An Insider’s Guide to District 1, VietnamWritten by Jenora V
The beating heart of Saigon, District 1 is home to a fantastic medley of restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and cultural hotspots. We’ve put together a list of our personal favourites that we’d love to share with you.
The downtown of Saigon, District 1 is a melting pot of cultural traditions where local Eastern customs mingle with Western mannerisms. With many of its historic buildings stemming from Vietnam’s French colonial past, the neighbourhood is striking in its architectural influences. As for its inhabitants, they bustle on against the ever-changing backdrop of a hectic, clamorous and undeniably vibrant world that’s pushing forward rapidly with development. The perfect spot for our co-working space the Hive District 1, we thought we’d show you the best of what this always busy part of town has to offer.
Start Your Morning
An homage to industrial chic and probably one of Saigon’s most stylish spots, L’Usine is a concept store, bar and café that’s great to check out at any time of day. At breakfast, they offer a full English, French butter croissants and more with an excellent menu that continues throughout the day. Whether it’s for a quiet getaway from the hectic streets below in gorgeous surroundings, a browse around their impeccable boutique, some after work drinks or a quick breakfast fix you’re after, this is a go-to place.
Insider Tip: Love the decor so much you fancy it in your own home? One of L’Usine’s founders has started his own furniture line District Eight – check it out here.
Address: L’Usine, 19 Lê Thánh Tôn, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh
Open From: 7 am – 10:30 pm
Where To Eat
Hungry for a taste of authentic Vietnamese food? Quan Bui does affordable yet delicious Vietnamese cuisine, incorporating well-loved favourites including sautéed honey chicken and soft shell crab. Their traditional family recipes are loved by locals and tourists alike and their locations always have a fantastic atmosphere.
Insider Tip: This place fills up quickly at mealtimes, so don’t forget to book a reservation beforehand!
Address: 2A Lê Duẩn, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh
Open From: 7 am – 11 pm
With a tongue-in-cheek name that jokes about being just another restaurant in Saigon, The Other Place is anything but, with its audacious Asian fusion choices and edgy concoctions. Taking advantage of Saigon’s local flavours, the award-winning chefs here are looking to create something wholly different, using unconventional ingredients that range from vacuum sealed charcoal-roasted pineapple to rambutan. Tired of that same old burger joint? Break out of your comfort zone and try this hip new locale.
Insider Tip: Their cocktails are universally acknowledged to be the best in Saigon.
Address: 93 Ton That Dam District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Open From: Tue-Sat: 9 am – 3 pm, 5 pm – 10 pm
Where to Drink
If you’re looking for a great night out, why not pay the Racha Room a visit? Offering their guests a vivacious atmosphere (not to mention stunning decor), this royalty-inspired bar and restaurant will serve up a fun mix of cocktails alongside outstanding Pan-Asian dishes with subtle Thai influences, leaving you with an unforgettable experience.
Insider Tip: Take advantage of their incredible 50% off deal at happy hour (Mon-Sat: 5 – 8 pm).
Address: The Racha Room, 12-14 Mạc Thị Bưởi, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh
Open From: 3pm – 12am
An urban gem hidden behind curtained doors, The Alley is a modern, yet cozy escape where Saigon’s up-and-coming go to unwind over lush cocktails. With warm hanging lights, Pinterest-worthy decor, and soft jazz lilting in the background, it’s the perfect place to disappear off to for a few magical hours.
Insider Tip: Tucked away at the back, there’s a speakeasy-style craft beer nook for those in the know!
Address: The Alley Cocktail Bar & Kitchen, 63/1 Pasteur, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh
Open From: Mon-Wed: 5 pm – 12 am, Thu-Sat: 5 pm – 1 am
Things To Do
Fusing the cultural and the modern into one, contemporary homeware boutique Sadéc walks the line between the bold and the exquisite, often featuring limited edition collections commissioned from talented, but little-known artists. Guided by an infallible knack for artistic appeal, the little shop showcases a dizzying myriad of household accessories crafted from ceramic, wood, glass, and even metal that you’re sure to love.
Insider Tip: Not in the neighbourhood? Swing by their sister store, Sadéc District 2, on 63 Xuan Thuy, for a safe haven of soft colours and balanced lifestyle accessories.
Address: 91 Mac Thi Buoi, District 1, Hồ Chí Minh
Open From: 9am – 9pm
Old Market Ton That Dam
A little off the beaten track, this antiquated building houses an assortment of quirky boutiques and cafés, each with their own distinctive flavour. Need a breather? Meander up to the first floor to the Banksy Café, a quaint yet edgy eatery named after Britain’s famed subversive street artist where Saigon’s young and trendy go to hang out over a steaming cuppa.
Insider Tip: Know a photographer friend in the area? Snap a couple shots here to spruce up your Instagram. Your followers will love the grungy lighting and gently distressed walls.
Address: Old Market Ton That Dam, Đường Tôn Thất Đạm, Tôn Thất Đạm, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh
Open From: 6 am – 11 pm
Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon
As one of Saigon’s most iconic structures, the Notre Dame Cathedral is a stunning, neo-Romanesque structure that dates back to the 19th century. Known for its breathtaking interior, the cathedral is furnished with intricate stained-glass windows and a complex bell system. Its distinctive red-brick exterior was painstakingly imported from Marseilles. Don’t miss out on this slice of heritage if you’re in the neighbourhood!
Insider Tip: Just a 5-minute walk away, the Independence Palace offers you the opportunity to relive the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 when a now-iconic North Vietnamese tank rumbled through the gates. Meander through the offices of former presidents, and pose by one of the full-size replica tanks for a snapshot of Saigon’s history.
Address: Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon, 01 Công xã Paris, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Quận 1 Hồ Chí Minh