History of foundation
Over previous 300 years, this area was originally wild swamplands. With rather convenient river system, the first Vietnamese people crossed the sea to inhabit here. By their hand and brain, blood, sweat and tear, they turned this wild lands into fertile rice-field and crowded streets … In 1698, Nguyen Huu Canh was sent by the Nguyen rulers to inspect the South and set up the first administrative structure and determination of Saigon as the center of South represented development trend and unyielding stuff of a nation with thousand years of civilization. Therefore, Saigon – Gia Dinh had confronted with challenges and increasingly developed during centuries...
Hundreds of pagodas and hundreds of temples worshipping national heroes and predecessors credited with expanding the country’s territory are burned some incense all year round. Historical evidences of municipal and national liberation have been respectfully preserved. Besides Tet holidays, the municipal people organize solemn festivals following the tradition of “When drinking water, remember its source” such as Nghinh Ong Festival, Professional Ancestor Day, Vietnamese Physicians’ Day, Vietnamese Teachers’ Day, Buddhist Day and Vietnamese Women Day …
Old architecture of Saigon – Far East Pearl have been preserved and embellished to become interesting sightseeing sites. In addition, modern structures have be designed from aspiration of Vietnam’s traditional architecture. In a narrow and crowded city, tourists feel unexpected by avenues in the shade of hundred-year-old trees, large parks with colorful flowers and peaceful villas. Besides new buildings in the city center, tourists have chance to visit Big Market of the Chinese people with bustling old quarters and noisy trading and production activities all day and night.
Being the tourism center and the biggest tourism gate, Ho Chi Minh City has a system of rather developed facilities from entertainment and amusement sites to hotels and restaurants. The city’s climate is pleasant. There is no too hot sunshine and too long rain. Any season may be tourist season.The municipal people are friendly and generous and desire to welcome tourists from all places.
To have a complete tour to Ho Chi Minh City, typical sightseeing sites may not be ignored. With a system of 11 museums, Ho Chi Minh City has the most museums compared with provinces and cities in the country. Display contents of the museums are different. They mention history and culture of the localities, the whole South, the country and Southeast region and provide a lot of interesting knowledge.
Over 1,000 pagodas, communal houses and temples built during many periods are also valuable assets of culture, architecture and art. You may find South’s typical Buddhist pagodas and ancient communal houses linked with history of breaking fresh ground. Besides, the biggest and most beautiful “innovated” pagodas nationwide are combination between modern style and traditional architecture. With more than half of million Chinese people in the city, a largest number of Chinese pagodas with diversified and various architecture were built. Many pagodas were recognized as historical – cultural monuments at municipal and national level.
Many beautiful and diversified structures were inherited from French people. It may be said that rare is any urban area in Southeast region where there are lots of Western architectural styles and schools and artistic styles in Saigon – Ho Chi Minh city. The typical are City Hall in the style of the French Third Republic, State Bank Office influenced by New Art, Children House with new-classical style, Nha Rong Port with Indochina style , City Post Office with Chi?t Trung architectural school, Notre-Dame Cathedral with Roman art and Huyen Si Church with new-gothic architecture… Diversified modern architectures create an interesting appearance with some beautiful and highly-aesthetic buildings.
However, the most unique tourist site is Cu Chi Tunnels – the unique work of the world military history which manifests stony will and ingenious intelligence of the city’s army and people in the anti-American resistance war. Another famous tourist site is Can Gio mangrove forest with combats against the invaders’ ships on Saigon Estuary which has become a wonderful eco-tourist site with boundless mangrove forests.
At the first glance, Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City has made a profound impression of the biggest, active and most boisterous city across the country.
The streets are full of light. Activities and entertainment last until late at night. The continuous traffic streams hurriedly go on every street. The chain of houses, shops and stores selling a variety of goods with numerous colors has made contribution to create the fame of “Saigon – Shopping Paradise”. Quite a few restaurants, shops, stores, stalls with various menus makes Saigon’s cuisine become an indispensable hobby to tourists coming here.
However, behind the animation of the city is a liberal and harmonious life with long-lasting customs of a traditional culture, which has adapted to…and integrated with other cultures in the region and the Western’s.
Being the centre of the south of Vietnam with plentiful produces, Saigon’s food is various. In addition, it is the destination of convergence of population across the country and the gateway connecting with outside world. Therefore, the City has absorbed the various food chains of the country and of the world and sorted out to become an attractive and plentiful cuisine
Nowadays, it is easy to find in Saigon a heap of specialties from the North, Middle and South of Vietnam or foreign countries. Those specialties may be still kept its nature or “Saigonized” for enrichment of its flavors. The unique feature of Saigon in the food is the sweet taste, lots of vegetables and fresh seafood. For instance, the sour soup of Saigon is the combination of the sour and salty tastes of the North and the pungency of chili of the Middle and the sweet typical to the generosity of the South. Hue’s beef noodle dish is “transformed” to become less pungent, sweeter, fatter and vegetables. The beef steak with salad from the West is thinner, riper, served with more spices and raw vegetables and sour food…
The recent tendency is the food originated from the countryside, the food of fresh-ground-break period. Even in the menu of the luxurious restaurants now, there are food such as the roti field-mouse, fried grasshoppers, steamed eel and gourd, stir-fried frog, braised anabas, goby, coconut braised with pepper pot ... special hot-pot needs enough twenty local vegetables such as sawah-lettuce, “elephant’s ears” vegetables, “crab nippers” vegetables, “pair chopsticks” flowers, “dien dien” flowers… Barbecue such as the charcoal grill, stunted grill, bake, roller grilled, baked clay ... And Saigon people do not stop collecting to add to their menu of dishes that are once neglected as well as new dishes from numerous places.
Therefore, it is worthy to say that Saigon cuisine ranks the top of the country. Please do not forget to enjoy the delicious food them you visit this city.
Saigon Bread is both brittle and delicious
There are a lot of specific dishes in Saigon, “immigrating” dishes were initially changed by Saigon people. They are not only with Saigon taste, processing but also in eating, serving style, etc…Among of them is the bread.
The bread is a dish which French brought to Vietnam, but nowadays, it has became so familiar that it is a common dish of Saigon people. It is a dish for breakfast of labors, students, pupils because it is both fast and cheap, and you can have a loaf of hot-brittle bread only with 6,000 – 10,000 dongs. A glass case with bread, meat, pork pie, sour stuff, cucumber, coriander and onion became an unique character of Saigon cuisine.
Saigon bread’s own visual appearance, flavor it-self began to be shaped. Because a loaf of bread is only enough for a diet, it is not big, but it must have brittle top and moderate thick crumb for flour not to be tough while chewing, this won’t make it delicious. Another reason, the bread is eaten with cooled meat, pork pie, cheese, pâté, roast pork, canned fish, fired egg, etc…
Saigon people often like to add a bit vegetable into their dishes. Therefore, the loaf of bread also is added some slices of cucumber, white radish, sour sliced carrot, some blades of coriander to make flavor, some slices of red pepper, it is interesting for us to eat it. We eat a loaf of bread with all brittle flavors of its top, sweet taste, butter’s flat, meat’s meat, pork pie, pâté as a colorful round work, but it doesn’t make us depressed due to fresh vegetable and slices of cucumber. And importantly, Saigon meat bread is cheap, comfortable for all classes.
Nowadays, big and small bread shops appeared on all treets of Saigon. The bread is served every time, everywhere on any streets, alleys. The bread is not only for breakfast but also for lunch, dinner and supper. Many Saigon people still keep a habit is wandering down town at nights and pecking at any food. A tip-carter have just completed his batch and immediately calls a loaf of bread; and some couples parks their vehicles in front of bread shops to buy 2-cut loaves after their date. Such customers are very crowded. They eat it not to be full, that means, they want to enjoy the night’s flavor together.
It is easy to understand why Saigon’s unique dish has such attraction. Components in bread are very diversified, attractive; that is the reason the bread is among of dishes selected most and common. To enjoy pork, liver pâté mixed with all spices, you will feel “ecstatic taste” when biting a piece of crisp and warm bread and enjoy fully the mixture of flat pork and blades of delicious sweet sour stuff.
Maybe, nowhere bread is plentiful like in Saigon. In the mornings, going to work late, I often call by a bread shop along Tran Quoc Thao Street. At nights, I go out three-way crossroads of District road 14 – Independence. Coming back Thu Duc, I sometimes call by and buy bread at Linh Trung, etc… These became fond of, familiar to, and attractive to me.(MonngonSaigon.com)
Brittle-sweet spring roll: Bo Bia
The brittle-sweetness of cassava, the crunchy of Chinese sausage, the fat taste of thin fried duck eggs, the faint aroma of shrimp and vegetables, a little bit of the salty, spicy of soybean, everything melting on the head of tongue makes customers want more even if they have their fill.
Enjoying Bo Bia for the first time, I was reluctant to give up because of the “halfway” sweet, brittle and tough taste combining with the acrid odor of dried shrimps and even the bitter, pungent taste very strange in a tiny roll. However, gradually, I fall in the passion with it. I also discovered that the bitter pungent made my first test failures are odoriferous herbs and salad.
Delicious Bo Bia must conclude a number of factors. Cassava is not very well-done cooking nor undercooked, spices must be well-absorbed. Materials in a roll have to be classified in classes so that eaters can enjoy deeply all taste and smell in a chew. A roll of Bo Bia is plump and regular at two breaking corners. The tasty soybean has to make the enjoyers taste the slightly salty at the head of tongues, the sweetness of soybeans, the fat of the stir-fried small spring opinion, the brittle of slightly grinded peanut and the spicy of chili. Perhaps due to the frying of egg into thin pieces, then cut into fine fibers takes so a lot of time that gradually this material no longer appears in Bo Bia rolls.
Bo Bia are sold in many places through Ho Chi Minh City, but a popular site that many people like is the Bo Bia area on An Duong Vuong, in front of Pedagogics University’s gate. "The Bo Bia area” is set up by many Bo Bia handcarts. Here, the the space is well-aired, Bo Bia is delicious and cheap. Rolls of Bo Bia is quite nice, the soy is tasty. Moreover, the enjoyers not to be waited for long time when ordering
Here, although Bo Bia takes high density, there are many other food reserved for the various dietary needs of students from schools near here or the "great students" - who after working, pull in here, get snacks for the evening classes. This is also the gathering point of office-people because it is airy, spacious, and convenient for some short stories with colleagues in a snack and then drives back to home.
Good seats, good space for parking, but as soon as you finish eating, the staff will hurry you to pay cash and then driven away to leave the table for another round of guests. A small note here is that when you order Bo Bia, you should command in rolls instead of dish (10 rolls/dish). A roll of Bo Bia is VND 2,000, crab noodles-Bun Rieu is VND 10,000, fruit smoothie ranges from 7,000 to 10,000 dongs/glass.
Saigon rice-paper mixing snack
If you have any chance to set your foot into Saigon City - the most crowded and bustled city in Vietnam, you should try to taste rice-paper mixing snack. This snack was selling in every corner in Saigon Street with not only cheap but also has a very delicious and unforgettable taste. Many students, pupils are seem familiar with this kind of snack.
After school, when you are busy chatting with your friends but suddenly you see any vendors passing through the street, surely you will stop gossiping and immediately coming and sitting down next to the vendor, quickly tearing the rice paper and putting it into a bowl or a nylon package. Then, you will choose many ingredients like boiled quail egg, dried beef, dried shrimp, slicing mango, peanuts, stir-fried small spring onion,... to mix together with rice-paper and adding some simply seasonings such as kumquat, chutnee, sugar, seasoning, flagrant knotwed ...and mixing it together then you can enjoy the delicious mixing snack by using your own hand. If you don’t want to do it by yourself, the vendors will mixing all the ingredients for you and you just wait and taste it.
Rice paper is kind of soft but tough, with a sweet, sour taste, adding spicy dried beef, boiled quail egg, that will make you keep drooling only looking at it. Rice paper mixing after mixed must eat it, do not keep it for long, it’ll become softer than before. Depend on personal taste, they will choose ingredients for their own taste. We don’t know from ever since this snack had fascinated many students and other elderly in Saigon. On every corner of alley in City always have those vendors who sell this delicious snack. Only cost thousands of Vietnam dongs, you can enjoy this common delicious snack.
Knocking Noodle in Saigon City
Knocking noodle is one specialty of Quang people which was become a familiar meal in sunny and windy land of Southern – Saigon City.
Saigon by night, there are knocking, knocking in somewhere of tiny alleys, each corner of towns which are generated from noodle venders. The sound is made of a couple of wooden or mental bars due to being hit together. Usually, the children are assigned as a knocking person cum a waiter / waitress and a server. The sound of knocking is very different and it can not be confused with other sounds such as: venders of Mesona sinensis Benth, Tiliacora triandra or the sound of massage venders.
It is called for noodle stall as a reputation but actually anyone has ever sold or eaten the knocking noodle it is located or placed at some empty sidewalks, everything is ordered tidily inside a small trolley and under the trolley is a big soup tank which is soused into noodle. “Female owner” takes advantages of maximum the trolley’s space to contain tables, chairs, bowls, chopsticks, basins, pails etc… and spicy which makes up a bowl of noodle.
The initial years of 21st century, cost of a noodle bowl was only VND 2.000 but then prices of everything went up and knocking noodle was not excluded. It was raised up to VND 5.000 per a bowl however any one who wants “sufficient nutrition” request more bones being common called “xí quách” and its price is some VND 8.000 – VND 10.000.
Pork which is purchased at market is used for noodle and balled beef is made available. Pork is bought in the morning and all are pulp then they will be washed cleanly, cut into pieces and boiled and next stages are to prepare tables and chairs, bean sprouts, chives, soya sauce, lemon and chili etc… for sale in the afternoon. Nobody sells knocking noodle in the morning it is usually sold from 14:00 – 15:00 to 24:00 or 1:00 of next morning.
Most of noodle venders come from Quang Ngai province they enter Saigon City for sale. They realize this is a good business then they come back hometown to accompany their relatives or neighbors. However, each person has a private location to sell, quality and price are same and equal. Normally, one of spouses stays to sell another uses a mental bar to knock in the neck of bicycle and goes into alleys deeply. If the owner is richer a bit, he or she may employ one 14-15 aged child as an assistant to serve someone who is far away from selling position.
Majority of people who eat knocking noodle to resolve their hungry temporarily in an urgent case or goers out for playing, people work late to find some things to fill up their empty stomach for sleeping more easily because the other food shops are closed. No one likes choosing knocking noodle as their major dinner because pieces of pork and balled beef are cut very thinly and another popular word “it is not enough to put into tooth”.
This job is not too hard to do but how easy it is also not. They must go to market in the early morning to prepare whole things for selling in the afternoon and stay at late so it becomes a night meal in contrast its income is so-so. Usually, a couple spouses go to the city for sale and their children are left their parents to take care. Monthly, they will send money back hometown to nourish, let their kids go to school and purchase facilities inside home. If they know how to save money, they may modify their house, etc…
Nobody knows how long knocking noodle is presented but now this type of meal is not splendid or luxury in contrary it is very popular. It is existed and enclosed to many people’s fate and it is step by step to become a cuisine corner of this dynamic and proud city. (Followed Datviet press).
Saigon Fried Dough
When it comes to Vietnamese food, fried dough is easy to imagine with a small shop and firewood inside the stove, frying sound keeps repeating continuously. An elderly Chinese man is busying for tossing pieces of white dough in chess pieces form on the surface of wide flat black iron pan.
With a skillful tossed by spatula, pieces of loosing fried dough was bound together by eggs as a colorful paintings was laid on small plate. Adding a bit of garlic, green onion, along papaya, this make you will keep on drooling from this yummy fried dough
Nowadays, beside the small shop scattered on every Saigon’s street corner, there are many places where selling fried dough with many years of experience and becoming famous. Fried dough shop located at three-way crossroads of Phung Khac Khoan - Dien Bien Phu Street, in District 1 where students, employees and officials usually come to taste. Not only the delicious fried dough combine with well-mixed soy sauce, making it so tasteful but also the comfortable seats here make people feel enjoying the food, freeing to chat and viewing the crowded streets
Fried dough shop at Hai Thuong Lan Ong, District 5 with five or six shop with Chinese flavor, though dough a bit hard outside layer, but it still soft inside. On Ba Thang Hai Street, Han Hai Nguyen, District 11, have over a dozen of shops for selling fried dough, especially those shops focused on chives steam leek dumplings or fried dumpling. The most popular place is located in Vo Van Tan street, District 3, from last few years, this place has nearly 20 shops for selling fried dough, but now only have five or six shops remained. On this district, in the alley No. 306 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai to Vo Van Tan has two outstanding shops selling fried dough. (From SGTT)
Glutinous durian rice
The initial feeling when you look at the glutinous durian rice is the desultory rice and the yellow color of green beans covering upon it. When using your hands crumple up the rice into rolls, the stickiness between the rice is considered qualified…
Durian is a special fruit of the Mekong River Delta, to be praised "the Emperor of fruit- world”. Summer is the right season for ripen durians. Similar to To Nu jackfruits, durians have many hard spiny thorns, weighing about 1.5 to 3.5 kg or more, some tiers and segment inside. The segments have saffron pulp, fat, sweet, specific strong flavor. For people who try it for the first time will feel very unpleasant due to its smell, but after that, they get used and "addicted" unconsciously.
This fruit reminds me of my grandfather at the ripen durians season. For every early morning, while it was gloomy in dew, he took a walk to the garden to pick ripen durians and brought to my grandmother to make the glutinous rice. Their love also came into the wed because of the “Durian-Matchmaker”
In the past, yearly – Long Tuyen Temple (Can Tho City) organized Ky Yen Ceremony (pray people for the peace and harmony weather) and civilians had to take the best special food, best delicious to the fair-competition. That year, the glutinous rice made by my grandmother is the winner for household arts. Therefore, my great grandfather’s ask matchmaker to take her into the marriage with my grandfather since that day! ... The interesting love story my grandfather said still does not fade from my childhood’s memories.My grandparents pass away for long. And, my mother has been the "inheritor" of the traditional “glutinous durian rice” She told me to make this dish, it needs a little bit carefulness and not to be reckless. Be prepared materials, including sticky rice (1kg), green beans without husk (1 / 2 kg), coconut pulp (300 grams), white refined sugar (200 grams), durian (about 2 large segment , a little salt.
First, squeeze coconut pulp to get the juice, then pour it into the pot so as to submerge the green beans’ face, dress salt to pleasant the taste and cook until well-soft. Next, strike cooked green beans into well stewed, then crumple up into the rolls, pre-size it like orange’s and put available on bowl.
For durian, get the pulp and strike it tenderly, add salt for more flavored, then available to the dishes. For sticky rice, choose the pure rice (not mix with rice and impurities), old, long grain. The weight of sticky rice depends on eaters. After purchased sticky rice, wash, and then watermark it about 6 to 8 hours for softness. Next, pick up it to basket, dry and then put into the steamer. When the glutinous rice maturates, spread it well on the tray.
Use knife to slice ??green beans (had crumpled into rolls) upon the glutinous rice and mix them well. Next, put the glutinous rice into the steamer (second time) for well-done. Then, take the well-done glutinous rice to the tray and mix well with white refined sugar and durian. It finishes!
Formally, to my mom, the initial feeling when you look at the glutinous durian rice is the desultory the rice and the yellow color of green beans covering upon it. When using your hands crumple up the rice into rolls, the stickiness between the rice is considered qualified…As chewing away at the mouth, the sticky rice be soft, flexible, aromatic, and "melted" in the mouth, it is so yummy! ...
What the happiness is when whole family reunites in my grandfather's death anniversary every year. Look at the various food served on the altar, including glutinous durian rice, I suddenly remembered my grandfather deeply. And, especially "love story in a dream" he told when he was still alive. (According to Vnexpress )
Ho Chi Minh City is the centre of the South of Vietnam and located on the intersection of major highways connecting attractive tourist destinations with its own unique beauty.
The Mekong Delta is located toward the Southwest and carries the interesting typical characters of an immense water area with interlacing arroyos.
Tay Ninh which is in the Northwest is outstanding with the charm of forests and mountains, special culture and the long-lasting tradition of revolution against its invaders.
Ba Ria Vung Tau, which is toward the Southeast, is renowned for a range of beautiful beaches along with mountains.
“The flower city” Da Lat toward the Northeast is famous for being a wonderful resort with cool climate, fresh air and dreamlike natural scenes.