What should we do to spend 24 hours in Sai Gon

First things first: find a plastic stool on a busy street and slurp up some tasty pho. The best phở in Saigon, of course, depends upon what pleases your palate. Do you prefer your phở rice noodles with chicken or beef?  Or perhaps ground beef balls, or tripe? Do you prefer a mountain of vegetables and herbs and/or piles of meat?  Do you prefer subtly-flavored broth or “know-your-socks-off” beef- flavored stock?  And then there’s Vietnam’s long-standing regional schism that must be considered in your phở preference.  Northern cuisine – no  sugar please. Southern cuisine – everything must be sweetened – sometimes to excess!

Vietnamese Rice Noodle Soup With Meat Ball Or Bun Moc

Photo by Scooter Saigon Tour

To fight the jetlag, couple it with some Vietnamese ice coffee. Seriously strong, cafe sua da will put you in a good place. One of the most fabulous beverages known to man and woman-kinds alike is the sublime Vietnamese Iced Coffee, or Café Sua Da (or even, cà phê sữa đá, to further transliterate). This coffee, a rich french dark roast with chicory, made in a special version of the press pot, and served with copious quantities of sweetened condensed milk and refreshingly cooled with ice, is the perfect complement to any dish, and any occasion. Just don’t drink it if you are hoping to sleep soon. It also makes a nice alternative to the Thai Iced Tea recipe I’ve got. They are both great on a hot day, or with spicy southeast asian foods (or anything at all, frankly). Read on for a picture-heavy, overly analyzed method of making the best coffee in town.

Cafe In Saigon Tracy

Photo by Scooter Saigon Tour

Once you’re well caffeinated, make your way to Chinatown to see old Saigon. Wander the streets and alleyways until you end up at Cholon Market. Cholon was incorporated as a city in 1879, 11 km from Saigon. By the 1930s, it had expanded to the city limit of Saigon. On 27 April 1931, Cholon and the neighbouring city Saigon were merged to form a single city called ‘Saigon–Cholon’; ‘Cholon’ was dropped from the city’s official name in 1956 after Vietnam’s independence from France in 1955. The official name ‘Saigon–Cholon’, however, never entered everyday vernacular and the city continued to be referred to as ‘Saigon’. Sure, Ben Thanh Market is mentioned in every guidebook, but you can’t beat the hidden gems at local prices at Cholon.

Lantern Market In China Town Saigon

Photo by Scooter Saigon Tour

After you’ve navigated your way through the market, hop in a cab to the War Remnants Museum. Once known as the Museum of Chinese and American War crimes, this museum documents the brutality of war. Make sure you don’t miss the photography collection upstairs.

War Remnant Museum In Saigon Tracy

From the museum, jump on the back of a motorbike taxi, or Xe Om  to District 1 or you can walk and look around Saigon street. Here you’ll find great examples of French colonial architecture. Grab a croissant as you people-watch in the park across from the Notre Dame Cathedral, where enterprising individuals will take your orders in what is touted as the biggest coffee shop in the world. Situated right in the heart of Hochiminh City is the most famous landmark as well as core Cathedral of the city, Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral (translated as “Nhà thờ Đức Bà Sài Gòn). Notre-Dame Cathedral, or Notre-Dame Basilica to be exact, is a famous age-long cathedral in Southern Vietnam. It is a magnificient building located at the paris Square in Hochiminh City downtown, attracting not only Catholics but also most tourists for its neo-Romanesque style architecture and a sacred atmosphere.


Photo by Scooter Saigon Tour

While you’re at it, don’t miss the Opera House, the People’s Committee Building (the former City Hall) and the Central Post Office.

By this time, your feet will be singing. Drop into any of the nearby spas and relax with a foot massage. They’re cheap and well worth the time to sit back and take refuge from the heat.

Now hunger has started to set in, so head over to Bong Sen restaurant for a range of traditional dishes from around Vietnam. Be sure to climb up to the rooftop garden for a pre-dinner drink.

After dinner, see Saigon from one of many roof-top bars or highest building Bitexco. They offer the see-and-be-seen cocktail crowd. Take in the sounds of Saigon as the sun sets over the city.

Saigon In The Morning Tracy

Photo by Scooter Saigon Tour

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