Here's what I came up with.
#1 - We stayed at the A&EM Hotel just across the Ben Tanh Market. It's very convenient because there's plenty of food around and also a night market in front of the hotel at night. It's super midrange so take that into consideration.
#2 - Whilst taking a cab either from the airport or the city, take either Malin or Vinasun. These two have the most reasonable rates. The others are a rip off. Most hotels have a vinasun rep that would help you get a cab.
Also your vietnamese cab driver would most likely not understand much english so always have the address of your destination.
#3 - Pho Hoa was our first stop for pho. Our Viet-Aussie friend loved it. It was good and very classic and herbal.
260C Pasteur Street | Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Pho 2000 (which Bill Clinton visited) is pretty good too, according to my good friend. But we didn't get to try cos there was no time.
#4 - Ben Tanh market has good food as well. The prices are all on a board so make sure you checked just so they don't rip you off. We loved the pork chop rice and pho best.
Also when you buy condiments or tea there (or just about anything), make sure you bargain.
#5 - L'Usine is a store above Christian Louboutin. It's a mod australian lifestyle store cum cafe as well. Very lofty and quite a nice change after walking around HCM for a day. We had coffee there after a long day of walking around.
The entrance is actually located at the back alley where you have to walk through an aisle of stores selling up and walk up the windy staircase.
La Cafeteria De L’usine
151 Đồng Khởi, 1st Floor, District 1, Saigon
+84 (0) 8 6674 3565
Mon – Sun: 10:00 – 22:00
#6 - You should change Viet Dong at either the hotel you stay in or at any gold/jewellery shop. The rates are better than SG.
#7 - Best Bread roll - 180 Duong Ba Trac, District 8. It's a roadside stall but it's really good. The crispy baguette was absolutely to die for. It's like biting into a crispy airy bun. Ask for fresh baguettes though. It's 17k dong.
#8 - Nha hang ngon is a lovely restaurant with a courtyard and a whole assortment of vietnamese food that you can pick as you walk around. The place was very very lovely but the food was so so. It could be that we were there just before they closed but they do offer a good variety of food there. Like pancakes, broken rice, pho - horrible, sugar cane prawns, desserts.
#9 - Le Creperie has excellent french crepes. We loved the fit out and also the food & cider. Yumz! It's also on the street where there are plenty of japanese restaurants.
5 Han Thuyen St., Dist.1, Ho Chi Minh City
#10 - Roadside stalls had a great range of street food and we had some really good food there. The sugar cane juice usually have an injection of fresh green orange juice in them and it's delicious. Also, we had some carrot cake by the street. But you can explore and see what you are comfortable with.