An Open Letter to the Fearless Female Traveler: Saigon

     Photo of People's Committee Building in Vibrant Ho Chi Minh City!

 Traveling solo or with other women can be a liberating experience of self-discovery—but one that comes with its own unique set of challenges. For many women, the idea of traveling as a female can be as exciting as it is terrifying. The good news is that the world has never been more accommodating to women travelers, and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (formally known as Saigon) is the perfect place to start.

 Saigon is an explosion of tastes and culture while being one of the safest cities in the world.

 Still, there are a few crucial things to consider when planning a solo trip: transportation, accommodation, and exploring all the best local spots. Along with safety and security concerns, we’ve got you covered. Read on to start your journey of self-discovery with our personalized tips for your sojourn through Saigon city, with actionable advice on how to stay safe and have fun along the way.

 Safety: Avoiding Theft and Scammers

While violent crime rates in Vietnam are much lower than in other countries, petty theft, like pickpocketing and bag snatching, can still be a problem for tourists. Solo female travelers, in particular, are especially vulnerable to petty crimes. So, a good rule of thumb is to always employ common sense, be aware of your surroundings, and keep up with the travel precautions in your area. Not sure where to find the best info? Don’t worry, we’ve done it for you.

  1. Stick to the Grab App or Mai Linh or Vinasun Taxis

The Grab App is a great option for traveling through Vietnam with peace of mind. It lets you hire anything that rides on wheels—taxis, private cars, shuttles, as well as bikes if you want to get around by pedal power—all while keeping your finances protected. There are several other ride-hailing apps that we suggest you download prior to landing in Vietnam, such as Be or Go-Violet as backups!

In need of a taxi? Vinasun and Mai Linh are the two most reliable options in Vietnam. Some of the other taxi companies have poor reputations and should be avoided if possible. For example, never take a ride from the guy at the airport exit door, asking if you need a taxi. Wait for the Vinasun brand and you’re certain to have a safe and comfortable ride. Pro tip: carry your hotel address with you on a piece of paper, as most cab drivers do not speak English and won’t understand your pronunciation.

Photo of a Vietnam taxi.

  1. Don’t accept rides from cyclo drivers

If a cyclo ride through the streets of Saigon is a must-do on your itinerary, then book your three-wheeled ride through a hotel or tourism company. Independent cyclo drivers are known for their skills at sweet-talking tourists, but don’t let this worry you—just make sure to agree on a price before you get going. Pro tip: negotiate the price with your driver. Bargaining is a huge deal in Saigon City, and if you don’t attempt to bring down the price, it will signal to your driver that you’re an easy target to take advantage of.

  1. Skip the expensive necklaces and loose jewelry

​​It goes without saying that wearing expensive jewelry can signal all the wrong things to a thief. Loose jewelry can easily be pulled right off your body by snatch-and-grab motorbikes. This is not common in Saigon, but it’s best to leave the jewels safe in your hostel or hotel room. Pro tip: dress light! Dressing lightly will help you stay cool and comfortable in the hot Saigon climate, as well as help you blend into the crowd—which is never a bad idea when exploring a foreign city.

  1. Avoid carrying purses and over-the-shoulder bags

These are usually prime targets for snatch-and-grab motorbike thieves. It’s best to wear a sling backpack or small crossbody—something that can clip and be secured tightly to your body. Sling backpacks are a particularly good choice as they sit ergonomically on your back, but can easily swing around and be worn on the front, to keep your possessions accessible and safe.

  1. Leave valuables and unnecessary cash in your hostel, hotel safe, or locked luggage.

While exploring any new city, it's wise to keep a small amount of cash on hand in case you get into an unexpected jam or need services that are cash-only. While this is a good rule of thumb, it’s best to avoid carrying too much cash with you, so that you can mitigate your loss in the event that something bad does happen. It’s also wise to split your credit cards between your wallet and your hotel room in case of theft in either place. Pro tip: inside every piece of luggage is a small construction zipper—use this secret pocket as a perfect place to conceal cash and important travel documents.

The Top 5 Best Sites to Add to your Itinerary:

  1. Ben Thanh Market

Your trip to Ho Chi Minh would not be complete without stopping at the iconic Ben Thanh Market. Ben Thanh is your one-stop shop for everything from unique groceries, souvenirs, and a taste of local flavor. But once you're in, it's important to know what to expect. Inside, it's hot and muggy and many of the vendors are aggressive with tourists and locals alike. But don’t let that deter you, it’s a harmless part of the culture and it’s what makes Ben Thanh so fun and unique. Ben Thanh is a true Vietnamese experience—not just a tourist grab, as many locals visit the market for items that are hard to find elsewhere in the city. From local fruits and vegetables to delicious meats and sweets, you'll want to try everything on offer. Our favorite? A drink called che ba mau, or three-color beans. This sweet treat will surprise you with every sip!

Three girls smiling and taking a selfie in Ben Thanh Market.  

  1. Saigon Square

When you step into Saigon Square, you're transported into a bright, buzzing, and crowded local experience unlike any other. Saigon Square is a retail dream filled with luxurious, high-end items. No wonder locals like to call it the "shopping paradise." Saigon Square is a favorite of both tourists and Ho Chi Minh locals as it offers opulent brands such as Gucci, Calvin Klein and more, at bargain deals. There’s always a risk at buying a knock-off but at these prices, it won’t bother you. The fun of Saigon Square isn't just the low-cost brand names or the traditional market style feel—it’s the bargaining experience! Bargaining is a huge part of Vietnamese culture and here you will get a truly authentic feel for it. Not sure how to bargain? Scroll down for some important phrases that will help you get started… Bot di!

 The front of the Saigon Sqaure where tourists and locals are walking around.

  1. Chill Skybar (AB Tower 76, Le Lai)

There are two ways to experience Ho Chi Minh nightlife—the street bar scene that takes place on the sidewalks of the city, and the high-end rooftop bars with phenomenal city views. Both are essential Saigon City experiences. But, if you’re jonesing for a more upscale night out, we’ve got you covered. Located high above Ho Chi Minh City's skyline, this open-air bar offers an impressive view of the city below. And once you’re looking down on it all, you won’t be able to pull your eyes away.

 Beautiful and trendy upscale rooftop bar in Ho Chi Minh City.

  1. Le Thanh Tan Japan Town

While Saigon plays host to a distinct French influence, you’ll also find—much more subtly—a touch of Japanese culture throughout the city as well. Little Japan is one spot you won't want to miss, as it's as much a part of the city as the street food and the cafés. Japan Town is home to the largest population of Japanese in Ho Chi Minh and is the best place for late-night Izakaya snacks, a sea of glowing red lanterns, and a unique taste of the city. Pro tip: check out Izakaya Torisho for some delicious traditional Japanese skewers (kushiyaki). An entire meal for two plus a couple of Sapporo's will cost you less than $20, and dining here will give you a great opportunity to meet other solo travelers.

Two tourists smiling holding up a peace sign in the streets of Ho Chi Minh City.

  1. Pho Hoa Pasteur (260C Pasteur Ward 8, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City 70000 Vietnam)

If there’s one thing the Vietnamese love, it’s their noodle soup dishes. And in Vietnam, there’s one noodle soup to rule the rest: pho. You may already be familiar with this popular dish, but whether you are or not, you’re in for a divine treat. Our top pick in the city? Pho Hoa Pasteur. The mountain of fried doughnuts on every table is just one of the reasons we find this restaurant to be more unique than some of the other pho-nominal establishments in town, like Pho Le. (Sorry, we had to).

A bowl of warm Vietnamese pho.  

Our Top 3 Hotels: 

 If you’re traveling on a budget, Vietnam is a great place to visit. Thanks to its low costs, it’s easy to find affordable hotels that can cost the same as a hostel would, anywhere else in the world. So whether you’re looking for luxury digs or just a safe place to stay while exploring Ho Chi Minh, here are our top three recommendations.

  1. Liberty Central Saigon Citypoint Hotel


The Liberty Central Saigon Citypoint Hotel was recognized by trip advisor for their 2020 Travelers Choice Award, making it a surefire favorite of millions of travelers just like you. This hotel is our most luxurious pick and is located in the heart of downtown Saigon. Found in district 1, the Liberty Central Hotel will serve as a comfortable resting place at the end of a long day, or a way to indulge your finer side by dipping in the rooftop infinity pool or visiting the sky bar for a cocktail.

  1. The Myst Dong Khoi

 When you first approach the Myst Dong Khoi Hotel, you'll certainly be mystified by its unique and avant-garde structure. This hotel is a melding of the new Saigon with the old—bringing together a modern vibe infused with authentic hints of Vietnamese culture. The Myst Hotel will offer you comfort and security while placing you only steps away from the famous Đồng Khởi Street.

  1. The Caravelle Hotel

 The Caravelle Hotel shares an excellent location with Liberty Central, located in Saigon's vibrant district 1. If you’re a history buff, you’ll love this option as it bears a colorful history, stemming from its opening back in 1959. Luckily, history does not come at the price of comfort as this hotel was newly refurbished in 2020.

 Girls on vespas exploring the city of Ho Chi Minh City.

3 Top Tours to Take in the City:

  1. XO Tours: Sights of Saigon

The minute you arrive in Ho Chi Minh City, it’s obvious that scooters are the vehicle of choice here. And there's no better way to experience the city than from the back of a scooter. XO Tours is our personal favorite, as we have experienced their kindness and knowledge firsthand. We especially love XO Tours because they’re the first all-female motorbike tour company in Vietnam. As a company for females by females, this is something that speaks to us! The Sights of Saigon Tour is a “fun ride through the most popular attractions in Saigon”. The tour guides speak fluent English and will teach you all kinds of  facts about Saigon—along with some that only a native would know.

  1. XO Tours: Foodie Tour

The XO Foodie Tour has been named among the 9 best food tours in the world by Forbes and based on our own experience with XO tours, we imagine it’s unparalleled. The XO Foodie Tour has also been named one of the most acclaimed in Vietnam, making it a must-do on your HCMC travel itinerary. It promises at least 10 entrees, desserts, and of course, plenty of libations at the best street eateries in the city.

  1. XO Tours: Saigon by Night

Saigon is best known for its electrifying and active nightlife. Whether it’s sipping a Tiger beer in the beer gardens or hitting an upscale rooftop bar, locals and tourists alike like to enjoy the cool night air after a day filled with warm temps and thick humidity. The Saigon by Night tour will show you a different look at Saigon that few travelers get to experience, “from the lights of the red paper lanterns of Cholon to the food ghettos of District 10.”

Important Phrases to know:

Compared to other SE Asian destinations such as Thailand or Bali, Vietnam is a place with little English. Many of the locals don’t speak great English, especially in the case of cab drivers and market and street food vendors. Keep these important phrases on hand during your trip so that whether you’re lost, or just looking for another refreshment, you can battle the language barrier with confidence.

General Phrases:


Xin Chào!

How are you?

Ban khoe khong?

I’m lost.

Toi bi lac.

Can you give me directions?

Chi duong giup toi?

Can you help me?

Ban co the giup toi khong?

Sorry, I can’t speak Vietnamese.

Xin loi! Toi khong biet noi tieng Viet.


Phrases for the markets:

I don’t want to buy it!

Khong mua!

I like it!

Tôi thích nó!

How much?

Bao nhieu

Give me a discount!

Bot di!


 Phrases for street food or restaurants:



One beer, please!

Cho mot bia di!

Can I have the bill, please?

Tinh tien di?

Where’s the toilet?

Toilet o dâu?

Thank you!

Cam on!


Are you ready for the adventure of a lifetime through Ho Chi Minh City? Check out Sherpani’s anti-theft travel bags and luggage to keep your belongings safe on your journey!

Please contact for any more personalized travel tips on Saigon City.


Reading next

Received A Gift Card From Sherpani? Here Are Our Top 5 Picks!
Two girls laughing and walking together down the street in their Sherpani bags.

1 comment

Melissa T.

Melissa T.

I love this! So much great information. Thanks Sherpani!!

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.