Connecting the modern District 1 to the culturally wealthy District 5 (China Town), Nguyen Trai is known as one of the most lively streets in downtown Saigon. Ideally situated on this famous street is, of course, Christina’s – The Mothership, which provides our lovely guests with easy access to popular tourist attractions in the city’s center, while at the same time, it’s located in an alleyway off the main street to avoid the incessant honking and pollution. We have compiled a list of places for you to visit around here that we think are awesome. We are also assuming you are either confused or super overwhelmed by your choices, so don’t worry, we have chosen our favorites.
PS: Do you know that Nguyen Trai is one of the few streets connecting Saigon’s center to China town?
Where to Eat & Drink
Pho Hung – 243 Nguyen Trai Street, District 1
Pho is widely accepted as a symbol of the Vietnamese culinary tradition and its growth has nearly reached the highest apex. This dish is served everywhere around the country, whether it be in the countryside or city, from street stalls to luxurious restaurants. So don’t skip out on pho, you may regret it!
Don’t worry, staying on Nguyen Trai Street means you have various choices on where to get your pho, but when it comes to finding the absolute best candidate among a dense number of rivals available on this street, there is not a noodle lover who doesn’t know Pho Hung.
Most people love Pho Hung for its tasty and charming broth combining a huge number of ingredients. The spacious restaurant has a dedicated staff and is one of the very few pho restaurants in the area that is open 24/7, so you can have your pho at any time of the day. Hidden inside each bowl of pho, there is a world full of flavors that keeps foodies coming back for more!
Read more: The Best Pho in Saigon
Oc Dao – 212B Alley, Nguyen Trai Street, District 1
If you ask a local for their recommendation on what to eat in Saigon, nine out of ten respondents would say sea snails! Indeed, Ho Chi Minh City is a paradise for seafood lovers. There are dozens of restaurants and small vendors serving hundreds of types of snails cooked in numerous ways. I can firmly guarantee that it is impossible to find any place with better sea snail dishes than here, right in Vietnam’s most bustling city.
Speaking of popular sea snail restaurants in Saigon, Oc Dao is often recommended. Due to a diverse menu, the use of fresh ingredients, and skillful preparation, the restaurant’s reputation is thus widespread – not only among local citizens but also among tourists. Currently, the chain has a total of three addresses in HCMC, but the most famous branch is the one on the Nguyen Trai Street.
Read more: How to Sea Snails (Ốc) in Saigon
Banh Xeo Muoi Xiem – 204 Nguyen Trai Sreet, District 1
Banh xeo has definitely won over a number of sincere devotees. These cakes are similar to crispy crepes stuffed with shrimp, pork, and bean sprouts, and ultimately, garnished with different types of fresh herbs. Banh xeo has always been recognized as one of the street foods that is most representative of the Vietnamese so if you randomly spot banh xeo while strolling down the street, don’t hesitate to give it a try!
The location that immediately pops up in one’s mind when they think about banh xeo is Muoi Xiem. The best thing about this place is that apart from the traditional banh xeo with shrimp and pork, the restaurant also creates unique types of banh xeo with mushroom filling (needle mushroom, abalone mushroom, lingzhi mushroom, etc…). This is also highly recommended for vegans!
Read more: Where to Find The Best Banh Xeo in Saigon
Hu Tieu Nam Vang Nhan Quan – A68 Nguyen Trai Street, District 1
We can say that hu tieu nam vang has become a familiar dish in the South of Vietnam. This type of noodle is from Cambodia, yet cooked Chinese style with a traditional Vietnamese touch.
Undoubtedly, Hu Tieu Nam Vang Nhan Quan has always been a must-try in the itinerary of someone on a Saigon food quest. Back in the late 90’s, Nhan Quan was only a tiny street vendor selling noodles, but after over two decades of slow expansion, it has now opened four successful restaurants in total. The branch is so famous that there are hundreds of fake names parading as the real thing around the country. Hidden in each bowl of noodles here, you can find a great variety of ingredients, such as cauliflower, shallots, onions, lotus, boiled shrimp, lean meat, quail eggs, etc. All these ingredients combine to make an amazingly flavorful dish that has never failed to enchant even the pickiest of eaters.
Banh Mi 37 – 37 Nguyen Trai Street, District 1
The uniqueness of banh mi not only lies within the French-influenced baguette, but also in the flavor-packed, savory Viet fillings which are what make the marriage of the two main ingredients a true love affair.
Famous for French-style sandwiches stuffed with grilled pork, the popular vendor at 37 Nguyen Trai Street has hundreds of purchases every day. If you are a big fan of street food, then the stall at this address should be prioritized. Honored as one of the finest 12 street foods in the world by the US tourism magazine, Condé Nast Traveler, Banh Mi 37 has successfully attracted a loyal fan base like never before.
Banh Mi Heo Quay – 97 Tran Dinh Xu Street, District 1
Eating roast pork with bread has existed in Saigon for a long time. However, just recently, people thought of chopping and stuffing roast pork in banh mi, along with onion, pickles, cucumber, cilantro, and a little bit of meaty pate. Currently, most large and small banh mi stalls in Saigon serve roast pork sandwiches, but the most famous of these is at 97 Tran Dinh Xu, District 1. Grabbing a banh mi at 97 Tran Dinh Xu will be a delectable way to start your day of wandering around the city.
Where to Visit
Thai Binh Market – 111 Pham Ngu Lao Street, District 1
Ho Chi Minh City is well-known for its many fascinating markets and each one has its own unique appeal. Despite the uniqueness, they all share one thing in common: crowded and bustling with life at all times, a true reflection of the local lifestyle. With diverse choices of traditional food, handicrafts, and friendly vendors, wandering around these Saigon markets is a must-do, especially if you’re a foreigner visiting Ho Chi Minh City for the first time.
Despite being located in the downtown area, Thai Binh Market is not really a common destination for travelers, which allows the market to maintain its own traditional characteristics. The market is always full of vendors sitting in tiny stalls and selling fresh food with huge smiles on their faces. Around the market are food vendors offering customers a varied mix of yummy dishes. Surprisingly, when you thought it couldn’t get even more full, during the night, more crowds appear.
Nguyen Trai Night Street Market
Nguyen Trai Street is definitely one of the busiest shopping areas of Ho Chi Minh City. This route, though not too long, is home to the biggest number of fashion retail stores in town. The items are sold at all prices, and the cheapest starts from just a few dollars. Wandering around this area after 7 PM will allow you to fully enjoy the proper atmosphere without stressing yourself out. The origin of goods available on Nguyen Trai Street is widely diverse, including items from Vietnam, China, Taiwan, and Japan, so you’re really in for a shopping treat.
Besides the fancy boutiques, there are also stalls on the sidewalks selling all types of dresses, handbags, backpacks, footwear, shoes, and even jewelry, all very affordable. Also, don’t forget to bargain down for things you really want to buy, typically to a third of what the seller initially offers. Don’t be shy – it’s how we all do it. I hope you have enough time to try all these places out and let us know about your experiences!
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