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A Foodie Guide to the Different Neighborhoods in Ho Chi Minh City

Get ready for a culinary journey through the vibrant neighborhoods in Ho Chi Minh City. Let me take you on a flavorful adventure as we explore the unique food scenes in each district.

From the bustling markets of District 1 to the hidden gems of District 5, get ready to discover delicious dishes and local favorites that will tantalize your taste buds.

So grab your chopsticks and join us as we discover this city’s best food!

Related read: Things to Do in Ho Chi Minh City: A Guide for Travelers

Here is a summary:

An Overview of the Neighborhoods in Ho Chi Minh City

The city is divided into 24 districts, 19 inner-city districts and 5 suburban areas, some of which are numbered and others named.

Districts 1 and 3 are considered the modern heart of the city. Each district is further divided into smaller sections called wards. This system helps manage and organize addresses and locations, especially in large districts like the triangular Tan Binh, extending from the airport, or the diamond-shaped District 9.

Vibrant Wards in Ho Chi Minh City

These selected wards are highlighted for their diverse international creative communities and bustling scenes of trendy pop-up bars, cafes, and shops.

In essence, each ward possesses its own unique charm, appealing to a wide range of interests and showcasing its distinctive personality.

Dakao Ward

The Da Kao Ward in Ho Chi Minh City is such a cool spot! It’s buzzing with life and has a little bit of everything to offer. From cultural happenings to craft beer joints and hip eateries, Da Kao has something for everyone.

Situated up north in District 1, it’s super convenient to get to from all over the city, nestled between Binh Thanh and District 3.

Thao Dien Ward

Thao Dien Ward (The Expat Quarter Of Saigon) is a charming neighborhood in Ho Chi Minh City known for its relaxed atmosphere and expatriate community.

Situated in District 2, Thao Dien offers a peaceful escape from the bustling city center while still providing easy access to amenities and attractions.

The area is characterized by its tree-lined streets, quaint cafes, and boutique shops. With a mix of modern developments and traditional Vietnamese architecture, Thao Dien has become a popular residential area for both locals and expats seeking a tranquil lifestyle.

Phu My Hung Ward

Phu My Hung Ward (aka Korean town of Saigon) is a vibrant and modern neighborhood located in District 7 of Ho Chi Minh City.

Developed as a planned urban area, Phu My Hung is known for its spacious streets, green spaces, and modern amenities. It is a bustling hub of residential, commercial, and recreational activities, offering a high standard of living for its residents.

This ward is famous for its well-designed infrastructure, including international schools, hospitals, shopping malls, and entertainment centers. It attracts both locals and expatriates seeking a comfortable and convenient lifestyle. Phu My Hung is also renowned for its clean and orderly environment, making it a desirable destination for families and professionals alike.

Restaurants at the Phu My Hung Ward in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Restaurants at the Phu My Hung Ward in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Nguyen Thai Binh Ward

Nguyen Thai Binh Ward in District 1 of Ho Chi Minh City has undergone significant transformation in recent years. Once an industrial area reminiscent of pre-1975 Saigon, it has evolved into a lively neighborhood with trendy food and beverage establishments.

Despite its central location, the ward maintains a vibrant underground atmosphere. It is known for its bustling streets filled with shops, restaurants, and cafes, as well as historical landmarks and cultural attractions.

With a diverse range of amenities and services, Nguyen Thai Binh Ward has become a thriving and dynamic hub for both locals and tourists.

Street at the Nguyen Thai Binh Ward in District 1 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Street at the Nguyen Thai Binh Ward in District 1 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Phu Nhuan District

Phu Nhuan has seen a surge in expat residents attracted by its vibrant street food scene and affordable living costs. Many young Vietnamese also call this district home.

One of the bustling areas in Phu Nhuan is Phan Xich Long Street, which stands out for its unique naming convention. The streets in this area are named after flowers, adding to its charm.

Here, you’ll find a wide range of restaurants and food vendors catering to all tastes and budgets. There’s something for everyone, whether it’s upscale dining or street food stalls. If you’re unsure what to eat in Phu Nhuan, a visit to Phan Xich Long is a must.

It’s always bustling with activity, making it the perfect spot to explore the district’s diverse culinary offerings.

Some long-standing food establishments in the area include:

Are you looking for vegetarian food? Read our guide: Where to Find the Best Vegetarian Food in Ho Chi Minh

Guide to District 2 in Ho Chi Minh City

Often dubbed the D2 ‘bubble’ by locals who are hesitant to venture back into the central districts through Binh Thanh and over the Saigon Bridge, District 2 has rapidly developed into a self-sustaining enclave. This transformation is evidenced by the presence of gyms, spas like Nutrifort and Thao Dien Village, supermarkets such as Annam Gourmet, bars like BiaCraft Artisan Ales, and co-working spaces like the Hive.

Historically one of the poorest areas in Ho Chi Minh City due to its isolation by the Saigon River, recent prioritized development and extensive urbanization have turned District 2 into one of the city’s most upscale districts. The Thu Thiem tunnel, opened in 2011, now connects it to the edges of Districts 1 and 4, facilitating easier access.

If you prefer a modern environment with ample international-standard amenities, Western food options, and sports pubs, District 2 is the ideal choice. It offers a quiet, clean environment with more breathing space.

However, it’s important to note that District 2 experiences frequent and severe flooding, leading to transportation disruptions and potential water damage, depending on the location within the district.

Guide to District 4 (seafood paradise)

District 4 in Ho Chi Minh City is often regarded as a hidden gem that visitors might overlook. This district has a rich history and diverse cultural influences, making it an intriguing destination to explore.

One of the defining features of District 4 is its location, situated along the Saigon River. This proximity has historically shaped the district’s identity and development. While it was once considered a more marginalized area, recent years have seen significant revitalization and transformation.

District 4 is characterized by its vibrant street life, bustling markets, and diverse culinary scene. Visitors can immerse themselves in the local culture by exploring the narrow alleyways, known as “hem,” which are filled with street vendors selling delicious Vietnamese street food.

Overall, District 4 is a dynamic and lively part of Saigon that offers a unique blend of history, culture, and modernity. Whether you’re interested in exploring its traditional markets, sampling street food, or simply taking in the sights along the river, this district has something to offer for everyone.

Related read: Not to Miss Traditional Food in Ho Chi Minh City

Recommended seafood restaurants:

Guide to District 5 (Cholon or Chinatown)

District 5 in Ho Chi Minh City is renowned as Vietnam’s “Chinatown.” While many major cities worldwide boast their own Chinatowns, Vietnam’s ancient Chinese heritage is particularly strong and visible.

The roots of Chinatown in Saigon trace back to the Ming Dynasty of the 17th century. During this period, a significant influx of people sought refuge in Vietnam, resulting in a substantial population of direct descendants from mainland China. The ancestral ties are palpable in District 5.

Upon entering this territory, one notices shop signs and restaurant menus predominantly in Mandarin rather than Vietnamese. Many residents still converse in Mandarin, and traditional Chinese street food areas like Ngo Quyen are popular among locals and foreigners alike. District 5 exudes tradition, adorned with ornate decorations and vibrant cultural displays.

Local festivities such as the Lunar New Year (TET) and the Mid-Autumn Festival are celebrated with great fervor in Chinatown, adding to its rich tapestry of culture and heritage.

Guide to District 7 (Korean town)

District 7 is often associated with the upscale and modern area of Phu My Hung (aka rich town of Saigon). This Ho Chi Minh neighborhood appeals to a younger, international crowd and is known for its clean, spacious sidewalks, as street food and vending are largely prohibited.

Phu My Hung attracts families, expatriates, and locals alike, offering a different atmosphere than other parts of the city. Life here is slower-paced, boasting the largest South Korean population in Vietnam.

The ward features a variety of international restaurants, leading international schools like Saigon South, coffee shops, bars, and health clinics. It provides a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city center, offering residents more privacy.

However, one downside of District 7 is its distance from the city center, making the commute to downtown or northern areas quite lengthy and potentially challenging, depending on your workplace location .

Binh Thanh District (cheap food for university students)

Binh Thanh District is full of narrow, winding alleyways waiting to be explored. When you cross the bridges from District 1, you’ll experience a more authentic side of Vietnam.

These neighborhoods in Ho Chi Minh City are lively, with lots of activity like children playing, cockfights, and homemade beer brewing. Binh Thanh is growing because of recent investments, especially with its proximity to District 2, just a short drive away. This area is becoming popular among expats, especially with new developments like Pearl Plaza.

You can find a variety of affordable dining options offering delicious and budget-friendly food in D2 street or Hutech university area (cheap and good)

While Binh Thanh might be a bit far from central District 1, its closeness to District 2 makes up for it. It has a rough-around-the-edges charm, but many people enjoy living here. There’s plenty of street food and a mix of international and local restaurants in Binh Thanh. It has a lively local atmosphere, and you feel like you’re away from the busy center of Ho Chi Minh City.

Savor the Flavors: Memorable Street Food Tours in Ho Chi Minh City

Street food tours in Ho Chi Minh City are a must-do experience for many visitors. These tours offer a fantastic way to explore the city and taste a wide variety of delicious local dishes.

The food you’ll try showcases the amazing flavors of the region. The guides are super friendly, speak great English, and make sure everyone is safe and happy throughout the tour.

With their in-depth knowledge of the city and its food culture, the guides provide an informative experience that gives you a real taste of the city’s culinary scene and diverse neighborhoods in Ho Chi Minh. The tours are scheduled to coincide with special events like the Tet Festival, ensuring a great time no matter when you visit.

While these tours can involve walking or riding on a motorbike, safety and comfort are always top priorities, along with the chance to connect with the guides and other travelers.

If you’re thinking about joining a street food tour, make sure to come hungry to fully savor all the delicious food options.

These tours are a fun and easy way to immerse yourself in the vibrant street food culture of Ho Chi Minh City.

Banh Canh Cua in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Banh Canh Cua in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Check out these awesome tour options

  1. Walking Street Food Tour: Dive into the city’s vibrant street food scene with our Walking Street Food Tour. Sample ten mouthwatering dishes, enjoy refreshing drinks, and sip on Saigon beer as you explore historic apartments from the 1968 Tet Offensive. We can cater to dietary restrictions too – Reserve your spot now!
  1. Street Food Motorbike Tour: Embark on a thrilling adventure through four lively neighborhoods, including Chinatown, on our Street Food Motorbike Tour. Led by a friendly student guide, savor 8 delicious street foods, sip on a cold Saigon beer, and indulge in a sweet treat. Discover hidden alleys and local gems for an unforgettable experience – Book your tour today!
  1. Vegan Food Motorcycle Tour: Calling all vegan foodies! Join us for a Vegan Food Motorcycle Tour featuring delectable plant-based dishes crafted by talented local chefs. Cruise through the bustling streets at night on a thrilling motorcycle ride. Get ready for a one-of-a-kind vegan culinary journey in Vietnam – Secure your spot now!


Enjoying the street food in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Enjoying the street food in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

  • SaigonVibes

    Welcome to Saigon, a bustling and exciting city just waiting to be discovered! Let’s arrange your vacation together! For an amazing adventure, explore its colorful streets, rich culture, and must-see sights. Sample the most amazing dishes that Ho Chi Minh City has to offer.

    View all posts

    Welcome to Saigon, a bustling and exciting city just waiting to be discovered! Let’s arrange your vacation together! For an amazing adventure, explore its colorful streets, rich culture, and must-see sights. Sample the most amazing dishes that Ho Chi Minh City has to offer.

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