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I love Asian food; especially street food and that’s why I always like to do food tours to taste the local dishes. Last summer I visited Ho Chi Min City together with my family. On the day of arrival, I did with my son a Ho Chi Min City food tour which I already pre-arranged through XO Tours. They get booked full quick so book in time. Why them? Because they do tours on motorbike. Another reason in general that I prefer to do a food tour through an agency is that they know where to go. I normally visit places just for a few nights and it would be close to impossible to find everything myself in just a night or two. Let me show you what you can expect from XO Tour; they ARE good.
Ho Chi Min City food tour first stop
I arranged that I would be picked up at 8 PM for the Ho Chi Min City food tour. Five minutes to eight the telephone of my room at the Meridien Hotel Saigon rang that two lovely ladies where waiting for me to take me on a Ho Chi Min City food tour. After a short safety instruction and installing the helmet I was, together with my son, on the way. Meandering through the traffic and thousands of other motorbikes I arrived at the first stop about 20 minutes later. Here I would try a specialty from the Hue region in Central Vietnam called Bún bò Hué.
Bún bò Hué is a noodle soup with beef and vegetables. During the food tour by XO Tours it’s served not spicy but you can make it spicy with the sauce served on the side. I love spicy food so I made mine spicy. The broth is made by cooking beef bones for a long time together with lemongrass. It’s a delicious dish to start with as I got very hungry. I skipped lunch so that I would have enough appetite for hours of eating till midnight. The lovely ladies from XO Tours are always into a chat. I think there was no silence throughout the entire tour. I learned not just about food but also about Vietnamese culture and habits. The Ho Chi Min City food tour also includes a stop at a local street market in China town (photo taken there too).
Ho Chi Min City food tour market stop
The next stop is in China town. Here you will walk through several streets full of street vendors. You can see there the food you will be eating during the night. Fish, meat, live poultry, fruit and vegetables. Everything is grouped by type so you can easily look around which has the best that day. If you visit Asia for the first time this of particular interest and it might be a small culture shock for you. I visit Asia often and I was mainly looking for items I had never had for dinner before. This gets more and more difficult and I didn’t succeed if you look at only ingredients. I did have a lot of new dishes during this Ho Chi Min City food tour. So imagine the food I had before 😉
VIETNAM – Must see things in two weeks; a sample Vietnam itinerary
Ho Chi Min City food tour second stop
Next up: meat! Yes, that’s my thing. I sat down on the way to small chairs; made for Vietnamese people. This however made the whole experience much more fun! The girls from XO Tours first told me we would eat the meat raw. A joke of course 😉 but as I eat everything and don’t hesitate to try new things I wanted to take it to try. They said “No no no”. My joke worked better 🙂
I had several dishes here. Above you can see grilled okra (top left), grilled shrimps (top right), grilled beef (bottom right) and mini rice pancakes. These mini rice pancakes you roll in the greens that are served with it. Delicious! Of course there are several sauces and herbs on the side to season the food. Below you see some fruit which is served with salt. This gives actually a very special taste! On the left a specialty: frogs. One with skin and one without skin. Which one do you prefer? I like the one with skin more as it gave a more froggy taste.
Ho Chi Min City food tour third stop
Before arriving at the third food stop a small stop was made in the more upscale neighborhood. It’s interesting to see the contrast with the neighborhood of the last stop which is a neighborhood at the upper part of the lower class. I call the last stop of the Ho Chi Min City food tour the seafood stop simply due to the fact I had mainly seafood dishes here. Oh, tasty duck eggs and quail legs were also on the menu here. The quail was served first together with crab legs. All tender and flavored to perfection (left and right photo below). The XO Tour girls cleaned all the crab legs for me and my son. That’s service 🙂 In the meantime we had some great conversations about anything that popped into mind. The dish in the middle below is grilled beef with wild beetle leaves. You roll the ingredients into the cabbage before eating it.
Still hungry? Don’t worry as during the Ho Chi Min City food tour you can eat and drink as much as you want. Be warned though; if you get drunk the girls will put you on their shoulder and bring you back to your hotel 🙂 Next up were various shells and scallops. Cooked and bbq’ed to perfection with local herbs. Seafood is widely available in Vietnam due to its huge coast and tradition of fishing. I got pretty full but two more dishes to go. One famous dish you simply must try in Vietnam or South East Asia is a balut. In Vietnam it’s called hột vịt lộn. This is a duck egg with a 14-21 days old embryo inside. I understand this might look a bit strange to you but I really suggest to try it. It’s delicious. I tried two versions: one fresh from the egg, the other with peanut sauce and some herbs.
The tour ended with the dessert: coconut jelly! It’s made of coconut milk (top layer) and jelly below. It’s not too sweet so I loved it. I’m not a person of sweet desserts.
VIETNAM – Must see things in two weeks; a sample Vietnam itinerary
After the dessert I had a last beer, my son a sprite. Although in Vietnam he could drink beer (no minimum age) that wouldn’t have been a wise thing to do. After some more talks it was time to say goodbye to the XO Tour girls. It was a great experience and I highly recommend to do a food tour with XO Tours. Their girls are friendly, know the food and best places to go. They take a lot of precautions to keep you safe on the motorbike. Close to midnight they dropped me and my son safely at the Meridien Saigon Hotel.
During the day I recommend to go sightseeing in Ho Chi Min City. Either alone or also through XO Tours. If you make a tour through Vietnam then also read about my other Vietnam stories. I have been to other South East Asian countries too which make a perfect combination for a longer trip.
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Did you visit Ho Chi Min City too or do you have questions? Please leave a comment at the bottom of the page. Love to hear from you!