Ho Chi Minh City, previously called Saigon (and before that, Prey Nokor), is one of Vietnam’s largest cities with a history that can be traced back to the 4th century AD. Centuries later in the mid-1800s, Ho Chi Minh City was colonized by the French, which influenced some of the country’s food and architecture. Today, Ho Chi Minh City is an energetic city with a busy personality, wonderful people, and full of amazing food that also very cheap.

But food isn’t the only thing this city has to offer—there are cafes, churches, temples, markets, hiking spots, museums, and a lively nightlife. So for those who are considering a getaway to Ho Chi Minh City, here are some hidden gems to add to your list.

Tram Cafe

Vietnam is known for having some of the best coffee that’s also very strong, and although there are numerous cafes around the city, one of the most interesting ones is called Tram Cafe. The two-story place has a tropical theme featuring botanicals, lanterns and a mini pond with koi fish. It’s a favorite among the locals, and perfect for those who are wanting to get a good cup of caffeine before starting the day. The food is also not too bad, but the ambiance and the coffee are what this place is known for.

Saigon Kitsch

There are a ton of markets throughout Ho Chi Minh City, but if you’re looking for unique gifts and souvenirs, Saigon Kitsch is a nice go-to store. The shop offers interesting t-shirts, tablet and smartphone covers made from recycled materials, posters with Vietnamese puns or ones relating to the war, coasters and so much more. The items are a little more expensive than what you would find at other souvenir shops, but the ones in Saigon Kitsch are of much better quality—you’re paying a little extra for durable items.

Binh Tay Market

If you do happen to want to stop by a market, we recommend Binh Tay Market, also known as Cholon Chinatown Market. It was first built by the French in the 1880s, and since then, Binh Tay Market has been a go-to place for locals, offering an energetic and bright shopping experience. You can find anything from clothes, lacquered bowls and Buddhas, to vegetables and meats. Binh Tay Market also has an open food area where you can have various bits of Vietnamese snacks such as banh bao (buns filled with meat), pho (noodle soup), com tam (broken rice) and goi cuon (spring rolls) to name a few. Come here with an empty stomach so that you can sample various goodies! Bin Tay Market is open every day, from 8am to 5pm.

Snuffbox Lounge

Are you a fan of speakeasies? Then make your way to Snuffbox Lounge, a jazz-type place with live music every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, and an atmosphere that fuses vintage with modern. The lounge offers unique drinks prepared in their own way, and if you’re at the bar area, watch how the bartenders make the drinks—it’s like a little performance. Snuffbox Lounge is a wonderful spot to unwind after a day of eating, walking and sightseeing; it is open every day from 6pm to 3am.

Ho Chi Minh City has been around for many centuries, which is why the city is a fun destination to spend some time when visiting Vietnam. If you do happen to make it on your list of go-to places, we hope this city guide can help you explore some of the city’s hidden gems.

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