The latest in our ‘Friday Five’ series is all about Saigon travel. The city, also known as Ho Chi Minh City, is a vibrant, booming metropolis representing the new Vietnam. On offer is an exciting mix of rising towers and bustling streets, not to mention a growing craft beer scene. For travellers who want to tour Saigon without being a ‘tourist’, we’ve got five must do things to help plan your trip.

Feet on the Street

Saigon Free Walking Tours. The name says it all, free walking tours of the city. What the name doesn’t convey is the incredible hospitality and knowledge your university student guides will share, making the most of your Saigon travel. These private tours are highly customizable and will open your eyes to Chinatown, street food, and several notable landmarks around the city. You’re sure to get off the beaten path and see the real sights of the city, not to mention have great conversations with your guide.

The War Remnants Museum presents an emotional experience no matter where you’re from. Three floors of indoor and outdoor exhibits are yours to explore at your own pace, whether you spend one hour or four. With entry only 15,000 VND (approximately $0.75 USD), it’s one of the cheapest things you can do in the city.

The Sound of Music

À Ố Show at Saigon Opera House blends traditional Vietnamese music, culture and Cirque Du Soleil like acrobatics. The very modern performance, within a historic 119 year old Opera House impresses even the most discerning theatre buff.

Whether a fan of EDM, rock or blues, check out My Amazing Vietnam‘s guide on the Best Places for Live Music In Ho Chi Minh City.

Eat Well

Why not get a taste of dozens of delicious local dishes in a single night? Scooter tours with XO Tours or Vespa Adventures deliver just that – and the best part is you’ll have your own scooter driver which frees you up to enjoy unlimited drinks along with those memorable dishes. With small groups sizes of only 6 to 8, you’ll feel like you’re with friends versus a tour group.

Banh Xeo 46A is home to yet another the Vietnamese speciality dish, Banh Xeo. This giant pancake like creation, stuffed with shrimp, bean sprouts and handfuls of fresh herbs is a hit with locals and travellers alike. Located at 46A D Dinh Cong Trang, District 3.

If you’ve had your fill of Vietnamese, the teams at Ciao Bella and Saffron are ready to delight your pallet with some of the finest Italian and Mediterranean the city has to offer.

Drinks with Friends

Saigon Beer School is amongst a growing group of craft beer and cider leaders in the city. The team hosts pop up beer and food pairing sessions that are as educational as they are tasty.

Though the bar scene hasn’t caught up to the likes of Singapore or Bangkok just yet, it’s worth mentioning that Vietnam does have one entry on the World’s Best Bars top 100 list, and it’s located in Ho Chi Minh. Chill Skybar offers pretty amazing views over the city and cocktail prices starting at 260,000 VND ($12 USD).

For a more comprehensive bar guide, the folks at Rusty Compass have done a great job with their Ho Chi Minh City nightlife guide.

Off to the Market

The massive markets of Saigon are a sight to behold. You can find out more about the Ben Thanh or Tan Dinh Market here. For travellers looking for something a little different than fresh fish or Tiger Beer t-shirts, you’re in luck. The weekend market scene in the city is filled with artistic entrepreneurs, local craft treasures and straight up cool finds. Hello Weekend Market, and Saigon Flea Market are easy options to occupy a Saturday morning. A little further afield, Saigon Outcast runs monthly bohemian craft and free range food markets.

Saigon Travel Resources slider photo courtesy of Flickr: Hưng Tạ. Thumbnail image courtesy of Corinne Taylor.