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SAIGON

city guide hong duc publishing

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citypassguide.com

2016-17 | house 16th edition


YOUR PREMIUM GATEWAY TO VIBRANT VIETNAM

NEW HCMC LIVING SECTION • 19 DESTINATIONS COMPREHENSIVE LIVING & TRAVEL GUIDES THOUSANDS OF PHOTOS & VIDEOS • INTERACTIVE MAPS DEALS & VOUCHERS • REVIEWS • NIGHTLIFE • NEED TO KNOW OVER 20,000 PAGES OF QUALITATIVE INFORMATION IN ENGLISH CITYPASSGUIDE.COM


E E Ssaigon ot sgniht

10 Reasons Why I Live in Vietnam There are 10 reasons I have called Vietnam my home for the past decade, and why I’ll call it home for years to come.

editor's note

Let’s begin with the people. The Vietnamese are their country’s greatest asset. Having lived here for 10 years, I know that most are Kind at heart. You only have to get onto the streets to know this - just walk and count how many open, honest smiles you share with nearby strangers before you reach your destination. And then, the Vietnamese are Generous. My local family hosts us too often, and they love doing it. We can never leave the house without receiving a gift. They always offer me the best piece of food - the nicest cut of meat, the freshest vegetables, the thickest spring roll. With generosity comes hope, and for most Vietnamese, life is better now and it will get better soon. There is hope in the eyes of every parent and child that we meet. This buoyant Optimism is rather contagious and those who don’t feel it won’t survive long in this country. You see for so many, life is hard in Vietnam, and without optimism life can be impossible. Hard Work is part of everyday life here - in the lives of the young and the old; of the farmers and the street sellers; of those who work 14/7 shifts to feed their families. It is this iron work ethic that produces inner strength and Resilience. Vietnam has been invaded by some of the greatest and most powerful civilisations in history, their sovereignty threatened again and again, and every time they have come out as the victors. Yet they are humble and magnanimous about it.

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The Vietnamese also hold a deep respect for Education, and for the educated. People of all ages in Vietnam pursue their education as far as they can. My sister-in-law began her PhD at 40 and her husband, who is 44, just graduated with a master’s degree. Both have fulltime jobs and there are no complaints about their lack of leisure time.

editor's note

A sense of family values gives way to the practice of Respect for others, and this respect, especially for elders, is an essential part of Vietnamese culture. A Confucian value deeply rooted in Vietnamese society, true respect for elders and for teachers is both expected and celebrated in Vietnam.

things saigon to SEE

Possibly this attitude can be attributed to culture. The core of Vietnamese society is the strength of its Family Values, an intrinsic part of Vietnamese philosophy. It is in Vietnam that I discovered the true meaning of family values, because here we learn to live with the family, by the family and for the family.

Perhaps as a product of their respect for each other and for education, the Vietnamese people embrace Tolerance. There are 54 ethnic minorities in this country and different religions abound, all coexisting without conflict. Religious beliefs are often incorporated with one another. It is not uncommon to see a Christian praying at the temple or vice versa. Finally, anyone who has lived here long enough, will recognise that Safety exists in this country. As a product of poverty, petty theft exists, but severe crime is rare due to a complete ban on arms, and a strong police force and army who do not tolerate disorder and violence. I hope these 10 reasons will inspire you to explore this beautiful country further, and help you discover your own special reasons why Vietnam is a place you’ll never forget. Patrick Gaveau - CEO & Editor-in-Chief saigon

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E E Ssaigon ot sgniht table of contents

things to see 7-28 introduction 8 district 1 9-19 district 3 20-21 district 3 & 4 22-23 district 5 24 district 5 & 6 25 district 10 & binh thanh 26 district 11 27 nearby 28 where to eat 29-40 local 30-31 local / international 32 international 33-49 further suggestions 40 where to drink 41-46 coffee 42 cafes | bars 43 nightlife 44 clubs 45 further suggestions 46 where 47-60 to shop souvenirs 48-54 fashion 55 shopping streets | malls 56-59 further suggestions 60 thing to do 61-74 tours 62-64 activities 65 entertainment | golf 66-69 spas | beauty 70-71 meetings & events 72-73 further suggestions 74

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where to stay hotels | resorts further suggestions

93-103 94-95 96-97 98-99 100-101 102-103

maps districts 1 & 3 districts 5, 10 & 1 district 7 districts 2 & binh thanh tan binh & phu nhuan districts

table of contents

where to visit 81-92 82-83 mekong 84-85 con dao 86-87 phu quoc 88-89 mui ne 90-91 dalat 92 southern coast

things saigon to SEE

75-80 76-79 80

need to know I II-III vietnam fact sheet IV price guide V climate VI-VII being aware VIII visas IX-X money XI vat XII-XIII electronics XIV-XV communication XVI dental XVII-XVIII health XIX-XXV transportations XXVI airline listings XXVII embassy listings XXVIII consulate listings XXIX-XXXII faq XXXIII-XXXIV history saigon

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contributors

Eour E S otteam s g n i ht

Benjamin Giroux Sr. Account Manager / Partner Born in Orleans, France, Ben has been living in Vietnam for over 8 years. Working for Innovo for 6 years, he leads a multinational team serving some of the biggest brands in hospitality. Experience in Advertising and Sales has given him a keen interest in customer service with an astute eye for detail. He lives in Saigon with his Vietnamese wife and two daughters. Personal insight: He used to work for ‘Le Petit Fute’ - a well-known travel guide in France, before moving to Vietnam to work for Citypassguide.com Content Manager Aleksandr Smechov Born in Belarus, Aleksandr always harbored a penchant for creativity and pragmatism. He began in direct sales at 17, moving forward to copywriting before starting a small marketing business in New York City. Tying up loose ends, Aleksandr set on a cross-country journey through Southeast Asia, finally settling in Vietnam with Citypassguide.com.

Personal insight: Aleksandr’s first professional copy gig was writing about bed bugs.

Pham Mai Trang Senior Graphic Designer Persuing her passion for visual art, Trang graduated with a degree in design from the University of Architecture in HCMC. She has designed professional projects for charity organisations, the publishing industry and her own personal online graphic design shop. She has studied English and Mandarin extensively, and enjoys travel with family, yoga class, and photography. Personal insight: Trang has travelled Asia and Europe, photographing stunning sights. 6

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SEE

saigon

things to SEE

things to

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tEhings E S ottosgsee n i ht

Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) has changed names several times. While sources dispute who originally controlled the land, the name was changed to Sai Gon in the 1700s by the local Vietnamese, then to Saigon by the French. The most recent change to Ho Chi Minh City came in 1976.

introduction

The city officially boasts a population of around eight million, although locals stipulate there are a few million more coming from the surrounding countryside. The downtown area, still colloquially referred to as Saigon, is growing at a rate that will equal Tokyo by 2020. Ho Chi Minh City has a tropical climate with an average humidity of 75%. There are two seasons: wet and dry. Be prepared for the inevitable downpours during the wet season from June to November, as they come almost daily and in hard bursts. Flooding can be expected during this time. The city life reflects the weather - a blend of harmony and chaos mixed into one. Traffic is heavy, dense and never ending, but you can always find locals lounging at streetside coffee vendors, content to admire the passing free-for-all. Hanoi is the political capital of Vietnam, but Ho Chi Minh City is the commercial heart and a magnet for foreign investors. New business ventures and ambitious development projects are popping up every year. Progress aside, Saigon is steeped in tradition, a living monument to the past that wears its culture proudly on its sleeve. Decorated with colonial and French-style architecture standing side by side with dilapidated, rickety homes and modern skyscrapers, Saigon boasts a unique mixture of past and present. Whether zooming by on a motorbike or sipping designer cocktails at a rooftop bar, there is much to explore.

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things to see SEE district 1

City Hall At the end of Nguyen Hue sits the magnificentoffice of the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee. Completed in 1908, the design of the former Hotel de Ville is based on the original in Paris. It isone of the most stunning monuments in the city,especially when lit at night. The interior is not open to the public. However, the outside still makes for some very memorable photo-ops. Le Thanh Ton and Nguyen Hue, D1

Local insight: Before the renovations of the Diem era, the building’s facade was Rococo-styled.

The Opera House Great photo opportunities await those who seek out one of the city’s most prominent landmarks. The Opera House was built in 1897 by French architect, Eugene Ferret. In 1955, it was transformed into South Vietnam’s Assembly House and has since undergone several refurbishments. It is only open to the public during events, so be sure to check their current schedule. 7 Lam Son Square, D1

Local insight: The critically acclaimed A O Show is performed at the Opera House. saigon

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tEhings E S ottosgsee n i ht

Saigon Central Post Office Designed in beautiful French colonial style, the post office was built between 1886 and 1891. The vaulted roof and arched windows lend a classic look, reminiscent of early European railway stations. Generally filled with tourists, it is still a working post office.

district 1

2 Cong Xa Paris, D1 Mon-Fri 7:00am-7:00pm / Sat-Sun 7:00am-6:00pm

Local insight: The famous letter writer and translator, Duong Van Ngo has worked independently here for more than 65 years.

Book Street The pedestrian book street has been open to the public since early 2016. It runs between Nguyen Van Binh, by the Saigon Central Post Office, and Hai Ba Trung. Events include old book exchanges, new publication promotions, calligraphy, book exhibitions and more - not many English titles. Nguyen Van Binh, next to Saigon Central Post Office 8:00am-9:00pm / CafĂŠs 6:00am-11:00pm

Local insight: There are two cafes on the , so you can enjoy a peaceful read while sipping some coffee.

Notre Dame Cathedral This twin towered cathedral is one of the most prominent architectural marvels in the city. It was built in 1877 with materials imported from France. Sitting between two busy streams of traffic, the streets outside are always bustling with tourists, locals and street vendors. Although the decor is austere, the church comes alive during services. Cong Xa Paris, D1 5:30am-5:00pm, Sunday Mass is held at 9:30am

Local insight: On weekends the cathedral is a favourite spot for wedding photographers. 10

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Notre Dame Cathedral


tEhings E S ottosgsee n i ht

Saigon Zoo & Botanical Gardens The gardens feature a wide range of animals including rare snakes, elephants, giraffes and birds, but beware, some of the living conditions are cramped. If you want to avoid the most severely confined creatures, stroll through the gardens or catch a theatre performance.

district 1

2B Nguyen Binh Khiem, D1 7:00am-6:00pm Entrance VND50,000 (adults), VND30,000 (children)

Local insight: Inside the main gate you can find the Temple of King Hung Vuong and the National History Museum.

National History Museum Established in the 1920s as the MusĂŠe Louis Finot, the National History Museum is devoted to Indochinese architecture. Trace the history of the Vietnamese people with displays of cultural significance that cover an area of more than 2,000m2. Note that you must pay VND30,000 extra for the privilege to take photos in the museum. 2B Nguyen Binh Khiem, D1 Tue-Sun 8:00am-11:30am & 1:30pm-5:00pm Entrance VND15,000

Local insight: Outside the rear entrance enormous bronze panels detail Vietnam’s history.

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things to see SEE

Ho Chi Minh City Museum Built around 1885, this elegant yet understated building has been called, at various times, the French High Commissioner’s Office, the Supreme Court, the Revolutionary Museum and finally the Museum of Ho Chi Minh City. It currently houses a photographic record of the revolutionary struggle against the French and Americans.

district 1

65 Ly Tu Trong, D1 8:00am-5:00pm Entrance VND15,000

Local insight: Beneath the museum is a network of tunnels that go as far as the Reunification Palace.

Reunification Palace This grand building was designed by Ngo Viet Thu for South Vietnam's former President Ngo Dinh Diem during the time of the Vietnam War. The official handover of power took place here on 30 April 1975 and the palace became a monument to that historic date. 135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, D1 7:30am-11:00am & 1:00pm-4:00pm Entrance VND30,000 (adults), VND15,000 (students), VND5,000 (5-17 years old)

Local insight: Before the renovations of the Diem era, the building’s facade was Rococo-styled.

Rainbow Bridge The pedestrian Rainbow Bridge is near the State Bank in District 1 and crosses the river to District 4. A popular place to hang out for young Vietnamese couples, it is one of the oldest bridges in the City, and was built by Gustave Eiffel in 1882. With a nice view of the Saigon River and Bitexco Tower, the bridge is a great vantage point for firework watching, wedding shoots and morning runs. Adjacent to Pasteur and the Thu Thiem tunnel

Local insight: The bridge is not Eiffel’s only major project: he also built the Central Post Office. saigon

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district 1

tEhings E S ottosgsee n i ht

Dong Khoi Street Known as Rue Catinat during the French colonial days and Tu Do in the 1960s, this street was reborn during Doi Moi (the economic reforms of 1986) as the heart of Saigon’s commercial and shopping district. It has local boutiques, international brands and restaurants in beautifully-restored French colonial buildings. The street is home to historical venues such as the Grand Hotel and Hotel Majestic. Runs from the Notre Dame Cathedral to the river, D1

Local insight: During colonial times Dong Khoi was the country’s fashion centre.

Le Loi Street Named after the founder of the Le dynasty, this street used to be lined with beautiful trees and boutique shops selling high-end art and various knick knacks. Unfortunately, due to the construction of Saigon’s first metro system, a part of Le Loi is blocked off and no longer decorated with trees. It is still worth a visit to see the drastic changes being undertaken, and to walk around the area. Between Opera House and Ben Thanh Market, D1

Local insight: Every town in the country has a major street named after the former emperor.

Ben Thanh Market It can be a bit daunting to make sense of this market with its more than 3,000 vendor stalls. Luckily everything is laid out in an organised grid. Clothes and fabric in front give way to kitchenware and souvenirs, leading one to food and produce. Be prepared as sellers here are particularly persistent. Intersection of Le Loi, Ham Nghi, and Le Lai, D1 5:30am-5:30pm

Local insight: The market moves outdoors when evening sets in, and is a great place to have some quick dinner at one of the stalls. 14

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BEN THANH MARKET MAP Le Thanh Ton Street Entrance

MEAT & FISH

EATERIES

FRUIT & VEG

ARTS & CERAMICS

DRIED GOODS

GIFTS

CONFEC - TIONERY

COSMETICS

CLOTHING

WEDDING MATERIALS

East Entrance (Phan Boi Chau Street)

West Entrance (Phan Chu Trinh Street)

MEAT & FISH

JEWELLERY

Le Loi Street Entrance saigon

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district 1

tEhings E S ottosgsee n i ht

30-4 Park This small, shaded park takes its name from Vietnam’s Reunification Day, 30 April 1975. Connecting the Reunification Palace with the Notre Dame Cathedral, it is a hub of activity and a popular meeting place for young and old Saigonese alike. The park is perfect for people-watching as it is a popular place for many to chat with friends, grab some shade and sip a refreshment. Le Duan (in front of the Reunification Palace)

Local insight: After a morning stroll, step into nearby Au Parc for a latte and a croissant.

Tao Dan Park This park covers 10 hectares with over 1,000 large trees and plenty of lush greenery. Early in the morning the park is filled with people exercising to booming dance music, walking and practising Tai Chi. Look for the replica of Nha Trang’s Cham Tower and the Hung King Temple, or venture to the east side of the park to find it adorned with statues. Truong Dinh (between Nguyen Thi Minh Khai and Nguyen Du)

Local insight: The cafes near Cach Mang Thang 8 are a great spot for birdwatchers.

Pham Ngu Lao Area Saigon’s version of the Bangkok backpacker haunt Khao San Road, this area is a convenient place to find cheap accommodation, food and nightlife. It is also known for the large amount of tour agencies, clothing shops, tailors and street hagglers that cater to budget tourists. With a plethora of bars, clubs and restaurants, this area is popular amongst tourists and locals alike. Pham Ngu Lao, De Tham and Bui Vien, D1

Local insight: Be careful with your belongings, this area is notorious for bag and phone snatching. 16

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district 1

97A Pho Duc Chinh, D1 Entrance VND10,000

things to see SEE

Fine Arts Museum Set inside an exquisite colonial villa, this museum is home to art from the 7th to 17th centuries along with rotating exhibits of contemporary art. The second floor features a permanent collection of sketches, paintings and statues, many of which focus on the resistance to colonial rule. The third floor exhibits older works from Vietnam’s history. Tue-Sun 9:00am-5:00pm

Local insight: Check out one of the first wooden elevators in Saigon, located at the main staircase.

Jamia Al Muslimin Mosque One of the 12 mosques serving the city, Jamia Al Muslimin Mosque was constructed for worshippers from southern India. Muslims from all over the world now come here to pray. The shaded veranda makes it an ideal place to sit during the heat of the day. Dine at the halal restaurant in the compound that offers cheap Indian and Malay food along with several halal food vendors that surround the area. 66 Dong Du, D1

6:00am-9:00pm

Local insight: Remember to dress modestly covering your shoulders and knees.

Mariamman Hindu Temple This temple seems out of place with a colourful facade that jumps out from its surroundings. Inside, the atmosphere is lively and incense hang in the air, thereby completing the tranquil setting. The temple was built by traders from Tamil Nadu and is named after the goddess Mariamman, worshipped for miraculous powers including curing heat-based diseases and helping people find ideal spouses. 45 Truong Dinh, D1

7:00am-8:00pm

Local insight: Remember to remove your shoes before stepping onto the raised platform. saigon

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district 1

tEhings E S ottosgsee n i ht

Bitexco Financial Tower Opened in October 2010, the 262.5m high Bitexco Financial Tower is currently the tallest tower in Saigon. The design was inspired by Vietnam’s national flower, the lotus. The Saigon Skydeck, found on the 49th floor, has breathtaking panoramas of the city for VND200,000. The building is also home to three bars and two restaurants on the 50th, 51st and 52nd floors. 45 Ngo Duc Ke, D1

9:30am-9:30pm

Local insight: The helipad on the 52nd floor was shipped to Vietnam in one piece from Korea.

Huyen Sy Church At over 100 years old, this church is the oldest and second largest in Saigon. It was named after Huyen Sy, grandfather of Vietnam’s last queen. He died in 1900 before the building was completed. You can find the tombs of Mr. and Mrs. Huyen Sy off to the side of the nave. It is closed during the day, but you can sneak a peek by wandering to the side entrance of the church. 1 Ton That Tung, D1

3:30pm-6:30pm, Mass 5:30pm

Local insight: At night the addition of neon lights provides a unique and dazzling exterior.

Jade Emperor Pagoda Built in 1909 by Saigon’s Chinese population, this atmospheric Cantonese pagoda houses the Jade Emperor (heaven’s keeper) watching over an incense-filled room, while other hidden chambers harbour woodcarvings and altars. The pagoda is a photographer’s paradise - one of the halls has the finest deity of fertility while the upstairs represents heaven and features the goddess, Kwan Ying. 73 Mai Thi Luu, D1

8:00am-5:00pm

Local insight: Don’t miss the mass of turtles in the pond, which are said to bring good luck. 18

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Jade Emperor Pagoda saigon

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tEhings E S ottosgsee n i ht district 3

Vinh Nghiem Pagoda The largest pagoda in the city, Vinh Nghiem is a blend of modern and traditional Japanese and Vietnamese cultures. It was built between 1964 and 1971 and covers 8,000m2, is home to a sanctuary and a seven-floor, 40m tower. People come here to pay homage to Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha himself, Samantabhadra the Lord of Truth, and Manjushri. 339 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, D3

1:30pm-6:00pm

Local insight: There should be no fee to enter the pagoda, so don’t be fooled by the scammers.

Ky Dong Church Once encompassing an entire city block, Ky Dong Church has been downsized, but it still boasts a school, religious souvenir shop and garden. It may not be worth a special trip, so only visit if you are already in the area or have some time to kill. The church is packed with worshippers during mass so make sure to show up a bit early. 38 Ky Dong, D3 Sunday Mass at 8:00am,10:00am, 5:00pm, 6:30pm & 8:00pm

Local insight: Bring flowers to the statue of St. Mary standing prominently outside. 20

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things to see SEE

Women’s Museum Dedicated to Vietnamese women, this museum has exhibitions covering three floors and focuses on ethnic dress, jewellery and women’s struggles. It was established in 1985 and divided into 10 rooms. The museum is well laid out and there is a tour showcasing the invaluable contribution made by women in the fight for independence.

district 3

202 Vo Thi Sau, D3 7:00am-11:30am & 1:00pm-5:00pm Free entrance

Local insight: The building once belonged to the Director of the General Police Department.

War Remnants Museum This museum is not for the faint-hearted as it houses harrowing displays from the American War. Established in 1975, it is home to US armoured vehicles, bombs, infantry weapons and controversial images detailing the brutality of war. Not to be missed is Requiem, a homage to the photojournalists who lost their lives in the war. 28 Vo Van Tan, D3 Mon-Fri 7:30am-12:00pm & 1:30pm-5:00pm Entrance VND15,000

Local insight: Visit the Cu Chi Tunnels (page 28) first for an understanding of the military tactics.

saigon

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district 3 & 4

tEhings E S ottosgsee n i ht

Xa Loi Pagoda This seven-tiered pagoda is home to a Buddha relic, a 32m bell tower and even a publishing centre. The pagoda was the focus for opposition in 1963 when 400 monks and nuns were arrested for civil disobedience. Thich Quang Duc, one of the monks who protested using self-immolation, has a memorial nearby. 89B Ba Huyen Thanh Quan, D3 7:00am-6:00pm Free entrance

Local insight: A special Buddhist ceremony is organised every Sunday from 8:00am-10:00am.

The Archbishop’s Palace With its imposing exterior, replete with wooden shutters and balconies, the Archbishop’s Palace is said to be the oldest building in Ho Chi Minh City. It was built in 1790 in a different part of town for the French Apostolic Vicar of Cochin China and moved to this spot in 1911. It is one of the most well maintained examples of colonial architecture. 180 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, D3 8:00am-11:00am & 2:00pm-4:00pm Free entrance

Local insight: Mass is held next door at Tan Xa Palace at 6:00am daily.

Ho Chi Minh Museum Once a French shipping company - Dragon House Wharf - this museum hosts a collection of the leader’s possessions, like his sandals and radio. See where Nguyen Tat Thanh, who later changed his name to Ho Chi Minh, began his struggle for independence. Outside are immaculate gardens with views of District 1 and the river. 1 Nguyen Tat Thanh, D4 Tue-Sun 7:30am-11:30am & 1:30pm-5:00pm Entrance VND10,000

Local insight: The name Dragon House Wharf comes from the two dragon statues on the rooftop. 22

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Ho Chi Minh Museum saigon

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tEhings E S ottosgsee n i ht district 5

Thien Hau Pagoda This pagoda, also known as Chua Ba, was built by the Chinese in the early 19th century. It is one of the most active pagodas in Cholon, and has a worldly atmosphere with swirling incense and splendid furnishings. Ba’s reliefs decorate the walls and depict duels and arena fighting. The pagoda is dedicated to Thien Hau, Goddess of the Sea. 710 Nguyen Trai, D5 6:00am-5:00pm Free entrance

Local insight: Don’t forget to look up and take in the intricate carvings on the roof.

Nghia An Hoi Quan Pagoda Built by the Chaozhou Chinese population, Nghia An Hoi Quan is noteworthy for its gilded woodwork. A carved boat hangs over the entrance and to the left is a large representation of Quan Cong’s horse and groom. The statue Ong Bon, keeper of happiness and virtue, resides in a glass altar to the right of the main sanctuary. 678 Nguyen Trai, D5 6:00am-5:00pm Free entrance

Local insight: On the 14th day of the lunar month, this pagoda prepares with offerings to the spirits. 24

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things to see SEE

Tam Son Hoi Quan Pagoda Built by the Fujian Congregation in 1839, this lively pagoda has retained its rich design. Located on a small and quiet street, it is dedicated to Me Sanh, the Goddess of Fertility, and is frequently crowded with women praying for assistance in conception. Avoid Me Sanh’s altar at the back if you don’t want to deal with the crowds.

district 5 & 6

118D Trieu Quang Phuc, D5 6:00am-6:00pm Free entrance

Local insight: Buy some fish from the vendors at the entrance to set them free for good luck.

Binh Tay Market This is the central market of Cholon. A mix of French and Chinese architecture, this market, built in 1928, is the largest in town and has a smorgasbord of items for sale. The building is famed for its intricate facade and reddish-brown tiles, along with (practically) hassle-free shopping. These features, plus the dominant yellow clock tower, make this a great spot for photography. 57A Thap Muoi, D6

6:00am-7:00pm

Local insight: The market deals in bulk and many businesses haggle for the best wholesale here.

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tEhings E S ottosgsee n i ht

FITO Museum This first museum of Vietnamese medicine displays nearly 3,000 items dating back to the Stone Age. Exhibits include medicine preparation, knives, mortars and pestles, documents and traditional implements. The museum often screens a documentary on the history of traditional medicine.

district 10 & binh thanh

41 Hoang Du Khuong, D10 8:30am-5:00pm Entrance VND50,000 (adults) and VND25,000 (children shorter than 1.2m)

Local insight: After your visit, go for a check-up with the in-house pharmacist.

The Flower Market Flowers are plentiful at this market and are offered at reasonable prices, depending on your bargaining skills. Strolling along the narrow, flower-lined alleys is a pleasure, and the locals are quite friendly and helpful. The flowers come from Dalat, the Mekong Delta and Hanoi, and the alleys are worlds away from the bustling traffic and chaos of the main road. Ho Thi Ky, D10

Local insight: Go just before dawn to see the just delivered, brightly coloured flowers against the dark morning sky.

Thanh Da Island Eight kilometres north of District 1, lush greenery and serenity can be found in close proximity to the city at Thanh Da. Created by the government in the 1970s, Binh Quoi 1 features gardens and quality Vietnamese restaurants. Stop by for dinner at a riverside restaurant, a great setting to watch time float by. Or rent a boat from Binh Quoi 2 to see the contrast between spacious villas and stilt houses. Binh Thanh D

Local insight: Explore the area; it has villages, rice paddies and a very rural feel to it. 26

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things to see SEE district 11

Khanh Van Nam Vien Pagoda Built between 1939 and 1942, Khanh Van Nam Vien is one of the only Taoist pagodas in Vietnam. Unique for its colourful statues of Taoist disciples, the main altar features a Yin and Yang symbol. Upstairs is a 150cm-high statue of Chinese philosopher, Lao Tse with a halo that makes creative use of a mirror and fluorescent lighting. The pagoda also houses a care home for the elderly and a medical clinic. 46/5 Lo Sieu, D11

Free entrance

Local insight: The drawing of the bodily organs ends with a figure representing the imagination.

Dam Sen Water Park Beat the Saigon heat! Dam Sen includes several pool areas, 30 water games to choose from and the mildly terrifying Twister Bowl. Explore the expansive park and enjoy the carnival rides, animal shows, lake outings and vibrant people watching. 3D Hoa Binh, D11 Mon-Sat 9:00am-6:00pm Sun & Holidays 8:30am-6:00pm Entrance VND90,000-150,000, free for children shorter than 0.8m and elderly over 60

Local insight: The wave-making pool has a surface area of 3,000m2 . saigon

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nearby

tEhings E S ottosgsee n i ht

Cu Chi Tunnels Explore the vast network of underground tunnels from the 1940s that were expanded to 121km by guerrilla Viet Cong forces during the American War. The tunnels have now been widened to cater to larger frames, but are still a tight fit and not for the claustrophobic. It takes 90 minutes by bus, or you can take the scenic route by fast boat. Ap Phu Hiep, Phu My Hung Ward 7:00am-5:00pm Entrance VND90,000

Local insight: Tasteless yet tempting, there is a firing range where you can shoot A K47s and M16s.

Wildlife at Risk (W.A.R.) This non-profit organisation is dedicated to the conservation of Vietnam’s threatened creatures and to rescuing animals confiscated from illegal poachers and traders. It is the first multi-species wildlife hospital and holding facility in southern Vietnam. Inside the facility you will find displays on the vast biodiversities of Vietnam. Ap Cho Cu II, An Nhon Tay Ward Entrance VND200,000, free for kids under 1.2m

Local insight: Since 2007 the centre has rescued, rehabilitated and released over 1,000 animals.

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Song Ngu

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things to SEE

where to

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w EE here S ottosgeat n i ht

Southern cuisine relies heavily on spices, herbs and fresh vegetables. The preparation is simple with cooking techniques borrowed from neighbouring countries like Cambodia, China and Thailand. Be sure to try some of these highlights. Banh Xeo

local

These savoury pancakes are made with flour, egg and salt, then fried. They come stuffed with pork, vegetables and prawns with a side of herbs and fish sauce. Bun Mam

A rather pungent vermicelli noodle soup made with everything but the kitchen sink thrown in. It includes shrimp paste, aubergine, squid and more. Bun Thit Nuong

This dish is made of vermicelli noodles topped with fresh greens, peanuts and grilled pork. Some suppliers will even throw in a fried spring roll. Com Tam

Literally translated as “broken rice�, this hearty dish is served for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It comes with many different meat options but the most common is a delicious barbecued pork chop. Hu Tieu

Long, thin rice noodles are served with ground pork, shrimp and fish. The common elements, of celery and sauteed garlic help to maintain the distinctive taste.

Restaurant Price Guide (per meal)

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$ - up to VND99,000

$$ - VND100,000-299,000

$$$ - VND300,000-499,000

$$$$ - VND500,000 & above


things to eat where SEE local

Song Ngu Restaurant $$-$$$$ Song Ngu celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2016. For those who want to try true Vietnamese fine dining, this restaurant is one of the best examples in the city. The chefs have decades of experience, and it shows. They serve savoury Vietnamese seafood in a beautiful Cham-inspired villa environment, with eight dining rooms that cater up to 300 guests in total. The refined atmosphere combines festive flair with classical interiors. Be sure to stay around till 7:00pm, a live band plays Vietnamese songs on traditional instruments, and dances for guests. The restaurant received TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence award in 2015. 70-72 Suong Nguyet Anh, D1 08 3832 5017 10:00am-2:00pm & 5:00pm-10:00pm songngu.com

Local insight: The Mantis Shrimp and Drunken Tiger Shrimp are highly recommended. Cocktails start at a very affordable VND70,000++. saigon

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Vietnam House

$$-$$$$

Situated on the seventh floor of the Bong Sen Hotel, Vietnam House serves authentic Vietnamese and international dishes. Executive chef Lam Thi Tu has over 22 years of experience. We recommend their excellent spring rolls with seafood and their Vietnamese pancake (banh xeo).

local / international

7th Floor, Bong Sen Hotel, 117-123 Dong Khoi, D1 08 3829 1623 8:00am-11:00pm vietnamhousesaigon.com

Local insight: Be sure to try their Prawn Paste on Sugar Cane, it won’t disappoint.

Tram's Cookery $$$$ Only 20 minutes by speedboat, this restaurant offers stunning views of the Saigon River. Offering the finest of Vietnamese and European dishes, Tram's Cookery is a popular destination amongst urban professionals looking to escape the manic streets of Ho Chi Minh City. 21/4 Trung, Vinh Phu Ward, Binh Duong 065 0378 5555 anlam.com rsvn.sr@anlam.com operator.sr@anlam.com

Local insight: A reservation for speedboat transfer to the restaurant is mandatory.

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things to eat where SEE international

The Sushi Bar $$-$$$ Enter The Sushi Bar and you’ll feel you have been transported to Japan. The sushi is made with fresh fish and there is a dizzying selection to choose from. The house special Sushi Bar Roll is a treat with no less than nine ingredients. Pair your sushi with sake or opt for green tea for authenticity. No.2 Le Thanh Ton, D1 1st fl, Zen Plaza, 54-56 Nguyen Trai, D1 No. 54 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, D1 2nd fl, Saigon Court, 149 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, D3 Gr. fl, Capri Residence, Lot C6B-02-2, D7 Gr. fl, Kumho Link, 39 Le Duan, D1 Hikari, Ly Thai To, Binh Duong New City, Binh Duong Lot 3-A5.6, Bac Tuong Dai, Hai Chau D, Danang 11:00am-11:30pm (11:00pm last order) Reservation & Delivery Hotline 08 3911 8818 / 08 3911 8618

Local insight: Grab a seat at the bar to watch them prepare your dishes in front of you. saigon

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Oedo Alley

$$-$$$$

Opened in July 2016, Oedo Alley Japanese Food Village is a collection of six restaurants serving under one banner. Located in the new Saigon Centre mall, these delicious eateries offer up everything from udon noodles to sushi, all served at reasonable prices and made by skilled Japanese chefs. Signature dish that should be tried by any Japanese food fan: the Curry Udon at Tamoya Udon; the Kakuni Bankara at Bankara Ramen; the Kaisen Sundubu at Tokyo Sundubu; sushi, sashimi and other fresh dishes at Sushi Sen; the Japan’s local dish at Gourmet Yatai; and the Osaka Okonomiyaki at Botejyu. L5 - 09, Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, D1 08 3821 8869 10:00am-10:00pm oedoalley

Local insight: The “alley” has all the restaurants located in a convenient, single-floor area, making it easy to go from one Japanese cuisine to the next. 34

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things to eat where SEE international

Sorae $$-$$$$ This is one of the most spectacular skyline lounges in the heart of the bustling city. Sorae’s first floor is all about fine Japanese cuisine, whilst upstairs is dedicated to drinks. The wine and cocktail bar features an extensive and exclusive selection of sake, boutique wines and beverages. The Whisky Bar & The Saigon Cigar Club on the second floor is a lounge area where customers can enjoy a great selection of whiskies/spirits from around the world, along with an extensive collection of well-maintained cigars. There’s also a small nonsmoking area allocated for guests. 24th-25th Floor, AB Tower, 76A Le Lai, D1 11:30am-2:00pm & 5:30pm-1:00am 08 3827 2372 soraesushi.com

Local insight: Enjoy the use of the specially designed private cabinets for selections of bottles and cigars available for those seeking privacy. saigon

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Kobe Teppanyaki $$-$$$$ This is Saigon’s first restaurant specialising in famous Japanese teppanyaki and premium A5 Kobe beef. Teppan meaning "table" and Yaki meaning "grilled", the chefs at Kobe can put on a show. The staff at Kobe takes you through a unique dining experience.

international

13A Tu Xuong, D3 08 3932 0187 - 08 3932 0189 10:00am-10:00pm sales.teppankobe@gmail.com

Local insight: Kobe Teppanyaki offers The Tursan Red Wine from Michelin 3 stars Chef Michel Guerard, best match with imported A5 Kobe beef.

Sushi Tei $$-$$$$ Sushi Tei’s new flagship outlet is located by Ben Thanh Market in the heart of the city. Its 300plus dishes delight the palates of all customers. From the bright open areas to the private dining rooms it creates the perfect ambience in which to enhance your gastronomic experience. 200A Ly Tu Trong, D1 08 6284 1188 11:00am-11:00pm sushitei.com sushi.tei.vietnam

Local insight: Try the excellent imported Norwegian salmon sushi off the conveyor belt, it's flown in fresh twice a week.

Cuba la Casa del Mojito $$-$$$ Opened late 2015, this young venue serves genuine Cuban food and tapas in an authentic, cosy environment. Cigar lovers will also get a kick, as hand-rolled Cubans are readily available for aficionados. For foodies, we recommend Ropa Vieja - stewed and pulled steak - and a classic mojito on the drinks end. 91 Pasteur, D1 3:00pm to late

08 3822 7099 cubanvn

Local Insight: They have the only Cuban chef in Vietnam. 36

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things to eat where SEE international

San Fu Lou $$-$$$$ This late night Cantonese favourite is a house of three blessings: tasty food, healthy cooking techniques and great hygiene practices. It employs the traditional concepts of a Cantonese kitchen and an Oriental ambiance. San Fu Lou emphasises the freshness of the ingredients and the contrast of flavours and textures. Gentle use of spices and careful preparation give this style of cooking superb balance. Located in the heart of the business centre area, San Fu Lou will delight your taste buds with finely prepared, tasty Chinese dishes and drinks. Ground Floor, 76A Le Lai, D1 08 3823 9513 195-197 Phan Xich Long, Phu Nhuan D 08 3517 6168 7:00am-3:00am sanfulou.com

Local insight: Book a table from where you can view the open kitchen, it’s fascinating and a first for Cantonese restaurants in the city. saigon

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EON51 Fine Dining $$$$ High above Saigon’s business district, EON51 provides a sophisticated space in which to enjoy the chef’s beautifully prepared and presented dishes. The open kitchen in the midst of the restaurant and the equally well stocked open wine cellar provide much of the restaurant’s decor. However, guests’ eyes will naturally be drawn to the truly magnificent 360º views of the city and beyond. Glorious steaks, foie gras and the freshest fish, imaginatively cooked using green tea or green olive tapenade are among the highlight dishes. 51st Floor, Bitexco Financial Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, D1 Mon-Fri 11:00am-2:00pm & 5:00pm-11:00pm Sat-Sun 5:00pm-11:00pm 08 6291 8751 reservations@eon51.com eon51.com

Local insight: Monday to Friday, lunchtime diners benefit from a generous 20% discount on all menu items including drinks. 38

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WAIT

international

14 Ngo Quang Huy, D2 08 3898 2082 Mon-Sat 11:45am-1:30pm & 6:45pm until late lavilla-restaurant.com.vn

things to eat where SEE

La Villa $$$$ This tucked away restaurant offers Michelin-quality French cuisine in a beautiful colonial style villa. Dine in the serene courtyard or refined interior, served by experienced and polite waitstaff. Twenty minutes from the city centre, La Villa is the perfect choice for guests who are looking for true fine dining.

Local insight: Try their Cheese Trolley, French Blue Lobster or Venison-based Discovery Menu.

La Maison Wine Grill Bar $$$ Set in a small alley, this French villa is surrounded by water, trees and fresh air. The beautiful enclave has indoor and al fresco dining, and offers fine quality French cuisine. The pumpkin soup, smoked salmon and Australian beef are noteworthy, and there is a wine for every possible dish or occasion. 201B Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, D3 08 8893 0888 10:00am-11:00pm lamaison.vn

Local insight: If you buy a bottle of wine, you get six oysters for free.

Tandoor $$-$$$ A sophisticated venue right off the Nguyen Hue walking street, Tandoor boasts a welcoming staff and delicious foods. Specialising in halal food from northern India and clay oven-cooked kebabs, they also offer southern Indian cuisine and one of the largest selections of vegetarian options in the city. 39A-39B Ngo Duc Ke, D1 08 3930 4839 10:00am-11:00pm tandoorvietnam.com

Local insight: Looking for a filling meal? Try the Tandoori Grill, which includes chicken, paneer, seabass and mutton grilled in a tandoor oven. saigon

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Local Viet Village: Authentic Vietnamese cuisine served in a refined atmosphere. 15-17 Dinh Tien Hoang, D1

08 3911 7261

further suggestions

We: A fusion of design and cuisine become one here. Wrap and roll to your heart’s delight with Bo Bia or Chao Tom. 8 Le Quy Don, D3

08 3930 9604

Quan Bui: Refined homestyle meals are prepared in a beautiful environment. 17A Ngo Van Nam, D1

08 3829 1515

Binh Quoi Village 1: Ideal for celebrations with its lush gardens and riverside dining. 1147 Binh Quoi, Binh Thanh D

08 3930 8421

International The Society: Tucked away down an alleyway, The Society is an oasis of calm, serving quality food and beverages in a beautiful, glass house setting. 99 Nguyen Hue, D1

08 3914 3999

May Restaurant: Warm, welcoming staff and great food make this ambient restaurant a lovely place for dinner or drinks. 19-21 Dong Khoi, D1

08 6291 3686

Le Corto: A modern, high end restaurant offering a large selection of fine French cuisines and an impressive international wine list. 5D Nguyen Sieu, D1

08 3822 0671

The Racha Room: Both a bar and a restaurant, The Racha Room serves exquisite cocktails, imported ciders, and a menu of delicious dishes. 12-14 Mac Thi Buoi, D1 40

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09 0879 1412


drink

saigon

things to SEE

where to

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where EES toodrink t s g n i ht

Coffee

Like most major cities, Ho Chi Minh City has its own thriving cafe scene. From the cheapest street "ca phe" or fresh fruit juice to a wallet-stripping cappuccino amidst high-class upholstery, free wifi and “luxury” aircon, Saigon’s cafes offer some of the best coffees and freshest drinks in Asia.

coffee

Coffee was introduced to Vietnam in 1857 by the French and began to develop as a major agricultural export in the decades following the Vietnam War, which ended in 1975. Production skyrocketed at the end of the 20th century with a new 1986 government initiative, and by 2014 Vietnam had topped Brazil as the largest global exporter of Robusta and Arabica beans. Within the country, coffee is also a popular drink, served hot or with ice, and with condensed milk or black. But Vietnam is not only famed for its coffee exports and sugar-rich caffeine hits. Locals of all ages frequent the city’s cafe scene for a juice, smoothies or oddly delicious bubble-tea, to sip at their beverage and chat about life. Cafes in Ho Chi Minh City are about relaxation, conversation and social life. Given its overwhelming sweetness and buttery tang, drinking Vietnamese coffee can be an enjoyable experience. Black or with condensed milk, hot or cold, "ca phe" is something that every traveller must try when they visit this country. And where better than the streets of busy Saigon? Roasted in butter and sometimes fish-sauce, Vietnamese coffee is thicker and sweeter than what you’re probably used to. With ice or without, it’s bound to wake you up and keep you buzzing for hours. Grab a coffee to go in the typical miscellaneous plastic cup, or join those smiling local women on their lawn chairs and sip from a glass mug.

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things to drink where SEE

Shin Coffee $-$$$ Stop by Shin Coffee and appreciate the amazing aroma of speciality brew. Experience authentic flavours of quality coffee beans from Vietnam and around the world, including Colombia, Guatemala, Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania, all roasted at the shop and brewed by the method of your choice.

cafes/bars

13 Nguyen Thiep, D1 08 3824 6168 18 Ho Huan Nghiep, D1 08 3521 8989 7:00am-11:00pm shincoffee.vn

Local insight: Customers can purchase roasted coffee beans to go.

Chill Skybar $$$$ The original skybar and the crown atop AB Tower’s 26th floor, Chill Skybar is still the premier spot to mingle. Housing expert staff, Chill Skybar frequently hosts international DJs, entertainers, and themed events. Be sure to try the bartender’s unique concoctions as his international mixes yield spectacularly balanced cocktails. Rooftop, AB Tower, 76 Le Lai, D1 09 3882 2838 5:30pm-2:00am ino@chillsaigon.com chillsaigon.com

Local insight: 5:30pm to 8:00pm, happy hour drinks start at VND90,000 and snacks at VND70,000.

Air 360 Sky Lounge $$$-$$$$ This sky bar affords 360 degrees of vibrant Saigon skyline, including views of its sister venue Chill Skybar. An adult audience enjoys unwinding after work with exclusive cocktails, music and excellent services. The five spacious levels provide its sophisticated clientele with a gorgeous space. Rooftop, Ben Thanh Tower, 136-138 Le Thi Hong Gam, D1 5:30pm until late 09 7458 7788 air@air360skybar.com air360skybar.com

Local insight: Notable cocktails include the White Night and On The Sky. saigon

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Nightlife

Ho Chi Minh City is the nightlife capital of Vietnam: it is here that you will find the best bars, pubs, live music lounges and beer clubs in the country.

nightlife

Drinking alcohol is an impor tant par t of Vietnamese culture and few people would pass on the opportunity to share a drink with friends or colleagues. Beer is the most popular beverage. In Vietnamese beer gardens, people usually order beer towers containing several litres of their favourite brews. Expats can quench their thirst in a few popular spots located in District 1, District 2 and District 7. The typical expat bar has several screens to watch sports, a pool table, fun games and a crowd of regulars. A more exclusive way to enjoy your evening with a classy drink is to visit one of Ho Chi Minh City's rooftop lounges. Once the sun sets, beer bars will start welcoming office workers, students and friends. Also called beer gardens, you could count over a 100 of them in Saigon. They are great meeting places for an after-hour drink with colleagues. Some are super luxurious with loud techno music and strict door policies, while others are much more easygoing, consisting of a few tables in the open air. Nightclubs in Ho Chi Minh City will please even the most demanding party-goers. Trendy venues will not look very different from the places you could go to in Europe or in the U.S. They will play the latest music, from mainstream hits in clubs. Prices are generally low: A cocktail or a glass of wine rarely costs more than $10 even in trendy venues. Most nightclubs will close around 3 a.m., but you can keep the party going until early morning in several after-hour drinking holes. Considering the wide variety and diversity of bars and clubs spread across the city, it is never a difficult thing to find one that you like.

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things to drink where SEE clubs

Catwalk $$$-$$$$ Catwalk is hosted by the International Tourist Club (ITC), conveniently located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City in the annex wing of New World Saigon Hotel. Opened in 1995, this modern nightlife centre spans three-floors, featuring a live band and DJ zone, 14 private karaoke rooms, a karaoke bar and a great lounge area to round off your evening. Looking to organise a social or business party? A graduation or holiday party? Catwalk has something for everyone. Come enjoy your favourite cocktails and sing your heart out at one of Ho Chi Minh City’s premier nightspot. International Tourist Club, 76 Le Lai, D1 7:30pm-2:00am 08 3824 3760 itclubsaigon.com.vn

Local insight: Jam out to Catwalk’s DJ beats or their live bands who play international music in a variety of languages. saigon

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Cafes Klasik Coffee Roasters: Speciality coffee brews include hand-selected premium beans from Central and South America, Africa and Asia. 40 Mac Thi Buoi, D1

08 6685 4160

L’Usine: A hip, warm space with nice design, the teas, coffees and dishes here are great.

further suggestions

70B Le Loi, D1

08 6674 9565

Bars Pasteur Street Brewing Company: Vietnam's first American style craft brewery. They offer 12 exotic brews on tap that change regularly. 144 Pasteur, D1

08 3823 9562

Last Call: Craft cocktails take centre stage here. Sip to the mellow sounds of Motown and the 70s. 59 Dong Du, D1

08 3823 3122

Phatty’s: A great place for sports enthusiasts to catch the game on any of the seven screens. 46-48 Ton That Thiep, D1

08 3821 0796

Clubs Apocalypse Now: Known as Apo by locals, this unique club is one of the oldest and wildest spots in Saigon. 2B-C-F Thi Sach, D1

08 3825 6124

MZ Club: Spend an evening soaking up the electric atmosphere in one of the best live music venues in Ho Chi Minh City. 56A Bui Thi Xuan, D1

09 0666 0305

Blanchy’s Tash: A chic cocktail bar and airy rooftop terrace make this a sophisticated venue. 95 Hai Ba Trung, D1 46

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08 3827 5198


shop

saigon

things to SEE

where to

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where E E Sto otshop s g n i ht

Marble

souvenirs

Long held to be the most luxurious stone, marble carvings and interiors have existed for millennia, but are usually only available to the wealthy. Fortunately, the exquisite mineral is no longer limited to five-star hotels and Italian museums. Vietnamese marble comes in a wide variety of colours, patterns and shapes, ensuring that you will find something to suit your taste. Peruse the souvenir shops to find the perfect piece. Local insight: Marble sculptures are often quoted at up to four times their actual selling price. Wood Carvings

A thriving craft, local wood is carved into trinkets, figurines and burl furniture. Choosing the type of wood is important: hardwoods are more difficult to shape but have greater longevity, while softer woods are easier to carve, but are more vulnerable. Especially impressive are the carvings made from entire tree branches where the curvature of the wood is incorporated into the piece. You won’t want to miss out on these intricately designed carvings. Local insight: A life-size carving will cost about US$3,000 as it’s made out of one block of wood. Buffalo Horn

A few Saigon-based jewellers work with buffalo horn. It is used in products like jewellery, eating utensils, pipes and hair decorations. It is said that the horn contains the buffalo spirit, and the power is transferred to those who wear or use it. So select a piece and inherit the strength of the mighty buffalo. These items are subject to humidity and temperature change, and should not be placed in water. Local insight: Lighter shades of horn can cost up to three times that of the darker shades. 48

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things to shop where SEE souvenirs

Minh Long $$-$$$$ Centrally located, this is one of the largest porcelain showrooms in Southern Vietnam. It is a shopping paradise of porcelain products, including tableware, jewellery and souvenirs, many with unique designs rich in Vietnamese culture. National identity is respresented through exotic patterns that describe traditional daily life. Beautiful nature and historic monuments remind visitors of Vietnam’s origin. The work brings Vietnamese culture to the world, which is Minh Long’s mission. 17 Ba Huyen Thanh Quan, D3 08 3930 2634 9:00am-9:00pm 4th Floor, 65 Le Loi, D1 08 3821 8269 10:00am-9:00pm Minh Long also has multiple locations in Hanoi minhlong.com sales@minhlong.com

Local insight: Since 1970, Minh Long’s ceramics have spanned over four generations. saigon

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Lacquerware

souvenirs

Vietnamese lacquerware is sought after by collectors for its beauty and durability, and is applied to everything from paintings to dishes. Lacquer is a natural varnish made from a tree in the cashew family. Production in Vietnam dates back to the 18th century. The best lacquerware is handmade. A time and labour-intensive process, it can take more than 12 stages of production in each piece and a tray requires 75 days to make. Local insight: Look for details like air bubbles in the lacquer to evaluate the quality of production. Porcelain & Ceramics

After Chinese rule, ceramics developed over time to become distinctly Vietnamese. Traditionally, cobalt blue and white are the most common colours, though there are others available. Teapots, large bowls and other household items are decorative and functional. Prices vary with quality; a beautiful tea set and tray starts at VND250,000. Local insight: Two streets are famous for cheap and exquisite porcelain: Nguyen Thong and Le Quy Don, both in D3. Bargaining is expected and careful inspection is a must. Straw Hats

Created out of necessity given Vietnam’s tropical climate, there is not a more iconic souvenir than the Vietnamese non la, or leaf hat. This distinctive headpiece has become a national symbol representing the hardworking spirit of Vietnam. The conical hat is fashioned out of bamboo, with coconut or palm leaves hand sewn into the frame. Non la can be found in most markets and on Vietnamese people everywhere. Local insight: Look inside the hats to see the designs cut into the leaves. 50

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things to shop where SEE

Authentique Home $$-$$$ Founded in 1995, Authentique celebrates and upholds fine Vietnamese craft traditions. All ceramics, textiles and wood items are lovingly made by dedicated artisans, with refined in-house design, select materials, and masterly craftsmanship.

souvenirs

71/1 Mac Thi Buoi, D1 08 3823 8811 113 Le Thanh Ton, D1 08 3822 8052 3rd Floor, 316-2, Takashimaya, D1 08 8858 1699 9:00am-9:00pm authentiquehome.com

Local insight: All of Authentique’s beautiful products are handmade at their workshops in HCMC.

Mekong Quilts $$-$$$$ This nonprofit organization specializes in high quality, hand-stitched bed covers together with a collection of baby quilts, bamboo bicycles, accessories, giftware and more. Mekong Quilts provides employment, training and benefits to women in rural Vietnam and Cambodia. They have employed over 220 women. 1st Floor, 68 Le Loi, D1 08 2210 3110 mekong-plus.com

Local insight: They also have locations in Hanoi, Hoi An, Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

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Contemporary Art

souvenirs

Contemporary art spaces in HCMC are few and far between. However, this looks poised to change for the better, which is good news for both artists and collectors. Unfortunately, finding original pieces can be difficult, since there is a roaring trade in knock-offs. The mostly hidden art scene provides opportunities for art collectors to find stunning creations at low prices, and for window shoppers to marvel at avant-garde artistry. Local insight: Be sure to check out Galerie Quynh at 65 De Tham, District 1. Lacquer Painting

Nowhere in the world is the diversity and availability of lacquer arts more evident than in Vietnam. With a range that spans from museum pieces to holiday ornaments, it is expansive. Vietnamese have been processing lacquer for more than 2,000 years. Following the influence of French lacquer teachers in the 1930s, the art form developed into a technique that combines the traditional Asian and European styles. Local insight: For the perfect piece, check Dong Khoi and Mac Thi Buoi in District 1. Traditional Art

Vietnam’s local artisans and folk artists produce stunningly ornate work, be it lacquerware, block prints, silk paintings or calligraphy. Since the 1960s, the ancient practices of embroidery expanded to include majestic scenes and detailed portraits. Larger works can take over a month to produce, and subjects include beautiful landscapes, animals and traditional Vietnamese flowers. Local insight: Browse the shops around Dong Khoi and try XQ (37 Dong Khoi) for a vast selection of embroidery. 52

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things to shop where SEE souvenirs

Antiques

Le Cong Kieu, near Ben Thanh Market, is one of Saigon’s best kept secrets. Packed with more than 60 antique shops, each and every shop is full of hundreds of interesting items. Rummage through the treasure trove of stone statues, lamps, ceramic pots and clocks to unearth a rare find. But be aware that only around 30% of the goods on display are genuine antiques and the rest are reproductions. Local insight: The government controls the export of genuine antiques, so keep your receipts. Model Boats

Boat modelling is a craft as old as shipbuilding, dating back to the development of water transport. In Vietnam, the boats hail from a woodworking village in Dong Nai - ranging from miniature to complex, to fully rigged scale models. The time taken to complete one boat ranges from 5-10 days. There are replicas of famous vessels and ships in bottles available as well. Local insight: Prices start at VND40,000 for a small bottled boat and they are available at shops around Lam Son Square. saigon

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Propaganda Art

souvenirs

Propaganda art is usually made for political purposes, but it has also been used for campaigns promoting public safety. Vietnam’s propaganda art truly came into its own during the American War. Trumpeting everything from fighting to industrial production, this socialist style now has a very retro feel and can be found on old posters, T-shirts and handbags. Not surprisingly, many propaganda artists call HCMC home. Local insight: Dogma (43 Ton That Thiep, D1) has a large collection of Vietnamese propaganda. Zippos

Once a faithful companion to U.S. soldiers during the war, these enduring lighters can be found scattered throughout Vietnam and each one tells a unique story. Most are still functioning and only require a top up of lighter fluid and a new flint. These iconic lighters are priced according to the year, design, quality and condition and most are under VND100,000. Local insight: Although there a few genuine ones left, most sold are copies – even the one Martin Sheen had in Apocalypse Now wasn’t real. Bamboo

Bamboo is a fast growing grass with a delicate grain that makes it distinctive and elegant. A large range of bamboo products are produced in Vietnam including vases, trays and platters. With the plant growing abundantly in the countryside, prices are reasonable. Bamboo is also used as the frame for most non la, the iconic Vietnamese conical hat. Local insight: Test the quality of the bamboo by running your hand over it, as there should not be any splinters. 54

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things to shop where SEE

Nosbyn $$$ This ladies fashion shop has been operating since March 2013. Their product lines mainly focus on simplicity and minimalistic styles. Top selling items like crop tops and basic pants are aimed at young trendy female fashionistas with an eye for cool. They also have another store at 57 Nguyen Trai, D.1.

fashion

77 Mac Thi Buoi, D1 08 6681 3680 9:00am-9:00pm nosbyn.com

Local insight: Watch out for the student 5% and VIP 10% discounts on all items, and their informative monthly catalogue. Tailors

If you walk around any major Vietnamese city, you will be aware of the wide variety of tailoring services available. Any city’s tailors can fashion haute couture or everyday wear in as little as two days. However, remember that quality work takes time. Tailors will offer their own designs and they have magazines and pattern books, or you can create your own. The average cost for a good quality men’s suit is around US$300. Local insight: Check the quality along the seams and ask them to redo any sub-par stitching. Ao Dai

Translated in Vietnamese as “long dress”, the formfitting but flowing ao dai, a long tunic worn over silk trousers, is very feminine and flattering. As the Vietnamese say, “the ao dai covers everything but hides nothing.” The ao dai is the Vietnamese national dress for women and is used in traditional ceremonies. It is actively promoted by the national government. The dress is often called the “Ao Dai Vietnam” in government events and publications. Local insight: Body sizes vary, but it usually takes about four metres of fabric to make an ao dai. saigon

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Shopping Streets

You might think it wouldn’t be a good idea to open a shop next door to your competitor, but in Vietnam people believe success breeds more success. Stores with the same products are often bundled together, whether it’s a row of places selling safes or a strip of snail restaurants. Listed below are the streets where specific types of products can be found.

shopping streets

DISTRICT

1

56

LOCATED BETWEEN

STREET NAME

PRODUCT

NO.

Ton That Tung

IT Appliances

7C-145

Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Nguyen Trai

Thi Sach

Hotels, Bars

7-15C

Le Thanh Ton Tran Hung Dao statue

Nguyen Cu Trinh

Computers

20-74

Tran Hung Dao Cong Quynh

Ly Tu Trong

Fashion Shops

75-213

Truong Dinh Thu Khoa Huan

Huyen Tran Cong Chua

Sporting Goods

Whole street

Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Nguyen Du

Le Cong Kieu

Antiques

1-27

Pho Duc Chinh Nam Ky Khoi Nghia

Hai Ba Trung

Fashion, Restaurants

137A447

Tran Quang Khai Nguyen Thi Minh Khai

Huynh Thuc Khang

Household, Perfume

1B-75

Ben Thanh Market Nguyen Hue

Mac Thi Buoi

Fashion Restaurants

33-97

Hai Ba Trung Nguyen Hue

Ham Nghi

Banks

79A-99

Ben Thanh Market Sai Gon River

Le Thanh Ton

Boutiques, Restaurants

1-245

Ton Duc Thang Ben Thanh Market

Thai Van Lung

Restaurants

9-29

Mac Thi Buoi Le Thanh Ton

Ton That Thiep

Restaurants, Bars

3-49

Nguyen Hue Pasteur

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PRODUCT

NO.

Mac Dinh Chi

Bars, Cafes

11-59C

Dien Bien Phu Le Duan

Le Loi

Souvenirs, Arts

15-121

Ben Thanh Market Dong Khoi

Dong Khoi

Souvenirs, Boutiques

1-211

Ton Duc Thang Le Duan

Le Thi Hong Gam

Shoes, Wallets

2-78

Calmette Pho Duc Chinh

Nguyen Trai

Fashion, Restaurants

1-147

New World Saigon Ton That Tung

Luong Huu Khanh

Signs, Signboards

Whole street

Nguyen Trai Bui Thi Xuan

Bui Thi Xuan

Mid-range Hotels

1-59

Cach Mang Thang 8 Le Thi Rieng

159373

Nguyen Thai Hoc Cong Quynh

201269

Pham Ngu Lao Tran Hung Dao

1-207

Tran Hung Dao Cong Quynh

Pham Ngu Lao De Tham Bui Vien

3

LOCATED BETWEEN

STREET NAME

Backpacker District Travel Agents, Cafes, Restaurants, Souvenirs, Bars

Ly Thai To

Old Vespas

7-105B

Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Le Hong Phong

Le Van Sy

Fashion, Cafes

311B351

Tran Quang Dieu Pham Van Hai

Cao Thang

Fashion, Restaurans

1-169

Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Ba Thang Hai

Nguyen Dinh Chieu

Fashion, Restaurants

131567

Truong Dinh Nguyen Thien Thuat saigon

shopping streets

1

things to shop where SEE

DISTRICT

57


where E E Sto otshop s g n i ht

The Saigonese aren’t as mall-crazy as their neighbours in Singapore, but HCMC still has its fair share of malls and more are planned. It’s a great way to beat the heat during the hot, dry months. Bitexco

malls

The 262.5m high Bitexco Financial Tower was once the tallest building in Vietnam. The centrally located tower has four floors of shopping with international and local brands and a cinema on the fourth floor. 45 Ngo Duc Ke, D1

Crescent Mall

Located in suburban Phu My Hung (D7), Crescent Mall offers an array of recognised international brands in air-conditioned comfort. Along with shopping, there are a number of food and drink options and a cinema that shows all the latest films. If you feel a bit shopped out, take a scenic walk around Ho Ban Nguyet Lake. 105 Ton Dat Tien, Phu My Hung, D7

Diamond Plaza

If you want to go ten-pin bowling, see a movie, or just hang at the mall, Diamond Plaza is the place to be. The mall hosts a range of cosmetics, branded clothing and toys as well as an energetic arcade and a food court. Family Medical Practice is here as well if you need some Western-style medical care. 34 Le Duan, D1

NOWZONE Fashion Mall

This is not just a shopping mall: this is a fashion mall. See what’s hot in ladies’ and men’s clothing, accessories, shoes and more. All the latest trends and fashions from the U.S., Japan and Korea are in this compact mall, conveniently located in District 1 but close to Districts 3 and 10. 235 Nguyen Van Cu, D1

Parkson Plaza

With locations throughout the city, Parkson boasts a comprehensive selection of cosmetics and a 58

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things to shop where SEE

wide range of clothing. This is the place to go for quality kitchenware and appliances. 39-45 Le Thanh Ton, D1 184 Le Dai Hanh, D11 60A Truong Son, Tan Binh D

SC VivoCity

malls

The impressively designed five-storey mall features a diverse variety of outlets, including an education centre, restaurants, designer stores, a rooftop garden and children’s play area. There is also a CGV IMAX theatre. 1058 Nguyen Van Linh, D7

Saigon Square

A cross between a shopping mall and a market frequented by expatriates and locals, Saigon Square’s three locations are packed to the roof with everything from DVDs to jeans. Cheap copies of designer sportswear rub shoulders with fashion brands. The quality is fake, but the price is right. Just remember to bargain hard. 77 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, D1 179E-181-183-185 Hai Ba Trung, D1

Vincom Center B

One of the largest malls in town, Vincom Center B boasts five levels. Start with Armani and Jimmy Choo before going down to a great food court that includes many international and Vietnamese restaurants. 171 Dong Khoi, D1 72 Le Thanh Ton, D1

Saigon Centre

Saigon Centre is Takashimaya’s dazzling new shopping mall. Offering over 400 world-renowned brands, many in Vietnam for the first time, shoppers will find a highly exclusive selection of products from all over the world. The new mall will also feature over 50 restaurants and food stalls. 65 Le Loi, D1

saigoncentre.com.vn saigon

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where E E Sto otshop s g n i ht

Fashion Khai Silk: Hoang Khai’s flagship store has an extensive selection of top-notch fashions for all. 107 Dong Khoi, D1

08 3829 1146

The House of Saigon: Beautiful handmade products from Saigon in a spacious store right behind Ben Thanh Market.

further suggestions

16-18-20 Thu Khoa Huan, D1

08 3520 8178

Mai Lam: A boutique store with an eclectic mix of vintage designer clothes and accessories. 132-134 Dong Khoi, D1

08 3827 2733

Tailors H&D Tailor: One of the finest tailors in HCMC with high quality fabric imported directly from Italy. New World Saigon Hotel, D1

08 3824 3517

Home Decor & Lacquerware Nga Art & Craft: High quality Vietnamese products handmade by skilled artisans that blend innovative modern art with traditional styles. 81 Mac Thi Buoi, D1

08 3823 8356

Galleries Apricot: This premium gallery features Vietnam’s leading artists. Paintings start at US$2,000. 50-52 Mac Thi Buoi, D1

08 3822 7962

Ben Thanh Art & Frame: This shop supplies artwork to some of Saigon’s leading hotels. 7 Nguyen Thiep, D1

08 3823 3001

Jewellery Therese: This reputable jeweller is a favourite of the Saigon expat crowd, designing unique pieces of jewellery. 9 Nguyen Thiep, D1 60

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08 3824 6011


DO

saigon

things to SEE

things to

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Ethings E S ot to sgn do i ht

Walking Tour (see map) Total distance: 4.7km Duration: 2.5-3 hours (without stops) Starting point: The Majestic Hotel Ending point: Bitexco Financial Tower

tours

Begin your journey at the Majestic Hotel located across the Saigon River at the beginning of Dong Khoi. Walk along this street to take a peek at the various souvenir shops and art galleries. The Opera House (page 9) is on your right and after one more block when you reach Le Thanh Ton, City Hall (page 9) will be down the street half a block on your left. For a less bustling route, from Majestic Hotel turn onto the new Nguyen Hue walking area and proceed until you come upon City Hall. Afterwards, make a right on Le Thanh Ton to get back on Dong Khoi near the Opera House, and proceed as follows. Continue on Dong Khoi and after two blocks, you will see the Notre Dame Cathedral (page 10), and on the right the Central Post Office (page 10). Turn back to the cathedral and tour 30-4 Park (page 16) to the west. Head through the park to the Reunification Palace (page 13) at the end of Le Duan. Facing the Palace, turn right on Nam Ky Khoi Nghia. Turn left onto Nguyen Thi Minh Khai and you will find yourself at Tao Dan Park on your left (page 16). Venture around the park and take a left onto Truong Dinh until you reach Le Thanh Ton, then turn left. Soon you will reach the fruit and flower section of Ben Thanh market (page 14). Cross diagonally left to Huynh Thuc Khang. Follow the road past the local market on Ton That Dam, turn right onto Ho Tung Mau, then left at Ngo Duc Ke to reach Bitexco Financial Tower (page 18). Stop at Hog’s Breath Cafe on Hai Trieu before continuing on. Inside Bitexco, venture on up to the Observation Deck and take in the breathtaking views of the city - a perfect way to end the tour.

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tours

Ethings E S ot to sgn do i ht

Motorbike Tours See the city like a local and rev up your stay with a tour on a motorbike. Whether it’s on a stylish Vespa or with an ao dai-clad tour guide, weaving in and out of traffic like a true Saigonese is a great way to experience the vitality of the city. Luckily while riding tandem with a motorbike tour you don’t have to deal with the manic traffic. So don’t settle for a bus or minivan to see the city, get on a two-wheeler, relax and enjoy the experience. Local insight: Many companies offer a variety of packages that combine several tours into one.

Boat Tours Tour the scenic waterways in and around HCMC by long-tail boat, speedboat or jet boat. For a different view of the city take a trip with Les Rives or Saigon River Tour. Try the daily scheduled trips to Cu Chi district instead of the standard bumpy bus ride; it's a one-hour scenic speedboat trip up the Saigon River. A private guide ensures a leisurely pace, topped off by a picnic lunch on the return journey. Prices range from US$50-80 for a trip to Cu Chi. Local insight: Book a private charter sunset cruise along the canals of Saigon - you won’t regret it.

Cyclo Tours Another way to explore Saigon aside from travelling by foot or motorbike is by traditional cyclo. Don’t worry, you don’t do any of the pedalling as you sit back, relax and let the tour guides do the work. At a leisurely pace you are able to take in the sights and sounds this dynamic city has to offer. Tour companies such as Urban Adventures, Cyclo Resto and more offer prices ranging from VND200,000-600,000. Local insight: Set a price before you ride, and keep your personal belongings close to hand. 64

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things to do SEE

Street Food Tours With an abundance of fresh ingredients and a multitude of local dishes to sample, one of the best ways to experience authentic Vietnamese culture is through its street food. Whilst intimidating for travellers due to the sheer variety, there are several tour operators specialising in food tours. Their invaluable knowledge allows you to sample tasty dishes in a controlled and hygienic environment not normally found on the tourist trail.

activities

Local insight: If you truly want to experience Vietnam’s heart, it’s definitely through the food.

Bicycle Tours One of the great ways to explore the city and all its winding alleys is by bicycle. The relatively flat topography means bicycling is fairly effortless. Free-wheeling in Ho Chi Minh City gives you a totally different perspective and provides an all too rare glimpse inside busy Vietnamese life. You might want to wear a facemask through, as some of the highways are unbearably shrouded in smog. Group and private tours are widely available. Local insight: Contact Vietnam Bike Tours at 08 6653 0372 or 012 5507 5999 to book your ride.

Cooking Classes Can you tell the Phu Quoc fish sauce from that of Phan Thiet? Vietnamese cuisine is hip now, so show off your skills when you get home. Secrets and techniques passed down from generations are taught in most large cities and can include a market visit to shop for guaranteed fresh ingredients. Culinary prowess is the perfect souvenir - the gift that keeps on giving. Local insight: Be sure to ask about Western alternatives for the ingredients that may only be found in Vietnam. saigon

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Ethings E S ot to sgn do i ht

A O Show $$$ At the Saigon Opera House, A O Show is an acrobatic mix of bamboo circus act, live music, and gravity-challenging stunts, capturing the essence of Vietnam from peaceful hamlets to vibrant cities.

entertainment

7 Cong Truong Lam Son, D1 aoshowsaigon.com 012 4518 1188 Ticket box opens daily from 9:30am-6:00pm reservation@aoshowsaigon.com

Local insight: Many call the A O Show the Cirque du Soleil of Ho Chi Minh City. Camera use is forbidden during the show.

Dancing There are a number of venues in which to bust a move, or learn how to, in Ho Chi Minh City. Try Cafe Molinari on Wednesdays at 7:30pm for a free swing class, or head to La Salsa Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays for social salsa. Maxim’s ballroom also has dancing every night with live music. Cafe Molinari, 5 Le Duan, D1 Maxim’s, 13-15-17 Dong Khoi, D1 La Salsa, 212 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, D3

Local insight: Even if you don’t dance, the live music shows are well worth the visit.

Casinos Along with independent venues many of the top hotels have gaming rooms attached. Until recently, casinos in HCMC were few and far between. Now, gambling is alive and well here, but only available to those with international passports. Craps, slots, poker and roulette - name your game and it’s here. Most of the cards are dealt by unregulated machines, but you can still take a spin to see if Lady Luck is on your side. Local insight: Some gaming venues are open 24 hours, allowing you to test the stakes any time. 66

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things to do SEE

Water Puppets Originating from the Red River Delta during the 11th century, this style of theatre uses a shallow pool of water as the stage. Accompanied by a traditional orchestra, singers tell stories about the daily life of the locals, national history and folklore tales while the puppets made from lacquered wood glide, float, fly and swim across the stage.

entertainment

55B Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D1 08 3930 2196 6:30pm & 8:00pm

Local insight: The puppets are controlled by a long bamboo rod below the water.

Cai Luong A traditional form of folk music, cai luong is similar to Western operettas with the flash and glitz of a Broadway production. Performers are adorned in ornate costumes to sing and dance their way through comedic and dramatic storylines with verve. The unique sound combines guitars and dan kim, a local stringed instrument, to enthrall the audience. Tran Huu Trang Theatre, 515 - 517 Tran Hung Dao, D1

Local insight: Cai luong requires intense training and has evolved to include less traditional songs.

Karaoke The Vietnamese take their singing seriously, so if you’re a keen wailer check out some of the karaoke bars around town. Karaoke is a Japanese word that means “empty orchestra” and is usually done in a private room. Prices average around VND100,000-150,000 per hour, depending on the room’s size. There are a few social venues in town, but most singing is thankfully done behind closed doors. Local insight: Some decent karaoke venues include King Karaoke and iBox Karaoke. saigon

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golf

Ethings E S ot to sgn do i ht

Golf in Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam has excellent golf opportunities including international-level courses. If you want to fit in a round of golf it’s as easy as calling up the golf course and booking directly. On weekends, slots fill quickly and courses run a strict tee-off schedule, so arrive with time to spare. The alternative is to use an agent. Golfing equipment rentals are affordable. The standard tip for a caddie is the price of a coffee. Saigon South Golf Club This nine-hole, par three course in Phu My Hung is an old and compact option for those looking to play a quick round. Located right inside the city, it’s perfect for a short jaunt onto the green. Nguyen Van Linh, D7 08 5411 2001 saigonsouth.com

Long Thanh Golf Club If you’re looking to get away from the city for a bit, this 36-hole course can be found about 30km north of Ho Chi Minh City. Be sure to take in its scenic surroundings of former paddies. National Highway 51, Tan Mai II, Phuoc Tan Village, Bien Hoa 06 1627 8899 longthanhgolfresort.com

Vietnam Golf and Country Club Opened in 1994, this was the country’s first 36hole course and is located 20km north of the city centre. The holes were carved out of the existing woodland with minimal land movement, lending a natural layout and design. Long Thanh My Ward, D9 08 6280 0101 pgavietnam.com

Song Be Golf Resort Just 22km north of the city, this resort features lakes, tree-lined fairways and undulating greens. The 27-hole course offers a challenge for any level. 77 Binh Duong Blvd, Lai Thieu Townlet, Thuan An D, Binh Duong 065 0375 6660 songbegolf.com 68

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things to do SEE entertainment

Chats Slot Gaming Center $$-$$$ The International Tourist Club (ITC) sits at the annex wing of New World Saigon Hotel, and features the Chats Slot Gaming Center and Catwalk lounge next door. Chats is full of e-gaming machines, accessible at any hour of the day. Try your luck at digital slots, baccarat, blackjack and roulette. For the high-rollers, an exclusive VIP roulette room offers some truly high-stakes thrills. Stop by Catwalk next door for live bands, a pumping dance floor, or sit back and sing the night away at any of their 14 private karaoke rooms. Be sure to check out the Chats Power Rewards Program, which offers exclusive members benefits and privileges. International Tourist Club, 76 Le Lai, D1 08 3824 3760 24/7 itclubsaigon.com.vn

Local insight: Entry to Chats is allowed only to holders of current foreign passports. saigon

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spas/beauty

Ethings E S ot to sgn do i ht

Massages & Spas Massage and spa culture is constantly evolving, offering a large range of options in HCMC with prices to suit all budgets. From facials, mud baths or aromatherapy, whether it’s Thai, deep tissue, or four hands that you’re after, you can find it here. Particularly charming are the spas adorned by antique decor left untouched in old villas, often accompanied by swimming pools and full gardens. Prices will vary depending on the type of treatment. Local insight: Tell your masseuse how much pressure you need beforehand - some don't ask.

Nails Beauty depends on style, fashion and confidence from the top of your head to the tips of your perfectly painted toenails. We suspect that the Vietnamese paint more foreign nails per capita than any other country. Standards are high in Ho Chi Minh City’s nail salons and prices are extremely affordable usually starting around VND50,000. Splurge on some creative nail art to add colour to your day. You'll be surprised by the quality. Local insight: Use salons instead of street beauticians who may not use sterilised tools.

Hair Salons Pamper yourself at one of Saigon’s numerous hair and nail salons. At most salons, VND130,000 will buy you a hair wash and a head massage. If you’re willing to pay for a little more, the city’s luxury salons offer experienced hair gurus at prices that will truly amaze. There are also many street-side stations willing to do quick, cheap cuts. However, if you want a stylish trim, it is worth going to a salon and paying a little extra. Local insight: Don’t say yes to every question or you will have to shell out for additional services. 70

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things to do SEE spas/beauty

Menard Spa $$$ Elegant Style with a delicate touch, Menard Spa’s many locations use only the finest natural products and experience gained from many years in the spa business. The decor is specifically designed to make customers feel at home as they are pampered, and the finest ideals of Oriental cultures have been incorporated into your spa experience. Menard has a vast selection of body fragrances, make-up, hair and skin care products. New World Saigon Hotel, D1 08 3824 3735 646N Nguyen Trai, D5 08 3853 9352 69 Pasteur, D1 - Coming Soon Hotline: 016 7901 0101 menard.vn menardvietnam.vn

Local insight: Menard’s 55 years of experience and advanced Shiatsu massage techniques have made this the first port of call. Make sure you take advantage of the spa’s immense Shiatsu knowledge. saigon

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meetings & events

Ethings E S ot to sgn do i ht

SECC Located in the heart of Phu My Hung, just 15 minutes from downtown and 30 minutes from the international airport of Tan Son Nhat, SECC is the largest and most modern conference and exhibition centre of South Vietnam. Furthermore, SECC is also the conference centre with international standards and the ability to meet all the requirements for organizers from Vietnam and other countries. Many major events and exhibitions take place here. 799 Nguyen Van Linh, D7

secc.com.vn

White Palace White Palace is a leading conference centre with architectural elegance, sophistication, class and professional services in Ho Chi Minh City. The total area of 6,500 ​​ square metres of White Palace brings an extensive open space and is suitable for various types of conferences and events. Whether you want to organise a board meeting for 30 people, a shareholders' meeting for 3,500 people or a banquet for 3,000 guests, White Palace is always ready to serve and fulfill your specific needs. 194 Hoang Van Thu, D1

whitepalace.com.vn

Gem Center With a creative spirit and innovation, GEM Center provides multifunctional space for all types of events. GEM is considered to be the top location in the central area of Ho Chi Minh City, with the largest event hall. GEM is capable of being extremely flexible for various event ideas, from conference rooms, galleries, gala space for thousands of visitors, vibrant music concerts or a catwalk extravaganza. The venue is fitted with the latest technology and facilities for events. 08 Nguyen Binh Khiem, D1 72

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gemcenter.com.vn


GEM Center


Ethings E S ot to sgn do i ht

Bowling Diamond Plaza Bowling: Typifies a modern, noisy yet fun bowling alley. 4th Floor, 34 Le Duan, D1

Cinemas CGV Cinemas: This chain has many locations, with standard seats, couple’s chairs and VIP seating.

further suggestions

1st Floor, Liberty Central Saigon Citypoint Hotel, D1 08 3822 3111 cgv.vn

Galaxy: This large theatre showcases the latest films in their original language. 116 Nguyen Du, D1

08 3823 5235

galaxycine.vn

Cooking Classes Saigon Cooking Class: The place to learn the secrets of delicious, local cuisine. 74/7 Hai Ba Trung, Hoa Tuc Restaurant, D1 08 3825 1676

Fitness Centre Vincharm Health Club: Modern gym with updated equipment spread over 2,000 square metres. 72 Le Thanh Ton, Vincom Center, D1

08 3911 1166

Spas Q Spa: Set in a beautiful French villa, this is one of the most luxurious spas in Ho Chi Minh City. 31 Ly Tu Truong, D1

08 3507 3787

The Spa: A great location to relax, unwind and feel rejuvenated. New World Saigon Hotel, D1

08 3822 8888

Luxury Spa: Rejuvenate and refresh both your body and mind with pure and natural ingredients. It takes 5 minute to drive from Tan Son Nhat International Airport to Luxury Spa. 3rd Floor, Tan Son Nhat Hotel, 202 Hoang Van Thu, Phu Nhuan D

08 3842 0268

Tours Vietnam Bike Tours: Cycle the Mekong, climb mountains and go off the beaten track. 6F 163-165 Tran Hung Dao, D1 74

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08 6653 0372


stay

Ana Mandara Hue

saigon

things to SEE

where to

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The Reverie Saigon


things to stay where SEE hotels

The Reverie Saigon The Reverie Saigon is a luxury hotel renowned for its beautiful interior designs. The 12 types of magnificently furnished accommodation are offered as 62 suites and 224 rooms, crafted to perfection. The highest hotel in the city, the rooms and suites start from the 27th floor with beautiful panoramic views of the central business district and the winding Saigon River, through floorto-ceiling windows. Featuring a high class bar, European and Indochina inspired fine dining, a luxurious spa and world-class facilities, this iconic hotel will transform the way you look at Vietnam. Times Square Building, 22-36 Nguyen Hue & 57-69F Dong Khoi, D1 08 3823 6688 info@thereveriesaigon.com thereveriesaigon.com

Local insight: The Spa is one of the biggest and most luxurious in Vietnam. “The Origin of Love� is an amazing spa experience for couples. saigon

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hotels

where E E S to ot sstay g n i ht

New World Saigon Hotel Excellent guest services and facilities make New World Saigon Hotel a prime five-star hotel. The beautiful pool and terrace give guests the sensation of a tropical resort. New World Saigon Hotel provides 533 guestrooms and suites offering the perfect ambience for both concentrated work and undisturbed relaxation. 76 Le Lai, D1 saigon@newworldhotels.com 08 3822 8888 newworldhotels.com/saigon

Local insight: Don’t miss out on the talk of the town - the Seafood Buffet at Parkview.

Renaissance Riverside Hotel Saigon The 5-Star Renaissance features a total of 336 comfortable and spacious guestrooms. There are two exceptional dining venues, the delightful Atrium Lounge and the all new Liquid Sky Bar, from where you can enjoy a cocktail and watch the sun going down over the city. 8-15 Ton Duc Thang, D1 08 3822 0033 renaissance-saigon.com reservations@renaissance-saigon.com

Local insight: The famous Dong Khoi and Nguyen Hue are just around the corner.

Sanouva Saigon Hotel This trendy location sports a youthful vibe and is within walking distance to Saigon’s greatest landmarks. Sanouva Saigon caters to meet the demands of both busy business executives and the discerning leisure traveller of today. Its combination of well appointed rooms, dedicated staff and inclusive amenities deliver top quality comfort. 177 Ly Tu Trong, D1 08 3827 5275 sanouvahotel.com sales@sanouvahotel.com

Local insight: Enjoy beautiful views of the city from a higher room. 78

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things to stay where SEE resorts

An Lam Saigon River Leave the bustle of Ho Chi Minh City behind and indulge in a relaxing oasis set alongside the Saigon River. This beautiful boutique property is only a 20 minute speedboat ride down the river from Districts 1 or 2. Choose one of 19 unique personal villas and lounge around in the nature-surrounded pool. Indulge in an amazing spa treatment that sets your mind and body into complete balance or dine in their wood-lined restaurant, Tram's Cookery, and be mesmerised by their Chef’s culinary talent. Nestled amongst beautiful greenery, luxury couldn’t get any better than this. 21/4 Trung, Vinh Phu Ward, Binh Duong D 065 0378 5555 anlam.com operator.sr@anlam.com rsvn.sr@anlam.com

Local insight: Each villa is assigned a private butler who caters to your needs, such as bringing your inclusive breakfast to your villa in the morning. saigon

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where E E S to ot sstay g n i ht

Hotels Le MĂŠridien: A sophisticated hotel geared towards travellers with a penchant for new places, new tastes and new cultures. 3C Ton Duc Thang, D1 08 6263 6688 lemeridien.com/saigon

further suggestions

Eastin Grand Hotel Saigon: The ideal home away from home for those looking for comfort as well as luxury. Conveniently close to the airport. 253 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan D eastingrandsaigon.com

08 3844 9222

Sofitel Saigon Plaza: Sophisticated design and decor mixed with a prime location, Sofitel serves as a luxurious retreat from the bustling city. 17 Le Duan, D1

08 3824 1555

sofitel.com

Pullman Saigon Centre: Opened in 2013, this hotel caters to both leisure and business travellers. 148 Tran Hung Dao, D1 08 3838 8686 pullman-saigon-centre.com

Rex Hotel: Built by the French in the 20th century and refurbished in 2013, Rex Hotel is part of the cultural heritage of Saigon. 141 Nguyen Hue, D1 08 3829 2185 rexhotelvietnam.com

Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers: Equipped with 401 guest rooms and 84 suites in a prime location in the heart of the city. 88 Dong Khoi, D1 08 3827 2828 starwoodhotels.com

Villa Song: This French inspired boutique hotel fuses beauty and tranquility, overlooking the Saigon River. 197/2 Nguyen Van Huong, D2 08 3744 6090 villasong.com

Hotel Nikko: This Japanese-run hotel offers some of the largest rooms in HCMC. 235 Nguyen Van Cu, D5 08 3925 7777 hotelnikkosaigon.com.vn 80

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visit

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mekong

where E E S to ot visit s g n i ht

Can Tho One of the most delightful stopovers in the South, it will be hard to leave once you see its beauty and meet the friendly locals. Can Tho, on the southernmost tributary of the Mekong, is the Delta’s largest provincial capital city and commercial hub. Due to its strategic location, it thrives as an agricultural centre and major rice milling town. Along the pier, thousands of conical hats bob and weave as exotic fruits and Dong notes change hands. Visit the buzzing central market on Hai Ba Trung, but go early to catch it at its peak. Afterwards, join the sampan boat traffic jams in the three floating markets of the surrounding areas, Cai Rang, Phong Dien and Phung Hiep. The best way to see the Mekong and Can Tho is by boat, so be sure to take one and join in on the festivities. Local insight: The Can Tho bridge, an engineering wonder, is the longest cable-stayed bridge in Southeast Asia stretching nearly 2,750 metres.

My Tho This is one of the closest and most popular locations of the Delta’s trade and tourism hubs to Ho Chi Minh City. My Tho is a perfect springboard for day tours of the surrounding tributaries, rivulets, and islands. First though, explore the town itself the capital of Tien Giang province is a real charmer and remnants of French architectural influence in the shops and villas are still present. The Vinh Trang and Cao Dai Temples display this region’s unique cultural past. My Tho’s economy is firmly based on tourism, fishing and agricultural products such as bananas, coconuts and longans. Don’t miss out on Dong Tam Snake Farm, where you can learn about the many rare species of snakes. Local insight: While you’re there, hop on a bike or take a taxi to The Island Lodge (theislandlodge. com.vn), one of the best resorts in the area. 82

citypassguide.com


things to visit where SEE mekong

Bassac $$$$ Welcome aboard the Bassac, three authentic wooden cabin cruisers that will take you to discover life on the river in the Mekong Delta. Spend the night on the river in a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere. Built according to local tradition, without compromising safety or comfort, the Bassac cruises are the ideal size to navigate remote areas and offer wide living spaces open to the surrounding scenery. Learn about the local culture of the Mekong Delta and taste freshly cooked specialities served by professional, attentive staff. Take in the sights and sounds of the tranquil Mekong as you go by. 142-144 Hai Ba Trung, Can Tho City 071 0382 9540 transmekong.com bassac@transmekong.com

Local insight: When in Can Tho, be sure to take a short cruise to a Khmer pagoda in the countryside. saigon

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where E E S to ot visit s g n i ht

Con Dao Con Dao is an archipelago of islands in the southeast region of Vietnam. The French used the main island to keep anti-colonial prisoners and the South Vietnamese continued this practice, sending political dissenters to the 11 prisons during the American War.

con dao

The main island, Con Son, is home to a coastline of steep, rocky hills and long, sweeping coves, boasting some excellent spots for water and jungle activities. If you’re looking for adventure, you’ve come to the right place. Most of the archipelago is now a national park offering great beaches, clear water, lush tropical forests and coconut groves. The national park is characterised by a diverse ecosystem combined with a vast number of species of coral and sea turtles. There are several endangered species protected within the park which include the Hawksbill sea turtle, the green turtle and the dugong. The marine protected area is one of four within the country, and the island was also named a Ramsar wetland protected area in 2014. Con Dao is located at a point where cool and warm ocean currents converge and create a localised climate. This weather pattern allows for water activities year-round including swimming, snorkelling and diving. For a touch of luxury, Six Senses has the first five-star resort in the archipelago. Its 50 villas sit on a mile of sandy beach, sheltered by the green forested hills behind, with stunning vistas of the deep blue sea and the curve of the bay. One of the resort’s main objectives is sustaining the natural environment of the area. Local insight: There are daily, 45-minute flights from HCMC to Con Dao, but make sure to book well in advance.

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phu quoc

where E E S to ot visit s g n i ht

Phu Quoc Within the past 10 years, Phu Quoc has become a popular destination thanks to its pristine white sandy beaches and tropical landscapes. Located on the Gulf of Thailand and only 12km south of the Cambodian coast, this tropical paradise is a quick 50-minute flight from Ho Chi Minh City to the Phu Quoc International Airport. As the rainy season is from June to November, the best time to explore Phu Quoc is December to May. As the largest island in Vietnam, Phu Quoc is part of Kien Giang Province and bustles with a population of 100,000+. With practically 70% of its area as part of the Phu Quoc National Park, much of the island is protected against construction to help conserve its natural beauty. However, this is likely to quickly change due to the commencement of the Phu Quoc Development Plan, which will have an enormous impact over the next 15 years. Most known for its famous fish sauce (nuoc mam) and peppercorns, Phu Quoc also boasts delicious seafood. Browse the Duong Dong night market and try out local eats. Phu Quoc is perfect for a quick weekend getaway, where visitors can experience a variety of watersports that include snorkelling, scuba diving, fishing, jetskiing and windsurfing. For a more lowkey visit, indulge in spa services provided by the hotels in the area, or take a peek at Dinh Cau Rock (Cua Temple) or the Cao Dai temples. A unique must-visit is the Phu Quoc Prison. Being one of the most visible historical landmarks left from the Vietnam War, it was South Vietnam’s largest prisoner camp in 1973 and is a moving experience for all visitors. Local insight: For those looking to get scuba certified in Vietnam, this is the place. Phu Quoc’s unusual warm water boosts their coral growth, making for a worthwhile underwater experience.

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things to visit where SEE phu quoc

Novotel Phu Quoc Resort The newly opened Novotel Phu Quoc Resort sits on one of the island’s most well-known beaches, Truong Beach. This large, modern and beautifully crafted resort features 366 delightful rooms including suites and private pool villas, all offering sea-facing balconies or terraces. Indulge at the signature Phu Quoc Seafood restaurant or treat yourself with cuisine from the four corners of the globe at Food Exchange restaurant. Looking to lounge around in the sun while enjoying a stellar drink? Cool off and enjoy a balanced cocktail at the Ocean Bar & Beach Club or unwind at the Lounge Bar near the infinity pool. Phu Quoc, Duong Bao, Duong To 07 7626 0999 accorhotels.com/9770 H9770@accor.com

Local insight: The superb beach front villas indulge guests in unrivalled luxury right at the water’s edge. saigon

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mui ne

where E E S to ot visit s g n i ht

Phan Thiet/Mui Ne The Phu Hai/Ham Tien/Mui Ne strip is 20 km east of Phan Thiet, and is a popular destination for tourists and Saigonese looking to escape manic city life. The solar eclipse on October 24, 1995 started the transformation of the beach between Phan Thiet and Mui Ne from an isolated stretch of sand into the resort area as it is today. There are many quality resorts than now line the beach here. These are great for family vacations, and feature clean beach areas where you can enjoy a more private swim than at public beaches. Mui Ne has lots to offer for adventure lovers. Although there’s no snorkelling or scuba diving, Mui Ne offers chances to go surfing. This area is extremely popular among the kitesurfing circle and it’s not uncommon to see dozens of kitesurfers and jet skiers zipping by on any given day. There are over 20 kitesurfing schools in the area with classes for all levels of experience. Those looking for a more relaxed experience can partake of the various spa treatments, with most resorts offering on-site spa services. The area is also known for restaurants serving unique delicacies, so foodies with an open mind can try something new here. A unique site of Mui Ne is its famous sand dunes about 10 km beyond the main resort strip offering stunning views of the coast. Local children with friendly smiles offering plastic sandboards are everywhere, so those who want to ride down the dunes can do so for a small fee. While you are there, head north about 5 km to Hon Rom. The deserted beach is almost an island as it is only connected to the mainland by a narrow strip of sand. It’s definitely worth a visit. Local insight: If you’re feeling adventurous, try out kitesurfing lessons for US$60.

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things to visit where SEE mui ne

Pandanus This breathtaking resort was built in 2004 within a ten hectare lush tropical garden on a three hundred metre long secluded beach. Adjacent to the beach is a vast free-form pool, surrounded by an island covered with tropical palm trees. The buildings are strategically designed and placed to complement the natural surroundings. The beach is a serene setting, disturbed only by an occasional fisherman or kite surfer. Professional masseuses offer massages on the beach, around the pool, or in the luxurious spa and local Cham musicians perform soothing music while you dine. This is truly a relaxing destination. Quarter 5, km25.6 062 3849 849 pandanusresort.com rsvn@pandanusresort.com

Local insight: The Pandanus Resort offers guests a free wine and cheese reception every afternoon, plus a walking tour of Mui Ne every morning. saigon

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dalat

where E E S to ot visit s g n i ht

Dalat A marriage of French looking countryside and Vietnamese tradition, Dalat is a dreamy, pinecovered city surrounded by undulating hills. The town itself is full of burgeoning flora, and is a hub of both domestic and international tourism. Many of the more fascinating sights are found off the beaten track, whilst the city’s popular attractions offer thoughtful insights into the life and times of this history-rich central highlands reserve. Ghost stories and fatalistic love tales surround many of the destinations. The game-rich tropics teeming with wildcats, boars and deer quickly transitioned into a retreat for French military and Vietnamese royalty alike. Scouted in 1893 by Alexandre Yersin, Dalat found its place as one of the most coveted destinations in Vietnam by mid-20th century. With a 1,500m elevation and year-round spring temperatures, Dalat’s vegetation flourishes. Tea, coffee, strawberries and artichokes are among the produce that fill myriad patchwork plantations and gardens. Flowers are plentiful and diverse including iconic peach blossoms, pastel coloured hydrangeas, roses and many more. The vibrant landscape is a rustic blend of cultures and bygone eras wrapped into one. Renting a motorbike or riding pillion on the back of an Easy Rider (66 Truong Cong Dinh) is essential. Venture uphill and witness the architecturally superb French villas. Looking past the swan shaped pedalos crowding the lakes, the Vietnamese in cowboy gear and a few underwhelming family attractions, this quaint city houses a highland charm of a slower, more romantic era. Dalat is a unique alternative to Nha Trang and Phan Thiet. Local insight: Take a motorbike over to Cau Dat, 22km from Dalat’s city centre to admire the verdant coffee and tea plantations.

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things to visit where SEE dalat

Ana Mandara Villas Dalat Resort & Spa This 72 room resort set in the rural highlands of Dalat, is a peaceful haven away from the stresses of city life. Only a five minute drive from Dalat’s city centre, the resort is comprised of 17 fully restored colonial style villas. All of which were originally constructed between the 1920s and ‘30s by the French settlers of the time. The villas retain the unique personalities of their original owners while being renovated to their former glory - albeit with a touch of luxury, preservation of original design, decor and charm. Classic claw-foot tubs, billowing sheer curtains and elegant four-poster beds. Le Lai, Ward 5 06 3355 5888 anamandara-resort.com reservation-dalat@anamandara-resort.com

Local insight: It is possible to rent an entire villa if travelling in a large group. saigon

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southern coast

where E E S to ot visit s g n i ht

Vung Tau A 120 km excursion from Ho Chi Minh City, Vung Tau has long been a popular tourist destination for local and international travellers alike. Its name translates to "anchorage," derived from a time when European traders stopped here in the 14th and 15th centuries. During the weekend the beaches are awash with locals and Saigonese taking a break from the city. As expected, seafood here is top class and centred around fish, crab and lobster. Local insight: Head to Nine restaurant for a unique Western food experience.

Long Hai Just 40km from Vung Tau, travel to Long Hai by the VinaExpress hydrofoil, then take a relaxing cab ride onwards. Situated on and around a small mountain range that overlooks the ocean, the area benefits from a microclimate that keeps it relatively rain free. Long Hai enjoys the slow paced lifestyle of a small Vietnamese fishing village, except on weekends when the urban population flocks to its sands. Local insight: Local taxis do not stand at the beach area. Book your return in advance or ask at a nearby hotel.

Phan Rang Blessed with perfect weather and beautiful beaches, Phan Rang in Ninh Thuan Province is not as well-known as its neighbors Phan Thiet, Nha Trang, and Dalat. New roads have opened the coastline for the first time, but for now it still retains a quiet charm. While the beach is the main attraction, several temples, pagodas, and monasteries attract visitors, including the 700 year old Po Klong Garai. Local insight: Ninh Chu Bay Beach Club is an easy place to learn to kitesurf thanks to shallow waters, small waves and great wind. 92

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100

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58

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2

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27

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Tan Son Nhat Airport

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Where to stay

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103


know

I

citypassguide.com

things to SEE

need to


need to know

vietnam fact sheet

Geography Geographic coordinates: 16 10N 107 50E Total area: 331,210km2, half the size of Alaska, US Country size comparison to the world: 66th Total land area: 310,070km 2 Total water area: 21,140km2 Coastline: 3,444km Total land boundaries: 4,639km Border countries: Cambodia 1,228km, Laos 2,130km China 1,281km, Time: UTC/GMT + 7 hours Regions: 58 provinces, 5 municipalities Highest point: Mount Fansipan at 3,144m Natural resources: phosphates, manganese, rare earth elements, bauxite, chromate, coal, offshore oil and gas deposits, timber, hydropower Natural hazards: occasional typhoons (May-January) with extensive flooding Geographical note: extending 1,650km from north to south, the country is only 50km across its narrowest point.

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II

Population Vietnamese Total Population: 94,919,504 (July 2016 est.) Major urban areas - population: Hanoi (Capital): 7.59 million (2016 est.) Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC or Saigon): 8.22 million (2016 est.) Hai Phong: 1.9 million (2016 est.) Danang: 1.1 million (2016 est.) Population comparison to the world: 14th Population from ages 0 - 14: 24.1% Population from ages 15 - 64: 70.8% Population over the age of 65: 5.8% Population below the age of 30: 65% Population growth rate: 0.97% Population below poverty line: 11.3% (2016 est.) Literacy: 94.5% Life expectancy: ~73.16 years Minorities: 54 ethnic groups Ethnic groups: Kinh (Viet) 85.7%, Tay 1.9%, Thai 1.8%, Muong 1.5%, Khmer 1.5%, Mong 1.2%, Nung 1.1%, others 5.3% (2009 census)


Economy GDP: US$194 billion (July 2016 est.) GDP comparison to the world: 47th GDP growth rate: 5.55% (July 2016 est.) GDP per capita: US$1684.8 (July 2016 est.) GDP per capita comparison to the world: 130th Labour force: 54.9 million (2016 est.) Unemployment rate: 2.05% (2016 est.) Minimum wage in urban Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City: VND3.1 million / month Currency: Vietnam Dong: US$1=VND22,300 (2016) Inflation rate (consumer prices): 0.3% (2016 est.) Inflation rate comparison to the world: 67th Imports: US$150 billion (2016 est.) Main imports: machinery and equipment, petroleum products, steel products, raw materials for clothing and shoe industries, electronics, plastics, automobiles Exports: US$152 billion (2016 est.) Main exports: clothes, shoes, electronics, seafood, crude oil, rice, coffee, wooden products, machinery Industrial production growth rate: 7.5% (2016 est.) National debt: US$212.3 billion (2016 est.) Member of WTO: Since 2007

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Miscellaneous Land line telephones: 9.57 million (2015) Mobile/cellular telephones: 128.6 million (2015) Comparison to the world in mobile phone use: 17th Internet country code: .vn Internet users: 45.5 million (2015) Paved runway airports: 38 (2014) Railways: 2,652km Roadways: 302,000km Waterways: 47,650km Ports and terminals: Cam Pha, Danang, Hai Phong, Ho Chi Minh City, Phu My, Quy Nhon, Ba Ngoi, Nha Trang, Can Tho, Van Phong Bay

Government Capital: Hanoi Independence: 2 September 1945 Constitution: 28 November 2013 Ruling Party: Communist Party of Vietnam Governance: Political Bureau (14 members) Central Committee of the Party (125 members) National Assembly (500 members) Prime Minister: Nguyen Xuan Phuc (since 2016)

vietnam fact sheet


0,99

8,50 1,35

22,000 40,000 190,000 30,000 15,000

Cigarettes

Pho (noodle soup)

Meal (mid-range restaurant)

Milk (1 litre)

Taxi - per km

need to know

price guide

0,90

20,000

0,67

1,79

0,90

0,54

1,35

Beer 33 cl. bottle (local restaurant)

30,000

Soft drink (restaurant)

0,45

12,000

10,000

Soft drink can (street)

2,24 0,27

20,000

6,000

Small bottle of water (street)

Coconut juice (street)

50,000

Western style cappucino

0,54

USD

Fruit shake (street)

12,000

VND

Vietnamese street coffee

Exchange rate: US$1 = VND22,300

Thick rain poncho

Thin rain poncho

Laundry (per item)

Hairwash

Shoe shine (per pair)

T-shirt (market)

English language newspaper

International postcard stamp

Postcard

Petrol (per litre)

Cyclo (per hour)

Motorbike taxi (short hop)

City centre bus fare (short hop)

Exchange rate: US$1 = VND22,300

50,000

10,000

10,000

25,000

20,000

60,000

5,800

12,000

5,000

14,000

60,000

20,000

5,000

VND

IV

2,24

0,45

0,45

1,12

0,90

2,69

0,26

0,54

0,22

0,63

2,69

0,90

0,22

USD

If you’re wondering how much money to withdraw at the ATM to see you through, check below for some of the average costs that you will find in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1. Hanoi prices are just a bit more expensive.

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Local insight: One positive aspect of the monsoon season is the ‘surfable’ waves around the region. Head to Danang from September to March to catch the peak surf season. South Vietnam The South experiences little variation in temperature during the year, fluctuating from 27-32 degrees Celsius, and has rainy and dry seasons. Rainy season lasts for seven months from May to November while dry season dominates the rest of the year. To beat the heat, take a trip to Dalat where temperatures are always a bit cooler than Saigon. Local insight: Remember to bring a raincoat to Dalat. The province experiences nearly double the average rainfall of Vietnam.

Local insight: The air conditioner that kept you cool in the south will keep you warm in the north.

Central Vietnam Central Vietnam can be split into two sub-regions. The Coastal Lowlands are generally drier and hotter

There are three distinct regions where the climates differ: North, Central and South Vietnam.

North Vietnam The North is generally cooler than the rest of the country. The winter months of November to January can be unexpectedly cold, especially in the mountainous areas of Sapa and Cao Bang along the Chinese border. Even in Hanoi, you will need a jumper to keep warm. The hottest period of the year is May to October where temperatures can rise to 37 degrees Celsius. During these months, the North will have the occasional typhoon.

need EES tooknow t s g n i ht

than the Central Highlands. However, unprotected parts of the coast have more typhoons and storms than the North from November to March. Nha Trang experiences a longer dry season which runs from January to September with high temperatures and little rain. With cooler temperatures, the Central Highlands experience more than double the average rainfall of the country, so prepare to get a bit wet.

climate

Vietnam lies in the East Asian monsoon zone and is affected by the south-western and winter monsoon seasons. Because of the country’s 1,600km length, each region has varying weather patterns that should be factored in when planning your trip.

Climate

V


need to know

being aware

Keep your phone and wallet out of sight Violent crime is rare, but like any large city, both have their fair share of pickpockets. These thieves can be

Get your hotel details Remember to take your hotel’s business card to make your return to the hotel much easier by handing it to your taxi, xe om, or cyclo driver.

Water Don't drink tap water unless you boil it. Stick to bottled water. Ice is usually safe as the Vietnamese use mountains of it and there’s a huge commercial icemaking industry; if the ice is cylindrical in shape, it is probably made by a commercial distributor who uses safe filtered water.

Eat everything Vietnamese food is delicious and you will want to try it all. Go ahead and buy a kilo of that strange looking purple fruit, but be aware of hygiene when you’re eating street food. To be cautious, opt for vendors who already have customers. See also “Health” on page XVII.

Things to be aware of when travelling:

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VI

Walk slowly when crossing the street Crossing the street in Vietnam is scary and a bit dangerous but can be fun nonetheless. Remember that motorbikes are trying to anticipate your movements to avoid hitting you. Keep a slow but steady pace and raise your arm to let the motorcyclists know that you are actually crossing the street.

Motorbike safety Always wear a helmet (which is required by law anyway), avoid dangly jewellery and miniskirts, and clip your bag or store it underneath the seat of the bike to keep it safe from snatchers. Blend in with the other motorbike riders and stick to their sedate pace. Check the fine print of your travel insurance. For more information on motorbike issues, see page XX.

Take your plastic with you Vietnam has developed a more sophisticated payment system in recent years. Shops are now accepting more credit cards and ATMs can be found easily in big cities. In the countryside, however, most venues are still on a cash-based billing system.

quite brazen, be very aware in Hanoi’s Old Quarter and Saigon’s Pham Ngu Lao area.


It gets cold in Hanoi Hanoi has four seasons with very hot and sticky summers and rather cold and humid winters. If you are heading to the North from November to February, you might want to bring a jumper or a heavy fleece.

Shoes Vietnamese take off their shoes when entering a house. It’s common courtesy to do likewise. It may also be expected in hotel rooms and some shops.

Cover up When visiting temples or pagodas, make sure to pack a shawl or extra shirt and wear knee-length clothing. Remember that you are visiting a piece of history so try to show some respect to the local culture.

Take a break in the afternoon It can get quite hot visiting the attractions; take breaks in the middle of the day to keep refreshed for the afternoon’s activities. Try and do most of your sightseeing early in the morning or late in the afternoon, and keep in mind that the sun sets quickly.

Tipping Tipping is not expected, especially at local restaurants, but international venues have become used to the practice. Leave enough for coffee: VND10,000-15,000.

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Don't forget that you are on holiday! There is so much to do and see, but don’t forget to stop every once in a while to pull up a plastic chair, order a cafe sua da, and take it all in. Sights and activities hold interest, but sometimes you can learn more about a country by adjusting to the local pace.

Bargain Remember that negotiating is not rude but expected, even if a fixed price is advertised. Haggle for the best price or risk paying over the odds. Try "walking away" to get a better price. If that doesn’t work, you can always go back to the vendor later, after trying a few others to get a feel of what's realistic. Remember to keep smiling.

Be a sensitive snapper Most people in Vietnam love having their photo taken and will ask to have one with you, but it’s polite to ask first. Bear in mind that there are some places like Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum or military buildings where taking photos is prohibited.

Don’t lose your temper This is considered a serious loss of face for both parties and should be avoided. Try to maintain a cool demeanour and it will be reciprocated with kindness. Smiling always works wonders.

being aware


need to know

visas

Fees Tourist visas are valid for 30 or 90 days and can be single or multiple entry. The stamping fee varies from US$25 for a one-month, single entry visa, to US$50 for a three-

Visas on arrival are available through various travel agencies and online visa services who, for a fee, will fill out the appropriate paperwork for a visa approval letter. It’s not really a “visa on arrival” but this makes it easier than having to deal with sending your passport off to the Vietnamese consular office or embassy in your country. This is only accessible for those flying into the country, so if you are entering through a land border, you will have to apply for one in your home country or one of the countries bordering Vietnam.

Vietnam Visas Most foreigners wishing to visit Vietnam need to apply for an entry visa in advance. The only exception is if your country has a bilateral consular agreement for visa exemptions. You can check on your government’s website to find if yours is one of the few that apply for this program. A recent change in policy has allowed international tourists a 30-day visa exemption if they enter Phu Quoc island by sea or through the international transit lounge at Tan Son Nhat airport in Ho Chi Minh City.

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Ho Chi Minh City Immigration Office 254 Nguyen Trai, D1 08 3920 0365 8:00am-11:30am & 1:30pm-4:30pm

Hanoi Immigration Office 44-46 Tran Phu, Ba Dinh D 04 3826 4026 8:00am-11:30am & 1:30pm-4:00pm

VIII

Extensions Visa extensions are available for a fee of US$10 if you go directly to the immigration office. However, this takes some local language skills and quite a bit of patience. Due to this, most travellers rely on travel agents to deal with their extensions. This comes with a fee but definitely saves time and hassle. Most travel agencies offer this service for a fee and it can take up to 10 days to process. The length of your visa extension is dependent on your original visa. You can only extend the same amount as your original visa - for example, a onemonth visa can only be extended by one month; a three-month visa can be extended for up to three months. The visa extension should be applied at least 5 days before it expires.

month, multipleentry visa. For an additional “expedite service” fee, you can bypass the normal processing time of three to four working days. Check with your local Vietnamese embassy or consulate, or with a travel agent or online visa service.


ATMs Most major foreign-issued credit and debit cards are accepted at ATMs in HCMC. Travellers can access Plus and Cirrus networks via HSBC, Vietcombank, ANZ ATM machines and many others. The standard withdrawal limit may be very low but you should be able to withdraw several times up to your home maximum. Use common sense when withdrawing money. Key in your PIN inconspicuously and keep to well-lit, busy cash terminals. These ATMs are

Local insight: The VND20,000 and VND500,000 are so similar in colour. Remember that the VND500,000 note is just a bit larger.

As with most modern banknotes, there are safeguards in place against counterfeiting. To check if you have an authentic note, check the transparent window to see the hidden image. Also, most counterfeit notes do not have the same feel as the plastic polymer.

Currency The official currency of Vietnam is the Dong and it fluctuates around VND22,298 to the US Dollar. The notes are quite colourful and notes made after 2003 are made out of plastic polymer. The denominations are 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, 100,000, 200,000 and 500,000.

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need EES tooknow t s g n i ht

Local insight: To avoid any unnecessary embarrassment be sure to contact your bank and let them know you are travelling, or your card may be blocked for “suspicious activity�.

Debit & Credit Cards Increasingly more and more businesses in Vietnam are now accepting credit cards, however it is advisable to carry cash, especially at places where payment policy is unknown or vague. It is always good practice to make enquiries before assuming that your credit card will be accepted, as neither side wants to lose face at payment time. It is pretty much guaranteed that most luxury hotels in the major cities will accept credit cards. Some establishments add a 3% charge for credit card use and charge a higher user fee for holders of an American Express card.

Local insight: To get around the large denominations issued, request an amount not divisible by VND500,000.

commonly found inside major banks, western-style grocery stores and hotels, or on busy streets. More often than not, ATMs will issue notes in VND500,000 denominations, which can be frustrating if you intend to pay for a motorcycle taxi ride or a roadside bowl of noodles.

money


need to know

money

Vietcombank 198 Tran Quang Khai, Hoan Kiem D Mon-Fri 8:00am-4:30pm

04 3934 3137

ACB bank 57B Phan Chu Trinh, Hoan Kiem D 04 3933 2828 Mon-Fri 8:00am-4:30pm & Sat 8:00am-11:30am

Techcombank 519 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh D 04 3724 5959 Mon-Fri 8:00am-5:00pm & Sat 8:00am-12:00am

Dong A Bank 181 Nguyen Luong Bang, Dong Da D 04 3733 6113 Mon-Fri 8:00am-5:00pm & Sat 8:00am-11:30am

Hanoi

Don’t exchange too much at one time as you will get a less than favourable rate when selling back your Dong. Generally larger bills like US$100 give a better rate than smaller notes like US$10 or US$5.

Most hotels offer the same rate as banks but may charge an extra fee. Though there are currency exchange shops in the tourist areas, head to a bank to get an official rate.

Currency Exchange US dollars are welcome in places frequented by tourists but you will most likely be offered a less than favourable rate.

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08 3827 6311

08 3827 9279

X

Local insight: It is worth noting that Vietcombank will not levy an exchange fee on American Express travellers’ cheques.

Travellers Cheques Carrying travellers cheques are no longer common given the growing number of ATMs. If you plan to cash travellers’ cheques, bring your passport and any other ID, and keep a record of the registration numbers of the cheques you cash. Be aware that most banks will charge a small fee for changing travellers’ cheques.

Local insight: Make sure your foreign bank notes are clean and crisp with no tears or writing. They will not be accepted otherwise.

Saigon Tourist 45 Le Thanh Ton, D1 7:30am-6:30pm

Ban Thu Doi Ngoai Te 59 135 Dong Khoi, D1 08 3823 1316 7:00am-10:00pm

Xuan Hung 161 Dong Khoi, D1

Mai Van 1A Nguyen An Ninh, D1 08 3823 1836 Mon-Sat 8:30am-8:00pm & Sun 8:30am-12:00pm

Ho Chi Minh City


• Purchased goods must be bought from a single shop on a single day and must have a value of at least VND2 million.

• Purchased goods must have invoices and VAT refund declarations issued within 30 days of departure.

• Purchased goods must not appear on the list of export prohibitions or restrictions.

• Purchased goods must be subject to VAT, unused and allowed on aircraft.

According to the Ministry of Finance, VAT refunded goods must meet these four requirements:

In other words, this is the perfect opportunity for international travellers to get back some of that hardearned cash by buying goods at shops that offer VAT refunds. Whilst the procedure may only be worth it for large purchases, if you are planning to buy expensive items, it is a substantial saving.

International travellers are entitled to obtain a refund that accounts for 85% of the 10% Value Added Tax (VAT) on eligible goods that were purchased from a registered VAT refund shop, thanks to a pilot scheme that was introduced in 2012 and has been fine-tuned several times since.

VAT

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Local insight: For a list of VAT refund shops, check out these links: http://tphcm.gdt.gov.vn or http:// hanoi.gdt.gov.vn.

This is where you will receive your refund. It will be in Vietnamese Dong so you will then have to go to a currency exchange. You will find BIDV and VietinBank exchanges in Tan Son Nhat. VAT refunds are applicable only to goods brought along by tourists when they exit.

Once you’ve taken care of the paperwork to get your declaration form, you will need to submit a boarding pass from an international flight as well as your invoices, along with your VAT declaration form, to the VAT refund counter.

Once you are at the Tan Son Nhat airport, go to the VAT refund customs inspection office where you will need to present the goods you have purchased, your passport, the invoices and the VAT declaration forms.

When purchasing the goods, submit your passport to the retailer so they can create the VAT refund declaration form. They will issue you with the original copy but make sure to check that all your information is correct.

To get the VAT refund, follow this procedure:

VAT


need to know

electronics

Mai Nguyen 27 Nguyen Binh Khiem, D1 08 3910 1227

Ho Chi Minh City

Hoang Ha Mobile 95B Pho Hue, Hai Ba Trung D 09 6866 8995

Hanoi

The shops also carry pre-paid SIM cards for local phone carriers - and they will probably be a lot cheaper than what you’re used to at home, so consider switching to a local prepaid number during your stay. For repairs, there are several places in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City that specialise in phone repair:

Vu Nhat Camera (General repair) 20B Trang Thi, Hoan Kiem D 04 3826 5161

Hoang Trong Camera (General repair) 3A Vong Duc, Hoan Kiem D 04 3937 8666

XII

Authorised Nikon repair 2nd fl., Viet Hong, 58 Tran Nhan Tong, Hai Ba Trung D 04 3941 0286

Authorised Canon repair Le Bao Minh, 130A Giang Vo, Ba Dinh D 04 3771 1966

Hanoi

Cameras There are a plethora of shops around the Dong Khoi and Nguyen Hue area of Ho Chi Minh City and the Old Quarter in Hanoi that sell new and used camera equipment. They are also great spots to look for rare Soviet World War II-era and American War-era film cameras, but prices tend to be a bit inflated. Luckily, shopkeepers are always open for negotiations and you may score a rare bargain. You can also find accessories including memory cards, off-brand battery chargers and tripods. If you need to get your Canon or Nikon repaired, we recommend that you use one of the authorised repair centres in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Mobile Phones

With 1.3 mobile phones per person in Vietnam, it’s not surprising that there seems to be a mobile phone shop on every street. Almost all of these shops will have cases, chargers and screen covers for the latest smartphones on the cheap. Remember that almost all of these accessories will be off-brand and might not be of the best quality.

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If you own an Apple product, then go to Futureworld, located in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. All these stores will have accessories galore for you to choose from, but note that the prices might be higher than what you would pay in neighbouring countries.

Computers Both cities have shops that carry a wide range of computers and accessories. Also, there are plenty of places to get your laptop or tablet fixed. However, finding one that has English-speaking staff might be a problem. We recommend Phong Vu in Ho Chi Minh City, as it is an electronics superstore with some English-speaking staff. In Hanoi, your best bet is to head to any one of the nine Tran Anh stores.

Local insight: Such is the high number of personal devices owned in the country now, that internet cafes where you can use their equipment are very few and far between.

iKnow 94 Xuan Thuy, D2 08 6252 4141 / 016 5658 1652 briancaleda@iknow.com.vn

Futureworld 240 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D3 08 3930 7673 3F Unit 19-20A Crescent Mall, D7 08 5413 7316

Phong Vu 264A-264B-264C Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D3 08 3933 0766 / 08 9290 8777

08 3838 6666

Ho Chi Minh City

Futureworld Kiosk L4-92, 4th Floor, Vincom Center 04 3726 4111 191 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung D 04 6253 5025

Le Bao Minh Co. 95B-97-99 Tran Hung Dao, D1

09 0945 5440

Pham The (General repair) 11 Le Cong Kieu, D1 08 3829 5888

Camcare (General repair) 12 Huynh Thuc Khang, D1

Authorised Nikon repair - VIC Vietnam 139A Pasteur, D3 08 3914 6361

Hanoi Tran Anh 2 Dai Co Viet, Hai Ba Trung D 1174 Duong Lang, Dong Da D 1900 545 545 ext: 8202 trananh.com.vn

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Ho Chi Minh City

electronics

Authorised Canon repair 10A Tran Hung Dao, D1 1900 558 809

XIII


Mail

need to know

communication

Express Mail-DHL 10 Le Thach, Hoan Kiem D Mon-Fri 8:00am-6:00pm 04 3825 7124

DHL International Hanoi 17 Pham Hung, Tu Liem D Mon-Fri 8:00am-5:30pm 04 3775 3999

International Post Office 75 Dinh Tien Hoang, Hoan Kiem D Mon-Fri 6:30am-10:00pm 04 3825 4403

Hanoi

If you are planning to receive a package, make sure the shipping company will track the package for the whole journey. Postcards cost around VND15,000 to send overseas - good to know when you want to fire off that quirky propaganda art postcard.

The postal system in Vietnam is fairly reliable, although not overly quick. If you need your package delivered in a hurry, there are several shipping companies to choose from. Don’t seal parcels before taking them to the post office as you will be required to show the contents to customs before having the package weighed and priced. DHL and FedEx are also available.

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08 3844 6203

XIV

Local insight: Whilst the Old Saigon Post Office is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the city it is worth remembering that it is still a working post office and the best one in town.

Fedex HCMC 6 Thang Long, Tan Binh D Mon-Fri 7:30am-6:00pm 08 3948 0370

DHL International HCMC 6 Thang Long, Tan Binh D Mon-Fri, 8:00am-6:30pm

Vietnam Internet, Phones and Post Office 125 Hai Ba Trung, D1 08 3827 0888 & Fax 08 3 8270 777

Saigon Central Post Office 2 Cong Xa Paris, D1 7:00am-7:00pm 08 3829 6862

Ho Chi Minh City

Fedex Hanoi 35C Nguyen Huy Tuong, Thanh Xuan D Mon-Fri 8:00am-5:30pm 04 3557 8899


Danang 0511 Ho Chi Minh City 08 Hue 054 Nha Trang 058

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Local insight: Viettel has better coverage throughout the country and is a better choice if you are heading to more remote areas.

09 1497 7987

08 6655 1205

08 3822 8171

Viettel 166C-D-E Tran Hung Dao, D1

Mobifone 80 Nguyen Du, D1

Ho Chi Minh City

The international country code for Vietnam is +84. Listed below are the prefixes for the major destination cities in Vietnam.

04 3825 4320

Vinaphone 80 Nguyen Du, D1

Vinaphone 75 Dinh Tien Hoang, Hoan Kiem D

04 6258 0186

04 3843 3433

Viettel 50 Van Cao, Lieu Giai, Ba Dinh D

Mobifone 140 Cau Giay, Cau Giay D

Hanoi

You can pick up a SIM card and/or pre-paid credit at countless shops in both cities.

Dalat 063 Hanoi 04 Hoi An 0510 Mui Ne 062

communication

Phones Vietnam’s network is GSM compatible and will work with most carriers. You can buy a local SIM card and minutes for around VDN100,000. The most popular providers are Mobifone, Viettel and Vinaphone, and their rates are very good compared to many other countries. 3G service is easily available in the metropolitan centres and pre-paid data package rates are cheap and affordable.

Local insight: If you are going to spend a few hours in a coffee shop using their Wi-Fi, buy an occasional top-up coffee or snack.

Internet Vietnam is the fastest growing internet market in Southeast Asia, with over 50% household saturation of ADSL in urban cities. Cafes, once an aromatic meeting place for Vietnamese, have morphed into internet connection hubs and most will freely give you a login password for the price of a drink. As of print, the government is opening up access to social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, etc.

XV


need to know

dental

Peace Dental Clinic 2nd floor, 51A Nguyen Khac Hieu, Ba Dinh D 04 3715 2286 Mon-Fri 8:00am-5:00pm

One Dental Clinic 8, Quang An, Tay Ho D 04 3718 6168 Mon-Fri 8:30am-6:00pm / Sat 9:00am-5:00pm

Australian Dental Clinic 3 Nguyen Du, Hai Ba Trung D 04 3944 5216 Mon-Sat 8:30am-7:00pm Sun 8:30am-5:00pm

Hanoi

A full range of treatments is available including preventative care, cosmetic dentistry, teeth whitening, implants, veneers, crowns, bridges and extractions.

Dental Clinics Vietnam is near the top of the list when it comes to countries that offer affordable dental care. Foreignowned and operated clinics in Ho Chi Minh City offer high standards. These dental clinics provide the latest services and techniques along with a personable and gentle approach.

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XVI

Local insight: A check-up and clean will set you back about VND100,000-250,000 at a local dental clinic and around VND500,000-800,000 at an international clinic. For major work, you may want to stick with the international clinics.

International SOS 167 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, D3 08 3829 8424 Dentist available with appointment.

Starlight 2 Bis Cong Truong Quoc Te, D3 08 3822 6222 Mon-Fri 8:00am-8:00pm / Sat 8:00am-5:00pm

Nha Khoa Minh Khai 199 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D1 08 3925 3399 Mon-Sat 8:30am - 12:00am & 1:30pm - 8:30pm

Westcoast International Dental Clinic 27 Nguyen Trung Truc, D1 08 3825 6999 Mon-Fri 8:00am-8:00pm / Sat 8:00am-5:00pm

European Dental Clinic 17-17A Le Van Mien, D2 09 1874 9204 Mon-Fri 8:00am-8:00pm / Sat 8:00am-5:00pm

Ho Chi Minh City


Clinics & Hospitals The quality of care at international hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City is quite good. Besides treatment and care of minor ailments, the city's international standard clinics offer a wide range of services and treatments.

If you are bringing prescription medication into Vietnam, we advise to carry it in your hand luggage and carry a copy of your prescription. Regarding vaccination concerns, please refer to page XXX.

Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad as well as repatriation, because you may have to pay first and claim later (check the fine print). Also, it may be a bit morbid to think about, but it’s advisable to complete the next-of-kin details in the back of your passport before travelling to any country.

Health Concerns Be aware that health care in rural areas is extremely basic and it’s best to head to an urban centre even for minor injuries. There is a sufficient standard of health care in the cities for treating such injuries, but more complicated treatment may require evacuation to another nearby country.

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04 3826 4545

Viet Duc Hospital 40 Trang Thi, Hoan Kiem D Open 24hrs 04 3825 3531, 09 1495 0458

L’Hôpital Français de Hanoi No 1 Phuong Mai, Dong Da D Open 24hrs 04 3574 1111 / 04 3577 1100

International SOS 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho D Open 24hrs

Hanoi

Bear in mind that if your insurance provider does not have an agreement with the medical centre, you will need to pay the doctor or hospital/clinic for treatment received before you leave. If this is the case, be certain to keep your receipts so that you can claim reimbursement from your medical insurance provider.

A full range of services such as health check-ups, dental implants, laser eye surgery, joint replacement, spinal surgery and cosmetic surgery are all available.

They take walk-ins, but you would be wise to book an appointment beforehand to avoid long waiting times. Bring your passport and medical insurance card if you have one.

health


Ho Chi Minh City

08 3829 8424

08 5411 3333

08 3822 7848

need to know

health

Depending on your requirements, some pharmacies will refill your empty containers without validating a

Although the selection of popular pharmaceutical drugs available in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City pharmacies are good, you would be wise to bring a supply of medicines and contraceptives from your home country to tide you over until you find a reliable chemist. If you do need a pharmacy, write down the exact medicine you require for the pharmacist.

Pharmacies

International SOS 167A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, D3

FV Hospital 6 Nguyen Luong Bang, D7

Family Medical Practice Diamond Plaza 34 Le Duan, D1

CMI 1 Han Thuyen, D1, HCMC 08 3827 2366 Mon-Fri 8:30am-7:00 pm / Sun 9:00am-1:00pm

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04 3722 7491

04 9288 2288

Eco Pharmacy 397 Hai Ba Trung, D3 6:00am to midnight

08 3820 7476

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Pasteur Pharmacy 156 Pasteur, D1 08 3822 3737 Mon-Fri 8:00am-9:00pm, Sat-Sun 10:00am-5:00pm

Ho Chi Minh City

Nghia Hung 145 Doi Can, Ba Dinh D 7:00am-10:00pm

Mega3 Pharmacy 31 Lang Ha, Ba Dinh D 7:30am-7:30pm

Hanoi

When purchasing any medication, check the expiry date.

new prescription. If you are leery of local pharmacies, the previously listed medical clinics have their own pharmacies but may require a doctor’s appointment to receive a prescription. Feminine hygiene products can be found in supermarkets, but tampons (as opposed to pads) may be a bit hard to find.


need to know

transportations

XX

Local insight: Manuals rent for VND100,000 per day, and automatics will cost a bit more at around VND140,000 per day.

Local insight: A cyclo tour is a great way to see the Old Quarter in Hanoi and Binh Tay Market in D5 of Ho Chi Minh City.

Cyclos Cyclos are an interesting way to take in the city. They feature a giant cushioned seat for passengers strapped to a bicycle propelled through traffic by a cyclo driver. Negotiate a price beforehand about VND100,000 (Hanoi) and VND60,000 (HCMC) an hour, and make sure to have the exact change. Cycling through the city is a hard job and deserves a tip.

Local insight: Anything with a strap, mainly bags and cameras, should be kept in a backpack, to deter bag snatchers.

Motorbikes Local traffic doesn’t really flow so much as it lurches in waves. Leave everything you learned about traffic rules at the airport departure gate. Officially, you drive on the right side of the road, although in practice that is not always the case. Vietnam has recently banned all foreigners from renting motorbikes without a Vietnamese driver’s licence. So, check with your travel insurance to make sure that you are covered in case of an accident (refer to page VI for more information). To rent a motorbike, you will need to provide a passport, sign a rental agreement or pay in advance. Longer rental periods may require you to leave your passport or a cash deposit equal to the motorbike’s market value. Make certain that your rental motorbike is roadworthy and has functioning brakes, lights etc. It is a good idea to park your motorbike at an attended parking lot to diminish the chance of theft. Just make sure to keep your parking ticket: if you lose it, you will need to verify ownership of the bike, which means contacting your rental place. Helmets are mandatory for all occupants.

Walking One of the best ways to check out Hanoi or Saigon is on foot. A leisurely stroll through Saigon’s District 1 or Hanoi’s 36 Streets is a great opportunity for photographers or street-food enthusiasts. However, it can be a bit maddening when motorbikes are parked on the sidewalk and you have to share the road with traffic. Make sure you walk with purpose and be quick on your feet. Crossing the street is an art form, watch how the locals do it, and copy them.

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Local insight: The cheapest route to Saigon’s Tan Son Nhat airport is the 152 bus route, which takes you from Ben Thanh Market to the airport. In Hanoi,

City Bus Service Buses are great for getting around the city in airconditioned comfort (at least, in the newer models). Most major streets are accessed via a bus line and cheap at VND6,000 for a short trip. During heavy traffic periods, buses can actually be faster as they have an informal right of way on the streets: no-one will try and cut them off.

Local insight: Short trips around town will cost around VND20,000 but make sure you agree on a price beforehand.

Xe Om Motorbike taxis are an easy and fun way to see the city. Most xe om jockeys can be found sitting (sometimes sleeping) on their bike. Look for the unofficial uniform: an untucked, long-sleeve shirt with rolled-up sleeves, trousers and sandals. Pronouncing street names can be challenging, so point out your destination on a map or have it written down. If the driver does not have a passenger helmet, find another driver for hire. For more convenient alternatives, try the GrabBike and UberMOTO services on the Grab and Uber apps.

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Vinasun HCMC Hotline 08 3827 2727

Hanoi Taxi Hanoi Hotline 04 3853 5353

Mai Linh Hanoi Hotline 04 3861 6161 HCMC Hotline 08 3838 3838

Local insight: Check the spelling of the taxi company before you get in. You could be stepping into an off-brand company.

Taxis Taxis are numerous and cheap compared to some neighbouring countries. Don’t assume that your driver knows how to reach your destination, as they typically grab fares from all over the city. They also speak very little English (if at all), so it pays to write down your destination or at the very least carry a small map or a smartphone. All reputable taxi companies will start the meter as soon as you start the journey. Make sure you have small notes with you. For quality assurance, choose larger taxi companies such as Hanoi Taxi, Mai Linh or Vinasun. You can also use the Grab and Uber apps for cheaper alternatives.

bus routes 7 and 17 connect Noi Bai airport with the city centre.

transportations


need to know

transportations

Local insight: For some buses, you may need to bring headphones or earplugs, or prepare yourself for karaoke and dubbed movies on your journey. This is not as common as it used to be, though.

Convenient, low prices come with a small catch: the bus may bring you to various hotels at each stop and ask if you would like to stay there. If you do not want to, politely tell the driver to drop you off at your preferred destination.

Many tour companies run multiple bus-stop journeys called Open Tours that run up and down the country. For a ridiculously low price, you can choose to stop in a destination and stay for as long as you like. When you decide to get back on the bus, go to their office the day before you plan to leave.

Long-distance bus services connect most cities in Vietnam and tickets can be purchased at the main bus stations. However, Vietnam is a very large country with a coastline that runs for 3,444km. It is advisable to break your bus journey into destinations within six hours’ drive. Several companies run sleeper buses that have reclining seats. Some of these buses may have lights that can stay on most of the night, so just in case bring an eye mask.

City to City Bus Service

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HCMC

From

Hanoi

From

28 hours

1,420km 1,517km 1609km

Dalat Phan Thiet HCMC

290km 554km

Siem Reap

Hue

1609km

1012km 1106km

Hoi An

Hanoi

451km

Phnom Penh

310km

Dalat Nha Trang

223km

Mui Ne

XXII

12 hours

6 hours

33 hours

19.5 hours

15 hours

10 hours

7 hours

4.5 hours

4 hours

2 hours

96km 198km

Vung Tau

Duration

33 hours

Distance

Phan Thiet

To

16 hours 26 hours

798km 1,293km

Hoi An Nha Trang

30 hours

13 hours

670km

Duration

Distance

To Hue


Trains usually leave on schedule but allow some time for delays. For a detailed schedule of departure and arrival times as well as fees and availability, please check seat61.com/vietnam.htm.

Train tickets can be purchased through travel agents for a fee or directly at the train station. Ticket classes include hard seat and soft seat, and hard-berth and soft-berth compartments for overnight trips. A drink and light snack are usually included in the ticket price. Many train routes have dining cars with fair rates and snack carts that roam the aisles, but bring your own food if you don’t care for basic Vietnamese fare.

Trains The north to south railway line is known as the Reunification Express ansài gòn d is an excellent way to see the countryside, not least because the ride is much less jarring than road travel on Highway 1. The train system is slowly being modernised with technological advances and more comfortable trains. Sleeper cars are available for long trips, and there is one private company that does a sleeper run from Ho Chi Minh City to Phan Thiet and Nha Trang called the “Golden Train”. It’s a bit more expensive but more modern and comfortable than the normal train. Check the schedule at golden-train.com.

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HCMC

Hanoi

From

21 hours 33 hours

Hue Hanoi

8 hours 18 hours

4 hours Nha Trang Danang

37 hours

HCMC Phan Thiet

15 hours 25 hours

Danang

8 hours 13 hours

Hue

Nha Trang

Duration

To Sapa

Local insight: Bring socks and a thick jumper in a sleeper car as the air-conditioning often runs full blast throughout the night.

Ho Chi Minh City Train Station 1 Nguyen Thong, D3 08 3843 6528 08 3846 6091 / 1900 6105

Ho Chi Minh City Train Station

120 Le Duan, Hoan Kiem D 04 3942 3697

Hanoi Train Station

transportations


Local insight: Make sure you keep both white and yellow duplicate customs forms as you will need them for your departure.

International Flights The two main ports of entry are Hanoi’s Noi Bai (HAN) and Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat (SGN), with Danang (DAD) in a distant third. Due to congestion, the number of onward flights into Vietnam from these airports is limited and most will involve a transit stop along the way. Luckily for international travellers, two new international Airports opened in Cam Ranh and Phu Quoc.

Local insight: Vietnamflight.net is a great resource for domestic flights.

vietnamairlines.com / jetstar.com / vietjetair.com

Local Airlines There are three carriers offering domestic flights in Vietnam. Flights are relatively cheap and are a faster and more comfortable alternative to buses or trains. The national carrier is Vietnam Airlines. Jetstar Pacific Airlines also operates locally. A newcomer to the market is VietJet Air, which offers budget pricing.

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04 3863 6666

08 3848 5383

Local insight: Check your flight status online at hochiminhcityairport.com/flight-status-arrivalsdepartures.

Ward 2, Tan Binh D, HCMC hochiminhcityairport.com

Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN) Located only in 10km from the centre of Ho Chi Minh City, and is the busiest airport in Vietnam. It has separate domestic and international terminals, with a modern international terminal that opened in 2007. A taxi ride between airport and centre should cost about VND200,000.

Local insight: Check your flight status online at hanoiairportonline.com/fight-status.

Phu Minh, Soc Son D

Noi Bai International Airport (HAN) It is located 27km from Hanoi’s city centre via the new Nhat Tan Bridge. Expect to pay around VND200,000 (one-way package from Noi Bai to Central Hanoi) for a taxi ride and allow up to an 40 min to get into town, depending on traffic. Alternatively, exit the terminal and turn right for shuttle buses. Or you can take Dai Nam Taxis for VND120,000 one-way trip from the city to airport.

transportations


04 3934 7242

need to know

airline listings

Vietnam Airlines vietnamairlines.com 25 Trang Thi, Hoan Kiem D 04 6270 0200

Thai Airways thaiairways.com 44B Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem D 04 3826 7921 / 04 3826 7922

Singapore Airlines singaporeair.com 17 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem D 04 3826 8888

Qatar Airways qatarairways.com 2th Floor Sentinel Place Building 41A Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem D 04 3933 6767

Malaysia Airlines malaysiaairlines.com 2nd Floor, 01 Ba Trieu 04 4458 3372

Korean Airlines koreanair.com 11th Floor, Lotte Center Hanoi, 54 Lieu Giai, Ba Dinh D 04 3934 7247

Etihad etihad.com 09 Dao Duy Anh, Dong Da D

China Airlines china-airlines.com 18 Tran Hung Dao, Hoan Kiem D 04 8242 688

British Airways britishairways.com 9 Dao Duy Anh, Dong Da D 04 3934 7239 Ext 121.

All Nippon Airways ana.co.jp 25 Ly Thuong Kiet, Ba Dinh D 04 9347 202

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Air France airfrance.com 130 Dong Khoi, D1 08 3829 0981 American Airlines aa.com 194 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D3 08 3933 0330 All Nippon Airways ana.co.jp 08 3812 9612 Sun Wah Tower, 16th Floor, 115 Nguyen Hue, D1 British Airways britishairways.com 08 3930 2933 2nd Floor, 170-172 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, D3 China Airlines china-airlines.com 37 Ton Duc Thang, D1 08 3911 1591 Emirates emirates.com 08 3911 3099 1409 Sun Wah Tower, 115 Nguyen Hue, D1 Etihad Airways etihad.com 08 7300 1300 11th Floor, Bitexco Financial Tower, 02 Hai Trieu, D1 Jetstar Airways jetstar.com 1A Me Linh, D1 08 3825 8101 Korean Airlines koreanair.com 9th Floor Le Loi, D1 08 3824 2878 Quatar Airways qatarairways.com 1-3-5 Le Duan, D1 08 3827 3888 Singapore Airlines singaporeair.com Saigon Tower 29 Le Duan D1 08 3827 3888 Thai Airways thaiairways.com 173 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D1 08 3925 6479 Turkish Airlines turkishairlines.com Room 6, 8th Floor, 76 Le lai, D1 08 3936 0360 VietJet Air vietjetair.com 08 3845 4640 2C Truong Son, 48 Phan Dinh Giot, Tan Binh D Vietnam Airlines vietnamairline.com 49 Truong Son, Tan Binh D 08 3844 6667

Air France airfrance.com 01 Ba Trieu, Hoan Kiem D

04 3825 3484

Airline Listings in Ho Chi Minh City

Airline Listings in Hanoi

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Argentina: 41A Ly Thai To 04 3831 5262 Australia: 8 Dao Tan 04 3774 0100 Austria: 53 Quang Trung 04 3943 3050 Bangladesh: 675 Lac Long Quan 04 3771 6625 Belgium: 49 Hai Ba Trung 04 3934 6179 Brazil: D6/7, 14 Thuy Khe 04 3843 2544 Bulgaria: 5 Nui Truc 04 3845 2908 Cambodia: 71 Tran Hung Dao 04 3942 4788 Canada: 31 Hung Vuong 04 3734 5000 Chile: 14 Thuy Khue 04 3935 1147 China: 46 Hoang Dieu 04 3845 3736 Cuba: 65A Ly Thuong Kiet 04 3942 4775 Czech Republic: 13 Chu Van An 04 3845 4131 Denmark: 194 Tran Quang Khai 04 3823 1888 Finland: 31 Hai Ba Trung 04 3826 6788 France: 57 Tran Hung Dao 04 3944 5700 Germany: 29 Tran Phu 04 3843 0245 Greece: 27 Au Co 04 3715 2254 Hungary: 360 Kim Ma 04 3771 5714 India: 58-60 Tran Hung Dao 04 3824 4989 Indonesia: 50 Ngo Quyen 04 3825 3353 Ireland: 41A Ly Thai To 04 3974 3291 Israel: 68 Nguyen Thai Hoc 04 3843 3140 Italy: 9 Le Phung Hieu 04 3825 6246

Embassy Listings in Hanoi

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Japan: 27 Lieu Giai 04 3846 3000 Laos: 22 Tran Binh Trong 04 3942 4576 Malaysia: 43-45 Dien Bien Phu 04 3734 3836 Mexico: 11th Floor, 14 Thuy Khue 04 3847 0948 Myanmar: 298A Kim Ma 04 3845 3369 Netherlands: 360 Kim Ma 04 3831 5650 New Zealand: 63 Ly Thai To 04 3824 1481 Norway: 49 Hai Ba Trung 04 3974 8900 Philippines: 27B Tran Hung Dao 04 3943 7873 Poland: 3 Chua Mot Cot 04 3845 2027 Qatar: 43 Tran Hung Dao 04 3943 0222 Russia: 191 La Thanh 04 3833 6991 Singapore: 41-43 Tran Phu 04 3848 9168 South Africa: 31 Hai Ba Trung 04 3936 2000 South Korea: 360 Kim Ma 04 3831 5110 Spain: 4 Le Hong Phong 04 3771 5207 Sri Lanka: 55 B Tran Phu 04 3734 1897 Sweden: 2 Nui Truc 04 3726 0400 Switzerland: 44B Ly Thuong Kiet 04 3934 6589 Thailand: 63-65 Hoang Dieu 04 3823 5092 Turkey: 4 Da Tuong 04 3822 2460 Ukraine: 6 Le Hong Phong 04 3734 4492 United Kingdom: 31 Hai Ba Trung 04 3936 0500 United States: 7 Lang Ha 04 3850 5000

embassy listings


08 3827 4462

Iceland

115 Nguyen Hue, D1

Switzerland

need to know

08 3825 1888

consulate listings

08 3821 9580

18 Phung Khac Khoan, D1

Indonesia

08 3823 7050

016 8422 5328

9-11 Ton Duc Thang, D1

80 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, D1

Hungary

55 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, D1

08 3822 4385

126 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, D3

Germany

India

08 3520 6800

08 3827 2029

111A Pasteur, D1

27 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D1

Finland

08 3822 8289

France

72-74 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D3

08 3821 9373

5B, 45 Phung Khac Khoan, D1

Cuba

Denmark

175 Hai Ba Trung, D1

China

08 3829 2457

Villa Famosa, 121A, 38st., D2

Chile

08 3743 2717

08 3827 9899

08 3829 2751

08 6281 8001

41 Phung Khac Khoan, D1

235 Dong Khoi, D1

Czech Republic 08 3829 0585 18 Bis/28 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D1

Canada

Cambodia

No 105, Duong Van An, D2

Belgium

08 3521 8100

47Ly Tu Trong, D1

Australia

Consulate Listings in Ho Chi Minh City

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Italy

Panama

7A Le Thanh Ton, D1

4 Le Duan, D1

08 3825 0334

08 3822 9433

08 3825 1380

08-3911 8304 25 Le Duan, D1

72 Le Thanh Ton, D1

08 3932 7638

08 3962 1745 77 Tran Quoc Thao, D3

182 Le Dai Hanh, D11

XXVIII

08 3519 2334

08 3822 5757 186 Nguyen Van Huong, D2

United States

08 3930 3936

08 3518 0045 08 3914 2937

107 Nguyen Du, D1

65 Le Loi, D1

United Kingdom

Ukraine

Thailand

Taiwan

Sweden

South Korea

Singapore

40 Ba Huyen Thanh Quan, D3

40/5 Pham Viet Chanh, Binh Thanh D Russia

08 3822 1696

08 3822 6907

21-23 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D1

Philippines

Norway

235 Dong Khoi, D1

New Zealand

08 3823 5932

29 Le Duan, D1

Netherlands

08 3829 3132

08 3829 7667

2 Ngo Duc Ke, D1

93 Pasteur, D1

08 3933 3510

08 3827 5445

261 Dien Bien Phu, D3

93 Nguyen Du, D1

Malaysia

Laos

Japan


need to know

FAQ

Health If you plan to eat street food, keep some Imodium in case you run into digestive or intestinal problems. Stick to well-frequented venues, and always peel fruit. Malaria is not endemic in the cities but dengue fever is still a possibility, so be mosquito-aware and make sure to include mosquito repellent, especially if you are travelling in more remote areas. Anti-malarial

Dining Dining out in Vietnam can stretch from a street side stall to a lavish buffet at one of the five-star hotels in town. The range of food available is wide and everyone should be able to find a venue to suit both taste and budget. Keep in mind that the sanitary levels at the street food level won’t be as high as Singapore’s famous hawker stalls.

Business Business hours in Vietnam are usually 8:00am to 6:00pm, Monday to Friday. Some businesses open from 8:00am to noon on Saturdays but this trend is slowly disappearing. Banks usually open from 8:00am to 4:00pm and most close on Saturdays and Sundays. Retail shops are usually open from 9:00am to 9:00pm.

FAQ

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XXX

Local Travel Travel is restricted near military installations, and some areas of Vietnam are fairly inaccessible. Do not stray off main routes in rural areas and check with your tour operator before travelling. Follow safety guidelines and procedures and ensure that such activities are undertaken under the supervision of reputable guides.

Hotel Stays When checking into a hotel, you will have to surrender your passport so that the hotel can register your presence with the local police. Once registered, ensure that your passport is returned to you and keep it in a safe place. Passports should not be used as a deposit for renting hotel rooms, or in place of a fine in the event of any possible traffic offence. It is advisable to carry photocopies of the data and visa pages from your passport, which can be used as proof of identity.

tablets can also be taken (there is no prophylactic against dengue yet). Contaminated water is a major cause of a sickness, so make sure to drink only bottled or boiled water - the five-litre containers of bottled water from supermarkets are cheap. In terms of vaccinations, the Centre for Disease Control recommends Hepatitis A & B, Japanese Encephalitis, Rabies and Typhoid vaccinations.


Security Petty crime is not confined to the backpacker districts and also occurs in the main tourist shopping areas.

Media Vietnam has a few English-language publications. Thanh Nien News (thanhniennews.com), Tuoi Tre (tuoitrenews.vn) and Vietnam News (vietnamnews. vn) are the main players in Vietnamese news. For business news, get the monthly Vietnam Economic Times magazine and weekly Vietnam Investment Review newspaper.

Ambulance 115

The call centre (they can speak English) will give contacts of your location’s nearest station.

For other supports, call: 04 1080 (Hanoi) 08 1080 (Ho Chi Minh City).

Emergency cases: Police 113 Fire 114

Important numbers

Drugs Penalties for possession, distribution or manufacture of drugs can be severe. In Vietnamese law, anyone found in possession of even a small amount of drugs can face the death sentence. So remember to just say no.

Use hotel safety deposit boxes to store valuables, money or passports and carry a photocopy of the data and visa pages of your passport. There have been reports of scams targeting tourists, involving fake charities, gambling and taxis. Fortunately, violent crime is rare.

1 January - Western New Year’s Day First to seventh days of the first moon - Tet Nguyen Dan April - Hung King Festival 30 April - Liberation Day / Reunification Day 1 May - International Worker’s Day 2 September - National Day (Vietnam)

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Do not walk in secluded locations alone, or with people you do not know. To lower risk, be on your guard against pickpockets and avoid carrying handbags or wearing expensive-looking jewellery or watches.

FAQ

Holidays Though Vietnam traditionally has many holidays, religious or otherwise, these are the only ones publicly recognised by the government:

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FAQ

Travelling with Children Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are kid-friendly with attractions galore. Vietnamese love children, so don’t be alarmed at all the attention your child receives.

When addressing Vietnamese, use Anh (male) or Chi (female) if the person you are addressing is older than you, and Em if they are younger. Also, if they are a lot older than you, use Bac/Chu (male) and Co (female). Yes, it sounds a bit pedantic but language etiquette is very important.

There are six distinct tones and each word can have a different meaning depending on the tone.

Language The Vietnamese language is considered one of the hardest languages in Southeast Asia to learn due to its reliance on tones. When first heard, it has an almost sing-song sound and can be confusing to understand for Westerners who aren’t used to a tonal language. This can be quite frustrating at times, especially when people don’t understand your attempt to speak Vietnamese because you can’t get the tones right. On the plus side, the modern written language is entirely based on roman script and is much easier to read compared to some of its neighbours.

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Volunteering If you are looking to give back to the community, there are a number of non-governmental organisations based in Vietnam. Do your research to ensure that your money and efforts go to a good cause. For more information, check the NGO resource centre in Hanoi (ngocentre.org).

Electricity The standard electrical supply in Vietnam runs at 220V, 50Hz. If you have appliances that run at lower voltage, make sure you have a converter if the appliance doesn’t convert automatically. The most common sockets are two round pins without a ground pin, which will often take two-flat-blade plugs as well. Hotels with international clientele may also have combined sockets that take a wide variety of plugs. If you just need an adaptor, you can find them at most markets.

Also, for those travelling with babies, supplies are readily available but stock up if you plan to travel outside major city centres. Child safety seats are not readily available for any type of transportation and it’s best to bring your own. Be aware that there are few facilities for changing diapers in restaurants.


French War Vietnam battled French colonialism from 1858 to the

Monarchy A number of successful dynasties ruled by Vietnamese kings held sway from 939 AD to 1945. During this period, Vietnam was repeatedly attacked by foreign invaders and the often poorly defined borders flowed back and forth. This era of history ended with Bao Dai’s abdication in 1945.

Proto-history According to legends, the first Vietnamese Kingdom was founded in the seventh century BC by Hung Kings, named Van Lang. In the third century BC, King An Duong Vuong founded Au Lac and ruled until 179 BC. Since 179 BC, Vietnam was ruled by the Chinese Empire for many centuries.

Between 1986 and 2000, more than 30,000 private businesses were created and the economy grew at an annual rate of 7%. In 2000, a bilateral trade agreement between Vietnam and the United States was a significant milestone for Vietnam’s economy.

Doi Moi As the Soviet Union began scaling back its commitments to the rest of the communist world, Vietnam was forced to follow suit in 1986. Reformist Nguyen Van Linh was chosen to lead the Vietnamese Communist Party and one of his first acts was to institute a radical economic reform policy called Doi Moi.

Reunification On the first day after the American War, the government changed Saigon’s name to Ho Chi Minh City. Damage from the war was extensive and rebuilding efforts were put in place. A rapid transition to Socialism in the South proved to be a harder task than expected.

American War North Vietnam fought the United States from 1954 until the Americans pulled out in 1975.

Pre-history Ancient Vietnam originated from circa 400,000 years (Paleolithic) to 4,000 years (Neolithic) ago, with cultures in the area included Son Vi, Hoa Binh, Bac Son, Ha Long, and Hoa Loc.

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August Revolution in 1945. Final victory was secured in the battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954.

history

Vietnam’s history can be roughly divided into the following periods:

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Saigon-Hanoi City Travel Guidebook 16th Edition 2016