Green Travel Magzine

city skyline of Saigon at night from an aerial view
Source: Tron Le

An Earth Lover’s Guide to Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City – also known as Saigon – is Vietnam’s economic capital. It’s one of those places where you can literally feel its vibrant energy from the moment you step off the plane. Eight million motorcycles crowd along colossal freeways, while tiny alleyways are bustling with life 24/7. The city’s dynamism might be why it’s home to over 12 million people.

This city is also on its way to becoming more sustainable thanks to the innovative mentality of its residents and government intervention. Both are committed to making the city eco-friendly, livable, and aesthetically pleasing for everyone, including eco-minded tourists like you. From a sunset cruise on the river to trekking through some of Vietnam’s most picturesque parks, HCMC will provide you with an adventure you won’t forget. Discover some of the highlights Saigon has to offer with our Earth lover’s guide!   

Accommodations

Caravelle Hotel

Price Range: $$$

Caravelle Saigon presidential suite king bed with cream and monotonous decor a small and elegant chandelier hangs from the ceiling, multiple window
Souce: Caravelle Saigon

Walking through the Caravelle’s doors is like stepping back in time. Original architecture and design reflect its past as one of Saigon’s tallest buildings when it was constructed in 1959. Additionally, Caravelle is an industry leader for its commitment to sustainability. All rooms feature LED lighting, eco-friendly toiletries, reusable water bottles, and repurposed potable water stations scattered throughout the venue. The hotel has eco-friendly events like this year’s Earth Hour when the hotel switches off its lights, and you can enjoy a candlelight-only dinner at one of its many restaurants! 

Rex Hotel Saigon

Price Range: $$$

A view of the exterior of Rex Hotel at night, tall white building with glistening lights lined with trees
Source: Rex Hotel

The Rex Hotel, conveniently located in District 1, is the perfect place to experience a taste of luxury while being in the heart of it all. Rex offers a five-star experience, from their designer malls to their upscale bars and restaurants. The hotel also has strict policies when it comes to saving the environment by training their staff on waste management. They’re also committed to reducing landfill pollution by selling their compost to local farmers. As well as LED lights and CFC-free refrigerators, Rex Hotel has invested in green technologies like water meters in all rooms in order to reduce their carbon footprint. 

An Lam Retreats Saigon River

Price Range: $$$

Outdoor dining table on top of wooden platform, next to a blue in ground pool. Trees stretch upward with golden lanterns hanging from them
Source: An Lam Retreats Saigon River Facebook

A 25-minute boat ride from the airport brings you to An Lam Retreats, a sustainable getaway near the Saigon River where you can relax while being just minutes away from the hustle and bustle of HCMC. Whether you’re enjoying the homemade dishes made with locally sourced ingredients, or admiring the Thanh Hóa granite exterior and rattan furnishings, An Lam takes pride in saving the planet by incorporating sustainability from start to finish. The resort also promotes sustainable travel by focusing on efficient energy consumption, water usage, waste management, and a no-plastic policy on the resort’s premises. 

Experiences around HCMC

Eco-friendly trekking at Cat Tien National Park

Want to find a place to hike during your time in the city? Look no further than Cat Tien National Park. Located just two hours from the city center, Cat Tien encompasses three provinces and is home to over 1,500 different species, with some trees dating back over 700 years! As a protected nature reserve, the park can only be visited by a few people each day to ensure it stays clean and green. It is best to book a tour with a sustainable tourism company like Footprint well in advance to get the best experience while traveling responsibly! Footprint’s tours align with their mission of protecting the environment for future generations and creating a sustainability membership club for eco-travel tour operators in the country.

monkey peers out of tree
Source: Trip Advisor

Saigon River Trip 

Fall in love with HCMC’s skyline and take in a gorgeous sunset while cruising the majestic Mekong River, one of the longest rivers in the world. The city’s waterways still serve as major trade and transportation routes in the local community. As you sail along the riverbank, you can see many of HCMC’s floating temples and historical buildings that blend the city’s past, present, and future. Eco-friendly boat companies like Les Rives can make your trip special while saving the planet, including a no-plastic policy during their tours.

view from river looking out at Saigon skyline at sunset
Source: Les Rives Facebook

Mekong Delta Tour

A trip to HCMC would not be complete without experiencing the beauty of the nearby Mekong Delta. This area of Vietnam is best known for its rich local culture. Take a moment to admire the temples, floating markets, and verdant rice paddies. The Mekong Delta gives you a glimpse of Vietnam’s agricultural roots and you can see how the friendly locals in riverside communities live their daily lives. Enjoy a more genuine experience with a local family through Asian Trails. They ensure that your tourist dollars benefit the local community directly and preserve their way of life. In addition, they implement sustainable practices in every tour like their pledge against plastic usage.    

misty hillside crop looking out over rolling green mountains
Source: Asian Trails Facebook

Eateries 

Filthy Vegan Saigon

If you’re in the mood for delicious, plant-based fast food while exploring the city, Filthy Vegan should be on your list. You can grab a quick bite here; from Western comfort food classics like veggie dogs to vegan desserts from their bakery to satisfy your sweet tooth – there’s a little something for everyone. Filthy Vegan’s zero-waste restaurant concept incorporates biodegradable packaging and on-site recycling, in addition to the delicious food.

up close and personal with loaded vegan nachos
Source: Filthy Vegan Facebook

Shamballa Vegetarian

Shamballa adds an elegant touch to each dish while encouraging its clients to embrace a plant-based diet. It’s the ideal place to satisfy your craving for farm-to-table fare in a more intimate setting. You can order their famous Shamballa-style hot pot with locally sourced vegetables if you crave typical Vietnamese cuisine. If hot pot isn’t your thing, you can also indulge in some of their hearty salads and fresh spring rolls. Shamballa also reduces its waste by composting any leftovers, using grass straws, and repurposing its glass bottles.

indoor dining setting, dark wood and earth tones, crea, walls, red flowers accent the tables, large windows give way to natural light
Source: Shamballa Facebook

Veggie Saigon

One of the best parts about Saigon is the street food scene. Get lost in one of the city’s many alleyways, and you’ll run into tons of little shops offering fresh food for less than USD$1. Veggie Saigon gives you a chance to enjoy this cuisine and offers you loads of street food classics with a vegan touch! Enjoy simple Vietnamese dishes in a more local setting like stir-fried tofu, fresh morning glory, or the ubiquitous pho. No matter which dish you choose, you definitely won’t leave with an empty stomach!

multiple colorful vegan dishes with fresh steamed vegetables, rice, curry and sauces
Source: Veggie Saigon Cafe & Restaurant Facebook

Shops

Purr Nature

Are you a die-hard cat lover? If so, you should definitely stop by Purr Nature while you’re in town. This eco-shop is a brand on a mission to educate others about circular design, which is better for the planet and creates an economy that genuinely puts the planet and people’s well-being first. Purr Nature is an excellent choice when buying souvenirs, especially beauty products. Specializing in local handmade soaps, vegan lip balms, and accessories like handmade facemasks, all of your proceeds will go to helping rescue stray cats in the city to give these furry friends a happier life.  

a white an gray kitty sleeps peacefully on top of a blue crate
Source: Purr Nature Facebook

Metiseko Saigon

The Hoi An-based Metiseko clothing company is a sustainable fashion brand offering quality clothing products. If you are looking for a brand that values local artists, while reducing their carbon footprint, this is the place. Their cotton items are all organic, and 100% of their mulberry silk is locally produced and dyed with eco-friendly materials by local artists. As a part of its mission, Metiseko also partners with various communities across the country and builds long-lasting personal relationships with its artisans.

two women stand with their side profile facing the perspective of the onlooker against an earthen backdrop, the women in front wears a long teal dress, the woman in back wears a patterned light blue dress
Source: Metiseko Facebook

Ho Chi Minh City Sustainability

Ho Chi Minh City’s buzzing energy draws people from all walks of life. Filled with tasty street food, a rich history, and an abundance of trips just a short drive away, you can spend weeks here and never get bored! Whether you stay for a day or a month, its vibrant streets and friendly people will leave you energized and feeling like anything’s possible.

This city’s innovative vibe is probably why it has massive potential to become one of the country’s first smart megacities in the near future. From creating more green spaces to cleaning up the city’s canals, the Vietnamese government is investing heavily in making HCMC an environmentally friendly place. Through government initiatives, eco-minded business owners, and an evolving mindset around environmental practices, Ho Chi Minh City is well on its way to becoming a green powerhouse in the region.

ecomadic is a sustainable tourism brand that empowers travelers to make more conscious decisions. By curating a marketplace to easily find and identify responsible businesses to support, and providing educational publications through our online green travel magazine, ecomadic is committed to helping empower travelers make responsible choices throughout their journeys.


Want to learn more?

Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi: Vietnam’s Future Sustainable Cities – Soidiance 

Corporate Social Responsibility | Caravelle Hotel Saigon – The Caravell

Environmental Policy Ho Chi Minh Hotel – REx Hotel

ANLAM – An Lam Retreats

Filthy Vegan – Facebook

Shamballa Vegetarian Restaurant – The Shamballa

Veggie Saigon Cafe & Restaurant – Home – Facebook

Purr Nature – Facebook

Creative Slow Fashion with a Vietnamese Identity – About Us  – Metiseko

194 Craft House – 194 Craft House

Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi Are Investing Billions to Become Sustainable Cities – YCP Solidiance

Sanitation Project Overcomes Challenges to Transform Polluted Canal into Clean Waterway – World Bank


 

Gus Gonzalez
Gus is a content writer and who helps brands bring their stories to life. Since 2018, he has been traveling as a digital nomad around the world. His mission is to inspire digital nomads to design their dream lifestyle while exploring the world sustainably, one country at a time. When he’s not typing away from his favorite cafés, Gus is busy honing his travel photography skills and exploring a country’s culture, food, and history. You can find more of his work at gusthefreelancewriter.com.