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“Where can we go in Ho Chi Minh city that's off the beaten track?” That’s one of the most common questions we have heard from our friends around the world and tourists alike. If someone says that there is very little to do in Ho Chi Minh city, and that most activities for foreigners are over-touristy, we will beg to disagree. That could have been the situation 5 years ago, but things are slowing changing.
In the last couple of years, Saigon has seen accelerated progression, which has led to a new definition of the term, “local culture”. Coupled with a booming number of expats and returning foreign Vietnamese residing in this city, many entertainment venues have sprung up like mushrooms all over the city, catering to a new generation of customers on the prowl for unique activities. So if you are planning to visit Ho Chi minh city anytime soon, ignore what has been said by other tourists, and check out for yourselves this curated list of 10 fun and unusual things to do in Saigon, to go completely off the tourist grid.
Stand-up Paddle Boarding on the Saigon River
Saigon River is a dynamic waterway that is home to an array of activities. And for most tourists, this usually means dinner onboard a luxury cruise docked nearby. Locals on the other hand, prefer to enjoy the beauty of the Saigon River in a different way. Stand-up paddle boarding is a trendy and fun thing to do in Ho Chi Minh city, that many travelers are not aware of. Hit up the Go SUP Club to ride the gentle waves and take in the peaceful river-scape. Fans of stand-up paddle boarding will agree that this therapeutic activity not only helps relieve stress, but also allows us to admire the city from a different perspective, away from its usual hustle and bustle. So, if you have not tried stand-up paddle boarding before, do consider using this trip as an excuse to try out something new.
Stand-up comedy at Saigon International Comedy
Hitting the night spots is one of the favorite things to do at night for tourists coming to Saigon. But besides subjecting yourself to the deafening music and dazzling lights in a bar or at a club, there are many other unique ways of spending your evenings in this city. Stand-up comedy is emerging as a much sought after activity for the younger Saigonese. And for the English speaking community, Saigon International Comedy is where you can crack up at the deeply raunchy jokes. Scheduled weekly at the hippest cafes and bars in Ho Chi Minh city, Saigon International Comedy gathers the most famous local comedians who are always ready to entertain you. They reflect on the classic stereotypes and social norms, which is a great way learn more about Vietnamese culture. There is no better place to share the laughter, and make new local friends, than at a comedy show.
Jewellery Making at Vietnam Silver House
Many tourists take home souvenirs such as t-shirts, lacquer ornaments, and paintings, as a reminder of their vacation to Ho Chi Minh city. For a more memorable and meaningful experience, how about making your own unique piece of silver jewellery instead? Vietnamese silversmiths are considered the best in the world for their skill and creativity. And in Saigon, Vietnam Silver House stands out as a popular brand synonymous with quality silver craftsmanship. Starting with a quick tour around its splendid showroom located in the heart of Chinatown, you will get to explore the essence of Vietnamese silversmith through a dazzling display of high-end silver products. And once the walkthrough is over, you will learn how to forge your own silver accessories under the guidance of some of the most skilled artisans. The entire experience takes about 120 minutes. For only 35 USD per person, this silver-making course allows you to craft your own personalized jewellery pieces ranging from rings to bracelets.
Address: 68 Nghia Thuc Street, Ward 5, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City
Experience Mekong at Binh Quoi Tourist Village
Seeking a village amid an energetic metropolitan like Saigon may seem like a tall order, but it is certainly not a mission impossible. Many spaces have been re-created to allow visitors to experience a slice of life in the Mekong Delta. However, none comes as close to being as lifelike, as the Binh Quoi Tourist Village. Tucked away in a more remote part of Ho Chi Minh city, Binh Quoi Tourist Village will transport you to a dreamy getaway where you can paddle in a lake, go fishing, and enjoy walks through lush greenery. With a vast expanse of grasslands dotted with small cottages and a large fish pond, the space delivers an elegant atmosphere of the bygone Mekong Delta. Binh Quoi Tourist Village is only a 30 minutes drive from District 1. For short stopovers that do not allow the luxury of being able to travel out of Ho Chi Minh city, this could be your quick alternative.
Address: 1147 Binh Quoi, Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City
Shred the Snowy Slopes at SnowTown Saigon
Going strong since 2017, SnowTown Saigon is the largest indoor ski resort in Southeast Asia. It is another of the most fun things to do in Ho Chi Minh city that has been off tourists’ radar. Needless to say, this park is extremely popular in a city that doesn’t see any snowfall. This winter wonderland is a perfect getaway to shred the snowy slopes, snowboard, or have snowball fights with your friends. Encompassing 4000 square meters, SnowTown Saigon inherits Japanese cutting-edge artificial snow-making technology that cover this area with a 35-centimeter depth of snow. The ski runs sits on a snowy hill with an 8-meter elevation gain, making it a spectacular slide for skiing enthusiasts. SnowTown also offers visitors a panoramic view of a winter landscape not seen in this part of the world. And if you are coming over to Saigon during the hottest months of the year between May and September, being indoors and away from the scorching sun is definitely a “cool” idea.
Address: Floor 3-4, The CBD Premium Home, 125 Dong Van Cong Street, Thanh My Loi Ward, District 2, Ho Chi Minh City
Live Music, Pain Spray, and Skate at Saigon Outcast
Located within 20 minutes’ drive from the buzz of District 1, Saigon Outcast is a hideout for off-beaten-path travellers and Vietnamese hipsters alike. This trendy and unpretentious hub appears with several shipping containers on a grassy lot, making it aesthetically appealing to those who appreciate minimalism. Saigon Outcast is a multi-purpose event venue main patronized by locals and expats, who flock here to indulge in the craft beer scene, sway in a music concert, and enjoy their shopping spree at the Bohemian flea market. Regular workshops are hosted every Tuesday and Wednesday, an outdoor cinema on Thursday, social gatherings on Friday, and live music on Sunday. You may even buy some spray paint cans to contribute to the vibrant graffiti arts scene here, or grab an ice-cold beer at a self-service bar. For the more sophisticated tourists looking for a night out, up-scale service and fine-dining are definitely not available at this place.
Address: 188/1 Nguyen Van Huong Street, Thao Dien, District 2, Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnamese Authentic “Roasted Coffee” at 96B Experiment
Vietnamese coffee is famous for that intense and complex kick that will raise your senses with the first few sips. However, the coffee scene in Saigon is rapidly changing, and the locals are leaning towards something newer, more fun, and distinctive. Roasted coffee is gradually replacing traditional filters as the new trend in coffee drinking. At 96B Experiment, it is not just about sipping on the black caffeine bitterness, but raising the whole drinking experience to a new level. The owners of 96B have evolved from being a coffee exporter and roaster, to producing and innovating with locally-grown coffee varieties from Central Vietnam. As its name suggests, what started off as an experiment, will continue to pave new ways for which coffee can be enjoyed. Do check out 96B’s playful range of specialty signature drinks. The best-sellers are cold brews featuring Liberica beans, which will caress your mouth with a sweet, sophisticated, and chocolate-like aftertaste.
Address: 96B Phan Ngu Street, Da Kao, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Locally Brewed Craft Beer at Rogue Saigon
Need an alternative to Bui Vien street? Dwarfed by the commercial buildings in District 1, Pasteur street is another drinking area that is popular with both locals and expats. And amongst them, Rogue Saigon is a great place to enjoy some locally brewed craft beer. Most people flock here to enjoy the strong brews, but we love Rogue for another reason altogether. The mild music creates a relaxing ambience where you can have a proper conversation with friends. Sometimes, we are torn between having an all-out beer drinking session or just a laid back Friday evening. But Rogue seems to offer the best balance of both in one place. And while you are there, do enquire about their special concoctions which are only available occasionally. Roque also has a roster of live bands which plays a good mix of pop and Vietnamese indie. And if you hit the bar after dusk, pick an outdoor seat where you can admire Saigon’s stunning skyline.
Address: Floor 2, 13 Pasteur Street, Nguyen Thai Binh Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Satisfy your craft beer cravings on a Private craft beer tour with Klook.
Enjoy Live Music Performances at Phiêu Café
Live music venues are not very common in Ho Chi Minh city. And spending an evening at a high-end bar in the Rex Hotel or Caravelle Hotel could really hurt your wallets. Unfortunately for first time visitors to Saigon, most travel websites are likely to point you in this direction. So why not get off the beaten track, and follow the locals to a lesser-known neighborhood of Saigon? Smack dab in District 10, Phiêu Acoustic Café finds itself completely severed from the hustling street. Stop by a large, quiet alley and wander to the backstreet, where you will end up at an old, low-ceiling café hidden behind a small wooden door. A mix of romantic Valse melody and upbeat pop songs livens up the crowd every night. The crowd here is enthusiastic, while prices for drinks are reasonable. Phiêu is a small venue so remember to claim your seat by 6 pm before setting out via Facebook! Live music schedule: 8:15 pm – 10 pm nightly.
Address: 343/6 To Hien Thanh Street, Ward 13, District 10, Ho Chi Minh City
Free Movie Night at Art House Saigon
Our last recommendation is the best kept secret for movie lovers coming to Saigon. The Art House Saigon is the most famous free-seating cinema in town which screens the most popular timeless movies of all time. And the best part is that, it is a completely free! What started off as a non-profit and community-based art program, has grown to attract enthusiasts and critics alike. The movies shown here are carefully curated, and are highly regarded as an art form. Once the post-credit scene is over, it is not uncommon to observe amateur cinephiles and elites gathering together to discuss the values and morals behind these masterpieces. At Art House Saigon, you will find some of the rarest movies as well as award winning Vietnamese films. Do try to bring along a local who can better explain the movie content to you. Scheduled every Friday night, these movies are the perfect way to learn about Vietnamese Culture. Seats are limited, so advanced reservation via Facebook is a must.
Address: Charlot Hall (Floor 2), Hoa Sen University, 8 Nguyen Van Trang Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Join a Saigon Vietnam Cycling Tour With Jackfruit Adventure (Premium Partner)
Saigon is a bustling city with many things to explore. You may choose to follow tourist routes in the city to visit popular tourist spots, or if gnarly challenges are what gets your blood pumping, why not go on Vietnam Cycling Tours with Jackfruit to immerse yourself in Saigon’s real urban life. With sustainable and community centred tourism at its core, the passionate team at Jackfruit always keeps experimenting and introducing new tour itineraries so that you can discover and enjoy Ho Chi Minh city at its finest. Riding a bicycle through the tiny hidden alleys, and being able to discover what other tourists won't, is an absolutely amazing experience that you wouldn't want to miss.
With the above recommendations, we hope that we have given you 10 more good reasons to extend your stay in Ho Chi Minh city.
You may wish to check out our other recommendations in Ho Chi Minh