While visiting Da Lat, Vietnam, we were lucky to meet Theo, a local of Saigon, (Ho Chi Minh City) who was vacationing there. We sat down with him to ask what he loves most about the city, and what tips he would give visitors.
How long have you been living in HCMC?
Where are you originally from?
Binh Duong Province.
What do you like most about Saigon?
The thing I like most is the people.
What about them?
People in Ho Chi Minh are really friendly and open minded. If you ever have a problem in Saigon, people are willing to help you. They don’t care where you’re from. For example, if you’re from another city and you don’t know where to go, they will explain the directions to you really clearly. But if you are in Hanoi, some people might ask you for money for directions.
What are your favourite three places to eat?
In general, if I want to eat, I would go to some local street food place. For example, for noodles, rice or pancakes, you can go to District 10. There is a place named Su Van Hanh Street.
Local street food:
- District 10 Su Van Hanh (pancakes/noodles)
- Phu Nhuan District, Phan Xich Long
- District 4, Vinh Khanh (seafood/snails)
What are your 3 favourite places to have a drink with friends?
Normally we just go to District 1 on Bui Vien Street (the Western backpacker area). They have a lot of pubs and bars there. There’s also a place that’s really interesting called Indika Saigon. Actually, it was founded by French people, so not many local people go there, but it’s popular with Westerners. And they have really good music.
We also go to some beer clubs like Kingdom Beer Club, Poc Poc and The Fox.
What are your 3 favourite coffee shops?
I would recommend Ca Phe Vot for a really traditional way of making Vietnamese coffee.
Trung Nguyen coffee shop is another good one. It actually comes from the highland part of Vietnam, near Da Lat. They’re a really big coffee company, and their coffee is actually considered to be the best in Vietnam.
I also like to go to The Coffee House, which is a Vietnamese chain.
What would you recommend that people visiting Ho Chi Minh City see? Some things that you must do?
It really depends on what you want to see. If you’re interested in history, you can see the Cu Chi Tunnels or The War Museum. Besides that, we also have some other museums around the city. If you like culture, you can go see the Water Puppet Show. It’s a very traditional art of Vietnam.
Are there any things that a foreigner should know before travelling to Vietnam?
The French and Americans have been in Saigon for a long time, so people here are very open minded to Western culture, but one thing you shouldn’t do is express romantic love in public. For couples, holding hands is okay, but not kissing.
Another thing foreigners should know is that, when you go into a shop and you’re the first customer of the day, don’t bargain. Because Vietnamese people believe that the first customer of the day brings good luck or bad luck. If you go to the shop early in the morning and there is no one there, you can assume you’re the first person of the day.
Let’s find out more about Theo…
Where would you most like to live in the world?
Honestly, I’ve never been outside of Vietnam, so I don’t know much about the rest of the world, obviously (especially the Western part). But for me, I would like to live wherever I feel free and experience as much as I can about people and life.
What’s the most reliable source of travel advice?
There are a plenty of choices for good sources of travel advice, including friends, online resources such as TripAdvisor, articles, travel blogs… I like to ask my friends for advice first (especially those who have something in common with me), then I’d look up some further information on the internet through the official websites of the destination, blogs by travellers or facebook travel groups. But, I think it still depends on what you’re really looking for. People see things from different perspectives so sometimes you may like things that most other people don’t like. Hence, you might miss interesting things if you’re so keen on the advice of others.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
To discover more of beautiful Vietnam through the eyes of Theo, check out his Instagram page, where he posts amazing shots of his travel destinations around the country!