Ho Chi Minh City's best kept-secrets revealed
Ho Chi Minh City’s best-kept secrets are tucked away in alleyways and arcades, hidden above staircases and concealed on rooftops. See them all in 24 hours with this guide.
- September 2018
There’s nothing like discovering top places to eat, drink and shop that are hidden from view. We’ve pounded the pavement to uncover the best Vietnam’s capital has to offer.
9am Breakfast like a local
Start the day with a local secret: nondescript Bánh Cuân Hai Nam opens in new window restaurant. This simple flat-roofed concrete eatery on a suburban street does one of Ho Chi Minh Ciity’s best banh cuon, a traditional steamed rice-paper pancake dish stuffed with pork, mushroom and shrimp, and garnished with fried Asian garlic and shallots.
Where: 11A Duong Cao Thang D2, +84 38 393 394
10:30am Coffee with soul
Find your way up a musty staircase in an old building and you’ll stumble upon this boho chic hangout with a labyrinth of floors where you’ll browse vintage boutiques and indie clothing shops. On the fourth floor, Mockingbird Cafe opens in new window is a student hangout with windows overlooking the heritage buildings of the old town (the part of the city the French built; also known as District 1). If you like your java strong and laden with condensed milk, order a Vietnamese coffee.
Where: 4/14, Duong Ton That Dam, D1, +84 97 323 7029
12:30pm Where the cool kids go
L’Usine opens in new window is a cosmopolitan café and shop bringing contemporary Ho Chi Minh City to the people. Browse a curated collection of Vietnamese clothing labels and quality giftware. The eatery’s Viet-fusion menu includes favourites such as coriander- and-cucumber-stuffed bánh mì (bread rolls) and fresh juices.
Where: 151/5 Dong Khoi, D1
opens in new window
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3pm Views and brews
After lunch, keep strolling. Ho Chi Minh City’s old town has some gems including the historic Opera House and Hotel Continental. When you’ve worked up a thirst, head to Pasteur Street Brewing Co opens in new window, located down an alley and up a flight of wooden stairs. Its interesting draft beers combine American craft-brewing techniques with fresh Vietnamese ingredients.
Where: 144 Pasteur St, D1,
4:30pm The heights of creativity
The Café Apartment is on Walking Street, the city’s main promenade, but most people would walk right past this old apartment building that has been converted into a creative hub. Head through the alley and up the lift (for a small fee) to access coffee shops, teahouses, artists’ studios and local designer shops with an arty feel.
Where: 42 Nguyen Hue St, D1
7pm Colonial charm
Tucked away in a corner of District 1, Cuc Gach Quan opens in new window is in a converted old French colonial villa designed by Vietnamese architect Tran Binh. It’s a rustic charmer, with nostalgic Indochine décor and lush gardens that create heavenly spaces for dining on Vietnamese fare.
Where: 10 Dang Tat, D1
9pm The city lights
Nightcaps and night lights are the highlight at Social Club Rooftop Bar, located above the restaurant at the gorgeous Hôtel Des Arts opens in new window Ho Chi Minh City. It has the city’s highest swimming pool, which is lit up at night, plus DJ sets, and a cocktail concierge who matches drinks to your tastes.
Where: Rooftop, 76–78 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D3