South Vietnam,  Vietnam

Breakfast Food Tour in Saigon

The best thing to do in a new city, in my opinion, is taking a food tour with a local guide (not a travel office tour) to taste the best food spots. With saigonhappytour, I went on a breakfast food tour in Saigon and enjoyed every second of it.

This was my first breakfast tour in Vietnam and I was so tired. I had arrived just the night before and then also had to change rooms after midnight, since the first one was overrun with ants…

With some initial language barrier problems between me and my sweet driver X (who didn’t recognize me at first, since in my profile picture I still have shoulder-length hair) we set off through the crazy traffic of Saigon.

Breakfast Food Tour in Saigon

First stop: Bo Ne

At the first stop, we started with what became my favourite south Vietnamese breakfast: Bò Né and a big iced coffee! 

Bò Né translates to sizzling beef, which is what it is. Beef, sausage, pate and an egg, served on a hot cast iron pan, with a Bánh mì bread and veggies and greens.

Turn on video-sound to hear the sizzle!

We got to watch the food being prepared and it is always intriguing to me how the street vendors have perfected the craft of their dishes over the years. The speed with which they can prepare the food is impressive.

Since our group was made of a couple, a couple of friends and me I got my plate primarily to myself and despite being told repeatedly not to finish the whole thing, I finished the entire thing. It was just too good and I was too hungry. 

During my time in Ho Chi Minh City, I came back here several times.

Second stop of the breakfast tour in Saigon: Phùng Hưng Market

After parking the bikes close to the main market entrance we tried not to lose each other while walking through the many market stands and locals buying their groceries for the day.

Halfway through we stopped to try a sweet soup-like treat with sesame, beans, mung bean balls and pandan leaf flavoured chewy bits.

At the end of the street, we each had a tiny portion of sticky rice. Even though it was a reduced amount by weight the lady selling it put every single protein choice and condiment on it, so we could try it all. I marked her on my Google map so I could return and have a full portion later in the week.

After a group picture, we cruised through the streets of Saigon again, getting to see more of the city, before the next stop.

Third stop: Binh Tay Market

Another market? Yes. But Binh Tay Market is very different from Phùng Hưng Market.

While Phùng Hưng market is along a street, Binh Tay market has its own building(s). In the inner courtyard is a statue and shrine of the businessman who originally built it, where people light incense and ask for success in their economic endeavours.

In front of the Market (or at the back of it?) we stopped in front of two food stands, one where we tried Bún thịt nướng, a dish with rice vermicelli, spring rolls, sliced veggies, peanut sauce, pig skin crackers and the other with Kumquat Tea, which was amazingly refreshing in the heat.


Last food stop of the breakfast tour in Saigon: Fusion Dish

The last food on our tour wasn’t strictly a Vietnamese dish, but instead a fusion of several cuisines.

Khmer Soup from dried Calamari with Cantonese Noodles made from wheat and egg (mi vang), with lots of garlic, topped with shrimp: Hu Tieu Nam Vang. It was served in two bowls so we could try each by itself, before then mixing them.

I can see the appeal of this dish, but it sadly had too much garlic for me to eat without risking an allergic reaction, so I stuck to my green tea and was happy that I had finished all the meals before.

Here we spend the most time in a more quiet environment and got to talk to each other, about our lives and our impressions of the country and the food so far.

It’s always interesting to me to learn how different cultures influence peoples experiences abroad. Sometimes you can tell where people are from by their reactions to different food.

10.000 Buddha Temple

After all the food we got some movement in and visited the 10.000 Buddha Temple. The temple is four stories high, but hidden at the end of an alley and I wouldn’t even have had it on my radar otherwise.

The walls of the temple are covered in thousands of small Buddha statues, while two big ones reside in the middle. Behind them is a giant statue of a plant bud, surrounded by local folklore characters depicting good and evil.

Happy and Mai have set up an excellent tour, with great food and great company. You leave feeling like you made new friends and have learned something about the food you ate and the city you’re in.

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Would you get up extra early for a breakfast food tour in Saigon – or anywhere else?

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