We were all looking forward to going on the Bonsai River Cruise for a buffet dinner. I had been unwell for the last couple of weeks so we were all under the impression this would be a great thing to do in Ho Chi Minh City at night for our family to get back into the holiday mode we had been lacking.
As we arrived at the Saigon River port gate we were greeted by a Bonsai River Cruise representative. They then directed three ships along the dock to our Bonsai River Cruise Boat. Just to clarify I will refer to the city as both Ho Chi Minh and Saigon.
We excitedly boarded our boat up the gangplank and we were greeted by 4 smiling and happy staff members. We were shown to our seats along the side of the boat with the buffet are in the middle. Be and I picked the seats facing out at the skyline of Ho Chi Minh City.
Ho Chi Minh City Dinner Cruise Begins!
This would prove to be amazing as the cruise got underway to see the Ho Chi Minh City attractions at night and especially the bright lights of the city.
Our waitress Mai Khanh came over and introduced herself. As she was telling us about how the night would work her colleague gave us a small watermelon welcome drink to cool us down. It was so refreshing.
While we drank out welcome drink we ordered our complimentary drinks, I had a red wine from South Africa while Bec had a white from California. If the quality of the wine was any indication this Ho Chi Minh City dinner cruise was going to be amazing!
The kids, of course, sampled the latest vintage of Vietnamese Sprite. The Saigon Dinner Cruise buffet was upon us!
One thing worth mentioning is the seating is limited on the Bonsai River Cruise. This means it is easy to get your plate full at any time during dinner.
The food was plentiful and so tasty. Some of the dishes included prawns, battered fish, beef curries, Singapore noodles, Chinese chicken, sweet corn soup, garlic bread, dumplings, roast potatoes, vegetables fried in tempura batter, Thai beef salad and more. I could go on and on about how much food and the brilliant quality of it.
Some of the foods like stir-fried vegetables and Singapore noodles were cooked fresh on the spot by the chefs.
The chefs loved their job as the tossed and flipped the vegetables creating a flame show for the Saigon River dinner cruise guests. Watching them flip and toss the food was a highlight for plenty of people on the boat that night.
One awesome thing to was the labelling of the dishes. It was clearly marked what was in a dish especially if they had fish sauce or nuts in them. And because all of the tales were assigned a waiter you could ask them for help at any point if you were unsure. Khanh spent a bit of time helping Marley get some food when I couldn’t find her.
We all filled our plate for the first round of this scrumptious meal. We enjoyed as many of the foods on offer as we could. The staff were efficient in taking away dirty plates, to allow you to get back in line as quickly as possible. And they were amazing at making sure the food you really wanted never seemed to run out.
You had to remind yourself to take the time to look outside at the Saigon attractions. The Bexito building dominated the skyline of the city. Bexito is one of the most popular places to visit in Ho Chi Ming City.
While dinner was going on there was a 3 piece band to keep everyone entertained. The band were belting out the classic hits. I must admit we knew way too many of these songs as we sang along quietly although loud enough to embarrass the kids!
When you were not eating or enjoying the entertainment you could make your way outside to the front of the boat. There are tables and chairs set up for you to get some fresh air and soak in the sights and sounds of the Saigon River.
The dessert bar consisted of cheesecake, tiramisu, cupcakes, fruits and much more for you. Our kids wore a path in the floorboards with their constant back and forth approach to the desert area.
As the evening wore on dinner was finishing up we were treated to a cultural dance show on stage. The ladies and men looked amazing in their traditional dress as they danced to the drum beats. Our daughter even joined in and participated in learning some of the dance. It was brilliant to watch her have a try with so many of the guests on the boat cheering her on.
We love experiences like this. not only was it a great feast but educational as well for the kids. As the evening was happening a magician was doing the rounds and stopping at most tables. He had our girls mesmerized with his tricks and how he was able to find money behind their ears.
Like all great experiences, our Bonsai River Cruise was coming to an end as we started to pull back towards the Saigon River Port. We all agreed that the Ho Chi Minh City river cruise buffet was amazing and we had the best time. As we disembarked we were sad for it to end but we all left with a renewed holiday feel.
We highly recommend taking the Bonsai River cruise when you are in Ho Chi Minh City for a great night out. It is one of the best things to do at night in Saigon and definitely one of the best things to do with kids.
Don’t forget to check out our Eating Out page for more articles like this
Places to stay in Ho Chi Minh City
The Nguyen Shack – Located in the heart of district one featuring family rooms. Rooms feature a queen size bed and bunks, TV, Aircon and WiFi throughout. The Nguyen Shack is modelled on a tradition Vietnamese homestay.
The staff were outstanding. It’s nice to be greeted each day by the staff asking ‘how was your day?’ The Nguyen Shack Saigon has an extensive collection of tea and traditional herbal remedies ready to be consumed. We loved this place it was central and easy to reach all the places in the city from.
Click here for more information and bookings at the Nguyen Shack
For more accommodation options we recommend booking.com for all your hostels, apartments and hotels. Check the map below
How to get to Ho Chi Minh City
The Tân Sơn Nhất Airport is located with the city of Ho Chi Minh. There is a city surrounding the airport on all sides. This makes for amazing views as you take off and land.
The airport is serviced by leading Asian carriers Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar Pacific and Air Asia.
For all your Ho Chi Minh City flights, we recommend using Skyscanner.
Buses arrive daily from all parts of Vietnam and Asia. The most popular international route is on the Transasian Highway from Phnom Penh in Cambodia. This trip takes 6-7 hours. Buses arrive numerous times a day from the Northern cities of Da Nang, Hanoi and many other locations.
Vietnam has an extensive train network that runs along the coast of Vietnam for Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi and on into China. Taking an overnight train is a popular way to travel to Chi Minh City from the North.
We recommend 12go Asia for all your train and bus tickets for Asia. You can check prices and book tickets through the banner underneath.
Money in Vietnam
The Vietnamese Dong is the official currency. Notes issued are as follows 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, 100,000, 200,000, 500,000₫. ATMs are easy to find in most towns and most of the time will dispense up to 3million Dong at one time.
Always exchange your currency at banks. The government-run Vietcombank can exchange Dong for US dollars, Euros, British Pounds, Japanese Yen, Thai Baht, and Singapore dollars. Banks in major cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City will let you change foreign currencies. If you plan to do this please remember to take your passport with you as you may be denied if you don’t.
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About the Author
Mark Wyld is a father, husband and traveller. Having been to over 30 countries worldwide I think I know a thing or 2 about travelling with kids. I have been writing about travel on our website for the last 4 years and have featured on numerous other websites. When I am not talking, dreaming and planning travel I can be found working in disability support .
Our evening Cruise was sponsored by Bonsai River Cruise. This in no way influences our opinions or words you have read above