Hello Vietnam! Ho Chi Minh City

Saigon, now known as Ho Chi Minh City, is the most populated city in Vietnam. While maintaining its Vietnamese traits, it is also modern with the presence of commercial tall buildings.

On the way into the city from Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport (approx 8km from the city center), we passed by the Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral and the stretch of high end shopping area before arriving at the strategically located Sheraton Saigon Hotel.

After checking in, We headed for the local chain of phở (pronounced as fur), and cà phê sữa đá (Vietnamese iced milk coffee). For 2, it cost us S$18 (for 2 bowls of pho with 2 types of beef/ balls, 4 spring rolls, 2 glasses of iced coffee).

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Went back to the hotel for some rest and did some work before we headed out for dinner at Bún bò Huế (about 10min walk from Sheraton). Bun bo is a popular Vietnamese soup containing rice vermicelli (bún) and beef (bò). Huế is a city in central Vietnam associated with the cooking style of the former royal court. Food at this restaurant is simply yummy and my favorite Vietnamese restaurant this trip. We paid less than S$60 for this meal for 7 pax.

Must tries: Bánh nậm (steamed rice pancake with minced shrimps in banana leaf), Hến xúc bánh tráng (clams with sesame crackers), cuốn tôm thịt (Vietnamese prawn and meat spring roll), Bún hến (rice noodles with baby clams, tastes like teochew porridge) and of course Bún bò (hue rice noodle soup).

Other dishes we tried were the Ốc Bươu Nhồi Thịt (medium snails with meat), Tôm xào sa tế (fried shrimp balls), and some deep fried shrimp spring rolls, some dried beef slices and coconut juice blended with pennywort.

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After dinner, we headed to Ben Thanh market. On the way, we passed by some nice Cafes and bakeries. We also passed by the saigon opera house, intercontinental hotel and the shopping belt. Ben thanh is like a night market selling clothes, shoes, local produce, coffee, fruits, and there are also food stalls/ street food.

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For the next few days, it’s just food and more food, starting with Cốm xanh (Green Rice) restaurant which had good hotpot and deep fried crab rolls, it had a nice outdoor sitting area (but heard there’s mosquitoes). I was not impressed with the other dishes, so if you like hotpot, this is the place to go. We ordered seafood and mushrooms hotpot.

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We also tried Ngon restaurant which is a huge multilevel building with a very nice local feel, similar to a Chinese traditional restaurant in Kung fu shows, or am I exaggerating. My favorite dish here was the sausage eaten with some greens which looked like sliced Thai fish cake.

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On the last day, we visited the local wet market about 15min walk away from the hotel. Much like the wet markets in Singapore in the past… Seafood was really fresh and so were meat, vegetables and fruits.

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Food in the hotel (Saigon cafe) where we had breakfast and most lunches was good. Li Bai was disappointing.

And one last cuppa and relaxing at Saigon cafe before we hit the airport!

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