Ben Nghe, 1, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Le Cong Kieu Street
I suggest we go shopping in the morning at the flea markets. Antique items are sold along Le Cong Kieu Street, near Ben Than market, then until we reach to Russian market in Ben Chuong Duong Street, you’ll find over 150 stalls there, offering dry goods from sporting goods to souvenirs and general products for large sizes.
Keep yourself from the siesta culture – as most locals do take their rest around noon until 1PM – then here’s a light lunch to curb your hunger. Visit the sandwich place called The Hungry Pig. It’s famous for its bacon sandwich with oriental taste, from classic BLT to Asian taste. Plus, if you visit during Sundays, you’ll be offered Full English Breakfast.
144 Cong Quynh Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Art exhibits near Ben Than Market
Discover more of Vietnam and visit art museums not far from Ben Than market. Art exhibits includes pottery, sculpture, painting to abstract art and even weaponry. If time permits, you can rent scooters, or also called Vespa, for late afternoon tours to experience the city like locals.
Enjoy the vintage Vespa ride, and see the metropolis through the bustling and hustling of the town, from the city landmarks such as municipal post office, busy China town, basilicas and a wealth of French colonial architecture.
Monsoon Restaurant & Bar
Indulge in the regional taste from Thailand, Myanmar, Laos Cambodia and, of course, Vietnam in Monsoon Restaurant & Bar. Taste and see the South East Asian food with all its richness – the menu is divided per country; freely choose among the appetisers to mains and desserts.
Cao Ba Nha, P. Nguyen Cu Trinh, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Saigon’s backpacker district, Pham Ngu Lao Street, meets you in the nightlife of revelry, lights and sounds, and drinks all night long—good vibes and paradise. But if you want to make it more urban, go to the rooftop bars at the city’s popular hotels—the Rex, Majestic and Caravelle. Well, if you desire this kind of pampering, you have to be ready for those expensive drinks. Gulp until you drop—that is, until your pocket drop.
Anyway, Broma, an open lounge in the fourth floor of an old French colonial building, is a good alternative, too. While you can experience the same, the prices are down to earth compared to the former.