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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 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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Couchsurfing Vegetarians in SaiGon Going for Dinner

Some vegetarians and veggie-loving folk from the Saigon Couchsurfers group have planned a meeting for dinner in a new veggie place in District 1 on Tuesday.

The place/time is:

Hao Khai – 124-6 Nguyen Cu Trinh, Dist 1.

Date:  May 31st, 2011 – 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm


Here are the Couchsurfing threads about this meeting:

http://www.couchsurfing.org/group_read.html?gid=5558&post=8563259

and here is the event:   http://www.couchsurfing.org/meetings.html?mid=116973

 

 

Also, a new subgroup of the SaiGon group on CouchSurfers has formed.  It is “SaiGon Vegetarians”:    http://www.couchsurfing.org/group.html?gid=42390

 

 

 

What’s this Colorful Sight?

Are they drying tomatoes here?

Drying of Tomatoes?

Veggie Venue 4 – “Thien Tan” ; Ton Dan Street, district 4

Veggie Venue 4 – Quan An “Thien Tan” ; 17-19 Ton Dan Street, district 4, ward 13

This eatery is at the top of Ton Dan street in D4.  To give you an idea, the closest bridge (cau) is Khanh Hoi, which connects D1 with D4 at the Vung Tao ferry port.  This is not a strictly veggie place but the  vegetarian section is big and has plenty of choices, so i decided to tell you about this place.

Thien Tan Eatery from the Street

I have eaten here 2 times so far and I plan to eat here often.  It isn’t too far from my place, the portions are big,  the prices are good, the selection is big, and the staff is friendly.  They have a menu translated into english, but for some reason, they didnt includ the Chay section, so I have sort of translated it for you here below.  (prices are from now — May 2011).  Sorry for the lack of diacritical marks, but you can see them in the photo.

Cac Mon Chay

Cac Mon Chay (Vegetarian Dishes)

  • hu tiu xao                              35,000
  • stirred-fried big rice noodles
  •  
  • mi xao gion                           35,000
  • stir-fried deep-fried-noodles with mushrooms & vegetables
  •  
  • mi xao mem                         35,000
  • stir-fried noodles with mushrooms & vegetables
  •  
  • bun gao xao thap cam        35,000
  • stir-fried thin-dry-rice noodles
  •  
  • mien xao thap cam             40,000
  • stir-fried thin-dry-rice noodle jumble
  •  
  • com chien duong chao       33,000
  • Chinese fried rice 1
  •  
  • com xao thap cam              35,000
  • Chinese fried rice 2
  •  
  • do xao thap cam                  35,000
  • stir-fried mixed vegetables (no noodle) – would have meat on a normal menu
  •  
  • cai thia xao                           16,000
  • stir-fried Chinese cabbage
  •  
  • bong cai xao                         22,000
  • stir-fried Vietnamese cauliflower
  •  
  • rau muong xao                    16,000
  • stir-fried water spinach
  •  
  • nam thap cam xao              35,000
  • stir-fried mushroom
So far, i have tried the second and the fifth dish from the Chay page of the menu.  I enjoyed them both a lot.  There is also a vegetable page in the menu.  I will add a photo of that page here soon.

condiments

Here are the condiments they have out on all the tables.  The tables and condiments are kept clean.  There is an air-conditioned room too.  Sometimes the A/C room is open and sometimes it isn’t.  You may be surprised as you entrer the eatery, that you walk through the kitchen to get inside.  Below, are pics of the first 2 dishes that I ate here (2nd and 5th on the Chay page of the menu), and the other pic is the “Rau” (vegetables) page.

The RAU Menu (vegetables)

Mi Xao Gion (3rd dish on the Chay page)

Mien Xao Thap Cam - 5th on Chay menu

The Fruits of Vietnam

Durian

I made “The Fruits of Vietnam” blog entry before I created “Saigon Vegetarian”, so it was posted on my first blog “MachSpeed Whippets”.  Instead of transferring it all here by hand, I will just give you the link to the entry.

http://machspeedwhippets.wordpress.com/2011/04/11/the-fruits-of-vietnam/

from now on… MachSpeed Whippets will just be about my dogs, about whippets in general, and about being a dog-owner in SaiGon (or in Vietnam)

Saigon Vegetarian will just be about the vegetarian experience in SaiGon.

Veggie Venue 2 — “Phap Quang” ; 31 Ton That Thuyet Street, District 4

Phap Quang: 31 Ton That Thuyet; District 4, Ward 18

I found another veggie spot (Com Chay) in district 4.   This one, called Phap Quang, is in the southeast corner of this triangular-island district of SaiGon that we call simply “District 4” (Quan.4/Q.4).  This street is the southern border of the district – running the full length of the canal along the longest side of the D4 triangle.  This locale is quite close to the southeast corner… just a bit before the bridge in the corner and the 2 little parks found there.

"Phap Quang" Sign Above the Locale at Night

This was the second time I have eaten here.  The first time I was here, I didn’t have my phone with me (and therefore no camera).  This place is really cheap (15,000 dong for a nice sized plate and a small soup).  The first time I came here, it was midday and she must have given me 3 cold Vietnamese teas.  This time, I was there at dusk and it was much cooler.  She didn’t bring any tea and she must have seen that I was kinda in a rush and I had all of my dogs with me, so they set up a table for me on the sidewalk.  If I had asked for a tea, of course I would have gotten one.  This place isn’t the cleanest and the food mostly tastes average, but it is Com Chay and it is cheap (and I felt good after both meals).   The fake meat reminds me of real meat so much, that I don’t like it too much… but I tell myself it isn’t meat and surely it doesn’t have meat broth added to it.   surely they would do that.

"Phap Quang" Sign at Streetside

Overall, I recommend it for the price, the soup, the tea, the serving size, and the fast service.  Weak points:  main courses are, let’s say “average” and this locale might be a BIT “ghetto” for some.  The Com Chay in D4 that you can find in an earlier entry on SaiGon Vegetarian (located on Huang Dieu Street), seems to have a little bigger selection, is less “ghetto”, and is only a bit more expensive (still very cheap).   That place on Huang Dieu Street is also pretty much in the middle of D4 and not far from the bridges to D1.   I plan on frequent both of these eateries.

Meal at Veggie Venue 2Soup at Veggie Venue 2

the “SaiGon Vegetarian” Blog Begins….

My name is Glenn.  I only recently moved to Ho Chi Minh City and I am sure there are many local vietnamese as well as ex-pats who know more about vegetarianism here than I do.  Nevertheless, I hope you find my present and future escapades and info gathering about being vegetarian in Saigon (and VietNam as a whole) to be informative — whether you’re a tourist passing through, someone new in town, or a long-term resident that just doesn’t have the time to figure this stuff out for yourself, or even simply a vegetarian interested in Asia.

My 20+ years as a vegetarian (borderline Vegan), and my geographic approach may help make this blog worth following for you — whether you are a veggie, or a food-lover in Vietnam, or someone simply interested in all topics vietnamese, or even a geographer… or maybe even just an old friend of mine.

I plan to have 4 main types of blog entries here:

1) Reviews plus info and photos about places to eat in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) — this means vegetarian restaurants and stands/bars as well as regular places with large veggie sections on their menus.  Many of these reviews will be of “Com Chay” food bars — the cheap no-meat streetside cafe/bars of sort.

2) Discussion and description of the cuisine, vegetables, ingredients, cooking, etc.

3) My experiences here as a vegetarian — including pointers of how to eat here and what you need to know to keep your veggie diet a veggie diet.

4)  Data lists which i will update and add to as i find out more (including from comments from my readers!  One of these lists will be a list of vegetarian restaurants and Com Chay locales.  This list, I think, will be an important one.  I hope you will help me with it if you are a vegetarian in SaiGon!

"Com Chay' Sign at Streetside (Veggie Food Joint)