The Sights of Saigon

  • The XO Foodie Tour

Saigon by Night

Saigon through the lens.

SAIGON - XO Tours Vietnam

XO Tours – Saigon Food Tours and City Tours Led by Women

We are the first all-female motorbike tour company in Vietnam, offering the most unique and highest ranked tours in Vietnam for over 13 years running. Our “XO Foodie ” tour is the original Vietnam street food tour and was voted one of the top 9 food tours in the world by Forbes, one of the 10 best city tours by USA Today, the best food tour in Vietnam by Food & Wine, and one of the top things to do in Ho Chi Minh City by the New York Times! We are also proud to have provided thousands of women the opportunity to work in the Vietnamese tourism industry since 2010. Whether you’re interested in food, culture, or sightseeing, book one of our acclaimed Vietnam tours and see why over 100,000 guests have chosen XO Tours to provide them with their best memories in Vietnam!

Due to our success, XO Tours is the most copied tour operator in Vietnam. Be aware that 95% of the motorbike tour providers in Vietnam are operating illegally without a tour operator license. If you book with another scooter tour and get into an accident most likely no insurance policy will cover you….even if the provider says they offer insurance.

Unlike the copycats, the tours that XO offers cannot be booked on Tripadvisor, Viator, AirBNB, or any other online travel agent. Our unique tours are entirely exclusive and can only be booked via our official website. Accept no substitutes! Book your scooter tour with the best and safest tour operator in Vietnam.

xo saigon food tour

Booking a Saigon Food Tour or City Tour? Why Choose US!

  • Unlike most motorbike tours in Vietnam, we are staffed by professional, licensed tour guides , NOT students
  • Best in class, first world level customer service!
  • Accident insurance included with every single tour!
  • Highest rated Saigon Food Tours on Tripadvisor for the past 12 years!
  • We are the most family-friendly motorbike tour in Vietnam!
  • We know how to HAVE FUN!

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Our Saigon Tours

xo saigon food tour

The XO Foodie


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Over 7000 five star reviews! What our customers say about XO!

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It's one tasty journey.

xo saigon food tour

David Bokuchava / Getty Images

Growing up, my mom implemented just two major rules: no motorcycles and no tattoos. Until the age of 29, I had obeyed both of these boundaries, but the motorcycle one seemed like a deal-breaker at this point. After all, I had just landed in Vietnam, and as Bourdain famously said, the only way to experience Hanoi is on a scooter.

While I was going to Saigon, not Hanoi, I felt that his point was still valid. Regardless, whenever I asked anyone for suggestions on what a tourist should do while there, one thing came up again and again: XO Tours , a motorbike tour through the city involving stops for street food along the way.

But as my trip approached, my itinerary was sparse, and I became increasingly nervous. How would I eat what locals eat? Sure, I’d be getting pho and banh mi, but where were the best snails, and bottom line, could someone please show me foods that I never knew existed? XO Tours turned out to be my ticket to all of that and more. 

I felt that familiar rush of excitement the moment my guide, a young woman named Han, greeted me with a wave outside my hotel, the Ramada Encore by Wyndham in District One . She told me to get on the back of her white Vespa, and as we cannonballed through traffic, I held onto the back for dear life but couldn’t help grinning. It seemed like being on a scooter in the city unlocked a whole other dimension (and this may be true in all cities, though I haven’t tried scootering them all yet). I was able to appreciate the sights — whole families piled on scooters, packages dangling dangerously from the back, helmet fashion, and even dogs balancing by their owners' feet. 

Huy Nguyen / Getty Images

It started out with soup, importantly, not pho. Instead, we had Bún Bò Huế. The bowl was massive, and even though we had at least three more food stops, I slurped down the entire mixture of spicy rice noodles and sliced beef, savoring each refreshing bite as the added lemongrass hit my tastebuds.   

Before I could properly wipe my mouth, we sped off again, this time to a market in Chinatown, one of the largest wet markets in the country. Everything was out on the street, there were carts filled with fruits, blankets covered with fish, and live animals being sold to be slaughtered. Our next stop was appropriately for a barbecue. 

Tableside, we grilled up goat breast while the very same goat hung from the rafters at the end of our table, being picked apart by the in-restaurant butcher. This was, I was told, to prove that it was a goat (a more expensive animal) and not a pig. Dipped in a garlic sauce, the goat tasted more or less like beef, and the spring onions and peanuts we gobbled down in between waiting for pieces to come off the charcoal paired perfectly with the (unlimited) beer.  

Next was a seafood stop, where we saw scallops shucked and then grilled before being smothered in nuts and sizzling scallion oil. Crab legs were cracked open at the table, and there was even an embryonic duck egg, which I was instructed to eat like a soft-boiled egg, cracking it at the top, then scooping out the innards. “I don’t look at it when I eat it,” my guide said, but I couldn’t help but stare. 

Filipe Lopes / Getty Images

Through it all, I white-knuckled the back of the scooter around twists and turns, roundabouts and alleyways, as we sped past neon signs and billows of smoke from carts filled with delicacies. There was, ever so thankfully, unlimited beer (included), which I slugged in order to keep up with the beads of sweat dripping from my chin to my thighs, thanks to the combination of the 100% humidity and my full belly.

Altogether, the tour was a magical one. It didn’t even really feel like a tour. Maybe all tours should be on the backs of scooters. And if you’re still worried about my mom, don’t be. I sent her a video of me on the scooter with a text that read, “Don’t worry, I’m wearing a helmet.”

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XO Foodie Tour Saigon Review

Ho Chi Minh City , the bustling metropolis located in the south of Vietnam, is famous for its vibrant and diverse food.

But sometimes tourists find it difficult trying the variety of foods Vietnam has to offer. That’s why we think a food tour is essential for any Vietnam first-timer.

And when it comes to food tours, the XO Foodie Tour is the best. It’s the perfect way to experience the local cuisine, learn about the culture and history of the city, and meet new people along the way.

So grab your chopsticks and come on a culinary adventure with us as we explore the best food that Ho Chi Minh City has to offer.

XO Foodie Tour Saigon Vietnam guide

About XO Tours

With almost ten years of experience, XO Tours has become Saigon’s most trusted food tour and was the first to feature all-female bike drivers.

We tried their premier tour – The XO Foodie – listed as one of the top nine food tours in the world by Forbes Magazine .

This tour offers a unique and authentic look into the lives of the local people and lets guests try some of the not-so-well-known Vietnamese dishes .

What to expect on the XO Foodie tour

We were picked up from our hotel by our designated tour drivers, Hang and Hong, and we instantly felt like we were in good hands.

Our guides were total pros, and they made us feel safe and secure the whole time. They spoke excellent English and were incredibly knowledgeable about the areas we were driving through.

And they didn’t just point out the sights, they really engaged with us, telling us stories and answering all of our questions.

First Stop – Introductions

Our first stop was to meet the rest of the tour group, including our charismatic tour leader, Sang.

He introduced all of us by name and gave us a warm welcome to the tour. We were all so excited to get started.

Throughout the tour, Sang was not only our guide, but our friend, sharing his own stories and experiences with us as we explored the city together.

Xo Tour Saigon Bun Bo Hue

We first tried a special soup, Bún Bò Huế , known for its balance of spicy, salty, and umami flavors.

Sang explained all the different elements that goes into this superb dish, from the fragrant lemongrass to the tender beef and delicious noodles.

It was clear Sang was passionate about the food of his country, and it made the experience all the more special.

Second Stop – Chinatown

We then rode into the bustling heart of Chinatown. The moment we entered this vibrant community, we were struck by the colorful architecture and lively atmosphere.

Everywhere we looked, there were shops and vendors selling all sorts of wares, from traditional Chinese decor to modern electronics. The signs were all written in beautiful Chinese characters, making us feel like we were in a completely different world.

We stopped for a moment to take it all in, and that’s when our tour leader, Sang, give us a little history lesson. He explained the significance of Chinatown and the role it has played in the cultural melting pot of Ho Chi Minh City.

Third Stop – Barbecue and Beer!

We hopped back onto our bikes and headed to the next district, feeling excited for more tasty local food. Our guides had promised us some of the best barbecued meats in the city, and we were ready to dig in.

XO Foodie Tour Saigon Vietnam

We arrived at a local restaurant that was bustling with locals, and we knew we were in for a treat.

The aroma of grilled meats was mouth-watering, and we eagerly awaited our plates. As promised, there were plenty of options to choose from, including some unique meats that we’d never tried before.

Also, at this stage, the beer and shots came out! Our guides made sure we were well-hydrated with cold, refreshing drinks.

grilled food

Trying new and unusual foods is one of the highlights of the XO Foodie tour , so we were thrilled to sample grilled frog, a dish that we never would have tried on our own.

We were pleasantly surprised by the taste. The meat was tender and flavorful, with a unique texture similar to chicken or fish.

Of course, there were plenty of other unique dishes to try, but we don’t want to spoil the fun for by giving away too many details. Let’s just say you won’t be disappointed!


The food and drink just kept coming, and we ate until we were completely stuffed. But everything was so tasty we couldn’t help ourselves. We left the restaurant with happy stomachs and a newfound appreciation for the incredible flavors of Ho Chi Minh City.

Fourth Stop – ‘Little Singapore’

As we continued on our food tour, we arrived at a more upscale neighborhood in a central district. Our tour leader, Sang, was quick to give us the inside info on this unique part of the city.

“This district is like a little slice of Singapore in Saigon,” Sang explained. And as we looked around, we could definitely see the similarities. The neighborhood had a more modern, cosmopolitan feel to it, with wide streets and a distinct lack of motorbikes.

Instead, we saw plenty of luxury European cars. It was fascinating to see how this part of the city differed from the others we’d visited, and we soaked up all of Sang’s insightful details about the area.

Last stop – Seafood Finale

If you’re a seafood lover, then get ready – the next stop on our food tour was our favorite! We headed to a district that’s famous for its seafood, and our taste buds were in for a real treat.


We sat down at a bustling restaurant packed to the brim with locals. As we looked around, we could see everyone tucking into giant platters of fresh seafood – it was clear that this was the place to be for any seafood lover in Saigon.

XO Foodie Tour Saigon Vietnam guide

And once our own dishes arrived, we knew we were in for a real treat. We feasted on succulent crab, perfectly seared scallops, and juicy, flavorful clams. One of the standout dishes was a spicy soup with deliciously plump clams – it was pure heaven in a bowl.

But even though our stomachs were already filled to the brim, we couldn’t resist trying some traditional Vietnamese desserts to finish. It was the perfect end to a truly unforgettable meal.

Why you should try the XO Foodie tour

There are so many reasons why you should try in the XO Foodie tour :

  • Tour drivers and guides that are incredibly attentive and make you feel safe at all times – even when navigating the chaotic traffic of Saigon!
  • Unlimited food and drinks (with plenty of encouragement to ask for more!), and even the chance to try some more unusual dishes that you might not otherwise have tried on your own.
  • Photographs are taken throughout and emailed to you later, so you can relive all the delicious food and fun memories even after you’ve returned home.
  • Any vegetarians or vegans will be happy with plenty of options available to suit their needs.
  • Comprehensive medical insurance is included in the tour – something you won’t find with other tour companies.

XO Foodie Tour Saigon Vietnam

How to book the XO Foodie tour

Booking the tour is easy and only takes a few minutes. Visit the the XO Foodie booking form , and follow the few simple steps. You’ll then receive a confirmation email with all the details you need.

If you’re someone who likes to be spontaneous and hasn’t planned ahead, you’ll be happy to know that XO Tours are very accommodating and will do their best to help you book a tour on short notice. Their team is always ready to answer any questions you might have.

After booking your tour, you can start looking forward to your exciting food adventure. The XO Foodie tour will take you to some of the city’s best and most unique street food destinations, and you’ll get to taste a wide variety of delicious and authentic Vietnamese dishes.

Whether you’re a foodie, a traveler, or simply someone who enjoys good food, this tour is an experience you won’t want to miss!

Ha is an avid traveler and writer with a background in marketing & hospitality. She's lived in a few countries and traveled to more than 30. When she's not traveling or writing, Ha loves trying new recipes.

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XO TOURS (Ho Chi Minh City) - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go

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Exploring Saigon’s Food Scene by Motorbike with XO Tours

  • December 20, 2019
  • Adventure Travel , Affordable Travel , City Escapes , Food & Wine , Vietnam

Discovering Ho Chi Minh City by Motorbike

I was apprehensive when we pushed the ‘Book Now’ button. I hadn’t even been on a motorbike before, and here I was signing up to sit on the back of a stranger’s bike as we zipped through one of Vietnam’s busiest cities. Is that even sane? Maybe yes, maybe no, but as it turns out, exploring Saigon’s food scene by motorbike with XO Tours is pretty much the most fun food tour you’ll ever go on in your life. Their reviews speak for themselves and give uncertain guests (like me!) the confidence to book. Add to the fact that it’s a female operated business, and I was absolutely sold. Here’s how it works: visitors sign up for the tour – $78 for a tour that lastly roughly 5 hours and includes 11 dishes over 5 spots – and get matched with a female tour guide for the night.

Plus, experiencing a night on a motorbike is kind of a must in a city that’s widely considered the world’s capital of motorbikes. In a city of around 9 million people, there are roughly 7.5 million bikes. Why not get a quick taste of the city’s main mode of transportation?

What to Expect

Saigon Food Tour by Motorbike with XO Tours

I’m about the size of an average Vietnamese woman, but if you’re at all concerned about being too big to have a petite woman take the reigns, don’t fret. My husband, who was roughly twice the size of his driver, had zero issues. These ladies have been riding motorbikes their entire lives and go through a pretty rigorous weeding-out process to make the cut. Driving is part of the equation, yes, but sparkling personalities and great English skills are clearly the other part.

Both of our guides – and all of the ladies we encountered – spoke perfect English and were so  fun and bubbly. Your guide is more than just a driver; she’s really your best friend for the night. Ngoc and Hong, Scott’s and my drivers (respectively) picked us up at the Le Meridien Saigon right on our home turf and we set off on our adventure. I had  never  been on a motorbike in my life but it only took a couple of minutes to get comfortable with the balance, the flow, and the other scooters whizzing past. By the time we arrived at the first stop, I was already having a blast. Surely we should own a motorbike at home, right? These things are way too fun to not be my primary mode of transportation.

During each leg of our journey, Hong provided insight on what we’d just eaten, what we’d just seen, and where we were off to next. It was the perfect opportunity to ask questions, not just about the food scene in Vietnam, but about  life  in Vietnam. We were partnered up for five hours so by the end of the night I felt like I was saying goodbye to a friend.

Exploring Saigon's Food Scene by Motorbike with XO Tours

The food was plentiful and the company was great. As you’d imagine, the company goes beyond your guide and extends to the group that’s joined for the adventure. Motorbike tours max out at around 16 people and our evening was on the busier end during our visit in September. So, who’s the typical traveler on a tour like this ? Well, there is no ‘typical’ as it turns out. I expected our group to be primarily adventurous twenty and thirty-somethings but I was only partly right. Beyond Scott and myself, there was a mother/daughter duo (teenage daughter), two middle-aged couples traveling together from Australia, and two couples in their late twenties/early thirties from the US. The tour is really suitable for a broad range of travelers with an adventurous spirit wanting an authentic experience. I had originally thought that kids and elderly travelers may be the exception, but it turns out that XO Tours accommodates the gamut, with their oldest passenger being a 91-year-old traveler! Anyone with mobility or joint issues may want to reach out to verify whether the tour would work.

What about the food?

Exploring Saigon's Food Scene by Motorbike with XO Tours

At its essence, this is a food tour (though it feels like much more), so the natural question is what’s the food like?  If I’m being honest, Vietnam as a whole left something to be desired as far as food went. I  love  Vietnamese food and grew up in an area with a sizable Southeast Asian population (Vietnamese specifically) where we were lucky enough to enjoy regional cuisine regularly. Generally speaking, the food we had while in Vietnam wasn’t as vibrant as I’d imagined it being. This food tour was a great counter to our other experiences in the country though and brought some of the best local cuisine we tried during our two weeks in Vietnam. It also offered us opportunities to try unique local bites that we hadn’t been exposed to at home (like balut , which Scott gallantly tried for our team).

XO Tours Saigon

And for those with dietary restrictions, XO Tours manages it perfectly. I don’t eat meat and much of the local cuisine uses beef broth or meaty inputs in their food. They were aware of my diet and had options for me every step of the way. Our meeting point brought a vibrant bowl of noodle soup; a beef version for the group and a veg-friendly version for me. We stopped at a local Vietnamese BBQ spot which involved family-style service, serving up a slew of veggies and grilling up prawns at the table. Our guides doubled as our chefs, grabbing perfectly-seasoned bites of seafood, laying them on a tiny grill in front of us until they were ready to eat. Other stops included vegetarian-friendly bites and the crème de la crème in my book, the scallops,  which were the most memorable bite of the night for me.

XO Tours Saigon

For those curious about the length of the tour: yes, it’s about five hours, and it absolutely flies by. I’d originally raised my brows a bit about a five-hour food tour, but as I mentioned above, it’s so much more than a food tour. It’s a food tour couched inside of a broader tour of Saigon. I found the transit times between spots, sitting on the motorbike chatting with Hong, just as fun as the stops where we were actually dining.

By comparison (in the context of Vietnam), the tour is a bit of an investment at about $78 per person but is absolutely worth every penny. As the tour came to an end, we were escorted back to our hotel for the night along with another couple who was based at the Le Meridien as well. We all agreed that it was one of the best tours we’d ever done in our travels. Truth be told, as far as a tour experience goes, it could very well be the single best  tour we’ve done during our travels. The entire evening is perfectly orchestrated with thoughtful stops, great cuisine, incredible guides, and brings a unique local layer that makes it extremely memorable. I mean, how many opportunities do you get to zip through the streets of Saigon on the back of a motorbike? We were also fortunate that our primary tour leader for the night, Ming, doubled as our group photographer and graciously shared photos from the evening with us. As you can imagine, trying to snap photos or videos while riding on a motorbike is ill-advised for newbies so we took virtually zero photos during our tour. Thankfully, Ming shared snapshots from most of our stops during our evening to help fill the void (very much appreciated)!

All in all, a perfect finale to our time in Vietnam and perhaps our most memorable evening during our month in Southeast Asia . ?

Have you ever done a motorbike tour? Would you?

Shannon Kircher, The Wanderlust Effect

More about Shannon Kircher

Shannon Kircher is the founder and editor of The Wanderlust Effect. Founded in 2009, she has continued to document her international escapes as an expat in Europe and the Caribbean. Additionally, Shannon is the founder of Compass & Vine, a luxury boutique travel design firm, and is the Director of Marketing for the Frangipani Beach Resort. Shannon holds an MSc in Social Policy and Development from the London School of Economics and is a current candidate for WSET Level 3 in Wines & Spirits.

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Eating Saigon!

Enjoying saigon street food with xo tours.

xo saigon food tour

When our friends, Carol & Alan, from Berkeley, California told us that they would be in Saigon for a few days while we were here, we asked ourselves – What could we do to give them a wonderful introduction to Saigon – and especially to Saigon’s great street food??

The answer came easily.  Let’s introduce them to XO Tours’ evening street food adventure!

Our friends, Carole & Alan caught in the act of enjoying they’re Saigon street food tour!

xo saigon food tour

It had been over ten years since Hai and my first street food tour with XO Tours .  So, the question we had was – How had the tours changed?

A wonderful surprise – It was better than ever!

The first stop on our four-plus hour eating adventure immediately set the mood for the evening.  

Bún bò Huế – absolutely delicious! A rich flavorful broth, a large serving of fresh Vietnamese herbs, and tender beef slices. 

It was going to be a great evening!

xo saigon food tour

Each of the 20+ guests this evening had their own personal young woman guide wearing a traditional blue áo dài .  

xo saigon food tour

They carefully explained the evening’s route, the food we would be enjoying, motorbike travel safety tips, and general Vietnamese culture. A truly rich and delicious Saigon experience.

xo saigon food tour

Between courses at the evening’s various neighborhood eateries (giving us time to appreciate and digest the previous entree), the evening’s tour took us to street markets and more distant Saigon neighborhoods to experience the full social and economic breadth of the city’s population. 

[Try to find us in the video being accompanied by our blue áo dài guides].

Did Carole enjoy it?? 

What do you think.

xo saigon food tour

The evening also provided us with an opportunity (for those who dared) to test the limits of our culinary adventurism … with a serving of hột vịt lộn xào me (steamed duck embryo in a rich tamarind sauce).  Reactions ranged among the guests from shrieks of horror to request for a second serving! [I ate Carole’s portion :-)]  

We ended our tour on a delicious seafood note.

The BBQ’d scallops and crab were the perfect way to complete a truly extraordinary evening in Saigon.

xo saigon food tour

An absolute “Must Do” for any visitor in Saigon … Enjoy an amazing experience with good people and the best Saigon Street food!

xo saigon food tour

Take a look here at our post from over a decade ago about our very first experience with XO Tours .

  2 Responses to “Enjoying Saigon Street Food with XO Tours”

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Wow!! Looks like fun . Where is the market? My husband and I will be in Saigon in 2 weeks and we love going to markets. Thank you for the excellent blog and outstanding information you provide.

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The tour went to the sprawling Binh Tay Market that offers everything from fresh produce and seafood to fabric and lacquerware. Eateries and street food stalls selling Chinese-style noodles, roast pork, and salted duck eggs pack narrow lanes along with traditional herb stores.

Our favorite market, though, is Cho Ba Chieu – see:

The most popular Cho Ben Thanh is really just for tourists & over-priced!

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XO Foodie Tour

Starting point.

  • Duration: 4.5 hours
  • No credit card needed
  • Opens.Travel's Choice

The Most Acclaimed Food Tour in Vietnam: Sample the most amazing dishes that Vietnam has to offer! Taste your way through cuisine from North Vietnam, Hue and The South in one amazing street food city: Saigon!

The “XO Foodie” is the most acclaimed Vietnam food tour, and is designed to introduce you to the dishes and desserts that most food blogs and other tours don’t really touch upon!

We are also the only Vietnam food tour to be voted one of the top 9 food tours in the world by Forbes magazine and one of the top 10 city tours in the world by USA Today!

On the XO Foodie Tour we will take you to the most popular street stalls and hidden alleyways in the city and show you where the locals really love to eat! So save your appetite, delight your palate and let us fill your tummy with delicious and authentic Vietnamese food!

This world-renowned Ho Chi Minh City Food Tour focuses on street food dishes that most people outside of Vietnam have never had a chance to experience. Unlike most other Vietnam food tours, we won’t serve you Pho, Spring Rolls, Vietnamese Pancakes, or Banh Mi Sandwiches. We also won’t make you eat dog meat, bugs, organs, raw food or anything too weird.

The XO Foodie Tour is only available in the evenings when most of the street vendors open for business. All food drinks are included in the price!

What’s included

  • Unlimited food and drinks
  • XO Tour exclusive no-fault insurance for every guest
  • Free hotel pickup and drop-off (Districts 1, 3, 4, and 5)
  • English-speaking tour guides and drivers
  • Tour pictures (emailed to you later)
  • Rain ponchos in case of rain

Pick-up point

Free pick-up service is available from hotels located in the Ho Chi Minh City center area, including Districts 1, 3, 4, and 5. During the checkout process, kindly provide us with your pickup details.

If you prefer, you can also meet us directly at the designated starting point: 07 Cong Truong Lam Son, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.

Cancellation policy

For bookings between 1-10 people: There is no penalty for cancelling your tour if you provide us with at least 5 days notice. Cancellations made between 1 to 4 days of your tour date will be charged a 20% cancellation fee. If you cancel on the day of your tour, there will be a 50% late cancellation charge.

For groups larger than 10 people: There is no penalty for cancelling your tour if you provide us with at least 2 weeks notice. Cancellations made between 8-13 days of your tour date will be charged a 20% cancellation fee. There will be a 50% late cancellation charge for any cancellations made within 7 days of the tour date.

No shows on the day of the tour due to flight delays, flight cancellations, or late arrival from other tours will also incur a 50% late cancellation charge.

Frequently asked questions

Opens.Travel is a division of Welcome to Vietnam , a Vietnamese tourism media organization. Our mission is to highlight Vietnamese tour operators who are committed to sustainable development and prioritize community and environmental responsibility. We pride ourselves on not charging any commissions to tour operators and not collecting any booking fees from visitors.

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To cancel a tour, please directly contact the tour operator to submit a tour cancellation request. It is important to carefully review the cancellation policy mentioned above.

In the event that you have already made a payment or deposit for the tour with the tour operator, kindly note that the refund process for the deposit will be handled by the tour operator in accordance with the relevant refund policy.

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HO CHI MINH CITY | XO Foodie Tour: Saigon’s Food and Culture on Two Wheels

When a friend uploaded clips from his Vietnam trip, I was intrigued by the night food tour he tried. Considering the crazy traffic and thousands of motorbikes in Ho Chi Minh City, the tour on two wheels is quite interesting and a different way of exploring the city.  XO Foodie Tour , is one of the most trusted tours when it comes to night food tours in the city. The company promotes the intriguing bike culture of Saigon as a venue in discovering the hidden gems of the city.

xo foodie tour bike tour

The XO Foodie Tour is at 75USD and others may consider it a bit steep. To tell you, the price already covers at least 8 entrees that are overflowing until you surrender. In addition to the package are accident insurance, free hotel pick-up and drop-off, English speaking tour guide and professional motorbike driver, helmet, lot of pictures, and meeting travelers all over the world!

XO Foodie Tour starts at 5:30PM and a guide will meet you at your accommodation around 5:15PM. Quynh, my driver/tour guide, arrived in front of The Common Room Project  in her Ao Dai, the Vietnamese national costume. Before we left the area, she gave instructions and reminders for a safe ride in weaving Saigon’s chaotic avenues. Seeing the jammed streets on my arrival, I was excited as a kid to finally try riding on a motorbike in Saigon.


Best bun bo hue in district 5.

After few minutes of swirling and speeding on the street, we arrived on our first destination. On the restaurant, all members of the food tour were introduced to one another. I was the only Asian in the group; 2 Australians, 4 Germans, and 2 Americans. We shared few of our plans in Vietnam while the guys of XO Tours were busy preparing a surprise.

xo foodie tour bike tour

The crew paraded from the kitchen to our tables and offered a hefty bowl of Bún Bò Hue to every one. I was really eager to dig in because the inviting aroma of lemon grass on the soup. But before that, Ahn, the tour leader, introduced the Viet noodle; how it is prepared, and ingredients. The noodle is literally translated as ‘beef noodles from Hue’ .

The bowl was served with side dish like beansprouts, scallions, and banana blossoms. You also have the option to boost the sharpness of the soup by adding dash of the powdered red chili. Everyone was so excited for the first slurp of the hot soup. The beef soup infused with lemon grass was really great that I could hear a choir singing from the cathedral. Kidding aside, the soup was really flavorful and the noodles perfectly cooked. Meat toppings were tender and the veggies on the side added some textures on every spoonful of the meal. It was just the first food stop but everyone was already ranting because of how heavy the meal was. Unfortunately for us, it was only the first stop that night.

Chinatown and the Moving Bushes

Before our next destination, the XO guys dropped us somewhere in Chinatown to give a brief introduction of the district. Like any country in Asia, Vietnam also has its Chinatown and considered one of the largest. The guide mentioned that the place is the main source for products and food being sold by people at night markets and vendors on food carts. If you intend to do souvenir shopping in Vietnam and want to save a lot, then go to Chinatown. The only catch here is that products are sold by volume, wholesale.

xo foodie tour bike tour

A long ride coursed us through the moving bushes. The guide mentioned that Vietnamese families employ extended family culture where several generations stay in a single house. Some couples living in the same house have no place for their private moments. With this, they rent a chair somewhere, hidden by the bushes and facing the Saigon River, that becomes their private place. The guide even joked that you can see the actions if you take a photo with a flash.

xo foodie tour bike tour

To expose us more with the Vietnamese culture, before going to our next food stop, the driver went through some narrow streets that led us to a night street market. Here, you can see locals on their motorbike hopping from one street vendor to another. Items available that time were seafood, meats like chicken, pork, and beef, some vegetables, and a lot of herbs and leaves.

Grilled Meats and the Chopsticks Challenge

Several intersections and we finally arrived on our second food stop. Everyone dining in the area was on low stools and crowding aluminum-steel tables filled with grilled meats on bright-colored plates. The XO Team started to bring out food for us and they were so generous to grill, de-shell, and do every minor thing like squeezing the citrusy fruit for our sauces. There were two dips created for us: chili fermented tofu sauce and garlic and lemon.

xo foodie tour bike tour

Meat served were goat and beef that were grilled into perfection and paired with three kinds of leaf: basil, mint, and fish mint (a heart-shaped leaf). The tender goat meat, marinated with fermented tofu sauce and cola, went really good with the fish mint leaf. I also liked how the flavors ensemble for the beef and basil dipped in rock salt and garlic sauce. Apart from that, the team challenged us to chow on some frogs. It’s not a new thing for me as I grew up eating fried frogs from the rice-fields.

xo foodie tour bike tour

But hell no, the frogs they served still have their skin on and it freaked me out! Taking the challenge, I slowly calmed myself and tried dipping a slice on the garlic sauce. It wasn’t that bad so I took another one and tried having the other dip. The grilled frog with toasted skin has more texture and aroma. If you can’t stand the taste, you can easily ask for bottles of beer that also comes free with the package, unlimited! In addition are grilled okra and prawns.

xo foodie tour bike tour

Before we ended our unique meal, the guys introduced the chopsticks game where the guests and guides teamed up to snatch the most coveted prize. The guides will pick, using chopsticks, peanuts from the bowl and transfer it to the guest’s chopsticks. The guest will then transfer the peanut to an empty bottle of mineral water. Since Asian blood runs in me, I was one of the winners! Winners got XO key chains and button pins as prizes. It was a fun game!

District 7: The Expat’s District

Next stop was a bit personal when it comes to the information shared to us by Ahn. He lived in the US for quite a while but decided to go back to Vietnam because he wanted to be a millionaire (currency conversion). Kidding aside, he wanted to be with his family and also be part in helping his country. According to him, a Vietnamese is either poor or rich and the gap between these buckets is really significant. Wealthy people have more than one car and numerous real state properties. For their counterpart, having a motorbike is great and staying on the same house with several generations and just waiting the upper hierarchy to pass the ownership of the property is usual.

xo foodie tour bike tour

District 7 is cleaner, avenues with high-end cars sans the bikes, towering apartments, and foreign food chains and brands, the expat’s place of Vietnam. The discussion went a bit deeper discussing the economy, stock market, and purchasing power of the people. When most countries rely on credit cards and loans, Ahn mentioned that Vietnamese people purchase stuff in full amount and don’t depend on credits.

Narrow Streets of District 4

Enough with the Vietnamese culture and we again boarded our bikes to our next food destination now on the hip area of District 4. Bikes were speeding as my guide trying to park her bike on the side. She went the other side of the road first instructing me to follow. Crossing the road is not new to me because in the Philippines, you can also cross on any part of the road.

xo foodie tour bike tour crab pinchers

The crew already set all the stuff we needed to try on the last stop. Fried quail, crab pinchers in spicy rock salt, scallops with scallions and nuts, and undeveloped duck egg (locally called as balut ). The group started to feast and out of all the items prepared for us, the scallops stood out. I normally have baked scallops with garlic butter and cheese but the version of Vietnam is way better. The roasted nuts add texture and distinct aroma that really make it more delectable by having some drops of the chili rock salt with lemon.

xo foodie tour bike tour balut

Quail meat tastes similar to chicken while the spicy rock salt made the crab meat really appetizing. Since I’m the only Asian in the group, I demonstrated the proper way of eating balut. I took out the egg from its shell and chowed the entire of it. The show earned me applause from the Vietnamese guides and recognition from the non-Asian guests. That was the last stop of the tour and the organizers allowed us to order anything we wanted: beers and food, at their expense. Unluckily, we declined as we were already full and a tiny more meal would definitely explode our tummies.

xo foodie tour baked scallops

Prior to the food tour, I’ve read from other online magazines and websites that XO Foodie Tour lets their guests experience the best local foods in Ho Chi Minh City. What I didn’t know is that the tour is not only meant for eating best and delightful meals in Saigon. If you want to ride a bike in the city but scared to navigate the roads, the XO Foodie Tour is the best way to discover the city. On two wheels, you’ll get to know not only the food of Saigon but also its history and culture.

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