Category Archives: SaiGon

Finding an Accommodation in Saigon, Special Tips for Dog Owners and Vegetarians

Each one of us would want to stay in a comfortable and reasonably spacious house that perfectly matches the amount of resources we have. However, it is sometimes a problem to find an ideal house to rent within your area. Ho Chi Minh City for example has a lot of houses ranging from the casually furnished apartments to the most luxurious but because most people do not have the knowledge on where to find one, they end up giving up on looking for a house in town. Identifying the best house for you in Ho Chi Minh can be easy once you have the information on where to find the houses and the price at which they are being rented out. The following are some of the ways that can help you look for a house for rent in Ho Chi Minh that will be comfortable and ideal for you.

Go online and make a short-list of the accommodations you like

Online based house or apartment rental sites are one of the best ways in which you can identify a house within the city which you would desire to live in. The sites are highly customized and they contain full property details in their house listings accompanied by photos that can assist you in making a decision on which house you consider the best. You can locate houses in District 1(city center) or district 3, Thao Dien ward or An Phu ward (District 2), Binh Thanh District, Phu My Hung (district 7) plus many others. You can select your given district and find out the kind of houses available and the price at which they are being rented out. Online searching is the best as you can conveniently identify an ideal house for you and go ahead to order it right from your sitting room. After ordering the house, a reservation is made for you and you can move in as soon as you confirm your payment. Here are some social media channels that can help you to search for an apartment or a house for rent in this city: Facebook, Google Group, etc. You can join some groups on Facebook such as Expat in Saigon, Expat-Saigon…to find ads related to apartment or houses and find your dream accommodations.

If you are looking for dog and pet friendly apartments or houses, use a real estate agent that will understand your needs and those of your pet. Many pet owners have had to move out of newly rented accommodations because they were never informed of some basic items, such as, a “no pets allowed” policy in some serviced apartment blocks. Snap real estate has been relocating and helping dog and pet owners find adequate accommodations by ensuring no future hassles will appear once you signed the rental contract.

Take time and compare the many houses within the city

There are many houses available in the different districts yes, but not all of them are rented out at the same price. Depending on the house specifications and level of furnishing, some might be cheaper while others might be expensive. Try visiting different Ho Chi Minh house rental sites before settling on one with the best offer. When you take time to compare the different houses, you will get the best option to go for, that is a reasonably spacious and furnished house that is relatively cheaper compared to the rest of the houses in the city. Usually, the rent of houses or apartment in central districts such as district 1, district 2 will be higher than the rent of houses in other districts such as Tan Binh district, Thu Duc district. However it does not mean that you cannot find affordable accommodations. If you want to the hustle and bustle life of Saigon, you can find houses in central districts. However if you want to enjoy the normal life of the native, you can find accommodations in other districts which are far from the city center such as district 5, district 6, Tan Binh district, etc. In these districts, you will have chance to taste and enjoy local food or traditional food of Vietnam such as Pho, Banh Mi, Bun bo Hue, Banh xeo,..

Vegetarians, consider the location of the house you are about to rent according to your lifestyle

When selecting a house within Ho Chi Minh city, ensure social facilities such as schools and hospitals plus other recreational facilities are found near your residence. This will reduce inconveniences that might come when you want to access these facilities. It is also important that you consider renting a house that is located near the city for easier shopping and access of other services.

When it comes to enjoying vegetarian street food, this can also require some knowledge about the best spots in the city.

In some central districts you can easily find big shopping malls such as Tax Trade Center (135 Nguyen Hue, Ben Nghe ward, district 1), Saigon Square (Nam Ki Khoi Nghia street-Le Loi street, district 1), etc. There are also many famous and wonderful restaurants in central districts. However, if you find your good accommodations in other districts, you still can find great places for shopping or eating. For example, if you are a vegetarian or you love vegetarian foods, you can rent a house or an apartment in district 3, district 5 or district 10 because you will satisfy your stomach with wonderful vegetarian food such as Com chay, Pho Chay, Hu tieu, etc. Here are some places that I would like to recommend: Trang Sen Quan (50, Hoang Dieu street, ward 12, district 4), Com Chay Phat Huu Duyen (527, Nguyen Trai street, district 5), Com chay Thanh Luong (545A, 3 Thang 2 Street, ward 8, district 10) or Com Chay Ba Hat (390, Ba Hat, ward 4, district 10), etc. If you do not how to get to these places you can book a bike tour with Back of the Bike tours, which specializes in food tours in Saigon and can organize a 100% vegetarian street food tour. You will be taken to vegetarian eateries in Saigon that are famous to locals and yet unknown to foreigners.

Besides considering renting your accommodation near shopping places and other services, you should ensure that there is enough security within the area in which you are about to rent a house. Do not take chances, simply go for the best.

Veggie Venue 11 – Loving Hut Hoa Đăng

A truly awesome find hidden towards the end of District 1 and Binh Thanh district. Although a bit on the pricey end of the vegetarian spectrum, the service is excellent and the sesame seed deep fried mushrooms are spectacular. Despite the bright fluorescent lighting, it’s very clean and they have a comprehensive menu with a lot of dishes you probably won’t find elsewhere in Saigon. Also, if you’re a strict or new vegetarian that wants some encouragement, there’s a huge list of famous people who were vegetarian spanning Gautama Buddha all the way to Albert Shweitzer and Richard Gere.

Address of Loving Hut Hoa Đăng is:
38 Huynh Khuong Ninh, P DaKao, Q1
Tel: 0848-38209702

Veggie Venue 9 – Âu Lạc 2 – 530 Huỳnh Tấn Phát St. ; D7

Âu Lạc 2 – 530 Huỳnh Tấn Phát Street ; District 7, Bình Thuận Ward

Âu Lạc 2 is  our next Veggie Venue blog entry.  This eatery is larger and more modern than most Com Chay eateries, yet cheaper and more informal than most vegetarian restaurants.  We might say that this place is somewhere between eatery/cafeteria and restaurant.  The prices are moderate to low  — depending on what you are comparing them to.  Probably most would consider these prices to be low, but in the world of veggie eateries in the city, we would probably classify it as moderate/affordable.

This place has modern, almost trendy, white tables and chairs.  The venue has  a clean and roomy environment.  It is located on a large, busy street in east D7.  The menu had many pages.  Therefore, I didn’t bother to take pics of the whole menu.  Also, I chose not to order from the menu,   instead taking the standard Com Chay dish with soup… only adding the vegan version of “those thingies” that they wrap in banana leaves.  (Sorry, I forgot the name of this — it’s Banh-something.)  The menu did not have an English translation at the time of the writing of this blog entry.  As you find in most Com Chay eateries, the “buffet” here is not self-service but you can often point at what you want and don’t want.

I can recommend this cafeteria-restaurant for people who are already passing through the area (eastern district 7 near the Nguyen Van Quy Highway).

Location on Diadiem Map Site   

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Veggie Venue 8 – Thien Y – 36 Tran Quy Cap ; Binh Thanh District, Ward 11

This new veggie venue is not of my creation.  This is a blog entry taken from Steven McGrath’s blog called “Channel Steve”.  Steve (a.k.a. RockPortrait) is a well-known and respected ex-pat blogger in VietNam.  He was kind enough to let me repost his post on Saigon Vegetarian.  Here is the link to his Blog:

http://www.channelsteve.com

and here is the link to the original posting:

http://www.channelsteve.com/2011/09/18/vegetarian-restaurant-surprise/

————————————————————————————————

and here is the pasted entry:

I was lucky enough to be invited to eat at the newly opened vegetarian restaurant, Thien Y, in Binh Thanh district. It’s owned by the family of one of the VAS students.

I wasn’t expecting much, being a meat eater, but the food, decor, cleanliness and ambience in this place blew me away. They used mushrooms in place of meat to create dishes like sweet & sour pork, and the difference was almost indistinguishable.

To top it all off, six dishes and two drinks came to a gob-smacking 200,000VND (just under $10). Well worth a taxi ride to this north-eastern district.

Address of Thien Y is:
36 Tran Quy Cap
P.11, Q. Binh Thanh
Tel: 0913 916 036

Photo 1 is a soup that updates and outdoes the ever so popular Sup Cua (crab soup).
Photo 2 is a dish with assorted mushrooms, so tasty with perfectly crispy greens and carrots.

Đậu hũ chiên sả ớt – Chili Fried Tofu Lemongrass

Sometimes you may find yourself with friends in a vietnamese restaurant that seems to have NOTHING meatless.  If you find yourself in such a situation (if they don’t have even salads or vegetable side-dishes), you may want to get some white rice and Đậu hũ chiên sả ớt.   This means Fried Tofu with Lemongrass and Chili.  I really liked this, and it was one of the most inexpensive choices on the menu.  The only downside is that you may get tired of the taste by the end  – the taste is exotic, unique, strong (but not spicy on its own).  I suggest you share this dish with others and try to find some other things to eat along with it like white rice, water spinach,  or even beer-nuts. 😉

This Đậu hũ chiên sả ớt was from a canal-side garden restaurant/beer-hall on Tôn Thất Thuyết Street on the south border of district 4 (near the intersection with Tôn Đản Street).

Chili Fried Tofu Lemongrass

Đậu hũ chiên sả ớt

second dish from the top

tofu section of the menu

Map of Cơm Chay (Vegetarian/Vegan) Locales in District 4

Here is a little map of D4-Saigon and its Cơm Chay eateries.  There might be a few left that I haven’t discovered, but there can’t be many more than this (July 2011), because I have really searched hard by foot, bicycle, xe om —  you name it.  I have not included the cafes and restaurants that have some veggie items (or even veggie pages).  For sake of map clarity, only the true vegan/veggie places of the vietnamese variety have been included.  More info about these eateries are in the “Veggie Venue” list tab.

 

Pretty good veggie action in a cheap watering-hole on Bui Vien

This is the 11,000Dong beer-joint and cafe-restaurant in the middle of Bui Vien Street.  Sorry that I cannot remember the street address.  If you are starting from the Little India sign, then just after that, pass the Circle K (heading towards Do Quan Dau to the West)then it is about 3 or so more businesses down on the same side.

I found out pretty recently that they have some pretty good veggie stuff on the last page of the menu.  That last page is listed below.  I had the first entry from this page.  It was delicious.

Bui Vien Watering Hole's Veggie Page

Veggie Venue 7 – Âu Lạc – 60 Tân Vĩnh Street; D4

Tiệm Cơm Chay “Âu Lạc”

60 Tân Vĩnh Street;  District 4, Ward 6.

I’m kicking myself for overlooking this place for three months!  This is a spacious, clean, friendly and affordable little place that I can easily recommend to all you vedge-heads.  It is just over the Ong Lanh Bridge from D1.  I was pretty much passing it almost every day when riding into D1.  If you are on a bike or in a car coming over the bridge (Cau Ong Lanh), you will need to double back because the street that brings you from the bridge to Tan Vinh street is divided.

Not only was the food good and fresh in this roomy relaxing cafeteria, but they also have large amounts of vegan products that you can buy and take home.

They have , just as examples:

  • Vegan fish sauce
  • Vegan deer meat, fish, squid, pork, chicken, shredded meat, etc etc
  • Vegan hot dogs
  • Vegan canned products
I bought some “fish sauce” because it is chili-based.  Fortunately,  it doesn’t taste fishy!
Below are the pics taken during my first visit.

Veggie Venue 6 – Hoa Khai: 124-126 Nguyen Cu Trinh; D1

This is a new place that just opened in May 2011.   You should try it.  Menu still in Vietnamese only right now, but they may add an english one.  You should be able to find a waiter to help you though.  Moderate/very reasonable pricing.  Good food and friendly owner and waiters.  Room for larger groups.

There are various things on the menu including Thai dishes, etc.  It is a Vegan Restaurant.  This place is very new and clean.  The prices are under control and when we went as a group with people from Couchsurfing.org , there was still a 20% discount going on back then as well.  If you decide to go with a group,  consider calling a reservation and maybe they might be ready to give you a group discount.   They even have  vietnamese beer.

  • 124-126 Nguyễn Cư Trinh; District 1, Nguyễn Cư Trinh Ward
.

Updates:

(August 2011):  Now they have delivery!  You can even order by the net: http://www.eat.vn/en/hoakhai  (Districts 1,3,4, and 5 at the moment) from 7:15 am to 22:00 pm everyday

Hoa Khai from the Street at Night

Trà Sữa Trân Châu = Bubble Tea?

Trà Sữa Trân Châu is a colorful fruity kiddie drink.  It seems to be kind of pricey compared to things like iced tea and sugar cane juice. Also, many consumers may consider it to be quite artificial. One of the ingredients is a gummy-bear-like fruit gelatin or tapioca-based gel. Other ingredients include ice, real fruit, and some kind of milk or malt and/or tea. i like fruity drinks in general, so i thought i would like it. it was okay, but i think there are better fruity things to drink or eat that are more natural and cheaper. you still might decide you want to try it… especially if you are gummy-bear fan 😉

What i tried i would hardly call “bubble tea”.  it didnt taste like tea (even if that was one of the ingredients).  it was much closer to a milk-shake with ice and gummy bears added.  it seems like there are different types of Trà Sữa Trân Châu which would explain why it might be called bubble tea.  it seems the bubbles are the globules of soft gummy-bear-like tapioca-esque thingies.  one of the ingredients in those gels is citric acid  they probably use a lot of chemicals like those used in candies around the world.  if you want more info, go to wikipedia.  if you don’t know vietnamese,  then plug in a translator to it.  i suggest google chrome.

Here is a link to a vietnamese TV report dealing with this product:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4h4W5b0Tcg

here are some pics i took of the stand in D4 in Saigon: