Pham Ngu Lao Street in Ho Chi Minh
Everything you Need to Know about Pham Ngu Lao Street
The Pham Ngu Lao area of District 1 is where most backpacking travelers first land in Ho Chi Minh City. It’s a similar scene to Southeast Asia's most famous backpacking centre, Khao San Road in Bangkok, but on a smaller scale. The main thoroughfares (with lots of lanes and back alleys) that make up the popular area include Pham Ngu Lao, De Tham, Bui Vien and Do Quang Dao streets.
These are where tourists can find Western-style eateries and bars, countless travel agencies, cheap guesthouses (as well as many of the so-called ‘mini-hotel’ buildings usually with six to seven floors, rarely offering an elevator), internet shops, pharmacies and souvenir-and-craft shops.
Pham Ngu Lao is not limited to only low-budget travelers. Its own unique vibe draws people from everywhere. Visitors sometime prefer to enjoy local street food or do nothing but people watching over the incredibly cheap bia hoi draught beer on the roadside as there is always something going on in Pham Ngu Lao.
Pham Ngu Lao Attractions
Pham Ngu Lao is an attraction in itself. Though this area has been developing fast over the past decade, there are still lots of charming old buildings as many families have been living there for generations. The street scene can seem a little crazy with hawkers selling just about everything from cigarettes to massage services.
Pham Ngu Lao is also close to many city landmarks as well as interesting attractions. The famous Ben Thanh Market is just a 10-minute walk and the Fine Art Museum, Reunification Palace and Phu Dong Statue are less than a kilometre away.
Pham Ngu Lao Dining
Saigon’s street eating scene is a must for first-time visitors to the city and the only risk is the ice served in your drinks which can be from doubtful sources. Reward yourself with local favourites such as sandwiches with all the fixings, banh xeo (pancakes), pho (the most common and popular rice noodle soup), bun bo hue (a rice noodle soup thicker than pho) and local coffee.
Take advantage also of the restaurants in the Pham Ngu Lao Area as they’re known for delicious and well-priced food. Some of the venues have high-speed WiFi.
Pham Ngu Lao Nightlife
Ho Chi Minh City comes alive at night. Street vendors, bia hoi stalls, bars and downtown clubs are part of the lively scene.
Pham Ngu Lao, as can be imagined, also has interesting nightlife entertainment spots including Allez Boo and Le Pub as well as many smaller pubs known for their cheap drinks. It’s common around here to meet some friendly expats who are more than willing to share a few tips about travelling in and beyond Vietnam.
Pham Ngu Lao Shopping
If your shopping list in Vietnam includes any of the following list, you will definitely find them in Pham Ngu Lao; conical hats (the unofficial national symbol), handicrafts, paintings, silk products, T-shirts, rice paper (Vietnamese spring rolls anyone?), tea, coffee, coffee containers, coconut candies and tropical fruits.
Pham Ngu Lao has extensive markets nearby as well as boutique shops, malls, and art galleries. Even though shopping here can be so much fun for most people because of the attractive prices, it’s still wise to compare prices and bargain before making a purchase.
Pham Ngu Lao Activities
If you want to observe real local life, get up early and visit the parks in the area to see (and even to join in on) a morning exercise activity. It is interesting to see all those ‘uncles’ and ‘aunties’ into their Tai Chi-like sessions.
Pham Ngu Lao is not such a large area, making it the perfect place to sightsee by foot and the best time to do this is either in the morning or late afternoon when the heat has ebbed away. You will find plenty of travel agencies to select activities and tour packages along the way too.