With so much to see, do, and eat, it is difficult for first time visitors like us to know where to start. Because of this, we decide to tour with a local for an authentic overview of the city. This is not your average tour. Rather, this excursion puts us in the thick of things, on the back of a motorbike (other travel options are available).
Our tour guides, Tuyet and Khanh, met us at our hotel lobby at the Reverie Saigon for an evening food and sightseeing tour. Donning our helmets, we set off for an exhilarating tour. Zipping between cars and hundreds of other motorbikes is not for the faint of heart. For the first few minutes, my fingers became numb from my death grip onto the back handle. However, it is interesting to see that the chaotic road traffic is rather orderly. Eventually, I grow to love my closeness to the sights. Naturally Tom enjoyed every minute of the ride.
Authentic Saigon Dining:
The first stop leads us to a local’s restaurant. Tom and I look around and are happy to see we are the only foreigners. The smell of meat grilling fills our nostrils and makes our stomachs growl in anticipation. We dine on plates of broken rice and pork. A chili paste accompanies the dish. Tom and I have high tolerances of spice, however, the pepper sauce here is crazy hot but incredibly flavorful. A great start for the evening.
Sightseeing around Saigon:
After satiating our hunger for delicious Vietnamese food, we hop on the back of the motorbikes and head across Saigon to the Notre Dame Cathedral and Central Post Office. The area is full of tourists and locals walking about and enjoying the evening. Our visit coincided with Vietnam’s Independence Day… from the United States. It’s interesting how political relations can change in such a relatively short amount of time. For the holiday, the parks and streets are decorated in lovely lights and art displays.
Next, we leave the business district and drive through the Thu Thiem tunnel to the new urban district 2. There is a riverside park that offers a spectacular view of the central district. At the park, the lawn and sidewalks are occupied by locals hanging out with groups of friends and grilling. Indeed, they are full on cooking on portable grills.
Local Street food:
The picnics at the park make spectators like us hungry. Tuyet and Khanh take us back to the central district for a late night street food snack of Vietnamese pizza. Rice paper is grilled over charcoal and topped with a huge array of goodies. My favorite is grilled chicken, spring onion, and a tasty chili sauce. Refreshing freshly squeezed juice from another nearby food vendor perfectly complemented the pizza. After a final ride to our hotel, we bid a fond farewell to Tuyet and Khanh.
Be sure to wear a face mask! A fun evening riding on the back of a motorbike and sampling a small piece of Saigon life was fun and exhilarating way to explore this vibrant city. However, being surrounded in the traffic means breathing in polluted air and exhaust for hours. It’s a small price to pay to tour as a local. We highly recommend this tour and would do it again in a heartbeat!
Delicious destinations is what we do! Contact us for additional details!