Saigon has many attractions but one of the things that make a visit to the city enjoyable is spending time with the locals and learning a few things from them.
As a tourist, you should make sure that you make a few friends before your trip ends.
How do you go local in Ho Chi Minh City?
Understand the Culture
Saigon has a very rich culture. It would be hard for anyone to go local without first taking the time to learn about the people, their culture and style. The more you learn the culture of people in Ho Chi Minh City, the easier it will be for you to blend in and feel comfortable around them. It is also important for you to learn a few words because most people here do not speak English.
Visit Places Frequented by Locals
There are areas in HCMC where you will find many foreigners such as District 2 and 7. If you want to go local, avoid these areas or spend minimal time exploring them. Get to the heart of the city where you can meet, interact and appreciate the culture of the people. In addition, spend as much time as you can on foot rather than tour the city on wheels. This increases your chances of meeting the locals and learning more about their culture.
Visit the Local Markets
There are markets such as Ben Thanh Market where foreigners and tourists flock but if you want to shop as a local would, make sure to visit Cho Lon Market. Even if you do not want to buy anything from the market, it can be fun listening and watching the locals bargain and make small talk as they go about their daily business. The market is also a great place to make new friends but if you want to get some gifts for people back at home, you may have to visit Ben Thanh market as well.
When shopping, you will note that the locals love bargaining. You do not have to settle for the asked price. You can ask for a lower price meaning that on a lucky day, you can get even up to 30% discount for the products you want to buy. Bargaining can also give you a chance to interact with the locals, learn a few bargaining tricks and even establish lasting friendships.
Eat Out with the Locals
Some tourists opt for the pricey restaurants thinking that they cannot get tasty and quality food at cheaper restaurants or from vendors on the streets. The locals love to eat food bought on the streets or cheap restaurants that dot the city. You will save some money, enjoy a new experience and have many stories for people back at home. You can visit Saigon City Guide to have a look at some Saigon restaurants that are recommended by locals and expats.
The locals are very friendly and willing to help. If you are lucky to find some who can speak a few English words, it will be easier for you to blend in. Most importantly, make sure not to follow the tourist routes and guides if you want to go local in HCMC.
You can take a walk at some parks such as Tao Dan Park (55C, Nguyen Thi Minh Khai street, Ben Thanh ward, district 1), Le Thi Rieng park (875, Cach Mang Thang Tam street, ward 15, district 10) where you can meet lovely locals. These lovely locals are students from some Universities in Ho Chi Minh such as University of Social Science and Humanities, Hoa Sen University, etc. They can become your “free” tour guide because they love to talk to foreigners to practice their English skill and tell you about their culture.
Travel tip shared by Janesaigon