In the last few years, as Ho Chi Minh City has grown and evolved, there is no doubt that some of its culture has been lost along the way. Where generation-old Pho shops once sat, Western fast food joints now loom large. Colorful facades of store fronts and homes have given way to towering skyscrapers. The transition has been both natural and forced—the government has established grand long-term plans for the look and feel of the city. However, unbeknownst to many tourists, there is more to Ho Chi Minh City than the downtown area. If you take a short ride to neighboring Binh Thanh, you’ll get the best of both worlds—the opportunity to witness incredible change, while being able to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of old Saigon.
Pick an alley, any alley. Bisected by a few large highways, Binh Thanh is a district of narrow zig-zagging alleyways just waiting to be explored. Cross any of the bridges from District 1, and you’ll soon find yourself face to face with a much more real, authentic Vietnam. To understand what brings this city to life, meander deeper and deeper into the intricate nests of Binh Thanh’s neighborhoods. From screaming children to cockfights and home brewed beer, these labyrinths are full of activity.
Eat Street Food on Phan Văn Hân
Phan Văn Hân is a foodies’ delight. With dozens of competing carts—and the aromas to match—it offers some of the best street food in Ho Chi Minh City. From crispy Bột chiên to mouthwatering Mì Quảng, you could easily spend an afternoon sampling the dishes on this half-mile stretch. Head over the bridge from the Saigon Zoo, and turn left on Phan Văn Hân to enjoy incredible local cuisine.
Hit the Links
As Ho Cho Minh has blossomed into a global metropolis, there’s been a growing need to fill the void of Western sport. The Him Lam Golf Driving Range, located just outside District 1, has done just this. With three floors to tee off from and spectacular views of the downtown skyline, this is a great way to spend the afternoon and watch the sun melt behind the endless sea of Saigon’s cranes.
Find Nature on Thanh Da Island
Yes, nature. Feeling overwhelmed by the madness? If the pool won’t cure you, Binh Thanh’s got one more secret calling your name. An oasis of vegetation, Thanh Da Island (technically a peninsula) juts out from the north side of Binh Thanh into the Saigon River. While it’s only 10 kilometers from the city center, the rice paddies and fishing ponds make this destination seem worlds away.
Watch the Sun Set over Ho Chi Minh
Connecting Binh Thanh and the undeveloped portion of District 2, Thủ Thiêm Bridge offers unparalleled views of downtown Saigon. Take a right off Nguyen Huu Cahn, just past the driving range, and find a spot along the railing to watch the light show in the sky.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.