An Amazing Night With Street Food Man: A Truly Authentic Street Food Tour in Ho Chi Minh City

by - December 09, 2019

Late night markets, wandering vendors, bustling sidewalk stalls, these are the trademarks of Ho Chi Minh City’s mouth watering street food scene. Not only is Vietnamese food delicious, but its distinct flavours make it un-phở-gettable.  As we know, food plays a major role on anyone’s itinerary (especially mine), but when visiting Saigon it should be made a priority. I mean, let’s face it, if you didn’t eat street food in Saigon, were you ever really there?

After 2 years of calling this crazy city home, I had the chance to hop on the back of a motorbike to explore Ho Chi Minh City’s street food scene by night with Street Food Man. Let me just say this, my eyes have since been opened after such a unique experience! I thought I had tasted it all, I thought I’d seen it all, I mean, I thought I lived in Saigon! Boy was I wrong. Over the course of 4 hours I got a real and authentic Vietnamese street food experience through the weaving allies of Ho Chi Minh City. Street Food Man took me off of the beaten path, to places I’ve never been, to foods I’ve never tasted, to districts I hadn’t yet visited and gave me knowledge only locals would know.

If you’ve had a lurk of my Instagram you know the only thing I do in this city is eat to my heart’s content. So, my one piece of advice would be: eat until you can’t no more! And that’s exactly what I got up to on my tour with Street Food Man!

We started our night off by meeting up with the lovely Layla and Peter! Our guides, experts and motorbike drivers who kindly drove us through the sights, sounds, and smells of Saigon! 

First Stop

Our first stop led us through the winding and weaving District 3 to taste some bánh xèo and bánh khọt. In Vietnamese “bánh” means cake and “xèo” means sizzling. As we watched the chef flip, toss and turn her Vietnamese pancake every which way we soon found out why it’s called a sizzling pancake.

With over 20 years spent mastering her craft, the resulting bánh xèo and bánh khọt was to absolutely die for! Needless to say, I licked my fingers clean, this street food chef definitely knows a thing or two about flipping a Vietnamese pancake!

Second Stop

Next, we made our way across District 3 for a mini adventure through one of Saigon’s oldest apartment blocks. Peter and Layla, our trusty and knowledgeable guides, gave us the rundown of all the history that was made here and it truly was fascinating! 

Built in 1960, this complex consists of 11 large blocks which were used to bunk Americans during the Vietnam war. Nowadays, the apartments are still alive and well, housing many local residents. We even took a little climb to the top floor to visit a pagoda which had been built inside one of the old apartments by a female monk. How cool is that!

Third Stop

Our third stop landed us in two local markets, a Cambodian-Vietnamese market and Ho Chi Minh City’s largest Flower Market, both of which I’ve never been to before! Markets are central to local life, so it’s no wonder we stumbled upon some yummy drinks and tasty Vietnamese snacks. As we walked deeper into the maze of the market we were met with stunning bouquets of beautiful flowers! And we even got a special little gift from our guides! But it's a secret so you'll just have to go and find out for yourself!

Fourth Stop

Hopping back onto our motorbike, we drove through District 5’s urban streets to reach our next dish, bún chả! This Hanoian style dish is one of my all-time faves! The so called “Obama Noodles” need no introduction, but if you’ve been out of the loop think: cold rice noodles, meets grilled pork, meets fresh greens meets a savoury version of fish sauce that's good enough to drink. 

Fifth Stop

After we slurped up the remains of our bún chả we were off to District 10 where the city’s street food scene really thrives. It was time to dig in to some of the best coconut ice cream I’ve ever tasted! It’s no wonder this restaurant has been open since 1975. It’s all sorts of heavenly, imagine unicorns dancing on your tongue, that's how good!

Sixth Stop

After we squeezed through the narrow alleyways and past the banks of the Saigon River we made it to our last stop in District 4. It was time to feast on the local seafood this district is known for! We started off with mini scallops encrusted with bits of peanuts and shrimp skewers marinated to perfection. All of this came with a side of morning glory and fried noodles, washed down with a Saigon beer.  

As we chatted away with Peter, Layla sneakily pulled out some homemade rice wine, that was made in Vinny the Street Food Man's own village. It was bottoms up from there as we enjoyed our Happy Water and guzzled the rest of our beers.

Just when we thought our stomachs had reached capacity, out came the final dessert! Flan cake with caramel, coffee and coconut milk and yes I ate every last drop! There is always room for dessert, am I right...

My Final Thoughts

If you’re in Saigon, you need to enjoy life the way the locals do: on the back of a motorbike en route to some mouth-watering street food. Cuisine is an essential part of any culture and with Saigon’s back alleys and entangled streets, finding authentic local food can be quite a challenge here. Trust me, I should know by now. That's why I think Street Food Man has masterfully crafted a street food tour that takes you into the depths of Saigon's many districts in order to get that local food experience you've dreamt about. 

What I still cannot believe, is that after 2 years of living in Ho Chi Minh City, Street Food Man’s tour was able to uncover a whole new Saigon for me, one I haven’t seen before. I think that says a lot in itself. I loved how we were swept away to food stalls and restaurants in the small, winding neighborhoods that are frequented by locals rather than the usual District 1 spots catering to the masses of tourists. Our local guides were also not only experts, but experienced in all that Saigon has to offer. After all, they did grow up here, so who better to chat the night away with and gain insight into what life is really like in Vietnam! I mean, of course food is a major part of any culture, but isn’t it the local food vendors, restaurant owners and energetic guides living in Saigon we want to learn from in the end? I can say with certainty that Street Food Man has taken me off of the beaten path and immersed me in the delicious food, customs and hospitality of the Vietnamese people. Tonight was a night to remember phở-ever!

Essential Information

Time: 5:30pm to 9:30pm

Pick Up & Drop Off: Complementary ride from any hotel within District 1, 3, 4, 5 & 10. Any pick-ups outside this area will incur an extra charge depending on the location & distance of the hotel. Alternatively, you may make your way to the Saigon Opera House, 7 Lam Son Square in District 1.

 Sample Menu: 9 mouth-watering dishes, vegan and vegetarian options available

Included: All food and drinks, transportation by motorbike, English-speaking guides, poncho (if it rains), accident insurance

If you have any questions please reach out! There's nothing I'd love to do more than help you plan your Street Food Man experience!

Looking for a place to stay in Ho Chi Minh City? Checkout all your accommodation options here!

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