Jun 162012
XO Tours Saigon

Saigon Visitors/Eaters Preference

XO Tours Vietnam

OK, I admit it. I’m not normal!

Now I’m not admitting to some serious mental deficiency. I mean this, of course, only in the statistical sense – you know, the “normal bell curve” thing. Let me try to explain.

Mendocino garden

Tulips in our Mendocino county garden

I mean, how many people would have left behind the beauty, tranquility and natural majesty of Mendocino County, California, for Saigon’s air pollution, corruption, insane traffic issues and … well, amazing street food?

Saigon's Traffic

Saigon’s Traffic

The answer can be found out there at the edge, where the normal population bell curve drops to almost nothing and parallels the x axis just a human hair above the horizontal line.

Now, I’m not complaining at all. I rather enjoy the freedom that comes living without all the pressing weight under that huge center bulge of the humanity bell curve. The reality is that expectations, pressures, protocols and rules rapidly diminish and opportunities and new experiences flourish the further out on that curve that one finds him or herself.

“So now just what the hell is he talking about?”

Please indulge me. The journey back to the main point of this blog seems a little longer than I first envisioned. Let’s focus on my passion for Saigon’s hidden eateries. That should help rescue me from this blog.

XO Tours Vietnam

5-Star Saigon Visitors often found here

Well, it seems that about half of those Saigon visitors/eaters finding themselves within the bell curve’s center bulge (the “Normal” Saigon visitors) are made up of rather wealthy tourists seeking western comforts, a maximum of convenience, and foregoing culinary authenticity in return for comfortable accommodation, air conditioning, and an English menu. Let’s refer to these folk as the “5-Star Saigon Visitors.”

XO Tours Vietnam

Saigon Party Visitors often found here

The other half of those Saigon visitors/eaters finding themselves within the bell curve’s center bulge (the rest of the “Normal” Saigon visitors) lack the financial resources to indulge themselves as described above. They far prefer the comradery shared amongst international travelers, and the hustle and booze associated with Saigon’s backpacker tourist scene. Let’s refer to these as the “Saigon Party Visitors.”

So there I find myself, mildly isolated at the end of the graph, eating, enjoying and writing about Eating Saigon! without desiring comfortable accommodation, air conditioning, or an English menu; and enjoying authentic Saigon eateries far away from the hustle and booze of the backpacker party scene.

So that leaves me writing my blogs, perhaps with precious few remaining Saigon visitors/eaters sharing Eating Saigon!’s central passion:

At Eating Saigon!

  • Street Food reigns supreme ~ in small alleys & narrow streets
  • Short plastic or metal stools are our seats of choice.
  • Food served by the same old woman for the past 40 years is our goal.
  • Eateries filled with only Vietnamese faces score highest in our rankings
  • We remember that chicken have feet and fish have faces !
  • Food quality and taste trumps ambiance every time!

Perhaps this explains why Eating Saigon! has yet to “go viral” 🙁

However, I may have found an answer – the great coming together of the Saigon visitors/eaters universe – XO Tours! “Finally – this writer gets to his point.”

XO Tours

This week, Hai and I joined 6 others on XO Tours evening “Foodie Tour” here in Ho Chi Minh City.

XO Tours Saigon

What a major fun and interesting evening for both of us.

We shared our 4.5 hour motorbike tour (beginning at 5:30 pm) through 6 Saigon districts (each distinct and unique in its character and urban pace), indulging ourselves with a wide array of authentic Vietnamese food together with fun folk visiting from Brazil, Canada, Indonesia, and Australia.

XO Tours Vietnam

Visiting from USA, Indonesia, Australia, Brazil and Canada

XO Tours Vietnam - Bun Bo Hue

Bun Bo Hue

Our all female Vietnamese drivers and hostesses, decked in traditional Vietnamese formal aó dài dress, were amazingly attentive to our every need – some in a sweet and some in a sassy manner (in both styles, it was great fun).

XO Tours Vietnam

Nga and Dung -our XO Tours’ hostesses for the evening

We all got to sample Saigon in all its various iterations, from the crowded bustling streets of tourist central in District 1, to the relatively new open boulevards along the Saigon River in District 5,

XO Tours Vietnam - Chinatown Market

Chinatown evening street market

to the somewhat mystical dark street market of Chinatown’s District 6, to the totally western, Pizza Hut-dominated ex-pat neighborhood of Phú Mỹ Hưng, to the crammed-with-locals seafood street food eateries of District 4.

XO Tours Vietnam - District 4

District 4 – Seafood on Saigon streets

XO Tours Vietnam - Duck Embryo

Am I really going to eat this duck embryo?

Along the way, beer flowed, goat udders charred, recipes were revealed, duck eggs with embryo challenged eaters, Saigon neighborhood history was told, grilled scallops and chili crab were savored, chop stick dexterity was competed, and genuine smiles were shared.

XO Tours Vietnam - Grilled Chili Crab

Grilled Chili Crab


XO Tours Vietnam

An evening of good Saigon food and great fun!

A truly enjoyable evening for all?

XO Tours Vietnam

YES – for “5-Star Saigon Visitors” , a comfortable motorbikes, safe drivers, charming hostesses, and very well managed logistics from start to finish.

XO Tours Vietnam

Sweet & yummy coconut milk gelatin

YES – for “Saigon Party Visitors”, a fair price, a full evening of food and entertainment, lots ‘o beer (your choice how much to consume), and great comradery among the international traveler set.



XO Tours Vietnam -Joe

Duck Embryo – no problem – YUM!

And YES – for Hai and I, even out at the edge of the Saigon visitors/eaters bell curve, we enjoyed the competency, the good vibes, the authentic and unique Saigon foods, and the fun of it all!


XO Tours gets an overall Yum Yum Yum from Eating Saigon! as a great way to spend some quality and fun time on your visit to Saigon – regardless of where you might fit on the Saigon visitors/eaters bell curve.

You can check out the XO Tours various tour options here:

[Mention Eating Saigon! when you book your XO “Foodie Tour” and get a 10% DISCOUNT between now and 31 July 2012]

 June 16, 2012

  7 Responses to “XO Tours Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City”

  1. Sounds great we will be there November 22 for 3 days. Do you have a tour at that time? What is the cost?


  2. Thanks for your blog. As a lone visitor away from the middle of the bell curve it’s quite hard work at times. I’m too late to catch this tour but your posts make me more inspired to return at some point.

  3. Please tell me about your food tour – how much is it and how many different places do you go to? I am keen to join!


  4. Love this idea. Will def recommend this to all visitors.

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