Our backpacker's guide to Saigon

by Rory MacDonald, 10/31/2019

Our basic backpacker's guide to Saigon


The buzzing metropolis of Saigon is known around the world for its rich history, culture, cuisine and non-stop day to day life!


Heart of the city

When arriving in Saigon you'll be greeted with impressive skyscrapers and bustling streets full of energy and excitement. District 1 is the main French colonial district of the City and is home to backpacker hostels, hotels and an endless choice of amazing bars and restaurants. When in district 1, a trip to the main French colonial sights is a must! The most famous including the vibrant Ben Thanh Market, the impressive city hall and the beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral Replica.


Saigon eats

Around these areas, you will have no issue finding great local street food! Saigonese Cuisine offers flavours from all corners of the country and even draws inspiration from Cambodian and Thai cuisine. But the multicultural feel of the city doesn't stop with district 1! District 5 is home to Chinatown. Settlers from China have been living in this district for nearly 300 years, and this part of town offers amazing Chinese food, beautiful Chinese architecture and temples to explore.

If you head all the way over to the other side of district 1 and head into the more Japanese style town boasting amazing international cuisine restaurants and brilliant local breweries. Saigon offers a massive amount of locally run craft beer breweries combining amazing beer and local flavours together in exciting ways.


History & culture 

All around the City you can find historic Vietnam War sites, including secret underground weapons and ammunition bunkers, ex battlefields, and on the outskirts of town, underground tunnel systems. These are known as the Cu Chi tunnels and always worth checking out when in Saigon. 

If you are looking to experience Saigon's modern culture, a trip to the markets in district 10 is definitely worth a stop. These markets offer a wide range of local food, flowers grown in the mountains of Da Lat, beautiful lanterns and even motorbike parts!



Grab taxis or bikes are usually the easiest way to navigate you around the city and are often the cheapest price. If you intend to use normal taxi companies, please make sure you are choosing a reputable company and if you are travelling a long distance away make sure you agree on a price beforehand to ensure you are not ripped off. This is the same for taxis outside the airport. Make sure you book a transfer prior to arriving or agree on a fair price with the drive if going with a local taxi. When walking the streets make sure you are careful with your belongings as theft can be very common in the city. If you are looking for a unique experience in Saigon in the evening, head onto the Saigon river for a cruise to experience the epic skyline lit up as the sun goes down whilst enjoying an ice-cold local beer.


Rural south

If you are intending on heading a bit further out of the city to explore the rural areas around the City, the famous Mekong Delta is always worth a visit. This area is filled with beautiful Riverlands and jungle and is a great change-up from the hustle and bustle of Saigon for a day or two. 


Plan your trip!

Even though Saigon can be intense at times, it is an amazing city with so much culture and character. Make sure when you visit you explore as much as you possibly can and fully throw yourself into all the awesome things the city offers! For help and advice with planning your stay, speak to our awesome hostel travel team or flick us an email.