Published/Last edited or updated: 22nd August, 2017
Want to know what the locals are munching on, on footpaths, street corners and in parks? Ever wonder how the banh xeo in Ho Chi Minh City differs than the one you had in Hoi An?
Back of the Bike Tours can answer those questions on their Saigon Street Food Tasting Tour, where you are shuttled around—you guessed it—on the back of a motorbike.
For many travellers, Ho Chi Minh City is either their first or last experience in Vietnam. Whether you have a few days or only a few hours, a motorbike tour is a great way to dive into Saigon street food while getting to experience the city’s frenetic traffic.
We were picked up by our guide and without much ado, zoom, off we went into the flow of traffic. The night tour crisscrosses the city and covers a mix of true street food (not touristy restaurants), from the papaya salad lady who has had her cart for over 28 years and carefully guards her secret recipe, to the hole-in-the-wall banh xeo shop where they’ll even let you try making a few. There’s five delicious stops at an easy going pace, and pace yourself you must because there’s a lot of food and drink, all included.
There were many positives about the tour. Our guide Xuan was friendly, spunky and switched on. Back of the Bike primarily uses female guides and drivers, which may make female travellers more comfortable. There’s a good variety of local food, as well as beverages—our guide wanted us to try a variety of local drinks, from passion fruit juice to freshly pressed raw sugar cane. We were the only foreigners at these spots, which were chosen based on the food, not simply because it was located in one area. So there’s a fair amount of driving to different districts which is a huge part of the fun.
Another perk is that a photographer accompanies the tour so you can actually use all five senses rather than experience everything through the lens. It’s a much appreciated souvenir and removes the temptation to take photos while riding on the motorbike.
The tour is US$67 per person. At the time of writing, Back of the Bike Tours did not appear to work with online tour agencies, so we encourage you to contact them directly to make a booking. Choose from the afternoon (13:00-17:00) or night session (18:00-22:00). There is no minimum number of passengers for a tour. In high season, advanced booking is a must as tours sell out. Tours still run in rainy season. It may mean waiting out a downpour, a good time to ask questions or eat more.
Cindy Fan is a Canadian writer/photographer and author of So Many Miles, a website that chronicles the love of adventure, food and culture. After falling in love with sticky rice and Mekong sunsets, in 2011 she uprooted her life in Toronto to live la vida Laos. She’s travelled to over 40 countries and harbours a deep affection for Africa and Southeast Asia. In between jaunts around the world, she calls Laos and Vietnam home where you’ll find her traipsing through rice paddies, standing beside broken-down buses and in villages laughing with the locals.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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