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1. Why food tours in Saigon are so different in price, time, location,...?
A food tour in Saigon can be a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the city’s food culture, learn about its history, and savor some of the most delicious dishes Vietnam has to offer. While some tourists choose to do that on their own, most of them decide to join a food tour in Saigon for many better reasons.
If you don’t know what to choose between doing a food tour or not, you can read this article: Ho Chi Minh City Food Tour: DIY or go on a tour?
In terms of tours, you may have seen that there are a lot of them out there with different prices and times, which makes it hard to choose a suitable one to do. In fact, they are different mostly because of these factors that you must consider to pick one food tour in Saigon that complies these:
2. Top 7 factors to consider before choosing a food tour in Saigon
Types of transportation
Though they are all called “food tours in Saigon”, the tours are quite different due to their transportation type. Most of the time, a car will be the most costly option for food tours, and not suitable for exploring small local alleys. That is why you should always prioritize a walking or motorbike food tour so that you can explore the local food with ease.
Private and group tour makes a difference in price too. While a group food tour is cheaper, it may annoy you due to non-customization, waiting, or hustling into a small restaurant with a pack of other tourists. Private tours may cost you a little bit more, but totally worth it as the tour is all yours.
Delicious & safe food
A food tour in Saigon is meant to be a delightful culinary adventure. Hygiene and safety are the top factors to make sure that you can fully enjoy the flavors and dishes without any problems. There are thousands of food vendors anywhere on the streets of the city, not all of which are following the food quality standards.
Therefore, many food tour operators are willing to choose cheap and unqualified food vendors to save costs, so that they can sell their tours at cheap prices. With the mindset of “If we Vietnamese are ok after eating those, then it will be fine for tourists”, they forget that each area in the world has different conditions.
That’s why we put this factor to be number #1 that you must consider. Safe food on the tour means you won’t have to spend days in the hospital during your holiday. Choose those who operate with a food quality checks.
Authentic places that you can't do yourself
Authenticity is important when choosing a tour. If the tour is called “local”, it should take tourists to places that they can’t do themselves. Food tours for example, if the tour is taking you to Banh mi, Pho, Vietnamese pancakes,… then you can do those on your own.
There is a new term in tourism recently: fake local, which means a place or activity that is advertised as “local, unseen, off-the-beaten-path”, but turns out to be where every “local tour operator” brings their guests to. It is worse in tourism seasons when there are fewer tourists to the touristy popular places than these “local” advertised ones. In case you want to read more about this “fake local”, you can visit this article:
Local tours in Vietnam: Look twice before you book
Therefore, if you are choosing a food tour in Saigon, it is best to pick an operator who does the right meaning of “local”. If not, you may be in the case where you are in the crowd of tourists while the tour is meant to bring you to the unseen. Saigon is famous for its diversity of food coming from all parts of Vietnam. There is no reason why you have to go to a touristy part when true local options are always available.
The tour guides
A food tour, as its name, comes with a tour guide. This is the one who makes your trip different from exploring your own. However, not every tour comes with a great tour guide.
Many tour operators only pay 100,000 – 150,000 VND (or 5-7 USD)/ tour to their tour guide so that they can operate food tours at cheap prices. This leads to these problems in many tours:
- The tour guide tries to lead tourists into a shopping trap to get a commission, which compensates for their low salary
- The tour guide is always looking for tips no matter their quality, and turn their attitude if they don’t receive a good enough tip
- The quality of tour guides can be low: they don’t speak English well enough to be at least understandable, or don’t know what to do at all,…
That’s why when you are booking a food tour in Saigon, consider the price as it may come with an unqualified tour guide. This may sound biased as the author of this article is AN Tours Vietnam – the tour operator who is willing to pay well to their tour guide to make sure every tour is the best experience for the customers. But we are not lying, you can read an article of a top newspaper in Vietnam here:
“I’ve seen a lot of bike tours swing the corner pass my house day after day but as I was told by one tourist recently, “I had no idea where we were going and I couldn’t ask him what people were doing in the fields.”
“I am sure there are great Vietnamese tour guides out there – I have met a few. However, that is part of the problem – ‘a few.’ There are still far too many guides with barely enough English to explain their itineraries, let alone answer difficult questions of local customs, lifestyle and economics. People are paying good money now to travel in some comfort with high expectations of tour services”
Price inclusions/ exclusions
The cheap price is great, but sometimes it can become a trap. Some of the tour operators use a common trick “base price”, which you will pay for little but there will be a lot of hidden costs.
Here is an example of a 25 USD food tour in Saigon:
- Base price: 25 USD
Surprisingly in the tour:
- Taxi: extra 10 USD
- Food only: extra 10 USD
- Drinks: extra 2-5 USD
- Tips for tour guide/ student: … USD
In total, it turns out you will have to pay ~50 USD or more for the tour, which is even higher than the 39 USD tour that you did not book. That is the case for street food. If they take you to fancier places, things will be a lot worse. Here is a review picked from TripAdvisor:
That is why price inclusions/ exclusions is an important factor when choosing a food tour in Saigon. It is better to pick a tour that is honest about their price rather than a cheap one that is trying to trick their customers.
Local sightseeing included
Choosing a tour that includes local sightseeing in a food tour in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) can enhance the overall experience and provide several benefits to tourists. Here are some reasons why you should consider adding sightseeing to your food tour in Saigon:
Cultural Immersion: Sightseeing allows visitors to immerse themselves in the local culture and gain a deeper understanding of the city. Saigon has a rich history, and exploring its local sites and markets can provide valuable insights into its heritage and traditions.
Contextualizing Food: Sightseeing helps provide context to the food you’re trying.
Breaks and Digestion: A food tour with sightseeing can include breaks between meals, which not only aid digestion but also give you a chance to rest, hydrate, and appreciate the surroundings.
Variety of Experiences: Combining sightseeing with a food tour offers a well-rounded experience. You get to enjoy both the culinary delights of Saigon and the architectural, historical, and cultural aspects of the city.
Time Efficiency: By combining sightseeing with a food tour, you can make the most of your time in Saigon. You get to taste the local cuisine and see the city’s landmarks simultaneously, saving you time for other activities.
Ability to customize
Most tours have their own fixed itinerary. However, not all travelers are suitable for one single program. Whether you’re a food enthusiast eager to explore a specific cuisine or someone with dietary restrictions, customization ensures that the tour is tailored to your needs. Furthermore, Saigon boasts a rich culinary landscape influenced by various regions and cultures, and customization enables you to delve deeper into the local food culture or focus on particular aspects of Vietnamese cuisine.
3. Some recommendations on food tours in Saigon that comply all those factors
Local Night Walking Food Tour – 100% No Tourist
Experience the vibrant heart of Saigon like a true local on our exclusive Night Walking Food Tour. No typical Pho, no Banh mi or Vietnamese pancakes, we take you to 100% local areas, where you will not see a single tourist other than you. In this journey, we will explore the true authentic Vietnamese foods that originate from many parts of Vietnam, all coming together here in Ho Chi Minh City. The tour offers all you need from a food tour in Saigon:
- Walking tour – easy to enjoy
- Delicious Vietnamese foods chosen carefully
- Authentic places that you can never do yourself
- Great tour guides
- Everything is included, no hidden costs
- Local sightseeing is combined
- Personalized and customizable
Book it here: