The best Ho Chi Minh city and food tours

Photo by Lucas Hoang / Unsplash

What better way to explore southern capital than getting off the touristy routes and experiencing all the top things to do in Ho Chi Minh city? Witness amazing culinary culture, emblematic landmarks, and vibrant nightlife.

Previously named Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is a major metropolis in Vietnam and is one of the most popular destinations throughout Southeast Asia. The city offers travelers all the best of a vibrant metropolis and historical significances, allowing them to explore the authentic local culture while still being able to learn more about the Vietnam War from a local perspective. With a pleasant climate all year round, Saigon is indeed a perfect destination for everyone to come and explore.

To experience the best of this bustling city, you can choose from walking, cycling or motorbiking on a city tour. At any time of the day, Saigon has an endless number of things to keep you busy, from the serene morning until the vibrant nightlife. While maintaining a high standard, our best Ho Chi Minh city tours also offer a diverse range of options that cater to all ages and personalities, making your journey to the southern part of Vietnam to be worry-free and insightful. Scroll down to explore more!

Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) in Vietnam is a maddening crush of humanity and humidity. I took this shot crossing the road on a Saturday night when when everyone in the city (especially the young) take the opportunity to get out of the house and cruise the streets.
Photo by Matthew Nolan / Unsplash

The ultimate Ho Chi Minh City tours
for food lovers and insight seekers

One of the most attractive features of Ho Chi Minh City as a most-visited destination is that even in the big tourist hubs, you will still find a room to taste all of its authenticity. You won't have to worry about missing out on any fun but you may immediately find yourself spending half of your exploring time just to find which parts are worth seeing or what to beware in this hectic country. Why don't leave that mission to a local guide who can save you from the hassles and take you to see the city and all of its traits? A day tour around the city is best when combined with one of our unique Saigon food tours, offering you the chance to not only feel the city vibes and immerse into its rich history but also get to taste the locals' most favorite food.

Escape the tourist traps

Quite frankly, Vietnam is one of the trickiest countries to explore. Tourist scams are common whether you are an independent traveler or with a travel agent. Along the busy streets and at the front desk of your hotel. there are many kinds of city tours which take you to visit most tourist attractions in Saigon. Yet, it is likely that you're going to buy high-priced tickets, join in mainstream activities or hardly learn anything after the day is over. Once your trip is over, you may find your days in HCMC to have been packed with unfulfilled experiences. You might even find it to have been a giant waste of time.

However, when done right, a trip to the south of Vietnam will be filled with tons of insightful experiences and valuable lessons. Local Insider always highlights your travel experiences with authentic activities and informative local guides with cool knowledge about this country that even Google or other large group tours cannot give you. Besides the top tourist attractions, hidden gems and delicious local food, you are also invited to join in traditional cooking sessions, pottery classes or skip the line with a ticket to À Ố Show - one of the best cultural shows in town. You will truly feel the sense of being a local rather than just wandering around touristy spots.

The best Saigon food tours you will ever have

Experiencing street food is one of the best things to do in Ho Chi Minh City. While the local cuisine in the North is oriented around traditional foods with complicated recipes, the South is better known for its simple street food, which is a harmonious combination of the best dishes from 3 regions, leading it to be called the heaven of Vietnamese street food. The perks of enjoying Saigon street food lie not only in satisfying your stomach but also to offer you the chance to discover hidden gems while exploring small alleyways or big busy streets. Trying street food in Saigon, however, is not just arriving at the stalls and making your orders. There is truly an art of enjoying street food in this country.

Not only incredibly delicious, tasting street food in Saigon is also adventurous, atmospheric and authentic. You may walk up to a food stall not knowing any Vietnamese words and the staff does not speak great English, but it's still exciting to order something even though you may not know what it is. Vietnamese food is not all about Pho and Banh Mi; but there are many other mouthwatering dishes sold in small food stalls that have reached the pinnacle of balanced flavors. We will not only take you to taste Saigon's best dishes at the locals' most favorite places but also let you hear the story from the stall owners, whose cuisine skills and secret recipes are passed from generation to generation.

Motorbike, bicycle, walking, or car. You choose!

Once visiting Vietnam, you will undoubtedly question “How do people cross the road even when the traffic seems so chaotic?”. The incredible volume of motorbikes on the road, cars, trucks, and unnamed vehicles can be intimidating to all first-time visitors. The traffic is much worse during rush hours (normally 7 am to 9 am, when people are trying to get to work and 4 pm to 6 pm when they go back home after a hard day's work). Still, crossing traffic is actually not that bad as long as you explore this aspect in your own way, whether it is by motorbike, bicycle, walking or car. You will certainly have a way to do it.

Believe it or not, Vietnamese people are all highly-skilled drivers and they do it every day! No one will ever run into you as long as you take it slow, walk in a straight line; the traffic will flow smoothly around you. If you're a bit adventurous, take a backseat with an experienced local guide on a motorbike. Conquer the traffic flow and learn the implicit rules that riders have with each other. It is not that chaotic at all!

Adventurous or relaxing. You tell us!

Your satisfaction is our priority. Available in both private and small group tours, every experience in our best Ho Chi Minh City tour always offers a private room to suit your needs and desires. Whether you're a culture addict or a history buff, our best Ho Chi Minh City tours offer you a wide range of choices for the most local and insightful experiences. We make sure that you can see the top attractions at its least crowded time. You will immerse yourself in the vibrant cultures while gaining real insight into the rich history of the region. From the traditional handmade workshops to the best cultural shows in town, our local experiences will definitely let you witness the essence of this city.

Are you a fan of street food and fascinated by the dynamic nightlife of Saigon? A wondrous blend of a Saigon food tour and city tour will be our most recommended choice. Follow your passionate local guide to discover all the best things to do in the city, explore the amazing street food culture found in small alleys, or experiencing all the top activities of Saigon's nightlife. Mostly available on private tours, every experience is suitable for family, group of friends, couples or even solo travelers.

An insightful trip guaranteed

It cannot be considered a great trip if you only get to see famous tourist attractions without experiencing the local culture and learning about their historical background. You will not be considered to have actually been to Saigon without spending a day exploring its amazing culinary culture and joining in the traditional activities of the Vietnamese. No matter what option you choose, you're guaranteed to have a very insightful and educational trip.

Have you ever thoroughly made use of your textbooks without the help of instructors? Same with your trip, you cannot fully explore the destination without the help of its locals that are native to the region. Therefore, we carefully select our local guides. They are not only knowledgeable about their hometown and its history but also caring about you. Whether you're a vegetarian or a meat eater, want to explore every corner of Saigon or idly watch the city from bird's eye view, you will surely find a travel buddy of your choice here.

Frequently asked questions

Is Ho Chi Minh City really worth a visit?

Yes, if you are looking for a place that is rich in culture but not as tourist-ridden as Thailand. Yes, if you plan to budget your vacation, and major yes if you are looking for awesome food! With well-established travel routes that are far from being over-saturated, Ho Chi Minh City is the perfect choice for those who want to experience an authentic local culture and gain real insight into the rich history of the region. Still a fan of modern comforts? Don’t worry, HCMC is the largest metropolis of Vietnam, with many five-star hotels, restaurants, and modern amenities galore!

Is it safe to travel in Ho Chi Minh City?

Generally, yes. Vietnam’s crime rates are low and usually exist in the form of petty crimes. In big cities, be extra careful with your belongings as pickpocketing, snatch-and-grab robbery, and scams are common whether you're walking in public or in the backseat of a motorbike. With that being said, an appropriate level of precaution and some help from will save you from unwanted troubles. Don’t try walking alone at 1 AM!

Vietnam traffic, as you might have heard, is very chaotic - especially to those unfamiliar with it. Saigon is the city with the largest concentration of motorbikes in the entire world. During rush hour, drivers can become extremely impatient, riding their motorbikes on the pavement rather than waiting on traffic or constantly shouting out at others to get out of their way, even when there is obviously nowhere to move. It is not recommended to drive yourself around, even if you are an experienced driver. Instead, ask a local for help. Vietnamese people understand that foreigners struggle crossing the streets and are willing to help. Hop on the back seat of a motorbike with a local guide and start your journey to explore this vibrant city.

Is it safe to enjoy street food in Ho Chi Minh City?

Yes ... sort of. Food hygiene in Vietnam is loosely regulated, so it can be a tricky task to savor great food when you don’t have insight into a venue or street cart beforehand. In reality, the majority of “venues” are food vendors that are not necessarily selling street food. If they have a physical store inside, they are generally safe. Try to avoid foods which are sold directly on the street where the standards are lower.

If you are traveling by yourself, review websites such as Yelp and Foursquare. This can be helpful when it comes to good food recommendations. You might miss out on the authentic places where the locals actually eat, however, so another way to ensure good food hygiene is to have a local take you to their favorite spots.

When is the best time to visit Ho Chi Minh City?

Ho Chi Minh City is blessed with a pleasant climate with two distinct seasons: the dry season and the rainy season.

Running roughly from November to March, the dry season is generally thought of as the best time to visit Saigon. March, April, and May are the hottest months with the average temperature getting up to 40°C but there is less humidity, which makes it much more bearable. If you visit in late December, you'll get to experience Christmas and New Year in Saigon. Though primarily a Buddhist country, Christmas is celebrated largely in the southern part, and you'll see a myriad of decorations up and sales on in the shops.Note that during Tet festival - Vietnam's Lunar New Year celebration, falling between late January and the Middle of February - lots of shops and restaurants will be closed, and accommodation will be more expensive. Yet, the Tet festivities also make it an exciting time to visit Saigon, so if you have a decent budget then it's still worth traveling at this time.

The rainy season sees higher humidity and of course, more rain. Tropical storms become more frequent, but it's still a perfectly good time to travel to Saigon since the rain only lasts for about an hour. From May to December is the low season so you can expect cheaper airfares and hotel rates. Various public vacations also take place during this time and they can mean that restaurants and shops are closed and public transportation is harder to come by. The main holidays are Vietnam Reunification Day (30 April), International Workers' Day (1 May) and Vietnam National Day (2 September).

Is there anything I need to know before visiting?

If you do a bit of research and keep in mind the safety precautions mentioned above, you should be fine to travel to Ho Chi Minh City! But if you want to dive deep into the experiences that the city has to offer, there are a few other things to know before you go:

  • Master some useful phrases to help you in emergencies and avoid scams. Learn more here:
  • Tips are not mandatory, but if you really appreciate the service, feel free to give the locals a few extra ten thousand Dong or so.
  • Thousands of Dong? Yeah … people here are all millionaires. The current exchange rate (as of 2018) of the Vietnam Dong is $1 USD = 23,000 VND. Make sure that you are used to the zeros to bargain effectively :)
  • Credit cards are widely accepted by large shops, hotels, and restaurants in Vietnam. Small vendors and places in rural areas do not. Make sure you always have some cash with you.