Most of the international visitors to Vietnam get their first impression of the country through Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Binh District, thanks to do the Tan Son Nhat International Airport being located there. While the district is less developed for tourism compared to District 1, it’s where you can experience authentic Vietnamese lifestyle. Here, you can sample unpretentious food options, discover quaint temples, and visit attractions that cater to the locals.
If you’re staying at a Tân Bình District hotel (khách sạn Quận Tân Bình), you will have the opportunity to explore this underrated area of Ho Chi Minh City. Go shopping at the local markets, try delicious Vietnamese street food, and enjoy the nightlife at the different clubs in the district. Here are just a few ideas of things to do while in the Tan Binh District.
Visit the Giac Lam Pagoda
Built in 1744, the Giac Lam Pagoda (Feel the Woods Temple) is known as the oldest Buddhist temple in the city. It features a walled garden with mythical dragons acting as guardians of its gates. Within the temple, there are 3 main areas that comprises the chanting hall, ceremonial hall, and the refectory. Images of the Buddha in different reincarnation forms are reverently displayed within, and some Taoist deities are also placed on individual altars. As most Vietnamese practice their own unique take on Buddhism, you can see a curious mix of both Confucian and Taoist influences in temples like this.
Take a Break at the Hoang Van Thu Park
Enjoy a shady stroll along the tree-lined paths of Hoang Van Thu Park. With beautifully manicured gardens peppered with various statues, it makes for a verdant and interesting backdrop for some cool travel photos. Find unexpected surprises such as a small replica of the Eiffel Tower, as well as statues of dinosaurs and other animals. But the most eye-catching features of the park are the towering white sculptures rising from the central fountains. These elegant structures symbolize Vietnam’s vision of progress and it’s people’s desire to develop and thrive.
Jog or Bike Along the Nhieu Loc Channel
Formerly an eyesore and one of the most polluted waterways in Saigon, the Nhieu Loc Channel is now one of the most serene and scenic places in the city. Locals and visitors flock along the canal—at all times of the day—to exercise, sightsee, or catch fish. You can have your early morning jog along the paved pathways or just enjoy a bike ride while admiring the canal’s clean waters.
Eat Authentic Vietnamese Cuisine
Like everywhere else in Saigon, it’s impossible to go home hungry in Tan Binh District. There are food stalls, shops, and restaurants all over the area. While some are branches of well-known international brands, quite a few serve Vietnam’s most prized dishes. For an authentic taste of Pho, try some of the restaurants on Le Van Sy Street such as the Pho Phu Vuong and the Qua Ngon Restaurant. Another must-try is the Thuan Kieu in Ut Tich Street, which serves Vietnam’s all-time comfort food, Com Tam or Broken Rice.
Food Crawl Your Way Through Vietnam’s Famous Street Foods
Foodies can have their fill of Vietnamese street food through the various stalls located on different streets in the district. Hoang Sa Street, Pham Van Hai Street, and Truong Sa Street are just some of the recommended places. Aside from the famous Pho, you can sample other noodle dishes such as the mi quang, which originates from central Vietnam, and the bun thit nuong noodles, which is topped with grilled pork.
Shop at the Local Markets
Bargain hunters would love practicing their haggling skills at one of the district’s local markets. The Tan Binh Market is the main market in the area and is one of the largest in the city, with a total area covering 22,800 square meters. This market is home to a diverse range of products, and you can find everything from souvenirs to traditional Vietnamese attires. Conversely, you can also check out the Pham Van Hai Market for street food and other Vietnamese delicacies.
Spend some time at the Tan Binh District when you first arrive in Ho Chi Minh City. There’s no doubt you’ll be pleasantly surprised with what this humble district has to offer.