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APRIL 2012






006 l The Prelude THE TALK 011 l The Big Five 012 l Just In 018 l In the Papers 024 l Word of Mouth 028 l Calendar 030 l Overscene INSIDER 008 l A Tribute Rico Gonzales A special dedication to a friend and colleague we lost last month, with words from his friends

036 THE


Life in this city is more than just District 1. So we boldly go where no man has gone before and take you on a journey into the hinterland. Just don’t forget to return. In one piece, please




136 l Bass in Your Face That loud noise that’s keeping you up all night isn’t your neighbour’s karaoke singing, it’s dubstep


Who wants cricket when you can have Aussie Rules instead? Australia’s favourite sport meets Vietnam

064 THE


It’s time to speak up and be heard. It may even land you a job in the movie industry

062 THE

104 l Cafe Critique

148 l Map - Central HCMC

The largest outdoor music festival Vietnam has ever seen is about to take place. Be part of the 50,000 people going to Soundfest

060 THE

080 l Destination Zero

114 l Decks 'n Drums


Shanghai has a need for speed. We visit the powerhouse at the centre of Asia’s fastest growing economy




Asian Basketball is slam-dunking its way onto our TV screens. But will this city’s team be a more than just a passing success?

034 l The Fourth Airline

FINAL SAY 146 l Is Saigon for Hipsters?

The skies over Vietnam now have another budget airline. But will they fall into the trap of their predecessors?

Are you a hipster? Without knowing it, you could be one of this new breed of trendsetters

052 l Mystery Diner

Dedicating her life to disadvantaged children, Trish Franklin speaks about her work and Mother Teresa

From a red hot dog to red duck curry, our covert reviewer scouts the culinary scene to satisfy your hunger

2 | The Word April 2012

152 l On the Stool


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Chịu trách nhiệm xuất bản: Lê Huy Hòa Biên tập: Hồ Phương Lan Sửa bản in: Nick Ross Trình bày: Dương Vy Bảo Bìa: Duong Huynh Advertising JSC

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Giấy XNĐKKHXB của Cục XB số: 161/CXB-QLXB/ ngày 18/01/2012 Quyết định xuất bản số 29 QĐCN/LĐ Nhà xuất bản Lao Động cấp ngày 16/02/2012 In xong và nộp lưu chiểu năm 2012.

The Prelude O

ne of the problems with living in District 1 is that you get really lazy. I literally have to cross the street to do my laundry — I drop it off and hours later it's clean and folded in a nice little bundle. I have three 24-hour stores and an endless array of bars, restaurants and shops within a five-block radius of my apartment. And Word’s office is only a ten minute’s walk from my place. On the one hand, all of this convenience is amazing and makes my life super easy. No commuting. No peak-hour stress in the mad rush to get to work. I don’t even need to own a motorbike. On the other, I recently realised that I

rarely take the time to explore all the other neighbourhoods that Ho Chi Minh City has to offer. So, this month we collectively decided to get off our derrières and explore the hinterlands, and we mean really explore. We went to districts that we were told to stay out of and some we didn’t even know existed. We found some hidden gems and interesting developments. Most importantly, we were relieved to learn that there is life outside of the wealthier areas of town that we all know so well. Besides our cover story, we have two mammoth features this month on music and sports (the favourite topics among the guys at the office). With a line-




THIS MONTH'S COVER Photo: Quinn Ryan Mattingly Design: DH Advertising


PROUD TO BE BRITISH (Flying the Flag, Mar. 2012)

Thank you to all at the Word for this article. We will take this as the encouragement that I am sure you meant it to be. You mentioned budget cuts in the UK. We do have to target audiences and focus resources carefully. That can mean smaller gatherings and receptions but with more face time with key individuals. That said, we want to promote British culture in Vietnam and to strengthen cultural links as part of our “Strategic Partnership” agreement, which aims to boost relations between the two countries. To do so, we often look for private sector sponsorship or other sources of funding. The British Council Arts Fund and performances linked to the Diamond Jubilee and the Hue Festival this year are examples of this sort of activity. However, if I take your article correctly, then it’s a call to action to the wider British Community. We are delighted to continue to receive feedback on what you might reasonably expect from the British Government’s representation in Vietnam. We are happy to be a central contact point for celebrations of British culture bringing the community together. We’re also open to wider partnerships. If there’s a genuine will and energy from UK expats, then you can rely on us to work with you to find a way. — Antony Stokes, British Ambassador to Vietnam

6 | The Word April 2012

up of local and international musicians, best known being Taio Cruz, Soundfest and its audience of 50,000 is set to rock your ears off this Apr. 14. The induction of the Saigon Heat as Vietnam’s representation in the regional basketball tournament has also swept the city away, causing sports fanatics to stand up and cause an uproar (but in a good way). We cover both. This month our Talk feature article is a special tribute to Rico Gonzales, a friend and colleague we lost last month. His contribution to Word and our lives was priceless. Goodbye, dear friend. We won’t forget you. As always, please send any feedback to Christine at

YOU GOT IT WRONG (Mystery Diner, Mar. 2012)

I am writing about your recent Mystery Diner review of Baan Thai and in particular your description of our fish cakes. At Baan Thai we only use fresh fish fillet, fresh ingredients, kaffir lime leafs and Thai red curry to marinate. The taste of the dish has to be a little spicy and we always ensure we add the perfect amount of chillies. The fish cakes are freshly made and

deep-fried in healthy vegetable oil. This is the authentic method for preparing Thai thod muan pla or fried Thai fish cakes. Both ourselves and many of our customers were upset and left in disbelief at the way you reviewed the quality of our fish cakes. We seriously question the ability, knowledge and integrity of the person who is acting as your mystery diner. — Phaeng and Bob, Baan Thai


(The French Connection, Mar. 2012) I don't do this much but I just have to correct a word in your article on page 44 of Word regarding French language influence on Vietnamese which claimed ‘ phap luat’ in Vietnamese actually means ‘French law’. Nice try but ‘phap luat’ is a two syllable Chinese loan word and has nothing to do with France

(just as ‘phap nhan ’ means legal person and does not mean French person). In addition, adjectives in Vietnamese come after the noun so ‘French law’ would be ‘ luat phap’ but I've never seen it written that way. And I have been speaking, reading, and writing Vietnamese for 50 years. — Jim P

the talk I N



A TRIBUTE Word lost a colleague last month. He won’t be forgotten


f the average person’s life is measured in minutes, then Rico Gonzales’ extraordinary life was measured in thousands of beautiful photographs. He was our photo editor for almost two years. There with us from the start and a key figure in our development into what we are now, last month he passed away. He was only 43. Rico's Manila roots saw him work on the national press in The Philippines. He covered the country's conflict in the Sulu Archipelago and spent time embedded with both the rebel and the government forces. He travelled around for news stories the length and breadth of the country, shooting for the likes of Bloomberg and other international agencies before heading to Singapore in 2006. A chance meeting in a bar saw him move to Vietnam. A man of few words but at the same time of many, Rico’s stature belied his true strength. In a fight in Nha Trang, attacked by security guards, tripod in hand he came to our defence. We laughed about it afterwards, but we had seen him at work. He was formidable. Our company is what it is now because of its people. And Rico was one of those people. We would like to thank you for being our colleague, mentor, brother and friend. You may have left this physical world, but in our memories you will remain strong.

In Our Memories


8 | The Word April 2012





I had the pleasure of being Rico's friend for over a year and in that short span of time, it seemed like I’ve known him forever. He was a good friend and a brother. We would hang out almost every night and talk about our life, work and anything that we could think about. A no nonsense guy with interesting stories. I will never forget your advice, jokes, chicken adobo, ukulele 101 and the late night conversations over coffee. I will forever miss you, my friend. Thank you for your unconditional love and friendship. Rico, your memory will continue to live on in your work, in your family and within us, your friends. — Je Matias When Typhoon Durian (Reming) devastated Bicol in the Philippines in 2006, Rico was among the first Manilabased photographers on the scene. Armed with a borrowed Sigma body and lens, Rico trekked through volcanic mud and debris to reach the victims. The sky

was grey and it was beginning to rain again, and several bodies washed ashore. He refused to take photographs of the bloated bodies, and instead walked away to console a group of women who had gathered nearby and were weeping. That was the day Rico, by his actions, taught me a lesson in humanity and common decency. — Jason Phillip Gutierrez Rico had a rare ability to combine incredible talent with a laid back, fun attitude. Looking back, one of my favourite moments with Rico was at his photo exhibition in Saigon. He personally took me around to explain the stories behind all the photos that had anything to do with music. I ended up choosing one of the best Vietnam photos I've ever seen of an old lady playing an electric guitar out on a street in Saigon, taken from a funky angle that only Rico could have chosen. It was a special night and I was proud to be his friend. — Curtis King A smile. That is how I always will remember you, Rico. Your friendly smile. Always helpful. Always taking time to talk shop. You will be missed greatly. You went away too soon, but stayed long enough to leave a lasting memory of a person filled with kindness. May you rest in peace, my friend. — Mads Monsen Rico, your photo next to my bed always reminds me of my Vietnam life. We won’t see one of the most wonderful friends and photographers any more in this world but we will always remember you through your work. We always love you. — Onae Kim

My thoughts of Rico always go back to the times we had meaningful conversations over coffee, while eating, or me drinking (he didn't drink but would patiently sit and join friends while drinking). Although he was not much of a talker, the mere presence of him listening and giving his short but profund points of views or advice were more than enough already. He was like an older brother to me, a confidante. Rico's passing was bitter sweet — sweet are the memories and bitter is the fact that life may never allow me to build a friendship like this again. I will mourn his loss and forever will hold dear to my heart how precious his friendship was to me. — John Louie Erestain When my longtime father figure passed away months ago, Rico briefly said, ‘Everything happens for a reason’. I guess I could give the same advice to everyone mourning his death. I know we all deal with sadness differently and some day soon we must look past what happened to Rico and remember one thing: a man's legacy begins when he passes. Let us all celebrate his life by cherishing every moment we spend with those who are still with us — our family, friends and loved ones. — Ron Lacorte Rico just celebrated his birthday in February. He didn’t even want a celebration and suggested to cook for friends instead because he didn’t want us to be burdened with preparations. His family and friends always came first, and although words aren’t enough to express our gratitude, these words are all we could offer to let everyone know that he was truly a gift to us. We will miss you, Kuya. We all love you very much. — Billie Lagasca

Kuya Rico was one of the few people that could make me laugh to the point of stomach pains. I will miss him as one of my closest friends in Vietnam, his compassion for others, our late night chismis, his rocketfuel coffee, his adoring glances at Del, his cooking, his laugh, his photographs that hang on my walls and his uncanny ability to drop a joke that is two steps bluer and darker than mine. I will miss our regular Sunday morning dim sum. — Lukas Parker

I loved working with Rico. Not only was he professional, creative and artistic, but he never pushed me to do anything I was uncomfortable with. His stylistic versatility always amazed me and I have yet to be disappointed with anything from unedited shots to finished work. In addition to being a great photographer he was a great person. He was like a brother to me. Thanks, Rico. I will always remember you! — Khoa Tran

Kuya Rico will always be a person I admire for his courage to speak his mind. He always made me feel that he got my back if I ever needed his help. So long, older brother and true friend. — Brian Llagas

Kuya Rico was a man of integrity. A father figure and a good friend. I will miss his honesty and his deadpan one liners. Rest in peace, Kuya Rico. Your happiness is eternal now. — Sharon Chavez

April 2012 The Word | 9


Presented by CAMA Vietnam




Rock & Rock Hall of famer, r,, Grandmaster Flash, will perform at Blanchy’s Tash h (95 Hai Ba Trung, Q1) on Apr. 26. 2 One of the original hip-hop p pioneers, the South Bronx native practically created modern-day DJing singlehandedly through h his innovative beat juggling, punch h phrasing and scratching. He’s also credited with inventing g another trend that would become synonymous with the genre: MCs rapping over beats, though most wi will ill remember Flash as the talisman of seminal hip-hop group Grandmaster teer Flash & The Furious Five and theirr 1982 platinum-certified hit The Message. For tickets, email


A solo exhibition entitled Crazy People by Hanoi artist Bui Thanh Tam will be held at Craig Thomas Gallery (27i Tran Nhat Duat, Q1) from Apr. 26 to May 17. Tam’s paintings are full of depictions of the ridiculous contradictions between his subjects’ contemporary lives and his view of a more traditional Vietnamese existence. His characters are posed in a manner reminiscent of a period-style photograph taken from Vietnam’s recently born class of nouveau riche — they grin inanely as they revel in the privileged lives they enjoy.

Designed: Lotus Hanoi : Photograph: Dominic Blewett

2 Confirmed artists: Electric Eel Shock Carsick Cars Akil the MC Poubelle International Turbo Goth Go lim MACHETE SEX MACHINE AND MORE AN ALL-DAY MUSIC EVENT WITH FOOD AND FAMILY FUN 10 | The Word April 2012

2 june 2012 @ the American Club Tickets go on sale 5 May Visit


The Australian Consulate General and the Youth Cultural House in Ho Chi Minh City will present a special performance featuring one of Australia’s leading indigenous dance groups Descendance on Apr. 16 at 7pm at the Youth Cultural House (4 Pham Ngoc Thach, Q1). Established in 1993, Descendance has performed extensively across Australia in movies, theatre, television, cultural centres and international festivals. Descendance has also toured over 40 countries across Europe, Asia, Africa and the US making them one of Australia’s leading international cultural exports to the world. Descendance was the winner of the World Dance and Peace Prize at the World Culture Open organised by UNESCO in Korea in 2004, where they competed among entrants from 70 countries. For invitations to the event, email Ms Hang at



It appears French-Vietnamese DJ duo, Tha Trickaz, can’t get enough of Vietnam. They’ll be back behind the decks at Vasco’s (74/7D Hai Ba Trung, Q1) on Apr. 21 to promote their new SoundQuest Facebook game. Consisting of DJs iRaize of Pho, both are masters of the MPC, cutting up rare and traditional vinyl with sampling, scratching, live instrumentation and real-time MPC drumming. Imagine golden era mid-90s hip-hop colliding with 21st century-born dubstep, electro and drum & bass, and you have the sound of Tha Trickaz. The Trickaz is presented by The Beats Saigon. Admission is VND100,000 and doors open from 9pm



Foodies can enjoy some of New Zealand’s high-quality food and beverage at several of the New Zealand Wine and Food events this April. The event will feature a range of the country’s finest seafood, beef, lamb and dairy products as well as a selection of New Zealand wines. This year ten wine labels from New Zealand, all new to the local market, will introduce their products to Vietnam. Profit generated from the festival is donated to a number of local charities including the Ba Chieu Girls Shelter. The New Zealand Wine and Food Festival will take place on Apr. 21 at Riverside Apartments (53 Vo Truong Toan, Q2) and is open to the public. A private trade tasting event will occur on Apr. 19 at the Park Hyatt. For more info, visit business and click ‘events’

April 2012 The Word | 11

Just In FITNESS IN WATER AquaFit is introducing a new fitness style to Saigon. Aqua fitness is a complete workout in a swimming pool. Training in the water brings numerous benefits beyond cardiovascular and muscular endurance, flexibility and strength building by capitalising on the positive effects of water: resistance, buoyancy and hydrostatic pressure. The water buoyancy minimises the impact on joints as the body weighs less — you perform movements with ease for longer in a refreshing environment. Aqua fitness is beneficial to people of all fitness levels and conditions, and doesn’t require swimming experience. Classes start on Apr. 3 in Thao Dien, Q2. For a free trial class, call 0909 008985

IN THE STUDIO S3 (1K Ngo Van So, Q4) is a new studio with over a 1,000sqm of production and space complete with a cyclorama, driver in door, a daylight and outdoor studio, make up and wardrobe rooms and much more. S3 also offers talent, crew and catering for film and video productions and events. For more info, visit

BEING DRAMATIC The Helen O’Grady Drama Academy, founded by Helen O'Grady in 1979 in Perth, Australia, has opened up in Vietnam. Running international programmes, the academy encourages creativeness and allows children to express themselves and face the challenges of school and future careers through development of problem solving, confidence and more. They currently have over 50,000 students in 160 different countries including, England, Scotland, Singapore and South Africa. You can try a lesson at any of the locations in Districts 2, 3 and 7. They also have classes at the Saigon Star International School and anyone can join their summer camp. Find out more at or call 3775 5008. For a list of locations check the website


AN ARTISTIC TOUR Sophie's Art Tour is the latest addition to the city’s cultural scene. Working with renowned researchers, artists, gallery owners and curators, the tour takes a closer look at the major social, political and historical shifts in 20th and 21st century Vietnam through the eyes of artists. From private collections to hidden gems, from the grand halls of the Fine Art Museum to the fresh white spaces of leading contemporary art galleries, this journey will take you from colonialism to independence and globalisation. Prices start at VND945,000 per person for groups of four to six people. All tours are given in English by Sophie Hughes. For further info, visit

12 | The Word April 2012

A new addition to the housing market, Apato specialises in only providing 15 to 30sqm rooms for rent with all furniture, utilities and daily service for their clients. They can also customise rooms to meet tenants’ needs. Another part of their business is roomfor-rent management. Working with the property owners, they design houses/ buildings to make rooms that can be leased out. Apato takes care of the daily management. For more info, visit

the talk SOMETHING’S COOKING SaVa The Gourmet will be launching cooking classes this month. For its first cooking class SaVa will introduce Le Foie Gras “Rougie” with La Cuisine’s talented chef and owner Erwann Serene. The chef will present recipes during two sessions on Apr. 19 and Apr. 26 from 8.30am to 11.30am at their demonstration kitchen. The class is priced at VND1 million per person and includes a voucher for a set lunch at La Cuisine. Space is limited. For any further info, visit www.

SKY HIGH Level 50 Strata restaurant and boardroom space, which occupies the floor just above the observation deck in the Bitexco Financial Tower (2 Ham Nghi, Q1), has finally opened. Drinks and buffet food service will be available starting this month.

CHILE OUT A TASTE OF ITALY The talented chefs and owners behind Italian eatery Pendolasco have opened up a gourmet shop in District 2 called Pendo Gourmet Shop (83 Thao Dien, Q2) that features Italian specialities like homemade pasta (ravioli, gnocchi, lasagne, tagliatelle), homemade Italian pastry, Italian wines and other products imported from Italy. For further info, call 6253 2828 or visit

Backed by the Chilean Embassy in Hanoi, discover the first Chilean restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City at the aptly named Chile House (42 BIS Tran Quoc Thao, Q3). Set with simple décor and boasting over 70 dishes with prices ranging from VND40,000 to VND240,000, this new eatery is sure to attract gastronomes. To celebrate their opening, Chile House is offering a buy-one-bottleget-the-next-same-one-free for Classic or Reserva Chilean wines only. The offer is valid from 2pm to 7pm until Apr. 30. For reservations call 0903 450828

PLAY TIME Toyville, a new toyshop, located at Snap Café, features a large collection of items from Playmobil along with classics from names such as Fisher Price, Mattel, Megablok, Siku, Viking and Wonderworld. With quality and safety the highest priority they “visit production sites and only select suppliers who can actually produce updated certificates,” says owner Alexandre. “Our goal is to propose the largest variety of construction toys, table games and many kinds of toys that enhance imagination and allow parents to play with their children.” Toyville is located at Snap Café (Tran Ngoc Dien, Q2). Open 7 days a week from 8.30am to 8pm

14 | The Word April 2012

the talk

TREND SPOTTER A CLASSIC TWIST Following the success of last year’s performance of Macbeth, The New Theatre (TNT) is set to bring a Charles Dickens classic to theatre lovers in Vietnam. Before the curtain rises next month, Christine Van speaks to producer Grantly Marshall about his twist on Oliver. Photos provided by TNT The languages of Shakespeare and Dickens are pretty difficult even for a native English speaker to understand — how did the local audience perceive Macbeth last year? Macbeth was very well-received by all audience members. The story is well-known and through choreography, music and gestures most were able to follow with little problem. Of all Dickens’ works, why Oliver Twist? This year is Dickens’ 200th birthday and this is the Dickens story most people know. It lends itself very well to theatre because of its rather simple plot and is at the same time very socially critical as well as being entertaining. Oliver Twist has been done many times over the years, what makes TNT’s version special? We present the play through the eyes of Fagin just before he is hanged on the gallows. He is allowed to tell his side of the story and he accuses Lord Brownlow of being the real

16 | The Word April 2012

criminal, having cast his pregnant daughter on the streets and for supporting the workhouses. Critics have often praised us for this unique approach to the story. Your plays don’t use subtitles, do you believe it would help the Vietnamese to better understand or possibly attract a higher attendance if you incorporated them? We feel people concentrate more if they don’t have subtitles to rely on. This gives people, especially Vietnamese theatregoers, the feeling of accomplishment by having understood the play without the crutch of subtitles. I don’t think we lose many by not having them. Have you ever thought about doing the play entirely in Vietnamese with Vietnamese actors? This is not our mission, although our director Paul Stebbings has often directed in foreign languages — Russian, Chinese and Spanish. What difficulties, if any, have you faced

bringing these performances into Vietnam? I can’t say we faced any difficulties, just the normal struggles of anyone trying to get established. Vietnam has a strong censorship policy, has anything in Oliver Twist been changed or omitted because of this? Nothing has been changed because of censorship. The script was accepted as submitted. Have you or TNT thought about actually starting a theatre group/company in Vietnam? The answer is not a simple yes or no. We are a travelling theatre organisation, which, in a literal sense, has no home anywhere. As a producer I put together plays in three languages — English, Spanish and French — with English accounting for more than 90 percent of the performances. In the course of over 30 years of producing I have at times used actors from over 20 countries as varying as China, Zimbabwe, Israel, Spain, Norway, Greece, Italy, Mexico, Brazil etc. By not tying ourselves down to any one place we are very flexible and able to move our productions quickly to different countries across the world. Our base is, of course, Europe where the productions originate, but we are in no way tied to Europe. Oliver Twist will be playing at the Saigon Opera House on May 2, 3, 4 and 5 at 8pm, with 11am shows on May 2, 3 and 4. Tickets are VND600,000 / adult and VND300,000 / students and can be purchased at the Saigon Opera House or ordered by email at There will also be a performance at the Da Nang Theatre on May 9 in Da Nang, and at the Hanoi Opera House on May 11 and 12 at 8pm.

April 2012 The Word | 17

In the Papers




Zhang Gonzales

A recent regulation has passed where those wearing an imitation helmet while riding motorbikes will be subjected to a proposed fine of between VND100,000 and VND200,000. One of the objectives of the circular is to help consumers to differentiate genuine and safe helmets from imitation ones, which fail to meet quality standards and safety regulations. Under the circular, manufacturers or importers of helmets must register their business and product quality with competent authorities, obtain a Conformity with Regulation (CR) certification, and attach a CR stamp to their products before launching them on the market. A CR stamp indicates that a homemade or an imported crash helmet has been certified as conformable with applicable regulations.

FOUR LUXURY CARS SMUGGLED INTO VIETNAM Customs officials in Hai Phong said that they have confiscated four luxury cars worth a total of some VND10 billion. The containers transported from the US were declared to contain aluminum coils, leaves and dock levelers, they said. The Hanoi-based Thuy Anh Minh Company was listed as the addressee, but it refused the delivery upon learning the containers' contents, the officials added. A report on the news website VnMedia of the state-owned Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group said among the cars were a BMW X6, a BMW 750 Li and a Mercedes-Benz S550.

For some youths, throwing petrol bombs around is their hobby. Nguyen Phi Hung, living in District 12, along with his friends, finds pleasures in making petrol bombs and throwing them at women on their way home from work. Huy, with a similar hobby in Binh Tan, says, “My friends and I do it every night. We once threw four or five petrol bombs on the streets just to scare the passers-by.” Youngsters often throw petrol bombs at Binh Hung Hoa cemetery or in the wastelands in Tan Phu. Hung admits that petrol bombs are also often used in fights between groups of street racers.


Garcia Smith

Wang Nguyen Li Smirnov Muller Hernandez

Nguyen is the fourth most common name in the world, according to a new report by The World Geography who counted more than 36 million people sharing the surname. Nguyen, the surname of the last royal family in Vietnam, is the most common Vietnamese family name with around 40 percent of people in the country sharing it, the report said. The prevalence extends as many Vietnamese have emigrated. Nguyen is the seventh most common family name in Australia, and the 54th most common in France. In the US, it is the 57th most common family name according to the 2000 Census, as well as the most common exclusively Asian surname. Smith, originating in England and now used by more than four million people, also makes the list with Smirnov, the most common surname in Russia used by more than 2.5 million people, which is derived from an adjective meaning “quiet, gentle, still, meek”; and Müller meaning “miller” as a profession, a German surname used by more than a million people.

18 | The Word April 2012

SON SUES FATHER FOR 1 CHICKEN, 18 EGGS A man in Dat Do District in the southern province of Ba Ria, Vung Tau has filed a lawsuit against his biological father, seeking one chicken and 18 eggs in compensation. The district’s court, who is handling the suit, says the man, aka PTQ, accused his father of destroying 18 eggs, beating a cock and breaking a leg of a hen that later couldn’t reproduce. His father admitted to breaking four eggs in a moment of anger over his son’s inappropriate behaviour. He consequently had offered to give his son two chickens and some eggs for compensation but the son refused, demanding him to pay back enough eggs that are going to hatch. Ta Minh Tri, chief police officer of Long Tan Commune, told Tuoi Tre, “We feel ashamed having to hand over the case to the court but we had no other choice because every citizen has a right to file a lawsuit.”

April 2012 The Word | 19




The latest Know Your Finances workshop will be given by Total Wealth Management on Apr. 14 from 1.30pm to 3pm. Topics include the nine key financial ratios every expat should know about. Learn about your financial position through a series of interactive financial exercises. Understand your finances and what your risk and investment profile is and how to create wealth for your retirement. For further information and to register, contact Seating is limited

The event is scheduled to take place from Apr. 26 to May 1 in the skies over Phan Thiet and Hoa Thang at an altitude of 150m to 500m. The festival is expected to attract the participation of 20 to 30 balloons controlled by 50 pilots from countries such as Indonesia, Japan, Germany, France and Belgium. During the daytime, balloons will be flown within the observation range of viewers. At night, the flying team will perform lantern effects. This is the first event of its kind to be held in Vietnam.

From now through Oct 28, Paris will be served from Ho Chi Minh City four times weekly, with three flights operated by Air France and one flight operated in code-share by Air France’s Skyteam partner Vietnam Airlines. Flights to Paris will also continue from Hanoi five times a week with the trip operated in code-share by Vietnam Airlines. To celebrate the launch of the summer schedule, Air France is running a number of discount deals. Passengers travelling to Paris and Europe between April and July can save up to VND3,150,000 in economy, VND4.2 million in premium voyageur and VND6,930,000 in business class. For more info, visit

DIGITAL BRAND BUILDING Join BBGV’s seminar on Apr. 11 to find out how you can build your brand by making 'digital' part of your marketing mix. Key speakers from leaders in the industry — Red Brand Builders and Cimigo — will share the very latest insights and trends to help you understand what people really do online in Vietnam. Innovative digital marketing strategies will also be presented to help you connect your brand with your customers. Attendance costs VND200,000 for members and VND300,000 for nonmembers (includes one complimentary beer/soft drink and canapes). Contact Tran for more information at 3829 8430 or register online at

FAMILY FUN DAY Saigon Star International School (Residential Area No. 5, Thanh My Loi, Q2) is gearing up for their second annual Family Fun Day. The gates will be open to the public from at 10am to 4pm and will be chock full of food, fun and frivolity. Snacks and sweets will be on hand to feed the masses. Bouncy castles, horse rides and drama workshops will keep the kids enthralled. Entry is free and all are welcome. For date & info, visit

Orthodontics Treatments Child/Adult

20 | The Word April 2012

the talk


RUNNING PHU QUOC Sporting Republic has announced the launch of an international running race in Phu Quoc on Jun. 17. The Phu Quoc Half Marathon is expected to draw hundreds of local and overseas runners. Three events are scheduled — the main race of 21km, plus the shorter 10km run and a 5km fun run finishing at Long Beach Resort. Registration for the event is open at the Phu Quoc Half Marathon website with participation fees starting at VND525,000 per person.

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San Art will present Static Friction: Burning Rubber, a solo sculptural video installation exhibition by artist collective The Propeller Group that revolves around the motorbike culture. Touching on issues of economy, global urban growth, industry, individuality, rebellion and speed, the exhibition is an attempt to discuss these larger issues with one simple act — the burnout used primarily in street racing culture. The Propeller Group is based in Saigon and Los Angeles, and is comprised of Phunam, Matt Lucero and Tuan Andrew Nguyen. Drawn to television, film, video and the internet in its ability to make information attractive and desired on a mass scale, the group are manipulators of media language keen to reach a larger audience that takes the presentation of art beyond the world of gallery spaces and museums. Static Friction: Burning Rubber is on from now till Apr. 20 at San Art , 3 Me Linh, Binh Thanh

Word of Mouth

the talk

ACADEMIC SCHOLARSHIPS ACG International School Vietnam has announced that it will award five academic scholarships, each worth over VND300 million, to academically gifted students who apply to the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) in the school year 2012-2013. A scholarship application pack can be obtained from the school located at East-West Highway, An Phu Ward, Q2 and must be submitted by Apr. 6, 2012. The scholarship covers 50 percent of the tuition fee for two school years and is open to students who are entering Year 12. Potential candidates will be invited to attend a scholarship examination morning on Apr. 14 at the ACG International School Vietnam campus. For more info, visit

A SENSE OF IT InNoSense — a journey of love is an art book by author/photographer Nick Langat. As the title indicates, the book describes through photographs a timeless journey of love through 48 countries around the world, from Argentina to Vietnam, experienced by two young men. The book also describes, via poetry, the mystery of the human soul in search of beauty and tenderness, discovering love, ultimately facing death and thus reaching eternal love. Hollywood film director Oliver Stone describes the book as “a moving celebration of the bond that can exist between two lovers”. InNoSense contains 241 photos and poetry on 196 pages and is available in bookstores throughout Vietnam for VND666,000. Samples as well as further information, including InNoSense art exhibitions and media reports, are available at

GET RANKED Evason Ana Mandara Nha Trang was recently Vietnam’s highest-ranked hotel and resort on the Gold List in Conde Nast Traveler's compendium of the best hotels, resorts and cruise lines in the world. The resort has also refurbished its infinity pool. For more info, visit www.sixsenses. com/Evason-Ana-Mandara-Nha-Trang

A ROOM WITH A VIEW The British Council Ho Chi Minh City Centre, based at high school Le Quy Don, will offer extra space for the at-capacity British Council Vietnam Ho Chi Minh City operation. The centre reflects the British Council’s growing commitment to Vietnam as well as Vietnam’s growing international outlook. Sounds like some healthy bilateral relations are being implemented. For more info, visit www.ukinvietnam.

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TAKING IN OXYGEN Six Senses Ninh Van Bay will be the first spa in Vietnam to launch a full professional and retail range of Intraceuticals Oxygen treatments. This was made possible by Patricia Steel, global training manager and one of the founding members of Intraceuticals. Patricia has travelled the world training many of the Intraceuticals team including Madonna’s personal facialist Michelle Peck, Donatella Versace’s entourage and ex-Prada designer Neil Barat Barbour. For more info, visit

April 2012 The Word | 25

WIRED P-P-P-PICK UP A PENGUIN The zoo has gone viral. SeaWorld San Diego has launched a 24-hour live Penguin Cam in collaboration with Discovery Channel’s new TV special, Frozen Planet. All through April you can log on any time, day or night and be shamelessly distracted. Watch long enough and the birds will come up to the camera and peer at you with their little beady eyes. In addition to the curiously entertaining Penguin Cam, try out the game, Criminal Penguins. It’s a silly, mindless activity where you try and snatch up all the rocks to complete your penguin nest before any other penguins. It comes with accompanying info, too, in the form of graphic sheets — perfect if you want to impress your friends with your odd but vast knowledge of these Antarctic creatures. Full episodes of Frozen Planet are also available on the site. If you are going to observe the penguins strutting around in their tuxedos with their chests puffed out, then make sure you leave a comment. You can even catch daily feedings and every Monday join the live online chat with a penguin expert at 12pm EST. The penguin exhibit at SeaWorld has more than 300 penguins from five different species. If you’re really bored at the office or have nothing better to do of a weekend, see if you can identify any of them. The Penguin Cam will be streamed live until Apr. 30. Watch it online at www.dsc.

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DANCE THE NIGHT AWAY THE NATIVE TONGUE To celebrate the opening of their new centre in Phu My Hung, Vietnamese Language Studies is offering discounts on all their group courses in April —10 percent discount if you enroll in a group class, enroll with a friend and both parties get 20 percent off, and with a third person all three will receive a 30 percent discount On Apr. 6 they will have a grand opening day where guests can get level-tested, play language games, try a sample class, practice Vietnamese and enjoy Vietnamese food and culture. Discounts only apply to group courses at the Phu My Hung centre located at R4 - 28 Hung Phuoc 2, Le Van Them, Q7. For more info, visit

SalSaigon has just reopened after a short break. For those who love dancing and salsa, this is for you. They hold classes every Monday night from 7.30pm to 9.30pm at La Habana (6 Cao Ba Quat, Q1). Cost is VND550,000 per person for six sessions. A discount of five percent for a single foreigner and 20 percent for a male and female couple is valid for April only. Contact Tien on 0906 006332 for more details

SAY CHEESE Westcoast International Dental Clinic will host the annual International Smiles Art Contest, which aims to promote the importance of early dental care for all children under the age of twelve through a fun and interactive art contest. The winner will receive VND21 million and the winning picture will be displayed at one of their clinics. In addition, the winner’s school will receive VND6.3 million to be given to a charity chosen by the school. The content of the art should be dental related and of a minimum A4 size. Entries may be submitted at Westcoast International located in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi from Apr. 1 to May 15. Entries must include the child’s full name, age and school. For further info, visit www.

GET CLICKING ASSIST and Asian Development Bank NGO and Civil Society Center will be holding a photography competition called Click. Submitted photos should show any or a combination of the following themes — addressing climate change, gender and development, managing the effects of disasters and food security. Over VND63 million worth of prizes are available to the winners, who will be chosen based on the following criteria — substance, impact and creativity (worth 50 percent); and composition, clarity and technical quality (accounting for the other 50 percent). The deadline for submission is Apr. 15. For more info, visit adb-ngoc-photo-contest or email adbngocphotocontest@


MON 30 0

To have your event included in our calendar, please email by no later than Apr. 10 with a description of the event and a high-res photo





Independence Day. 10% discount for group booking from 5 person p at Hog’s Breath


Salsa Sa Classes at Clas La Habana. H Every Mon. at 77.30pm


Free Beer Mondays. 6pm to 7.30pm every Mon. at BoatHouse

Happy Hour - Half Price Drinks. 5.30pm to 8.30pm from Mon. to Fri. at Xu


VND42,000 Bacardi and Coke, VND160,000 jugs of Mojito. 5pm every Mon. at Le Pub

GBA Monthly Meeting at New World. Visit www.gba-vietnam. org for details

Parcours. From Mar. 16 to Apr. 15 at Craig Thomas Gallery. Email info@ for info


Blind Test. 9pm every Tue. at Ala Mezon

Static Friction: Burning Rubber. Until Apr. 20 at San Art Happy Hour. 50% off every day from 4pm to 7pm at The Deck Live acoustic night. 8.30pm every Tue. at La Habana


Jordan Howard on Underground. 9pm at Blanchy’s Tash

50% Off on any 2nd Prime Rib Steak. From 5pm to 9pm every Mon. at Hog’s Breath

17 Descendance. Descendance 7pm 7 at Youth Cultural House Y (44 Pham Ngoc Thach, Q1). Q Email chau-thuy. for info

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In The Biz Mondays. 9pm M at Lush

VND21,000 Vodka drinks. 5pm every Tue. at Le Pub

Buy 1 pizza get 1 free. From 5pm to 9pm every Tue. at Hog’s Breath


The Western Night – the 11th birthday anniversary of Seventeen Saloon, 7pm. Call 01215 017017 for info

Ladies' Day - free drink for ladies. Every Tue. at Tamagoo

Salsa classes at 7.30pm & Romantic Night with Carmen & Brothers at 8.30pm. Every Mon. at La Habana

Happy Hour with house wine, beer and cocktail. 4pm to 7pm from Mon. to Fri. at Mekong Merchant

Happy hour. 5pm to 7pm from Mon. to Thu. at Koh Thai

BBGV Networking Night. 8pm at KOTO. Visit for details

28 | The Word April 2012



Saigon Players Club Night. Every first Wed. of the month at La Habana. Email for info

Sugarbowl Jazz Trio with Lindsay Erdman. 8pm Apr. 4 & 18 and 3pm Apr. 15 at Zero (15 Dong Du, Q1)


Open Mic Nite. 7pm at La Habana. Visit for more info

BBGV’s Seminar Digital Brand Building in VN. 5.30pm at Purple Jade. Email officemanager@bbgv. org for info

Tapas Fiesta & Wine through the night. 7.30pm every Mon. at La Habana




Live Music. 6.30pm every Wed. at Al Fresco’s Thao Dien

Kaiser T Rocks on Juicy. 9pm at Blanchy’s Tash

Salsa classes at 7.30pm and Jazz Night at 8.30pm. Every Thu. at La Habana Happy Hour. 5pm to 8pm every day, except Sun. at Alibi Battered Barramundi & Prawns for VND200,000. From 5pm to 9pm every Thu. at Hog’s Breath


Happy hour – all draught beers for VND30,000. From 5pm to 7pm Mon. to Fri. at Hog’s Breath

Happy Hour. 4pm to 7pm every day at Pasha


Ladies’ Night. Every Thu. at Bootleg

Happy Hour. From 5pm to 9pm every day at Bacchus Corner

Steak & Ale Combo for VND200,000. From 5pm to 9pm every Wed. at Hog’s Breath

Happy hour. From 2pm to 7pm everyday at Chile House (42 Bis Tran Quoc Thao, Q3)

Saigon Players Script Night. Every third Wed. of the month. Email saigonplayers@ for info

Happy Hour with house wine, beer and complementary appetisers. 4pm to 7pm from Mon. to Fri. at MM Bistro Saigon

25 The Deutschentreff at La Habana. 26 Every last Wed. of the month

Ladies Night with Carmen & Brothers’ Live acoustic. 8.30pm ever Wed. at La Habana Anzac Day. 11am at Hog’s Breath

SBA Meeting. Every last Thu. of the month at Vasco’s. Visit www.

Grandmasterr Flash. 9pm at Blanchy’ss Tash


Friday drinks. 4pm every Fri. at Vino

Set lunch for VND160,000. From Mon. to Fri. at Hog’s Breath

Friday Fiesta. 9pm at La Habana

Golf days at Dong Nai Golf Club. Every first weekend of the month. Call 0909 273997 for info


Woozie wih DJ- Ajam. 9pm at Vasco’s

Maeve & Dave. 9.30pm every Fri. at Thi Café Prime Rib Steak & Crayfish Combo for VND500,000. From 5pm to 9pm every Fri. at Hog’s Breath


The 7th Annual VinaCapital CanCham Open Charity Golf Tournament. 11.45pm at Long Thanh Golf Club. Email em@ for info


Leyote Taylor. 11pm from Mon. to Fri. at MZ & 10pm every Sat. at Thi Café

Sunday Paellas & Happy Hour. 12pm to 8pm every Sun. at La Habana

Cocktail masterclasses every Sat. at Koh Thai. Call 0918 264389 for info


SoundFest at Phu Tho Stadium (1 Lu Gia, Q11). Visit for details

Scholarship Examination @ ACG Int. School. Email Myco.Tran@acgedu. com for info


Know Your Finances Workshop. 1.30pm. Email karin. eisenbach@t-wm. com for info

Mr. 10, Navin, Icee & Justin Murta. 9.30pm every Sat at Xu

The New Zealand Wine and Food Festival at Riverside Apartment (53 Vo Truong Toan, Q2). For more info, visit www.newzealand. com/business and click ‘events’ The Hanse Tag on BonSai. Visit www. for details


28 Balloon Festival. From Apr. 26 to May 1 in Phan Thiet, Hoa Thang Commune

Crazy People. From Apr. 26 to May 17 at Craig Thomas Gallery


Drew Tudose on o XXL. XXL X . 9pm 9pm at Blanchy’s Tash


Keith Pavey ‘Ol 55’ Rock and Roll. 3pm Apr. 8 & 22, 8pm Apr. 11 at Zero (15 Dong Du, Q1)

Live music with BBQ. Every Sun. night at Ala Mezon

Breakfast & Brunch plus Buckets of Corona for VND340,000. From 9am to 2.30pm every weekend at Hog’s Breath Life Drawing Workshop. 9am every Sun. at Pandora Studio Café (2A Nguyen Van Cu)

22 Cooking ng class. Apr. 8 and 22 at Koh oh Thai. Call 0918 264389 389 for info nfo

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Sunday S d Session S i andd Pool P l Party. P t 20% discount when you top up your VIP card. At Hog’s Breath

3 + 1. 8pm every Sun. at Juno Corner (76 Mac Dinh Chi) Saigon Swing Club and Relaxing Night Sa with w Carmen & Brothers. 7pm every Sun. at La Habana




The city's Russian community and friends waved 'dasvidania' to winter and said 'zdrastvueetee' to spring at this year's Maslenitsa butter and pancake festival at the Windsor Plaza Hotel

DJ Valique headlined the latest dOSe party at Movenpick Hotel’s Slate bar, following a day of loungy beats by Scrambled Edge, Jan Hagenkoetter, John McGowan and Dougspace by the pool






RSD IN EFFECT The Bristol bass music veteran proved he's still got it by tearing down the house at Vasco's with enough wobble to make even jello jealous



The grand opening of City Garden, the city’s first open-air café-bar, proved you don’t need a roof and air conditioning to have a good time in this town


The DIY indie-electro and disco-punk dance party celebrated its third anniversary at Vasco’s with a headlining performance by Digital Native’s DJ Dan and sets from superkid and White Pigeon

30 | The Word April 2012



It was a busy month for Mekong Creations and Mekong Quilts with the grand opening of their district one store and a royal visit from Princess Mathide of Belgium during her tour of Vietnam





Set to go down as one the gigs of the year, the former Prodigy man wowed Saigon’s ravers with close to four hours of non-stop dance beats at Lush

RED DEVILS Former Manchester United legends Dennis Irwin and Gordon McQueen came to Chill to promote the Premier League, Casillero del Diablo wine and, of course, the red side of Manchester

April 2012 The Word | 31




THE FOURTH AIRLINE With operations commencing last December, VietJetAir provides a budget alternative for air travel in Vietnam. But can they succeed where others have failed? Nick Ross spoke to deputy general director Pritam Singh about the challenges of setting up an airline. Photo by Quinn Ryan Mattingly

How and why was VietJetAir formed? It was originally formed by a group of Vietnamese entrepreneurs. They got their license back in 2007 but due to the economic crisis, they didn’t start up operation until last year. Originally VietJetAir was going to team up with AirAsia, but that wasn’t realised. So, they did an in-depth study and decided to get into operation. I joined back in September. Because we’re a budget airline, we are not in direct competition with Vietnam Airlines. The national carrier has their own niche market — there will always be people that for one reason or another travel Vietnam Airlines. For us it’s about education, about persuading people to get off the roads and the long bus or train journeys and instead travel by air. To do that we have to come up with a price that is affordable and then look at volume base. Budget carriers like Indochina Airlines have tried to succeed in Vietnam but failed. How will you avoid their mistakes? I did a personal study of Indochina Airlines — we didn’t want to fall into their trap. One of their mistakes was that they brought in wet-lease aircraft. This means not only did they rent the aircraft but they also rented the technical team, the pilots and the crew. So the costs were really high. We went straight into a dry lease programme — we lease the aircraft long-term, which is far cheaper. Then we do the rest ourselves. It’s like going to London and deciding to take a taxi. You hire a taxi driver with a taxi for 24 hours a day and it’s expensive. But if you rent a car for a whole month, it’s far cheaper. That’s the avenue we went down. Also, Indochina decided they were not a budget airline but a full-service, two-class

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Do you think there is genuinely a place for a no-frills budget operator like yours in Vietnam where its people are obsessed with all things luxury? Look around. How many percent of the population are really into luxury? We’re not interested in that market. The open air, on-the-street restaurants are full every day. It’s those people that we’re targeting. And anyway, those people who pay for luxury will travel business class. We’re a budget airline.

aviation industry and the way Vietnamese people travel? Our main goal is to fly to as to as many destinations within Vietnam so we can give everyone a chance to fly with us and also allow incoming tourists to go to as many locations as an aircraft can travel to. Then to expand internationally. We will look at ASEAN first — Singapore, Kuala Lumpur — and then North Asia, Korea, Japan, Taipei and certain parts of China. By the end of 2015 we hope to have a fleet of 15 aircraft. Our first expansion is over the next two months when we will increase the frequency of flights between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and open up routes to Danang and Nha Trang.

To be able to offer such low prices like VND299,000, certain amenities must have been forfeited, what are they? The one thing we won’t forfeit, of course, is safety. Not at any price. Our aircraft are fairly new — on average three-years-old — which makes them easy to maintain. This allows us to ensure our flights arrive on time. That VND299,000 fare is a promotion price only, and only for a limited number of seats. Then it flexes up a bit. We also don’t provide any form of meals or drinks on board as part of the price of the airfare. We try to maximise the use of each aircraft. Safety permitting, we try to fly 360 hours a month rather than 230 to 250 hours. And we have 180 seats onboard our A320s rather than 150 seats. For us it’s all about volume and to do this we have to be very cost-efficient. We cannot have too much fat in the system.

The company currently has a team of pilots who are 100 percent foreigner. Why hire more expensive pilots from overseas rather than Vietnamese pilots? There is a lack of Vietnamese pilots in this country — it affects all the operators here. So, we have to hire foreigners. Also, good Vietnamese pilots cost as much as foreign pilots. We’re now looking at a localisation programme where we hire young pilots who have a license but don’t have the A320 rating. So, we hire them, send them to Airbus for their training and then over time provide them with the background and experience to fly our planes. So, if this happens, the programme will be for up to 15 pilots. We’re also hoping to build our own simulator centre here that will help us with our own pilots and other A320 operators around the region. We’re looking at a lot of avenues that will logistically enhance the airline.

What are your goals for the airline? What are you looking to achieve in terms of the

For more information on VietJetAir, go to www.

carrier. That found them competing directly with Vietnam Airlines. We’re not here to compete with Vietnam Airlines. We’re here to complement them wherever possible. The piece of cake is big enough for all of us.

April 2012 The Word | 35


Ho Chi Minh City is a mosaic, a city of neighbourhoods and districts, each with their own personalities. Eight million residents and possibly many more are sprawled across 24 districts, with Binh Tan housing the highest population — almost 600,000 denizens — eclipsing District 1’s head count of a mere 200,000. For those who think Ho Chi Minh City is confined to the perimeters of District 1, District 2 or District 7, you’re wrong. Take District 6 for instance. Its Hokkien, Cantonese, Fujian and Teochew residents have lived there their whole lives and rarely see the point of venturing further afield. And Go Vap, home to a somewhat gregarious bunch of folks, has its own Pham Ngu Lao, but you won’t see any backpackers there. The more active people in District 11 head to the sports stadium to stay fit, while the souls who call District 8 home live private lives at a relaxed pace. Anyone who laments the lack of things to do outside their international-influenced comfort zones is missing the wider picture. Time, therefore, to explore the outer limits. Because these oft overlooked neighbourhoods reveal the city’s true character and complexity.

36 | The Word April 2012

April 2012 The Word | 37



TINH XA LOC UYEN PAGODA 121 Kinh Duong Vuong, Q6 Daily 5am to 9pm District 6 is a nest of Buddhist enclaves, and this is perhaps the loveliest of them all — and a great place to visit while you’re in the area. Emphatically a pagoda rather than a temple, the central structure is divided into three storeys, topmost of which is an octagonal tower constructed to enclose a sacred stupa within. The lower levels are for prayer and instruction, and robed devotees can be seen reciting their scriptures in large numbers, led in service by the resident tonsured monks. The pagoda is the centre of the sixth chapter of Master Minh Dang Quang’s Mendicant Buddhist Order, a home-grown system dating from the 1940s. It was built by the Venerable Thich Giac Hue in 1965, who recognised that the densely-populated and well-cultured area of what is now District 6 was an ideal environment for spreading his message. Visitors are enthusiastically welcomed, and may be invited for a cup of tea or a free vegetarian meal — and if you’re there on Thursday or Sunday between 8am and 11am, a specialist in the Vietnamese medical tradition will be available to offer free diagnosis and herbal treatments for ailments.

The labyrinth of suburban Chinatown is easy to navigate if you know where to go. Words by Michael Arnold. Photos by Quinn Mattingly and EJ Chung

Hoc Mon


Tan Binh

Tan Phu Binh Tan

Phu Nhuan Q3 Q10

Q11 Q5

Q6 N

Thu Duc

Go Vap

Binh Thanh



Q4 Q7

Q8 Binh Chanh

Not many people living in Ho Chi Minh City will know that in one of its earlier incarnations, this entire region was designated as two distinct cities based around the tributaries of the Saigon River — one Vietnamese and one Chinese. It wasn’t until 1931 that they were united, and even then the city was officially called SaigonCholon, until its name was shortened to become just ‘Saigon’ in 1956. Nowadays, the Cholon area is normally associated with District 5, but the old suburban areas of the town are largely found in District 6. A strong folk-cultural presence remains here that has a quieter nature than you’ll find in central Chinatown.

Nha Be



TO KY SA TE 156 Gia Phu, Q6 Daily 4pm to 11pm HU TIEU SA TE NOODLES VND35,000 to VND45,000

If downtown Cholon is in District 5, then why is the Cho Lon itself — the ‘big market’ that gives the area its name — actually situated in District 6? The answer is that the highly characteristic Binh Tay Market that stands on Le Tan Ke is not ‘Cho Lon’ — or at least, it’s not the original. The old Cho Lon stood on the site of the District 5 Post Office until it burnt down sometime in the last century, and that may itself have been named after an earlier Cho Lon where Cho Ray Hospital stands today. Binh Tay is, however, a worthy inheritor of the title, being one of the most intriguing buildings in the city and probably the centre of the

38 | The Word April 2012

wholesale trade in southern Vietnam. With its central clock tower, Chineselattice ventilation windows, and ornate dragons dancing on the eaves, the market looks like a cross between a railway station and a temple. The confusion of architectural styles is intentional — its creator, Quach Dam of China’s Chaozhou, was at the time one of the richest and most influential men in Indochina, and he wanted it to be something special. It was thus built with the finest in western technical prowess — steelreinforced concrete — and incorporated the most ostentatious Chinese designs. Undeniably the foremost attraction of

the district, Binh Tay Market wins out over the more familiar Ben Thanh Market in the city for its wider range of produce, the absence of aggressive bargaining, and — importantly — cheaper prices. It’s been claimed that vendors there are reluctant to sell their goods in anything less than bulk quantities, but this is untrue — the market has been a lesser tourist attraction long enough for merchants to be quite comfortable with foreign buyers browsing for small-quantity sale items. Come here to admire the building, pick up some cheap clothing and ponder its unique history.

To Ky Sa Te is the original and best of three restaurants, all run by the same family, serving the quintessential version of Vietnamese satay — hu tieu sa te. The dish has a strong presence in local history, hearkening back to the days when all of Southeast Asia buzzed with Chinese trade. Satay — a spicy peanut dish — was adapted from an Indian recipe and transported by the Chinese throughout the region, planting itself firmly in Cholon, where it took on additional Vietnamese characteristics. Today, District 6 remains the stronghold of this local variety of satay, and it’s the place most people come to try it. On a particularly quiet road out behind the Binh Tay Market, its unimpressive façade is easy to miss; the aroma of the peanut soup, however, is unmistakable. Milder than the better known Malay variety, To Ky’s traditional recipe removes the harsher spices in favour of Chinese sauces, lending more focus to the undertones of cinnamon, cardamom, liquorice and turmeric. Its use of soft, white hu tieu noodles, rare beef, and cucumber centres this as a Vietnamese-style recipe. Even if you’re nervous about trying spicy dishes, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.



DIEM HOA TUOI HAU GIANG 416 Hau Giang, Q6 Open 24 hours

BAR 2000 171-173-175 Duong Cho Lon, Q6 Daily 8pm to 3.30am

A rather more pleasant place to shop is District 6’s wholesale fresh flower market, one of the largest of its kind in the city. Entering after 3am when the activity really picks up is a unique experience; the massive interior is literally carpeted with buckets of roses, chrysanthemums, lilies, orchids, and so on, all delivered fresh-cut out of Dalat. This market serves the majority of the commercial flower stalls in the greater Cholon region, and the flowers here are cheaper than any of theirs. Wicker baskets, flowers and other floral arrangement accessories are available at many of the stalls, each operated by families who literally live the flower business — their homes are behind the rear partitions.

A surprise in the otherwise conservative rural Chinatown areas, Bar 2000 is not a place to go to have a quiet drink and chat with friends — at a venue where the music dominates everything, you wouldn’t be able to make out a single word without it being yelled in your ear. That’s ok, though, because this is more of a place to be seen and to delight in the nightly live performances of charged nymphet dancing and melodramatic Vietnamese standards accompanied by insistent techno backbeats. Drink prices are astronomical — but this is still worth visiting if you’re in the area by sheer virtue of the fact that it’s incredibly fun. Watch as smartly-dressed waiters and wildlydressed waitresses succumb periodically to the all-pervasive rhythms, twisting giddily as they approach to refill your glass. See the laser light show and massive LCD displays proclaiming the talents of the local DJs, and try to stop yourself from shaking to the music as you lean against your chest-level table — you can’t.

WHY I LOVE DISTRICT 6 “There’s a saying in Ho Chi Minh City: ‘Live in District 3, but eat in District 6’. The Chinese food in this area is delicious, and there are so many varieties. Some of the noodle dishes, particularly yellow noodles and local satay, are the best in the city. While most of the restaurants are very simple, the food itself is tasty and authentic.”

- JEFF TRAN, Businessman April 2012 The Word | 39



215 Phan Van Tri, Go Vap One of the most ornate and best preserved temples in the city, Van Phong Chu Hoa Khanh, or Sky Pagoda was last renovated in 1982, accounting for its current seamless beauty. Built in 1867, the six-level pagoda gets its name from the cloud-filled skies delicately painted throughout the rooms. Even the feeling of air and light has been accentuated with terraces on each level. Make sure you get up to the top floor where, thanks to the windows that line the walls, you will be able to get a great view of Go Vap below. Other interesting pagodas can be found throughout the district, some with particular associations such as the Nghe Si Pagoda (116/6 Thong Nhat, P.11), or the Artists’ Pagoda, where 500 famous and lesser known musicians, painters and actors are buried. The pagoda was built in 1958 by renowned artist Phung Ha, who was intent on providing a resting place for fellow artists, even going as far as funding headstones herself, a practice now covered by donations and benefactors.

On the surface Go Vap appears to be a vast landscape of randomness. But the home of the city’s other street called Pham Ngu Lao is a district untouched by tourism and influences from overseas. Words by James Allen. Photos by EJ Chung Hoc Mon



Binh Tan


Thu Duc

Ho Chi Minh City’s vast northern district, Go Vap, is a utilitarian place, straddling the airport on one side, rubbing shoulders with District 12 to the north and Binh Thanh to the south. Over 540,000 Phu Tan Nhuan people live there, a fact that is evident when trying to traverse the district — the traffic is relentless. Phu Q3 In a bid to ease the congestion, a giant highway to connect the northeast (Binh Loi) and northwest Q1 Q2 Q10 (Tan Son Nhat Airport) is being constructed, cutting directly across the northern districts in an effort Q11 Q4 Q5 to take the pressure off overloaded city roads. We will have to see how much this will help. Q6 Q7 Go Vap comes from the word go meaning hill and vap, a type of tree common to the area. Because Q8 the district sits slightly higher above sea level than its compatriots next door, the residents joke that Binh Nha if there were ever an apocalyptic flood, Go Vap would be the only part of the city left above water. Chanh Be This is a district without tourism, little affected by the globalisation sweeping across the rest of the city. Bursting with extended families, street food and scruffy-haired teenagers racing down the alleys and up and down the main roads, Go Vap is what Ho Chi Minh City’s central districts would look like without the all-encompassing influence from overseas. Tan Binh


Binh Thanh

HANH THONG TAY NIGHT MARKET Quang Trung, Go Vap For those who can’t seem to get out of bed in time for the market and won’t subject themselves to trawling the stalls during the midday heat, Hanh Thong Tay night market provides a cooler alternative with stalls opening from 6pm. As one shift of market stall holders packs up their things, another trader sets up shop for a busy night. In place of the standard fruit and vegetable stalls, vendors unpack large bags of discount clothing and untangle piles of jewellery under the glare of powerful strip lighting. Rows upon rows of cheap clothes are available as well as boxes of cosmetics and accessories. Bicycles selling banh trang nuong and roasted chestnuts are one of the perks of late night bargain hunting. Droves of shoppers head to this popular cho from as far away as District 12, but the yawning stall holders can only stay up so late and eventually make for home, clearing their space for the morning shift.




COUNTRY HOUSE 18C Phan Van Tri, Go Vap Not strictly a bar, Country House is probably one of the most famous places in Go Vap. It’s a gargantuan theme park-sized café, complete with a water feature, clay animals frozen mid-prance on well-tended grass and so many levels it could easily be mistaken for an Escher drawing. It’s so popular in fact that a table must be booked well in advance if you are planning on joining the hordes of customers at the weekend. Country House has apparently found the perfect formula for a Vietnamese café, the feeling of space is there as well as an eclectic design aesthetic — a testament to this is the sheer volume of seating available. An extensive menu is on offer, with sinh to or “mixed squashed juciest” priced between VND40,000 to VND50,000. But for those wanting something stronger than beer, a corkage fee of VND100,000 means you can bring a bottle of whatever you like.

Bubbling away at a volcanic temperature, lau or hot pot as many know it is a great meal to fight over with your friends. Lau Thai is a spicier version, burnt orange in colour and full of lemongrass, chilli, ginger and other flavours that Vietnamese think of as being Thai. Lau Dong Que, or rural hotpot if roughly translated, is by no means a pretty place, but the food is full of flavour, quick to be delivered and very cheap — what more could you want? Sitting on the roof top can be hot during the day, but at night the temperature is cool enough to balance out the steam rising from the pan of boiling broth. The restaurant, despite its humble appearance, is packed most nights with hungry guests consuming bottle after bottle of beer and countless plates of the great seafood they serve here. Along with your hot pot expect a plate of fresh rau muong and other vegetables, as well as a couple of handfuls of seafood. If you are hungry enough, additional plates can be ordered and an extra jug of broth is also available.

WHY I LOVE GO VAP “My family's lived in Go Vap since I was three. I love living here because it is very convenient, I can find everything I want very quickly. From my house I can walk to two supermarkets in three minutes, to the bookstore in five minutes and to the market in six. Due to the large amount of migrants from other provinces Go Vap has become very crowded, but it does mean that everything is much cheaper here.”

- PHUC LE, Education Consultant 40 | The Word April 2012



KITE FLYING IN DONG DIEU 697 Pham The Hien, Q8 (go straight down Cao Lo) Approximately 5.30pm to 6.30pm every day The 2003 Khaled Hosseini novel The Kite Runner romanticised the practise of flying kites, which is still popular in Vietnam. Located off a busy, bumpy road that runs parallel to the river, Cao Lo opens into undeveloped land with untamed grass along one side, and coffee shops and bia hois along the other. During the day, this is quite an unassuming street, with not much to see except development ideas for the future. However, in the early evening the place comes alive with hundreds of people flying kites all along the street. There are also kite sellers around for those who forgot theirs at home.

The only district separated into distinct parts by the city's major canals, District 8 boasts more greenery than buildings. All making this a tranquil escape from the metropolis beyond. Photos by Quinn Ryan Mattingly

Hoc Mon

Q12 Thu Duc

Go Vap

Tan Binh

Tan Phu Binh Tan

Phu Nhuan Q3 Q10

Q11 Q5

Binh Thanh





Q4 Q7

District 1 can fit inside District 8 with room to spare. Located a surprisingly accessible distance from the popular areas of central Saigon, the main part of District 8 can be reached through District 5, across the Nguyen Tri Phuong Bridge. The road becomes Pham Hung, a bloodline that runs through District 8 until it reaches Binh Chanh. The district is a mixture of twisting alleys, bustling markets, tiny half-hidden bia hois and sudden bursts of undeveloped greenery.

Q8 Binh Chanh


Nha Be

TO DINH AN PHU TEMPLE 24 Pham Hung, Q8 A mixture of bright colours, intricate mosaics and twisting turrets and bridges, To Dinh An Phu Temple sprawls out over two main courtyards on the right side of the road soon after crossing the Nguyen Tri Phuong Bridge. The view of the pagoda from the road is mesmerising, with the tiered worshipping place painted in turquoise, pink, orange and blue. However, stepping inside proves to be an even greater eye-opener. This is very much a working temple, with a bustling feel in the first courtyard and main corridor. People can be seen arranging flower bouquets to the left, and mountains of orange and red candles, and red apples for offerings are piled on tables. Into the second courtyard, the temple seems to merge with nature. Twisting cavelike structures stretch up to the overhead gangways, which twist like the gnarled tree branches spread out over the courtyard. Stalactites and stalagmites fuse the building with the greenery of the courtyard, creating an illusion of a magical forest land. The pagoda seems to have sprung from the ground itself, which seems unbelievable given the buzzing traffic just outside the walls. Small ponds in the courtyard house miniature models of pagodas and Buddha statues, and live terrapins laze at the surface of the water in the morning sun. Mosaic tiles glint everywhere in the sunshine and upon closer inspection, each tile is patterned like china crockery. In places, broken milk-jugs and tea plates are also set into the walls. This pagoda is a place of hidden corners, nooks and crannies, with so much to take in that your eyes won’t stop roaming.

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BINH XUYEN 63/16 Pham Hung, Q8

CHARM CAFÉ Corner of Pham Hung and So 5, Q8

Bordering District 8 and Binh Chanh is the beautifully located Binh Xuyen restaurant. Named after the former gang coalition who during the early to middle part of the last century controlled Nha Be, District 4 and parts of District 8, the modern day version is decidedly less controversial, providing an outdoor dining experience where gazebos are set around a tranquil lake filled with water plants. The restaurant is located down a long road, which offers it a quiet atmosphere as it is not directly next to busy Pham Hung. At early lunchtime, the place is quiet, with an abundance of staff hovering nearby, and a few tables of locals drinking beer together. There is a large selection of seafood, with an array of glass tanks showcasing squid, prawns, fish and crab. Dishes start at approximately VND25,000 and rise up to over VND400,000 for shared dishes. Diners can also borrow a bamboo fishing rod, bait and try their luck at catching a fish by dangling it over the railings as they sit waiting to catch their meal.

The entrance of this quaint cafe is overflowing with hanging baskets and potted plants, immediately transporting guests from concrete jungle to actual jungle. The café is long and narrow, painted in light blues with cream canopies overhead. Small round tables occupy the right side of the room, while on the left is a raised platform that runs the length of the café, and is separated into alcoves by low bookshelves that house books, magazines and chess sets. Each alcove has a low tea table and floor cushioning for diners to lounge on. A couple of guitars sit on stands at either end of the restaurant, and a group of patrons sit near the front quietly picking out tunes on the strings. The staff are friendly and warm, offering a simple menu with a range of teas and coffees priced from VND20,000 to VND30,000. There is also a small food selection offering banh mi and beefsteak amongst other snacks.

WHY I LOVE DISTRICT 8 I’ve lived in District 8 since I was born. The neighbours here have a close relationship with each other. This district isn’t as noisy and busy as the centre of Ho Chi Minh City. You can take a walk along the rice fields as there used to be so many fields around my neighbourhood. I also used to wake up early in the morning to do exercise with my friends along the road and enjoy the fresh air. There are five churches here, so every Christmas season there are many decorations along the road. It’s so beautiful that people from other places come here to enjoy them.

- PHUONG PHAM, teacher assistant at BIS living in District 8



BINH HUNG HOA CEMETERY Cnr of Tan Ky Tan Quy and Binh Long, Tan Phu Binh Hung Hoa Cemetery is the largest graveyard in Ho Chi Minh City, but that doesn’t prepare one for the sight of thousands of tombs of all sizes stretching out over several blocks. People from different religions are laid to rest here, with Christian crosses and Buddhist symbols coexisting side by side. There are approximately 70,000 graves at the cemetery covering an area of about 60 hectares. About 300,000 people are reported to be living on the cemetery grounds in illegal housing among the graves. Plans began in January 2011 to relocate the cemetery as it is causing serious pollution issues for the residents in the surrounding area. The graves are expected to be moved to cemeteries in Binh Chanh and Cu Chi, and the present site is intended to be redeveloped as a residential area. However, at present, the sight of row upon row of tombs remains.

Most non-Vietnamese head to Tan Phu to take their driver’s licence exam at Tien Bo Centre, but Stephanie Cantrell finds out that there’s more to explore here than the road test. Photos by Quinn Ryan Mattingly Hoc Mon

Q12 Go Vap

For the Japanese living in this metropolis, Tan Phu is being primed to become the next Phu My Hung. According to Vietnam News, Aeon Vietnam, an affiliate of leading Japanese retailer Aeon Co Ltd, Phu Nhuan announced last month plans to build a shopping centre in the district. TAN PHU Q3 The US$109 million project, called Aeon-Tan Phu Celadon Shopping Centre, would begin construction Q1 Q2 Q10 this September and would be completed by mid-2014, says Aeon Vietnam CEO Nishitohge Yasuo. Q11 Q4 Q5 Located on a 77,000sqm area in Celadon City (located in Tan Phu), the shopping mall will have some Q6 Q7 130 speciality retail outlets with goods domestically sourced and others imported from Japan and globally. Q8 "These shopping centres and stores would also help boost exports of Vietnamese goods to Japan," Binh Nha he continues, adding that the operation of the shopping centre “is expected to help attract many other Chanh Be Japanese companies to enter Vietnam”. Whether Tan Phu will become the new centre for the city’s Japanese community will be something we have to wait and see. What is true is that this sprawling, expanding suburb houses more than just the usual localised extension of downtown Saigon. Tan Binh

Binh Tan


Thu Duc

Binh Thanh



THE HIGHLIGHT PHU THO HOA TUNNEL 139 Phu Tho Hoa, Tan Phu There’s no need to trek all the way to Cu Chi to see the legendary tunnels as Tan Phu has its own version. Built in 1947, the tunnel under Phu Tho Hoa was used in both the French and American wars and stretches for more than a kilometre. A small museum rests on the site with a few artefacts and photographs detailing the tunnel’s history. The tunnel was abandoned for years before being recognised as a national historical site in 1996. Now, visitors can see the tunnel and experience a vital piece of history. Unlike Cu Chi, the tunnel doesn’t seem to have been expanded for westerners, so the entrance is reached through a rather terrifyingly small, square manhole. Visitors tend to be Vietnamese, and the tour guides speak limited to no English, so a translator would be useful for foreign groups visiting the tunnel. Entrance is free though tipping the tour guide is greatly appreciated.

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QUAN GIO MUA 1 70A Phu Tho Hoa, Tan Phu

STREET FOOD Nguyen Nhu Lam, Tan Phu Located around the corner from the tunnel, Nguyen Nhu Lam is known for its abundance of street food. During daylight hours, the street is quiet with only a few people lounging in the many surrounding cafes. But, come evening, the street comes alive as tables are moved outside the shops and the whole area is lined with different places to eat and drink. The range of Vietnamese food is simple — noodles, fried fish balls, dim sum, smoothies and fruit juice. The dishes are plentiful and perfect for sharing with bun bo, banh canh cua, ca vien chien and sam bo luong being served up at the many establishments. This street is perfect for sampling the local food staples at cheap prices in an al fresco setting.

A large sprawling quan nhau, the atmosphere at this joint is lively and cheerful. At the front of the restaurant are two huge cows being roasted on spits. A young man stands besides one, cutting off portions of deliciously cooked meat with a small knife. Also on the menu are skewered prawns, grilled in a delicious barbeque sauce, and a boar dish that resembles and tastes like a rich pork crackling. Beer is topped up regularly with crates of Saigon Red, Tiger and Heineken stacked all over the restaurant floor. Giant bear-like dogs roam the room freely, startling customers when they turn to find themselves nose-to-nose with the grinning, panting pets. The setting is relaxed and loud and everyone is friendly and smiling.

WHY I LOVE TAN PHU My family has been here for ages. It’s not as busy as the centre, which is nice sometimes and things are cheaper — everything is cheaper. I think those are the main reasons why I still live here.

- KIM VU, Journalist



PHU THO INDOOR SPORTS STADIUM 221 Ly Thuong Kiet, Q11 There is a plethora of activities to help you keep you fit at the 23-hectare Phu Tho Indoor Sports Stadium. Originally built to host the SEA Games back in 2003, it has now become a multi-functional centre with facilities that include 12 badminton courts, a swimming pool, a volleyball court and now even a basketball court with 15 hoops. And for those who want to practice different disciplines other than sports, courses in taekwondo, vovinam, karate, yoga and much more are available. When it opened, the 5,000-seat stadium complex was expected to boost sports in Ho Chi Minh City. It regularly holds national and international sports competitions along with arts and crafts fairs. On any given day, sports enthusiasts of all ilks can be seen battling it out in the grounds here. All making a trip here into an interesting spectacle.

From badminton to water rides and shopping in between, this district has it all. Words by Stephanie Cantrell. Photos by Quinn Ryan Mattingly and EJ Chung

Hoc Mon

Q12 Thu Duc

Go Vap

Tan Binh

Tan Phu Binh Tan

Phu Nhuan Q3


Q10 Q5

Binh Thanh




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Q8 Binh Chanh

The relatively small District 11 covers an area of only five square kilometres. However, despite its size, it has a lot to offer in terms of alternative days out with groups of friends. The streets are lined with simple quan nhau joints next to pricier food court options in the shopping malls. Residents here are either families who have lived in their colonial houses for generations or the younger nouveau riche who take up the modern luxury apartments in blocks such as The Flemington. With the neighbourhood’s growing income, department stores like Parkson and LOTTE Mart have taken advantage of retail potential by setting up shop here.

Nha Be




THANH BINH 282 Lanh Binh Thang, Q11

KIET 143 Le Dai Hanh, Q11

DAM SEN AMUSEMENT PARK 3 Hoa Binh Street, Q11 Located in the amusement park is Dam Sen Water Park is a refreshing retreat from the heat any time of the year. A favourite among thrill-seeking foreign residents and locals, the range of rides is the best you’ll find in the city and the water is blissful in the

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blistering Saigon sun. Take a lesson in aqua dance where shower jets massage you with powerful streams of water or ride the Wandering River, a gentle 400m winding river that passes through trees and caves. For a more heart-hammering experience, try Boomerang, a huge 12m-tall slide that opened in 2010. A raft takes you down the slide at terrifying speeds before gliding up

the opposite incline and down again. For those who don’t suffer from claustrophobia, the Twister is for you, a narrow flume ride that culminates in ejecting the rider from a giant bowl into the water below. There is also a wave pool for those who can’t get to the sea. With a restaurant on the premises, Dam Sen is an ideal place to channel your inner child and forget about work.

Time stops when you step into this curious little shop nestled between mechanic workshops. Swiss clocks hang below longstanding grandfather clocks yellowed with age while tiny alarm clocks sit alongside wooden carriage clocks on shelves. Everywhere short and long hands tick to a timely rhythm with faces beaming in the sun. In and among these timekeepers are old gramophones, ornate and intricate telephone handsets and carved candlesticks. A back wall is entirely dedicated to old, retro cameras and one high shelf houses dozens of metal lanterns. This really does feel like a clockmaker’s workshop with its cluttered surfaces and clock parts piled up on every surface. Well worth a look, even if you don’t plan on buying.

Located opposite a cong vien (park), Thanh Binh is a restaurant set around a central open courtyard with plants and rocks dotted about. A mixture of ordinary dining tables and barbeque stations make up the interior, with the option for diners to cook their own food over a circular grill set into the table. A range of seafood alternatives are showcased in tanks on the left side of the restaurant and the menu comes complete with helpful photographs for nonVietnamese speakers. Prices start from VND130,000. A great venue to share a boisterous meal with friends.

WHY I LOVE DISTRICT 11 “Because it’s not District 1. I think District 1 is overrated and it’s expensive there. We have everything District 1 has but a lot cheaper and the people are not pretentious or feel they are too important to be friendly.”

- NGUYEN HOANG NAM, Freelance graphic designer


SHANGHAI EXPRESS If you’re visiting the epicentre of the world’s fastest-growing economy, it’s only fitting that you take a ride on the world’s fastest passenger train says Michael Arnold. Photos by Raphaël Olivier / NOI Pictures


t may not take you all the way you need to go — the maglev only transports passengers half the way into the city, stopping at a station on a subway line you could have easily taken in the first place — but with a top cruising speed of 431km/h, it’s the fastest way to dispose of any preconceptions you might have about China as being the place where your shoes and underwear are made. Floating half an inch above the guideway, the 30km journey only lasts a disappointing seven or eight minutes, but the trip’s as smooth as a slip of Chinese silk — and it’ll be the fastest you’ve ever gone on land. Preconceptions are something you’re going to have to leave behind you fairly swiftly in Shanghai. The city has a habit of humbling people within moments — just watch the European tourists fumbling with the magnetic tickets at the station gate — and it regularly defies the expectations of first-timers to the People’s Republic of China. Few visitors are prepared for the sheer scale of Shanghai; few anticipate its

dynamic, international appearance or its unmistakable air of confidence. This is the right time to be in Shanghai. For years, observers have accused the Shanghainese of pandering after western fashions — within China they’ve always been regarded with suspicion for their overly-conspicuous use of English expressions in everyday speech, and considered as being pretentiously ‘unChinese’. Since the 2010 World Expo, however, that stigma has vanished. Shanghai’s vogue of the present decade is international, for sure — but the financial strength it represents is no longer a reflection of the west’s, but the vanguard of China’s home-grown economic power. In a country that has for centuries been obsessed with saving face, Shanghai no longer needs to.

The An Phu of Shanghai Shanghai’s easy familiarity with foreign modes stems directly from its colonial past. Today’s city still retains a slice of

that era on its famous Bund, a riverside strip of century-old edifices that preserves the character of the early 20th century. The district is occasionally described as being similar to central Ho Chi Minh City — both are former colonial strongholds that have been transformed into modern metropolitan commercial centres, while in their imperial heydays they were both often described as the “Paris of the East”. A close look at the layout of the Bund reveals that the similarities between the two are not merely superficial; Shanghainese visitors to Vietnam, in fact, often describe the view over the Saigon River as being virtually indistinguishable from the Shanghai of the early 1980s. Strolling down the Bund, it’s easy to see the parallels. On the western bank of the Huangpu River, which seems to curve just like its Vietnamese cousin, lies the old Foreign Concession; 30 years ago, the opposite side would have seemed much the same as District 2. Nowadays, of course, that area looks more like the cover of a

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS Clockwise from left: Xintiandi Bar District, The train,, Shanghai God Temple, Shanghai dumplings

INFORMATION To find out more about Shanghai, either do a search on Wikipedia or go to: Flying direct from Vietnam to Shanghai is costly. Hanoi to Shanghai one way with Vietnam Airlines costs around VND7 million. From Ho Chi Minh city it is around VND7.5 million.

science fiction novel — many of Mainland China’s tallest buildings are there vying for the skyline, decked out in their finest flashing lights and giant LED displays. The disparity between the two river banks is jarring; without looking across to the other side, sauntering along the Bund almost feels like a stroll through a European suburb in the early 1900s. It’s a charming walk, but don’t expect to be alone with your thoughts while you’re there: the Bund is one of the most popular hangouts in a city where the population recently passed the 23 million mark. Across the street at the riverside, half of Shanghai will be there trying to sell you plastic jewellery with flashing lights, and the crowds are so thick it’s often difficult to get right to the edge of the water to take a photograph of space-age Pudong.

AirAsia flies to Shanghai via Kuala Lumpur, but to make the trip worthwhile you will need to book well in advance. The standard oneway fair from KL is VND5.5 million. Another option is to fly to Hong Kong and take an internal flight or fly China Southern Airlines to Guangzhou and switch to a domestic flight to Shanghai.

Jazz and Decadence Right at the centre of the Bund stands the Fairmount Peace Hotel (20 East Nanjing Road), an architectural classic of the late 1920s, where nightly jazz performances relive the gaiety of an earlier age for tourists and expats alike. Regardless of the cultural chaos of that time, with its opium dens and gambling houses, the buoyant mood of the Peace Hotel’s Old Jazz Bar — open until 2am — has made it an incredibly popular venue. What makes the performances at the Old Jazz Bar so authentic are the musicians themselves — the band is comprised of original 1930s-era jazz musicians who played in the days when the hotel was still relatively new. If you can afford to, spend the night there: recent restorations have made this classic old hotel the work of art that it once was when it was first built. Staying on or near the Bund is a good idea in general, as you’ll be well-placed for exploring the city centre. Without living in Shanghai, it would be futile to attempt to come to grips with anything beyond the central areas — Shanghai’s urban sprawl is profound, and the suburbs are virtually continuous between downtown Shanghai and several other cities in the surrounding province. With such an enormous city grid, the traffic is indescribable, and the city administration has had to come up with an

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ingenious solution to deal with the problem — building a second-tier road system several metres above the old one. The result is a glorious tangle of overpasses that has become one of the most distinctive features of Shanghai; while it keeps the ground-level streets shady, it also means that you’re just as likely to have cars driving past your window even if you live on the 15th floor.

City of the Gods Fortunately, you can avoid the traffic by using Shanghai’s metro system, which is exemplary and easy to navigate. For a few Chinese renminbi you’ll be on your way to some of the city’s most iconic places of interest — foremost of which is the extraordinary Chenghuang Temple (247 Middle Fangbang Road), built during the Yongle reign (1403-

1424) of the Ming dynasty. Take a short walk from the West Nanjing Road station on Metro Line 2 to visit. It used to be that every town in China erected a temple for the worship and satisfaction of the local gods. Few of these survive around the country, but it’s very much in keeping with the nature of Shanghai that theirs — a complex of ornate halls about the same size as a university — has become a magnificent labyrinth of merchants. The old buildings are panelled in white like old Tudor homes, but in every other respect they stand magnificent in gorgeous, traditional Chinese style, laid out like a palace while a multitude of salespeople wander about its busy alleyways, approaching foreigners with their large photos of fake watches and

incanting their hopeful, “Ruo-lek-si?” Treat yourself to some genuine oldShanghai snacks while you’re here. At Nanxiang Steamed Bun, you’ll congratulate yourself for sampling the famous xiaolongbao, chewy dumplings filled with chunky pork soup. Although if you’re interested in something slightly more impressive, the tang bao is a bear-sized version of the delicacy. The thick-skinned bread buns should be pierced with a straw — the tasty broth inside is sucked out and the doughy skin should be discarded. The temple’s religious halls are still active, focusing on the worship of prominent city officials from Shanghai’s distant past who are now venerated as saints. Take a look if you’re interested, but you may find it rather more in keeping

with the nature of Shanghai just to wander through the shopping area and enjoy the ruckus of tourists and earnest merchants. Everything is on sale here; gold and jade ornaments alongside plastic fruit and model cars; fans and silks hanging from stalls next to others peddling stuffed toys. Be on the lookout for Shanghai’s version of the ao dai, a glamorous garment known as the qipao which hugs the figure tightly just like the Vietnamese variety — but which, rather intriguingly, is minus the pants.

Cocktails in Heaven Not far from the Chenghuang temple is one of Shanghai’s most happening modern pedestrian districts, the smart Xintiandi — which means “New Heaven and Earth”. This assortment of restaurants and name

brand fashion stores is an attempt to preserve some of the original character of traditional Shanghainese shikumen architecture by incorporating it into a stylish modern design — a trick that has worked. From a distance, the complex looks like a collection of traditional houses made anew — and many Shanghainese will have lived in such homes as children. Get within and you’ll find yourself amidst the trendiest of bars and cafes. Here you’ll find international cuisine and live music played by world-class musicians; here you’ll find an excuse to mellow out as well as a convenient place to go wild. Over the last decade, Xintiandi has become the definitive place to be seen in Shanghai, an impressive claim in a city where many fashionable locations compete fiercely for this reputation. Even if you’re not in the mood for an overly expensive coffee or beer, just strolling around the charming architecture in the daytime is fascinating enough. In a way, Xintiandi reconciles the contradictions between the different faces of the city, serving up the mood of a Shanghai of long ago that is distinct from its colonial history, and at the same time orientating tourists well within the present day. It’s the ideal place to come to terms with an overwhelming city, where you’ll feel at last that you’ve begun to understand what Shanghai’s all about.

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From far away Denmark to neighbouring Thailand, our gastronome explores the two countries’ culinary delights. Photos by EJ Chung

Koh Thai Restaurant & Cocktail Lounge KUMHO LINK, 39 LE DUAN, Q1, TEL: 3823 4423


f any restaurant currently epitomises the ‘new’ Ho Chi Minh City, it’s Koh Thai. From its chic and voguish décor to the menu’s unique and contemporary twist on authentic Thai cuisine, this recently opened venue screams modernity. Upon our visit the emerging middle-income Vietnamese occupy the majority of the dining tables. The restaurant oozes class. Subtly provocative black and white images of the female body adorn the walls, leading the eye towards an exposed industrial ceiling that provides the foundation for gothic chandeliers overhead. The low-level lighting, hushed hues of primary colours and comfortable seating options (private booths, a long, upholstered cushioned backbench and banquet table) help exude a high-end yet calm and relaxed atmosphere. Starting at the bar we peruse the vast, creatively constructed cocktail menu. Though not listed, I order an Old Fashioned (bourbon on the rocks mixed with brown sugar, bitters and a twist of orange rind). The preparation is spot on and it’s easily the best I’ve tasted in this country, so far. Likewise, the cocktail imitation of a coconut curry, A Little Thai’d Up, also hits the spot. The chilli-vodka infused coconut-based cocktail has a real kick,

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too. The bartenders have been well trained and know what they’re doing. The food presents a more interesting story. We order the Thai fish cakes, deep-fried chicken wrapped in panda leaves and salmon sashimi to start. And though the first two appetisers are tasty (the fish cakes plump and juicy, the chicken lean and moist), it’s the tartness of the salmon sashimi that really stands out. Six thin slithers of pink flesh sit upon a plate awash with thinly textured wasabi-based sauce. The fire of the wasabi calmed by the soothing juices of the citrus creates the perfect balance. This offering has the wow factor written all over it. Off to a good start, it’s the mains that cause a degree of conjecture. All parties agree that the red curry with duck is the strongest dish of the night. The addition of pineapple with, what we believe is Thai aubergine, gives the sauce a pleasantly sweet edge that compliments the gaminess of the duck, which itself is tender. The large portion of pad Thai goong (easily enough for three people) possesses many of the requisite components and condiments (an omelette-like cover concealing a mound of stir-fried rice noodles, bean sprouts and shrimps with crushed peanuts, chilli powder

and lime on the side), though for our tastes it suffers from an absence of tamarind sauce. A shame — everything else about this dish is on the money. A ubiquitous fast food dish (though not in the western sense) in Thailand, Koh Thai’s version of pad krapow moo tastes authentically like its street-based counterpart, though with more finesse and balance — here you can perceive the quality of the ingredients. Stir-fried, ground pork, Thai basil, garlic and chilli make for an aromatic and tasty dish. An excellent choice. THE PRICES Unfortunately, the steamed salmon cooked THAI FISH CAKES in mint, garlic, chilli and VND138,000 lime just doesn’t work. With Koh Thai’s attempt DEEP FRIED at adding a twist to Thai CHICKEN cuisine, there’s always WRAPPED IN PANDA LEAVES going to be one or two VND138,000 dishes that don’t make the cut. In this case the SALMON sweet, pungent taste of SASHIMI fish sauce, more akin to VND168,000 the version you would RED CURRY expect of a Vietnamese W/ DUCK restaurant in Saigon, just VND188,000 doesn’t combine well with the texture and STEAMED mildness of the salmon. SALMON VND238,000 We even tried this dish on a second visit and it PAD THAI was no better. GOONG The experience VND168,000 ended, of course, with dessert — two deep PAD KRAPOW MOO fried bananas with VND188,000 honey and coconut ice cream. Encased in a DEEP FRIED light, sweet and crispy BANANA batter, the banana is soft, VND88,000 warm and gooey while the ice cream is delicious THE VERDICT and full bodied, though half melted by the time it arrives. Though there are FOOD certainly some kinks to be ironed out, Koh Thai is a restaurant with immense promise. SERVICE It’s gotten a lot right in a short space of time, and, hopefully, can only INTERIOR improve further.

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Storm P Restaurant & Bar 5B NGUYEN SIEU, Q1, TEL: 3827 4737


pened in 2002 and named after the late Danish cartoonist and illustrator Robert Storm Petersen, this no-frills Scandinavian eatery and bar serves up hearty and wholesome, home cooked-style Danish and Bavarian-inspired cuisine in a quaint and cosy setting. Taking our stools on either side of a small wooden table, two customers behind us quietly play Balut, a traditional Danish dicebased game similar to Yahtzee, while several others prop up the bar with one hand on their beers and both eyes fixated on the football game being displayed on several flat screen TVs overhead. A photograph of the proprietor with golfer Tiger Woods hangs proudly over an extensively stocked back bar, while framed prints by the aforementioned Petersen are situated above a hand-painted mural of a Copenhagen riverfront scene, stretching the length of the back wall. Though also serving salads, pan-western cuisine and Asian fare, with the likes of winerschnitzel, beef stroganoff, meatloaf, and several traditional Danish open sandwiches (ostemad, rule polse, pate lever posteg) on offer, it soon becomes clear that Storm P is a haven for those with a penchant for that timeless culinary duo of meat and potatoes. Pleasantly, the girls behind bar aren’t merely smiley, uninformed beer dispensers; they know their menu and they know it well. Offering recommendations with a rare confidence not always demonstrated in this

city, we agree to the red hotdog, Danish meatballs with cold potato salad, karbonade and cheese kransky sausage. Served in a toasted bun and garnished with fried onions and several cucumber slices, the red hotdog is a simple yet effective snack. Add ketchup and a locally produced German-style mustard and this dog’s bark really growls. Forget Apocalypse Now, the best hotdog this side of the Opera House belongs to Storm P. The remaining dishes are brought out thick and fast, beginning with the muchlauded meatballs. They’re delicious. Thick, herby and moist, these three succulent and rounded beef patties work well with the creaminess of the potato salad and sharp sweetness of the accompanying beetroot and pickled marrow. Our next meal is one unholy son of a gun. Made in Hanoi exclusively for Storm P, the cheese kransky is gigantic. Plump, juicy and containing deposits of oozing melted cheese, the sausage has a smoky flavour that’s complimented by more tangy Germanstyle mustard and offset by an intriguingly fruity-tasting portion of sauerkraut. The only disappointing part of this dish is the fried new potatoes, which could do with more salt, pepper and perhaps garlic. However, the boiled potatoes that come with our final meal couldn’t be more flavoursome. And though only an aside to the karbonade, they make a lasting impression. The karbonade itself is excellent,

as well. Looking like a chicken kiev on the outside thanks to its bread-coated shell, its dense innards resemble a pork-based meatloaf that tastes both sweet and savoury when lashings of the side boat of peppery gravy is poured on top. Despite its understated and slightly ominous THE PRICES façade, the generous portions of lovingly RED HOTDOG prepared Scandinavian VND60,000 and Central European fare, made all the MEATBALLS VND120,000 more enjoyable by the eye-pleasing KARBONADE prices, means Storm P VND120,000 Restaurant & Bar can be considered one of KRANSKY downtown Saigon’s SAUSAGE VND150,000 most underrated dining gems. THE VERDICT

Food, Decor and Service are each rated on a scale of 0 to 15. 13 — 15 extraordinary to perfection 10 — 12.5 very good to excellent 8 — 9.5 good to very good 5 — 7.5 fair to good 0 — 4.5 poor to fair The Word reviews anonymously and pays for all meals

11 10 8.5 FOOD






Formerly the home of Saigon horse racing, Phu Tho Racecourse will this month host SoundFest, Vietnam’s largest ever live music festival. Words by John Thornton


While Ho Chi Minh City’s music lovers from the west may be used to attending huge festivals such as Glastonbury, Bennicassim or Coachella, the very concept of SoundFest — headlined by K-Pop global sensation Big Bang, British transatlantic chart-topper Taio Cruz and American Idol finalist Kimberly Caldwell — is startlingly

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ambitious. The nine-hour event, which takes place on Saturday Apr. 14 , will see 15 artists from Vietnam and across the world come together to perform in front of what could be this country’s biggest ever public gathering. An astonishing 50,000 tickets are on sale for SoundFest — an unprecedented number for a live event. Given this city’s hypercritical and

apathetic attitude towards live music, will it work? Rod Quinton of Saigon Sound System, the event organiser behind SoundFest, was also responsible for bringing Bob Dylan to Vietnam last year. Although a resounding success — over two thirds of the allocated 8,000 tickets were sold — critics claimed the VND900,000 entry fee out-priced a large proportion of people.

With tickets to SoundFest priced at VND500,000 on the gate for general admission and VND2.2 million for premium Stage Front views, Rod feels a ticket to the festival contains much more value for the punter, which in turn should attract more people to come. “A lot of discussion went into pricing,” he explains. “The core issue is making this type of event sustainable yet accessible. You don’t have to go too far back to when nearly all events were basically free — you’d buy an event sponsor’s product to get a free ticket. That’s good for activating a product but it doesn’t do much good towards building a sustainable music industry.” And in order to offset the problem of people waiting until the last minute for potentially cheaper tickets, discounts are instead being offered now, with general entry tickets available for VND400,000 between from Apr. 2 and Apr. 8 and VND450,000 from Apr. 9 to Apr. 13. Also, those that purchase 10 of the more expensive Stage Front tickets will get one free. Some of the add-ons include vouchers to spend at the festival’s participating retail, food and beverage partners, and access to the festival’s other attractions such as the Wipe Out Zone, which includes a large

inflatable assault course, dunking tanks, sumo wrestling, podium battles, and a reverse bungee run. Entertainers will also mill through the crowd, helping to create a “carnival-style atmosphere”. And while customers will have to pay for food and drink, Rod insists these costs will be kept as low as possible. However, those hoping for a beer will have to fork out for a Stage Front ticket as alcohol will not be available in the General Entry area.

In the Hands of the People Needless to say, the cost of staging such a landmark event is in itself exorbitant. In order to attract Taio Cruz, who demands huge fees alone, every aspect of the festival’s infrastructure, from the stage and sound to the lighting, has to be of international standard. “We’re importing a lot of equipment from overseas, like the Layher scaffolding system, which is used at music festivals across the world, and manufacturing things ourselves, such as a Mojo-styling crash barrier system, purely because a lot of it doesn’t exist in Vietnam,” says Rod. Visually, the event is shaping up to be quite the spectacle. Inspired by the designs implemented by Brazil’s TIM Festival, a raft of shipping containers

will be stacked upon each other and incorporate LED screens and lights, projections and art, creating the ‘wow’ factor every festival needs. And most importantly, according to Rod, SoundFest will provide the Vietnamese youth with the opportunity to finally witness the type of international event they keep hearing about in Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok. “Let’s give it to them in their own back yard.” Since Coca-Cola approached Saigon Sound System with the idea of putting on a large-scale international-style music festival in Vietnam last September, Samsung have jumped on board as a co-sponsor, and steps towards its creation have fast tracked. The hope is for SoundFest to become an annual event attracting the biggest names in music. Whether this comes to pass lies partly, says Rod, in the hands of the people. SoundFest takes place at Phu Tho Racetrack (2 Le Dai Hanh, Q11) from 2pm to 11pm on Apr. 14. To purchase tickets in advance, visit Alternatively, tickets can be bought from ticketing headquarters (172-174 Ky Con, Q1, Hotline: 6291 8588) and at most Levi’s stores across the city.

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TIEN DAT Born in 1981, Tien Dat, aka. Mr Dee, was originally a member of the Hoang Thong b-boy crew before his boundless love for all things hip-hop pushed him into the world of rap. A self-taught dancer and lyricist, since exploding onto the scene in 2002 thanks to his duet with singer Thanh Thao on track Heart Love, Dee has become one of Vietnam’s most popular MCs.

Introducing... Eleven of Vietnam’s finest musicians and bands, spanning pop, rock and hip-hop will take to the stage at this month’s Coca-Cola and Samsung Galaxy SoundFest. Here’s the low down on who and what to expect…

SUBOI Female rapper Suboi may have a cherubic, butter-would-melt face, but this girl can spit fierce rhymes for days. Inspired by Eminem, Will Smith and Missy Elliot, she’s been rappin’ southern Vietnamese hip-hop for several years, holding her own in a male-dominated scene while garnering an ever growing fan base (60,000+ Facebook fans and over 700,000 YouTube views of Que Huong Viet Nam MV). Able to flow in both English and Vietnamese, this talented, young lyricist penned every track on her 2010 debut album, Walk.



At the tender age of 17, Van Mai Huong is the youngest artist to appear on the SoundFest bill. The Vietnam Idol 2010 runner-up from Hanoi has been riding the crest of a wave recently, releasing arguably Vietnam’s biggest pop song of 2011, Neu Nhu Anh Den — which has received over one million YouTube views. Only last month, the track won the Favourite Song award at the third live Vietnamese Songs contest in Ho Chi Minh City.

THANH BUI Based in Melbourne, Australia, Thanh Bui first found fame as a member of Aussie boy band North in 2004, scoring top ten singles in Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines and a #1 smash hit in Indonesia and India with their cover of Peter Cetera’s Glory Of Love, before disbanding two years later. Striking out as a singer-songwriter, in 2008 Thanh became the first Australian of Vietnamese origin to reach the final eight in Australian Idol. The following year he collaborated with Grammy-award winning producers Charlie Midnight (James Brown), Michael Jay (Eminem) and Andy Goldmark (Jennifer Paige). Thanh’s music has been used for television in the US for shows such as MTV’s The Real World (License to Thrill) and HBO’s Bad Girl’s Club (Kiss and Tell). Look out for his SoundFest collaboration with Thai sensation Tata Young.

THAO TRANG Possessing one of the most original websites by any Vietnamese music artist today (www., this petite pop diva has come a long way in short space of time. Literally singing her way out of poverty, Thao Trang’s story is classically one of rags to riches, rising from provincial obscurity to national superstardom as a top-five finalist in Vietnam Idol 2007. The release of her self-produced debut LP, Strange, made Thao a household name, before enjoying further success with Angel in Me, a track taken from the Fool for Love movie soundtrack. Trang’s follow-up album, 2010’s The New Me, saw Thao reinvent herself as a sassy R&B-pop queen and become critically acclaimed for her vocal and musical versatility. Think the Vietnamese Rihanna, minus the S&M.

PHAM ANH KHOA (P.A.K.) Dubbed Vietnam’s number one rock star, Pham Anh Khoa is considered a legend in these parts, acclaimed for creating a new style of rock music in Vietnam, that blends both traditional and modern tunes. No stranger to performing in front of huge crowds, Pham Anh Khoa rose to prominence in 2009 when he played to 20,000 screaming fans at Tao Dan Stadium. Now the frontman of a new five-piece band that goes under the auspices of his own initials, the group’s first record, entitled We Are P.A.K., melds tender and soulful ballads and wailing, distortion-tinged rock & roll with a dollop of understated funk. One for fans of Guns N’ Roses.



One of Vietnam’s most famous progressive power metal bands, UnlimiteD can be considered veterans of the heavier side of Vietnam’s music scene, having established the group back in 2001. With a devout underground and online following, the dynamic sextet flits between fast-paced riffs and chuggier grooves with ease. Add the strained and raspy yet melodic vocals of frontman Pham Tham (Bo), a few widdly guitar solos and a tight rhythm section, and the group makes for quite the live proposition. Prepare to mosh.

Like their contemporaries, UnlimiteD, Microwave have been proudly flying the flag for Vietnamese metal for the past decade. Consisting of Tran Ngoc Tung (guitar), Cao Minh Trung (drums), Phan Anh Tuan (bass) and Dinh Tuan Khanh (vocals), the quartet have become familiar faces on the local gig circuit, playing regularly at the likes of Yoko, Acoustic and RockFanClub Bar, and at live events such as Tiger Translate, LoretoFest and Hanoi’s CAMA Festival. Think Dreamtheatre with Vietnamese lyrics.

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Formed in Hanoi in 1995, Buc Tuong (The Wall) practically pioneered the advent of the professional rock band in Vietnam. Also the first Vietnamese rock group to embark on a proper nationwide tour of the country in 2004, the sextet’s hands-in-the-air anthemic brand of soaring, power-chord laden rock has won them fans the length and breadth of Vietnam. Having disbanded in 2006, Buc Tuong have returned to the scene with renewed vigour, picking up major applause at last year’s ASEAN Youth Cultural Exchange Festival



If any one artist on the line-up embodies modern Vietnamese culture it’s Ha Okio. A singer, rapper, songwriter, record producer, philanthropist and actor all rolled into one, Ho Chi Minh City’s very own Ha was seemingly born to perform and entertain people. Has anyone ever seen this guy sleep? With countless chart topping hits to his name, Ha released his first single of 2012, Bien Xanh Va Nang Vang (Ocean In The Sun), in March, reaching No.1 on both the VN10 and Top40 hits list on XONE FM.

The Vietnam Idol 2007 winner and Asian Idol 2007 runner-up from Ho Chi Minh City is about as famous they come in Southeast Asia’s commercial pop circle. Known for her powerful falsetto and girlnext-door looks, Phuong Vy has released an astonishing six LPs and one EP since bursting onto the scene as an unknown five years ago. Check out her performance of Ike and Tina Turner’s River Deep – Mountain High online and prepare to be blown away.

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Playing the Game Douglas Pyper meets the creators of 7554, Vietnam’s first offline computer game. With online gaming all the rage, are they on a fool’s errand? Photo by Justin Mott


his isn’t what you’d expect. There’s no brightly coloured Google HQ furniture. The walls aren’t decorated with posters of babes. There are no goatees, no faded cult t-shirts and nobody has called me a “noob” or said anything to make me feel small and out of place. Where are all the orcs? You’ll have to excuse them, this is Vietnam’s first and only offline games publisher and they’ve only been around since 2009. Perhaps that’s not enough time to start judging people in binary numbers. The Hanoi office of Emobi Games looks just like any other office in the capital. In fact, the most remarkable thing I can see is the improbably massive selection of shoes discarded by the door. But in this office, an entire floor of workers is doing something that nobody in Vietnam

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has ever done before — programming and publishing an offline game. Business-wise, it’s a counterintuitive move. Most software companies are moving into online games, and particularly in a market like Vietnam, where practically all games are pirated, this makes perfect sense. Free social media games like Farmville are massively popular and are cheap and easy to make. Yet the online games industry isn’t without its risks. Vietnam is presently refusing to license any new online games as it tries to work out how it feels about them. They seem to be a cause of social evils, like skipping school, staying up late, and possibly addiction. That means that all the newly emerging software companies, which may perhaps be a measure of Vietnam’s increasingly high quality labour force, have

to sell their products to foreign publishers in Japan, China and the US. The net result, according to one newspaper report, is that two thirds of the revenue from the industry flows overseas.

License to Kill As precarious as that situation may seem, it starts to look like money in the bank when compared to the process of licensing offline games. Quite simply, the process doesn’t exist. “[Vietnam] doesn’t have any policy that requires a license [for offline games],” says Emobi Games’ young director, Nguyen Tuan Huy. “We told the [relevant] governmental department that we were developing a game and they just asked that we don’t make it too violent or gory. [But] if something

happens after that then we have to take responsibility.” So it’s a bit like playing Super Mario with a blindfold on then. Huy is gamer, but like the country he comes from he doesn’t have a long history of gaming. The first game to make a big impression on him was Call of Duty in 2003 when he was already in his twenties. Yet he’s taken to offline games in a way that has to be respected. “As a gamer, I see offline games as more artistic,” he says. “The gamer must be immersed in the game through the story, art [and] music. And there is always the challenge of technology.” It’s fitting that Huy mentions technology and challenge in the same breath. The reason that Vietnam has no history of gaming is, of course, its lack of technology in the 1980s and 1990s. That in turn has led to a lack of skilled workers. When the Emobi team came together, they had 5 programmers, only one of whom had any experience of games development. “We trained ourselves to solve the problems,” explains Huy, “one by one, day by day.” For three years, with no promise of sales or licensing at the end, it suddenly becomes clear why the back of his business card says “Enjoy Challenges”. I’m reminded of the gaming slogan from the arch-nerd indie programmers who made Dwarf Fortress: “Losing is fun!”

War Games The game itself is unremarkable. A first person shooter, set around the historically

important battle of Dien Bien Phu on the 7th of May 1954, hence the title 7554. It features graphics, gameplay and games mechanics that can’t compare to the big budget American series like Call of Duty and Medal of Honour which inspired it. What sets it apart is the fact that rather than playing the part of a western power taking on traditional baddies like the Germans, Russians, Iraqis or whoever else deserves one hell of a beating, the gamer plays a Viet Minh soldier shooting up Frenchmen. This has caused an outcry in France, but Huy is quick to defend the game. “It’s not an anti-French game,” he says. “I don’t know [if the game will be popular in France], some people will buy it out of curiosity. It’s a Vietnamese story, a battle for freedom and the story of the Viet Minh”. Yet when the roles are reversed, Huy feels a little differently. He has played Call of Duty: Black Ops where the gamer plays an American GI in the thick of the war in Vietnam, and was less keen on the idea. “I felt something like anger,” he says, “The story they tell about the war is not really true. The Viet Minh soldiers in the game look like the baddies — and that’s not true.” Regardless of any foreign hostility to the game, talks are in process for official releases around the world. Emobi have been negotiating with Polish, Russian and French publishers in this regard, but as yet nothing has been signed. If these prospective deals do go ahead it would give some much needed revenue to the company. So far they’ve sold just 5000 copies nationally at VND250,000 per unit with an additional

500 overseas sales. As bad as that sounds it’s actually not terrible considering that the Vietnamese market has no history of paying for official copies of games when pirated discs are available in shops for VND20,000.

A Viable Trade? A more likely stumbling block to overseas sales would appear to be quality. Influential magazine PC Gamer was a little harsh in their appraisal, awarding 7554 just 4.3/10. Yet Huy isn’t too perturbed. “The review was very harsh, but we’re not sad because that was our first game, and not just the first game of a studio, but the first game of a country.” Ultimately, being an offline games producer isn’t a viable business model in today’s Vietnam. Emobi intend to follow up 7554 with an online sci-fi game that can appeal to an international audience and be sold to a foreign publisher. But in the long term they want keep trying to push the envelope of what is possible for the industry in Vietnam in the form of offline games. Many foreign investors are starting to see Vietnam as the perfect base for software companies to take advantage of the SouthEast Asian market. According to Huy, there are some good software companies in Vietnam now that have “high quality programmers and can produce products which are world-class.” That may be true, but to create a truly high quality labour force that can become the country’s emerging middle class, the likes of programmers and games developers need to be given the stability to develop.

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For those who love listening to the sound of their own voice, being a voiceover artist is a match made in heaven. Words by John Thornton. Photos by EJ Chung


computer programme would generate random sentences and paragraphs for me to read out,” describes Amanda Saxton. “Everything from Pearl Jam lyrics to bits of Shakespeare. It was pretty bizarre.” Amanda’s recounting her experience as a voiceover artist for HelloChao, an online English language class that teaches Vietnamese people to correctly enunciate conversational sentences via the use of tutorial CDs. Like many foreign voiceover artists in

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Vietnam, Amanda isn’t a professional. She fell into it serendipitously following a conversation with a friend who had done it before, and recommended the job as an easy and quick way to make some cash. Working up to 16 hours per week over a six-month period, she earned VND1,050,000 an hour. “I was paid ridiculously well, and it would be hard to make this type of money again doing something so simple, but I wouldn’t consider getting into it full-time,” she states, having found the work itself

“boring and repetitive”. Don’t be put off, though. Amanda’s is just one of many disparate experiences that come with working in this most unusual and (sometimes) lucrative of professions. Paul Rich, a consultant for an office solutions company based in Saigon, has leant his voice to several in-house corporate videos, including marketing shorts for Craven brand cigarettes and an anniversary retrospective for consumer product company Procter & Gamble. “It’s a great side line to get involved with

because I never know what I’m going to be asked to work on next, and it doesn’t interfere with my day job. For an hour or two I can earn as much as up to VND4.2 million”. But unless you’re as fortunate as Paul — discovered after being overheard in a café — breaking into voiceover acting here appears to be a pretty impenetrable task. Jeff Varga, executive producer at postproduction house Pixel Garden, says the solution is simpler than you’d think. “Most people don’t realise they can go to postproduction houses or recording studios like One Pro, Midi and Fast and ask to have their voice recorded. It’s something we encourage because the more voices we can present to our clients, the better.” Othello Khanh, owner of CreaTV, one of Vietnam’s oldest post-production companies, has extensive experience with voiceover talent, dating back as far as 1999 when “you still had to cut and splice tape reels together with a razor”.

Accentuate the Accent Working mainly with local artists, Othello says that the complexity of the Vietnamese language offers up a host of problems. “Foreign voice talents understand that you

have to put stress on certain words at certain times, but the Vietnamese language is so different due to the natural tones and accents that it’s harder to do that. They follow the emphasis of the words on the page.” Othello remembers recording one voicer for a VinaTaxi commercial and how she struggled to sing the company’s telephone number because the melody of the tune clashed with the intonations and accents of the words, while another continuously failed to pronounce ‘Sony’ correctly (“he kept saying Sh-ony”) until the ‘S’ was replaced with an ‘X’. Accent also plays an important role. According to Othello the most sought after foreign voice talents are those that possess a mid-Atlantic accent, i.e. one that blends American and British without being predominantly either. For the Vietnamese, regions determine whether you hear a northern or southern accent on TV or radio. You may not recognise Trong Hai but you’ve almost certainly heard his voice. Regarded as the most famous and indemand voice-over talent in the country, Trong Hai entered the industry in 1998, lending his voice to hundreds of TV and radio commercials, documentaries, corporate

videos and feature films. He also served as voice director for the Vietnamese overdub of Finding Nemo and even voiced the part of Jesus Christ for an American film intended for Vietnamese communities in the US. Located in Ho Chi Minh City, but originally from Hanoi, Trong Hai possesses a distinctly deep and rich northern accent, which he puts down to his acting background, having starred in over 200 feature films since 1982. “Financially, it’s possible to make a living from only voice acting but I wouldn’t recommend it,” warns Trong. “The work isn’t stable enough and agencies are always looking for the next voice”. He says the key to becoming a successful voiceover artist is down to practice and looking after yourself. “You should drink only warm beverages when working so your throat and vocal chords are open and relaxed. Doing daily vocal exercises is also important. Standing up in the middle of a bustling quan he suddenly belts out, “MI-MI-MIMI, LA-LA-LA-LA, OH-OH-OH-OH” and sits down like nothing happened, before adding with a wink, “Confidence, you need confidence, too”.

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Aussie Rules Football

THE GOOD PUNCH Matthew Pflaum tackles the sport of Aussie Rules in Vietnam. Photos by Charles Barnes


he sun has reached its pinnacle over the RMIT sports complex. On the groomed pitch, sturdy leather oval-shaped balls litter the northern edge of the ground, waiting to be handled. It’s a sweltering day, but a crowd gathers on the periphery of the field. The subtle breeze and the shaded park benches provide respite from the prodigious heat. Girlfriends, wives, friends, fans, children and a few spectators occupy the benches. The players apply

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sunscreen, put on their kits and start to warm-up. Swatches of red and black dot the fields — the colours of the Vietnam Swans. “About half the people who attend training are members, who pay annual dues and receive full kits, bags and other benefits,” says Sam Conroy, the Saigon chapter president for the Vietnam Swans. “The rest are typically friends of the members, people passing through on holiday or new people who

are interested in joining.” There are two Australian students studying abroad at RMIT in Saigon. Another man is visiting Vietnam for three months to take care of his children and family while his wife does research on speech pathology. However, Aussie Rules still has a dearth of local followers. “Widespread sports like tennis and football dominate people’s attention, and perhaps Vietnamese aren’t big enough or

strong enough to play sports like rugby or Aussie Rules,” say Duyen, who works at Pacharan and is somewhat familiar with the game.

Playing to Remember Aussie Rules has been played in the country at least since the American War, with Australian soldiers playing two seasons per year in Vung Tau where their logistics base was located. For the past two years, the Vietnam Swans have played an ANZAC Friendship match in Vung Tau to commemorate veterans of the war, promote the continued amicable relationship between Vietnam and Australia and encourage Australian veterans to revisit the country. Phil Johns is positive about the relationship between Australia and Vietnam, and says there are many beneficial outcomes of the event. Running the show for Aussie Rules in Vietnam, Phil Johns is the national president for the Vietnam Swans, which now has clubs in Hanoi, Hoi An, Danang, Ho Chi Minh City, Binh Duong and Vung Tau, having started off as the

Hanoi Swans back in 2003. Rather than always going to other countries to play matches, they wanted to host their own tournaments. So The Swans expanded south to other cities in Vietnam.

“Widespread sports like tennis and football probably dominated [the local] people’s attention, and perhaps Vietnamese people aren’t big enough or strong enough to play sports like rugby or Aussie Rules” The Vietnam Swans have done a remarkable job with Aussie Rules in this country. It certainly isn’t easy to introduce a peculiar or quixotic custom into a new country. They assist with various events and foster relationships with community leaders. They play international friendly matches in neighbouring Cambodia and other countries and also have fundraising and charity events to support significant

causes in Vietnam, particularly drowning prevention. Their annual Vung Tau charity match commemorates veterans of the war and works toward reconciliation and harmony between Australia and Vietnam. This year, the ANZAC Friendship Match will be held at the Vung Tau Dog Track between Apr. 23 and 25. The squad will also face the China Reds on Apr. 21, followed by the Legends and All Stars matches later that day. The following two days will feature tours of the former war sites and memorial services. And as for the future development of Aussie Rules Football in Vietnam, things are gradually changing. A VietnameseAustralian recently made the reserve squad of the most famous footy club in Australia. And, as Phil says, “People are very curious about [the sport], they like its free-flowing, fast nature. The Vietnamese think it’s hysterical the way we punch and bounce an oval-shaped ball. They giggle their heads off.” For those interested in joining the Vietnam Swans or watching a game, visit www.

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Vietnam’s first professional basketball team, Saigon Heat, is leading the country into a new era of sport frenzy. Words By John Thornton. Photos by Paolo Maling and Charles Barnes

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With 5.6 seconds left on the clock in the fourth and final quarter a tense hush falls over the crowd at Tan Binh Stadium. Eyes peak through half closed lids while fists clench with nervous anticipation as Jahmar Thorpe steadies himself to shoot the first of two free-throws that will determine whether the Saigon Heat beat the Malaysia Dragons. With the score 68-69 in the Dragon’s favour, Thorpe calmly sinks the first basket to level proceedings. The crowd erupts before falling mute again. They know that overtime, and possibly even defeat, beckons if he doesn’t make the next shot. Steely-eyed and composed, he bounces the ball twice, puffs out his cheeks, and makes the throw… It’s good! Saigon Heat lead 70-69 and run down the remaining seconds to secure a thrilling victory. Pandemonium ensues as the decibel level goes off the chart. The noise is deafening and the atmosphere electric as players and coaches embrace each other with fans and cheerleaders rejoicing hysterically in what represents the Heat’s third

consecutive win of the season. “We’re just really proud to have this team represent not only Saigon, but Vietnam,” says 21-year-old Dinh Ngoc Duy, who’s made the long journey from

"The noise is deafening and the atmosphere electric as players and coaches embrace each other with fans and cheerleaders rejoicing hysterically in what represents the Heat’s third consecutive win of the season" Thu Duc with his friends to watch the game. His words aptly sum up the collective feeling inside the stadium.

On the Rebound Until this year Vietnam had never had a professional basketball team represent the country internationally. Now in their debut season in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) — founded three years

ago by AirAsia owner Tony Fernandes — the recent formation of the Saigon Heat has finally provided Vietnamese sports enthusiasts with something high profile other than football to demonstrate their patriotism. And while football unquestionably rules the roost here, basketball’s popularity in Vietnam appears to be very much on the rise. According to a Tuoi Tre report, “unofficial statistics show that in Ho Chi Minh City alone more than 10,000 people play basketball on a regular basis”. The article talks about the ‘revitalisation’ of the sport, which, following an initial surge during the late 1990s thanks to the popular Korean TV basketball drama, Last Jump, has resulted in the installation of 15 basketball hoops at Pho Tho Sports Centre and a Phu Nhuan-based counterpart offering “training classes for local students from primary to high school level”. Similarly, Saigon Sports Academy (SSA), the multi-sports training school that founded the Heat, runs seasonal

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training camps at a number of the city’s international schools as well as at its own complex in An Phu for youngsters interested in taking up the sport. Jason Rabedeux, installed as head coach of the Saigon Heat following an initial seven-game losing streak, and credited by many as one of the main reasons behind the team’s recent upturn, sees the development of Vietnamese basketball only increasing in the future. “The word is starting to spread like wildfire, which is exciting because what that leads to is a grassroots movement of basketball in Vietnam,” he says. “The best basketball player in Vietnam right now is probably only 12 or 13-years-old, so we want to see the playgrounds full of kids enjoying the game, and young coaches wanting to learn how to teach it. That’s how basketball will grow in this country.” But how exactly is basketball thriving in a country where numerous other sports have failed to capture the local interest? Echoing the thoughts of Dinh Ngoc Duy, current assistant coach to the

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Heat, Rob Newson, feels the set-up of the ABL, which pits teams from across Southeast Asia against each other in one league, as opposed to domestically in numerous mini leagues, has benefited the sport. “The fact that we’re playing teams from Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines is a real advantage because it automatically increases public interest,” Rob explains. “People want to watch the team representing Vietnam do well.” He also points to the overseas success enjoyed by China’s Jeremy Lin who plays for the New York Knicks and recently retired Yao Ming who played for the Houston Rockets as examples. The presence of cable sports network, ESPN Asia, and Vietnamese broadcaster HTV, at a number of Heat games has also boosted public awareness of the team in particular and the ABL in general. And such is the frenzied atmosphere constantly displayed at Tan Binh Stadium that ESPN Asia broadcasted

back-to-back Saigon Heat home games; a first for any ABL team since television coverage of the games began.

Vietnamese Men Can’t Jump But a closer examination of the Saigon Heat’s performances also reveals the growing pains a team inevitably faces in its inaugural season. Their roster, which comprises five local players picked from across the country, two Americans imports and three other Asian players — as dictated by the ABL — doesn’t yet possess the overall strength required to compete at the very top. Nowhere was this more apparent than when the Heat’s three-game unbeaten streak came to an abrupt halt following a 57-73 loss against the AirAsia Philippine Patriots. An over reliance on American duo Jonathan Jones and Jahmar Thorpe, and Filipino import John Smith, who all played for the 40-minute duration, saw the Patriots utilise their stronger and

more experienced squad by tactically substituting their players until they eventually overran the ever-tiring Heat. Add the fact that, bar the addition of two American imports, the Patriot’s roster consists entirely of Filipino players who have grown up on basketball (it’s the number one sport of the Philippines), the uphill task that lies ahead for the Saigon Heat is obvious. Thus, the Heat finds itself in a catch-22 situation. Such is the standard of the game that the addition of foreign players is unavoidable. They bring with them levels of experience, skill and discipline that the native players simply don’t possess yet. For every foreign player in the line-up, that’s a spot not going to a Vietnamese player. This dilemma isn’t lost on the Heat’s coaching and playing staff. “It’s unfortunate that the Vietnamese guys can’t play that much right now,” concedes Rob. “But the experience they’re getting daily in practice and from the minutes in the games can only be a positive thing for them. We hope

that as the years go on the foreigners’ involvement becomes more of a role as opposed to a necessity.” Jason, who previously coached in the US, China, Japan and the Middle East, agrees

“The best basketball player in Vietnam right now is probably only 12 or 13-years-old, so we want to see the playgrounds full of kids enjoying the game, and young coaches wanting to learn how to teach it” and knows he has to rely on the foreigners to “bring leadership to the team” and, to a certain extent, he looks to them as “assistant coaches in terms of preparation and practice, on and off the court.” At 33, Jones is regarded as one of the team’s senior players. “I’ve been playing professionally for 10 years in Hungary and Korea, so I’m trying to teach these guys how to practice harder and better

every day, come to the games prepared and be ready to play.” Rob reveals an eight-year plan is in place to develop a national team that can become competitive in this region. With the backing provided by SSA, the growing ‘fandomonium’ and increased television exposure, the goal seems tangible. As to whether Vietnam will ever see its own Jeremy Lin competing in the NBA, Rob prefers not to look that far ahead just yet. “That’s a long way off right now, but certainly reaching college level in the US is the first major goal,” he says. “If we can get an 18 or 19-yearold kid a scholarship that allows them to study and play ball in the US then we’re heading in the right direction and proving what can be achieved through playing basketball.” For further information on Saigon Heat, and to purchase tickets to their home games in advance, visit Alternatively, go to the Tan Binh Stadium box office (18 Xuan Hong, Tan Binh) on game days

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Destination Zero 080 Travel Promos 086 Foodie Corner 098 Cafe Critique 104 Food Promos 106 Vietnam Top 10 110 For The Record 111 Road Rules 112 Decks 'n' Drums 114 In The Frame 115




ACCOUNTING & AUDITING BUREAU VERITAS E-Town Building, #4.4B & 4.5A 364 Cong Hoa, Tan Binh Tel: 3812 2196 Auditing, technical services and solutions firm working in all the major industrial service sectors. Provides management system certification and related training for IS0 9001, ISO 14001, SA 8000, OSHAS 18001, HACCP, ISO 22000 and BRC. Has over 900 offices worldwide in 140 countries.

DELOITTE VIETNAM 11th Floor, Saigon Trade Center, 37 Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: 3910 0751 A member firm of Deloitte Touche


visit for our comprehensive listings


Tohatsu. Provides audit, tax, consulting, and financial advisory services to public and private clients spanning multiple industries.

GLOBALEYE FINANCIAL ADVISORS 4th Floor, Unit 17, Saigon Center, 65 Le Loi, Q1 Tel: 3827 0220 A financial advisory company that advises on everything from investments, offshore banking and education planning to life protection wills, pensions and more. Globaleye provide an invaluable resource for expats living in Vietnam who want to maintain tax efficient savings while having access to major fund houses such as Fidelity & JP Morgan from only VND3 million a month, and also to have the right insurance protection for families living on foreign soil.

10th Floor, Sun Wah Tower, 115 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: 3821 9266, Worldwide firm specialising in auditing, accounting, tax and management consulting services. Also provides executive search and selection.

ODYSSEY RESOURCES LIMITED 7th Floor, E-Town Building, 364 Cong Hoa, Tan Binh, Tel: 3812 5562 www.odyssey– One of the leading mid-tier accounting services firms in Vietnam. Odyssey provides accounting and management consulting services, along with tax advice and Australian tax agent services.


companies and representative offices, opening of bank accounts, licensing and tax stamps.

ADVERTISING & MARKETING ADMAKER Unit 2.4, 2nd Floor, 12M Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1, Tel: 3910 3500 A local full service agency run by advertising professionals dedicated to providing clients with results orientated marketing communications via strong advertising concepts and excellent customer service.


Saigon Tower, 29 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: 3823 0796 Provides business services including auditing, business and technology solutions, as well as tax and legal consulting. Has more than ten years of experience in Vietnam and works in all major industry sectors throughout the country.

Level 7, Vietnam Business Center, 57-59 Ho Tung Mao, Q1, Tel: 3821 8632 A full service marketing communications company that is part of the WPP Group. Focuses exclusively on the growing demands of Asian business, helping to build sustainable brands with global ambition.



6th Floor, Me Linh Point Tower, 2 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: 0938 220 255 Specialising in U.S. personal income tax returns preparation, this firm is IRS Enrolled Agent qualified with big 4 experience. Also provides Vietnam tax and business legal consulting.

74/3 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: 3822 6662 BBDO is an award-winning global advertising and communications company. Accolades include Network of the Year honours at Cannes four years running.


16th Floor, Bitexco Office Tower, 19–25 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: 3821 3064 Specialising in brand strategy and brand design for both local and international consumer and corporate companies. Wholly owned with seven global offices — three of which are in Asia and working extensively across India, Southeast Asia and North Asia.

Unit 501, 5th Floor, Saigon Trade Center 37 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: 3910 2262 TMF is headquartered in the Netherlands, with over 100 offices in 75 countries. Provides accounting, tax and payroll services. Also specialises in helping international investors establish a presence in Vietnam. This includes services such as incorporation of


DRAFTFCB VIETNAM 13D Phan Chu Trinh, Binh Thanh, Tel: 3551 2202 Draftfcb is one of the largest global advertising agency networks with headquarters in both Chicago and New York. Has more than 190 offices serving clients in 102 countries including many in the region.

EDGE MARKETING 1Bis Ngo Van Nam, Q1, Tel: 3911 1191 www.edge– A creative marketing company that matches the results–driven requirements of modern business with the needs of the consumer. Embraces a wide range of modern technology and concepts to help provide a full–service marketing package to their clients.

GREY GROUP 404 Vo Van Tan, Q3, Tel: 3929 1450 A full spectrum marketing communications company, Grey Group’s work includes PR, retail management, events and database marketing. Has offices in nearly 100 countries and major clients include Proctor & Gamble, SmithKline, Beecham, BAT and Mars.

INDUSTRIAL DESIGN ASIA Villa B,12A Duong So 12, Tran Nao, Q2 Tel: 3740 6388 Offers (re)design, design engineering (3D CAD) and innovation consultancy for all products; plastics, consumer products, electronics, metal parts. Dutch industrial designers with over 10 years of working experience in Asia. Contact them to get a free quotation.

MARKETEERS VIETNAM 113 Nguyen Thai Binh, Q1, Tel: 3914 3615 Managing successful marketing campaigns since 2002 with four full-service offices and project management available nationwide. Marketeers Vietnam have designed and implemented campaigns that have been selected as global best practice by both international and local clients.

OGILVY & MATHER 12th Floor, Centec Tower, 72–74, Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1, Tel: 3821 9529 Well–known marketing communications company that leverages the brands of multinational clients by combining local know–how with a worldwide network. Works to create powerful campaigns that address local market needs while still reinforcing universal brand identity.

PHIBIOUS 7th Floor, 11bis Nguyen Gia Thieu, Q3 Tel: 3930 6777, An independent, creative–led communications company growing fast throughout Indochina. Now with offices in Saigon, Phnom Penh and an association in Vientiane, Phibious employs over 70 staff that are driven towards helping brands connect and grow in this dynamic region. Clients include The Coca–Cola Company, Asia Pacific Breweries, Piaggio and UPI.

PURPLE ASIA Melody Tower, 422-424 Ung Van Khiem, Binh Thanh, Tel: 3898 1005 A leading independent creative communications company. Offers a wide range of services such as graphic design, branding, interactive media, video, photography and production.

RED | BRAND BUILDERS 10 Phan Ngu, Q1, Tel: 3820 0169 An independent, full–service branding and marketing agency focused on communications and brand building. The team, established in Vietnam for many years, is a blend of international expertise and lo-

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cal know–how capable of giving marketers clever ways to connect their brands with consumers for winning results.


FM and Hanoi on 102.7 FM. The schedule runs from Monday to Friday from 6am to 9am, 4pm to 11pm and at the weekends between 1pm and 11pm.

Tel: 3925 2538, The only communications network specialising in Indochina including Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar for over a decade. Riverorchid specialises in advertising, design, activation, digital, media, PR, research, training, premiums and production.




3 Phan Van Dat, Q1. Tel: 3824 1207 60th among the top 100 global advertising agencies, the company has worked with over half of the 50 best–known brands in the world. Services include advertisement planning, direct marketing, marketing consulting, graphic design and advertising.

TBWA\VIETNAM Unit 603, Rosana Tower, 60 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q1 Tel: 3824 5315. TBWA is a Top-Ten worldwide advertising agency, named Advertising Age’s “Best International Network of the Decade” in 2010 and ranked 24th on Fast Company’s 2009 list of “The World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies”. Marketing services include strategic consultancy, creative development, events and activation, direct mail, shopper marketing and public relations.

XONE FM 100 Nguyen Luong Bang, Q7 Tel: 5413 5341 The first independently run radio station in Vietnam, Xone FM provides the latest and hottest songs in both English and Vietnamese. Has 10 channels throughout the country, in Ho Chi Minh City on 104.5

37 Dang Thi Nhu, Q1, Tel: 3821 0779 A complete range of services and facilities for advertisement campaigns and public relations in Vietnam.

BUSINESS CONSULTING 11th Floor, Capital Place, 6 Thai Van Lung, Q1 Tel: 3823 7858 www.bdg– BDG is one of the leading business development and consulting company in Vietnam active in the areas of sourcing & production, strategic marketing and Project Management. Partners with clients in all sectors and regions to open new perspectives, address critical challenges and drive business activities to success in Vietnam. BDG is a private company with four offices in three countries.

CONCETTI 33 Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1. Tel: 3911 1480 www.concetti– Consulting and research firm with a range of clients including the government, global US consumer products companies, infrastructure developers, oil companies and the World Bank.

ERNST & YOUNG 8th Floor, Saigon Riverside Office Center, 2A–4A Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: 3824 5252 Provides a broad spectrum of services to help businesses capitalise on opportunities for growth, improve financial performance and manage risk. Works with a range of firms including private, state–owned and foreign.

business GOLDEN SPEED SEO Get maximum exposure for your website by improving your rankings in search engines like Google. A steady flow of potential clients will visit your site every day once you have achieved a good position on search engines' results pages. Contact Golden Speed SEO for a free session regarding your online project.

GRANT THORNTON 28th Floor, Saigon Trade Center, 37 Ton Duc Thang, Q1. Tel: 3910 9100 Chartered accountants and management consultants working in a range of fields including Audit, Tax Advice, Corporate Finance and Advisory Services, Business Risk Services, Valuations and Due Diligence, Private Equity and Mergers and Acquisitions.

INSPIRED IMAGE Villa 15, Duong 58, Phu Nhuan Compound, Thao Dien, Q2. Tel: 0916 352573 Huong Nguyen is a professional Image Consultant based in Ho Chi Minh City and the UK. An internationally accredited Master in Image Consulting, Huong offers personal consultations and corporate workshops on developing a professional and confident image, modern etiquette and business behaviour skills.

PRISM INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY SERVICES (VIETNAM) COMPANY LIMITED 8th Floor, YOCO Building, 41 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1, Tel: 3829 6416 A professional information technology services company offering technical expertise in the areas of data security, email, document management, web

business hosting, information and communication technology (ICT) relocation services and a full-range of other IT solutions.

ROUSE 6th Floor, Abacus Tower, 58 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q1. Tel: 3823 6770 Specialist intellectual property consultancy service providing the full range of IP services. From the implementation of global investigation and enforcement strategies, to the provision of commercial IP services, include IP filing and management services.

STAR CORPORATE VIETNAM 161A/1 Nguyen Van Thu, Q1 Tel: 3911 0965 Incorporation of offshore and foreign– owned Vietnamese companies. Opening of representative offices and offshore bank accounts, providing licenses and tax stamps, business and marketing plans, reports and English-language editing. Also provides, investment strategies and administration services for foreign-owned companies based in Vietnam.

STRASOL GROUP INTERNATIONAL Fideco Riverview Building, Mezzanine Floor 14, Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: 0904 410884 Powered by Haines Centre for Strategic Management, STRASOL is a strategic solutions provider serving as a long-term strategic partner with senior leaders and organisations in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Focuses on the future, striving to deliver superior results, customer value and sustained competitive advantage through the application of strategic solutions, derived from a combination of researchbased best-practice, consulting and learning with a focus on change, people, strategy and leadership.

TRACTUS ASIA LTD 164 Nguyen Van Thu, Q1 Tel: 6291 2205 Tractus is a management consulting company that focuses on helping foreign investors gain success in Asia. Their core strengths are corporate strategy development and implementation, site selection, trade promotion, and market research. Offices in Ho Chi Minh City, Thailand, China and India.

XAGE CONSULTANCY 35A-1-2 Grandview, Nguyen Duc Canh, Q7 Tel: 5412 3402 An international human resource management consultancy specialising in organisational and people development. Services include: assessment / development centres, team building, corporate training, HRM audits and HR systems design.

BUSINESS GROUPS AMCHAM New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1 Tel: 3824 3562. An independent association of American and international businesses, the objective of the American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam is to promote trade and investment between the United States and Vietnam.

AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE Ho Chi Minh Chapter, Suite 1A, 1st Floor, TV Building, 31A Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q1 Tel: 3911 0272/ 73/ 74 A licensed foreign business group in Vietnam established to represent and promote the interests of Australian businesses operating here. AusCham

co–ordinates topical breakfast seminars, social networking functions, governmental relations, and promotes profile charity events in Vietnam.

BRITISH BUSINESS GROUP OF VIETNAM 25 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: 3829 8430 The first foreign business group to set up in Vietnam, BBGV’s goal is to both promote the interests of its members as well as the more general interests of British business. Organises business luncheons and seminars as well as regular social and networking events.

CANCHAM Room 305, New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1 Tel: 3824 3754 Open to all nationalities, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce aims to provide an effective network of business associates together with discussion forums about doing business in Vietnam. Offers an array of seminars as well as social and networking events.

NORDCHAM 12A Floor, Bitexco Building, 19–25 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: 3821 5423 Provides support to Nordic companies and individuals operating in Vietnam. A business and social network, members have the opportunity to meet, discuss, interact and share expertise and experience.

PHILIPPINES BUSINESS GROUP VIETNAM C3 Floor 5, 21-Century Apartment, 326/1 Ung Van Khiem, Binh Thanh A non-profit, non-government, and non-political organisation that aims to promote and develop trade between the

Philippines and Vietnam, to foster interaction and understanding, to serve as the voice of Philippine business entities and establish relationships with other business associations in Vietnam.

SINGAPORE BUSINESS GROUP 6th Floor, Unit 601, Tran Quy Building, 57 Le Thi Hong, Q1 Tel: 3823 3046 A group with over 300 members who meet regularly to foster business relations with others in the community, as well as taking part in social, cultural, recreational, educational and charitable activities. Hosts regular networking functions and special events. Membership is VND200,000 per month and allows you access to a wide range of discounts around town.

SWISS BUSINESS ASSOCIATION 42 Giang Van Minh, Q2, Tel: 3744 6996 The Swiss Business Association is a nongovernmental, non-political, non-profit organisation that strives to promote business, economic, cultural activities and other interests of common concern to the Swiss Business Association’s members and the Vietnamese authorities.

CONSUMER GIFTS AMBRIJ VIETNAM LTD. 14-16-18 Chu Manh Trinh, Q1, Tel: 3824 8364 One-stop-shop for corporate gifts and merchandise ranging from shaped USB disks through to apparel, clocks, bags, golf products, wine accessories and much more.

EVENT MANAGEMENT GALA ROYALE EVENT HALL 63 Mac Dinh Chi, Q1, Tel: 3825 6048 This luxury event hall in the centre of District 1 has four different ballrooms and a rooftop terrace, professional banquet, catering, and event services. Gala Royale is the ideal place for events such as meetings, conferences, product launchings, cocktail parties, weddings, or anniversaries.

ONE WORLD TOURISM CO.,LTD 268/3-5 Nguyen Thai Binh, Tan binh Tel: 6675 2620 One World Tourism’s wedding planning business offers comprehensive wedding planning services in Vietnam no matter what size or type of wedding. It is offered to couples seeking high quality, attention to detailed planning and resources, wanting to create the wedding of their dreams, no matter what size, style or location.

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PHOTO OI! Tel: 01269 502790 Photo booth rental service that combines digital photography and instant photo printing using only top-of-the-line equipment and materials. Photo Oi! Sets up a booth at any event complete with backdrop and fun props that everyone can use.

THE CATERERS 46D Vuon Lai, Tan Phu Tel: 3812 6901 Offers everything from canapés and cocktails, buffets and set menus to barbeques and wedding catering. Combines excellent food, event management and exclusive venues to provide the ideal solution for any kind of event.

EXPAT SERVICES CHUM’S HOUSE 121/21 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: 3920 7237 A service dedicated to finding people a place to live. With an extensive list of properties that fit any price range and preference, they can have you moved into a new house within days. Help with motorbike rentals, visas and other information about living in Vietnam is also available. All services provided free of charge.

HAPPY HOUSE 32-34 Ngo Duc Ke, Suite 701, Q1 Tel: 01659 419916 Created by a team of Vietnamese and expat professionals, Happy House aims to make life in Saigon easier for everyone by offering practical solutions for a myriad of problems, including monthly bill payments, home repairs, motorbike rentals, visa applications, maid placements, plant watering, computer repair and pet transportation.

RESIDENT VIETNAM Tel: 2226 8855 The first dedicated relocation company in Vietnam provides services from relocation and immigration to cross–cultural and business awareness training.

HOUSING & REAL ESTATE CBRE Unit 1201, Me Linh Point Tower, 2 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1. Tel: 3824 6125 Property developers and consultants with both private and commercial properties for sale, lease and rent. Issues a monthly newsletter with the latest property news.

Also does research and management services.

COLLIERS INTERNATIONAL VIETNAM Bitexco Office Building, 7th Floor, 19-25 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: 3823 3529/3530 Represents property investors, developers and occupiers in all matters related to commercial and residential property. Services include leasing and sales, valuation and research, property management, and support services.

CUSHMAN & WAKEFIELD VIETNAM Level 2, Pathfinder Building, 52 Dong Du, Q1 Tel: 6291 4707 Global real estate consultants, specialising in commercial / residential sales and leasing, project management, valuation and research & consultancy. For further information email

EASY SAIGON The Easy Saigon website is a useful real estate website helping expats to find apartments in Ho Chi Minh City. Enquiries via their website are welcome.

KNIGHT FRANK Suite A, 7/F, VTP Office Building, 8 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: 3822 6777 Founded in 1896 as a valuations, surveying and auctions business, Knight Frank has grown to become the world’s largest privately owned global property agency and consultancy. In Vietnam, they offer commercial, residential and residential development services.

NAMHOUSE CORPORATION 48A Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Q2 Hotline: 0989 00 77 00 Expert in providing rental properties, constructions, decorations in HCM city especially in District 2. Supporting the professional services and after–sales.

PLATINUM1 Star Building, 33 Mac Dinh Chi, Q1 Tel: 3911 8193 This American–based company provides a range of comprehensive real estate services. Known for its efficient and dependable service, it has global connections and expertise in the Vietnam real estate market.


Real value in a changing world


26th Floor, Saigon Trade Center, 37 Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: 3910 3968 Jones Lang LaSalle (NYSE:JLL) is a financial and professional services firm specializing in real estate. We offer integrated services delivered worldwide by expert teams to clients who seek increased value by owning, occupying, or investing in real estate. As a truly global firm, we work and collaborate closely with our colleagues across Asia Pacific and around the world to bring best-in-class services, people, and systems to our clients in Vietnam. Our offices in Ho Chi Minh City and Ha Noi offer: Tenant Representation, Office Leasing, Retail Services, Valuation and Advisory, Research and Consulting, Investment Sales and Acquisitions, Residential Agency, Industrial Agency, Project and Development Services, Property Asset Management Services, Hotel Investment and Consultancy Services, Integrated Facilities Management.

Fideco Tower, 18th Floor, 81-85 Ham Nghi, Q1 Tel: 3823 9205 Savills Vietnam is the leading property service provider in Vietnam since 1995, providing research, advisory services, residential sales, commercial leasing, asset management, retail advisory, valuation, investment advisory and many other services.

SNAP A simple, web–based real estate search service. Provides information on rental properties all around the city with full listings available online.

SOTHEBY’S INTERNATIONAL REALTY Capital Place, 6 Thai Van Lung, Q1 Tel: 3520 2000 Vietnam Sotheby’s International Realty has access to residential real estate both for sale and for lease in Vietnam and around the world. Contact them to view high–end apartments, villas, resorts and island properties.

THE NEST 369/6 Do Xuan Hop, Phuoc Long B, Q9 Tel: 0903 198901 www.thenest– Well–known property search and real estate agency with a useful website listing properties available for rent and sale. Service is orientated towards expats. Website is in English, French and Spanish.

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Suite 501, Anh Kim Office Building, 43 Le Thi Hong Gam, Q1 Tel: 3914 7003 Transpo Property specialises in finding a suitable residence for their clients, as well as offering a full range of relocation services including school search, preview trips, orientation tours, and whatever else one may need when moving to Vietnam. Also provides a home search service to expats who are already living in Vietnam, specialising in finding high–end apartments and villas. The Ethical Investment Group is dedicated to offering ‘real’ alternative investments to investors looking to make quality, above-average returns, while simultaneously expressing a social conscience with meaningful, measurable and sustainable environmental benefits.

INSURANCE BAOVIET INSURANCE Tel: 3825 8416 Offers full hospital costs paid up to VND40 billion with no hidden hospital sub–limits. Also includes a routine heath check and dental care. Available for anyone up to 74 years of age. No claims discount available.

IF CONSULTING 1A Me Linh Square, Q1 Tel: 3827 7362 Independent advisors that represent top reputable medical insurers to provide you with the best suitable medical cover for individual, family or company needs.

LIBERTY INSURANCE 15th Floor, Kumho Asiana Plaza, 39 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: 3812 5125 Provides a quality range of insurance services to both commercial enterprises and individuals. Coverage includes property, liability, business interruption, marine cargo, automobile, home and travel as well as expat healthcare packages. Toll free hotline in Vietnam: 1800 599 998.

PRUDENTIAL Unit 25F, Saigon Trade Centre, 37 Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: 3910 0999 Operating in Vietnam since 1995, has over 70 customer care centres throughout the country.

INVESTMENT & FINANCE DRAGON CAPITAL 1901 Me Linh Point, 2 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1 Tel: 3823 9355 An integrated financial services provider with an exclusive focus on Vietnam’s capital markets. Established in 1994, the group is one of the largest and most experienced asset managers in Vietnam with total group assets in excess of US$2 billion. Has offices in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and the UK.

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TOTAL WEALTH MANAGEMENT 66/11 Pham Ngoc Thach, Q3 Tel: 3820 0623 www.t– Personal financial planning for expatriates. Portable retirement savings plans for individuals of all nationalities. Tax minimisation strategies. Asset allocation and money management. Debt and cash–flow planning. Life, disability and health insurance. Family wealth protection.

VINACAPITAL 17th Floor, Sun Wah Tower, 115 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: 3821 9930 A leading investment fund management company with extensive experience in the emerging Vietnam market. Manages the Vietnam Opportunity Fund (VOF), which is a US$839 million investment fund currently listed on the London Stock Exchange.

LANGUAGE SCHOOLS APOLLO EDUCATION & TRAINING 26 Phung Khac Khoan, Q1, Tel: 3823 3597 Established in 1994, Apollo offers high– quality and cost–effective English language classes including general English, English for teens, English for business communication and a pronunciation clinic.

BELL VIETNAM 28C Mai Thi Luu, Q1 A partner of Bell International, BVN provides high–quality language education and related services worldwide. Focuses exclusively on language training for adults using the best multimedia materials.

ILA VIETNAM 51 Nguyen Cu Trinh, Q1, Tel: 3838 6788 A foreign owned education and training company that offers a broad range of educational programmes and services such as English language tuition, university pathway programmes, corporate training, teacher training, and overseas study consultancy and placement services.

L'ATELIER 33/19 Quoc Huong, Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: 0908 381492 L’Atelier is a French language centre

offering classes in all forms to children and adults, and to French-speaking and foreign residents. Each course is offered in small groups of a maximum of four people or in private class. Classes include spelling and grammar tuition after school, monitoring for the French Education Programme, preparing for official tests (DEFL, DAFL, TFL, IB), and Vietnamese lessons, including extra-curricular activities during the holidays.


MICKEY LAUNDRY 203 Bui Vien, District 1 29 Hung Gia 4 St, Q7 F4 Luong Dinh Cua, Q2 Tel: 2244 4466 Now in three convenient locations, Saigon’s leading laundry does wash and fold, dry-cleaning and ironing, along with a range of specialised services including spot removal, colour dyeing, tailoring, repairs, leather cleaning and business shirt service. Free pickup and delivery.

45 Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1 Tel: 3910 0168 A leading professional institution specialising in teaching Vietnamese to international students. Courses range from basic conversational Vietnamese for beginners to upper elementary, intermediate and advanced levels, as well as a range of special courses that take in Vietnamese literature, composition and a crash-course 6-hour survival session. Courses range in intensity and classes take place on and off campus.




16 Tran Khac Chan, Q1 Tel: 2218 8111 Mr Clean offers dry cleaning and laundry services for everything from wedding and ball gowns, suede and leathers to suits, shirts and jackets, and handbags and luggage. Repairs and alterations and shoe cleaning are also available. Using an oil-based solvent to ensure longer lasting clean clothes, Mr Clean offers free pickup and delivery and same day service.


37/54 Tran Dinh Xu, Q1 Tel: 3836 4344 / 0917 277169 VNC Vietnamese Language Training & Translation provide Vietnamese language training by experienced qualified teachers and certified/notarized translation by experts for various materials and documents, from a page to a book.

Suite 605, Saigon Tower, 29 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: 3822 1717 Australian law firm working in Asia for over 30 years. Besides providing the standard legal services to corporate clients, has an excellent website containing the Vietnam Laws Online Database English translations of over 3,000 Vietnamese laws. Also publishes a monthly Vietnam Legal Update.



189 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1 Tel: 3925 9800 One of the largest and most respected non–governmental language institutions in Ho Chi Minh City. The English language training programmes are designed in cooperation with the City University of New York. Has a number of campuses throughout the city.

LAUNDRY COSMO LAUNDRY & DRY CLEANING Office: 80 Nguyen Khoa, Q4 Tel: 6261 6868 Valet shops: Circle K Store, 15B1 Le Thanh Ton, Q1; 139 Nguyen Trai, Q1; 36 Su Van Hanh, Q5; CRII, The Crescent, Q7; Shop & Go Store, RMIT University 702 Nguyen Van Linh, Q7 Cosmo Laundry & Dry Cleaning offers professional and reliable laundry & dry cleaning services for executive officers, expatriates and business associations in Ho Chi Minh City.

12th Floor, Saigon Tower, 29 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: 3829 5585 Baker & McKenzie provide on–the–ground liaison and support services to clients interested in investigating, negotiating and implementing projects in the country.

FRASERS INTERNATIONAL LAWYERS Unit 1501, 15th Floor, The Metropolitan, 235 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: 3824 2733 The first legal firm licensed as a foreign law company in Vietnam, Frasers provides legal advice on all areas of business and commerce within the country.

GIDE LOYRETTE NOUEL (GLN) A.A.R.P.I. 18 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: 3823 8599 A leading international law firm with 19 offices worldwide including Hanoi and Ho


Unit 4A2, 4th Floor, Han Nam Building, 65 Nguyen Du, Q1 Tel: 3823 9640 A business law–focused practice established at the end of 2006, the firm assists both international and local clients in meeting the various legal needs related to their business and investment.


17th Floor, Saigon Tower, 29 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: 3822 8860 Operating in Vietnam since 1994 with offices in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, the firm provides clients with the full range of legal services in all areas of business including corporate, real estate, banking and finance, and all forms of inward investment.

MANAGEMENT TRAINING BRAINBOX VIETNAM 5th & 6th Floor, Saigon Prime building, 107–109–111 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q3 Tel: 6920 7405 An education and training firm with its HQ in Singapore that provides several business courses leading to internationally–recognised qualifications such as BAs, MBAs and doctorates.

ERC INSTITUTE VIETNAM 88 Huynh Van Banh, Phu Nhuan, Tel: 6292 9288 Based in Singapore with campuses

G&H 6th Floor, Yoco Office Building, 41 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1 Tel: 3821 9919 A 100% foreign–invested company focusing on management services and consulting with in–house programmes to meet the particular requirements of its clients. Offers teambuilding and academic–based business and management programmes.


MARKET RESEARCH CIMIGO 9 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh Tel: 3822 7727 An independent marketing and brand research specialist operating in the Asia Pacific region. Services include auditing and optimising research programmes, knowledge management, developing marketing plans and business models, and assessing market opportunities.

EPINION 11th Floor, Dinh Le Building, 1 Dinh Le, Q4 Tel: 3826 8989 Epinion is a European market research and business intelligence company that operates the largest online panel in Vietnam and offers solutions in brand equity tracking, ad and TVC tests, retail feedback and employee satisfaction.

702 Nguyen Van Linh, Q7 Tel: 3776 1300 A leading international provider of skills training and professional staff development. Well-known for their MBA programme which can be taken both part and full-time.




35A-1-2 Grandview, Nguyen Duc Canh, Q7 Tel: 5412 3402 An international human resource management consultancy specialising in organisational and people development. Services include: assessment / development centres, team building, corporate training, HRM audits and HR systems design.

3rd Floor, 140 Nguyen Van Thu, Q1 Tel: 3823 6965 Provides a regional perspective on consumer, retail and social research to a range of multinational organisations operating in Indochina. 91 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh Tel: 6258 6314 Providing business-to-business and industry market research since 1997. Clients include multinationals, investment funds and government commercial offices. Consulting services focus on market sizing, investment analysis, and trade promotion.

SYNOVATE VIETNAM 13th Floor, Room 1312, Khumho Asiana Plaza 39 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: 6288 8785 A global market research company that drives competitive brand, product and customer experience strategies. With offices in 64 countries, Synovate combines global research capabilities with a personalised service, local knowledge and flexibility to meet clients’ specific requirements.

NIELSEN CentrePoint Building, Level 4, 106 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhan Tel: 3997 8088 Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence, mobile measurement, trade shows and related properties. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York and Diemen in the Netherlands.

TNS VIETNAM 105–107 Nguyen Cong Tru, Q1 Tel: 3821 5727 With over 11 years in the marketplace, TNS Vietnam offers all three major market research services — customised, access panels and media monitoring — to a range of local and international clients.

PUBLIC RELATIONS MANDARIN MEDIA A public relations, marketing and IT company with offices in Saigon, Hue and

Portland (USA). Led by a team of seasoned journalists, Mandarin Media generates news and features about your company in English–language newspapers and magazines worldwide.

MASS GROUP 30 Dang Tat, Q1 Provides professional marketing services and consulting for the Vietnamese market including integrated marketing communications, PR and brand–building consulting.

MATTERHORN COMMUNICATIONS Level 5, 273-273B Ben Chuong Duong, Q1 Tel: 3838 5517 Providing public relations and communications support to international and local firms operating in Vietnam. Specialising in corporate communications, media relations, corporate social responsibility, and media and issues management and training.

UNIVERSAL MANAGEMENT ASIA (UMA) 1201, Block A, Indochina Park Tower, 4 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q1 Tel: 2220 2989 UMA is an Australian/Vietnamese promotional and representation company providing promotional marketing solutions for business products and services within Vietnam.

VERO PUBLIC RELATIONS 7th Floor, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: 6291 0462 Vero Public Relations helps clients expand their footprints in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand through effective public relations campaigns. Services offered include branding, media relations, event management, public affairs and issues/crisis management.

XPR BRAND COMMUNICATIONS 37 Dang Thi Nhu, Q1, el: 3821 0779 A complete range of services and facilities for advertisement campaigns and public relations in Vietnam.

RECRUITMENT & HR HR2B/TALENT RECRUITMENT JSC 1st Floor, Thien Son Building, 5 Nguyen Gia Thieu, Q3, Tel: 3930 8800 Established in 2003, HR2B is currently one of the top three HR consulting firms in Vietnam, specialising in matching senior level professionals to top opportunities in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Other services include: payroll outsourcing, contract staffing and HR management consulting.

MANPOWER VIETNAM 8th Floor, Resco Building, 94-96 Nguyen Du, Q1 Tel: 3911 0950 Manpower is the first global recruitment company to set up locally. Offers a range of services for the entire employment and business cycle.

MEKONG EMERALD TALENT 4th Floor, 8 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: 3820 3115 Provides a range of manpower services including executive search and selection, HR management and employment outsourcing. Works within a wide variety of industries.


business located throughout Southeast Asia, ERC offers a comprehensive range of business courses from soft skills development programmes and corporate training to bachelor programmes in finance, business management and tourism and hospitality management, all the way through to the 12-month MBAs awarded by the Australian Institute of Business Administration.

Call us for a survey and quotation Hanoi: Matthew Collier M: +84 976 750 644 T: +84 4 6275 2824 - HCMC: Kevin Hamilton M: +84 122 514 1848 T: +84 8 3823 3454 -

Chi Minh City. The Vietnam offices offer their clients (companies and international institutions) high quality services that combine legal expertise and a highly commercial approach to clients’ needs, across all sectors of business law.

NAVIGOS GROUP 130 Suong Nguyet Anh, Q1, Tel: 3925 5000 Well–known human resources agency

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business with a wide range of services including executive search and online recruitment.

OPUS VIETNAM RO 2A Rolanno Offices, 128 Nguyen Phi Khanh, Q1 Tel: 3827 8209 Established in Ho Chi Minh City in 2005, Opus services local and multinational companies seeking to recruit high quality personnel. An Associate of Horton International, one of the world’s leading search groups, with over 30 offices worldwide.

TOWERS WATSON VIETNAM (FORMALLY WATSON WYATT AND SMART HR) Suite 808, 8th Floor, Sun Wah Tower, 115 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: 3821 9488 The first and only global HR consulting firm fully operational in Vietnam. Services include executive compensation, talent management, employee rewards and surveys, HR effectiveness and technology, data services and total reward surveys.

VIETNAMWORKS.COM 130 Suong Nguyet Anh, Q1 Tel: 5404 1373 Online jobsearch website with probably the best selection of jobs in Vietnam. Also contains sections with career tips, CV writing advice and information on training courses.

RELOCATION & TRACKING AGENTS ALLIED PICKFORDS 2nd Floor, 58 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: 3823 3454 With more than 800 offices in over 45 countries, Allied Pickfords is one of the

worldwide leaders in removal services. In Vietnam, Allied also provides tailored relocation services.

ASIAN TIGERS TRANSPO INTERNATIONAL (VIETNAM) LTD. 9th Floor, Unit 9.3, REE Tower 9 Doan Van Bo, Q4. Tel: 3826 7799 Asian Tigers are the largest regional move management specialists with partners all over the world, with services including door to door moving, housing and school finding, local and office moves, and pet relocations.

CROWN RELOCATIONS 48A Huynh Man Dat, Binh Thanh Tel: 3840 4237 Crown Relocations services include expense management, policy consulting and programme administration, storage, transit protection and domestic and international transportation of household goods.

JVK INTERNATIONAL MOVERS 6th Floor, Saigon Port Building, 3 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, Tel: 3826 7655 Focused primarily on the international and local movement of household goods, JVK is currently a leader in the field.

LOGICAL MOVES – VIETNAM 396/4 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4 Tel: 3941 5325 Specialists in international moves for household goods and used personal effects through our global partner network. Also local, domestic and office moves. Experts in exporting used scooters that do not have documentation. Email Chris Honor at for further information.

RESIDENT VIETNAM Tel: 2226 8855 Resident Vietnam is the first dedicated relocation company with 11 years of experience in Vietnam and provides full range of destination services, cross–cultural training and immigration management services.

SAIGON EXPRESS AGENCY LIMITED 7th Floor, 6-8 Doan Van Bo, Q4 Tel: 3826 8850 SEAL offers a complete range of relocation services, including global and local relocation services to, from and within Vietnam. SEAL is also an accredited pet relocation agent.

SANTA FE RELOCATION SERVICES 8th Floor, Thien Son Building, 5 Nguyen Gia Thieu, Q3 Tel: 3933 0065 Santa Fe Relocation Services offers moving, home search, pet transport, orientation and immigration services. The only moving company to have ISO 9001 – 14001 certification in Vietnam.

SERVICED APARTMENTS CAM LY HOTEL & APARTMENT 656 Cach Mang Tham Tam, Q3 Tel: 3993 1587 With a total of 10 studio apartments for long-term lease, each unit comes fully furnished with a living room, kitchen and bedroom. Rates are subject to the duration of stay and range from VND11,825,000 to VND16,125,000 per month. This is inclusive of two gas cylinders, five big bottles of water per month, daily usage of water and parking, thrice-weekly apartment servicing, ADSL Internet, and access to the fitness centre.

CITYVIEW 12 Mac Dinh Chi, Q1, Tel: 3822 1111 Conveniently located only five minutes from downtown with 69 fully–furnished apartments. Facilities include a gym, a pool room, a kids playroom, restaurant and laundry.

JASMINE COURT 307/29 Nguyen Van Troi, Tan Binh Located five minutes from Tan Son Nhat International Airport and 15 minutes from the city centre, Jasmine Court is a boutique property with only 12 apartments comprising one and two-bedroom suites of various sizes. Amenities in each apartment include a 32” LCD TV, DVD player and audio system, in-room safe and wireless Internet with

broadband connectivity, and a four-fixture en suite with shower.

NORFOLK MANSION 17–19-21 Ly Tu Trong, Q1 Tel: 3822 6111 Offers clients a wide choice of luxurious and modern furnished accommodation with attentive and discreet service. Facilities include an outdoor swimming pool, a gym, sauna and steamroom, as well as two on-site restaurants — Shang Palace and Terrazzo Café.

RIVERSIDE APARTMENTS 53 Vo Truong Toan, Q2, Tel: 3744 4111 www.riverside– Four–hectares of nature on the bank of the Saigon River where all can enjoy the lifestyle of a resort with all the luxury amenities of a fully serviced-apartment. Located within minutes of the downtown area by high speed boat shuttle service.




visit for our comprehensive listings


SEDONA SUITES 65 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: 3822 9666 Located in the centre of town above Saigon Center, 89 well–appointed one– to–three bedroom apartments come complete with full housekeeping services and fully–equipped kitchenettes. Have a range of residential facilities including a gym, squash court, business centre and Minimart.




127 Pasteur, Q3, Tel: 3823 2288 Sherwood Residence is a luxurious serviced apartment property in Ho Chi Minh City and the first property certified by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism. Modern living spaces meet prime location, comfort and class with five–star facilities and service.

$$$$ Le Lai, Dalat Tel: 063 3555 888 This luxurious and tranquil sanctuary of relaxation is nestled on the gentle and picturesque slopes of Vietnam’s rural highlands. Offering 65 rooms from 17 original French colonial villas, rates start at just over VND 2 million++ and rise to over VND6 million++ per night. Top-notch services and facilities include a personal butler on call from 7am to 10pm, in-villa dining and the La Cochinchine Spa with a range of holistic and therapeutic treatments.




8A Nguyen Binh Khiem, Q1, Tel: 3822 8899 21-23 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1 Tel: 3822 9197 Somerset Chancellor Court and Somerset Ho Chi Minh City serviced residences combine the space and privacy of an apartment with the services of a top-rated hotel. They come with separate living and dining areas, as well as a fully equipped kitchen where guests can prepare a meal for themselves, their family and friends.

$$$ 4 Phan Boi Chau, Dalat Tel: 063 357 8888 Ideally situated in the centre of Dalat, this hotel has 71 rooms, all with good views, and every modern amenity, including flatscreen TVs and DSL connections. Also has a heated swimming pool, gym, spa and reasonable prices to match. CREDIT


THE LANDMARK 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: 3822 2098 65 serviced apartments located in the city centre overlooking the river. Also has a comprehensive health club for tenants and members, a squash court and a 16th floor swimming pool.


BELOW VND630,000


VND651,000 TO VND1,680,000


VND1,701,000 TO VND3,171,000

$$$$ ABOVE VND3,171,000



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$ 174 Phan Dinh Phung, Dalat Tel: 063 3827 999 Located in the centre of town, the Dalat Green City Hotel is a no-frills budget option. Newly refurbished, the 12 guestrooms are basic but provide free Wi-Fi. A single room without breakfast barely dents the wallet at VND400,000 per night, while a double room is charged at VND630,000. Add breakfast and the rates are slightly higher. A coffee shop is located on the ground floor and the hotel offers airport pickup, bicycle rental, tour information, a laundry service and business centre. Guests also enjoy a 10 percent discount at V Café.



$$$$ 12 Tran Phu, Dalat. Tel: 063 382 5444 Overlooking central Dalat, the Xuan Huong Lake and Liang Biang Mountain further afield, the city’s top and most classic hotel still maintains its original 1920s style and charm. Has 38 rooms and five suites, a gastronomic restaurant, a brasserie serving international and local cuisine, a piano bar, Larry’s Bar in the basement and five meeting rooms.

DREAMS HOTEL 151 Phan Dinh Phung, Dalat Tel: 063 383 3748 The excellent value at this small private hotel has made it justifiably popular. You get a large room with cable TV, free breakfast and Internet access, starting from VND200,000 per night. The staff are friendly, too. Just round the corner are bike rentals (watch those hills) and other tour facilities.



$$$ 1 Phan Chu Trinh, Dalat, Tel: 3740 7512 Situated in the centre of Dalat’s famous Liang Biang Plateau, La Sapinette is a first class hotel with traditional, French art nouveau-styled décor. Also has a modern commercial centre, complete with stateof-the art facilities, 91 rooms including one and two-bedroom apartments.



$ 4A Bui Thi Xuan, Dalat Tel: 063 382 2663 You get door–to–door service from Saigon at this budget hotel – it has links with the Sinh Cafe people and this is where their bus stops. Apart from that convenience, it is a fairly basic place to rest those weary feet, but it’s right in the middle of town.

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destination HANOI CROWNE PLAZA WEST HANOI $$$ Lot X7, Le Duc Tho, My Dinh, Tu Liem, Hanoi Tel: 04 6270 6688 My Dinh’s first five-star property, this 24-storey, mixed use complex lies next to My Dinh National Stadium and close to the National Convention Centre. Boasting 393 guest rooms (including 40 suites), two swimming pools and a spa and fitness centre, Crowne Plaza also has some of the best meetings and conference facilities in town. CREDIT



$$$$ 51 Xuan Dieu, Quang An, Q Tay Ho Tel: 04 3719 8877 Fax: 04 3719 8811 Strategically located in the Syrena Centre on Xuan Dieu, Fraser Suites is ideal for expatriates who desire a home close to work, and yet offers repose from the bustle of the city. The gold–standard serviced residence is in the Westlake district, an enclave preferred by foreign executives and their families and close to a good selection of quality restaurants, gourmet food shops and decent bars.

GOLDEN SILK BOUTIQUE HOTEL $$$ 109-111 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi Tel: 3928 6969 With 55 rooms and suites, the four-star Golden Silk Boutique Hotel, which is located in the centre of the Old Quarter, is the only hotel offering a complimentary (free!) daily, replenished minibar and snack basket service in every room. Facilities include a spa with Jacuzzi, sauna and steam rooms, a comprehensive range of business amenities, the Orient restaurant, serving international and Vietnamese fare and the Rendezvous Piano Bar with wines and cocktails.




A TEMPLE OF MEMORIES Ryan Connor discovers the remote town of Ba Chuc and its eerie past

riving south from the border with Cambodia, it didn’t take long to reach Ba Chuc. As we approached, large rocks loomed ahead, jutting out from between trees. The town is ringshaped, built along a road that encircles a small mountain. By the time we arrived at this ring road, the sun was on the horizon, but we were still hopeful to see the pagoda before daylight faded. We didn’t even have to ask for directions. As soon as we stopped, the locals knew what we were looking for. They motioned with their heads and then pointed down the road to where hundreds of skulls lay within Ba Chuc Temple (also known as Bone Pagoda) — victims of the 1978 Ba Chuc Massacre. We soon found the pagoda, a memorial stupa resembling the famous one at the Choeung Ek killing fields in Cambodia. With over 1,700 skulls peering out from a hexagonal glass-windowed building, it is just as chilling — a shocking example of the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1978. We approached the site slowly and


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solemnly. After we removed our shoes, the guard asks us to sign the visitors’ book. We dropped some money in a donation box and he handed us incense and ceremonial papers to burn in a fire pit nearby. When this was done, we absorbed the horror of the Bone Pagoda. Looking at the skulls and bones separated by gender and age, the sheer number of deaths was hard to fathom. It’s easy to see that no one was spared or given mercy. 3,157 people were slaughtered on that fateful night ofApr. 18, 1978. Only two of the town’s residents are known to have survived.

Laughter Among Tears Returning to our parked motorbikes, we were approached by a large crowd. Some were trying to sell us various goods, but many of them were just curious. Ba Chuc is the remotest place we have visited yet in Vietnam, and clearly not many foreigners stop by. We were struck by the pleasant nature of the people, which stood in direct contrast to the horror we had just seen. We spent a while mingling and laughing. One never would have guessed that they

spent most of their time at such a gruesome place. That evening, as we walked around town, everyone we encountered was eager to talk to us. The next day we returned to the Bone Pagoda to see the small museum next door, which displays photographs and artifacts from the massacre. The images are graphic, perhaps even more disturbing than the skulls. Knowing that these events happened around where we were standing made it feel very vivid. Part of a series of Pol Pot-orchestrated cross-border raids, the Ba Chuc Massacre was one of the primary reasons Vietnam would invade Cambodia the following year in 1979, ending the Khmer Rouge’s brutal reign. Though the history behind the Bone Pagoda is not pleasant, it’s important to experience. The village of Ba Chuc became the highlight of a trip filled with many other better-known destinations. To get there, take road 955A along the Cambodian border. Around halfway between Ha Tien and Chau Doc, go south on 955B for about 10 minutes until you reach the village. The pagoda and museum are on the east side of town.

HANOI BACKPACKERS’ HOSTEL $ 48 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem Tel: 04 3828 5372 The cheapest European–style place in town, with bunk–style beds in mixed or single–sex dorms starting from VND120,000 a night plus a small selection of double and twin rooms for VND800,000. A place to meet like–minded travellers, also has a second hostel at 9 Ma May, Hoan Kiem (Tel: 04 3935 1890) close to all the latenight Old Quarter bars and eating spots. CREDIT



$$$$ 1 Le Thanh Tong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 04 3933 0500 Located next to the Opera House, this

five–star is not to be confused with the famed “Hanoi Hilton” that once housed American POWs. Reproduction colonial architecture is matched by an elegant and spacious inside area. Has all the standard facilities of a top–end hotel as well as an attractive, courtyard pool area. Presently undergoing extensive renovation.



$$ 14 Luong Van Can, Hoan Kiem Tel: 04 3826 7566 With four locations right in the Old Quarter, this is a good no–frills option close to Hoan Kiem Lake. Friendly staff can help you with any detail like renting a car, motorbike, or bicycle. Rooms are compact with small but clean bathrooms and all have the quality amenities of a proper hotel. Either ADSL or Wi–Fi connections available.



$$ 5 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem Tel: 04 3938 1048 Just on the side of beautiful St. Joseph’s Cathedral, this is a good, comfortable mid– range hotel. Each of the 10 rooms is fitted with cable television, Wi–Fi and a mini bar. The staff is quite helpful and can arrange tours and tickets to many destinations surrounding Hanoi. With room fees starting at $40 a night, and topping out at $50, the small boutique–style hotel offers quite a deal.



$$ 17A Pham Dinh Phung, Ba Dinh, Hanoi Tel: 3734 9988 Located only 50 meters away from Hang Cot, the newly built Marigold Hotel Hanoi elegantly combines traditional Vietnamese architecture with a modernised classic facade. The Mimosa Wine Bar & Pub, an Irish bar complete with nightly live Irish music, is located on the top floor, providing excellent views of Hanoi’s Old Quarter.

MAISON D’HANOI HANOVA HOTEL $$$ 35-37 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3938 0999 Just a short walk from Hoan Kiem lake, Maison d’Hanoi provides an elegant respite from the traffic and noise of the city. They have 33 comfortable guest rooms, 18 deluxe, and four luxurious suites. All rooms have Wi–Fi access, and the cozy lobby has both a gallery and a piano bar. Prices range from VND2.4 million for a guest room to VND4.4 million for a suite. CREDIT

Viet Nam Phan Thiet - Mui Ne Bay Tel.: +(84) 62 384 71 11 / 2 Fax.: +(84) 62 384 71 15

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$$$$ 15 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3826 6919 The finest hotel of the French colonial period is probably still the finest in today’s Hanoi. Anyone who is (or was) anyone has stayed at this elegant oasis of charm, where the service is impeccable and the luxurious facilities complement the ambience of a bygone era. Definitely the place to put the Comtessa up for a night.


$$$ KM 8 Pham Van Dong, Duong Kinh, Hai Phong Tel: 0313 880 888 Located 100km east of Hanoi, the fourstar Best Western Pearl River Hotel is the only internationally branded hotel in Hai Phong. All 101 suites and rooms offer bathrobe and slippers, digital safety box, free Internet access, satellite TV and 24-hour room service. Facilities include the Jade restaurant, offering western and Asian fare, several bars, a deluxe spa and fitness centre with separate hot and cold Jacuzzis, sauna, steam room, relaxation lounge and VIP massage room.

ECO LODGES Looking to increase your greenness and lessen your carbon footprint when travelling through Vietnam? These eco-lodges offer environmentally friendly alternatives to standard hotels and resorts

BLOOM MICROVENTURES Soc Son Tel: 0164 3876 594 (Lain)


Cat Tien National Park, Tan Phu, Dong Nai Tel: 06 1366 9890


Nha Trang Tel: 05 8362 2384

LA VIE VU LINH Yen Bai Tel: 04 3926 2743


Ong lang Beach, Phu Quoc Tel: 07 7398 1693


An Hoa, Dong Hoa Hiep, Cai Be, Tien Giang Tel: 3811 4863


Bai Dong, Cam Hai Dong, Cam Lam, Khanh Hoa Tel: 0918 821 633

PAN HOU ECO LODGE VILLAGE RESORT Ha Giang Tel: 0219 38 33 3565

SIX SENSES NINH VAN BAY Ninh Van bay, Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa Tel: 05 8372 8222

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$$$ 52 Hang Trong, Hanoi Tel: 04 3944 6777 (Sales Office) 194 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street, Q3 Tel: 3933 0077 (Sales Office) Bhaya combines oriental style with contemporary luxury, offering tours of beautiful Halong Bay aboard reproduction wooden junks. Two or three–night trips are available and customers have a wide range of cabin styles to choose from: standard, deluxe or royal. CREDIT

CUC PHUONG NATIONAL PARK $ Cuc Phuong, Nho Quan, Ninh Binh Tel: 030 384 8006 Vietnam’s first national park and home to the well-known national primate centre, the accommodation here is in modern rooms, stilt houses or detached bungalows. Includes basic amenities and comforts in proportion to prices, which range from VND100,000 to VND500,000 per night. Rooms are available at park headquarters, the park centre and on the road linking the two.



$$$$ Tel: 04 3934 0888 www.emeraude– This comfortable yet accurate reproduction of a 19th–century paddle steamer trawls around Halong Bay in colonial style, with onboard overnight accommodation in small but impeccably maintained cabins. They also offer transfers from Hanoi itself. A great, classic experience.



$$ Cu Yen, Luong Son, Hoa Binh Tel: 018 382 5662 www.vietnam– This eco–village in Hoa Binh caters to visitors in search of nature. 30 rooms of varying design in 10 houses are surrounded by rice fields, lakes and hills. Has its own spa and restaurant.

LA VIE VU LINH $ Ngoi Tu Village, Vu Linh, Yen Bai Tel: 04 3926 2743 (Freewheelin’ Tours) Located 170km northwest of Hanoi and on the banks of Thac Ba Lake, this bambooconstructed eco lodge close to Yen Bai is situated in one of the most tranquil and visually stimulating areas in Vietnam. Set in a Dao Quan Trang ethnic minority village, accommodation is either in the main stilt-house area or in the rammed earth rooms and starts at VND250,000 per night. Offers a whole host of activities including lake cruises, mountain biking, motorbike tours and walking trips into the surrounding mountains.



$$$ Mai Chau Town, Hoa Binh Tel: 0218 386 8959 Located in a lush valley home to indigenous Vietnamese minority groups, the Buffalo Tours-owned lodge is a luxurious alternative to the stilt house homestay accommodation offered close by. Has all the usual western amenities in a beautiful setting and every room has a view of either the mountain, lake, pool or valley.



$$ Ha Long Road, Bai Chay Ward, Ha Long City, Quang Ninh Tel: 03 3384 8108 Located three hours from Hanoi, the

beachfront Novotel Ha Long Bay is in close proximity to major attractions such as bay cruises and local markets. Featuring 214 rooms, one restaurant, two bars and one professional spa with seven treatment rooms, Novotel Ha Long Bay enjoys impressive panoramic vistas, including the pool with swim-up bar overlooking the limestone bay. Ideal for business travel or family holidays.



$$$$ 19 Lam Son Square, Q1 The only hotel in Vietnam to make the Robb Report’s 2006 list of the world’s top 100 luxury hotels. Facilities include the popular ninth–floor Saigon Saigon bar, Nineteen and Reflections restaurants, Club Vegas for a flutter, a swimming pool seven floors up and Qi salon and spa.



$$$ 63 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: 3822 2999 Right in the middle of town, the Duxton deserves its luxury appellation with all the features the tired business executive needs including pool, gym, spa, bar and fine dining. The rooms and suites are luxurious. Famous for its day–long rotating–menu buffets.



$$$ 242 Tran Binh Trong, Q5 Tel: 3839 7777 Only a ten-minute drive from downtown Saigon, this big and businesslike property boasts seven dining and entertainment outlets, a business centre, meeting and function rooms and a comprehensive fitness centre and spa. Also has some of the biggest banquet facilities in the city and an on-site casino.



$$$$ 2A–4A Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: 3823 3333 You’ll notice the difference when you first enter the lobby here – the architect was in serious atrium mode when he drew up the design. There’s no shortage of space in the rooms, either, and a fine selection of dining, from buffets (the atrium again), to Chinese, Japanese and western.

MOEVENPICK HOTEL SAIGON $$$$ 253 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Tel: 3844 9222 Located a stone’s throw away from Tan Son Nhat International Airport, this tastefully decorated Swiss-run hotel possesses 278 well appointed rooms and suites, five restaurants and bars, meeting and banquet facilities. The shopping arcade, and popular e-gaming centre make this a preferred option for both business and leisure travellers. CREDIT



$$$$ 76 Le Lai, Q1 Tel: 3822 8888 Its list of former guests ranges from U.S. presidents – two Bushes, one Clinton – to Korean teeny bop sensation Bi Rain. If Knut the polar bear came to town, he’d probably stay here. It’s an ongoing event as well as a hotel. Fends off newer, glitzier competitors to hold its place as one of the best luxury stops in town



$$$$ 2 Lam Son Square, Q1 Tel: 3824 1234 Fabulous–looking hotel in a prime location, with an attractive lobby bar and all the attention to detail you would expect from the Hyatt. But wait, there’s more. The Square One restaurant has garnered an excellent reputation as has the ground floor Italian-themed Opera, and Xuan Spa by the landscaped pool is unbeatable.

RENAISSANCE RIVERSIDE $$$$ 8–15 Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: 3822 0033 www.renaissance– If you’ve never swum in a pool 21 floors up, you could rectify that at this luxury hotel by the Saigon River. As you would expect from a Marriott property, there’s plenty more here to appreciate – the full range of fitness, spa and business facilities plus Kabin, one of the best–regarded Chinese restaurants in the city. CREDIT



$$$$ 141 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: 3829 2185 Brimming with history and still possessing a certain fading charm, the Rex is now mainly populated by tour groups, while for the independent traveller it has been comprehensively overtaken in value terms. But its open–air fifth–floor bar is still one of the must–do experiences of the city, and there is now a great gym and spa area on the sixth floor as well. A recent renovation and the addition of the new wing has seen the entry of the top-end designer brands to the shopping arcade of this now five-star property.



$$$$ 88 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: 3827 2828 Sheraton has bagged one of the best locations in town and made the most of it, with its usual mix of luxurious rooms and first–class facilities topped by an open–air restaurant 23 floors above the city and a live music venue on the same floor. The conference and business facilities are unmatched – the enormous ballroom is just one of 17 meeting venues.

SOFITEL SAIGON PLAZA $$$$ 17 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: 3824 1555 The Sofitel Saigon Plaza is the ultimate in French lifestyle, comfort and convenience. This 20–story building in downtown Saigon caters to upscale business and leisure travellers seeking a classic yet contemporary stay in Saigon. CREDIT



$$$ 18 An Duong Vuong, Q5, Tel: 3833 6688 Definitely the hotel with the most – its own shopping hub (including a bank), the city’s second biggest discotheque, several restaurants, a sauna, health club and business facilities, and superb panoramic views over the city when you take time off from all the other activities and make it back to your room.



$$$ 132–134 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: 3829 9201 www.continental– Fêted in literature and film, this huge old


destination hotel with huge old rooms stands at the absolute centre of town and is the most classic of the Saigon Tourist chain. Hard to beat on charm, and a favourite with tour groups, this would be one of your first choices if you wanted to impress a newcomer to the city.

with 185 guest rooms each with city views and comfortably designed outdoor swimming pool, spa, fitness centre, restaurant, bars and meeting rooms that cater to 400 people.



$$$ 648/65 Cach Mang Thang 8, Q3 Tel: 3846 0263 Just a short alley from the Cach Mang Thang Tam Street, Ma Maison Boutique Hotel caters to demanding clients of both long–term expats and French art aficionados. The hotel features 12 luxurious rooms designed to capture the warmth of the French countryside. Little Bistro Restaurant serves Asian and European signature dishes for in–house guests on a French farmhouse wood table surrounded by modern leather and ladder–back chairs. Ma Maison provides full services– business centre, internet, housekeeping, laundry, room service and limousine. CREDIT



The Great Halong Bay Whitewash EARLIER THIS YEAR, EYEBROWS were raised and funny bones tickled when it was announced that, following an official order, all tourist boats on Halong Bay were to be painted white or have their licences revoked. Just another of those crazy ideas that tourism officials occasionally come up with, no doubt to be forgotten about within days. But unfortunately this idea didn’t go away and the law has been put into full effect, with boat companies told to paint their boats 100 percent white by the April deadline or have their vessels confined to port. The reasoning behind this is to “improve the image of Halong Bay”, which is certainly something that needs to be done — however, the colour of the boats is the least of Halong’s worries. Last month I went to Halong to check out a few boats and also to see what the new white paint law has done for the Bay’s

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image. And all I can say is troi oi. It’s been a disaster. Where once traditional brown wooden junks sailed the Bay’s waters, now it is full of dirty looking white boats, the brown wood already showing through after just a few weeks. One operator told me that, given the current weather conditions, it is virtually impossible to paint boats properly at this time of year; another told me that his boats have to be repainted once every seven to 10 days at a cost of over VND21 million per boat — a huge overhead that will inevitably end up getting passed onto the customer, thus making an already pricy destination even more expensive. And pity one particular operator who launched a brand new fleet of 22 private junks late last year, only to have to bring them back to port just weeks later for repainting. A STATE OF NO RESISTANCE In a country where businesses

collaborate rather than purely competing, the operators would have responded to such a decision by simply saying “no”, and/or going on strike. In Vietnam, where to protest is to lose face and where to cooperate with a rival business is simply unthinkable, there was no resistance. Yet if the boat operators had refused to play ball and simply stopped sailing, the damage to Halong Bay’s (and Vietnam’s) image would have been such that I have no doubt the ruling would’ve been rescinded. As it is, garbage still floats in the Bay; illegal boat touts harass tourists on shore and beggars and hawkers harass them out on the water; tourist boats all visit the same overcrowded caves and floating villages; and now the charm of the Bay, typified by its stately wooden junks, has been further eroded by an illogical and unnecessary ruling.


$$$ 1 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: 3829 5517 This hotel makes you think of words like classic, traditional, vintage and colonial. Overlooking the Saigon River, and recently renovated to international standard, it retains a unique atmosphere which makes it especially memorable for newcomers to the city. The rest of us just take advantage of its cheap buffet lunches.



$$$ 117 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: 3829 5368 Located minutes away from famous landmarks, shops, restaurants and international companies, Norfolk Hotel is a good choice for buisness and leisure travellers. Recently renovated the sleek new design is reflected in the lobby space and in their ground floor bar and steakhouse, Corso.



$$$ 323 Le Van Sy, Q3 Tel: 3843 9999 A four–star business class hotel, The Ramana boasts 293 guestrooms and suites and offers a complete range of service facilities including a business centre, a well–equipped fitness room, an outdoor swimming pool and the Sawasdee Health Club. The hotel is situated in District 3 – an area of Ho Chi Minh City only 2km from the city centre and 3km from the airport.



$$$ R3–60 Hung Gia 4, Phu My Hung, Q7 Tel: 5416 1000 Located on a quiet, tree–lined street in Phu My Hung, the brand–new rooms at Sabena are equipped with all the latest in–room technology perfect for making your room a combined office and home away from home. A good choice for anyone seeking accommodation away from downtown Saigon.





$$ 133 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: 3822 5914 You’ll never have trouble finding your way back here at night – perched on one of the city’s major boulevards, the exterior is brightly lit and the interior follows suit. A quality venue where no amenities are lacking – we’re talking executive Jacuzzis here. Use internet bookings to slash the cost of your room.



$$$ 46 Thu Khoa Huan, Q1 Tel: 3822 7926 You can’t get much more central than Ben Thanh Market and this modern hotel (one of many in the area) offers every amenity you would expect from a mid–range hotel while keeping its prices close to budget level. The staff are friendly and helpful.



$$ 195 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2 Tel: 3744 2222 A colonial–style boutique hotel and spa with fine dining and spacious gardens on the bank of the Saigon River. Located in Thao Dien Village, also has a number of restaurants on hand including an Italian, Thai and Japanese.



$ 656 Cach Mang Tham Tam, Q3 Tel: 3993 1587 Though possessing only five rooms, Cam Ly’s hotel section comes very reasonably priced. A double room costs under VND400,000 per night while a large double room and a twin room are both priced at under VND700,000. With 24-hour security, all rooms come with cable television and ADSL Internet access. For cleanliness, comfort and safety, Cam Ly is one of the best no-frills options in the city. See our Business listings for an overview of Cam Ly’s studio apartments.



$ 195 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: 3920 6992 You’ll need your laptop to take advantage of the free Wi–Fi offered in every room and you’ll probably be impressed with the low price, friendly welcome and well–appointed, clean rooms. A modern oasis just a few steps from the street–level mayhem of the backpacker area.



$ 167 Pham Ngu Lao Q1, Tel: 8373 699 A place for exchanging views as well as sleeping, with its communal kitchen and TV room, this venue ticks all the right boxes when it comes to comfort, cleanliness and amenities. A stay here will make you appreciate the pleasure of being a guest rather than just a customer.


$$$ 144 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Tel: 3999 8888 A brand new hotel located near Tan Son Nhat International Airport


TV room, this venue ticks all the right boxes when it comes to comfort, cleanliness and amenities. A stay here will make you appreciate the pleasure of being a guest rather than just a customer.


$ 171A Co Bac, Q1 Tel: 3837 8885 A place for exchanging views as well as sleeping, with its communal kitchen and


$ 185/28 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1 Tel: 3836 1915 It’s always hard to get a room here without booking, and no wonder, since this tucked–away little venue is on a par with anything else in the area – attractive, comfortable, friendly and more. Plus there is free Internet access.



$ 157 Nguyen Du Q1 Tel: 3827 4648 Take advantage of the free WiFi offered in every room at this venue where you’ll be impressed with the low prices, friendly welcome and well–appointed, clean rooms. A modern oasis just a few minutes from the street–level mayhem of the Backpackers’ area.



$ 18A Cua Dai, Hoi An Tel: 0510 386 2231 Pleasant, small, family–run hotel with a spacious and faintly colonial air located between the town and the beach, with comfortable air–conditioned rooms and amiable staff.

DANANG BEACH RESORT $$$ Son Tra – Dien Ngoc, Hoa Hai, Ngu Hanh Son, Danang Tel: 0511 3961 800 This resort, 20 minutes away from the airport in Danang, comprises six areas of villas with beachfront, golf and mountain views, a 33–floor twin tower, three five– star hotels, a convention and commercial centre, a 36–hole golf course and a culture village. CREDIT

FURAMA RESORT & SPA $$$$ 68 Ho Xuan Huong, Danang Tel: 3821 1888 (HCMC office) Among the first resorts to open in the country, this venue still scores highly because of its stunning beachside location allied to some indulgent touches – the smallest room measures 40 square metres – and a general air of refined luxury, as typified by the Cafe Indochine restaurant and the Lagoon poolside bar. CREDIT

HUY HOANG 1 $ 73 Phan Boi Chau, Hoi An Tel: 0510 386 1453 Boasts that it is just 0.025km from the city centre, which translates into being an excellent base for exploring the old town. Added to that, you get simple and comfortable rooms for around VND400,000.


$$$$ Hoa Hai, Ngu Hanh Son, Da Nang Tel: 0511 398 1234 Located 15 minutes by car from Da Nang International Airport, the Hyatt Regency Danang Resort and Spa is situated on a stretch of beach with a view of the ocean and the Marble Mountains. Has 200 guestrooms featuring modern designs with oversized balconies and floor to ceiling windows. There are 182 luxurious

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travel Promos CARAVELLE Room and meeting package promotion. A deluxe single from VND3,646,000++ per night; signature deluxe single from VND4,449,000++ per night. Full day meeting package from VN 847,000++ per person. Offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other promotions. Apply for new bookings, stay from Apr 15 to Sep. 30 with minimum two nights. Meeting package is required, minimum 20 persons. Wedding promotion with special 15 percent off. Applies for wedding dates from Aug. 17 to Sep.15. For more info, email the wedding planner at bqsales@ MANGO BAY From VND945,000 per night, stay three nights and pay for two with their special promotion.

For more info, visit NEW WORLD SAIGON HOTEL The hotel is offering a unique Stop and Shop package. From now until Jun. 30 visitors can benefit from discounts offering value-added services depending on each individual’s needs. With rates starting from VND2,766,750++ per room and night, or VND3,480,750++ per room and night with breakfast and broadband Internet included. Depending on the guest’s preferences, the Stop and Shop package includes the following services — accommodation in one of the hotel’s deluxe or executive club deluxe rooms, daily breakfast buffet at the hotel’s Parkview restaurant or at the Executive Club Lounge, all-day refreshments, afternoon cocktails and hors d’oeuvres at the Executive Club Lounge or

residences and 27 private Ocean Villas, each with a private pool.


See more at

free local phone calls and more. For more info, visit www. NOVOTEL NHA TRANG A revitalise package that combines a rice and orange wrap to moisturise and nourish your skin, followed by a Swedish massage to stimulate circulation and relax the muscles. A herbal footbath completes the experience. For VND1,600,000 per person. This package is valid from Apr. 1 to 30. For more info, visit www. VICTORIA HOI AN Receive 10 percent off from now till May 2; 30 percent off from May 3 till Jun. 30; 10 percent off from Jul. 1 till Aug. 31. Applicable for standard, superior, deluxe, deluxe beach front or junior suites. Minimum two nights stay. For more info, visit www.


$$$ Tam Hai Island, Thon 4, Nui Thanh, Quang Nam Tel: 0510 354 5105 Located to the south of Hoi An, if you’re looking for something a bit different, the secluded sand island of Tam Hai, with just a dozen traditional–looking (but modern) villas with private gardens and true tropical ambience may be the answer. There is an endless beach, a swimming pool, and a restaurant to take advantage of the fresh seafood.

LIFSTYLE RESORT DA NANG $$$$ Truong Sa, Ngu Hanh Son, Da Nang Tel: 511 3958 888 Located on Bac My An Beach, Lifestyle Resort Da Nang is family-friendly resort. The design of the guest rooms and amenities, quality of the food, ambience of the bar and restaurant and the dedication of service of the resort’s staff has all been carefully designed to immerse guests in luxury and seclusion. CREDIT



$$$ 1 Pham Hong Thai, Hoi An Tel: 0510 391 4555– Recently refurbished, this award–winning leafy and well-appointed resort is located close to the charm and bustle of the Old Town and maintains an emphasis on wellness and pampering. Its spa combines the benefits of traditional Chinese medicine, tai chi, touch and hot stone therapies.



$$$$ Hamlet 1, Dien Duong Village, Quang Nam Tel: 0510 394 0000 Setting the standard for luxury resorts in Vietnam, The Nam Hai is the ultimate relaxation space. Includes three massive swimming pools, a gourmet restaurant and elegant spa on a lotus pond. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Each massive room comes with its own espresso machine, pre–programmed iPod and both indoor and outdoor showers. Entire villas, spa villas and pool villas complexes are also available for rent and each villa has a view of the sea. A great place to forget about the city.


Cua Dai Beach Tel: 0510 392 7040 Pull up some (private) beach and relax at this unique and charming resort, which has been laid out to replicate a traditional fishing village with small streets, ponds and village houses. The Annam Asian restaurant overlooks the sea, there’s also a spa, Thai or Swedish massage, and fitness centre.



$$ 10 Pham Ngu Lao, Hue Tel: 054 382 6567 Housed in a breezy, colonial villa, this is the cheapest European–style place in town. Has bunk–style beds in mixed or single–sex dorms starting from VND120,000 a night plus a small selection of double and twin rooms for VND800,000. A place to meet like–minded travellers.

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AIRLINES AIR ASIA AIR FRANCE 130 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: 3825 8583 AIR MEKONG 1st Floor, Centre Point Building, 106 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Tel: 3846 3999 AMERICAN AIRLINES 194 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3 Tel: 3933 0330. CATHAY PACIFIC 5th Floor, Centec Tower, 72-74 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3 Tel: 3822 3203 CHINA AIRLINES 37 Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: 3911 1591 EVA AIRWAYS 4th Floor, 2A-4A Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: 3822 4488. JAPAN AIRLINES 3rd Floor, Sheraton Hotel, 88 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: 3821 9098. JETSTAR PACIFIC KOREAN AIR 34 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: 3824 2878 LAO AIRLINES 93 Pasteur Tel: 3822 6990 MALAYSIA AIRLINES Ground Floor, Saigon Trade Centre, 37 Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: 3829 2529 SINGAPORE AIRLINES Saigon Tower Bulding, Room 101, 29 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: 3823 1588 THAI AIRWAYS 29 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: 3822 3365 TIGER AIRWAYS VIETNAM AIRLINES 27B Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1 Tel: 3832 0320

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$$$ 10 Hung Vuong, Hue Tel: 054 388 2222 www.imperial– One of the best hotels in the city, and certainly in the most convenient downtown location, this high–rise hotel has luxurious rooms with great city views, a selection of restaurants, a piano bar and the sumptuous Royal Spa. You can even hire your own butler. Internet rates start at VND2.4 million++ for a deluxe city view room.



$$$$ 5 Le Loi, Hue Tel: 054 383 7475–residence– Built around a core of the former colonial governor’s mansion, and maintained in a nautical modern style, this is one of Hue’s unique experiences. With ceiling fans and dark–stained wood furnishings, this is traditional art deco Indochine at its best. Throw in an excellent restaurant with river views and you have a heady mix.

PHUONG HOANG HOTEL $ 48/3 Le Loi, Hue Tel: 054 382 6736 A budget option which offers a reliable and acceptable level of comfort for the

BIKE RENTALS CHI’S CAFÉ 40/27 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: 0903 643446 On offer are automatic bikes for VND1,575,000/month and standard bikes for VND1,050,000/month. Bikes are well-maintained and staff helps with any difficulties bike may encounter. NATALIE’S BIKE RENTALS Tel: 0979 992983 Good selection of standard and automatic bikes. Bike delivery available for drop-off and pick-up. SAIGON HOT WHEELS Tel: 0120 3077882 Specialising in Yamaha bikes only, latest models available for rent include the Nuevo LX 135cc and Luvius 125cc. Unbeatable prices. Servicing and oil change included. Long-term contracts preferred. Call Adam on the number provided. SAIGON MOTORBIKE 203 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: 2244 4466 Where foreign residents in the know go for long-term bike rentals. Operating in the backpacker area for almost 10 years, Saigon Motorbike stocks a large variety of motorbikes and scooters (including Vespas) at prices that are hard to beat. SAIGON SCOOTER CENTRE 25/7 Cuu Long, Tan Binh, Tel: 3848 7816 Saigon Scooter Centre stocks a selection of high-end well maintained bikes and classic scooters for short and long term rentals. Vietnam’s only 100% foreign-owned scooter business also offers a one way drop-off service for their bikes and includes helmets, locks and travel packs.

sub–VND400,000 price with the additional benefit of being near the Perfume River and having attentive service.

and restaurant, bar and meeting room that caters for up to 200 delegates. One of the best run hotels in town.



$ Chay Lap Village, Phong Nha-Ke Bang, Quang Binh Situated on a peanut and maize farm on the doorstep of Phong Nha–Ke Bang National Park, this eco lodge and farm offers homestay-style accommodation in the middle of a rural, ethnic minority Vietnamese environment. Activities include biking, kayaking, trekking, caving and chilling out in the shadow of some of the most spectacular limestone karst scenery that this country has to offer. Booking needs to be made through tour operators - email for details or check out the website.



$$ My Canh, Bao Ninh, Dong Hoi, Quang Binh Tel: 052 384 2999 Three hours north of Hue, this top–end resort offers elegant, comfortable pool villas and bungalows, and is the only luxury accommodation in Quang Binh. An ideal base for trips to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Phong Nha caves.


$$$$ Beachside, Tran Phu, Nha Trang Tel: 058 352 2222–anamandara–nhatrang There’s a generous 2.6 hectares of private beachside garden to get lost in here, and much to marvel at, with villa–style accommodation furnished in traditional native woods, verandah dining, pool bar and the signature Six Senses Spa.

JUNGLE BEACH RESORT $ Ninh Phuoc, Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa (40km north of Nha Trang) Tel: 058 362 2384 On a secluded – almost deserted – promontory north of Nha Trang, with accommodation ranging from comfortable guest rooms to basic outdoor bamboo shelters, this budget place is all about hammocks, the sea, the jungle and nature – certainly a change from mainstream tourism. The owners arrange pick–up from Nha Trang and the down–to–earth resort maintains a deliberate, family atmosphere. A real gem.

MIA RESORT NHA TRANG $$$$ Bai Dong, Cam Hai Dong, Cam Lam, Khanh Hoa Tel: 0918 821 633 Nestled in the mountain pass between Cam Ranh Airport and Nha Trang, this sanctuary of rest and relaxation is set on its own private beach. Based on ecofriendly principles, Mia boasts rooftops studded with manicured grass and shrubs instead of tiles or differing roof coverings, enhancing the environmental appeal. The 50-seaview rooms are split between luxurious villas and condominiums that blend contemporary living with slight Indochina influences. CREDIT

NOVOTEL NHA TRANG $$$ 50 Tran Phu, Nha Trang Tel: 058 625 6900 This attractive four-star hotel is centrally located with 154 guestrooms, each with terrace and sea view, offering a pool, spa CREDIT


$$$$ Van Dang Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa Tel: 058 372 8222–Senses–Hideaway– Ninh–Van–Bay The upmarket Tatler magazine voted this its top hotel of 2006, and it’s not hard to see why. The location is stunning, on a bay which can only be reached by boat, and all the accommodation, amenities and facilities are top–drawer. So, naturally, is the price. Internet rates start at around VND15 million for a beach pool villa.


$$$$ 26 – 28 Tran Phu Tel: 058 388 0000 A sleek beach-front hotel with 284 sea view rooms and suites, complimented by six restaurants and bars. The hotel also has a Sheraton Club Lounge with spectacular views, Shine Spa with nine treatment rooms, an outdoor swimming pool with infinity edge and reflection pool area, a fitness centre, a kid’s club, a business centre and a cooking school. For great view of the city, head up on high to the rooftop bar.

SUNRISE BEACH HOTEL & SPA $$$ 12–14 Tran Phu, Nha Trang Tel: 058 382 0999 With various awards, including being listed in the World’s Top one percent of hotels 2009 by Expedia, and in view of the current facilities, location and its anticipated strong branding and service from the heart, Sunrise Nha Trang Beach Hotel & Spa is ideal for the medium to higher end individual leisure and corporate travellers. All rooms have a view of the sea. CREDIT



$$ Tel: 058 384 0501 This remote and unspoiled island some 60km north of Nha Trang has been made into a stylish getaway, with traditional bamboo bungalows on the beach and plenty of opportunity for serious nature watching, with abundant marine life and an array of birds. On-site seafood restaurant and bar.



$$$ Dong Cat, Ninh Hai, Ninh Hoa District Tel: 058 3670 670 Overlooking the ocean and a 600–metre beach front, this four–star resort has 54 rooms, four restaurants including one where you can pick fresh seafood and then have it cooked, a swimming pool and a spa. Service is both professional and friendly.



$$$$ 8 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet Tel: 062 3743 777 This resort offers exotic and luxurious accommodation including two Bali–style, thatched roof “honeymoon” villas and 55 spacious suites and deluxe rooms. Fresh seafood, Vietnamese specialities, Thai food and international cuisine are served in their many dining areas. The resort also offers outdoor activities including kitesurfing and parasailing.

destination BLUE OCEAN


$$$$ 54 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet Tel: 062 384 7322 After renovation in 2007, Blue Ocean Resort is now under the management of Life Resorts. Its new luxury makeover includes a large swimming pool and swim–up pool bar as well as a children’s activity playground. Another new addition is an Irish bar.



$$$$ 58 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet Tel: 062 384 7111 The place that put Phan Thiet on the map is still one of the best options for a stay, with charming wooden bungalows, a private beach, a swimming pool (both with attached bars) and a French restaurant. Coco Beach is continues to be run by the European management team that began it all in 1995.



$$$ 24 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne Tel: 062 384 7440/2 Set on one acre of manicured lawns and lush gardens, this luxurious haven of rest and tranquillity offers four different accommodation types, all featuring en suite bathrooms, cable TV, IDD telephone, safe box and air conditioning. Choose between bungalows with either open-air bathrooms or enclosed gardens, or beachfront bungalows looking out to the South China Sea. The resort’s Xuan Day spa offers a selection of therapeutic body treatments while the beachfront Sandals restaurant serves a blend of dishes from the Mediterranean and Pacific Rim.

NOVOTEL PHAN THIET OCEAN DUNES & GOLF RESORT $$$ 1 Ton Duc Thang, Phan Thiet Tel: 062 3822 393 This resort offers access to a first–class international golf course designed by golf legend Nick Faldo. Great food and service is offered in this 123–room escape destination featuring private balconies with ocean or golf view. CREDIT



$$$$ Khu Hon Lan, Xa Tan Thanh, Ham Thuan Nam, Binh Thuan Tel: 062 368 2222 One of the few all–villa luxury boutique resorts in Vietnam, Princess d’Annam is set on Ke Ga Bay, about a four–hour drive from Ho Chi Minh City and 35km south of Phan Thiet. With a sumptuous spa, original architecture, eight swimming pools and 24–hour butler service, this is one of the most well-appointed resorts in the country. It’s definitely one of the most exclusive.

SHADES APARTMENTS $$$ Khu 1, Ham Tien, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet Tel: 062 374 3237 Top quality resort offering a small selection of luxury and attractively designed apartments and studios right on the beach with fully equipped and modern units. Entertainment options include windsurfing, kitesurfing, antique sidecars, bike tours and dune buggy rides. Has a decent pool and good dining options. CREDIT

Joseph’s Hotel Foreign-run,boutique hotel Next to the cathedral

Free wi-fi, international breakfast, spacious and airy, lift, plasma TV, multi-shower, friendly service 5, Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi | Phone: 04 3938 1048 | Mob: 0913 090 446

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$$$$ Mui Ne Beach, Phan Thiet Tel: 062 381 3000 Part of the Victoria chain which has properties in Vietnam and Cambodia, this high–end resort with thatched–roof bungalows and family villas is set in exotic gardens with an infinity swimming pool, a top–end seafood restaurant, and a spa, beauty salon and Jacuzzi right on the private beach. An excellent place to stay located just before you reach the main stretch of resorts in Mui Ne.

PHU QUOC BEACH CLUB RESORT $$ Ap Cua Lap, Xa Duong To, Long Beach, Phu Quoc Island Tel: 077 398 0998 A small and popular guesthouse located 15 minutes south of the airport offering simple yet well-appointed accommodation with rooms at VND630,000 and bungalows at VND840,000 per night. Features a beachside restaurant and includes free WIFI. Motorbike rental, boat trips and tours are easily arranged. Discount rates during rainy season.

galows offer views of the beach and bay. Bathrooms are tropical, open–air style. The beachside restaurant is well–known and includes traditional Vietnamese cuisine based on fresh seafood and products, prepared with an unmistakable classic ‘French touch.’

CHEN SEA RESORT AND SPA $$$$ Bai Xep, Ong Lang, Cua Duong, Phu Quoc, Kien Giang Tel: 0773 995895 reservation@chenla– Open since November 2008, this Italian-run, 37–bungalow boutique resort provides a serene atmosphere along with first–class spa treatment and a Mediterranean–themed restaurant. One of the few top-end properties on Phu Quoc. CREDIT

LA VERANDA $$$$ Ward 1, Duong Dong Beach, Phu Quoc Tel: 0773982988 Boutique luxury among exotic greenery and a white sand beach, the M Gallery branded La Veranda has beautifully–designed rooms with cool tiles in traditional designs and dark woods, a stunning swimming pool, an all–natural spa, a beach grill and a fine fusion restaurant overlooking the beach. CREDIT



$$ Ong Lang Bay, Phu Quoc Island Tel: 077 398 6142 Conceived and operated by a French–Vietnamese couple, BO Resort lies on the west of Phu Quoc and is quiet, low–key and secluded. An eco–lodge concept, there are no televisions or air–con and future plans include hot water by solar panels. 18 bun-

$$ Ong Lang Beach, Phu Quoc Tel: 090 338 2207 A getaway in the true sense, combining an eco–friendly approach with a gorgeous beachside location. Wildlife abounds on land and in the sea, the bungalows are made of rammed earth, and there are no TVs and telephones around (although Wi-Fi is available). Excellent sunsets from


destination the beach bar, which also serves up tasty, home-cooked Vietnamese food in the restaurant on the edge of the sea.

ing and a bar strategically located on the cliff to watch the sunset.


$$ Nguyen Duc Thuan, Con Dao, Vung Tau Tel: 064 3830 939 Seated at the heart of Con Son Island on the edge of the main town, this beachfront resort is a good option thanks to its reasonable pricing and coconutshaded sand. Has the standard range of mod cons.

$$ Ong Lang Beach, Phu Quoc Tel: 0918 073 494 / 0773 985002 Secluded budget bungalow–style resort which lies in a beachside coconut palm plantation with small basic bungalows adding to the castaway effect. The restaurant serves fresh seafood. It’s laid–back and simple. And cheap.

SAPA CAT CAT GUESTHOUSE $$ Cat Cat Road Tel: 020 387 1218 Notable for having probably the best view in town from its bar restaurant, Cat Cat Guesthouse has plain rooms at very reasonable rates. A fairly steep set of steps leads to the block of rooms, most of which have big windows and balconies, and, for the cold winter, log fireplaces.



$$ 24 Muong Hoa, Sapa Tel: 020 387 2404 www.topas–eco– For the environmentally conscientious, the only place to stay in Sapa is the Topas Ecolodge. 25 individual lodges are located on the hills overlooking the valleys. Employing solar technology and a wastewater facility give it eco–cred. Topas also organises treks and bicycle tours. It takes over an hour to get from Sapa to the lodge; transportation is provided.




$$$ 2 Nguyen Du, Vung Tau Tel: 064 385 6888 This four-star iconic property stands proudly along the tree–lined seafront and has added modern amenities to its spacious rooms, along with a large restaurant, first–floor bar, fitness centre and business facilities.

HO TRAM BEACH RESORT & SPA $$$$ Tel: 064 378 1525 Located along the coastal road in Ba Ria– Vung Tau Province, this attractive, Hoi Anstyled property is the ideal getaway from the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City. The resort is highlighted by a selection of 63 uniquely designed Indochine bungalows and villas that promise a local experience with international–standard accommodation. Also has an excellent spa facility and two swimming pools. CREDIT

HO TRAM SANCTUARY $$$$ Ho Tram, Ba Ria-Vung Tau Tel: 064 3781 631 Just 45 minutes north of Vung Tau, the classical but contemporary elegance and refined atmosphere of this leafy villa complex provides guests with a home away from home. Perfect for renting with groups of friends or as an extended family, the spacious villas each come with their own pool and many have direct access to the beach. Facilities include tennis courts, water sports, a mini supermarket, and cycling and motorbike tours. CREDIT



$$$ Tel: 020 387 1522 Topping the list of Sapa resorts, the Victoria is not priced for the backpacker (rooms range from VND2.8 million per night). The many amenities include satellite TV, in–room coffeemakers and safes, and a hilltop health club, tennis court and pool. The entire resort is tastefully decorated with panoramic views of the town below.



$$$$ 1 Tran Phu, Vung Tau Tel: 064 335 1553 Perched on a cliff face, this glamorous, Imperial Vietnam-styled resort has a calming and elegant boutique atmosphere. Has traditionally designed and furnished rooms and villas, seaside pools, fine din-



$$ 1 Le Quy Don, Vung Tau Tel: 064 385 2135 Built in 1972, this popular seafront hotel still maintains its 1970s–style architecture and room fittings. Amenities include a pool, two bars, a massage parlour and a karaoke lounge. Rooms start at VND900,000.

SIX SENSES CON DAO $$$$ Dat Doc Beach, Ba Ria - Vung Tau Tel : 064 3831 222 The first five-star resort on the Con Dao archipelago, this unique property pays homage to the remoteness of its natural environment by being deliberately sandwiched between the sea, beach, mangrove and mountains behind. 50 wooden-framed bamboo pool villas stretch along the curved bay here, each with an unencumbered view of the sea. Also has a fitness centre, two restaurants, diving facilities and free bicycle usage. CREDIT

TRAVEL SERVICES ACCOR ADVANTAGE PLUS 7th floor 28 Nguyen Thi Dieu, Q3 Tel: 3933 1000 The number one hotel loyalty membership in Asia Pacific. Members enjoy fantastic savings on dining and the best accommodation rates at over 340 Accor Hotels throughout Asia Pacific. Join now and save.

AZA ADVENTURE TOURS AND TRAVEL S67-1 Rock Climbing Gym, Sky Garden 3, Q7 Tel: 5410 5523 AZA Adventure Tours and Travel specialises in adventure and education tourism, providing consulting and custom travel arrangements and packages to the Philippines and other countries in Asia. AZA seeks to connect adventure travel newcomers and veterans with service providers, adventure activities, and accommodations that fit the client’s desires, budget and skill level.

BUDGET RENT–A–CAR Chauffeur–driven and self–drive vehicles (for local license holders) from one of the world’s best–known car rental companies. With a kiosk at the airport and drivers trained in a range of driving, cultural and language skills, mileage–free car hire starts at VND1.2 million.

BUFFALO TOURS AGENCY 81 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1 Tel: 3827 9170 This premium travel agency helps travellers select their destinations and organise their trips, customises leisure and corporate travel plans around the world and in Vietnam while offering a selected range of small group tours.

COME & GO VIETNAM 195/14, D1, Q Binh Thanh Tel: 6258 3281 Friendly, responsive British–run tour

operator offering high–quality, innovative tailor made tours in and around Vietnam to suit most budgets. Come & Go pride themselves on originality so if you’re tired of the usual Vietnam products, they’re definitely worth a try. They also offer a fast and efficient flight ticketing service.

Vietnamese. Established in 2009, Flipper Diving Club offers international scuba diving insurance for all customers and each instructor carries additional scuba diving insurance. Contact them now to learn more about diving in Phu Quoc.

DALAT EASY RIDER An online air ticket reservation and travel agent in Vietnam providing information, pricing, availability, and booking facilities for domestic and international air travel, railway reservation, hotel bookings, holiday packages, buses, and car rentals. Also organises travel insurance, coach tours and visas.

70 Phan Dinh Phung, Dalat www.dalat– Bespoke motorbike tours from the original Easy Rider group based in Dalat. With over 70 guides, all speaking English, tourists can either ride on the back of a bike with their guide or can hire their own bikes. Tours include Dalat, the Central Highlands and you can even venture as far as Phan Thiet and Nha Trang. Email for further information. Note: insurance is not included. Price is generally VND800,000 to VND1 million per day depending on how far you travel.

EXOTISSIMO 64 Dong Du, Q1 Tel: 3827 2911 SC4-1 My Khanh 3, Nguyen Duc Canh, Q7 Tel: 5412 2761 - Ext 113. 41 Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: 3 5194 111 - Ext 17 I Everything you could wish for under one roof from this professional agency. An upmarket operation operating through Southeast Asia, which aims to bring you up close to the cultures of the area through personalised tours across the region, which may include insights into culinary customs, handicrafts and humanitarian initiatives. Excellent service. Travel desks at Sofitel Plaza Saigon and New World Hotel open from 7.30am to 9pm every day.

FLIGHT TRAVEL COMPANY 121 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: 3824 7744 Flight travel is an associated partner of Hogg Robinson Group (HRG) in Vietnam providing a range of travel services, including global travel management, domestic and international air booking and travel insurance, to corporate companies, family and individual travelers.

FLIPPER DIVING CLUB PHU QUOC 60 Tran Hung Dao, Duong Dong, Phu Quoc Tel: 0939 402 872 A PADI 5-star dive resort with fully experienced and certified scuba diving staff that speak English, French, Dutch, German, Spanish, Russian, Swedish, Norwegian and


KIM TRAVEL 270 De Tham, Q1 One of the first tourist companies to set up shop in De Tham, Kim Travel has bussed hundreds of thousands of tourists up and down Vietnam. Destinations include Hanoi, Nha Trang, Hoi An and Hue along with other tours.

INTREPID TRAVEL VIETNAM 149/42 Le Thi Rieng, Q1 Tel: 0904 193308 An international travel company operating in Vietnam since 1992, offering day tours, short breaks and small group excursions throughout Vietnam and beyond.

MANTA SAIL TRAINING CENTRE 108 Huynh Thuc Khang, Mui Ne Tel: 0908 400 108 Vietnam’s first and only sailing school offers individually tailored training programmes with national and international guidelines for individual clients and groups. Services include recreational sailing, supervised dinghy rental, sail training, racing, wake boarding and beachside accommodation. Group rates and corporate event packages are also available.

ONE WORLD 28/4 Do Quang Dau, Q1 Tel: 6675 2620 A local inbound tour operator specialising in boutique tours around Vietnam. We provide economy, luxury, packages and Taylor–made tours, including flexibility to allow our customers to explore at their pace and will.

TERRAVERDE 91/10 Tran Quoc Hoan, Tan Binh Tel: 3984 4754 If cycling through the Mekong Delta, trekking in the highlands, or lazing in a junk on Halong Bay is your kind of thing, then this company’s range of customised cultural and soft adventure tours might suit. It caters to travellers interested in making a positive impact on the lives of the people whose regions they visit.



BARS & NIGHTCLUBS 2 LAM SON TOP-END INTERNATIONAL Park Hyatt, 2 Lam Son, Q1, Tel: 3824 1234 4pm to 1am. Fridays and Saturday until 2am. Contemporary international décor blends seamlessly with local themes to create the most lavish but tastefully designed bar in the city. It may mean you have to pay five-star prices – the cocktails here go for over VND200,000 – but the monied-up punters still come in their droves. Easy listening, dance-style music plays over the sound system while drinks go from a range of Martini-base cocktails through to spirits by the bottle and 15 wines by the glass.




60 Hai Ba Trung, Can Tho City Tel: 071 3752 436 Tu Trang Travel offers services such as trips to the Mekong Feeling floating hotel, cruises along the Mekong Delta, and speedboats between Chau Doc and Phnom Penh, and between Saigon, Cantho and Chau Doc. Email: sales@ From the people behind Zoom Café, Vietnam Vespa Adventure offers multi–day tours of southern and coastal Vietnam on the back of a luxury motorbike powered by clean, renewable biodiesel. English speaking tour leaders lead the way, contact for more details.

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INTERNATIONAL / RESTOBAR 195 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: 6291 5424 24 hours Summery, Ibiza-style beats rock through




10 Chu Minh Trinh, Q1, Tel: 6291 0447 11.30am to 1am A restobar where France meets Japan, this innovative and bold four-floor venue mixes Gallic flair with all the nuances of the Land of the Rising Sun. With lime green in the stairwells, maroon on the ground floor and orange moving up to the subtly lit top-floor terrace, the bar areas and dining spaces are complemented by two games rooms for playing board games, Wii and X-Box. The menu encompasses the same eclectic mix, with ika kappa maki sitting next to baked clams gratinee and beef carpaccio. A bit of something for everyone.





this recently refurbished Backpackers’ Area icon, mixing in with the bamboo-style décor, deep red walls and ethnic minority upholstery and place settings. Serving a mixture of Thai and western cuisine (from VND80,000 to VND140,000 a dish), the latenight party atmosphere is bolstered by the first-floor DJ pumping out tunes into the early hours.



LOUNGE BAR First Floor, 59 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: 6291 3686 3pm to midnight A small but atmospheric, living-room style London meets New York lounge opposite the Sheraton Hotel. Has chilled out tunes during the late afternoon and more funky vibes at night. A pleasant meeting place for the latest cocktails, a good coffee and a glass of wine. Also has an extensive champagne list with probably the largest offering of champagnes by the glass available in town. Holds regular events.

AMERICA DISCOTHEQUE TECHNO / HIP HOP Windsor Plaza Hotel, 18 An Duong Vuong, Q5 Tel: 3833 6688 9pm to late Once the largest nightclub in Vietnam, this 2000-capacity venue is located in the An Dong Plaza complex in District 5. Pumping out 30,000 watts of sound, this club also possesses one of the loudest nightclub sound systems in the city. A popular nightspot for the local and Viet Kieu crowd, with resident and guest DJs playing thumping dance and techno tunes and a separate room for those who prefer hip hop and R&B. Expect to pay the usual nightclub prices for drinks, but look out for the regular specials on bottles of spirits.

APOCALYPSE NOW MIXED POP MUSIC / NIGHTCLUB 2C Thi Sach, Q1, Tel: 3825 6124 7pm to 2am One of the oldest nightclubs in Saigon, the foreigner orientated Apo nonetheless draws in a healthy mix of tourists, expats and locals who intermingle on the club’s two floors and outdoor terrace every night of the week. Now charging a VND150,000 entrance fee on Fridays and Saturdays (which includes a free drink), the DJs here cater to the more populist side of music. Cue mainstream hits by the Black Eyed Peas, Usher and golden oldies by Wham!, Bon Jovi and even The Smiths (on occasion!). A place for singles to meet singles and lonely hearts to get less lonely.



AUSTRALIAN / SPORT 31 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: 3824 3483 4.30pm to midnight Although run by a Vietnamese couple, this boozy, outback-themed sports pub just off the main drag is quintessentially Aus-

out & about tralian. The down-to-earth atmosphere is added to by a great pool table, darts and all the live sports, with a particular focus (not surprisingly) on Aussie Rules and Rugby. Also shows the Premier League. One of the longest running watering holes in town.

BOOTLEG DJ CAFÉ MINIMALIST CAFÉ BAR 9 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: 0907 609202 9.30am to 1am Swathed in greys, cream and dull brown, this bar and café has the feel of an underground-style watering hole, the type you may find in London or New York. Run by a well-known, locally based DJ, the decks and mixing board take centre stage here, with a range of turntablists taking to the stand at night. Also a good place to hang out during the day — the Mediterranean-influenced food menu includes crostini, salads, pastas and a good selection of breakfast fare. Does takeaway Lavazza coffee.

BOSTON SPORTS BAR INTERNATIONAL / RESTOBAR 28/4 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: 6656 6338 24 hours This inviting, all-hours-god-sends multistorey restobar with its rectangular, bare-brick bar area is the only place in the Backpackers’ District showing all the live sport. And here we certainly mean the word ALL. TV screens are everywhere. Also in the mix is the coldest aircon in town, reasonable (although slightly pricey) pub food and friendly female staff.

BOUDOIR LOUNGE Saigon Sofitel Plaza, 17 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: 3824 1555 7am to 1am Composed of The Conservatory, a daylightdrenched loft area, The Salon, a plush living room with baroque and exotic accents, The Cigar Room and The Library, with its sleek champagne tasting counter, the Boudoir Lounge is a haven for executives and lounge adepts alike. Live International DJs perform Fridays and Saturdays. Open daily for breakfast, lunch and evening bouchées.



INTERNATIONAL 7 Thao Dien, Q2 3pm to 12am daily Tucked away in An Phu, this long-standing establishment provides great food and drinks at reasonable prices. With a long bar, pool table, darts, live sports, good music, and friendly staff, it’s easy to relax and have a good time. A variety of cuisine is offered, from beef pies and burgers to beef tenderloin, spare ribs and Swiss-style fondue. Quiz night on Wednesdays, ladies night on Tuesdays and live music every first Friday of the month.

CHILL SKYBAR 26th & 27th Floor Rooftop, 76A Le Lai, Q1 Tel: 3827 2372 5pm to 10pm (restaurant). 5pm to 2am (bar & lounge) Offering spectacular views of Ho Chi Minh City, Chill is located on the rooftop of A&B Tower in downtown District 1. DJ Kenzo Trinh provides a playlist of ambient dance tunes and up-tempo lounge tracks, while the open kitchen, headed up by chefs from Japan, Australia, Thailand and Vietnam, serves a mix of contemporary international and Asian cuisine. Signature drinks aplenty can also be ordered from the bar. Be sure to dress well as Chill

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out & about operates a no shorts and no sandals dress code policy.



LOUNGE BAR & TERRACE 6th & 7th Floor, 2bis Cong Truong Quoc Te, Q3 Tel: 0948 343399 5.30pm to late Set above Gloria Jean’s just behind Diamond Plaza, this two-floor venue with an upstairs terrace and garden space comes from the same people who created Velvet. It marks the latest trend in Vietnamese bars — stylish, comfortable decor, an extensive wine menu to complement the cocktails and top-shelf spirits, and music played at a volume still conducive to conversation. A place to be seen.



INTERNATIONAL / RESTOBAR 212 De Tham, Q1 Tel: 3836 9946 24 hours This hard-to-miss Backpackers’ Area restobar, terrace and nightclub declares itself loud and bold with its massive, snorting buffalo signage, a symbol that has undoubtedly appeared in thousands of photos of Saigon. A daytime happy hour, pizza, pasta, Asian cuisine and international mains make up the mix, with the beats pumping on the first floor until late.

FUSE TECHNO / DANCE / HIP-HOP 3A Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: 0919 206461 7pm to late One of the smaller nightclubs to grace Saigon, the neon-lit Fuse is popular with the young, fashionable and affluent Vietnamese set. Blaring techno and dance music envelopes the dance floor as large fruit platters and bottles of whiskey and cognac are consumed. A lack of space means this place gets packed easily, especially on the weekends, so look to arrive relatively early to grab a table. Even better, book in advance.

GO2 INTERNATIONAL / RESTOBAR 187 De Tham, Q1 Tel: 3836 9575 24 hours A corner location, retro, slightly grungy décor, banging indie and popular rock tunes downstairs, never ending drunkenness and late-night partying make Go2 one of the watering hole destinations in the Backpackers’ Area. Popular with tourists and expats searching for latenight drinking and dancing options, the food menu includes Thai, Vietnamese and western cuisine with mains costing between VND75,000 and VND110,000. DJs bang out the beats upstairs until late.



HARD TECHNO 79 Tran Hung Dao, Q1 Tel: 3824 2525 8.30pm to 2.30am This Singaporean-run super club, located in the Dai Nam hotel, is just as popular with the locals as it is with the foreigners. A friendly, communal atmosphere and attentive service helps Gossip to stand out from its contemporaries. As expected, tinnitus-inducing levels of techno and house music blare throughout the twotiered club with a large, raised dancefloor that fills out instantly. ‘Dress to impress’ is the nature of the clientele here so don’t turn up in shorts and flip-flops. The entrance fee is VND120,000.

DANCE / HIP-HOP 5/8 Nguyen Sieu, Q1 Tel: 0933 998389 9pm to late With its illusory and decorative style, shisha pipes, eye-catching laser displays, and impressive DJ sets, Lavish is a prime place to both unwind and live it up on the weekends. The hanging chandeliers and red velvet curtains exude a luxurious vibe that’s also reflected in the drinks prices. However, on Ladies’ Night every Tuesday from 8.30pm to 11pm, ladies can enjoy two free drinks such as cocktails, beers and soft drinks.

HOA VIEN BRAUHAUS 28Bis Mac Dinh Chi, Q1 Tel: 3829 0585 8am to midnight Set in the same building as the Czech Consulate and decorated in wood panelling and brass finishing, this enormous Czech-styled bierkeller popular with stout burghers from both the local and expatriate communities was the first microbrewery in town (1995) and remains one of the best. The excellent home–brewed Hoavener beer, which comes in dark, red or blonde, is served out of huge steins and is complemented by a food menu that mixes Vietnamese fare with Central European staples such as schnitzels, wurst and much more.



EXPAT BAR / DART 54 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: 3822 2664 3pm to 1am Despite its slightly run down veneer and smoky but lively atmosphere, Ice Blue remains a popular haunt for many of the city’s older expats as well as a not–so– regular crowd of tourists. Known for its amicable service and lively, beer-drinking ambience, this long-running waterhole is also famed for its darting prowess, with two well set-up dart boards claiming pride of place.



CUBAN/SPANISH 6 Cao Ba Quat, Q1 Tel: 3829 5180 www.lahabana– 10am to 1am If it's mojitos and well-mixed cocktails you want, spiced up with nightly live music and a Latin atmosphere, La Habana is the place. Run by a Chinese-German couple, this attractive, long-running Cuban bar and restaurant is one of the few watering holes in the Thai Van Lung / Le Thanh Ton area to serve up a regular dose of all things live. Also has HB beer on tap, an excellent food menu and weekly salsa classes.




INTERNATIONAL / RESTOBAR 175/22 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: 3837 7679 9am to 1am daily Swathed in deep red with dark wooden seating and attractive, art-themed décor, Le Pub remains one of the best restobars in the Backpackers’ Area thanks to its friendly service, good atmosphere and tasty international and Vietnamese cuisine. Prices are reasonable, too. Shows the live sport, has a Tuesday night pub quiz and also runs daily specials on drinks.

LONG PHI FRENCH / RESTOBAR #003 / 207 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: 3837 2704 6pm to very late, Tuesday to Sunday Now in its third incarnation, the French-run Long Phi has been serving the Backpacker’s Area since the late 1990s and has swathes of mainly Gallic regulars to prop up the bar. Not to say that this place only caters for the French community – far from it. But Ricard and other similar fare including the excellent cuisine (sold until the early hours) are very much in evidence here. Occasional live music.



PROGRESSIVE / MAINSTREAM 2 Ly Tu Trong, Q1 5pm to late With its downstairs tear-shaped bar and lounge-style seating running right up to the bar space, Lush may not have a dedicated dance floor. But when it comes to all things progressive, this often controversial venue remains one of the city’s leading lights. Overseas DJs, ladies’ nights on Tuesdays and a cosmopolitan clientele merge seamlessly with the red velvet and cartoon-style decor to create one of the city’s iconic bars. Also has a more chilled bar space out back.



IRISH BAR / INTERNATIONAL 74/A3 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: 3829 3198 11am to 1am. Sundays 4pm to 1am One the city’s longest serving bars, this

well-ordered, two-storey Irish-themed watering hole sports a copper-topped bar area, bare-brick walls, dark wooden seating and good service to boot. Known for its excellent food menu, the international fare includes Irish stew, Cajun chicken, panini merguez, tasty pizzas, comfort pub grub and the to-die-for zesty beef roll-ups. Also has a great selection of whiskeys and an upstairs pool table.



TECHNO / VIETNAMESE POP Nha Rong Port Area, 5-7 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4 Tel: 6269 6999. 9pm to late Following the demise of the now nearmythical Starwars, Ocean Club has filled the void with a sensory overload of neon lighting, outlandish décor and a booming soundsystem that tests the limitations of what the human can take. A couple of thousand people can easily squeeze into the huge club hall with dozens of tables, booths and VIP areas dotted throughout. The solar system print on the ceiling and futuristic designs will have your eyes darting every which way whilst a relentless playlist of trance, techno and house is mixed by Vietnamese DJs. Then there’s the live Vietnamese music, too. Make sure to dress the part for the catwalk, this is Vietnamese clubbing at its most contemporary and luxurious.



46–48 Ton That Thiep, Q1 Tel: 3821 0796 9am to midnight Taking over from where the original Café Latin finally failed, the attractive Phatty’s has become the Australian-themed sports bar with its myriad of large screens and beer-guzzling but homely atmosphere. Showing all the live sport — from international cricket through to Aussie Rules, Rugby and even the occasional soccer (football) game — the punters also have access to an excellent pub grub menu taking in anything from hot dogs, sandwiches and burgers through to excellent grill options, pizzas and international mains.



WINE BAR / ASIAN FUSION CUISINE 110 Pasteur, Q1 Tel: 3915 2979 Saigon’s first wine bar, this slither of a place mixes dark brown and maroon décor with bar-style seating and comfortable dining areas out front and at the back. An extensive new and old world wine list is, of course, part of the offering, as is an awesome pan-Asian fusion menu boasting Asian tapas (from VND85,000), international fusion mains (from VND185,000) and gourmet, creatively topped pizzas. Has a highly rated massage parlour upstairs.



17/13 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: 3823 0793 8am to midnight All the charm of a traditional, boothlike, leather upholstered Irish pub with Celtic-themed décor and old family photos to match. Has nightly live music from 8pm and also does some of the best home–style pub grub in town with Irish stew and Irish breakfasts making an appearance together with more international fare. Has a large upstairs space as well as a separate smoking room while Guinness and a good range of Irish whiskeys completing the Emerald Isle theme. Probably the only genuine pub in Saigon.

SLATE 3rd Floor, Moevenpick Hotel, 253 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan. Tel: 3844 9222 5pm to 1am Located opposite Centrepoint, Slate takes its name from the dark grey tiling covering the floor. Merging black and silver with turquoise, and with touches like semi-private sofa beds, the offerings here include over 30 martini cocktails, a barbecue menu and perhaps one of the most contemporary yet tasteful watering holes in town



INTERNATIONAL / RESTOBAR 111 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: 3920 7670 11am to 12pm daily Part of the Al Fresco’s Group, the original Spotted Cow bar was on Hai Ba Trung in Hanoi, a few doors down from the country’s first Al Fresco’s. Now revived and transformed into a full-on sports bar with Friesian black and white spots to match, this friendly watering hole has a good food menu to match – think pasta, pizza, burgers, baguettes and international comfort food mains. A range of happy hours and darts make up the mix.



SPORT / SHOOTER BAR 58 Ton That Thiep, Q1. Tel: 3915 2853 4pm to late A shooter bar, with over 15 down–in– one cocktails on the menu boasting names like Aquackalypse Now and The Duckinator, this striking, subtly lit space has a downstairs pool table, a long wooden bar and an upstairs lounge with a large, pull-down projector screen. The watering hole also shows live sport on the weekends courtesy of three flatscreen TVs. Try the shooter challenge and get a t-shirt and your name and time engraved on the wall. Also has a reasonable bar menu.



EVENT / PARTY VENUE The Square, 74/7D Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: 3824 2888 4pm to 12pm (weekdays). Open late on weekends. A paragon downtown party venue popular with expats and tourists that showcases a range of events from DJ nights through to cover bands and live music from overseas. Has a downstairs terrace area with a separate aircon room and two upstairs bars together with a stage for gigs and much more. Snack menu includes burgers, sandwiches, skewers and some of the best pizzas in town.



DANCE / HIP-HOP 26 Ho Huan Nghiep, Q1 Tel: 3822 2262 8.30pm to midnight You will be hard pressed to find another club as extravagantly furnished and uber

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trendy as Velvet. It’s of no wonder then that most of its clientele are exceptionally well-dressed socialites, celebrities and fashionistas. As a result this venue has carved itself a reputation as being the place to be and to be seen. Has a ladies night every Wednesday.



102 Suong Nguyet Anh, Q1 Tel: 3925 2599 10am to 1am A departure from the Saigon norm, this comfortably decorated, two-floor pool and snooker lounge mixes the attractions of a lustrous contemporary lounge bar with all the mod cons together with some of the best, imported pool tables available in town. Rental is by the hour, the seven pool tables costing around VND100,000 while the upstairs, full-size snooker table costs a touch more. A great place to go simply for a drink or to shoot pool with friends.

CAFES AIRPLANE CAFE (CAFE MAY BAY) OUTDOOR VIETNAMESE 117 Hong Ha, Tan Binh 7am to 10pm Located on the L-shaped road behind the Parkson Centre opposite the airport, a disused war-era passenger plane sets the scene for one the city’s most unique outdoor, plastic deck chair seating cafes. So unique, in fact, that the wings act as shade from the sun, the wheels play home to a set of speakers, pot plants and fans hang from the metal casing of the aircraft while the tail has had a mini house built around it. Not surprisingly this museum of a place can get pretty crowded with families and kids awestruck by the novelty. It’s a decent cafe, too.

AN’S INTERIOR CAFE VIETNAMESE / INTERNATIONAL 40C Tran Cao Van, Q3 Tel: 3823 3398 7am to 11pm Located down alleyway 38, this sumptuous cafe just off Turtle Lake Circle is chintz, kitsch, bling and contemporary baroque decor all combined into an eye-catching one. That this place is so pleasing on the eye is added to by the silvery finished sofa seating and the iPad menus. Simply swipe the menu, zoom in or zoom out to choose from a contemporary range of coffees, teas, drinks and cocktails as well as Vietnamese and pan-western cuisine.

AU PARC EUROPEAN / MEDITERRANEAN 23 Han Thuyen, Q1 Tel: 3829 2772 7am to 10.30pm, Sunday 8am to 5pm Classic but eye-catching cream and greentiled decor runs through this cafe and deli-style restaurant housed in a colonial building opposite Le Duan park. Good coffee, juices and herbal teas make up the holistic mix together with a Mediterranean and European cafe fare food menu that includes creative sandwiches and salads as well as kebabs, bagels, mains and mezzos, all at prices that go easy on the wallet. Good wine list and an excellent delivery service.

BOBBY BREWER’S INTERNATIONAL 45 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: 3920 4090 6.30am to 11pm Now with eight locations in town, this slightly synthetic, Starbucks-style airport lounge of a place continues to knock out large and tasty espresso-based coffees together with a full range of smoothies, frappuccinos, juices and much more. Also has a fast-food style western food menu

out & about


and an upstairs movie lounge showing the latest Hollywood hits with Vietnamese subtitles. Check their website for the movie schedule. Movie lounges are at 45 Bui Vien, Q1, 86 Pham Ngoc Thach, Q3, 306/8 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3 and 400B Le Van Sy, Q3.


BEN’S STYLE Tel: 0906 912730 Healthy, calorie-counted sandwich and deli fare BURGER OI Tel: 3826 5426 Burgers, fries, onion rings and side orders CHEZ GUIDO Tel: 3898 3747 Vietnamese, international fare, pizza, pasta, sandwiches DA VINCI’S Tel: 3943 4982 Pizzas, pastas, subs and salads DOMINO’S PIZZA Tel: 3939 3030 Pizzas, wings, desserts EAT.VN Delivery service website for local restaurants KFC Tel: 3848 9999 Fried chicken, chicken burgers, sides LOTTERIA Tel: 3910 0000 Burgers, fried chicken, sides PIZZA HUT (PHD) Tel: 3838 8388 Pizzas, wings, pasta, appetizers SCOOZI Tel: 3823 5795 Pizzas, pasta, salad, antipasti, desserts TACO BICH Homemade Mexican fare VIETNAMMM Delivery service website for local restaurants ZIPANG Tel: 3824 4136 Japanese bento and rice sets. Go to for menu

LIVE MUSIC / THEMED CAFE 57H Tu Xuong, Q3 Tel: 3932 2797 7.30am to 11pm Set in a villa in a colonial era courtyard alongside two other cafes dedicated to live music, the four floors of Cacophony are all devoted to the beauty of sound, but in a different way. Take level 3, for example. An acoustic guitar and sound system sits in one corner while the room is decorated like a Hanoi urban street corner, sign, lamppost, tree, doorways and all, with the seating on cushions on the floor. Has live music in the basement space five nights a week (not Monday and Tuesday). Also has a small food menu.

CENTRO ITALIAN 11-13 Cong Truong Lam Son, Q1 Tel: 3827 5946 7.30am to 11.30pm The home of Caffe Vergnano, a recent makeover has added a bar area to this popular downtown cafe that serves up all things coffee - anything from ristrettos, macchiattos and lattes through to frappuccinis, mochas and spirit-infused coffees. Has a decent, mid-range Italian food menu to match that includes a large selection of panini, crostini, Italian rice dishes, salads, soups, home made pasta and more wholesome meat-based mains. Has a second cafe at 6 Thai Van Lung, Q1.

CITY GARDEN CAFE / CASUAL DINING 38 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: 3822 4860 7am to 10pm daily City Garden is somewhat of a rarity in this city. Built in a sea of bamboo, this cozy open-air, non air-con cafe offers a casual and Mediterranean-influenced menu with a creative range of reasonably priced Panini starting from VND50,000, Italian latte from VND40,000 and cocktails from VND55,000. Good music and comfortable seating round up the mix.

COFFEE BEAN & TEA LEAF INTERNATIONAL Metropolitan Building, 235 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: 3508 7825 7am to 11pm weekdays. 7.30am to 11.30pm weekends. Great, large servings of coffee have to be the biggest pull of Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, an international chain of pleasant Starbuckslike work, meet and play cafes that is gradually spreading around the city. Now with five stores around town including 94 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3, 12-14 Thai Van Lung, Q1 and further afield, comfortable seating and a contemporary but generic atmosphere are bolstered by a menu of cakes, cookies, sandwiches, pastries and more.

GLORIA JEAN’S INTERNATIONAL 2BIS Cong Truong Quoc Te, Q3 106 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3 Wooden table seating mixed with more comfortable armchairs, subtle lighting and a serve-yourself buffet-style ordering counter are some of the key components of this coffee chain that succeeded in Australia where Starbucks failed. It’s not surprising really. The coffee is good as are its various renditions — cinamocha, chai tea chiller, Turkish Delight, mango chiller, Irish nut crème and more.


MUSIC CAFE / VIETNAMESE 29/27 Doan Thi Diem, Phu Nhuan Tel: 0909 682927 9am to 10.30pm Tucked away just behind Nga Tu Phu Nhuan (The Phu Nhuan Intersection), this tiny gem of a rustic cafe combines nightly live music from 8.30pm with brown velvet upholstered sofa seating, treated dark wooden bench tables, cushions and striking wall decor. So small is this venue that there is an upstairs mezzanine level reached by old Mekong Delta-style ladder stairs and when the music starts, the place not only fills to the open rafters but gets local bus-style cramped, too. A great find.

KITA COFFEE INTERNATIONAL / MEDITERRANEAN 39-41 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: 3821 6799 7.30am to 10pm Set in a colonial-era building still replete with original tiling, this self-styled cafe and restaurant mixes traditional French bistro-style and Old Saigon photo decor with a more contemporary but nonetheless classic feel. Besides the good selection of teas, juices, cakes and espresso-based coffees, does Mediterranean cafe-style fare including sandwiches, salads and pastas as well as a selection of mains and healthy desserts. Has a good wine list and an efficient delivery service.

LA FENETRE SOLEIL 2nd Floor, 44 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: 3824 5994 10am to midnight Bare brick walls, art-deco repro furniture and a parlour-like elegance that brings with it all the glamour of old Saigon puts La Fenetre Soleil in a class of its own. Serving up a range of cocktails, imported beer, coffee and smoothies together with a Japanese-Vietnamese fusion menu, atmosphere and the slightly-off-the-maindrag location makes this a great spot to while away those afternoon hours or catch a night-time drink. Does a set lunch menu from 11.30am to 2pm.

L’AN MIEN DINING CAFE INTERNATIONAL / VIETNAMESE 76A Le Lai, Q1 Tel: 3821 2718 7am to 10pm An outdoor, well-aired terrace on a corner location is the centerpiece of this fairly new but ever-popular contemporary coffee shop just behind New World Hotel. Wickerchair seating, lightbox lighting, browns, blacks and creams make up the effect, with a menu selling both Vietnamese and espresso-based coffees, smoothies, cocktails, beers and a mix of well-priced pan-international and Vietnamese fare. Live music on the weekends.

L’USINE CONTEMPORARY / FRENCH First Floor, 151 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: 6674 3565 Plaudits galore as well as overseas TV coverage seem to have followed this spacious, first floor bistro-style cafe above the Art Arcade. Pitting 1930s Frenchstyle wooden decor against a spacious, whitewashed contemporary interior, a simple but creative cafe menu including sandwiches, salads, mains and cakes combines with reasonably priced coffee and good WiFi. Out back is a fashion store stocking modern, street-style brands, and an art gallery.

PETITE NOTE MUSIC CAFE 351/4A le Van Sy, Q3, Tel: 3931 6312 8am to 11pm A jungle of a place with vines wrapping round stairwells, water features, pot plants and fairy lights at night, the aircon indoors transforms into a living room-style cafe obsessed by music — images of

famous musicians and bands adorn the walls while the playlist is all American. Live piano enters the fray on Saturday and Sunday nights while the menu is typical Vietnamese cafe style together with fast food and a good selection of ice cream.

SOHO COFFEE LOUNGE CONTEMPORARY VIETNAMESE 92 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: 3915 3606 What started out as a sleek but comfortable, black and white futuristic affair on Nguyen Thi Minh Khai has now spread to five cafes around town and a restaurant at 327 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3. It’s a nice formula. Comfortable but not flamboyant sofa-style seating, suave lines, curves and surfaces, a non-smoking section, good WiFi and surprisingly cheap coffee, all making a place to work, eat, rest and play. Check out their website for a list of locations.

RESTAURANTS - CHINESE BUDGET HU TIEU MI ANH KY MI NOODLE SOUP / WANTON 80 Le Thi Hong Gam, Q1 Tel: 3821 5518 6.30am to 12pm daily Take freshly made mi noodles, put them in a pork broth, add equally fresh wantons (hoanh thanh), maybe add in some dried hu tieu noodles and put banh quay (bread sticks) and a range of sauces on the side. Et voila, you have one of the best Chinese-style Vietnamese noodle soups in Saigon. The service may be a touch slow and you’ll have to get used to an on-the-street, back to basics atmosphere, but worth every penny (and bite).


ITALIAN / INTERNATIONAL 119 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: 3836 9220 7am to 11.30pm Despite its Italian restaurant veneer in a Backpacker area location, this pleasant, mid-range venue is best known for its coffee — its lattes and cappuccinos are among the best available in town. Has both indoor and outdoor spaces as well as an additional dining area upstairs. Although, the service is questionable.

CHINESE / VIETNAMESE BINH DAN 67 Le Thi Hong Gam, Q1 Tel: 3821 7751 / 3821 8759 The popularity of Hainanese-style chicken rice is unsurprising considering this city’s large Chinese population. But few places do this iconic dish as well as this multi-storey eatery. Prepared downstairs out front, choose from ga luoc (chicken), xa xiu (sweet-roasted pork), vit quay (roasted duck), heo quay (roasted pork) and a range of other options. Also serves up binh dan-style Vietnamese fare, all cooked up with home cooking flair.





RETRO / VIETNAMESE 224 De Tham, Q1 Tel: 2210 2929 8am to late A gem in an area of rough diamonds, this slightly retro, bookish but lounge-style Vietnamese café and bar brings the best of local coffee shop creativity to Backpackerville, a collection of streets more associated with the brash and the not very beautiful. Decent iced coffee and juices mix with cocktails, beer and a panAsian food menu that also has a selection of Mexican fare. Has live acoustic music five nights a week and a downstairs bar area.

TRUNG NGUYEN 50 Ho Tung Mau, Q1 Tel: 3914 6911 6.30am to 10.30pm A downtown location of the ever-expanding Trung Nguyen chain, this pleasant two-storey cafe opposite the Bitexco Tower mixes the creams, browns and comfort seating of this international homegrown brand with the Trung Nguyen menu — six types of mixed robusta and arabica Vietnamese-style coffees together with smoothies, juices and a small range of easy food options. The best place in town to taste locally produced coffee in all its tempting guises. Also has a store at 349 Hai Ba Trung, Q3 and numerous locations around town selling their coffee.

UP CAFE CONTEMPORARY VIETNAMESE 269 Nguyen Trung Tuyen, Phu Nhuan Tel: 3845 2155 7am to 11pm Even the logo is shaped like an upside down house at this funky, spacious cafe close to the Moevenpick and the airport. With whole sets of upside down tables and chairs, shelves, light fittings, mantlepieces and even a grand piano hanging from the ceiling, Up is one of the new brand of cafes spreading its wings across the city. Sells the typical range of cafe drinks and simple Vietnamese cuisine as well as cocktails, beer and more. A great place to chill.

TAN HAI VAN PAN-CHINESE / NOODLES 162 Nguyen Trai, Q1, Tel: 3925 0824 Open 24 hours If ever a restaurant could be said to start a trend, then Tan Hai Van fits into the mould. The first of the late-night restaurants to populate the District 1 end of Nguyen Trai, this long-running bustling venue offers the full range of Chinese fare, from dim sum and homemade noodle soup through to rice dishes, seafood and the likes of abalone. One of the best– known restaurants in town and perfect if you have an attack of midnight munchies.

MID TO TOP DYNASTY CANTONESE / PAN-CHINESE New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: 3822 8888 11.30am to 3pm, 6pm to 10pm Elegant surroundings, top quality ingredients, attentive service and comfortable, roundtable dining makes Dynasty one of the top Chinese restaurants in town. The classic dim sum menu is reliably appetizing – check out their Sunday morning dim sum brunch. Also has a selection of set menus, both private and semi-private dining rooms and a highly rated chef hailing from Hong Kong.

KABIN CANTONESE Renaissance Riverside Hotel, 8–15 Ton Duc Thang. Q1, Tel: 3822 0033 12pm to 2.30pm, 6pm to 10pm Offers authentic, gourmet Cantonese cuisine in an elegant, classic setting, with striking décor and the bonus of views over the Saigon River. The menus for both lunch and dinner are extensive, and this is without doubt one of the city’s finest restaurants both for dim sum and classic Chinese fare. Dim sum goes for between VND30,000 and VND50,000 per dish.

SHANG PALACE RESTAURANT PAN-CHINESE / CANTONESE 1st Floor, Norfolk Mansion, 17-19-21 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: 3823 2221 (Ext: 164) Located just off the Central Business

District, the dark intricate wooden tables and chairs of this well-respected Chinese restaurant contrast well with the white linen and deep red carpeting. Featuring over 200 dishes including over 50 kinds of dim sum for lunch, the cuisine here is prepared by chefs from Hong Kong. Has nine private dining rooms and a main dining area seating over 300 and is a good venue for events, business functions and family get-togethers.

RESTAURANTS – FRENCH MID-RANGE LE BOUCHON DE SAIGON CLASSIC FRENCH / EUROPEAN FUSION 40 Thai Van Lung, Q1 Tel: 3829 9263 11am to 10pm Mon-Thu. 11am to 11pm Fri-Sat. Closed from 2.30pm to 5.30pm daily and Sundays A quirky and sociable family-run, familyfriendly French bistro serving up 100 percent organic, home cooked-style French cuisine for lunch and dinner. Le Bouchon de Saigon offers traditional Gallic staples such as French onion soup, escargot, croque madame and moules marinieres, as well as an array of European fusion dishes, and competivitely priced world wines.

LE JARDIN 31 Thai Van Lung, Q1 Tel: 3825 8465 11am to 1.30pm, 6pm to 8.20pm. Closed Sundays Unpretentious, tasty but simple French fare in a relaxed garden setting around the back of the French Cultural Centre, Idecaf. Although don’t expect much intimacy here – Le Jardin gets so crowded and the tables are so close together that private conversations are best had elsewhere. The robust, bistro-style cuisine is classically Gallic and it’s well-priced, too. Excellent, cheap house wine served by the carafe. Booking advised.

MINH KHA CAFÉ (K CAFÉ) FRENCH BISTRO 28 Do Quang Dau, Q1, Tel: 0903 852956 (Paulo) A French-style bistro and restaurant all in one, this Backpacker Area mainstay attracts a regular clientele made up of Gallic expats, tourists and more. An excellent food menu – think all things French – backs up the long bar area perfect for sipping on a Ricard or a beer or two. Daily specials board and French sports live on TV.

TOP-END LA CAMARGUE FRENCH / MEDITERRANEAN 191 Hai Ba Trung, Q3 Tel: 3520 4888 6pm to 10.30pm A romantic, leafy, French villa setting creates the atmosphere at this longrunning white tablecloth Saigon mainstay. Serving a mixture of French-influenced Mediterranean cuisine with the occasional addition of Camargue region spices, the menu has a timeless feel to it but with a welcome modern slant. Excellent range of desserts and a great old and new world wine list.

LA CUISINE FRENCH / MEDITERRANEAN 48 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: 2229 8882 11am to 2pm, 5pm to 10pm. Closed Sundays Recently relocated from its spot on Ngo Van Nam, this decidedly intimate, whitewashed, open-kitchened restaurant with sandalwood tables and seating specializes in a creative mix of contemporary Mediterranean cuisine with a French twist. With an extensive old and new world wine list — 75 at present count — and a small but well-thought out menu, despite its small size this is a place to wine and dine with both friends and loved ones.

L’OLIVIER FRENCH/MEDITERRANEAN Sofitel Saigon Plaza, 17 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: 3824 1555 11.30am to 2pm, and 6pm to 10pm A traditional French restaurant offering Mediterranean cuisine that’s well known for its quarterly Michelin star promotions and award winning pastry team. Seating 80 people, the restaurant exudes a

Cafe fare made with American flair

MID TO TOP LA FOURCHETTE PAN-FRENCH 9 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1 Tel: 3829 8143 12pm to 2.30pm, 6pm to 10pm A cramped but comfortable, two-storey eatery popular with the French community. Classic fare from goats cheese salad through to seared magret duck, escargot, charcuterie plates and much more. Has a reasonable but mainly French wine list and a cosy, amiable atmosphere aided by the almost constant presence of the owner. Booking recommended.

TY COZ CLASSIC FRENCH 178/4 Pasteur, Q1 Tel: 3822 2457 11am to 1pm, 6pm to 9.30pm (9pm on Sunday). Closed Monday Run by two brothers, this unassuming space boasting views of the cathedral is set down an alleyway in a colonial villa. And, for many aficionados, it serves up some of the best, classic French cuisine in town. A daily carte du jour specials board, set business lunches and desserts to die for are part of the offering here, as is a rooftop terrace area, perfect for good weather.

Burgers Panini Baguettes American Breakfasts Tex-Mex Asian Specialties

Rooftop 23rd Floor, Centec Tower 169a De Tham @ Tran Hung Dao Pham Ngu Lao, Q1 7am-2am daily

72-74 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City Just next to Diamond Plaza Tel: (08) 3827 9631 | Fax: (08) 3827 9632

96 | The Word April 2012

out & about southern Gallic atmosphere with its warmtoned tiled veranda, pastel coloured walls and ficus trees.

TROIS GOURMANDS CLASSIC FRENCH 18 Tong Huu Dinh, Q2 Tel: 3744 4585 6.30pm to 10pm. Closed Monday Deliberately off the radar, Trois Gourmands is the successor of the once legendary Le Toit Gourmand in Tan Binh. Despite its new District 2 location in a colonial-style bungalow, the enigmatic Gils remains at the helm of this self-styled table d'hôte, and as of old he continues to serve up some of the best, classic Gallic fare in town. As ever, the standard seven-course meal remains surprisingly cheap — presently at VND900,000 a head. The bread and even the cheese here are home made — quite a feat.

foodie CORNER The Milk King THE ROUNDABOUT AT NGUYEN Tri Phuong and Ngo Gia Tu on the border of Cholon and District 10 is an odd place for an outlet of one of Taiwan’s foremost snack chains. And yet on the wall of an unaffected, sidewalkdining, local-style restaurant, is the unmistakable trademark of the Starbucks of the soy milk world, Yonghe Doujiang Da Wang. The name in Mandarin is a mouthful and the ostentatious translation is just as tough on the tongue — ‘The Eternal Harmony Soy Milk King’. Fortunately, the drinks and cuisine here are anything but. Soy milk should be understood as the native equivalent of a latte in Asia, and it’s particularly popular in Taiwan. Taiwanese soy milk is thick, creamy, sweet and healthy, and Yonghe is considered by many as providing the tastiest concoction of what’s essentially crushed soybeans in water. Not all soy milk quite pleases the unadventurous palate, but Yonghe does a good job — as a credible franchise that’s been around since the 1980s, the quality is reliable, and the food items on the menu — based on favourite Chinese

98 | The Word April 2012

breakfast staples — are superb. CHEAP & CHEERFUL The friendly, chubby, long-term owner is the first to admit that this is a tribute to the famous brand rather than an outlet, but decor notwithstanding, it’s easy to be fooled. Called Sua Dau Nanh Vinh Hoa in Vietnamese, every dish tastes as it does in Taiwan itself, which generates a lot of

business with the staff of the nearby Taipei Economic & Cultural Office. Even better, the dishes on offer are inexpensive. The soy milk, labelled on the menu as sua dau nanh (VND12,000) works as a thirst-quencher with ice or as a hot beverage with an oddly familiar mellowing quality on a warm evening. The store’s deep-fried dau cha quay (VND10,000) are like long toasty

batons, as crispy and crunchy as the traditional northern Chinese variety; likewise the banh trung and banh mo hanh (egg and spring onion pancakes respectively, each VND17,000) are crusty and gently salty, and easy on the stomach. More familiar international dim sum items from the Yonghe menu are also available here: bamboo baskets of steamed dumplings and buns are made on request at the counter, with favourites such as the banh bao tau xa (VND12,000), a bun stuffed with Chinese sweet bean paste, and regular fried dumplings (ha cao chien,VND35,000). The tropical Vietnamese environment may be at the other end of the thermometer from the climates where these dishes became traditional winter breakfasts for the northern Chinese. But transported as they are to an unlikely corner of Ho Chi Minh City, they’re still welcome additions to the growing melange of local and international cuisine. — Michael Arnold Sua Dau Nanh Vinh Hoa, 243 Nguyen Tri Phuong, Q10. Open daily from 6am to 1am



NORTH / SOUTH INDIAN MUGHAL 226 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: 3837 1767 11am to 11pm daily Impeccable presentation and bold décor greet you as you enter one of the Backpacker Area’s longest running Indians, and pretty much the only one adding a Southern Indian menu to the North Indian standards served elsewhere — think dosas, vadas and more. Curries cost between VND80,000 and VND110,000 each while the tandoor fare is some of the best in town. Has a branch in Danang and a second Saigon restaurant in Phu My Hung.





Apocalypse Now, Indus Indian may not be the brightest in decor and ambience, but this is made up for by the tasty, hybrid Malay Indian fare. Run by Chef Logu, the former cook to the Consulate General of India to Vietnam, expect a Halal menu including the likes of roti canai, murtabak and Malay-styled curries as well as more traditional Indian cuisine.

INDIAN MALAY 35 Dong Du, Q1 Tel: 0903 863114 11am to 10pm Daily Long running hole-in-the-wall halal restaurant opposite the Mosque selling a selection of Malaysian-style Indian cuisine as well as roti paratha, muttapa (murtabak) and both vegetarian and meat-based mains. Like its menu, the fan-cooled dining area is simplicity personified and the prices here are cheap, too, with all the dishes costing well under VND100,000.

THE PUNJABI NORTH INDIAN 40/3 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: 3508 3777 11am to 11pm daily Don’t be duped by the backpacker eatery veneer, The Punjabi knocks out some seriously good North Indian fare at budget prices. Located on the same hem as Chi’s Cafe, Vegetarian dishes go for around VND40,000 while the chicken and mutton mains hit VND70,000 to VND85,000. Portions are big, too, and don’t forget to check out the fare from this eatery’s selfmade tandoor oven. Excellent.

MID-RANGE BABA’S KITCHEN NORTH & SOUTH INDIAN 164 Bui Vien, Q1. Tel: 3838 6661 11am to 10.30pm Run by the enigmatic Robin of former Mumtaz fame, this recently opened, pleasant, airy Indian does the full range of fare from all ends of the subcontinent. From dosas and vadas through to chicken tikka masala, kormas, kebabs and the fiery vindaloo, the cuisine and hospitable service at this friendly eatery are already drawing in the customers. Good delivery service.

GANESH NORTH / SOUTH INDIAN 15B4 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: 3822 3017 5.30pm to 10.30pm A place where the ubiquitous mint sauce is thick and creamy and the curries are both authentic and fresh, the three-storey Ganesh is rated by many as the best Indian in town. The subtle flavours of the northern menu are complemented by spicier more fragrant South Indian curries, roti paratha, dosas, vadas and uthapams. Has a second Phu My Hung Restaurant at S28 Sky Garden 1 (Tel: 5410 1627).

INDUS INDIAN INDIAN / MALAYSIAN 2G Thi Sach, Q1, Tel: 3521 0326 11am to 11pm Just two doors away from nightspot icon


S57-1 Sky Garden 2, Phu My Hung, Q7 Tel: 5410 0999 10am to 11pm A Saigon South favourite, Peaches is located in the square area between Sky Garden 2 and Sky Garden 3. A spacious, attractive restobar with comfortable, lounge-style seating and a bar area, this watering hole mixes three beers on tap and a large screen for the live sports with a pan-Asian curry menu. Including anything from Sri Lankan chicken curry through to beef rending, fish head curry and mutton vindaloo, the majority of the dishes cost under VND100,000. A perfect accompaniment to the beer.



NORTH & SOUTH INDIAN 74/6 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: 3930 4839 11am to 2.30pm, 5pm to 10.30pm For its downtown location, prices at this pioneer of the city’s Indian dining scene remain surprisingly cheap. Three floors, with cream-coloured airport lounge décor and a deep maroon rangoli-patterned wall, are added to by an extensive menu taking in anything from the more creamy korma and rogan josh curries through to masala, vindaloo, dosa, kebabs and sambhar. Has a great range of vegetarian fare and an efficient delivery service.

RESTAURANTS – INTERNATIONAL BUDGET CHI’S CAFÉ INTERNATIONAL / VIETNAMESE 40/31 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: 3836 7622 7am to 11pm daily Run by the enigmatic Chi, this affable, long-running café with art-lined walls is probably one of the only places in town where you will regularly hear the likes of Bo b Dylan on the sound system. Famed for its build-your-own breakfasts, the menu takes in anything from baked potatoes, sandwiches, toasties and salads through to pasta, Vietnamese fare and more. Has a visa and long-term motorbike rental service.

LAM’S CAFÉ INTERNATIONAL / VIETNAMESE 175 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: 3836 0308 The hole-in-the-wall frontage to this darling of the Backpacker’s Area dining scene is misleading. Lam’s serves up some genuinely tasty cuisine at rock bottom prices, especially when you hit the Vietnamese menu. The fare here is typical of local home cooking and the portions are big, too. Also does Tex-Mex, Thai, Singaporean and much more. The bar Chao Saigon (222/2 Bui Vien) opposite is owned and run by the same family.



INTERNATIONAL 27 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: 3823 8424 8.30am to 11pm The downtown outlet of one of the country’s most successful restaurant chains, the multi-storey Al Fresco’s is international comfort fare in a pleasant environment with efficient, friendly service to match. Famous for its jumbo ribs, also making the menu is Tex-Mex, burgers, pizzas, salads and an assortment of international mains. Does an excellent delivery service. For a full list of restaurants check the website.

AU PARC EUROPEAN / CAFÉ 23 Han Thuyen, Q1 Tel: 3829 2772 7am to 10.30pm. Sunday 8am to 5pm Consistently tasty Mediterranean and European cafe fare — think deli-style sandwiches, salads, kebabs, bagels and mezzes — as well as prices that go easy on the wallet have been one source of Au Parc’s success. Then there is the park-side Le Duan location and the classic but eyecatching cream and green-tiled decor. Good coffee, juices and herbal teas make up the holistic mix. Excellent delivery service.



INTERNATIONAL 19 Thai Van Lung, Q1, Tel: 3822 1720 7.30am to 11pm A restobar that caters for any crowd and occasion. A fine dining room is located upstairs while the more casual bar area downstairs regularly shows live sport and hosts live music. The menu offers up a bevy of tasty western comfort food, a selection of Vietnamese fare and some of the best burgers in town.

BREAD & BUTTER INTERNATIONAL / COMFORT FOOD 40/24 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: 3836 8452 11.30am to 2pm, 5pm to midnight. Closed Mondays. A miniscule, two-floor restobar with a homely, slightly rustic feel that is the only place in town pushing the excellent, Hue-brewed Huda beer, always served cold. A free book exchange, an everyoneknows-your-name kind of atmosphere and mains from tuna steak and bangers and mash through to burgers, schnitzels, burritos and sarnies make up the formula here. Does a popular roast from 5.30pm every Sunday.

CASABLANCA MOROCCAN CUISINE PAN-NORTH AFRICAN 58/9 Thanh Thai, Q10, Tel: 3862 8859 6pm to midnight. Closed Monday The first Moroccan restaurant in Saigon’s history has an intimate, cozy setting. Couscous mains start at around VND100,000, while couscous with lamb, chicken and beef is just under VND200,000. Other Moroccan specialties such as slow–cooked lamb with almond and plums and roasted quail with sweet mrozia sauce are also on the menu. Chef Riahi’s home–made pastries such as baklava and “gazelle horns” filled with almond paste are a rarity in the city.

DOMINO'S PIZZA AMERICAN PIZZA DELIVERY 117 Nguyen Duc Canh, Q7; The Manor, 91 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh Tel: 3939 3030 10am to 10pm Despite its delivery-only reputation, Domino's in Vietnam is also doing a roaring trade with eat in diners thanks to its upstairs restaurant space. It's all very casual, of course, with the pizzas

served out of the box, but with a range of combos starting at VND70,000 for a small pizza and coke, and now with thin crust available, the Domino's taste and experience has successfully been imported to Vietnam. Check their website for full menu and specials.

ELBOW ROOM AMERICAN 52 Pasteur, Q1 Tel: 3821 4327 7.30am to 11pm daily Blackboards, diner-style advertising placards and black and white photography cover the bare brick walls at this striking but upmarket, two-storey US-style diner. The comfort food cuisine is an all American affair, with anything from meatball baguettes through to chilli burgers, pastas, pizzas, blackened chicken salads and a selection of more expensive, more international mains. Has an extensive wine list and an efficient delivery service.

A Taste of Authenticity

IMPERIAL RUSSIAN 6 Le Van Huu, Q1 Tel: 3829 4644 11am to late A larger than life-size Russian doll stands outside the entrance of this three-storey beautiful mismatch-of-styles, Russian-run venue. Filled with Eastern European imagery, red theatre-style curtains and Soviet propaganda art, the weekly changing Russian menu includes the likes of borsh, Russian salad, dumplings and cutlets, and can be adapted to your needs for party bookings. Located close to Basilico.

KITA RESTAURANT INTERNATIONAL / MEDITERRANEAN 39-41 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: 3821 6799 7.30am to 10pm Set in a colonial-era building still replete with original tiling, this self-styled cafe and restaurant mixes traditional French bistro-style and Old Saigon photo decor with a more contemporary but nonetheless classic feel. Besides the good selection of teas, juices, cakes and espresso-based coffees, does Mediterranean cafe-style fare including sandwiches, salads and pastas as well as a selection of mains and healthy desserts. Has a good wine list and an efficient delivery service.

MOGAMBO PAN-AMERICAN / TEX-MEX 50 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: 3825 1311 9am to 11pm daily Known for their American-styled burgers, steaks and Tex-Mex, the two-storey Mogambo claims pride of place as one of the city’s longest running restobars. A well-known expat meeting spot, Savannah-esque, bamboo décor and booth seating make up the mix together with a pleasant bar space. Dishes run from fajitas and burritos through to chicken cordon bleu, pies, the coronary bypass burger, salad, soup, gumbos and spare ribs.

PIZZA 4P’S EUROPEAN/ASIAN FUSION 8/15 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: 3822 9838 11.30am to 11pm, Tue-Sun Italian tradition meets Japanese ingenuity at Pizza 4P’s. This quirky fusion pizza parlor serves whacky yet delicious pies such as tuna curry pizza, calamari seaweed pizza and teriyaki chicken pizza, as well as more traditional types such as quattro formaggi, marinara and the old faithful, margherita pizza. Those with an adventurous streak can also order their pizza half and half. Pan-European and Asian soups, salads and a la carte mains make up the rest of the menu.

36 Tong Huu Dinh Street, Thao Dien Ward, District 2, HCMC Tel: 08 6253 2828 |Fax: 08 6253 2888 Email: Delivery service available daily, from 11:00 AM - 10:00 PM

87 Nguyen Hue St., District 1, HCMC Tel: (84.8) 3821 8181 Email: Monday to Friday: 11.00 - 14.00, and 18.00 - 22.00 Saturday and Sunday: 11.30 - 22.00

out & about

AN PHU BLU BAR & GRILL 53 Vo Truong Toan, Riverside Apartments, Q2 Tel: 3744 4111 ext. 707 An easy, breezy light-filled space with a resort-like feel next to the river serves up comfort food and Asian standards. Also with a good range of more eclectic dishes and daily specials. BOATHOUSE APSC Compound, 40 Lily Road, Q2 The menu is built around surf and turf. Lunch comprises of a healthy selection of soups, salads and sandwiches while dinner concentrates on top–end beef, seafood and pastas. BUDDHA BAR 7 Thao Dien, Q2 A large screen TV is the focus of this joint. The décor is pleasant and the menu draws from across Asia. CAFÉ EVITA 230 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2 Pizzas, salads, burgers, pastas, ice cream and a whole lot more besides is on hand to keep the entire family full and happy at this bright, airy and well kitted–out eatery. GAUDI 4 Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: 3744 4722 A Spanish tapas restaurant decorated in the style of Spanish architect Gaudi. Italian dishes such as pizza, risotto and pasta are also on offer. GOOD EATS NTFQ2 Fitness Centre, 34 Nguyen Dang Giai, Q2 Connected to NTFQ2 Fitness Centre, the menu is based on the theme of maintaining a long and healthy life. MEKONG MERCHANT 23 Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: 3744 6478 Superb dining space in leafy, shaded courtyard. Fresh Phu Quoc seafood is the speciality. Other staples are homemade pizzas, salads and daily specials. SNAP CAFE 32 Tran Ngoc Dien, Q2 Chilled, rustic, open–air style cafe set in a large courtyard with comfortable wooden seating, banana–leaf roofing and an outdoor playground area for kids. TAMAGO 39 Tong Huu Dinh, Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: 3744 4634 Serving a range of authentic Japanese dishes and sushi, Tamago offers a weekly Sunday buffet lunch and BBQ/ yakiniku on Thursday evenings. Indoor and outdoor seating, with a great terrace. Private rooms also available. Call for home delivery.

out & about REFINERY FRENCH BISTRO The Square, 74 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: 3823 0509 11am to 10.30pm daily (11pm on Friday and Saturday) A slightly retro, Parisian influence pervades this popular French-style bistro named after the square once housing the city’s opium refinery. The first restaurant to open its doors in this space close to the Park Hyatt, a leafy outdoor terrace mixes with an indoor aircon space and bar area. The cuisine runs from creative salads through to pasta, a selection of Mediterranean influenced mains and sandwiches (served at lunch only). Has an extensive wine list.


SNAP CAFE INTERNATIONAL CAFE FARE 32 Tran Ngoc Dien, Q2 Tel: 3519 4532 7.30am to 10.30pm (weekdays). 7.30am to 11.30pm (weekends) A huge banyan tree sits in the entrance of Snap Cafe, a rustic-themed airy cafe and retail space with thatched roofing, jungle-like foliage and a kiddy’s play area. Breakfasts, sandwiches, salads, mains including Asian cuisine and weekly specials make up the cuisine mix, complemented by a range of benches and sofa seating that gives this venue a unique feel. Retail outlets include Oasis Deli, a furniture store and YB Designs jewellery.

STORM P DANISH / INTERNATIONAL 5B Nguyen Sieu, Q1 Tel: 3827 4738 10am to late Named after a Danish cartoonist, this Saigon long-termer with its mural of Copenhagen taking up the length of one wall attracts a mix of Scandinavian and international punters, all enjoying the offerings from the well-stocked bar and




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INTERNATIONAL 15-17 Cao Trieu Phat, Phu My Hung, Q7 Tel: 0948 901465 4pm to 11pm. Closed Monday American chef/owner Scott Marquis offers a creative international menu that he likes to call “comfort food with a twist”. Serving all homemade soups, salads, sharing plates, burgers, sandwiches, pastas, main courses and desserts, the restaurant also boasts a full bar, ice cold beer and an international wine list to complement your meal. Also has a daily happy hour from 4pm to 7pm on ‘buy one get one free’ bottled beers and local spirits mixed drinks to complement the usual selection.

the reasonably priced Danish-influenced pub grub menu. Dishes include Danishstyle fried pork and meatballs, frankfurt sausages, a range of grilled fare, burgers and much more. Has three screens for the live sport and seating areas out back and upstairs.

and American deli-style fare makes it a regular expat haunt. Also serves Tex-Mex and Vietnamese cuisine as well as running a Vespa tour service from within the café.


INTERNATIONAL / PAN-ASIAN FUSION 5 Nguyen Sieu, Q1 Tel: 3825 6257 10am to late daily Swathed in deep red and with dark wooden lightbox panelling, the addition of black and white Saigon street-scene photos gives this three-storey restobar an atmosphere of an upscale, sleek equivalent in New York or London. Choose between the shared-table downstairs bar area or the more traditional upstairs seating and a menu that blends small fusion cuisine style plates with larger mains and excellent gourmet pizza.

171 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1 Tel: 3836 4497 Ground Floor, Kumho Link, 39 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: 3822 4849 121 Ho Tung Mau, Q1 Tel: 3914 4118 7am to 10pm Selling the iconic selection of submarine sandwiches that has made this brand famous the world over, Vietnam’s first Subway store includes the likes of Buffalo Chicken and Italian BMT on its menu. All subs are made to order with the same choose-your-own toppings, breads and sauces selection available elsewhere. Upgrade your six-inch to a footlong whopper for VND30,000 or go for a combo meal including potato chips or cookie and a drink from VND85,000.



NEW YORK/ INTERNATIONAL 76 Bis Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q1 Tel: 3821 3556 7am to midnight Located in the stock market area in between the canal and Ham Nghi, this funky, Wall Street-styled restobar takes the concept of its name and mixes it with an ever-changing set of deals on drinks and cuisine. With cash-obsessed, comic strip style American artwork lining the walls and a great, curved long bar, the French-influenced American food menu includes pizza, hotdogs, salads, tartines and bracket kebabs. Great concept and a good place for more than just a beer.

WARDA MIDDLE-EASTERN 71/7 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1 Tel: 3823 3822 8am to midnight One of the first restaurants to open on a downtown alleyway now jam-packed with eateries, the deep colours, harem-style décor, arches, lightboxes, Arabic script and cushion-friendly outdoor terrace area gives this popular venue its unique touch. The food is good, too, taking in anything from tabouleh, houmous, falafel and mutabbal through to shwarma, kofta and the kebab Istambouli.


+ INTERNATIONAL / VIETNAMESE 15 Dong Du, Q1 Tel: 3822 4593 AC WIFI NS HH LM 10am to midnight A great place to while away several hours eating and drinking some of Saigon’s newest cuisine together with international wines, Zero is a boutique and intimate restaurant and bar. The food is varied and includes western and Vietnamese breakfasts, and lunches boast perennial favourites like burgers, fish n chips, 4 n 20 Aussie meat pies and some tasty local fare, all prepared with a twist. Daily happy hour from 3pm to 7pm.

ZOOM CAFÉ AMERICAN / TEX-MEX 169A Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: 3920 3897 7am to 2am daily Known for its excellent scooter-themed burgers, this Vespa-infatuated venue is a café and restaurant by day and a Vietnamese-style sidewalk drinking haunt by night. A corner location, friendly staff





AUSTRALIAN / INTERNATIONAL 40 Lily Road, An Phu Superior Compound, Thao Dien, Q2 7.30am to 11pm daily The river plays a big role in this spacious, slightly gentrified restobar in An Phu on the banks of Saigon’s largest waterway. The cuisine here ranges from small plates through to salads, sandwiches (from VND95,000), premium burgers (from VND195,000), pizza, pasta, pan-Asian, seafood dishes and steaks (VND450,000 for the Australian premium rib-eye). Has an international wine list and Sunday afternoons play host to live music and the occasional mini festival.

BOOMERANG BISTRO SAIGON INTERNATIONAL / GRILL CR-2 3-4 107 Ton Dat Tien, Phu My Hung, Q7 Tel: 5413 6592 7.30am to 11pm daily Take the Esplanades in Singapore, transport one of the Lion City’s seafront-style restaurants to Vietnam and you have Boomerang, a two-story, Australian-themed but Singapore-owned eatery and bar with great terraced seating specializing in international fare all set in a contemporary, spacious environment. The menu runs the gamut from pizzas (around VND220,000) through to grills, salads and burgers (around VND185,000).

BLU BAR & GRILL INTERNATIONAL / ASIAN 53 Vo Truong Toan, Riverside Apartments, Q2 Tel: 3744 4111 ext. 707 7am to 11pm An easy, breezy, light-filled space with a resort-like feel next to the river. Serves up international comfort food such as burgers and pizzas as well as tasty Asian standards. Also has a good range of more eclectic dishes and daily specials. Part of the Riverside Apartments complex. Check for daily boat schedule between the complex and downtown Saigon.

BROTZEIT GERMAN / RESTOBAR Level 1, Kumho Link, 39 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: 3822 4206 11am to 12am daily AC WIFI The city’s first contemporary German bier bar and restaurant, Brotzeit offers wellknown German black, blonde and gold beer accompanied by authentic Bavarian Cuisine — think sausages, schnitzels and more — in a relaxed, contemporary yet chic setting. Almost a Bavarian variation of the British gastropub chain All Bar One, the interior comprises wooden benches, wooden tables and a long wooden bar counter, as well as a semi open-air balcony overlooking Le Duan.

CHARNER CAFÉ EUROPEAN/ASIAN 98 Nguyen Hue, Q1. Tel: 3823 6065 7am to 11pm Situated above a small art gallery where Nguyen Hue meets Le Loi, Charner Café offers pan-European and Asian cuisine despite its overtly mid-to-late 20th century Parisian-inspired interior. Excellent soups, salads, pizzas and pasta dishes are all available at reasonable prices ranging from VND120,000 to VND350,000, as are Chinese and Thai-style Asian courses. Also serves breakfast, brunch and good coffee.



ITALIAN-STYLE TAPAS / RESTOBAR 17 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: 3827 9095 10am to 11pm Specialising in Italian-style tapas and fine dining in a casual setting, Figaro offers an assortment of aperrandivi dishes, weekly blackboard specials, gourmet pizzas, pastas and salads, and an extensive selection of wines by the bottle from Italy, France, Chile, Australia and New Zealand. Premium beers, spirits and cocktails make up the rest.



AUSTRALIAN / INTERNATIONAL Ground Floor, Bitexco Financial Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1. Tel: 3915 6006 11am to midnight The first Vietnam branch of the wellknown Australian chain, Hog’s Breath mixes hearty cuisine such as pizzas, burgers, salads and prime rib steaks with an Australian sports bar atmosphere. Decked out in dark wooden furnishings with a long, easy-to-prop-yourself-up-at bar space, also has an outdoor on-thestreet terrace, a mainly new world wine list and a large selection of both local and imported beers. Good regular promotions and a 4pm to 7pm happy hour.



INTERNATIONAL FUSION The Square, 74/7 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: 3827 0931 8.30am to 11pm daily An attractive outdoor terrace together and a smaller indoor aircon area are the draw at this well-known Australian-styled international fusion restaurant that is part of the Al Fresco’s Group. Although a chain restaurant, the offerings here are consistently good — the cuisine includes pasta, noodles and salads together with burgers, pizzas and an excellent selection of steaks and grill-style mains. Excellent service and a good kids menu. Second restaurant at 33 Dong Khoi, Q1.



CUBAN / MUSIC BAR 6 Cao Ba Quat, Q1. Tel: 3829 5180 www.lahabana– 10am to 1am Cuban–themed bar and restaurant selling a tasty range of Cuban and Spanish cuisine. The signature seafood–based paella goes for VND330,000 for two people and a big selection of tapas starts at VND40,000 each. Also has a small German menu featuring favourites such as curry wurst and Weiner schnitzel. Does excellent cocktails, and,three–course lunches, including a drink, for under VND200,000.



INTERNATIONAL CAFE FARE / SEAFOOD 23 Thao Dien, An Phu, Q2 Tel: 3744 6478 8am to 10pm daily. MM Bistro 6.30am to 9pm daily. The rustic looking, banana-leaf roofed Mekong Merchant has long been the place to go in An Phu. Set around a cobblestoned courtyard with a kids’ play area, a bar space, wicker-style seating and notice boards galore, the cuisine is a mixture of gourmet pizzas, sandwiches, salads, pasta and pizza interlaced with Gulf of Thailand

seafood imported directly from Phu Quoc. Also does a great breakfast. A recent addition is the aircon, bakery-style MM Bistro out front.



195 Dien Bien Phu, Q3m Tel: 3829 8301 11am to late, Tue-Sun Renovated from an old French colonial-era villa, My Place is a sleek, high-end gastropub with private salons, an idyllic garden space and several bar areas. Serves both local and international fare including stews, clams, pasta dishes and finger food. Also does a BBQ every Saturday night, brunches on Sundays and offers various daily food and drinks promotions.



TURKISH / INTERNATIONAL 25 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: 6291 3677 10am to 2am A sumptuous but tasteful Turkish-themed restaurant close to the mosque with Islamic-style white dome décor and comfortable, cushioned seating. The cuisine here is authentically Turkish with a sprinkling of western fare thrown in, too. Think falafel, shish, doner and kofta kebabs, all served up with homemade breads as well as the likes of pizaa, moussaka, fish and chips and more.



SPANISH / EUROPEAN 97 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: 3825 6924 Legs of Iberian ham hang from the ceiling in the downstairs bar at this multi-storey, Spanish-styled tapas and bodegas. Decorated in tile-like, impressionist rounded reds, yellows and oranges, Pacharan’s location, regular live music and its ability to show its customers a good time have made it one of the mainstays of the downtown wining and dining scene. The food menu includes tapas, paella, larger mains and an extensive, Iberian wine list.



INTERNATIONAL / MEDITERRANEAN 9A Thai Van Lung, Q1, Tel: 3822 4798 11.30am to 2pm, 6pm to 10.30pm daily Simple, unpretentious Mediterranean cuisine is served at this long-running, bare-brick restaurant in the heart of the foreign ghetto. With dishes ranging from the zucchini carpaccio through to the saganiki, a range of dips, pastas, risottos, mousaka, osso buco and lamb chop skewers, this is the only eatery in town serving Greek cuisine. Also has an extensive wine list and an excellent upstairs cigar room with a range of Cubans and more to match.



MEDITERRANEAN / INTERNATIONAL 103 Ton Dat Tien, The Crescent, Q7 Tel: 5414 1717 11am to 11pm. Closed Mondays A restaurant rather than a bar and events space, the District 7 incarnation of the iconic downtown bar Vasco’s offers up outdoor, terrace-style seating together with an attractive upstairs bar and lounge area. Also has a great selection of wines courtesy of Bacchus Corner, who have a mini store on the premises. The cuisine runs the gamut from the likes of beef carpaccio and goat’s cheese salad all the way through to the beef tenderloin, seabass in Serrano ham and excellent pizzas.

VINO WINE BAR / TAPAS The Square, 74/17 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: 6299 1315 10am to 10pm daily The terrace out front acts as a great after

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out & about

DISTRICT 7 CAFÉ TERRACE Grand View Building, Nguyen Duc Canh, Q7 Tel: 5412 2178 CREMONA 55 Nguyen Duc Canh, Q7 Italian–style cake shop and café that serves excellent coffees and tasty sweets. GLORIA JEAN’S COFFEE Grand View Building, Nguyen Duc Canh, Q7 Tel: 5412 2289 International–style coffee house with the usual range of cappucinos, frappucinos and mochaccions to drink or take away. JUJAEGEUM Grand View Building, Nguyen Duc Canh, Q7 Enormous bakery, patisserie and chocolatier. LA PIZZA ITALIANA SF 19-1 Canh Vien 1 Duong Pho Tieu Nam, Q7 Tel: 08 5417 0511/2 - for deliveries Selling authentic Italian thin-crust pizzas & a selection of pasta dishes. LOVE NOODLE HOUSE D002 Nguyen Binh, Q7 Singaporean noodle house. NATHALIE’S THAI RESTAURANT S9–HV3 Bui Bang Doan, Q7 Tel: 5410 0822 A strong neighbourhood vibe at this pleasantly decorated Thai eatery–cum–café. OHAN S1 Nguyen Duc Canh, Q7 Quality Japanese fare in a stylish atmosphere. Prices are higher but so is quality. ONE MORE SA9–1 My Khanh III, Ha Huy Tap, Q7 An everybody–knows–your–name type atmosphere at this local bar. PARIS DELI Grand View Building, Nguyen Duc Canh, Q7 PIZZA INN 4 Nguyen Duc Canh, Q7 Tel: 5412 1196 SARPINO’S PIZZA GrandView Building, Nguyen Duc Canh, Q7 Tel: 5412 2480 SURASANG 1417 Nguyen Van Linh, Q7 Korean deli displaying bowl after bowl of various types of kim chi and other traditional fare. THE TAVERN R2–24 Hung Gia 3, Bui Bang Doan, Phu My Hung, Q7 Tel: 5410 3900 Cold beer, friendly service, a convivial atmosphere and a pavement terrace make this a perfect place for a pit stop any time of the day. TIB Broadway Building, 100 Nguyen Luong Bang, Q7 Tel: 5413 6868 TOKYO DELI SC6–1 Parkview Building, Q7 Tel: 5410 1166 WRAP & ROLL SA1–1 Nguyen Van Linh, Q7 Tel: 5412 0461 YEEBO Broadway Building, Nguyen Luong Bang, Q7 Flashy hotpot joint great for large parties.

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out & about work drinking spot at this well-known downtown wine shop. Up to 10 wines by the glass, a range of imported beer and a selection of mini, tapas-like dishes such as albondigas, chorizo, cheese plates, antipasti, jumbo olives and garlic tiger prawns make up the selection here.



CAFÉ / LOUNGE BAR Ground Floor, 71-75 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: 3824 8468 11am to midnight The downstairs café-cum-lounge bar of this iconic downtown modern Vietnamese restaurant mixes subtle lighting with contemporary artwork ands design touches, a swathe of browns, cream, maroon, sofa-style seating and deep red upholstery. Serving a range of international fare together with Vietnamese dishes throughout the day, nighttime turns this venue into an upmarket, downtown bar. Known for its cocktails and extensive wine list.



INTERNATIONAL FUSION 41 Dong Du, Q1 Tel: 3822 7375 7am to 1am daily Creative cocktails, an extensive wine list and laid-back ambience, combined with a conversation-friendly bar area, 40-seat dining space, and high quality international cuisine makes ZanZBar one of Saigon's go-to destinations. Not only known for their popular weekly-changing set lunches, ZanZBar provides top notch comfort and gourmet food such as Irish stew, ploughman’s lunch and Mexican fare, and miso-marinated cobia on puree of carrot & white chocolate, and some of the best value tenderloins in the downtown area.

TOP-END AU LAC DO BRAZIL BRAZILIAN / BUFFET 238 Pasteur, Q3 Tel: 3820 7157 5pm to 10.30pm Au Lac Do mixes a Latino ambiance with great meat dishes and attractive, spacious décor. Heading up the menu is the churrasco, the Brazilian barbecue, with 12 cuts of smoked, barbecued and cured meats plus unlimited salad, all hand carved quite theatrically at your table. Not surprisingly the place can get a little busy, so best to book. Has a second restaurant at 36/19–21 Ground floor, Sky Garden 2, Pham Van Nghi, Q7.

BLANCHY’S TASH JAPANESE / PERUVIAN FUSION 95 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 11am to 3am Located in a three-storey building in the centre of downtown Saigon – and named after French colonial-era mayor Rue Paul Blanchy — this popular high-end restobar pulls in both diners and late-night revellers thanks to its inventive Japanese-Peruvian fusion menu (designed by former Nobu chef Martin Brito), late opening hours and regular DJ sets. Check out their sashimi and tartares. Mouthwateringly good.

CORSO STEAKHOUSE / INTERNATIONAL 117 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: 3829 5368 6am to 11pm The sleek, contemporary brown and cream decor at this street level steakhouse in the Norfolk Hotel plays host to a gem of a place close to Ben Thanh Market. Although a hotel restaurant, the enticing range US or Australian steaks as well as the great grill and comfort food menu makes this a good option for a quality bite. Steaks start

at VND390,000 for a decent sized cut. Does a nightly, competitively priced wine buffet.

EL GAUCHO ARGENTINIAN STEAKHOUSE 5D Nguyen Sieu, Q1 Tel: 3825 1879 4pm to late A pleasant downtown eatery mixing the Argentinian steakhouse theme with pork, chicken, lamb, homemade spicy sausage, skewers, burger dishes and everything that can come off a grill. The smaller downstairs and kitchen area is complemented by a no-smoking dining space upstairs replete with a bar and an outdoor terrace. Add to this bar-brick wall decor, light-wood tables and Argentinian themed photography on the walls and you have a well-rounded, popular restaurant only a stone’s throw from the Opera House.

NEW YORK STEAKHOUSE & WINERY AMERICAN / FRENCH 25–27 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q1 Tel: 3823 7373 11am to midnight Evoking a retro, black and white Hollywood movie star environment, NYSW is known for serving up formidable prime signature cuts of New York strip steak, rib eye, table-carved double strip loins and chateaubriands. Side dishes include black truffle cream spinach, potato dauphinois and fresh mushrooms, while the extensive wine list adds to the overall dining experience, which is enhanced by the all red and grey diner-style décor. Has an upstairs cigar room.

make up the bulk of the offerings at the refined but surprisingly fresh Reflections. The Caravelle Hotel’s signature restaurant, old images of the city grace the walls while a pianist plays nightly in the separate bar area. And yet the fare is surprisingly contemporary. Cosy yet elegant, a well–sourced wine list and a pre-bookable private dining room make this a good choice for that special meal or to entertain people who need to be entertained.

RIVERSIDE CAFÉ INTERNATIONAL / ASIAN Renaissance Riverside 8–15 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: 3822 0033 6am to 11pm Offers versatile all–day dining of international quality, with the bonus of being able to watch the action on the river sidewalk. Features western, Asian and Vietnamese buffets for breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus an ongoing roster of themed lunches in a fresh, elegant setting.

SHRI CONTEMPORARY EUROPEAN 23rd Floor, Centec Tower, 72–74 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3 Tel: 3827 9631 11am to midnight. 10.30pm last order A well-thought out and romantic venue up on high with sweeping views over central Saigon. A breezy lounge–style outdoor terrace, an indoor bar area and a separate dining room with 270–degree views of the city make up this enormous, no-comfortspared space. The excellent food menu mixes contemporary international–style grill and modern European fare such as contemporary pasta and risotto dishes.



INTERNATIONAL / ASIAN Ground floor, Caravelle Hotel, 19 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: 3823 4999 6am to 10am, 11.30am to 2pm, 6pm to 10pm Great buffets draw daily crowds to this downtown hotel restaurant. Streamlined décor and clean lines create a modern ambience that makes an excellent backdrop for the extensive range of cuisine. Often puts on specials and brings in overseas chefs. Presently regarded as one of the best buffet restaurants in town.

MODERN ASIAN FUSION 38 Nguyen U Di, An Phu, Q2 Tel: 3744 6632 8am to late daily. Last order 10pm. Set on the banks of Saigon River across from Thanh Da Island, the soothing riverside location provides the perfect setting for this innovative restaurant. Serving up European-influenced Asian fusion cuisine in both an airy indoor and roof-covered outdoor space, the menu is complemented by great cocktails, a wine list of over 100 wines and a new bar in the front garden area replete with designer furniture.

PARKVIEW INTERNATIONAL / ASIAN New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: 3822 8888 6am to 10pm The ground floor, flagship restaurant of The New World Hotel, the minimalist yet slightly kitsch décor here is designed to bring out the colours and ambiance of the restaurant’s lavish buffets. Served three times a day, with a number of alternative cooking stations, the cuisine runs the gamut from Chinese to Italian, sushi and seafood to creative salads, cold cuts and cheese plates to a range of desserts. Also does an excellent range of promotions. Check their website for details.

QUO VADIS INTERNATIONAL FUSION 5/7-5/8 Nguyen Sieu, Q1 8am to 11pm This lounge-restaurant (below Lavish) is centrally located and has elegant, peaceful and cozy surroundings. The décor includes reproduction furniture, sculptures, flowers and oil paintings, and the menu has a great range of well-presented Asian and European dishes. The service is friendly, relaxed and attentive. A great place to meet friends to relax, eat and drink.

REFLECTIONS INTERNATIONAL / FINE DINING 3rd floor, Caravelle Hotel, 19 Lam Son Square, Q1 Tel: 3823 4999 6pm to 11pm Pan-Mediterranean and European dishes



MID-RANGE CENTRO CONTEMPORARY ITALIAN 11-13 Cong Truong Lam Son, Q1 Tel: 3827 5946 7.30am to 11.30pm A contemporary Italian-themed cafe and restaurant mixing the best of the peninsular’s coffee — anything from ristrettos and macchiattos to frappuccinis — with a decent cafe-based food menu that also includes a more extensive selection of mains. As well as a substantial range of meat and vegetarian panini and crostini, there are also Italian rice dishes, creative salads, soups, home made pasta and more wholesome meat or seafood-based mains.

JAVA PAN-MEDITERRANEAN 38 Dong Du, Q1. Tel: 3823 0187 7.30am to 11.30pm A modish, brown and grey contemporary cafe venue selling Italian-influenced, pan-Mediterranean cuisine. Think ricotta pancakes, bruschettas, Roman salads, creative open cut sandwiches, linguine, risotto, pesto dishes and gourmet pizzas mains and you get the idea. Portions are big, too. Then of course are the excellent, health-conscious smoothies, good coffee and a great upstairs lounge area to boot.



ITALIAN / VIETNAMESE 119-121 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: 3836 9220 7am to 11.30pm daily Besides serving up one of the best lattes in town, the tasteful, two-storey Caffe Stella has become one of the main expat haunts in the Backpackers’ Area thanks to its friendly staff, decent WiFi, reasonable Italian cuisine and indoor aircon space. Although there are a number of Vietnamese dishes on offer, the cuisine here is all Italian – think antipasti, pasta, pizza, insalata and Italian-style mains – all sold at decent prices.

PENDOLASCO PAN-ITALIAN 36 Tong Huu Dinh, Q2 Tel: 6253 2828 10am to 2pm, 6pm to 10pm Opening out into a large, leafy terracotta-tiled garden area surrounded by an L-shaped indoor dining space, this Trattoria-style Italian has been serving

up quality cuisine for years. Homemade pasta, risotto, gnocchi, excellent pizza and a range of grilled mains make up the menu. The wine list takes in Italian as well as new and old world.

MID TO TOP BASILICO CONTEMPORARY ITALIAN Cnr. Nguyen Du & Le Van Huu, Q1 Tel: 3520 9099 6.30am to 10.30pm A sleek, modern-styled trattoria attached to the back of the Intercontinental, the professionally designed, international Italian fare encompasses anything from carne and pesce dishes through to pizza, pasta, baguettes, focaccia and panini. Has a breezy, tree-shaded outdoor street terrace area and is often packed at mealtimes. For being part of a five-star, prices here are very reasonable.

CASA ITALIA CLASSIC ITALIAN 86 Le Loi, Q1 Tel: 3824 4286 10am to midnight Pompeii ceiling tiling, Roman arches and a classic Italian feel pervade this restaurant close to Ben Thanh Market. The fare mixes international Italian cuisine such carbonara, Bolognese and Arrabiata dishes with regional specialities such as the linguine sfiziose and excellent wood-fire oven pizzas. Has a good selection of mains as well as an intimate wine cellar-style dining space upstairs.

LA HOSTARIA TRADITIONAL ITALIAN 17B Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: 3823 1080 9.30am to 3pm, 6pm to 11pm This downtown hideaway with tasteful, rustic–style decor trawls the various regions of Italy for inspiration and the result is traditional cuisine with a light, fresh touch. Try the carpaccio misto di pesce and agnello d’antico. Also does excellent homemade pasta and some of the best pizzas in town courtesy of their hand-built wood-fired oven.

POMODORO PAN-ITALIAN 79 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: 3823 8998 10am to 10pm Recently expanded, this neat, spacious,

brick-walled Italian favourite has long been serving up top-calibre fare within a minute’s walk of the Opera House. The menu is typical of the boot-shaped peninsula, with insalate, primi patti, pesce, carni, pasta, dolci and pizza lining its pages. A refreshing selection of vegetarian fare is also available taking in ravioli, caponatra, risotto and cannelloni. This is a solid restaurant serving up solid cuisine.

TOP-END LA BRACERIA PIZZA & GRILL 11 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: 3824 7446 The pastel-coloured, Roman arch brickwork of this airy, three-storey restaurant provides the setting for a more unusual variation on the Italian theme — the grill. Cooked over lava stones (think Mount Etna) or in the wood-fired pizza oven, dishes include steaks, lamb chops, Andouillette sausage, skewers and a range of seafood, all marinated with a selection of Mediterranean spices. Also does a range of pasta, pizza and traditional starters.

OPERA CONTEMPORARY ITALIAN 1st floor Park Hyatt Hotel 2 Lam Son Square, Q1 Tel: 3824 1234 6am to 11pm Unpretentious, casual but elegant bistro– style restaurant with a tried–and–tested Italian menu which starts with pasta and wood–fired pizza, and then moves on to an expertly crafted selection of gourmet fare. A terrace offers the chance to observe the city goings–on. The wine list is a compact selection from regions like Umbria, Toscana and Veneto. Regular specials and great open kitchens. Has a laid-back separate bar area, too.


BUDGET ASIAN KITCHEN PAN-ASIAN / JAPANESE 185/22 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: 3836 7397 7am to midnight daily While standard Japanese day-to-day fare is the focus of this long-running, bambooclad eatery close to Chi’s Café, the menu here also includes Vietnamese, Indian, western and vegetarian options. With pric-

es remaining at rock bottom – VND45,000 to VND65,000 for a mains — Asian Kitchen is a favourite with budget tourists and is highly rated on Trip Advisor.

TOKYO BBQ JAPANESE BARBECUE 15A6 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: 3822 2527 9.30am to 2pm, 4.30pm to midnight The wooden and charcoal panelling together with the open downstairs kitchen and upstairs swathed-in-red dining area give this contemporary Japanese eatery a casual but comfortable ambience. Specialising in all things barbecue, the charcoalgrilled beef cooked at the table is to die for, while the various other meat and vegetable options are also an excellent choice. Does a great lunch set starting at under VND100,000, rising to just under VND300,000 for the barbecue set.

MID-RANGE DRAGON NOODLE JAPANESE NOODLES 29 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: 3521 0008 11am to 1am Bright, airy and spacious with sake bottles hung across the wall, the defining feature of this decidedly Japanese eatery is the black and white sketch of old Saigon stretching the whole length of the righthand wall. Bar-table as well as standard seating adds to the atmosphere while the menu focuses on ramen noodles, starting at around VND100,000 a dish. Also has a number of stir-fried options and a rice dish-based lunch menu.

MUS MUS JAPANESE HOTPOT 117 Vo Van Tan, Q3, Tel: 3930 9185 11.30am to 2pm, 5.30pm to 10.30pm An excellent slither of a place specialising in Japanese-style hotpots, shabu-shabu and, in particular, the awesome steamed hotpot. Choose 12 ingredients (including meats and seafood) from the menu and steam over a broth on your table. Eat the remaining soup with rice or noodles. A great, tasty and remarkably healthy dish. And it’s cheap, too.

OOO / MARUSAN YAKITORI / CHICKEN RESTAURANT 37 Nguyen Van Thu, Q1 Tel: 3911 9000 11.30am to 2.30pm, 5.30pm to 10pm. Closed Sundays Possibly one of the most eye-catching

MARGHERITA ITALIAN, TEX-MEX, INTERNATIONAL 175/1 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1 Tel: 3837 0760 8am to 11pm daily This family-run restaurant has been on of the Backpackers’ Area mainstays for well over a decade, selling excellent pizzas, salads and pastas all mixed in with panwestern cuisine, tasty Vietnamese fare and a few Tex-Mex dishes. Amiable owners, a pleasant atmosphere, reasonable pricing and an efficient delivery service make up the mix.

SALT AND PEPPER TRADITIONAL ITALIAN 103 Ton Dat Tien, The Crescent, Phu My Hung, Q7. Tel: 5412 4848 11am to 2pm, 6pm to 11pm Located in the modern confines of The Crescent, this contemporary-styled Italian restaurant and pizzeria has an open kitchen and a relaxing outdoor terrace area. Serving up a range of pan-Italian cuisine, the menu includes a nice selection of salads, pastas, main courses, pizzas and desserts, all at affordable prices. At night the cozy atmosphere creates the ideal ambience for a dinner accompanied by a bottle of wine.

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Japanese restaurants in town, this snug two-storey space mixes light wooden and bare industrial brick decor with a downstairs wooden topped bar area and upstairs cubby holes for semi-private dining. Serving all things chicken from hotpots and yakitori fare through to deep fried chicken on a huge bed of dried chillis, the trilingual menu also includes Korean soju, saki, a big selection of wine and imported Japanese beer.



FB DELI THERE ISN’T A LACK OF places to drink coffee in and around Phu My Hung but one has to ask whether small coffee shops can still hack it amidst giants like Highlands, Gloria Jeans, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and Trung Nguyen. FB Deli, a small coffee shop tucked in the ground floor of My Khanh II in Phu My Hung, is trying to do just that. It’s a breath of fresh air among the toy shops, restaurants and fast food joints that line Nguyen Duc Canh Street. With its cool black and white ensemble, and Tiffany chairs with matching tables breaking through the colours of the commercial shops around, it’s easy to gravitate towards FB Deli. The café’s customers consist mainly of Phu My Hung residents wanting to have a break between errands, students who need a place to study and those who are looking to have their caffeine fix for the day. Inside, the walls are sparsely but tastefully decorated with black and white photographs while outside, soft and comfortable white rattan

THE DRINK: 3.5/5

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furniture invites customers for an afternoon of gab or rest while sipping ice-blended coffee drinks to combat the Saigon heat. THREE LITTLE PIGS FB Deli only serves Lavazza coffee and drinks include the normal array of espresso, iceblends, and teas that range from VND40,000 to VND90,000. And yes, they serve decaf — which is not the norm in local Vietnamese coffee shops or anywhere else in Ho Chi Minh City for that matter. Apart from drinks, FB Deli also serves salad, sandwiches and pasta priced all under VND90,000 with specials like honey mustard chicken, smoked salmon, Three Little Pigs – Lulu, and the gourmet smoked ham. And where there’s coffee, there’re always pastries to complement it, so FB Deli offers a myriad of cakes, cookies and muffins. FB Deli is a terrific café to wile away an afternoon. FB Deli, SE7-1 My Khanh 2, Phu My Hung


JAPANESE NOODLES 18 Thai Van Lung, Q1; SD04, Lo H29-2, KP My Phat, Phu My Hung, Q7 11am to 3am Monday to Saturday, 11am to 10pm Sunday If you like your noodles in every possible form and prefer them to be Japanese, then this sleek, open-kitchened contemporary eatery may just be a little slice of heaven. Served in sets — the lunchtime offering goes for just over VND100,000 — or as individual dishes, the ramen are supplemented by a range of smaller, appetizing sides. The Phu My Hung branch is on Nguyen Duc Canh next to S’Cottage.

SEOUL HOUSE KOREAN 33 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1 Tel: 3829 4297 7am to 10pm Now on its third location, the simply designed Seoul House was the first Korean restaurant in town and continues to be popular. Two floors with a mixture of standard and sit-on-the-floor seating cater for a cosmopolitan clientele. The cuisine takes on the full Korean food spreadsheet with everything from banchan starters, kim chi and bulgoggi through to barbecues, claypot mixed rice and awesome spicy tofu and minced pork soups.

YAMANEKO JAPANESE / OKINAWA 13/1 Le Thanh Ton Tel: 3823 8433 www.yamaneko– 11.30am to 2pm, 5pm to 1am Tucked away in an alley off Le Thanh Ton, the funky Yamaneko offers delicious, unpretentious Okinawan fare alongside mainland staples. Including dishes such as buta no syoga yaki tesuko (grilled pork marinated in ginger sauce) and rafute soba tesoku (Okinawa soba noodle with soft stewed pork). Standard Japanese fare is also on hand if you don’t want to dive into something a little different. Does a great set lunch deal

MID TO TOP INAHO SUSHI / SASHIMI 4 Chu Manh Trinh, Q1 Tel: 3829 0326 11am to 2pm, 5.30pm to 10pm The restaurant of famed chef Ryoichi ‘Roy’ Iwashita. Originally from Osaka this old hand travelled the world prior to serving a stint at the former Omni Hotel (now Moevenpick). His present venture features diminutive downstairs bar seating and upstairs space together with some of the best sushi and sashimi in town. The key is not just in the cutting and preparation, but in the ingredients and presentation. Here it is faultless.

SUSHI DINING AOI SUSHI / SASHIMI 53-55 Ba Huyen Thanh Quan, Q3 Tel: 3930 0039 11.30am to 2pm, 5pm to 11pm Sushi Dining AOI offers full-blown Japanese-style sushi, sashimi, and other dishes such as tempura, pork cutlet and cold soba noodles in a warm and friendly atmosphere. All sushi dishes are prepared

by a professional sushi chef from Japan. Tasty set lunches start from a very reasonably priced VND90,000.

URAETEI BBQ RESTAURANT JAPANESE BBQ 2A Ngo Van Nam, Q1, Tel: 6673 9373 11am to 2pm, 5pm to 10pm Cool and dark, this forest grotto of a restaurant deals in natural finishes and a sense of isolated calm, all added to by private booths and food prepared at the table. Dishes include salty fish/squid, fresh raw beef, smoked chicken, fried pork cutlet, seafood pizza, sukiyaki and shabu shabu hot pot. The speciality here, though, is yakiniku, traditional Japanese grilled meat. Delicious.


BUDGET CORIANDER THAI / VIETNAMESE 185 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: 3837 1311 11.30am to 10.30pm daily Owned by a Thai-trained Vietnamese chef, the time spent in a real Thai kitchen shows at Coriander, one of the few eateries in town serving up decent pan-Thai cuisine. The egg-wrapped pad thai here is better than you often get in its country of origin, and the curries, som tam and tom yum goong are also good, with dishes generally going for between VND60,000 and VND70,000 for a main.

MID-RANGE BAAN THAI PAN-THAI 55 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: 3744 5453 11am to 11pm, Sunday to Thursday. Open until midnight on Friday and Saturday Subtle lighting and comfortable sofa-like seating fill the restaurant and lounge bar area of this eatery on the main drag in An Phu. The menu focuses on a range of rice, noodle, fried and curry dishes with a mix of other fare including a whole page dedicated to tom yum soup as well as a selection of salads, including the likes of the firey larb moo and Laotian som tam.

GOLDEN ELEPHANT CLASSIC THAI 34 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: 3822 8554 11am to 10pm Whitewashed décor with a distinctly Thai theme – images of the Royal family, elephant embroidery and more – provide the atmosphere at this excellent, long-running restaurant. The fare runs from laab salads (from VND75,000) through to curries (from VND75,000), traditional Thai mains, som tam (VND70,000), fish cakes and dishes such as the deep-fried catfish with mango salad (VND75,000). Has three VIP rooms upstairs.

JASMINE THAI PAN-THAI Tel: 3519 0038 Tues to Sun 5pm to 9.30pm A cosy, Thai-style garden dining area with a children’s playroom, this eatery off the main drag in An Phu provides soft, candlelit lighting, Thai music and a relaxed atmosphere. The cuisine runs the gamut from Bangkok Thai through to Laotian and Isaan cuisine, with anything from massaman and green curries through to lap ped and mains such as phad prew wan gai. Also does an efficient District 2 delivery service that includes The Manor and Saigon Pearl.



SINGAPOREAN 45 Le Anh Xuan, Q1 Tel: 3823 8371 7am to 3am Singaporean and Malaysian specialities fill

food Promos style

CARAVELLE On the morning of Apr. 8 guests at Restaurant Nineteen can indulge in cooked-to-order seafood including fresh Nha Trang lobsters, barbequed and whole-roasted meats and fish, an array of local and international specialities and desserts. Unlimited margaritas, martinis and free flowing Spanish and Argentinean house wines. Priced at VND1,144,000++/ pax. Diners can enjoy bespoke famous Pavlova cake at Lobby Lounge from Apr. 18 to 24. A light meringue cake with a crisp outer crust, each Pavlova comes freshly baked with a choice of decadent toppings such as cream patisserie, caramelized bananas, toffee sauce, almonds, sliced kiwi, pistachio powder, white chocolate shavings and roasted hazelnuts. Each cake costs VND118,000++. Nha Trang lobsters star in a special a la carte menu at Reflections Restaurant from Apr. 20 to 26. Priced from VND720,000 for a half lobster to VND1,450,000 for a whole lobster; diners can have their crustaceans prepared eleven ways. A complimentary flute of Taittinger Champagne sets off this one-week lobster feast. On Apr. 30 and May 1, feast on Eastern delicacies along with international appetisers, salads and mains, cooked-to-order seafood and meats, and imported cheeses. Cap it off with a cup of premium coffee or tea and treats from the dessert corner. Priced at VND1,400,000++/ pax. For more info, visit www. EQUATORIAL HOTEL On Apr. 4 an award winning culinary team will present a buffet of traditional Easter dishes from around the world at Chit Chat @ the Café where you can relax in a contemporary and comfortable interior. The delicious Easter

Sunday Brunch buffet is available from 11.30am to 2.30pm for the price of VND690,000 ++/ pax and VND345,000++/ child aged 6-12 years old. The Easter Bunny will also be present to take kids on an egghunting mission. For more info, email dine@hcm. MEKONG MERCHANT AND MM BISTRO SAIGON Join them this Easter Sunday for children’s egg art day. The fun day starts with egg blowing and painting for kids while parents can enjoy a fabulous lunch and a cold glass of Chardonnay. This is followed by giving away gifts for boys and girls. Happy hour runs Monday to Friday from 4pm to 7pm. PARK HYATT As chefs across Australia hail it as “red meat royalty” and make it a permanent fixture on their menus, Square One pays homage to the Australian Mandagery Creek Venison in April. Its gamey goodness reads like a dieter’s dream, low in calorie and cholesterol, high in iron, as a superior quality protein. Oyster aficionados will be delighted with three different preparations served in Opera this month, from savouring the taste of the ocean to baked bliss. To be savoured slowly and with care, enjoy this delicacy and its distinct texture. Half dozen VND570,000++, full dozen VND1,100,000++. Cloudy Bay Chardonnay, New Zealand VND310,000++/glass. For more info, visit www.saigon. RENAISSANCE RIVERSIDE Freshly caught seafood, delectable broths and friendly service in a cozy place is the order at Kabin for hot pot. Priced at VND616,000++/pax. Every Thursday from 6pm to 10pm.

See more at Feast on an array of seafood from fresh oysters to mussels, Vietnamese snails and lobsters at Riverside Cafe. Combine this with an international selection of appetisers and irresistible desserts by executive chef Dan. Priced at VND640,000++/pax (food only) or VND840,000++/pax (including free flow of red or white wine, beer and soft drinks). Let your hair down; take your shoes off at the Poolside Terrace every Friday, from 6pm onwards. They throw a BBQ like no other. Spice it up, stretch out by the pool and enjoy your evening. Priced at VND740,000++/pax (including free flow of red or white wine, beer and soft drinks). Subject to weather conditions. SHERATON Celebrate Easter at Saigon Café with a selection that includes braided Easter bread, hot cross buns and roasted lamb leg. Reward your secretary with lunch during Secretary Week from Apr. 23 to 27. There will be a 25 percent discount on buffet lunch at Saigon Café and 25 percent discount on a la carte at Li Bai when you invite your secretary. Book in advance and mention “my wonderful secretary” to receive this offer. For more info, visit www. THE DECK For Easter Sunday Brunch and Jazz join them beside the Saigon River for a peaceful day with sumptuous food, comprising the freshest seafood from Phu Quoc and best wines. While you relax either inside or out in the garden, be entertained with one of Vietnam’s best jazz ensembles. Daily happy hour from 4pm to 7pm where all cocktails are 50 percent off. For more info, visit www.

the menu at this friendly, authentic fivestorey Lion City eatery. Think the likes of nasi lemak, mee rebus, mee Siam, roti prata, awesome chicken curry as well as the specialities of the house — frog porridge, chilli crab and fish head curry. Does an efficient delivery service and has more restaurants at 701 Ba Thang Hai, Q10, 141 Nguyen Duc Canh, Q7 and 206 Cong Hoa, Tan Binh.

xeo joints in town. But don’t expect frills. The outdoor, covered bench seating is much as it was a decade ago and the fare is simple but amazingly tasty — the pork, beansprout and prawn pancake served up with roll-your-own salad leaves and fresh herbs. Also has a big range of Hue and pan-Vietnamese dishes.


VIETNAMESE STEAKHOUSE 188 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3 Tel: 3930 3917 6am to 10pm Set down an alleyway in an outdoor courtyard with an additional indoor dining space, this well-known eatery specialises in tasty Vietnamese or Australian steak. Served sizzling on a griddle with thick–cut fries, bread and salad, you can add pate or an egg, all for well under VND100,000. Has a second restaurant at 200 Bis Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3. English menu available.

PAN-SOUTHEAST ASIAN 1 Cao Ba Nha, Q1 Tel: 6290 8899 10am to 11pm Located minutes away from the backpacker area in a beautifully restored French colonial-era villa, Monsoon Restaurant & Bar Saigon specialises in pan-Southeast Asian cuisine from Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Myanmar. Reasonably priced, with a great selection of health-conscious smoothies and juices, expect traditional favourites served in a boldly contemporary and visually arresting setting.

NATHALIE'S PAN-THAI S9 Hung Vuong 3, Phu My Hung, Q7 Tel: 5410 0822 7am to 10pm Both a cafe and a restaurant, its corner location on the opposite side of the highway from KFC has gained Nathalies's a reputation among Vietnamese, Asian expats and more. Claiming to serve up 'Thai Fine Cuisine', all cooked without MSG, and with a particular focus on seafood, mains on the pan-Thai menu go for between VND100,000 and VND200,000. Also has an outdoor Thai noodle stand.

MID-TO-TOP KOH THAI RESTAURANT & COCKTAIL LOUNGE CONTEMPORARY THAI FUSION Level 1, Kumho Link, 39 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: 3823 4423, 11am to 12am daily A modern Thai fusion restaurant that merges traditional Thai flavours with contemporary European presentation and cooking styles, Koh Thai serves a range of Thai classics alongside the likes of tom yam cappuccino, pad thai in a rice paper sushi roll and more. Lunchtimes focus on set menus while the evening fare concentrates on a la carte. An extensive wine list and creative cocktails merge Thai flavours and ingredients with local seasonal fruits and herbs.

VICKI’S TEPPANYAKI & BBQ 42 Le Anh Xuan, Q1 Tel: 3823 3232 11am to 11pm Offering teppanyaki-style live cooking over seven floors, this completely non-smoking restaurant is fun for all the family. Headed up by Thailand’s No. 1 teppanyaki chef, the all-Thai cheffing team possess an arsenal of entertaining cooking skills, with each chef preparing the food in front of guests on a traditional teppanyaki-style grill. Offering fresh local and imported meats and seafood at market prices, customers can also choose from an extensive set menu ranging from around VND500,000 to VND1.2 million per person.

RESTAURANTS – VIETNAMESE BUDGET BANH XEO 46A BANH XEO / HUE CUISINE 46A Dinh Cong Trang, Q1. Tel: 3824 1110 10am to 9pm Set down a side street around the back of Tan Dinh Market, this sterling testament to tasty Vietnamese cuisine continues to stake its claim as one of the best banh

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BO NE LE HONG STEAK / BANH CUON 489/27/39 Huynh Van Banh, Phu Nhuan Tel: 3990 5106 11.30am to 22.30pm Stuffed down an alleyway close to the intersection of Huynh Van Banh and Le Van Sy, the bo ne offering at this fancooled, plastic stool eatery is one of the best in town. Served up sizzling with pate, fried egg, onions, chips and of course local beef, price-wise Le Hong remains very much a budget option. Is also known for its excellent banh cuon.

COM TAM THUAN KIEU COM TAM (BITTY RICE) 26 Ton That Tung, Q1 TEL: 3925 0935 The multi-storey, downtown branch of the famous budget Thuan Kieu eatery close to Cho Ray Hospital. Swathed in yellow and

green and packed all day long, the fare here is everything com tam (bitty rice) think suon nuong (barbecued pork), xiu mai (meatballs), thit heo quay (roasted pork), canh kho qua (bitter gourd broth) and muc don thit (squid stuffed with pork). Prices are cheap, too with the standard meal going for around VND30,000. Has an English menu.

NAM GIAO HUE CUISINE 136/15 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: 3825 0261 7.30am to 10pm Set down an alleyway opposite Ben Thanh market and surrounded by a bizarre plethora of hole-in-the-wall beauty salons, this pleasantly attired, long-running Huestyle eatery is known for its excellent bun bo-style soups and central Vietnamese cuisine. Think banh beo, bun thit nuong, com hen and much more. All the mains go for under VND50,000. Has a second eatery on Suong Nguyet Anh.

PAPAYA RESTAURANT PAN-VIETNAMESE 68 Pham Viet Chanh, Binh Thanh Tel: 6258 1508 10am to 10pm The work of the eponymous owner and head chef Chi Nghia, Papaya is one of the city's unsung gems. Tucked down a tangle of streets near the canal on the edge of District 1, the cuisine here is presented simply but beautifully with an emphasis on top quality ingredients. Prices are cheap, too, with mains going for well under VND100,000, and portions are also on the large side. Well worth a visit

PHAP HOA VEGETARIAN 200 Nguyen Trai, Q1, Tel: 3839 5893 6am to 9pm If you desire service with a smile, avoid

out & about Phap Hoa. This vegetarian eatery is a truly functional place, with a well-stocked and enticing com binh dan buffet-style counter in the entrance. It’s a pick and choose affair, with faux meat such tomato stuffed with pork and meat-filled cabbage rolls sitting alongside mushroom, tomato and tofu fare. It tastes good, too. Just don’t expect the staff to bat you more than an eyelid.

PHO HOA PHO EATERY 260C Pasteur, Q3 Tel: 3829 7943 6am to midnight Everything at this famous but strikingly traditional pho joint is largesse. From the size of the portions through to the plates of banh quay and fresh herbs as well as the myriad of other accoutrements, it’s all double-sized. Fortunately looks don’t deceive and this distinctly southern version of Vietnam’s national dish tastes good, too. Choose from a range of cuts of beef and spice to taste. Gets busy so expect to share tables.

PHO 99 PHO / STEAK 139 Nguyen Trai, Q1, Tel: 3925 2791 6am to 2.30am Although essentially one the city's better pho restaurants, putting Vietnam's most iconic dish in a pleasant aircon setting, the two-storey, late-night Pho 99 is also known for its excellent filet mignon steaks made out of local beef bought in Cu Chi. Served up with mushrooms, onions and fries, the dish goes for well under VND100,000 a go, and is one of the best beefy bargains in town. It tastes good, too.

QUAN HO GUOM HANOI STREET FOOD 177 Nguyen Cu Trinh, Q1 Tel: 3836 9185 This local, chrome table-topped eatery may not look like much, but except for the addition of Saigonese-style fresh herbs it does some pretty tasty and authentic Hanoi street fare. Dishes include the moreish bun cha (rice noodles with barbecue pork), nem ran cua bien (deep-fried crab spring rolls), bun mang ga (rice noodle chicken and bamboo shoots soup) and banh cuon thanh tri (wet rice paper rolls), all at budget prices. Also sells decent com binh dan (rice plate dishes) at lunchtime. No English menu.

SAIGON VEGAN VEGAN 378/3 Vo Van Tan, Q3 Tel: 3834 4473 7am to 2pm. 4pm to 10pm A pleasant, standalone eatery with the feel of a meditative retreat. Furnished

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out & about with dark rustic wooden tables and chairs, Japanese-style wooden carvings and tropical foliage on the terrace area outdoors, the specialities here are the hotpots and the daily specials. But the vegan menu runs the gamut from faux meat through to noodle and rice dishes. Also has a range of sautéed fair.

TIN NGHIA VEGAN 9 Tran Hung Dao, Q1, Tel: 3821 2538 7am to 2pm, 4pm to 9pm One of the city’s oldest eateries (it was established in 1925), this plain but charming holistic little venue located close to Ben Thanh Market also does some of the tastiest vegan cuisine in town. Cooked up without onions, garlic and MSG, the fare ranges from curry noodles and fried rice through to a tantalizing selection of non-faux méat tofu and mushroom dishes. It’s cheap, too, and the menu is also in English.

VIET CHAY VEGAN Vinh Nghiem Pagoda, 339 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: 3848 3399 7am to 9.30pm Set inside the city’s largest pagoda, this eatery has received plaudits aplenty thanks to its contemporary Buddhist, feng shui-inspired setting, almost reverent ambience and interesting menu. With a regular buffet (check for details), eight specialities are also on show from salted tofu in claypot through to hundred flowers hotpot and Viet Chay spring rolls. Also sells a range of appetizers, vegetables, salads and creative mains.

MID-RANGE 3T QUAN NUONG VIETNAMESE BBQ Top Floor, 29 Ton That Thiep, Q1 Tel: 3821 1631 5pm to 11pm A steamy, smoky rooftop homage to the art of barbequing and grilling, with an expansive menu of meat, fish and vegetarian dishes on offer. Often packed to the brim, the barbecue experience takes place at the table with diners either barbecuing the pre-marinated ingredients by themselves or with the aid of the waiting staff. Best to book in advance.

BARBECUE GARDEN VIETNAMESE / INTERNATIONAL BARBECUE 135A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q1 Tel: 3823 3340 11am to 11pm A charming, leafy outdoor terrace area lit up by fairy lights plays host to one of downtown’s most popular and alluring eateries. Specialising in all things barbecue, the menu goes from western and

Vietnamese appetizers and salads through to combos, a la carte meats and seafood, vegetarian options, desserts and a kids menu. It’s a DIY barbecue on the table affair so expect smoke and lots of fun, too. A great place for groups and parties.

meat, fresh seafood and leafy vegetables, to be cooked on a high-tech electric panel, tailor-making their own dipping sauce by mixing and matching a selection of condiments.



LUONG SON PAN-VIETNAMESE 31 Ly Tu Trong, Q1 Tel: 3825 1330 10am to 10pm Open since 1995, a two-year hiatus preceded the recent return of this wellknown just-off-downtown eating haunt. Famous for its signature dish, bo tung xeo — thin strips of marinated beef grilled at the table — this fan-cooled eatery is a pleasant step up from many of the city’s quan nhau. Also known for its slightly more unusual offerings — scorpion, grubs, ostrich and crickets. Try if you dare!


MODERN VIETNAMESE 10 Dang Tat, Q1, Tel: 3848 0144 9am to midnight A converted French villa, when it comes to a romantic timeless setting and a mixed Indochine, rustic Vietnamese décor, this café-cum-restaurant stands well-and-truly alone. The work of architect Tran Binh and his French-Vietnamese wife, the cuisine here is good, too, taking in a mixture of street food dishes done well with good ingredients together with a selection of more contemporary options.



101 Vo Van Tan, Q3, Tel: 3602 2069 10am to 11.30pm The first Saigon version of the well-known Hanoi restaurant chain, Highway 4 is named after the six-thronged mountain highway that skirts the Chinese-Vietnamese border to the north. Serves up authentic Vietnamese cuisine and drink that reflects the ambience of the north and wider Vietnam, all set in a pleasant environment — the upstairs area has Asianstyle, long-table, on the floor seating. Also does the excellent Son Tinh-branded rice wine liquors, with flavours ranging from plum to wild mountain apple.

STREET FOOD 160 Pasteur, Q1 Tel: 3827 7131 7am to 10pm A well-spruced, leafy courtyard in a converted colonial villa provides the setting and the old-world charm for one of the city’s most frequented and loved Vietnamese eateries. Specialising in pan-Vietnamese street food cooked up in a hygienic environment using quality ingredients, dishes cost between VND40,000 and VND100,000 each. Not surprisingly the place gets packed out with noisy diners, so best to book.



CONTEMPORARY VIETNAMESE The Square, 74 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: 3825 1676 10.30am to 10.30pm daily The eye-catching flowery décor, purple velvet seating and outdoor tea garden at this well-known downtown restaurant is complemented by highly rated Vietnamese cuisine made using authentic, quality ingredients. Has a number of specialities including the pink pomelo squid and crab salad, the mustard leaf prawn rolls, the fishcake wraps and barbecue chicken in ginger, onions and a lime leaf marinade. Also runs separate cooking classes.

PAN-VIETNAMESE 1st Floor, Ton That Thiep, Q1 Tel: 3829 9244 11.30am to 10.30pm Once a hotel for French Pondicherry Indian dignitaries visiting both old Saigon and the Hindu temple opposite, this converted floor of one of the city’s best-preserved buildings is home to the elegant, refined and atmospheric Temple Club. Serving quality cuisine from the three main regions of the country, impeccable presentation and the occasional modern twist makes this a great place to entertain. For the colonial setting, the prices are surprisingly reasonable.


HUE / VIETNAMESE 187ter Hai Ba Trung, Q3 Tel: 3829 7242 11am to 2pm, 5pm to 10pm Formerly owned by composer Trinh Cong Son, the local equivalent of Bob Dylan, this iconic, local institution mixes dark brown Hue-style, Indochine décor with sullen lighting, white tablecloths and a more casual and jovial atmosphere than other eateries of its ilk. The fare is all Imperial Hue — goi thanh tra, banh uot thit

PAN ASIAN HOTPOT Ground Level, Kumho Link, 39 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: 3824 6111 A Japanese-style rotating conveyor belt restaurant that substitutes sushi and sashimi for hotpot, diners order their preferred broth – choosing from Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Chinese or Thai style – each with their own individual pot. Customers can choose from an assortment of fresh ingredients, such as thinly sliced

nuong, bun hen and much more. For the background and quality of cuisine, prices are very reasonable.

STEAKHOUSE 71/3 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1 Tel: 3823 8023 11am to 2pm, 5pm to 10pm If décor could have a voice of its own, here it would be loud, clear, sophisticated and very funky, such is the contemporary but very retro feel to this more recent addition to Alley Number 71. With a menu focusing on steaks, four cuts of either imported or locally produced beef are on offer, all served up with a range of sauces. For additional vegetables and sides, order separately.

CAFÉ IF 38 Dang Dung, Q1 Tel: 3846 9853 6am to 10pm Located in the grounds of a beautifully restored Indochina-French colonial villa, Café IF is completely non-smoking and offers a concise array of MSG-free traditional Vietnamese cuisine with a French twist, cooked fresh to order. Dishes include noodle soup, steamed ravioli and beef stew for breakfast, while all lunch and dinner mains come with a choice of different meats and fish, cooked in various styles such as stir fry, hot pot and curry. Has a comprehensive selection of wines, cocktails and fresh fruit juice, too.

QUAN BUI TRADITIONAL VIETNAMESE 8 Nguyen Van Nguyen, Q1 Tel: 3602 2241 / 01286 252351 7am to 10pm Popular with foreigners and Vietnamese,

Quan Bui offers an extensive menu and reasonable prices. No MSG or sugar added and food is served in traditional pots/ crockery. This restaurant is worth visiting for its high quality food, chic black tables and inviting ambience. Western food also available but make sure to try the sautéed shrimps with cashew nuts and crispy fried tofu with lime wedge.

NAM PHAN PAN-VIETNAMESE 34 Vo Van Tan, Q3, HCMC Tel: 3933 3636 11.30am to 2pm, 5.30pm to 9.30pm. Closed Sunday lunch This purpose-built, four-storey building is coated in greys, browns and creams mixed in with the Imperial architecture of Hue, Chinese imagery and Terracotta Army-style columns. All helps to create the perfect, eloquent atmosphere for fine dining in a Vietnamese context. The cuisine mixes well-known dishes from the various regions of Vietnam, all served up with a contemporary and welcome twist. Good wine list.

XU RESTAURANT LOUNGE MODERN VIETNAMESE First Floor, 71-75 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: 3824 8468 6pm to 11pm An elegant, contemporary restaurant whose unique décor has influenced the design of so many other eateries in town, five years of operation has seen Xu evolve into a venue at the forefront of modern Vietnamese cuisine. Pushing the Asian concept of shared-plate dining, the fare here ranges from the likes of banh cuon thit heo through to pork wanton, bun cha, seared beef crostini, bo luc lac and Xu-style chicken rice, all served up with a modern twist.


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MY LINH LAST WEEK: 090 2208 813 Photographer Peter Stuckings (Lonely Planet Images, Insight Guides) runs a monthly intensive class on how to get the best out of your digital camera, as well as what to do on your computer when you bring the photos home. Workshops are run over a weekend, and involve classroom time in District 1 as well as shooting at locations around town. Cost is $195/person, with discounts for early and multiple bookings. 189/C1 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2 Tel: 0903 955780, French painter teaches beginners how to work with different mediums and techniques. For more advanced artists, she shows you how to release your creativity. Daytime and evening courses available for children and adults. Has a permanent exhibition at Flow Saigon (88 Ho Tung Mau, Q1).

THE SAIGON WRITERS GROUP Tel: 01642 078110 A new creative group invites new members every second Tuesday in the evening for feedback on work in progress and creative writing exercises to inspire. All levels are welcome from beginners to more experienced. Contact John by phone or e-mail.




4 Le Van Mien, Q2, Tel: 0983 377710 Vin’s Space is a cosy, intimate, light-filled space that offers artists of all kinds a quiet space to work individually and share ideas and perspectives. Runs various weekly classes, including oil painting, drawing, figurative drawing and painting, and arts and crafts classes for all ages.











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43 Dong Khoi , Q1, Tel: 3502 1559 Frequent overseas imports of the latest magazines and books makes Artbook a rarity in this city. Not only are the products current, but they also cover areas from art and architecture through to graphic design, fashion, cooking, interior design and landscaping. Magazine titles in stock include the likes of FutureArc, GA Houses and Landscape World. The back room doubles up as an art gallery. 40 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: 3822 5796 8am to 10pm Although there are many branches of Fahasa dotted throughout the city, this is one of the largest, with three floors of books and related products in English,

visit for our comprehensive listings

COLUMNS VIETNAM TOP 10 110 FOR THE RECORD 111 ROAD RULES 112 DECKS, DRUMS & ROCK & ROLL 114 IN THE FRAME 115 French, Chinese and Vietnamese. International best sellers, children’s books and toys and educational and professional textbooks are all available. Think the Vietnamese version of Waterstone’s or Borders and you’re somewhat close to understanding what this quality bookstore chain is all about.

FRENCH BOOKSHOP NAM PHONG 94 Ho Tung Mau, Q1 Tel: 3914 7859 Set in a mixed colonial, Chinese shophouse building constructed in the early 20th century, this small Gallic-run bookshop specialises in mainly French language novels and non-fiction publications with a selection of second–hand Folio editions. Also stocks art books, coffee table books and French comics.

PHUONG NAM CORP (PNC) 2A Le Duan, Q1 Tel: 3822 9650 Now with over 30 bookstores in Ho Chi Minh City as well as other outlets throughout the country, PNC is probably the leading book retailer in Vietnam. Stocks the full range of Vietnamese fiction on non-fiction as well as over 2,000 English language titles from publishers such as HarperCollins, Random House and Penguin — the fiction available ranges from classic and modern literature through to detective novels, horror, thriller and children’s books. If you’re looking for bestseller-list titles from overseas, this is the place to start your search.

SAHABOOK 175/24 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1. Tel: 6290 6599 The authorised distributor of Lonely Planet in Vietnam, the travel titles here range from titles on Eastern Europe to East Timor and city guides through to maps. Also stocks non-copied works of fiction in English (both new and second hand) as well as postcards, maps, stamp books, bills/coin collections and travel fiction.

GALLERIES BLUE SPACE CONTEMPORARY ARTS CENTER 97A Pho Duc Chinh, Q1. Tel: 3821 3695 9am to 5pm With its ochre walls and internal courtyard complete with a quaint bridge, the rambling colonial building that houses the Blue Space Contemporary Arts Center is an attraction unto itself. Inside the 120sqm space, local expert Tran Thi Nguyen Nga curates a collection featuring artists from throughout Southeast Asia, from sculptures and luridly coloured abstract paintings to contemporary representations of timeless Vietnamese themes: village scenes, willowy girls in ao dais and water buffaloes in fields.

CRAIG THOMAS GALLERY 27i Tran Nhat Duat, Q1 Tel: 0908 878 317 (Ms. Mai) Located in a quiet corner on the outer

reaches of District 1, Craig Thomas Gallery (CTG) offers a compelling mix of up-andcoming and established local artists. CTG has been in operation since 2009 although its founder has been promoting Vietnamese art for a decade and has mentored a number of now well-known and highly regarded Vietnamese artists. CTG features primarily emerging and mid-career artists and has a regular schedule of exhibitions both at its main gallery space in District 1 and its satellite exhibition space in the Thao Dien Ward of District 2.

promoting contemporary Vietnamese art and providing support to young, up-andcoming Vietnamese artists. Various types of art displayed on different media include oil on canvas, lacquer on wood and paper works. The gallery organises about three Vietnamese exhibitions every year and the entire inventory of works is available to purchase via their website. Specific paintings by Vietnamese artists can be acquired upon request.


213C Dong Khoi, Q1. Tel: 3822 1366 129B Le Thanh Ton Q1. Tel: 3823 3181 9am to 9pm Established in 2004, these two galleries focus on the contemporary art works of both fledgling and experienced Vietnamese artists from across the country. Works by the likes of La Hon, Ton That Bang and Le Xuan Chieu are displayed and an eclectic range of styles is featured, including abstracts, landscapes and impressionism. Mediums mainly feature lacquer on wood and oils on canvas, although some silk paintings are available.

31C Le Quy Don, Q3 Tel: 3933 0498 9am to 6pm Housing over 1,000 works of traditional and contemporary art, this mock colonial mansion constitutes the private museum and art gallery of Vietnamese business tycoon Bui Quoc Chi. Helpful and friendly English-speaking staff are on hand to guide you through the artists and styles of Vietnamese art on offer. Artists exclusive to the gallery include the twins Le Duc Hai and Le Ngoc Thanh plus Hoai Huong and Vu Thang. Prices start at VND2 million per painting and rise to something approaching astronomic.

GALERIE QUYNH 65 De Tham, Q1 Tel: 3836 8019 10am to 6pm Tuesday to Saturday Founded originally in 2000 by Viet Kieu Quynh Pham and partner Robert Cianchi as an online resource on the Vietnamese art scene. Initially providing nurture and promotion for the more abstract contemporary works of Vietnamese painters considered too self indulgent for normal exhibition, the gallery now follows a more international programme and helps to advance the works of a select group of locally based contemporary artists. Runs regular exhibitions. Check their website for details.

HIMIKO VISUAL SALOON 324 Bis Dien Bien Phu, Q10 Tel: 0958 881908 (Ms. Hoang) 8am to 10.30pm Monday to Sunday A visit to Himiko’s Visual Saloon is never anything less than a feast for the eyes. Open for five years, this cafe-cum-gallery, the brainchild of local artist Himiko Nguyen, has a reputation for showcasing the work of Saigon’s bright young creative things. Recent works include The Happening, a year-long project that sees a solo installation by a different artists showcased every fortnight until November 2011.

HO CHI MINH CITY FINE ARTS MUSEUM 97A Pho Duc Chinh, Q1 Tel: 3829 4441 9am to 5pm Tuesday to Sunday Housed in a colonial-era building that also boasts the first elevator ever built in Saigon, the exhibition space here covers three levels. The first floor displays changing exhibits of contemporary art by local and international artists. Move one level up and the galleries display contemporary art from the museum’s permanent collection, featuring sketches, paintings and statues, many of which focus on the resistance to various colonial rulers. The third floor exhibits older works from the first century AD through to the early 20th century. There’s also a warren of galleries in the basement, accessed through the courtyard in the centre of the building.

PARTICULAR GALLERY Kim Do Business Center, 3rd Floor 123 Le Loi, Q1 Tel: 3821 8330 10am to 7pm Mon to Saturday Founded in 1999 with the objective of

for the record


SAN ART 3 Me Linh, Binh Thanh Tel: 3840 0898 www.san– 9.30am to 5.30pm Mon-Sat San Art is an independent, artist-run exhibition space and reading room dedicated to the exchange and cultivation of contemporary art in Vietnam. It also aims to support the country’s artist community by creating opportunities that provide exhibition space, residency programmes for young artists, lecture series and an exchange programme that invites international artists/curators to organise or collaborate on exhibitions.

TUDO GALLERY 53 Ho Tung Mau, Q1 Tel: 3821 0966 9am to 12pm and 2pm to 7pm Opened in June 1989 as Vietnam’s first private art gallery, TuDo specialises in oils, silk paintings and lacquerware, and has over 1,000 pieces across its five showrooms of works by city artists. It aims to promote the works of contemporary Vietnamese artists to domestic and foreign art appreciators.

ZEROSTATION 288 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3 ZeroStation is a multi-complex studio space for young, experimental Vietnamese and foreign artists and long-term art project managed by visual artist, independent curator and art writer, Nguyen Nhu Huy. With a small installation room and two beds, artists can also participate in ZeroStation’s art residency programme.



6E Ngo Thoi Nhiem, Q3 Tel: 3930 2239 7pm until late Though only 1km from the heavily touristic downtown area, Acoustic is well off most foreigner’s radars. The allVietnamese house band performs every night, playing mostly western covers, and the space is perpetually jammed with young locals either bopping away in the crowd or getting up on stage. Known for being notoriously busy at the weekends, arrive by 7.30pm to stand any chance of getting a seat. Those with a love for heartfelt rock balladry and heavy rock n’ roll should check this place out on Friday nights. Has occasional guest bands from overseas.

A MAINSTAY OF THE MUSIC circuit around Asia, The Curtis King Band has just launched a music/comedy/mockumentary album (possibly the first of its kind) in Vietnam. The album features 12 original rock and blues tracks interlaced with interviews by the late famed news anchor Walter Cronkite (played by television narrator Joe Murray) that chronicles the life of the eponymous bandleader. Combining smooth twangy Cleveland rock-and-roll with a homegrown Vietnamese lilt, Who is Curtis King? Who Cares? is one of those albums that you can pop into your iPod or CD player (for those who are old school) and sit back with a glass of red wine or a smoke and enjoy from start to finish. The songs are eclectic and feature artists locally and around Asia. CELEBRITY INTERVIEWS Arguably the best music track on the album, Take My Hand, dedicated to the victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam, features a traditional Asian zither alongside classy blues riffs and Curtis' soulful voice, while Nha Trangbased Erick Swackhammer's Panic perfectly blends Erick’s raspy vocals with Curtis’ funky harmonica sounds. Steamtrain Blues featuring Singaporean guitar virtuoso John Chee (of

Crazy Elephant fame), reminds us that any song about steam trains is worth a listen. Then there are the smooth jazzy rhythms of Meet Me In Harlem and Does It Feel Alright? that feature some crafty guitar licks. The last song, Hey Yeah, a melodic rock-androll track brings the album home with a touching piano sound and the golden voice of Shanghaibased Matthew "Cadillac" Cooper. Peppered throughout the tracks are hilarious ‘authentic’ accounts of all the people in Curtis's life that have shaped who he is. From ‘interviews’ with celebrities like James Brown, Bill Clinton, Keith Richards, Nelson Mandela, to Curtis' grandfather to the first person that ever sold him a guitar to his neighbourhood friends. The only drawback is that some of the Walter Cronkite humour might be somewhat lost on those born post 1990, but it's undeniable that the music is solid, rocking and timeless. The album definitely gets five stars for originality, humour and production. There will be an official launch party open to the public at the V Cafe in Dalat on Apr. 14. Visit for more info. The CD will only be for sale over the internet, either as a physical CD or MP3 downloads at cd/thecurtiskingband

sound & vision


BAR BUI 39/2 Pham Ngoc Thach, Q3. Tel: 3824 1963 10am to 12am Also known as Dust Lodge, Bar Bui resembles Seventeen Saloon with its red and blue neon lighting, bricked walls, wooden roof, columns and beams. It hosts live flamenco and country music every night from 8.30pm courtesy of three Filipino house bands.



Pat Joynt, of Saigon Scooter Centre, has been in Vietnam for 15 years, and working in the scooter and motorcycle industry for 30 years, restoring classic bikes, importing and producing parts. To ask Pat a question about your motorbike, email HEY PAT, I SAW A FEW BONUS BIKES AROUND TOWN AND MY FRIEND HAS ONE BUT IT KEEPS BREAKING DOWN ON HIM. HE WANTS TO SELL IT TO ME FOR CHEAP, VND4 MILLION. IS IT WORTH IT? WHAT ARE THEY AND WHO MAKES THEM? The Bonus MB125cc bikes were produced by the well-known Taiwanese company SYM in the 1990s. They’re a basic 4-stroke motor with a 4-speed gearbox and an electric starter. The going price used to be around VND9,450,000 but recently they have come down in price to between VND5 and 6 million. They used to be popular with short-term residents and by many for touring and are still used by many of the Easy Rider tour groups. They can be bought for cheap but I’d recommend spending more on a bike that has been well maintained and kept in better overall condition than buying an unreliable bike that you’ll need to spend money on. A downside to any cheap bike is that most owners who buy a cheaper bike do so for financial reasons and therefore usually they have had the minimum amount of preventative maintenance. Shop around, there

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are many advertised on local buy & sell websites for VND5 to 6 million that are in half decent condition. HEY PAT, I RECENTLY HAD A BIKE ACCIDENT AND THE HELMET I WORE SPLIT IN HALF EVEN THOUGH IT WASN’T A HARD FALL. WHAT HELMET DO YOU RECOMMEND TO WEAR THAT ISN’T HEAVY ON THE HEAD AND DOESN’T MAKE MY HEAD BOILING HOT? The problem with helmets here is that they are produced for the local market and local budget. After 10 years of trying to enforce the helmet law when it finally did come to fruition it was for the simple reason that the price of a VND50,000 helmet was a quarter of that of the fine! There are only a couple of places where good imported helmets are available. There are a couple of Korean and Thai brands that produce budget helmets offering slightly more protection than the locally produced ones. Check out the shops near The New World Hotel; prices range from VND350,000 to VND500,000. Saigon Scooter Centre also has a wide range of quality imported helmets.


9 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 8am to 1am This sleekly designed café morphs into a trendy live music nightspot with a selection of resident and guest DJs to be found behind the Sarato-programmed decks. Expect a multitude of electronic sounds, from deep and liquid house to lounge, disco, chill out, hip-hop and a bevy of instrumentals you’ve heard before but can’t quite put your finger on.


If you’re looking for a European or imported helmet with international kite marks such as DOT, SNELL and BSI testing then be prepared to pay anything from VND3,150,000 for a composite fiberglass open face helmet up to VND10 million+ for a full race spec Kevlar helmet. For something for daily city use any open face style is ideal preferably with a visor. The better quality the helmet is then generally the lighter they are. Thermo plastic helmets offer more protection than fiberglass and with top of the range Kevlar come the lightest helmets offering the highest protection. For an open face Kevlar helmet with a quality visor from a reputable European/ Italian manufacturer expect to pay somewhere around VND5,250,000. At the end of the day you need to weigh the sweaty head option against the cracked skull scenario and buy the best helmet your budget can afford. To quote an old 1970s Schoei helmet advertising campaign — a five-dollar helmet for a five-dollar brain. Do you have questions related to motorbikes? Email them to Pat Joynt on

57H Tu Xuong, Q3. Tel: 3932 2797 9am to 11pm This unique establishment sets itself apart from other live music venues in Saigon as the city’s first 3D-themed café. Each floor of this French-colonial three-storey villa has been designed as a homage to both Sagionese and Hanoian street café culture. The ground floor is where the live music happens every Wednesday to Sunday from 9pm to 11pm with pop, rock and country sets performed by the growing plethora of local bands.

CARMEN 8 Ly Tu Trong, Q1. Tel: 3829 7699 6pm to 1am The inspiration for Carmen is the popular opera named, naturally, Carmen. In place of European leads are the musical talents of a local band as well as Filipino and Vietnamese lead singers crooning to Latin beats. As if being a venue built on Flamenco music was not enough to stand out in Saigon, it further differentiates itself with a cabin-like exterior, steep stairs, a small cavernous-type entrance and an interior highlighted by rough rock walls, wood beams and candle-lit beer keg tables.

garden positioned next to a tiny raised balcony where a pianist serenades customers every Monday night. Romantic ballads can be heard every Tuesday and rock every Friday.

LA HABANA 6 Cao Ba Quat, Q1, Tel: 3829 5180 Saigon cover band stalwarts Carmen & Brothers play an eclectic selection of well known hits by the likes of Michael Jackson, Leona Lewis and Bon Jovi every night of the week except Mondays. The music usually starts at 9pm but arrive early to ensure prime seating in the lounge.



41 Ba Huyen Thanh Quan, Q3. Tel: 3930 3154 9pm to 1am A popular destination for both locals and foreigners with a hankering for live rock music and a totally smoke-free atmosphere, Metallic Bar is one of Saigon’s most established live music venues. Longtime house band, The Yellow, a host of Filipino singers and numerous local Vietnamese bands can be seen rocking out to ferocious covers of Metallica, Guns N Roses and CCR on a nightly basis between 9pm and 12am before a DJ takes to the decks to perform a selection of contemporary dance, hip hop and r n’ b tunes through to the early hours.

NAPOLY BAR 7 Pham Ngoc Thanh, Q3, Tel: 3829 0583 7pm until 12am Named after the famed southern Italian city, the ground floor seating of this popular and somewhat upscale café looks and feels like it came straight out of Italy itself. The upstairs bar in the back is the place to catch local Vietnamese band Quoc Anh play classic 1980s hits every night from 9pm to midnight.

NIGHTSPOT 23rd Floor, Sheraton Hotel & Towers, 88 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: 3827 2828 7pm to midnight (weekdays). Open late on weekends. One of the chicest venues in the city, this hotel bar offers nightly live music courtesy of the six-piece Transit band and Filipino group Sound On Fire. As the name implies, Transit play a range of Top 40 hits across the spectrum of popular music every Tuesday to Sunday from 8.45pm until 11.45pm (1am at weekends), while the usually heavy-rock inclined Sound On Fire tap into their Latin-dance side every Monday night from 8.45pm until just before midnight.



97 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: 3825 6024 9am to midnight Wednesdays and Fridays are the nights to catch local favourites such as cover band circuit legend Juram, and latin pop group Warapo. Juram is known for his gravelvoiced versions of anthems by Nirvana, Pink Floyd and Metallica, while Warapo serve up a very physical offering live and exotic Cuban salsa music.

ROCKFANCLUB BAR 25C Tu Xuong, Q3 Formerly Tadao Coffee Bar, the promoters behind RockFanClub, the long-running underground Vietnamese hard rock and metal night, have moved in, finally giving the city’s moshers a home of their own. Local hard rock and metal bands can be found playing every night of the week from around 9pm at this tiny yet comfortable and cool venue.

SAIGON SAIGON BAR 9th Floor, Caravelle Hotel, 19 Lam Som Square, Q1. Tel: 3823 4999 11am to 2am Cuban bands are a mainstay at this

JARDIN D’AMOUR 8Bis Nguyen Van Trang, Q1. Tel: 6679 2406 9am to 11pm A quirky, French-style café with a subdued and relaxing atmosphere. Each evening from 8.30pm the self-titled ‘Garden of Love’ houses live music with different themes such as Tien Chien Night (pre-war Vietnamese music), International Covers Night and Lovers Night. The stage is a quaint miniature theatre-style set up with white picket fencing and a painted backdrop of a




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decks, drums & rock n' roll Aaron Wilson’s fast fingers can play the sax, clarinet and piano. He slows down for a moment to speak to Lyra Dacio about Cuba and jazz WHAT IS YOUR MUSICAL BACKGROUND? I began playing clarinet as a kid which led me to an appreciation for classical music. I owe school programmes and church ensembles for my early education. I studied classical clarinet and conducting at university but I quit this and began playing sax in local R&B bands in Florida. During this time I was introduced to jazz and fell in love with the music so I went back to school and studied saxophone with the well-known American saxophonist Bunky Green and received a degree in jazz studies from the University of North Florida. HOW DID YOU FIND YOURSELF IN VIETNAM AND AS DIRECTOR OF THE PERFORMING ARTS ACADEMY? Before coming to Vietnam I was travelling for many years while directing bands for the cruise ship industry. Ho Chi Minh City was one of the many places I visited and really liked, plus I noticed enough of a music scene going on to make it interesting. I also have a brother who lives here, so that combined with a desire to settle down somewhere led me here. I looked into teaching to supplement gigging and found there were not many jjobs teaching g music so I collaborated ed with a partner to open a location cation that I could teach and d also bring other professional musicians together to offer their expertise as well. We opened PAA three years ars ago as a private lessons studio dio and have been expanding ever since. HOW DID WARAPO FIGURE GURE IN YOUR PLANS? Warapo was created in Cuba in 1998. I’m not a founding ng member and I’m not Cuban. The he band had to downsize its numbers bers when it

made its move to Vietnam. They have been putting the full band back together and started by adding sax to the group. When they needed a sax they decided to hold auditions locally and that’s how I came to perform with the group. I play alto sax, clarinet flute and also some piano. WHERE CAN WE SEE YOU AND WARAPO PERFORM? The most exciting places to see Warapo perform is at the Hard Rock on the first Saturday of every month. A different Latino country is featured each month with traditional music, dance choreography and costumes from the featured country. Also the last Saturday of each month Warapo combines with the current Cuban band of Saigon Saigon Bar for a double Cuban band carnival party. This is definitely a rare spectacle and worth seeing. I also perform individually and have performed with almost all of Saigon’s artists but I try to stay with my passion for jazz performing with Vietnam’s top jazz players like Tim Tiger, Matt Willis and Greg Wilson whenever I can. Currently, I am still performing with my longest running group in town, Bad Neighbour, which can be enjoyed every Friday at Vasco’s.

outdoor bar with salsa band Warapo providing a musical melting pot of South American rhythms every Tuesday as part of the hotel’s Havana Ladies Night, while the six-piece Luna Negra like to mix it up with salsa, bachata and merengue on Wednesdays through to Mondays. Both bands start at 9pm.



28 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: 3822 8472 5pm to 12am Unique renditions of classic jazz compositions by the likes of Miles Davies, John Coltrane and Charlie Parker can be heard from 9pm until midnight daily at this non-smoking establishment. Saxophonist Tran Manh Tuan and the Sax N’ Art house band regularly performs a unique blend of contemporary jazz and blues mixed with central highlands Vietnamese influences in this cosy, brick-walled bohemian boîte.



103A Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: 3914 0007 7pm until late A favourite among both Vietnamese and foreigners alike, this Wild West-themed bar doubles up as a great live music venue with no less than three highly talented Filipino cover bands rocking out nightly. B & U, Wild West and Most Wanted impressively belt out like-for-like hits by rock staples such as Bon Jovi, U2 and Guns n’ Roses’ while pumping Vietnamese techno blasts out of the speakers in between sets.

SHERIDAN’S IRISH HOUSE 17/13 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: 3823 0793 9am to 12am Those in search for a sound of the


CINEMAS Showcasing the latest Hollywood blockbusters and 3D cinematic sensations, chains such as Megastar Media, Lotte and Galaxy Cinema offer the most up-to-date and modern cinema-going experiences in Saigon. For those partial to more esoteric and independent flicks, smaller outlets such as Cinebox 1 and Idecaf carry little known Vietnamese and European efforts.


212 Ly Chinh Thang, Q3, Tel: 3935 0610 240 Duong 3/2, Q10, Tel: 3862 2425


13th floor, Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: 3822 7897


Level 3, Lotte Mart, 469 Nguyen Huu Tho, Q7 Tel: 3775 2521

familiar will find solace at one of Saigon’s longest running bars. A different cover band gets up every night of the week (except Mondays) at this pub-like Celtic establishment. Celtic Band knock out jovial Irish ditties on Tuesdays; the classic rock power of Risky Red and Mr. Bo can be heard on Wednesdays and Fridays; Wonderluster play pop hits on Thursdays, and rollicking Japanese blues group, 12 Bar Blues take over on the weekends.

THE FACTORY 102 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1 Tel: 3823 8102 8pm until late Designed as a European industrial processing plant (huge fans, bright yellow pipes, road signs and metal drums), The Factory is the second offering from the team behind Acoustic. In the footsteps of its predecessor, The Factory churns out live music, albeit in a much clubbier environment with some of the city’s top hip-hop DJs also performing every night from 9pm to 2am.


YOKO 22A Nguyen Thi Dieu, Q3 Tel: 3933 0577 8am until late As the name suggests, John Lennon’s infamous wife inspired the title of this excellent watering hole. Refurbished and expanded at the start of 2011, the ever-popular Yoko plays host to some of Saigon’s best local bands, including funk-rockers 6789 every Wednesday, metallers Microwave every Saturday and the irrepressible chanteuse Ngoc Thy twice weekly. Proceedings tend to kick off around 9pm with a revolving door of local musicians performing nightly amongst the comfy surrounds and walls adorned with Vietnamese art and photos of John Lennon and Kurt Cobain.



116 Nguyen Du, Q1 Tel: 3822 8533; 230 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: 3920 6688; 246 Hong Dao, Tan Binh Tel: 3849 4567



31 Thai Van Lung, Q1 Tel: 3829 5451


7th Floor, Hung Vuong Plaza, 126 Hung Vuong, Q5 Tel: 6222 0388


Level 5, Saigon Paragon Building, 3 Nguyen Luong Bang, Q7 Tel: 5416 0088


74/7D Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: 3824 2888 4pm to 12am (weekdays). Open late on weekends. With two rooms set up to cater to bands and DJs (Yellow Room & Blue Room), Vasco’s is one of Saigon’s most prominent live music venues. Catering mainly to the musical tastes of muso expats, the likes of DJ Premier, Free The Robots, Handsome Furs and Daedelus have headlined this former opium den. Local DJs such as Jordan Howard and DJ Jase regularly put on nights with hip-hop, dubstep, drum n’ bass, reggae and dance firmly on rotation. Local expat latin-punk band Bad Neighbour also plays on most Friday nights.




PERFORMING ARTS HO CHI MINH CITY BALLET SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA AND OPERA The City Opera House, 7 Lam Son Square, Q1 Tel: 3823 7419, Ho Chi Minh City’s opera and ballet perform programmes of classical dance and music throughout the year. Shows feature both national and international stars, and take place in one of the most elegant buildings in the city. There are two annual seasons: Spring through summer (January to June) and autumn through winter (July to December), featuring performances every 9th and 19th monthly. Tickets start at just VND60,000 for the sky seats, with circle seats priced at VND150,000.

HO CHI MINH CITY CONSERVATORY OF MUSIC 112 Nguyen Du, Q1, Tel: 3824 3774 This colonial–era theatre is the perfect place for classic piano recitals and orchestral performances, and is closely connected to other performance groups in the city. Also provides music education in undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate levels for the southern region of Vietnam. There are two concert rooms (500 seats and 100 seats) with two performances weekly. To obtain a programme of events, visit the Opera House.

INTERNATIONAL CHOIR & ORCHESTRA OF HO CHI MINH CITY Tel: 0903 930907, This well–established 40–strong choir and 21-piece orchestra holds both private and public performances, with rehearsals held every Monday from 7.30pm to 9pm at the British International School at 43 Tu Xuong St, Q3. The Choir’s repertoire includes

classic works by Bach, Beethoven, Handel, and Verdi as well as songs from musicals, traditional songs from Britain, Christmas carols in many languages, gospel songs, and national and European Anthems.

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SAIGON PLAYERS A non-profit community theatre group whose mission is to uphold the arts while giving to charity. Composed of local and foreign thespians, Saigon Players hosts monthly drama activities that include club nights at 7.30pm every first Wednesday of the month at La Habana and script nights at 7.30pm every third Wednesday of the month at venues alternating between Boomarang Bistro Saigon in Q7 and Geisha's Tea House in Q1.

PRODUCTION COMPANIES CREA TV 339 Binh Quoi, Binh Thanh, Tel: 3823 7434 Established in 1995, Crea TV produces television programmes and commercials, corporate films, documentaries, and feature films. Facilities are located at Thanh Da Island and include two studios (400m2 and 150m2) as well as in-house post-production. Services include location scouting, casting, authorisations and permits, art department, production and direction.

FACT & FICTION FILMS 91/12 Hoa Hung, Q10, Tel: 0908 477079 Fact & Fiction Films is a diverse, creative, bespoke production company built on broad film and media experience. Their team has developed and delivered content worldwide and specialises in TVCs, documentary, web and TV content with vast experience in all stages of production from development through to post production and delivery.

FROM COSMETICS TO AESTHETICS HELENE KLING’S PAINTING CAREER didn’t start off in the traditional sense. She had earned her Bachelor’s Degree in chemicals at the University of Paris School of Arts and Cosmetics. From there she landed a job in a cosmetic company in 1996 that was based in Ho Chi Minh City. Three years later, she willfully exchanged her cosmetic brushes for paintbrushes and hasn’t left the city since (except for holidays, of course). Although she took many painting and drawing lessons, she considers herself self-taught. And artistic masters continue to feed her passion therefore she makes sure to visit exhibitions at the Louvre every time she goes back to Paris. She draws much of her inspiration from Vietnam’s landscape and people, especially women. Her approach usually begins with taking photographs of her subject and from there she paints her impressions of what she has captured. She may use different mediums like acrylic and collages but finds that oil on canvas suits her best. Aside from brushes, she also uses sponges, knives or whatever is needed to perfectly convey her mood and the images in her mind. For Helene, colours are important and that’s why you will never find her paintings monochromatic. She believes colours highlight life and happiness. Pursuing the Passion

She has had 10 exhibitions in Vietnam and one in France. Through these exhibitions, not only does she display her own work, she also showcases the works of her students — adults and children alike — studying at her art school. Aside from teaching, she also shares her talent with Operation Smile where she has been donating two of her works every year since 2003 for auctions — one in Ho Chi Minh City and one in Hanoi. Operation Smile is a not-for profit-organisation that repairs cleft lips and palates in children. Although she finds the art scene in Vietnam small and there are still restrictions in place, this hasn’t hampered her in continuing to pursue her passion. In fact in 2007 she published her book Dragon Tears, and last year followed it up with Art Beat for Vietnam. Dragon Tears is a compilation of 10 years’ of art work in Vietnam while the latter focuses on her life here and her passion for teaching. In 2006 her works were recognised by AKOUN, a database established in 1980 that lists highly-acclaimed works of art. AKOUN evaluates and appraises paintings, sculptures and photographs, among others. — Lyra Dacio Check out Helene Kling’s works at or visit Studio and Gallery HK at 189/C1 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2

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BAND & DJ LISTINGS ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE Alternative Medicine is a party band with setlists packed with groovy, danceable super hits to amp up an event. Not too loud, but also far from wimpy. Female and male harmony vocals with a percussionist with the fastest hands in the land. Rock/indie pop/soul. BAD NEIGHBOUR LATIN ROCK BAND Contact Claudio Duek on Facebook. Bad Neighbour plays a combination of Latin and rock with some reggae and rap thrown into the mix. A multinational outfit with nine members. BOB WITTENBACH (BONGO BOB) Tel: 0903 193241 Ex-professional rock, blues, jazz and pop drummer from London who has played with various artists including John Otway, The Breaks and The Scaffold. Has played many gigs in Saigon with Mike Belmes, Curtis King and Juram, among others. Looking to hook up with like-minded blues/rock musicians interested in bringing an Asian feel to Western themes. CARMEN & BROTHERS LIVE Acoustic Band La Habana’s famous Filipino house band captivates audiences most nights of the week with Carmen’s extraordinary vocal range and an eclectic mix of classic and contemporary pop, r&b, retro, latin, rock and ballads DEPSKILLZ A Saigon-based collective of bands, musicians, DJs and MCs who play weekly gigs at some of the best venues around town. Also available for corporate events, mix & mingles, birthday bashes, bon soirees, weddings, funerals & bar mitzvahs. No karaoke or K-Pop. Call Pedro on 0943 200 495. DJ AJAM Tel: 01203 077 882 Vasco’s resident DJ Ajam (UK) available for private parties, clubs, bars and versatile in any style of music. With 17 years of DJing experience, Ajam has played at venues worldwide including the worlds number one club brand Pacha. Now teaching private DJ classes to all ages. DJ equipment and sound system for rent. DJ JORDAN HOWARD Tel: 01223 447721 American DJ specialising in eclectic mixes of 1980s, pop, rock, and hip-hop to audiences of all ages and nationalities. A Vasco's veteran of three years, Jordan has played many balls and corporate events around Vietnam. DJ SEIP Tel: 0934014091 German DJ and Turntablist, DJ Seip, plays the hottest hip-hop, rn’b, dance and house tracks and can be seen playing at most of the prominent Saigon venues. DMA: DIGITAL MUSIC AGENCY 380/13B Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3 Tel: 3843 6459 (ask for Ms. Nhi) DMA is the first international DJ training centre

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in Vietnam. Run by professional local and overseas DJs, DMA offers training programmes and job opportunities for those wanting to become professional DJs or looking to learn for pleasure. DMA uses the latest professional DJ equipment and software, and doubles up as an events company and talent agency. EVERYONE’S A DJ One of the top and longest running indie electro, 80s new wave, 50/60s dance parties in Saigon. Its concept is simple: to create a party with a DIY aesthetic heavily rooted in art, film, and design. Fronted by superkid, the parties occur monthly with rotating DJs and VJs. GILLES SNOWCAT (FROM AWAKEN), Awaken’s Gilles Snowcat is in Saigon looking to join forces with musicians who don’t want to play it safe in order to make his magnetic soul music caress the eared need apply. JENNY SANTIAGO & THE JOYRIDERS Fronted by Filipino singer Jenny Santiago, former resident-singer at Caravelle Hotel and collaborator with Bad Neighbour, The Gigatones, The Curtis King Band and Acoustic Band. The band can be found playing at venues around the city. JURAM GAVERO TRIO Juram has been playing around the city for the last 12 years, and is now one of the most popular acts in Ho Chi Minh City. His blend of eclectic music styles gathered from his experiences around the world stand him in good stead to make you enjoy your evening any night of the week. MARK “MR. JOLLY” JOLLY Tel: 0918 119987 With over 20 years DJing experience and close to a decade playing in Vietnam, Mr Jolly can cover pretty much any musical situation from private parties to the largest club and corporate events. Can play a wide range of musical styles despite having very little hair. RISKY RED Either a three-piece acoustic light rock combo or a six piece full-on rock ‘n’ roll, blues and boogie, party Band. Regular around Saigon. SNAKEBITE — MUSIC WITH VENOM! Tel: 0909 169 033 (Andy) Looking for music with soul? Then call Snakebite the next time you’re planning a wedding, event or private party. Snakebite play music that is suitable for all ages and can even help with invitations. THE CURTIS KING BAND A funky, bluesy, travelling rock ‘n’ roll band with an east-meets-west sound. Founded in 1996, the band has performed all over the world and has been featured on MTV, the BBC, China Central Television, XoneFM Radio and HTV. Having recorded four albums, the band can be caught playing throughout Vietnam and the region. Available for weddings, corporate, embassy, consulate or chamber of commerce events.



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LEISURE AMUSEMENT DAI NAM THEME PARK Binh Duong Highway, Phuong Hiep An, Thu Dau Mot, Binh Duong Tel: 0650 384 5845 6:30am to 5:30pm A mammoth of a place, the superkitsch Dai Nam is Vietnam's answer to Disneyland. Just 50km from Ho Chi Minh City past Thu Dau Mot on Highway 13, the amusement park rides include two huge roller coasters, an excellent go kart track, dodgems, kiddy’s bouncy castles and much more. Then there's the well set-up water park, a non-cringe worthy zoo modeled on its counterpart in Singapore, a 5000 sqm temple and the cultural area. Well worth the VND50,000 ticket price.

LASER TAG 5th floor, Alta Plaza, 91B2 Pham Van Hai, Tan Binh Take the glass elevator to the top floor of Alta Plaza and you’ll soon find yourself in a dark playground holding a laser gun. Hand over VND40,000 and you’re in for 15 minutes of sci-fi style fun. The gaming area is a little on the small side but the equipment all functions well, and you’re provided with a fun and alternative leisure activity. A collection of arcade games can be found in foyer.

SAIGON ZOO AND BOTQANICAL GARDENS 2 Nguyen Binh Khiem, Q1 Tel: 3829 3728 7am to 5pm At less than VND10,000 for entry, Saigon’s Zoo and Botanical gardens is a great option for a day out in the city. Dating back to 1875, Saigon has one of the oldest zoos in the world, which makes it a famous site not only for the Vietnamese. You can get lost amongst the many rare orchids, ornamental plants in the garden or marvel at over one hundred species of mammals, reptiles and birds. Some of the enclosures don’t meet western standards so the wary should steer clear.

BASKETBALL PHAN DINH PHUNG CLUB 8 Vo Van Tan, Q3, Tel: 3829 6312 Home to the majority of hotshot Asian teams including Filipinos, South Koreans and Japanese. Mismo Ngayon, one of six Filipino teams, play there every Sunday morning. A basketball night at Saigon South International School every Thursday, open to anyone who wants to play or watch. Call Kurtis Law on 01265 638 486 to secure an invitation.

CLUBS & SOCIETIES INTERNATIONAL LADIES IN VIETNAM This long–established social organisation fosters social contacts for women in the city and currently has a membership of 500 women from 42 nations. The group offers ladies a chance to socialise at their weekly coffee mornings and participate in many cultural, social and sporting activities. Meetings are held at 10am every Thursday at the Sherwood Residence 127 Pasteur, Q3. Membership for the first year costs VND700,000; annual renewal is VND500,000.

leisure & wellness every Sunday afternoon from 1.30-5pm. Run by a Japanese pottery artist, Overland Club also organises pottery classes, Vietnamese-Japanese cooking classes, cultural art events and monthly special activities, such as the Soba Festival, pottery painting classes, the art of decorating papers and multinational cuisine days. The club is open to all nationalities and ages.

SAIGON COOKING CLASSES BY HOA TUC 74/7 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: 3825 8485 Learn how to cook quality Vietnamese cuisine with local fine dining specialists Hoa Tuc. The three-hour lesson, conducted by an English-speaking Vietnamese chef, includes a trip around Ben Thanh Market to gather fresh ingredients and the preparation of three tasty local dishes. Some tricks of the trade and the chance to sample the fruits of your labour afterwards also feature. A seasonal desert wraps things up nicely. Courses run from Tuesday to Sunday with two sessions per day from 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm. The class is VND800,000 for adults and VND500,000 for children.

VIETNAM COOKERY CENTRE 362/8 Ung Van Khiem, Binh Thanh Tel: 351 22 764 Established in 1999, the Vietnam Cookery Centre offers a hands-on guide to local gastronomy. Located in a pretty colonialstyle villa 15 minutes from the city centre, the course caters to all skill levels. An introduction to a traditional Vietnamese kitchen and cooking utensils is an added bonus as well as a trip to a central food market. For VND800,000 per person you can attend their morning course from 9.30am to 1pm or the afternoon course from 3.30pm to 7.30pm. Meals included.

CRICKET SAIGON CRICKET LEAGUE The Saigon Cricket League includes teams from five nations – Australia, England, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – as well as a mixed–nationality team called United Cricket Club (UCC). New recruits are welcome. The teams play on weekends at RMIT and have regular practice sessions. The season starts every October.

VCA (VIETNAM CRICKET ASSOCIATION) Manish Sogani Tel: 0908 200 598


ECCS (THE ENGLISH CRICKET CLUB OF SAIGON) Richard Carrington. Tel: 0909 967 353

ICCS (INDIAN CRICKET CLUB OF SAIGON) Deeptesh Gill. Tel: 01228 770 038

ISCS (INDIAN SPORTS CLUB IN SAIGON) Munish Gupta. Tel: 0986 973 244

PSSC (PAKISTAN SAIGON CRICKET CLUB) Samie Cashmiri. Tel: 0976 469 090

SACC (SAIGON AUSTRALIA CRICKET CLUB) Steve Treasure. Tel: 0903 998 824

SSC (SRI LANKA SPORTS CLUB) Suhard Amit. Tel: 0988 571 010

UCC (UNITED CRICKET CLUB) Asif Ali, Mobile: 0937 079 034

PARKLANDS COUNTRY CLUB 628A An Binh, An Phu, Q2. Tel: 3898 9000 6am to 10pm Opened in 2003 the Parkland Country Club offers a green retreat from the frenetic city with its 2-hectare space in An Phu. The club is able to organise a wide range of activities such as wine tasting and sports tournaments due to its extensive facilities, which include three different dining options, supervised children’s areas, a multiuse sports field, 3 tennis courts, squash courts, a lap and fun pool, spa and premier gyms. Monthly memberships are VND3.5 million.

SAIGON TOWN CLUB Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: 3822 9666 6am to 10pm Up and running since May 1998, Sedona Town Club boasts two floors of modern facilities that provide private sanctuary from the busy streets. Amongst the attractions are the club’s recreational facilities, which include tennis courts, a sauna and Jacuzzi. Members can benefit from the secretarial support service on offer as well as the alfresco dining option offered poolside at the ‘Coco Cabana’. The lush garden adjacent to this outside eatery provides a great option for kicking back with a cocktail. A 3-month membership will set you back VND4 million.

COOKING CLASSES OVERLAND CLUB 36bis Huynh Khuong Ninh, Q1, Tel: 3820 9734 A Japanese home cooking class that meets

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leisure & wellness DANCING DANCENTER 53 Nguyen Dang Giai, Thao Dien, Q2 The Crescent Mall, Phu My Hung Tel: 3519 4490/4340, Children and teenagers can enjoy jazz, ballet, hip-hop, tap, sing & dance, break, acro and more in this modern, newly built studio available online.

LATIN STREET DANCE Salsa, Merengue, Bachata and Reggaeton is taught every Sunday at Geisha's Coffee and Tea House (2nd Floor, 85 Pasteur, Q1). It's individual dancing (no partnering) and you just need to buy a glass of wine or a cocktail to participate. Contact fred@

SAIGON BELLY DANCE No 96, Street 2, Cu Xa Do Thanh, Q3 To learn how to move your hips like Shakira, head over to their studio for courses in belly dancing and “sexy dancing�. Scheduling information is available online.

SAIGON SWING CATS For lessons in the Lindy Hop, East & West Coast Swing, Shap and Jitterbug, visit the website for more information. Free introductory class every Wednesday at Caffe Molinari (Petrohouse Tower, 5 Le Duan, Q1).

FITNESS AIS SPORTS CENTRE Cherry Blossom 1 & Lotus Road 1 and 3 APSC Compound, 36 Thao Dien Road, Q2 Tel: 3744 2549 (Ms. Chi) With a 25m swimming pool, Astroturf play area, basketball court and outdoor gym equipment, AIS Sports Centre is a great venue to stay in shape. Memberships start at VND10 million per year and are payable in advance or semi–annual installments. Packages available for family members of students, couples and others.

CALIFORNIA FITNESS CENTRE Queen Ann Building, 28–30–32 Le Lai, Q1 5F Hung Vuong Plaza and 126 Hung Vuong, Q5 Tel: 2222 0355 One of the leading fitness and yoga centres in Vietnam featuring state–of–the–art equipment with over 100 aerobic and yoga classes such as Hot Yoga, Indian Dance, Pole dance, Zumba, Body Balance, Body Combat and more.

CARAVELLE CLUB SPA 19 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: 3823 4999 This well–equipped gym has rows of cardiovascular machines and free weights, a massage parlour, sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi, with a pleasant swimming pool. Monthly membership costs VND3.2 million.

CYRIL AND YOU-BODY AND MIND CO LTD Tel: 0947 771326, Nutritional advice and personalised programmes for body toning. Fitness at the Boathouse in An Phu at 8.30am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Evening sessions start at 6.30pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Riverside. Contact Cyril for more information

DIAMOND HEALTH CLUB 13th Floor, Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: 3825 7750 A well–equipped gym with steam room, Jacuzzi, massage parlour and swimming pool can be found at this leading department store. Off–peak membership from VND1.7 million per month.

JOHN HUY TRAN, FITNESS INSTRUCTOR Tel: 0983 789 318, This certified fitness professional offers tailored training for exercise programmes,

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weight loss, muscle gain and strength training based on 10 years experience in the fitness industry, dance and sports. Services include fitness and nutrition assessment.

K1 FITNESS & FIGHT FACTORY 14 Duong 38, Nguyen Thi Thap, Q7 A 750m2 space that offers martial arts, boxing, kick and Thai boxing, Krav–maga, grappling, MMA and kid’s basic martial art classes as well as private fitness, bodybuilding and cardio conditioning. Come to get into shape, take out stress or learn a new sport with foreign instructors. Open to everyone from kids to adults and beginners to professionals.


steam bath and sauna. Also has an excellent guitar–shaped outdoor pool. Standard monthly membership starts from VND4.5 million while a day pass goes for VND450,000. Special yearly memberships and family offers available.


PUSH CLIMBING This originally French team welcomes football enthusiasts looking for competition or conviviality both on and off the pitch.

SAWANO NEWELL, US CERTIFIED PILATES INSTRUCTOR This predominantly French side has been playing for over 10 years, winning the championship title for the last four years. Contact Fred on 0919 709 024 or Viet Luu 0909 500 171.

67/1 Nguyen Van Linh, Phu My Hung Tel: 01264 722 134 Push Climbing is Ho Chi Minh City’s and Vietnam’s first dedicated bouldering climbing gym and pro shop. Located in District 7, the gym is open seven days a week and there are facilities for storing bicycles and gear. Drinks and snacks are also available, as well as a comfy area for people to relax after tackling the various routes.

Tel: 01225 811 080 Sawano specializes in Fletcher Pilates and personal fitness, and emphasises core muscle development to strengthen and tone the body. Savano is qualified in mat work and Pilates equipment, and offers individual and group classes tailored to your needs and schedule.

Rex Hotel, 141 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: 3825 1812 This new colonial–themed gym is a large, open–plan space, situated on the top of the Rex Hotel. Includes a tennis court, swimming pool, Jacuzzi, loads of cardio and resistance machines, sauna and steam rooms. Also offers classes. Peak membership starts at VND2.2 million per month.




64A Truong Dinh, Q3, Tel: 3932 5181 Classes in Ashtanga, Iyengar, Hatha and Vinyasa yoga, Power yoga, Pilates, Taebo, Centergy, aqua–aerobics and body sculpting are offered by internationally certified teachers. Membership to the small professional fitness studio costs VND1.8 million per month, or just VND1.3 million per month for a one–year membership. Drop– in sessions cost VND300,000. There’s also a swimming pool, sauna, and steam room to help you unwind after a work out.

17 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: 3824 1555 Membership costs VND12 million for six months and VND21 million for a year at this small but well–equipped gym. Equipment is modern and staff members are extremely helpful. Yoga classes are just one of a number of fitness classes offered. Manor Apartments, 91 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, Tel: 3514 0255 Steve Chipman, who had a hand in establishing gyms at the Sofitel hotels in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, is behind Star Fitness – Vietnam’s second largest gym. Memberships gives free access to regular fitness classes and involves a one-time free entry, plus monthly subscription.


34 Nguyen Dang Giai, Q2Tel: 3744 6672 Has a strong focus on fitness classes and personal training. Besides an excellent weights and cardio area, the facility runs group classes including power yoga, Pilates, circuit training, martial arts and spinning. The centre also contains a spa and a restaurant serving up calorie–calibrated meals to help members stay in line with individual fitness programmes.

3rd Floor, Crescent Plaza, 105 Ton Dat Tien, Phu My Hung, Tel: 5412 1277 Overlooking The Crescent complex’s lagoon, this multi-purpose and organically designed fitness and wellness centre offers an array of modern facilities. A state-of-the-art gym fitted out with the latest Technogym equipment allows users to track their progress with personalised keys, while other features include group fitness classes, yoga sessions, a squash court, swimming pool, steam bath and nutrition bar.



NTFQ2 Tel: 01286 305 982 Paul Simos creates a supportive environment that enables people to achieve all of their health goals. Paul has studied all major dietary theories and uses practical lifestyle coaching methods to guide clients in discovering which approach works best for them. Contact Paul for a free health history consultation.

PATRICK NGUYEN Tel: 093 815 6865 Personal fitness, yoga and mixed martial arts trainer with 14 years of fitness industry experience and over 10 years of experience as a kickboxing instructor at Gold’s Gym in Venice, California. Certified by the National Sports Academy Of Medicine and a certified Sivananda yoga instructor trained by Green Path Yoga.

RENAISSANCE HOTEL HEALTH CLUB 8–15 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: 3822 0033 Exercise with an unsurpassed city view at this health club with gym, swimming pool, steam room and massage parlour. A good place to take time out at the pool–side bar. Costs VND400,000 a day or VND2.2 million a month.

SAIGON FITNESS CO. New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: 3829 4000 Medium–sized gym with new cardio equipment and spacious changing rooms with adjustable shower settings, Jacuzzi,

The Landmark, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: 3822 2098 ext. 176 In addition to the squash court, facilities include a fully–equipped gym room, a rooftop swimming pool and separate male and female saunas. Call for further information.

THE SAIGON RIVER CLUB Ruby Towers - Saigon Pearl, 92 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh Tel: 3514 9009 Equipped with technologically advanced equipment, large cardiovascular, strength and free weight sections, this gym has spacious changing facilities with sauna and steam rooms, three group class studios offering Spinning, Pilates, Yoga, Zumba, Aerobics, Step Aerobics and Belly Dancing. Includes a large outdoor pool with Jacuzzi.

FOOTBALL, SOCCER & RUGBY AUSTRALIAN RULES FOOTBALL The Vietnam Swans play regular international footy matches around Asia. Training sessions are held weekly in both Saigon (2.30pm Saturday, RMIT University, Q7) and Hanoi (midday, Saturday, UN International School, Ciputra). Social functions aplenty for everyone. Regardless of age, preferred sport or ability, all are warmly invited to become an active part of an inclusive Club. Contact Nick on 0937 683 230.


SAIGON RAIDERS This team is part of the Saigon International Football League, with regular games against local teams in the nearby provinces. A sociable football team always on the hunt for enthusiastic new talent for weekly training sessions and matches. Contact Jon Hoff.

SAIGON RUGBY CLUB Social touch rugby is played every Saturday afternoon for adults at RMIT University from 4pm. The Saigon Geckos welcome both men and women of all nationalities to join and enjoy a few beers afterwards. Does regular tours of the region for tournaments, as well as inviting visiting teams for ladies’ touch rugby, contact rugby and men’s over–35 contact rugby. Beginners welcome.

SAIGON SAINTS Players train weekly and tour across the region to play in local and international tournaments. New players are actively encouraged to join this SIFL expat football club, running since 1995.

GOLF LADIES’ FIRST GOLF www.ladiesfirst– A non–profit association of women golfers in Ho Chi Minh City, organising monthly tournaments whose format varies from month to month, including single stroke play, individual stableford and two–ball scramble.

RAINBOW DIVERS 55 Nguyen Dang Giai, Q2 Tel: 3744 6825 Diving courses & trips offered by the longest established PADI dive centres throughout Vietnam. All courses can be started at their state–of–the–art centre in An Phu. Operates PADI–National Geographic Dive Centres in Nha Trang, Whale Island, Hoi An and Phu Quoc.

RANGERS BASEBALL TEAM A baseball team with over 25 members, including Japanese, American, Canadian and Taiwanese players. Practices and games are held on the weekends at RMIT and the Taiwanese Junior High School in District 7.

SAIGON INTERNATIONAL DARTS LEAGUE There are some excellent players in this fun and popular international darts club, which runs a competitive league for 14 pub–based teams. Check out the website for details on how to get involved and to see the recent 180 scores.

SAIGON INTERNATIONAL SOFTBALL LEAGUE The Saigon International Softball League

invites you to play slo-pitch softball. Teams with players from all over the world compete every Sunday.

SQUASH The Landmark, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: 3822 2098 ext 176 Membership is open to non–Landmark residents for use of the squash court. For new players or those without a partner, there is a squash instructor who gives private lessons. Racquets can be rented and balls are provided inclusive. Book in advance. Day rate is VND250,000 for use of all facilities.




Founded in Singapore, they train every Saturday morning from 10am to noon. Everyone is welcome. For more information about games and the club in Vietnam contact James (Tornados HC) on 0938 889 899 or Rina at

ULTIMATE FRISBEE RMIT, 702 Nguyen Van Linh, Q7 www.saigon– Pan–Asian competitions are often organised for the more experienced and everyone can join in this exciting modern sport held every Sunday afternoon in Saigon South from 3pm to 5pm. For information how to get involved call David Jensen on 0909 458 890 or Tino Tran on 0903 042 014.

X–ROCK CLIMBING 75 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q3 Tel: 6210 9192 Offers beginner and advanced mountain climbing routes, safety courses and training at its 26–metre purpose–built mountain in District 2. Prices start at VND170,000 for a group pass of four, with a two-hour safety course costing VND500,000.

SAIGON SOUTH GOLF Nguyen Van Linh, Tan Phu, Q7. Tel: 5411 2001 Visitors’ green fees are VND400,000 for a round of golf at this mini nine–hole course behind FV hospital. Fees discounted by 40% on Wednesdays. On the driving range, a basket of 50 balls costs VND60,000. Equipment hire is also available.

SONG BE GOLF RESORT 77 Binh Duong, Thuan An, Binh Duong Tel: 0650 756 660 This resort incorporates tennis courts, a swimming pool and a gymnasium at its 18–hole, 6,384–metre course just 22km from the city. Individual memberships cost VND38 million or VND63 million per year.

VIETNAM GOLF AND COUNTRY CLUB Long Thanh My Village, Q9. Tel: 6280 0101 Also known as the Thu Duc Golf Course, this facility just off Highway 1 has two courses, one following a more Asian style, and one with distinctly modern touches. Both 18–hole courses are complemented by other attractions such as tennis, boating and an on–site eatery.

BEYOND WELLNESS Sweat, pump, workout and run. Gym should’nt be just as boring as these; which is why we are integrating our very own recipe of MOVE, SHAPE, BALANCE and POWER [V[YHUZMVYT[OLVYKPUHY`Ä[ULZZL_WLYPLUJL into a remarkable one

TOTAL WELLNESS EXPERIENCE at the life-inspiring Crescent Wellness

LEISURE – GENERAL HASH HOUSE HARRIERS Balancing beer and exercise, this long– established running club goes to various out–of–town locations to tear up a few kilometres and burn some of the weekend’s calories. Also offers walking trails too. Bus leaves from the Caravelle Hotel at 2pm every Sunday.


leisure & wellness SPORTS CLASSES CAPOEIRA 25 Nguyen Binh Khiem, Q1 For a different form of training, try Capoeira, an Afro–Brazilian art form that involves movements from martial arts, games, and dance. Held near the zoo, lessons begin at 6.30pm on Tuesdays and at the same time on Fridays at DanCenter. Admission is VND70,000 for one session or VND250,000 for four sessions.

SAIGON SPORTS ACADEMY Tel: 7303 1100 Offers coaching for football, tennis, basketball and swimming for both children and adults. Private lessons are also available throughout the year.

TENNIS KY HOA II 796 Su Van Hanh, Q10, Tel: 3863 3706 Hourly hire for courts starts from VND80,000. Private coaching is available, and a small shop stocks all the equipment. Also has an excellent gym and swimming pool.

LAN ANH INTERNATIONAL TENNIS COURT 291 Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q10 , Tel: 3862 7144 Private coaching sessions and group lessons are available at this popular club. You can rent one of several courts from VND40,000 per hour, and all gear (including a ball boy) is available for rent.

VIETNAMESE CLASSES PRIVATE VIETNAMESE CLASSES Tel: 0908 604 753 Contact outgoing and experienced instructor Mr Hoang, who takes individuals or groups from beginner level up to fluency. VND220,000 per hour.

VIETNAMESE LANGUAGE STUDEIS – SAIGON 45 Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1 Tel: 3910 3175 This professional school has built a good reputation over 12 years. Offers set and tailor–made courses for all abilities in both northern & southern Vietnamese within high quality facilities. Private lessons are VND250,000 per hour, group classes for 3 or more people are VND160,000 per person.

VNC VIETNAMESE LANGUAGE TRAINING 37/54 Tran Dinh Xu, Q1 Tel: 3836 4344 VNC Vietnamese Language Training and Translation provides Vietnamese language training by experienced and qualified teachers and certifies translation from experts for all kinds of materials and documents, from a page to a book.

YOGA & MEDITATION DR. SHIVA A qualified yoga master from India who has been teaching in Ho Chi Minh City for the last two years in a variety of locations including L’Apothiquaire and Nutrifort. His yoga styles include Asthanga, Hatha, Dynamic, Vital and Power yoga. Available to conduct personal, group sessions, health seminars and workshops.

MICHELLE LLOYD YOGA Tel: 0909 648193 E-RYT200-certified yoga instructor offering Vinyasa yoga classes at various locations around the city. Private and corporate yoga programmes available.

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leisure & wellness MY YOGA EXERCISE Tel: 0128 630 5982 Paul Simos offers power yoga to build strength, flexibility, balance and endurance while at the same time imparting a feeling of calm and relaxation. Also offers tropical Hatha yoga. Private sessions and group classes available.

THE SAIGON RIVER CLUB Ruby Towers - Saigon Pearl, 92 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh. Tel: 35149009 Saigon’s luxury state-of-the-art health club provides a number of Yoga classes held throughout the week at varied times in a specifically designed soft floored studio. A host of certified, experienced international and local practitioners whose styles include Ashtanga, Power Yoga, Hatha and also Pilates classes.

Yoga Massage across the city. Each session is unique and different, with a focus on breath and body awareness, combined with fluid movements to provide the perfect balance in nurturing the body and mind.



Studio 1: 95 Pasteur, Q1 Studio 2: 5 Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: 0905 735 833 (Thuy) Conducting over 150 commercial and private classes a month, daily offers are Ashtanga based Hath yoga, Vinyasa yoga and Sivananda and classical yoga classes. A larger second studio equipped with six classrooms and 14 shower rooms in the centre of the city provides a great space for a yoga workshop, training and healthcare and lifestyle events.

432 Pham Thai Buong, Q7, Tel: 0906 684 969 Dr Kim Sung Soo offers a range of alternative oriental treatments, including acupuncture, cupping, moxibustion, physical therapy, and special treatment for fertility, chronic pain (headache, backache, arthritis, muscular etc), obesity, allergies and menopausal disorders. Dr Kim has studied TCM in Korea and China and speaks Korean, Chinese and some English. A Vietnamese translator is also available.

SAIGON YOGA Tel: 090 835 2265, Founder Suzanne Vian, has two decades of experience and is a registered "Experienced Instructor" through Yoga Alliance. Iyengar-influenced classes, specialising in Hatha, Flow, Hot, Pre and Post-natal Yoga, Restorative, Injury Rehabilitation, Retreats & Trainings.

STAR FITNESS GYM Manor Apartments, 91 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, Tel: 3514 0255 Yoga professionals teach regular yoga classes in three disciplines at this gym. Members get free access. Contact Star Fitness directly for schedules and non– member prices.

SOHAM YOGA STUDIO AND BOUTIQUE 84T/4 Tran Dinh Xu, Q1, Tel: 3920 5813 Soham Yoga Studio and Boutique specialises in high-quality yoga training and yoga retail products, offering Vinyasa Flow, Sivananda, Power yoga and other classes with Yoga Alliance-certified yoga instructors. Soham’s yoga shop also sells high quality yoga products from Manduka and Jade as well as locally produced yoga accessories and international yoga publications. Also offers 30 per cent off yoga class passes and memberships on first day of every month.

VAJRAYANA BUDDHISM MEDITATION GROUP Meditation group using specializing in the methods of Tibetan Buddhism. Help the practitioners understand and experience the nature of their mind and the nature of all phenomena.

VIETNAM BUDDHIST RESEARCH INSTITUTE Van Hanh Pogoda, 750 Nguyen Kiem, Phu Nhuan, Tel: 0913 985403 Well-respected Dr Thich Tam Duc, secretary-general of the research institute, teaches Theravada and Mahayana Buddhist meditation classes, with the ultimate goal of attaining true happiness. Open to both Vietnamese and non-Vietnamese speakers.

VIVACOLOUR 33/19 Quoc Huong, Q2. Tel: 090 3873 599 Vivacolour offers tailored-made relaxation and meditation programmes combined with chromotherapy, essential oils and music. Laughter Yoga and a Colours Meditation group training workshop is also available. Contact Pascaline for more information.

YOGA & BODYWORK WITH DAPHNE Tel: 01266 626467, Daphne offers yoga classes, Reiki and Thai

acupuncture and traditional medicine services. The international doctors are highly qualified in their respective disciplines and speak English, Italian and French.


269/3 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: 6291 2110

Operating to create an oasis of peace in Saigon, Yoga Santi strives to provide thoughtful and challenging classes for students of all levels while offering a variety of styles ranging from athletic to gentler classes. All teachers have received international training and are well versed in instructing Hatha yoga, Vinyasa yoga, Yin yoga, Hatha flow and Sivananda yoga. YMC – YOGA & MEDITATION CENTER 335/31 Dien Bien Phu, Q3 Tel: 3929 1707 A place to get away from the city for quality yoga or meditation practice. They offer daily classes of different yoga styles — Ashtanga, Power, Yin, Vinyasa, Hatha, Slow Flow and Funky Flow. VND400,000 for a one-week trial.

WELLNESS ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE AMERICAN CHIROPRACTIC CLINIC VIETNAM 8 Truong Dinh, Q3, Tel: 3930 6667 A modern clinic providing chiropractic, physiotherapy, and foot care, staffed by American-trained chiropractic physicians and an American-educated and licensed doctor of physical therapy speaking French, English, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean. Includes treatment of back, neck, and knee pain, sports injury rehabilitation, and manufacture of medical grade foot orthotics.

DR CHANTEL GORTON, PT, DPT American Chiropractic Clinic, 8 Truong Dinh, Q3 Tel: 3930 6667 American-educated and licensed physical therapist with Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree in Vietnam practicing out of American Chiropractic Clinic. Specialising in orthopedic injuries, joint pain, sports injuries and post-operative rehabilitation. Rehabilitation may include combination of hands on manual therapy, specific exercise prescription and other modalities.

FAMILY MEDICAL PRACTICE Care 1, The Manor, 91 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh. Tel: 3514 0757 Major medical centre that also offers

INSTITUTE OF TRADITIONAL MEDICINE 273–275 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Q3 Tel: 3997 1146 Apart from standard treatments such as acupuncture and massage, this hospital and training centre places emphasis on physiotherapy – the use of herbs to stimulate and protect the immune system. English–speaking Dr. Le Hung can address all your needs in these areas.

OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE / PHYSIOTHERAPY – DAVID TRUONG TAN Tel: 0903 098 124 www.osteopathy– French–trained osteopath and physiotherapist specialising in treating back pain and other muscular, ligaments and joint problems. Osteopathy relieves pain and other discomforts using a global approach and gentle manipulative techniques.

SARAH MARTIN Tel: 0937 442 516, Australian-trained Massage and Remedial Therapist offering Deep Tissue/Sports Massage, Hawaiian Lomi Lomi Massage, Prenatal Massage and Reiki. Located in An Phu. Home visits available.

THETA HEALING Tel: 0918 591 933, A unique energy healing technique for mind, body and spirit. Jodie Eastwood is a UK qualified practioner based in Ho Chi Minh City. For more information or to book a session call or email Jodie on

TRADITIONAL MEDICINE HOSPITAL 179 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: 3932 6579 One of the city’s leading centres of traditional Chinese medicine infused with modern understanding. Up–to–date and clean with friendly staff, but you will need a translator.

VIVACOLOUR Tel: 090 3873 599, Vivacolour offers chromotherapy and chromopuncture - alternative fields of health care that focus on correcting energy misbalance by combining the energy of colour and acupuncture channels. Treatment is available for, but not limited to, muscular and joint pain, stress, sleep issues, jetlag, and tailormade programmes for body revitalization, mood boosting, and to stop smoking. Other areas focus on treating asthma, ear infections, and general light children’s medical issues, as well as cosmetic problems such as skin wrinkling and sun spot removal. Contact Pascaline for more information.

are available at this modern hospital. With state-of-the-art devices, services include laser vision correction, cataract surgery, hi-myopia treatment, Botox anti-wrinkle treatment, dermal filler (Restylane) treatment, eyelid reshaping, eyelid fat removal and brow lifts.

DR. TU’S COSMETIC & LASER SURGERY CLINIC 290 Tran Hung Dao, Q1 Tel: 3836 7685 Modern treatments such as ultrasound–based fat elimination and body contouring, Botox, restylane, and surgical interventions such as hair transplants, eyebrow lifts, nose, eye and ear shaping. The clinic director is a certified member of the International Board of Cosmetic Surgery.

FV HOSPITAL COSMETIC SURGERY 6 Nguyen Luong Bang, Saigon South Parkway, Q7. Tel: 5411 3366 This international–standard hospital has a full cosmetic surgery department offering body contouring, breast augmentation, Botox, a range of facial surgery options, laser skin improvement, carried out with the best equipment by expert French and Vietnamese doctors.

FV SAIGON CLINIC AESTHETIC CARE 45 Vo Thi Sau, 2nd Floor, Citilight Tower, Q1 Tel: 6290 6167 Conveniently located downtown clinic providing modern, safe and fast treatments including Botox and restylane, by an experienced American doctor. Also provides cosmetic surgery consultations with French and Vietnamese doctors.

SIAN SKINCARE CLINIC Level 2, 71-79 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: 3827 6999 The Australian and Canadian managed SIAN Clinic offers a wide range of skincare medical therapies to treat problems such as sagging, dull skin, unwanted tattoos and acne by an experienced dermatologist and facial care team. The clinic has the latest therapies including laser hair removal, stem cell therapy, skin rejuvenation by IPL, Botox and filler hydrolifting, anti-aging and hair loss regrowth treatments.

STAMFORD SKIN CENTRE 254 Dien Bien Phu, Q3 Tel: 3392 1080 Stamford Skin Centre offers a broad range of medical and aesthetic skin treatments. Their international dermatologists and doctors ensure accurate diagnosis and

safe treatment procedures. It houses state-of-the-art equipment, including fractional CO2 laser, Q-Switch Nd:Yag laser, Fraxel laser, and is the only skin clinic in Vietnam offering Digital Dermoscopy for skin cancer evaluation. Other treatments include eczema, acne, psoriasis, laser treatments (wrinkles, melasma, freckles, scars, keloids); Botox, Restylane and Dysport.

DENTAL ACCADENT Opera View Building, 161 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: 822 8800 Accadent Vietnam is supported by Accadent Germany and offers high quality standards, high–tech materials and equipment, German precision and hygiene standards for your teeth.

EUROPEAN DENTAL CLINIC 17-17A Le Van Mien, Thao Dien, Q2 Dentists from Japan and France providing total dental care. Open Mondays from 8.00am to 8.00pm and Saturdays from 8.00am to 5.00pm. Emergency hotline: 0909 551 916 / 0916 352 940.

FV HOSPITAL DENTAL 6 Nguyen Luong Bang, Saigon South Parkway, Q7 . Tel: 5411 3435 Full–service dental clinic at this international–class hospital covers the entire spectrum from examinations and cleaning to braces and implants, all carried out to the highest standards.

INTERNATIONAL SOS DENTAL CLINIC 167A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3 Tel: 3829 8520 (24-Hour) Globally renowned provider of medical assistance and international healthcare offers full dental services in the clinic minutes from downtown. Foreign and Vietnamese dentists provide high skilled dental service. Orthodontics is also available by a foreign orthodontist.

SAKURA DENTAL CLINIC 90 Le Thi Hong Gam, Q1 Tel: 3829 8453 96 Ha Huy Tap, Phu My Hung, Q7 Tel: 5415 6868 An international-standard private dental healthcare group established in the 1990s and led by a Vietnamese senior dentist graduated from Tokyo Medical & Dental University (Japan). Comprised of a team of local and foreign dental specialists, providing total dental care services from dental check-ups to specialist works like whitening, braces, implants, and sleep apnea mouth guards.

COSMETIC SURGERY CAO THANG AESTHETIC CENTRE 135B Tran Binh Trong, Q5 Tel: 3923 8435 / 0905 886 086 A range of eye and aesthetic procedures

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leisure & wellness

leisure & wellness COLOR HAUS


173 Ton Dat Tien, Q7 Tel: 5413 6634

A contemporary Japanese dental clinic that provides a full range of standard and specialised dental services and treatments, including a 20-minute teeth whitening using Brillica mouthpieces and LED lighting systems; general check-ups and cleaning (polishing & prevention), and a range of orthodontic work. Smile Dental Clinic is open Mon-Sat from 9am to 12pm and 2pm to 6pm, closed on Sundays and public holidays. English - Vietnamese and Japanese are also available to call

23 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: 3827 7700 A Singaporean–based salon specialising in hair colouring, treatments and styling. A team of local and foreign stylists will help you choose the hair colour and style that is right for you. A wash and cut starts at VND80,000 from a junior stylist. To cover grey hair, price starts at VND250,000 while a full colour and highlights range from VND350,000 to VND550,000. They also have a new nail care service.

CONCEPT COIFFURE 48 Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: 3519 4625 Hair stylist and colourist specialist Sandrine has relocated and rebranded her long-standing flagship salon Venus Coiffure to a designer villa in Thao Dien, Q2. Open daily from 9am to 8pm, a full new range of services is now on offer, including a dedicated salon for kids: Concept Kids. Only top products such as Alfaparf and Natural Rendez-Vous are used.



2 Bis Cong Truong Quoc Te, Q3, Tel: 3822 6222 Long–established, state–of–the–art clinic with French, Canadian, Belgian & Vietnamese dentists. A favourite of the foreign residential community due to its modern and effective treatments allied with extremely reasonable prices.


WESTCOAST INT’L DENTAL CLINIC Ben Thanh Clinic, 27 Nguyen Trung Truc, Q1 Tel: 3825 6999 The Practice, Level 1, 71-79 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: 3825 6777 An international dental clinic equipped with the latest technology, the comfortable clinics offer cosmetic and implant dentistry with a focus on making each patient’s experience anxiety and pain free.

HAIRDRESSERS ANTHONY GEORGE FOR LONDON HAIR & BEAUTY Fideco Riverview Building, 14 Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: 3744 6475 Top British stylist “George” brings his unique flair to hair in District 2. A modern and professional salon, the products used here are exclusively Dermalogica, Schwarzkopf and L’Oreal. Shampoo, cut & blow–dry for VND530,000. Mini facials from VND250,000.

ART HAIR 37B Pham Ngoc Thach, Q3, Tel: 3823 0908 A four–floor, one–stop hair salon for people who like highlights and a sharp– looking mane. Even the stylists here sport modern, funky styles. A cut above the rest.

45 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: 3827 2737 Spa–related salon with a good reputation for quality and comfort offers washes and leisurely haircuts from VND330,000 plus a range of related services.

23 Ton Duc Thang, Q1. Tel: 3911 0915 More high–end salon than school, this Singapore–based outlet provides hair treatments, from a simple wash and blow dry from a student (VND5,000) to multi–tonal highlights from a junior stylist (VND310,000). All services are monitored by highly qualified instructors. Appointments recommended. Open 9am to 9pm.

THE SALON 21–23 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1 Tel: 3822 9660 65 Le Loi, Q1. Tel: 3821 6394 From the same chain as His Salon, these places have equally well–trained stylists offering simple haircuts starting from VND150,000.

VENUS 41 Nguyen Trung Ngan, Q1, Tel: 3829 6298 This salon can make you look naturally blond or help you to revamp your hairstyle. Using international brands like L’Oreal and Wella, your hair will be given that healthy, bouncier new look for a night out on the town.

YKC HAIR STUDIO 219 Dien Bien Phu, Q3, Tel: 3829 2791 Run by Canadian hair stylist Ky The Guy (Cut and Colour Specialist), YKC Hair Studio atteacts a loyal expat clientele

thanks to the well trained staff and friendly English-speaking environment. Top industry products such as Tigi and Goldwell are used. A cut and blow-dry starts at VND550,000.

MEDICAL AUSTRALIAN CLINIC & PATHOLOGY DIAGNOSTICS 273–275 Ly Thai To, Q10, Tel: 3834 9941 Services includes general outpatient healthcare, corporate / visa health– checks, X–ray, full laboratory and in–house pharmacy including specialist medical services covering cardiology, pediatrics, obstetrics, gynecology, orthopedics and dermatology.

Vietnamese doctors, providing expertise in 30 medical and surgical areas, with maternity care a specialty. Hotline (24– hour) 5411 3500.

FV SAIGON CLINIC 45 Vo Thi Sau, 2nd Floor, Citilight Tower, Q1 Tel: 6290 6167 State–of–the–art medical centre conveniently located in District 1. Experienced American, French, and Vietnamese doctors provide the full spectrum health care. Plus sports medicine, cosmetic treatments, skin care and surgical consultations.


135B Tran Binh Trong, Q5 Tel: 3923 8435 / 0905 886 086 Cao Thang is a comprehensive eye hospital overseeing 6000 surgeries per year (laser vision correction, cataract surgery and eyelid reshaping). English speaking staff, a member of the World Association of Eye Hospitals (WAEH), and quality assurance by the Joint Commission International (JCI).

Smart Kids, 26 Street 10, Q2 Nutrifort, 281 Chu Manh Trinh, Q1 Tel: 0903 617 101 IFC provides therapy for a full range of issues including anxiety, depression, adjustment, divorce, cultural and ethnic challenges and more. Their eclectic approach is tailored to meet the therapeutic needs of each individual client with offices in districts 1 and 2. Call Annie Dolle, LCSWA or Marijke Schaminee, MA. or email to arrange an appointment.




Manor Apartments, 91 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, Tel: 3514 0757 Sister clinic of the Family Medical Practice, Care 1 opened in 2007 and offers preventative healthcare checkups as well as a full range of corporate health services for international companies in Vietnam.

COLUMBIA ASIA SAIGON CLINIC 8 Alexandre de Rhodes, Q1, Tel: 3823 8888 Well–established and well–regarded, offers emergency and primary medical care with doctors (both overseas and Vietnamese) on call 24 hours a day. Prices are very reasonable, with a health check–up costing from VND400,000 to VND800,000.

FAMILY MEDICAL PRACTICE HCMC Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: 3822 7848 Full–service 24–hour healthcare provider whose highly–qualified foreign and Vietnamese doctors can handle anything from emergencies to lab tests and X–rays, in– patient and out–patient care, check–ups, travel medicine and medical evacuations.

FV HOSPITAL 6 Nguyen Luong Bang, Saigon South Parkway, Q7, Tel: 5411 3333 Emergency: 5411 3500 International hospital whose standard of health care matches that found anywhere, with 19 full–time French doctors and 58

1 Han Thuyen, Q1. Tel: 3827 2366 www.cmi– This French medical clinic provides general practice and a range of specialties including cardiology, OB–GYN, ophthalmology, paediatrics, and sports medicine. A non–profit medical centre, CMI sends its spare cash to the local Ho Chi Minh City Heart Institute to fund children’s operations.

INTERNATIONAL SOS HCMC MEDICAL CLINIC 167A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3. Tel: 3829 8520 The world’s leading provider of medical assistance and international healthcare offers primary health care, diagnostic services and 24/7 emergency care. The International SOS medical team of expatriate and national doctors and nurses provide general practice consultations for the whole family. Specialist care is available in many fields, including general practice, women’s health, pediatrics, vaccinations, physiotherapy/osteopathy, dental and more. In-house pharmacy has a wide selection of prescription and over the counter medication.

VICTORIA HEALTHCARE INTERNATIONAL CLINIC 135A Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan, Tel: 3997 4545 79 Dien Bien Phu, Q1. Tel: 3910 4545 Well-regarded clinic offering general examinations and specialising in pediatrics, digestive diseases, cardiology, women’s health and internal medicine. Offers a membership programme and cooperates with most insurance companies in Vietnam and abroad. Open & doctors on call 24/7.


sages (from VND550,000), facials (from VND500,000), sports fatigue massages, slimming wraps and waxing (around VND210,000). Also offers gentleman’s care.

ROSA BLANCA BEAUTY 23C Ton Duc Thang, Q1 In the heart of downtown and specialising in all forms of skincare, this is a well– designed and outfitted day spa offering body treatments as well as facials and foot treatments. Nice decor completes the atmosphere.


INTERNATIONAL SOS 167A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3. Tel: 3829 8520 The in-house pharmacy at this well-respected clinic provides an excellent range of all medications, both over the counter and prescriptiononly. Pharmacy managed and staffed by English speaking team.


AQUA DAY SPA Sheraton Saigon, 88 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: 3827 2828 Natural and holistic treatments abound at this refurbished luxury hotel spa, from natural rainforest showers to the use of Harnn & Thann spa products.


3 Truong Dinh, Q1. Tel: 3521 0599 A nail spa in Saigon with a modern ambiance. Services range from classic manicures and spa treatment to acrylic and gel enhancements.

61-63 Tran Dinh Xu, Q1, Tel: 6295 8926 Established in 2010 and aimed exclusively at ladies and couples only, treatments at this Japanese spa include facial, body and foot care, and Japanese-style haircuts, as well as steam-sauna, paraffin and waxing services. Open daily from 9am to 10pm including national holidays.



40 Ton That Thiep, Q1 Tel: 3914 1407 Grooming salon for men which, as well as its standard hairdressing services (starting from VND200,000), offers massages for the tired executive, with a head, shoulder and neck massage costing VND150,000. A good place to escape the hustle and bustle of Saigon.

129A Nguyen Hue, Q1Tel: 3823 8368 Modern and bright downtown spa, offers massages lasting from 30 minutes (VND400,000) to two-hour hot stone therapy (VND1.2 million), includes one suite with a Jacuzzi bath; offers hand and foot care as well as a hair styling area.




64A Truong Dinh, Q3; 100 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1 Tel: 3822 1218, Award–winning salon very highly rated by foreign visitors offers body mas-

69 Thu Khoa Huan, Q1. Tel: 3827 7188 Nestled in the heart of the city, Indochine Spa provides a peaceful and serene

THE STAMFORD MEDICAL CLINIC 254 Dien Bien Phu, Q3, Tel: 3932 1090 Stamford Medical Clinic offers services in internal medicine, dermatology, aesthetic medicine, infectious diseases, and general medicine.


Commitment, Integrity, Quality

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style atmosphere with a range of aromatic scents and lulling melodies. Customers are pampered by fully qualified therapists using 100% natural French products in a clean and pleasant environment.

QING SPA 110 Pasteur, Q1. Tel: 0907 589290 A new spa above the foot massage salon that offers services such as body massage, facial and hair treatments. The price list includes service and members get a 20 percent discount off foot & body massage as well as a 10 percent discount on other services.

SPA TROPIC 79 2/1 Phan Ke Binh, Q1. Tel: 3910 5575 Spa Tropic is a stylish boutique spa housed in the refurbished former Chilean Consulate. Established since 2002, Spa Tropic has a long-standing reputation among expats and visitors alike for its professional quality service. Spa Tropic offers a complete range of spa services and an al fresco café with a healthy food and drinks menu crafted by a New York trained organic chef.

THANH SANCTUARY Nguyen Du Villas, 111 Nguyen Du, Q1 Tel: 3822 0885 High–end spa set in the elegant grounds of one of the city’s most enviable addresses. The spa itself is intimate and beautifully decorated with furnishings brought in from Thailand. Treatments focus on relaxation therapies such as massages and body scrubs.

THE SPA Saigon River Club, Saigon Pearl, Ruby 1 Tower, 92 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, Tel: 3514 9006 The Manor, 1st Floor, 91 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, Tel: 3514 0290 Located at two serviced apartment locations, The Spa offers foot massages, body massages and treatments, facial skin treatments and pampering packages.





FASHION ACCESSORIES & FOOTWEAR ACCESSORIZE B1-37 Vincom Center, 70-72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: 3993 9308 9am to 10pm Despite its size, Accessorize is marred by its sloppy and disorganised displays. The shoppers still come in their droves, though, attracted to the range of products that includes anything from beachwear and children’s clothes through to underwear, swimsuits, hats, bags, sandals, jewellery, sunglasses and much more. Prices depend on types and designs, but generally start from VND200,000, with a normal bag costing from VND1 million.


New World Saigon Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1 Tel: 3829 4000 ext. 2235 Elegant facility offering relaxation at the highest level. Six treatment rooms for women, four treatment rooms for men, one foot massage room and two VIP spa suites (couples’ treatment rooms) are available to deliver contemporary rejuvenation treatments. Spacious changing rooms with Jacuzzi, steam bath and sauna. Treatments start at VND400,000 and packages are available regularly.

B-42, Vincom Center, 70-72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: 3936 9777 9am to 10pm Stands out from the crowd thanks to its wooden and neon-lit frontage and eyecatching wooden shelves and boxes used to display its Birkenstock brand products. Selling shoes, sandals and clogs imported from Germany made with various designs and colours, there are also similar products for kids. A pair of thong sandals starts at VND1.9 million for adults and VND1.6 million for kids.


1B Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: 2210 2084 8am to 10.30pm It’s hard to ignore this store as its front-

Duxton Hotel, 63 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: 3822 2999, Conveniently located in the very central Duxton Hotel, The Spa offers a full range of services including deluxe manicures and pedicures, aroma body massages, 60–minute foot massages, and the usual sauna and steam bath facilities.



XUAN SPA Park Hyatt, 2 Lam Son Square, Q1 Tel: 3824 1234, Breathtaking luxury downtown spa noted for its tranquil atmosphere, Vichy shower room and range of high–quality massages (from VND900,000), facial, body and foot treatments, and overall spa packages complemented by the use of Comfort Zone products.




219 Dien Bien Phu, Q3. Tel: 3829 2791 Exceptional service and customer satisfaction for over a decade has firmly established YKC as a premier pampering destination for Saigon’s expats and visitors. Complimentary beverages are offered in addition to a complete range of professional spa services. Family owned since 1996, YKC operates with the utmost integrity and respect in regards to serving its clients.

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style visit for our comprehensive listings ELECTRONICS CAMAERAS 130 COMPUTERS & ACCESSORIES 130 MOBILE PHONES 130 GROCERIES BAKERIES 130 CATERING 131 GROCERIES 131 LIQUOR & WINE 131 COLUMN LEAD WITH NUMBERS 126 age is painted in a stark lemon yellow. Well-known for its selection of recycled bags made from plastic feed sacks, coming in all designs and colours, the unique product selection includes colourful quilts, ethnic bags, jewellery, scrap metal animals and other such wares. Prices range from VND5,000 to VND2.1 million.

CHARLES & KEITH 18-20 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: 3925 1132 B1-62 Vincom Center, 70-72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: 3993 9306 9am to 10pm This airy, well-displayed and well-organised Singaporean store has two branches in town. An elegant beige frontage stands out thanks to three large hanging posters. Sells women’s shoes, bags and accessories with a wide range of products from boots, heels and sandals to bags and clutches. Prices are acceptable for an international brand with a pair of thong sandals costing VND775,000 and leather bags starting at VND1.1 million. There is also a selection of sunglasses from VND1.1 million and belts for VND600,000.

DR. MARTENS 127-129 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: 3832 3904 9am to 10pm Dr Martens has come a long way from the punk era of the late 1970s when its boots first gained popularity as a hard-man (or woman) accessory. Indeed, according to a recent consumer survey, eight out of 10 urban Vietnamese teenagers own a pair of sandals from this global shoe brand. Standing out thanks to its bright yellow signage, the street style and wooden-shelf decor of this shop displays a range of shoes, sandals and boots that contrast from the 15-hole lace-ups from the past. But then, with Dr Martens its all about the quality of the soles.

GALLERY VIVEKKEVIN 35 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: 6291 8162 9.30am to 8pm Located next to Jaspa’s and run by jewellery and furniture designer Vivek Chaudhary, this retail-cum-gallery space is decked out in white giving it a sleek aura of elegance. Specialises in contemporary and exclusive arty jewellery including rings, bracelets, necklaces and medals all displayed in U-shaped cases. The products are handcrafted and made from handpicked gemstones and raw materials consisting of precious metals, plastic, zinc or fiberglass. There are also exhibitions and gallery talks every month and the gallery stocks the work of guest jewellery artists. Check the website for details.



77-79 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: 3822 3277 71 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: 3824 2701 9am to 9pm Looking for fun, sexy, glamorous accessories? Look no further. Dubbed one of the most renowned brands for designer handbags and jewellery in Vietnam, Ipa-Nima is the brainchild Hong Kong-born designer Christina Yu. The flamboyant designs, unique twists and funky embellishments in great fashionable shapes definitely catch the eye. Also stocks shoes, dresses and hats. Prices range from for bags, VND1.2 million to VND2.1 million for shoes and from VND3 million for dresses.

72 Dong Khoi, Q1. Tel: 3829 3519 9am to 8pm The pleasant and steady sound of a watch stays the same. However, its design has evolved along with mankind. So has the TicTac Company, growing from a family watch specialist store in Ho Chi Minh City in 1978 to an elegant black-and-gold designer watch showroom. Stocks luxurious brands such as Omega, Baume & Mercier, Maurice Lacroix, Armand Nicolet, Mido, Hirsch and Swiza. Also provides repairs and battery changes. Time seems to never stop at Tic Tac Watches.

JEMMA 174 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: 3926 0270 9am to 10pm A branch of the Vietnamese SJC company, the elegance and luxury of this space provides instant temptation for the avid shopper. All products are made in Vietnam with imported rare stones that increase the value of each piece. A coral necklace costs around VND900,000 while a silver ring with an angel hair stone is stocked at around VND1.5 million. A selection of bags starts from VND1.4 million.

MAI O MAI 67 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1 Tel: 3829 4007 8am to 10pm This small two-storey shop contains a huge collection of cool and funky jewellery. There are also selections of ethnic bags, fabulous hand-made silver pieces and lacquer items. All products are from Vietnam. Prices begin at VND160,000 and intricate designs cost over VND2.1 million. The staff is friendly and speak English.

SERGIO ROSSI 146AB Pasteur, Q1 Tel: 3824 8382 10.30am to 8.30pm Located opposite Labella, the luxurious design and appearance of this quiet shop actually intimidates passers-by. Features upmarket shoes and bags made from high-quality materials such as crocodile or python skin and garnished with a large variety of wooden, Swarovski crystal and European-style colourful beads. Prices vary but a normal pair of shoes starts from VND21 million. Credit cards (of course) are accepted.

SKECHERS 115 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: 3925 9582 9am to 10pm The award-winning SKECHERS is one of the world’s most sought-after footwear brands. Now the number two footwear brand in the US with new and stylish designs for both genders from 5 to 70 years old, SKECHERS is fast becoming a popular choice with Vietnamese. The display is impressive with shoes in many designs and colours hanging on the walls. A pair of sports shoes starts at VND2 million.

TDC SWISS WATCHES 28 Mac Dinh Chi, Q1 Tel: 3823 3807 393 Dien Bien Phu, Q1 Tel: 3929 0685 8am to 9pm The wide signage on the front of the shop name checking a host of famous international timepiece brands means this shop is unmissable. Large and with in-your-face displays, TDC is the official dealer of Tissot, Swatch, Longines and Jacques Lemans. A funky plastic Swatch strap watch costs VND2 million while a classic gilded Longines strap starts at VND11 million. Also stocks high-end brands like Rolex, Cartier and Omega.

THERESE JEWELRY 9 Nguyen Thiep, Q1. Tel: 3827 3756 8am to 7.30pm A good place for luxury jewellery, this store is located on a tiny street in between Nguyen Hue and Dong Khoi. However, it stands out thanks to its décor and design with a big wooden and glass door. Products vary from pearl rings to sapphire earrings, an oval pink stone necklace, a gold plain daisy brooch, all displayed in a U-shaped wooden case. Prices start at VND10 million for a ring. Men can also find a selection of cufflinks here.

VESPA SHOP Unit 66, Saigon Square, 7-9A Ton Duc Thang, Q1 11am to 8pm Located inside Saigon Square, this store is perfect for anyone looking to indulge in their obsession with classic scooters. Stocking a wide range of Vespa-inspired tidbits and memorabilia from Saigon Scooter Centre, the wares include t-shirts, riding gear, Italian helmets, Respro face masks, DVDs, books, bags, magazines, posters and much more. Rental scooters and bikes are also available.

YB DESIGNS 32 Tran Ngoc Dien, Q2. Tel: 0907 168910 Situated on the same site as Snap Café, YB is a small shop with simple décor, offering all kinds of jewellery including earrings, bracelets, necklaces and rings. Most of the products are handmade and crafted from various gemstones consisting of turquoise, quartz, jasper and hematite. Prices are affordable, depending on the type of gemstone and design, but usually start from VND50,000. Also offers custom orders.

CLOTHING STORES BUDGET MARATHON 147 Bui Vien, Q1. Tel: 3920 7442 123A Bui Vien, Q1. Tel: 3838 0019 9am to 10.30pm Even though their business card claims Marathon to be a sports fashion store, it’s actually a beachwear shop. With an orange frontage, this outlet quickly grabs the attention of passers by. Displays many products in a simple and accessible style, offering colourful beach pants, t-shirts and flip-flops for men and women, caps, and a small selection of sneakers and belts. Prices range from VND110,000 to VND190,000 for a t-shirt, and VND140,000 for a pair of flip-flops.

PAPAYA 171 Bui Vien, Q1 9am to 10pm Specialises in 100 percent cotton t-shirts for both men and women, which are manufactured in Vietnam. Also offers a small selection of hats, safety pins and postcards. A part of the profit from each sale is given to two charity organizations, Poussieres de Vie and the Endangered Asian Species Trust. A t-shirt starts at VND189,000, a cap

costs VND99,000 and a post card is only VND15,000.

ORANGE 180 Bui Vien, Q1 238B Pasteur, Q3 Tel: 3820 2620 152 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: 3836 5028 9am to 10pm With three stores throughout town, this well-known clothing outlet is aimed at teenagers and young adults. Despite simple décor, Orange stands out thanks to the array of colourful products hanging on the wall including jeans, t-shirts, bags, sandals and belts. A selection of attractive hats and leather bracelets are also stocked. Prices are affordable with t-shirts selling for VND180,000 while bags go for between VND90,000 and VND600,000. Shoes start at VND400,000 a pair.

MID-RANGE BAM SKATESHOP 174 Bui Vien, Q1; 148 Dien Bien Phu, Q3; 228 Vo Van Tan, Q3; 15H Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1; Tel: 0903 641826 9am to 10pm This hip-hop-cum-skate store has played a large role in the current rise of local, non K-Pop street fashion thanks to its branded mix of sneakers, tees, hoodies, jeans, oblique baseball caps, accessories and more. Naturally, there is also a range of skateboards on sale, with the board and wheels costing anywhere between VND1.5 million and VND2.5 million.

GINKGO 54-56 Bui Vien, Q1. Tel: 0905 493148 9am to 10pm Quality, original, Vietnam-themed tees are the showpiece at this airy French-run clothing store that also has an outlet in Nha Trang. Designs are inspired by anything from the Vietnamese flag, local telecom wires and motorbikes to creative, Siddharta-style imagery. Has a permanent photo gallery upstairs exhibiting the works of Thiery Beyne.

MAXXSTYLE 52 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: 3833 4299 150-152 Hai Ba Trung, Q3 Tel: 3824 9534 8.30am to 10.30pm Located next to Zen Plaza, this Vietnamese brand is one of the best-known shops in town for unisex clothing. Contains a wide range of apparel including jeans, tees, shirts, jackets, khaki trousers and much more, all displayed in a huge retail space. Stocks many different designs, fabrics and colours, and prices are good. A pair of men’s jeans starts at VND500,000, and VND450,000 for women, while a female shirt costs about VND300,000 and VND279,000 for a printed male tee.

NINOMAXX 118-122 Nguyen Trai, Q1. Tel: 3824 9689 8.30am to 10.30pm A brother of Maxxstyle, this brand is well-known locally for both its men’s and women’s clothing. Set in a large, two-floor space, Ninomax stands out thanks to its large white-painted Renaissance-style columns. Despite its size, a lack of adequate lighting gives the shop a slightly darker feel. Has the same prices as Maxxstyle and also stocks similar products.

MID TO TOP BOSSINI 22 Nguyen Trai, Q1. Tel: 3839 2292 9am to 10pm This Hong Kong-brand retailer sells both male and female casual wear, including jeans, khaki trousers, tees and shirts.

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style Although carrying various designs, including plain, striped, V-neck and button-neck shirts, there are not many products. Prices range from VND900,000 for a pair of women’s jeans and VND700,000 for a shirt. Also stocks socks and belts.

ER-COUTURE 43 Thao Dien, Q1 Tel: 3744 2411 9am to 8pm This Scandinavian outlet is situated on the first floor of An Phu market, stocking high-quality designer garments. Carries a full range of products, from floral dresses to tight tanks starting at VND1.8 million, as well as chiffon shorts and high-waist trousers for VND2 million. Shoes, bags, belts, scarves and hats are also carried as well as larger sizes.


WHAT IS WEALTH? CIMIGO ASKED 2,000 PEOPLE FROM THEIR CIMIGOLIVE ONLINE PANEL FOR THEIR OPINIONS ON WEALTH. IS LOVE MORE IMPORTANT THAN MONEY? ARE DESIGNER LABELS IMPORTANT? WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH VND21 MILLION? SAVE, SAVE, SAVE! Vietnam is a nation of savers. When asked what they would do with money left over after day-to-day expenses, our respondents said, “Save it!” LOVE IS MORE PRECIOUS THAN GOLD The vast majority believe that if it was a choice between love or wealth, they would pick love. This was particularly true for the over-30s who have clearly found that love grows in value over time. HEALTHY, WEALTHY, AND WISE MAY BE THE SAYING — BUT HEALTH AND EDUCATION FIRST PLEASE. If you can have all three, you have hit the ideal. But 8-in10 of our respondents said they would definitely choose having good health or a good education over wealth.

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NO TO LOANS, BUT YES TO LABELS While a high-end scooter is very desirable, four-out-of-five said they would much rather save up for that than take a loan and enjoy driving it today. But the vast majority don’t mind flashing a bit of designer label; males and females equally, but Ho Chi Minh City residents most of all. VND21 MILLION WOULD GO TO… Savings & family. Over half would be saved or given to the family. Partying with friends, a new set of clothes and donations to charity were also priorities. In these modern days, it often seems that the pursuit of money has become the focus, but Vietnamese people have kept a balanced view on their priorities. The pursuit of wealth is for financial security not for the love of money. It is love, family, friends, health, and education that remain the true priorities. Wealth in Vietnam is not everything.

Discover more at

89A Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: 3925 5164 9am to 10pm Inspired by the modern woman with a youthful attitude, D’Blanc introduces an ageless brand that balances a feminine, sexy aesthetic with an electric, urban sensibility. A complete lifestyle collection that offers a broad range of stylish looks to take women from day to night and work to the weekend. Accessories are also available. A dress costs from VND1.5 million.

FRENCH CONNECTION L1-08, Vincom Center, 70-72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: 3825 7493 9am to 10pm Located inconspicuously on a corner of the Vincom Center, customers have trouble finding this generically designed shop. Stocks both casual and formal wear for men and women, including jeans, tees, shirts, party dresses and working skirts. Prices here are also surprisingly reasonable. A male tee starts at VND750,000 while a pair of men’s jeans goes for as little as VND1.8 million. There is also a small selection of bags and belts.

GAYA CLOTHING Le Lai Corner, 1 Nguyen Van Trang, Q1 Tel: 3925 1495 Located on the 2nd floor of the Gaya, all the clothing here is designed and tailoredmade by renowned French-Cambodian designer Romyda Keth and concentrates mainly on women’s wear. There are plenty of colourful and sexy evening dresses, embroidered floral skirts and cute chiffon tops. If it doesn’t quite fit, alterations are available. Prices start at VND2 million for a normal party dress. Also stocks a small selection of men’s shirts.

GEISHA & GEISHA’S COFFEE AND TEA HOUSE 85 Pasteur, Q1 Tel: 3829 4004 8am to 10pm The products of this Australian fashion label are displayed on the basement floor with contemporary ranges of casual and eveningwear fused with Asian designs. The work of proprieter Hellen Holani, the apparel includes sweet floral dresses, jean skirts, printed tees and street-style bags. Worth a visit with friends so you can also enjoy a cup of coffee at the in-house cafe while waiting to pick up your clothes.

IT'S HAPPENED TO BE A CLOSET 89 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1 Tel: 3825 8325 9am to 9pm More than just a typical clothing store, It’s Happened To Be A Closet (also known as Ethophen) not only carries a colourful range of retro-ethnic Thai bohemian women’s wear, but doubles up as a Wi-Fi friendly café stocking an impressive array

of imported food and beverages, as well as artful jewelry, handicrafts, comestibles, accessories and books. Also offers manicures and pedicures.

LABELLA 85-87 Pasteur, Q1 Tel: 3823 0172 9am to 9pm Located opposite Sergio Rossi, the decorative style and display of this Vietnamese fashion outlet is both impressive and endearing, using strong colours like orange and wood-brown to catch the eye. Products include a comprehensive range of silk dresses, halters and skirts. A large selection of bags is displayed on colourful and eye-catching box-shaped shelves. Also offers night and loungewear, scarves and belts.

LEVI’S 47 BC Nguyen Trai, Q1 315A-317 Ba Thang Hai, Q10 Tel: 3240 7460 225 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q3 Tel: 3240 7461 9am to 9.30pm For cosmopolitans who love genuine Levi’s Jeans, there are numerous of the self-branded stores throughout the city. Invented by Levi Strauss & Co. in 1873, the brand has become one of the most recognisable and imitated pieces of clothing throughout the world. The stores here offer a wide range of the latest jeans and accessories. Prices vary but normally start at VND2 million for a pair of woman’s jeans.

LITI 40D Ly Tu Trong, Q1 Tel: 3824 7114 10am to 7pm Located near the corner of Pasteur and Ly Tu Trong, Liti harks back to Vietnam’s French colonial era. Stocking simple but vintage embroidered and crocheted clothing for women and kids, other retro ware includes clocks, brooches, teapots, cups and other art deco-style products. A simple black blouse starts at VND820,000 while an old clock costs upwards of VND3 million.

LOLITA 61 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Parkson, Saigon Tourist Plaza, Level 2, 35 Bis 45, Le Thanh Ton, Q1 (opening Aug. 15) Parkson, Flemington, Level 2, 184 Le Dai Hanh, Q11 (opening Sep. 1) Tel: 3925 9993 Established in Punta Del Este, Uruguay in 1960, Lolita operates ladies fashion boutiques in 19 countries around the world, offering stylish and comfortable easy-towear clothing for work or play

L’USINE First floor, 151 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: 6674 3565 10am to 10pm A contemporary shopping experience can be enjoyed at this fashion boutique, café and art gallery. A spacious, elegant Indochina-themed image of a 1930’s French garment factory, L’Usine stocks exclusive labels from all over the world, elegant and sophisticated clothing and casual high-quality cottons tailored to the climate of Ho Chi Minh City. Lifestyle accessories include shoes, home-wares, nick-knacks, cameras, stationery and a range of vintage bicycles.

jackets. Also stocks a fine selection of artworks. Prices range from VND1 million to VND80 million for clothes, and VND600,000 to VND40 million depending on styles and materials.

MANGO 40-42 Nguyen Trai, Q1. Tel: 3925 1136 9am to 10pm This Spanish brand is located in an impressively designed two-storey building with a black-painted neon logo outside. The entire shop is well displayed with air-conditioning and professional staff, exuding a feeling of class but not luxury. Provides a full range of clothing including jeans, tees, skirts, trousers, cardigans, leggings and much more. There are also selections of bags, wallets, belts and scarves. A shirt costs from VND1.2 million, and a pair of jeans starts at VND1.4 million. Visit the website for more Mango outlets in town.

MR & MRS SMITH 43 Ton That Thiep, Q1 Tel: 3821 8019 9am to 9pm This designer fashion outlet, located in the same building as Dogma and Saigon Kitsch, sells a variety of men’s and women’s clothing and shoes produced in Vietnam for export markets in Europe, Japan and the US. All designs are brand new, delivered directly from the factory weekly and sold at factory outlet prices (VND100,000 to VND70,000).

NGAN 23 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: 6290 9391 9am to 8pm Ngan has become a well-known brand due to their distinctive tailor-made clothing and designs. Stocks mainly women’s clothes, however, men are also suitably catered for. The entire shop is designed in a sleek and luxurious black with cozy lighting emanating from a pendant light fixture. Due to the elegant and sophisticated designs and high-quality fabrics, prices are more top-end, with a party dress ranging from VND6 million to VND10 million a piece, and a normal dress starting at VND3 million. There are selections of boots, belts, scarves and jewellery boxes. Also does bespoke orders.

RAZ GARNETT 137 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: 01222 210008 9am to 10.30pm A fashion store with streetwear, t-shirts, bags, a wide range of sneakers and authentic Brazillian Havaianas flip-flops. Crocs sandals are also displayed in the middle of the store. T-shirts range from VND400,000 to VND900,000, VND400,000 for a bag and VND700,000 for sneakers. Also stocks sunglasses starting at VND400,000. Has European-sized t-shirts.

SONG 1st Floor, Saigon Centre, Q1 Tel: 3821 5292 76D Le Thanh Ton, Q1Tel: 3824 6986 This t-shaped and turquoise-painted store is located on the first floor of Saigon Center, stocking the clothing of French designer Valerie Gregori McKenzie. All the designs have a quaint, slightly Gallic feel and are made from a mixture of linen, silk and cotton. A simple white tank dress costs VND760,000 and a spandex shirt goes for VND1.5 million. Also stocks shoes, sandals and a small range of accessories.

THUY NGA DESIGN 19 Vo Thi Sau, Q1 Tel: 3820 3574 8am to 8pm With over 15 years in the trade, Thuy Nga is one of the best-known garment brands in Vietnam. This luxurious shop stocks both men’s and women’s clothing, including office attire, casual and evening wear. A longsleeved women’s shirt starts from VND1 million while a male striped shirt starts from VND1.3 million. Also stocks jewellery and accessories.

UMBRELLA 35 Ly Tu Trong, Q1 Tel: 6276 2730 8am to 10pm Impressively designed with exposed brick walls, Umbrella is airy and well displayed with warm lighting exuding a comfortable atmosphere. Sells their own women’s clothing designs including dresses, trousers, skirts, jumpers and blouses. Prices are acceptable for tailor-made clothing, with a party dress starting from VND2.7 million. A blouse starts from VND990,000 and shoes, bags and belts are available. Also offers a small selection of imported funky jewellery ranging from VND1 million a piece.

TOP-END CHLOE 155 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: 6291 3582 10.30am to 8.30pm Located inside the Rex Hotel, this Parisian fashion house is one of the most popular international brands with local celebrities due to its well-tailored, traditional, feminine and fashionable products. Chloe Saigon stocks a range of Chloe products, from low-rider fitted jeans, satin dresses, crocodile skin shoes to Sakia bags. There is also a selection of glasses in many cool and contemporary styles and designs.

JUST CAVALLI M-29, Vincom Center, 70-72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: 3993 9005 9am to 10pm Contemporary decor with large mirrors and leather sofas creates the setting for a range of products catering for both men and women. The apparel of this Italian

brand varies in both design and fabric, helping shoppers identify with contrasting international fashion trends. A pair of floral shorts starts at VND9 million and a snake-patterned dress costs VND24 million. There is also a small selection of bags and scarves.

MARC JACOBS 155 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: 6291 3580 10.30am to 8.30pm Situated inside the Rex Hotel next door to Chloe, this urban American brand carries international-standard clothing and a wide range of sophisticated bags placed on wooden shelves, costing from around VND6 million. There is also a glass case in the middle of the store containing other accessories.

VERSACE M-15, Vincom Center, 70-72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 9am to 10pm Spacious, well-displayed and stocking the designs of the iconic Italian fashion label, Versace is shopping at its most lavish. The products come in many colours and fabrics, designed elegantly in a classic and sophisticated style with floral dresses, plain chiffon blouses and skinny trousers. Prices are expectedly expensive; a well-tailored floral dress will set you back VND40 million. There is also a small selection of shoes and bags.

LINGERIE & SWIMSUITS AQUAMARINE 211 Ly Tu Trong, Q1 Tel: 3827 5695 8am to 8.30pm Situated on the corner of Truong Dinh and Ly Tu Trong, Aquamarine is a classy branch of Xuan Thu swimwear. A small shop full of colourful products, a step inside results in a sensory overload. Offering custom orders, the stock here runs the gamut from onepiece bikinis through to two-pieces as well as monokinis and various types of beachwear with different designs and patterns. Prices start at VND790,000 for a bikini. Also stocks a small selection of scarves.

JOCKEY Zen Plaza, 54-56 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: 3925 0339 9am to 10pm One of the most popular underwear brands in Vietnam, the American selfbranded shop stocks a full range of Vietnamese-manufactured or imported products for men and women, including underwear, sleepwear and sportswear. Prices of imported clothing are slightly more expensive compared to domestically manufactured products. A sport tee ranges from VND150,000 to VND180,000, while a pair of long johns starts at VND200,000, with a sports outfit costing VND300,000.

LA HA 139 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: 3823 3757 9.30am to 9.30pm One of the best local swimwear brands in Vietnam, La Ha caters for both men and women. The shop is small and simply decorated but contains a comprehensive range of products with many different designs and patterns. Prices start at VND175,000 for a bikini. Also stocks yoga and gym outfits.

LA SENZA B1-45, Vincom Center, 70-72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: 3993 9302 9am to 10pm Offers a huge range of bras and underpants designed in various styles and for different purposes. This American brand also offers a wide selection of sweet and seductive lingerie items and swimsuits. A normal bra starts at VND300,000 while a silicon brazier goes for VND900,000. There is also a selection of invisible bras stocking at between VND1.5 million for a normal type and VND2 million for special version.

SSUZI 127 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: 0909 711312 9am to 10pm This brand is better known on Facebook than in The Backpackers’ Area. Sells women’s swimsuits in plain and floral styles, including one-piece and two-piece bikinis starting from VND250,000. The shop has been designed well making it easy to search for the right swimsuit. Also stocks maxim dresses at VND380,000 and beach sandals at VND110,000. A small selection of earrings and sunglasses is available. Search on Facebook for ssuziswimwear for new designs and promotions.

TRIUMPH Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: 3824 5756 Saigon Tax Centre, 135 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: 3914 3202 9am to 9pm A well-known underwear brand in Vietnam, Triumph’s high-quality products make women look and feel good. However, because of the form of the bra cup, this brand is considered to be more suitable for European women. The bras are plentiful and come in many different colours, styles and designs, while the pants look more classic and traditional compared to other brands. Prices vary but normally a bra starts at VND600,000 and a pair of knickers goes for VND200,000. Also stocks a small selection of bikinis.

WACOAL 94 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: 6291 1099 232 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: 3820 3948 9.30am to 9.30pm One of the growing number of Japanese underwear brands for women in Ho Chi Minh City, Wacoal has more than 10 shops around town. However, there is a lack of product variety and the designs are quite classic. Compared to Triumph, prices

MAI’S 132–134 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: 3827 2733 9.30am to 9.30pm Based on the ground floor of the Continental Hotel, Mai’s feels more like an art space than a fashion shop. Run by designer Mai Lam, all products displayed are her own designs with a mixture of vintage and modernised traditional clothes and accessories. Her renowned signature pieces include velvet and cotton ao dai reworked for casual wear, as well as hand embroidered vintage US army and flak

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are quite expensive with a bra ranging from VND400,000 to VND800,000, while pants start at VND250,000 per pair. No swimsuits. Staff are friendly, helpful and enthusiastic.


spacious place is ideal for people interested in Vietnamese-themed art. Displays and sells works by local leading artists, from past masters to new rising stars. Think carefully before purchasing as the cheapest piece starts at VND40 million.


A large amount of fine and affordable sportswear can be found around town, however, there are two main streets stocking sportswear in the centre; Huyen Tran Cong Chua, between Nguyen Thi Minh Khai and Nguyen Du in District 1; and Pham Hong Thai, between Cach Mang Thang Tam and Le Loi. You can find everything for sports on these streets, from local clothing to imitations of famous brands like Adidas, Nike and Puma at ultra affordable prices through to the real thing.

1st Floor, 43 Ton That Thiep, Q1 Tel: 3821 8272 9am to 8pm Located in the same building as Saigon Kitsch, Dogma stocks many cool and interesting tidbits, including propaganda art costing from VND450,000 per poster, Uncle Ho statues, books and themed postcards. If you want to wear these pieces of propaganda art, there is a wide range of propagandaprinted tees and jackets for both men and women, stocking at around VND600,000. A small selection of jewellery is also available.



163 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Q1 Tel: 3920 9187 9am to 11pm With its wooden frontage, this shop feels and looks like an army disposal store, with a comprehensive range of products, including flashlights, binoculars, climbing clothing, funky men and women’s casual outfits, bags and even underwear and cycling gear. If you’re after any products related to travelling, then this store is a must.

TAILORS HOANG DUNG 270 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: 2240 5990 8am to 8pm Located on the corner of Bui Vien and Cong Quynh, this store offers a wide range of tailor-made clothing with all designs and styles, from vests to ao dais, and skirts and trousers. Customers can either bring their own fabric or ask the tailor to choose for them. A normal pair of shirts can be made in two days. Prices are acceptable, with a vest costing around VND700,000 and VND300,000 for an ao dai — not including the price of the fabrics. Guarantees that all tailor-made clothing will fit.

MANDARINA 171 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: 3827 5267 9am to 7pm One of the most difficult things for foreigners living in Vietnam is finding the correct shoes size. Mandarina is a good place for picking up a tailor-made pair of shoes. They can even make shoes in 24 hours for around VND1 million. Simply choose the design and colour and they will take care of the rest. There is also a wide range of ready-to-wear shoes, from sandals and peep toes to slingbacks and boots. Stocks a small selection of bags, too. Prices range from VND300,000 to VND2,000,000 depending on style and materials.

T&V TAILOR 39 Dong Du, Q1 Tel: 3824 4556 9am to 11pm Run by two Vietnamese sisters, Tricia and Verona, this shop offers tailor-made clothing for both men and women with the latest and trendiest designs and styles. Stocks a wide range of fabrics, which is helpful for those that don’t know where to purchase it separately. Find something on the rack, get measured up then return a day or two later and pick up your custom-made garment. Alterations can be made upon request. An ao dai costs from VND1.6 million and a suit starts at VND4 million including fabric.

INTERIORS ART APRICOT GALLERY 50-52 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel: 3822 7962 8.30am to 8.30pm With a sister gallery in Hanoi, this airy and

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Tuong (No. 158), Buddha Art (No. 230), Duc Tai (No. 155A), Hanh Dung (No. 210), Duc Anh (No. 136), Nam Phuong (No. 105) and The Sun 3 (No. 145).

TMG 234 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: 3838 9542 9am to 10.30pm This airy, simple and well-organised space offers a comprehensive range of products. An eye-catching selection of plastic Buddha images and statues start at VND2 million. Also stocks embroidered paintings from VND700,000, pottery, lacquerware, bamboo lamps and a selection of bags and scarves. Takes custom orders for embroidered painting.


244 Bis Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: 3838 9136 9am to 10pm Offers one of the most interesting types of local art: rice painting. Standing out with its neon-lit front sign, Gallery is small and simple with artwork adorning its walls. Takes custom orders and delivers after four days for the smallest sized paintings. Prices for bespoke work starts at VND600,000 a piece and the space also offers an international shipping service for customers living abroad.

38 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1 Tel: 3829 4408 8am to 9.30pm With its ancient-looking dark brown and tiled roof, many Japanese tourists favour this petite shop. Carries a full range of products including souvenirs, embroidered handkerchiefs, kitchenware, home décor and much more. There are also large selections of men’s shirts, ties and women’s dresses and skirts. Offers order-made-clothes to fit individual sizes and tastes.



65 De Tham, Q1 Tel: 3836 8019 10am to 6pm, Closed on Monday Although situated close to the canal in one of the poorer parts of District 1, this gallery retains it distinct character, providing visitors with an authentic artsy feel that avoids the jaded, Vietnamese-themed stereotypes available elsewhere in town. Open from Tuesday to Saturday and run by Viet Kieu Pham Quynh and her partner Robert Cianchi, the art and installations on display here are the work of both international and contemporary Vietnamese artists. The helpful local staff speak good English. Visit the website for information on up-coming exhibitions.

NHU Y 257 De Tham, Q1 Tel: 3836 7692 11am to 10pm Located opposite Highlands Coffee in Pham Ngu Lao, this small shop is decorated with lacquer paintings of Buddhist and Vietnamese landscapes and flowers. Nhu Y takes custom orders and prices vary from VND150,000 for the smallest piece (20cm x 20cm) rising to VND1.1 million for a 40cm x 80cm painting.

PHUONG MAI 213C Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: 3822 3166 129B Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: 3823 3181 9am to 8.30pm Located opposite the Vincom Center, this tiny white space displays selected contemporary artworks by Vietnamese artists. Styles include abstract works, landscapes and modern day impressionism, focusing mainly on lacquer on wood, oils on canvas and silk paintings. More paintings are displayed at the Le Thanh Ton gallery in a four-floor building with each floor yielding a different style of art. Prices start from VND2.7 million. Credit cards are accepted.

REPRODUCTION STREET – BUI VIEN, Q1 Although available elsewhere in town, Bui Vien in the Backpackers’ Area is the best place to find reproductions of masterpieces by the likes of Van Gogh, Monet and Degas as well as Andy Warhol copies and the works of a whole host of other artists. Depending on size, style and material, prices vary but generally start from VND1 million per painting. Shops include Truu

135-37 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: 2210 3110 S17 – Sky Garden 1 Nguyen Van Linh, Q7, Tel: 6271 7758 A project of the BGO Mekong Plus designed to support community development programmes in remote villages in Vietnam and Cambodia. All products are locally produced, including paper mache, ratten, bamboo and hyacinth products, contained and displayed in a simple white-painted space. Bamboo vases from VND350,000 and rag ranges from VND400,000.

NGUYEN FRERES 2 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: 3823 9459 8am to 8pm The dark, musty décor gives Nguyen Freres the aura of a haunted house. Strange, unique yet seductively attractive, this retail shop doesn’t stand out as much as other places in the same area but it is big and carries a wide range of products concentrating on northern and hill-tribe culture with ethnic clothing, hand-crafted décor items and antique furniture. Items costing as low as VND20,000 can be found here.

NINH KHUONG EMBROIDERY 83 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: 3827 9079 8am to 10pm With more than 10 stores around the city, this Vietnamese company is known for its hand-embroidered and crocheted products including bedding, tablecloths, napkins and placemats. This packed and slightly haphazard looking shop also stocks children’s and adult’s wear as well as souvenirs. All products are made from linen and cotton. Prices vary but normally start from VND110,000 per item.

SAPA 209 De Tham, Q1 Tel: 3838 9780 69 Dong Khoi, Q1 7am to 10.30pm Gorgeous tribally-inspired handbags, dresses and accessories on the ground floor combine with authentic tribal clothing on the floor above. Concerning itself mainly with the hand–woven clothing of the northern rural Vietnamese tribes such as the Hmong, there is also a cute line of ladies’ shoes, silk wraps and bags.

MEKONG QUILTS 35-37 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: 2210 3110 64 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: 3914 2119 S17 – Sky Garden 1 Nguyen Van Linh, Q7, Tel: 6271 7758 A charity organization helping poor women in rural areas, all products are handmade with a wide range of quilts in many designs and fabrics. Special orders can be taken for delivery within 5-6 weeks. Also stocks accessories such as aprons, sheets and tablecloths.

FURNITURE & HOMEWARES AUSTIN HOME 20 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: 3519 0023 9am to 6.30pm Located in a villa-style building, this An Phubased shop stocks antique repro furniture. All products are samples, so it’s limited and exclusive with only one or two pieces of each particular item. Also has a great range of imported fabrics up on the 2nd floor and an in-house sewing room for cushions, sofas and curtains. Offers custom-made furniture and delivery within four weeks. Home décor orders are also available.

A&W FINE FURNITURE Km 11 + 300 Highway Hanoi, Q9 Tel: 3730 9856 8am to 4.30pm, closed on Sundays Produces high-end Danish design sofas and armchairs in contemporary and traditional styles. With imported materials, the brand provides a large amount of high quality products for the Vietnamese market and exports to Europe, New Zealand, Australia, Taiwan and Singapore. Also offers to produce customers’ own designs. Their products are stocked at AA Deco with Their products are stocked at Nha Xinh showroom.

BELLAVITA The Crescent Parcel CR1-07/08, 103 Ton Dat Tien, Phu My Hung Tel: 5413 6538 A branch of the AA Corporation, Bellavita specialises in the distribution of imported high-end furniture manufactured by wellknown brands such as Walter Knoll, Poltrona Frau, Minotti and Cassina. Most products displayed in this airy space include chairs, tables and other high quality glassware. Orders are taken 10 to 12 weeks in advance before delivery. There is also a selection of home décor items such as pottery.

BOCONCEPT 68-70 Dong Du, Q1 Tel: 3824 6604 4th Floor, Unit 09, The Crescent Mall, 101 Ton Dat Tien, Phu My Hung Tel: 5413 7357 Located next to Sheraton Hotel, the first BoConcept shop stands out thanks to its black signage and glassy atrium. The shop carries a full range of furniture including sofas, beds, wardrobes, tables and chairs; all are imported from Denmark. Delivery of non-stock items takes up to two weeks. Also has a range of furnishing accessories such as mirrors, rugs, paintings and lamps.

CALLIGARIS 4th Floor, Unit 10, The Crescent Mall, 101 Ton Dat Tien, Phu My Hung Tel: 5413 7355 The famous Italian interior-furnishing brand, founded by Antonio Calligaris in 1923, designs, produces and distributes chairs, tables, beds, sofas, storage units and furnishing accessories. Producing 160,000 units per month with over 7,000 product variations for the kitchen, living room and bedroom, products are distributed to over 12,000 retail outlets in 90 countries worldwide.

CHI LAI 53 Pham Ngoc Thach Q3 Tel: 3823 2213 207 Dien Bien Phu, Q3 Tel: 3827 3696 8am to 9pm This well-known Vietnamese furniture brand is a good choice for most families with its respected high-quality designs and competitive prices. Located on the corner of Pham Ngoc Thach and Dien Bien Phu, the spacious showroom specialises in sofas and other furniture such as table sets, shelves and kitchen cabinets. There is a large selection of carpets as well as numerous choices of curtains and accessories. CLIC CLAC SOFA 327F Luong Dinh Cua, Q2 Tel: 5402 7434 This is a great place to pick up compact sofa beds for homes lacking large amounts of space. A wide range of stock includes many covers in various colours and fabrics. Purchases of all standard and deluxe products include a one-year warranty. Prices start at VND6.7 million and a free delivery and assembly service is offered to city residents. Visit the website for a quick demonstration. DIABOLO 13 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: 3825 1803 9am to 8pm The two-storey shop stocks contemporary and colorful furniture and decorative accessories, from sofas and armchairs to tables and cabinets, lightings, votives, kitchenware, vases and a full range of modern home accessories. Special orders are possible for delivery all over the world. ESTHETIC 11 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh Tel: 3514 7371 9am to 7pm Having just moved to its new location, this large two-storey outlet specialises in interior and external designs. Products include beds, sofas, wardrobes and shelves made from high-quality woods. Also offers antique reproductions as well as made-toorder furniture such as sofas and home décor designs. Lamps, lampshades and other accessories are also stocked. FEELING TROPIC 51 Le Van Mien, Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: 3744 2181 8am to 6pm, closed Sundays Specialising in interior designs and landscaping, this three-storey building is so packed full of items for sale that it doesn’t seem to have enough space for all of its products. The basement storey carries outdoor furniture such as bambooimitation and mosaic table sets, while the second level stocks all types of indoor furniture except beds. Accessories are found on the level above. Special orders are taken for delivery within three weeks. Also offers a rental service. THE FURNITURE HOUSE 81 Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: 3519 4640/4643 8am to 6pm This two-storey shop carries all types of furniture, displayed simply so as to give clients a general idea of each product’s style and quality. Items for sale include chairs, tables, wardrobes, drawers and other furniture made from Kiwi pinewood and acacia. Custom orders are accepted and take about four weeks for delivery. Free shipping is included for orders costing more than VND10 million and within Ho Chi Minh City. As a general pricing gauge, a bed costs VND5.6 million and a wardrobe starts at VND6 million.

GAYA 1 Nguyen Van Trang, Q1. Tel: 3925 1495 10am to 8pm Set in one of the most attractive postWorld War II buildings in the city, Gaya has a reputation for chic and sophisticated indoor and outdoor sofas, pod seats, lamps and tableware, with all products both constructed and designed locally. You can find a wide range of mirrors and lacquerware with bowls, vases and contemporary Asian-style boxes as well as a fantastic selection of linen-embroidered bedding in all colours and designs. Prices here match the quality of the products.

HAFELE SHOWROOM 46A Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Tel: 3997 7300 8am to 8pm This giant glass showroom features a comprehensive range of products including exclusive kitchen and bathroom appliances, furniture, and light and locking systems. This is also a good place to pick up sensor equipment and items such as rubbish bins, doors and lights. The selection of door handles is endless and all products are imported from Germany. Like Gaya, prices are top-end but the quality is beyond reproach.

LIVING & GIVING 59 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh Tel: 3514 7614 9am to 7pm This narrow four-storey building carries products ranging from sofas, chairs and tables to beds, bookshelves, cabinets, dressers and wardrobes. Accessories include ceramic pots, candles and mirrors. Special orders can be taken based on the catalogue or custom design and will be delivered within three weeks. Also stocks a range of bedding made from cotton, linen and silk.

NHA XINH 2nd Floor, Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, Q1 Tel: 3821 6115 CR3, The Crescent Mall, 111 Ton Dat Tien, Phu My Hung, Tel: 5413 6657 8.30am to 9.30pm One of the most renowned Vietnamese furniture suppliers, this brand has over 15 years experience in the business, selling a wide range of furniture products made for the bedroom, living room, dining room, kitchen and bathroom. Custom orders are also accepted. Also sells a large selection of home decorations such as handmade flowers, statues and modern lamps. Offers a good design consultation service.

REMIX DECO 222 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3 Tel: 3930 4190 9am to 9pm This white-painted building sells highly stylized, contemporary imported indoor furniture made from various materials. From wood to plastic, and crystal to stainless steel, this shop stocks a large selection of sofas, tables and chairs. Accessories include exclusive clocks and lamps. Paintings of Marilyn Monroe, Chairman Mao and other well-known characters are also stocked.

THE FURNITURE WAREHOUSE 3B Tong Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: 6657 0788 9am to 7pm Specialises in high-end European-style furniture for outdoor and indoor design and home décor. Products include wardrobes, armchairs, sofas, tables and shelves made from pine, oak, acacia and

hardwood. There is also a selection of antique furniture and décor items. Free shipping and made-to-order available for small quantities. Visit the website for more information and prices.

THE LOST ART 85 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: 0955 000560 9am to 5pm With more than 10 years in the business, this old world, French colonial styled store has a reputation for restoring and reproducing antique furniture. Products include armchairs, sofas, tables, bookshelves, drawers, lamps, paintings, ceramics, lacquerware and much more. Also offers an exclusive interior design service package, from initial design to installation with natural wood imported from the US. Free consultation is provided via phone or email.

of the award-winning TouchAble brand. Stocks elegant and fashionable interiors, and a selection of souvenirs, leather boxes and luxury stationary. Includes table-standing lamps, pendant lights and hand-painted lampshades imported from Spain and the UK. Promises to deliver non in-stock orders within 30 to 45 days.

EGLO 51/2A Thanh Thai, Q10, Tel: 3866 9173 8am to 8pm Features imported decorative lights from Austria including wall, track and outdoor lighting made of metal, glass and plastic resin. Stocks a full and varied range of lighting systems for the kitchen, bathroom, children’s room, garden and swimming pool. Also offers customised lighting system orders. Prices range from VND159,000 to VND27million. Visit the website for information and images of the products.


UNITY 12 Dang Tran Con, Q1 Tel: 3823 9375

Located opposite Galaxy cinema, Unity offers accessories that are designed to seamlessly blend in with your life. Familiar basics are given a contemporary update with the use of modern, alternative materials like silicone, rubber, and brushed aluminum. From orbital lamps and eggshell-white china, to wire-clasped water bottles, each individual piece complements the others in the collection— to give your home a sense of Unity.

92 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q1, Tel: 2210 3460 8am to 7pm Located opposite Saigon Square, this big store displays all types of lights from ceiling and wall lights to table and desk lamps with lampshades in all designs and styles. All products are self-produced and designed, and are made from a comprehensive selection of high-quality domestic and international materials. Good customer service with enthusiastic staff. Customised orders are accepted.

MOSAIQUE 98 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1Tel: 3823 4634 9am to 9pm This eye-popping lime green-painted boutique carries furniture, tableware and decorative home accessories. Also stocks an exclusive selection of lights and lamps,

VERLIM INTERIOR DESIGN 152 Le Lai, Q1 Tel: 3925 3648 Inspired by the sumptuous textiles, rich palettes, and hotels of the 1940s, Verlim stocks a well-curated and eclectic trove of French, Chinese and Vietnamese Deco furniture and accessories, including outsized teak-framed mirrors, panelled screens and low-slung armchairs. There is also a selection of antiques and art deco reproduction. Arranges shipping and offers custom-made items.

VIVACOLOUR Tel: 090 3873 599 Vivacolour offers professional interior design services for your home that create a personalised ambience to express your style and personality, business colour consultations to build a tailor-made environment for your team and clients, visually expressing your brand and communicating your values to your customers. Contact Pascaline for more information.

KITCHEN & BATHROOM CNR. PASTEUR & NGUYEN DINH CHIEU, Q1 It’s easy to figure this area out with all the stainless steel goods hanging from the rows of shops. You can quite literally find everything for the bathroom and kitchen, from sinks to cups and dish shelves to buckets. Compared to other shops in the centre of town, prices tend to be cheaper here. However, prepare to bargain.

LIGHTING CAO DONG Saigon Center, 65 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: 3915 1778 CaoDong Design is an official distributor

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including lotus lamps at VND300,000, lacquer lamps at VND400,000 and orchid lamps at VND650,000. All products are Vietnamese-themed and are made from bamboo. As well as selling locally, Mosaique exports to Europe, the US, Australia and Africa.

ELECTRONICS CAMERAS CAMERA STREET Saigon’s photography lovers need look no further than Huynh Thuc Khang, Ho Tung Mau, Nguyen Hue and Le Loi to find dozens of stores stocking everything from digital to disposable cameras. Camera accessories, such as lenses and caps, digital image printing and other services are also available too as is a range of second-hand lenses and camera bodies.

CONG DANH 28 Ton That Thiep, Q1. Tel: 3821 8773 8.30am to 6.30pm Lying opposite Sun Wah Tower, this is a typical Vietnamese retail outlet without decoration and with products displayed in glass cases. Selling digital and video cameras of well-known brands such as Nikon, Canon, Panasonic, Sony and JVC, prices start at VND9 million for a professional camera and VND5.5 million for a standard video camera. Also sells a range of accessories.

GOPRO HERO HD CAMCORDERS / CAMERAS Tel: 0903 025271 Wear it or mount it. Waterproof, profes-


34 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: 3825 7750 9am to10pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Café, Food Court


126 Hung Vuong, Q5 Tel: 2222 0383 9.30am to 10pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Café, Food Court


35-45 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: 3827 7636 9.30am to 10pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Café, Food Court


65 Le Loi, Q1 Tel: 3829 4888 9am to 9pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Café, Food Court


77-89 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q1 9am to 9pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics


135 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: 3821 3849 9am to 9.30pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Souvenirs, Restaurant


70-72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: 3936 9999 9am to 10pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Café, Food Court


54-56 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: 3925 0339 9am to 10pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Café, Food Court

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sional, true HD and extremely small. The world’s most versatile camera and accessories are available in Vietnam from authorised distributor Silver Sun Ltd Co. in Da Nang. Call for details of stockists or for a direct order.

LE VU NIKON 85 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: 3821 6503 9am to 8pm Located in the same building as The Lost Art, Le Vu Nikon specializes mainly in Nikon products with a full range of cameras and accessories. A normal DSLR Nikon camera with a lens that can be disassembled is priced at VND12 million. Batteries cost between VND200,000 and VND300,000. Also offers a maintenance service and part exchange.

PHAM THE 11 Le Cong Kieu, Q1 Tel: 3829 5888 Situated in one of the most beautiful antique-store streets in the city, this small shop restores and fixes all kinds of cameras from Nikon and Canon to Sony. They will locate and identify the specific problem and quote a price before fixing the camera. Speak good English.

COMPUTERS & ACCESSORIES COMPUTER STREETS Bui Thi Xuan, Nguyen Cu Trinh and Ton That Tung streets are considered to be the places to shop for computers, selling everything from LCD monitors, RAM sticks, keyboards, webcams and internet phone cards through to speaker systems at reliable and affordable prices. Many of the stores also offer a computer maintenance service.

CARTRIDGE WORLD 81 Dien Bien Phu, Binh Thanh Tel: 3514 0999 8am to 5pm This Australian company provides an impressive selection of printing solutions such as ink, lasers, faxes, photocopier cartridges and high-quality paper. Free pick-up and delivery service, and a refill service is available at reliable prices. With professional staff, the store offers an effective and quick restoration and maintenance service for printers of well-known brands such as HP, Epson, Canon, Xerox and Brother.

FPT ELEAD COMPUTER 236 Dien Bien Phu, Q3 Tel: 7300 6666 8am to 5pm A large internet service supplier, FPT is also known for being one of the biggest Vietnamese IT brands. Manufacturing IT products including deskstops, notebooks, servers and accessories, their stores are found nationwide. Prices start at VND5,7 million for a desktop without monitors, and a notebook costs from VND11 million. Accessories vary, from flash memory cards and scandisks to USB bars. Visit the website for information and product prices.

HOAN LONG Hoan Long Building, 244 Cong Quynh, Q1 Tel: 3925 8999 8am to 9pm Located opposite Co-Op Mart, this glass building carries a full range of IT equipment and accessories, including laptops, desktops, Acer RAM and products by Dell and Sony. Also sells Apple’s iPad, starting at VND21.8 million for the 3G version and MacBooks for VND28 million. In addition has a small selection of digital video cameras. Offers an assembly service for both domestic and international orders. Good post-sale maintenance and customerservice.

LONG BINH COMPUTER 50 Nguyen Cu Trinh, Q1 Tel: 3836 0699 8am to 7.30pm This shop concentrates mainly on notebooks, stocking popular brands such as IBM, Dell, Acer, HP, Sony and Apple. Also stocks plus disk drivers, RAM and batteries, and offers cameras, pocket PCs, smart phones (HTC and 32GB iPhone 4 sold at VND23.6 million), projectors and printers. Good customer service and quick delivery.

PHONG VU 125 Cach Mang Thang 8, Q1 Tel: 6290 8777 9am to 9pm Known as one of the leading IT retailers in town and located at the corner of Cach Mang Thang 8 and Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, the products for sale at Phong Vu include computers, laptops, office equipment, entertainment devices and accessories. Also provides internet and network solutions and systems. Good maintenance service for desktops, notebooks and printers. Visit the website for more information.

NGUYEN THI THANH TAM 42 Huynh Thuc Khang, Q1 Tel: 3822 2247 Upon arrival, this large store looks more like a stationary shop than a mere CD shop. Products include blank CDs and DVDs at VND25,000 for 10 Kachi CD-Rs and VND38,000 for 10 Maxell CD-RWs. The DVD selection is endless with the prices starting from VND5,000 for one DVD, depending on type and brand. Also stocks numerous music CDs and DVDs of international and Vietnamese singers.

THANH NHAN 428BIS Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3 Tel: 3818 1188 8.30am to 9.30pm This supermarket-esque shop is an official distributor of top brands including Intel, Asus, HP and Acer, stocking everything from laptops and desktops to monitors and keyboards, laptop fans and computer speakers. Office equipment, including photocopiers, fax machines and paper destroyers, is also sold here. Other entertainment devices, such as mobile phones and mp3 players are also stocked.

THUAN MY CO. 227 Tran Hung Dao, Q1Tel: 3838 9164 8am to 5pm Devout fans of that new religion called ‘Apple’ will be satisfied at Thuan My, one of the growing number of Apple dealers in Saigon. Products include MacBooks, iMacs, iPods, iPhones and their numerous accessories. Remember to ask for software installation. Competitive market prices and service make this place stand out.

MOBILE PHONES GIA KIEN 352 Ba Thang Hai, Q10. Tel: 3868 3733 9am to 6.30pm Besides stocking the ubiquitous iPhone and iPad, this shop also sells mobile phones from the likes of HTC, LG, Dell, Nokia, Vertu, Blackberry and more. There is also an exclusive and unique selection of handsets from the likes of GoldVish Gold Le Million, Porsche P9521 and Tag Heuer. Prices are higher than other places but the after-sale customer service is excellent.

MOBILE PHONE STREETS The following streets have dozens of stores selling major mobile brands such as Samsung, Nokia, LG, Apple, etc. New and second-hand handsets and extra accessories are also available. Ba Thang Hai

between Ly Thuong Kiet and Ly Thai To, Q10; Hai Ba Trung between Le Duan & Dien Bien Phu, Q1 & Q3; Hung Vuong, Q5 (close to the end of Nguyen Thi Minh Khai).

THANH CONG MOBILE 382B – B1 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3 Tel: 3526 5838 8am to 5.30pm One of the top five master dealers nationwide with popular mobile phone brands such as Nokia, SamSung, LG, Motorola, and Panasonic, this company is an official distributor of Philips in Vietnam. Produced the first Vietnamese mobile phone, Bavapen, and also stocks the iPhone 4 at VND21.3 million. Accessories include phone wallets, earphones and batteries.

THE GIOI DI DONG 182A Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3 Tel: 1900 561 292. 8am to 10.30pm This well-known retail chain catches the attention of pedestrian shoppers due to the unmissable and striking yellow signboard with its long black logo. The website is efficient with adequate photos and information on phones and specifications. The staff speaks English and the store offers online orders at cheaper prices. Stocks everything mobile, from phones through to tablets and laptops.

VIENTHONG A 328-330 Ba Thang Hai, Q10. Tel: 3863 3333 Has more than 65 stores nationwide and offers a comprehensive range of mobile phones from top brands such as Apple, HTC and Blackberry to the Chinese makes Cayon and Huawei. There is also a wide range of top laptops and mp3 and mp4 players. Recently opened a technology support centre called EBAR where customers check and test new products and software. Online orders with free shipping is available.

GROCERIES BAKERIES CAKEWALK 84 Nguyen Cong Tru, P. Nguyen Thai Binh, Q1 Tel: 6295 9087. Specialising in freshly baked cupcakes such as the Ravishing Red Velvet, Foxy Banoffee, and Heavenly Honey, this boutique cupcake shop also offers coffees, teas and juices. Wi-Fi available.

CRUMBS 54 Truong Dinh, Q1. Tel: 3825 7199 Dubbed “the local bakery”, Crumbs serves up a variety of baked goods including baguettes, muffins, cheese and garlic–based buns and loafs, meat–filled pastries, sweet pastries, health–conscious breads and more. There is also a breakfast menu and variety of sandwiches available.

FRESH DONUTS 33 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1. Tel: 5404 7777 The air of American donuts infuses this pleasant and popular venue, with a variety of the sweet circular treat complementing an excellent selection of coffees, teas and juices. Specials include the mixed fruits donut, ice cream donut, and ice cream & sauce/peanuts donut. The store is open from 7am to 10pm daily and offers free Wi-Fi and a non-smoking area.

HARVEST BAKING 30 Lam Son, Tan Binh. Tel: 3547 0577 Made to order baking delivery specialists by phone or email. Scones, bagels, breads (everything from 12 grain loaves to Italian focaccia), muffins, cookies, buns, fudge cake and more, from upwards of

VND45,000. Orders must be placed 48 hours in advance.

LA DORÉE 216 Ly Tu Trong, Q1 65 Pasteur, Q1. Tel: 3822 1718 Reminiscent of a Parisian bakery, La Dorée serves up a variety of colourful and traditional French breads baked with green, beige and brown buckwheat seeds, including baguettes, fougasse, and dieppois and montagnard sandwiches. Desserts include passion cheese, tiramisu and chocolate mouse.

NHU LAN 64–68 Ham Nghi, Q1, Tel: 3829 2970 Selling baguette–style bread for VND5,000 and basic freshly made sandwiches for around VND15,000. Also has a range of Vietnamese pastries and savouries. Open 24 hours.

SIMRANS SL15-1 Grand View, Nguyen Duc Canh, Q7 Tel: 0908 828552 For anyone with a sweet tooth, this cake delivery service offers homebaked products using the finest ingredients including fresh fruit, imported butter and chocolate. No preservatives or hydrogenated fats are used. All cakes and cookies are made to order and can be customised upon request. Free delivery is available. Place orders one day in advance.

SESAME BAKERY 153 Xo Viet Nghe Tinh, Binh Thanh Tel: 3518 0897 or 0918 445311 Located in the premises of the Hospitality

ELECTRONICS SUPERMARKETS Known as “electronics supermarkets”, the number of stores selling everything from TVs, refrigerators and air conditioners to washing machines, coffee makers and blenders seems to be increasing by the day. You’ll also be able to find vacuum cleaners and irons from popular brands such as Sony, Samsung, Toshiba, JVC, LG and Sanyo. In addition these stores stock a wide range of mobile phones from the likes of Nokia, Samsung, Motorola and Sony Ericsson. In order to attract the largest number of customers, most of these stores offer daily promotions with competitive prices. Visit their websites for promotions, online orders and more information.

CHO LON ELECTRONICS MARKET 590 Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q3 Tel: 3846 4700 8.30am to 9.30pm


975 Tran Hung Dao, Q5 Tel: 3923 1536 8.30am to 9.30pm

School, Sesame Bakery provides practical experience to its students. Has a wide variety of French pastries, loaves, baguettes, cookies and cakes at good prices. Special order and delivery available.

TOUS LES JOURS 180 Hai Ba Trung, Q3, Tel: 3823 8302 59 Tran Hung Dao, Q1, Tel: 3914 4350 187 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3 Although tailored to the local market, this Korean–owned bakery chain and café bakes a tasty range of pastries, bread and cakes all at very affordable prices. Excellent baguettes and sandwich bread. Also does a slightly sweet version of croque monsieur.

VOELKER 39 Thao Dien, Q2 French–run bakery selling probably the tastiest range of patisseries, breads, quiches and pies in town. The signature passion–fruit tart is a must try.

CATERING AU PARC CATERING Available all year round for birthday cakes, BBQs, corporate events, private parties, wine tastings and more, Au Parc Catering provide a full service including drinks, glass rentals, waiters and crockery. For a quote, email or call Mr. Loi on 3829 2772.

GASTRO’HOME 100 Xuan Thuy, Q2, Tel: 6281 9830 New delicatessen shop offering western– fusion French food. French Chef Stephane Courtin and his team will assist you in a Gastro’Home food experience. Visit the shop in An Phu or try the “at your home” catering service for a dinner, buffet or cocktail party.

LE REUNION DES MARMITES Tel: 08 6274 0647 A French food delivery service that does cocktail parties, buffets and events specialising in salads, sandwiches, gratin, quiche, pies, desert, muffins and more. Visit website for full menu.

MEALS ON HEELS Tel:0903 109 431 Meals On Heels is a weekly catering service providing healthy home cooked meals. A new menu is released every Monday, which includes vegetarian options and kids portions. Meals are delivered fresh (not hot/not frozen) and can be reheated or frozen.

SAIGON CATERING COMPANY Tel: 0913 981128 (Ms Huong – Vietnamese) / 01214 401853 (Ms Ana – English) With over 10 years experience, SCC is the event manager for the annual NZ Wine & Food Festival, official caterer for ZanZBar, and provides catering services to a number of consulates and multinationals. Experienced with every conceivable style, from the smallest dinner party to a standup cocktail event for thousands, SCC takes care of everything from the venue, flowers and decorations to transportation, set-up, guest management, event flow, marketing and promotions, invitations and menu planning.

THE CATERERS 46D Vuon Lai, Tan Phu. Tel: 3812 6901 With extensive experience in menu design, The Caterers will come up with an original menu for your party or gathering, then prepare all the food and serve it to your guests. Also offers a venue for clients to use.

THE SAIGON CATERING COMPANY 84 Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien Ward, Q2 Tel: 0913 981128 SCC can create a menu to meet your exact requirements and budget.Theirchefs use the freshest ingredients to produce quality, perfectly cooked and beautifully presented food at reasonable prices.

YES! ICE–CREAM HOME DELIVERY SERVICE Tel: 3844 6099 A delivery service offering banana–on a stick, Öla premium ice–cream & frozen yoghurt and I’sa ice–cream. All produced with European technology and imported ingredients.

GROCERIES ANNAM GOURMET MARKET 16–18 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: 3822 9332 41A Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: 3744 2630 Attractive and spacious French–owned grocery shop stocking a large range of foods, organic fruit and vegetables, imported beers and wines. Also sells luxury branded products from the likes of Fauchon. The deli upstairs in the Hai Ba Trung branch serves tasty baguette rolls in a comfortable lounge area with free Wi–Fi, and offers probably the best selection of cheese and cured meats in town. Free delivery for Districts 1, 2 and 3.


Ground Floor, Norfolk Hotel, 117 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: 3829 5368 / 0908 406 505 Delicious food and professional service for any special occasion including company functions, formal banquets, Christmas and New Year parties. Reasonably priced.

45 Mac Thi Buoi Street, Q1. Tel: 6291 8126 www.aussie– Aussie Fruits are among the first in Vietnam to promote a full range of Australian seasonal fruits. Their mission is to bring the best quality fruits from Australia into Vietnam, with professionally trained customer support along with a state of the art facility that guarantees 100% freshness directly from Australian farms. Check their website to see what’s in season.




63–65 Tran Hung Dao, Q1 Tel: 3821 1211 8am to 10pm

Tel: 01286 252 351 / 3602 2241 (Mr Danh) High quality Vietnamese food at reasonable prices for the home or workplace. Caters for private parties, receptions, office celebrations, and conferences. Choose from an extensive Vietnamese menu (crispy spring rolls, chicken fried rice, sautéed prawns and cashew nuts) or mix and match with Western cuisine (canapés, dips, cocktail sandwiches, fresh tropical fruit). Efficient delivery, all equipment and waiter service provided.




141 Nguyen Hue, Q1. Tel: 3829 2185 With the same team that feeds the guests at the Rex Hotel, prospective clients can be sure that the party they plan will be in good hands.

Tel: 0974 444 001 Kitchen provides an alternative to takeaways with home-cooked frozen ready meals in biodegradable packaging. Beef,

IDEAS SHOPPING CENTRE 133–141AB Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q3 8.30am to 9.30pm


277B Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q10 Tel: 3863 3733 8am to 10pm

No. 17, Street 12 (perpendicular to Tran Nao street), Q2 Tel: 3740 7105/06/07/08 / 0903 814761 Fax: 3740 7109 Supplier for the city’s five–star hotels, also distributing brands like San Pellegrino, Rougie foie gras, Galbani cheese, fresh poultries, meat, live seafood and vegetables. You can now find all the products at the gourmet shop on location.

pork, chicken and vegetarian meals cost between VND140,000-VND220,000 for 2-3 portions. Order online at vn. Free delivery.

KIM HAI BUTCHERS 41 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q1. Tel: 3821 6057 Stocks a comprehensive range of fresh meat products imported directly from Australia. Beef and lamb make up the bulk of the selection, but some locally–sourced poultry and fish products are also on offer. Also does pre–packaged prepared meat like chicken strips – perfect for the freezer. Open seven days a week.

LE COCHON D’OR 32 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: 3829 3856 An international standard butchers with a solid selection of fresh meats, charcuterie products, a tasty selection of pates, sausages, cheeses and poultry. Sells both retail and wholesale.

OPERATION: TEA Tel: 01693 583563 Offering a line high quality, whole leaf teas from around the world and tea ware. Tea tasting events are conducted by an experienced tea infusionist, who is available for private tastings as well.

PHUONG HA 58 Ham Nghi, Q1, Tel: 3914 1318 Mini supermarket stocking a large range of imported foods, cheese, meat, fresh fruit, vegetables and good wines. Friendly service and helpful staff, although the selection of products is slightly smaller than its next door neighbour, Thai Ha.

THAI HA 60 Ham Nghi, Q1 Supermarket that vies with its next door neighbour, Phuong Ha, for customers. Excellent selection of imported goods including canned foods, dairy products, cereals and meat products. The staff here speak reasonable English although the service is better next door.

THE OASIS 32 Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Q2 (inside Snap Cafe), Tel: 3744 6432 3SK-23-1 Grandview 2, Nguyen Duc Canh, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: 5412 2449 The Oasis grocery store and gourmet shop was established in Hanoi three years ago and offers imported and local delicatessen such as cold cuts and cheeses from around the world, organic vegetables and many other homemade, artisanal readyto-eat food. Specialties include homemade lasagnas, soups, raviolis, pasta and sausages.

VEGGY’S 29A Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: 3823 8526 Packed from floor to ceiling with imported cereals, meats, cheeses, and almost anything else you can think of, this is a very popular choice for expats doing their weekly shop. The walk–in fridge at the back is a draw in itself.

LIQUOR & WINE ANNAM GOURMET SHOP 16–18 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: 3822 9332 www.annam– Here you’ll find anything from Guinness to Leffe, with a whole lot of Belgian, Australian and German beers in between. Also has an excellent selection of imported wines and liquors.

BACCHUS CORNER 158D Pasteur, Q1, A range of spirits, whiskies and wines at affordable prices. Wines come from all over the world with an especially good selection from France, Chile and South Africa. Also has an excellent range of single malts, top shelf tequilas and has an on– site wine tasting machine, the Enomatic, the first of its kind in Vietnam.

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generation v DALOC 74E Hai Ba Trung,Q 1 , Tel: 5404 3575 A premier importer/distributor of quality wines, spirits, non–alcohol drinks, representing over 400 wines, spirits and drinks from 12 countries since 1995.

JOHNNY’S WINE STOP 109 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: 38234861 A small wine bar offering premium varietals at affordable prices. This wine bar, located on Dong Khoi, is open from 11am to 11pm daily and also offers tasting flights and a modest selection of imported beers.

KANGAROO INDOCHINE 6/7 Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q1 Tel: 6210 2986 Wine wholesaler importing well–known Australian wines. Present portfolio includes Kangarilla Road, Zema Estate, Buller, Bethany and Chapel Hill.

LE TONNEAU 15D Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: 3824 6597 Overlooking the wine store on the first floor is the VIP room upstairs which caters to club members and those who take their wine seriously. Special wine–tasting every Friday. Call Patrick for more details (0903102418).

RED APRON 22 Chu Manh Trinh, Q1, Tel: 3823 0021 One of the largest distributors in town, stocks around 90,000 bottles from virtually every region in the world. Sells both retail and wholesale.

TAPAS WINE CO LTD 2/3A Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1 Tel: 2201 0909 An importer of Spanish wines, Tapas delivers directly to your door. A growing

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list of products includes wines from the northern and central regions of Spain such as Elciego and Rioja Alavesa. Their website features their full portfolio complete with reviews.

THE WAREHOUSE 178 Pasteur, Q1 Tel: 3825 8826 One of the busiest wine retailers in town. In addition to their excellent range of wines, they also stock imported beers, bottled mineral water and spirits.



visit for a comprehensive list of our listings


VINE CELLAR – CASA HABANA 41 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: 3822 2284 www.vine– The wine store represents hundreds of award – winning wines from every part of the globe and stocks an exclusive collection of spirits. Also, Casa Habana – Cigar Shop provides 100% authentic Cuban cigars, and luxury cigar accessories.

VINIFERA 15C7 Thi Sach, Q1 Tel: 3822 1141 Well–known and respected wine importer and distributor stocking a number of old and new world wines. Brands include Perrin & Fils, Pere & Fils, Dr Loosen, Kracher and William Fevre.

VINO WINE SHOP 74/17 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: 6299 1315 Corner of Thao Dien & Duong 2, Q2 Tel: 6281 9059 Professional advice on selecting and tasting wines. Also offers regular popular wine courses. The outdoor terrace area is the perfect spot to sample a new vintage.

BABY EQUIPMENT BABY 66B Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q10, Tel: 2210 2775 Discounted car seats, buggies and more.

CHILDREN’S SQUARE 270 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: 3932 2841 Pampers and Huggies nappies, baby bottles, bibs, buggies and other necessities.

ME OI 1B Ton That Tung, Q1, Tel: 3925 5404 Near Phu San maternity hospital with reasonably priced clothing, bottles, nappy bags and toys.

MOM & BABY 230 Vo Thi Sau, Q3 ,Tel: 3932 1611 Closest this city has to Mothercare, stocking apparel, bottles and sterilisers.

CHILDREN’S BOOKS FAHASA 40 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: 3822 5796 Good selection of imported books for all ages as well as cheap stationery, stickers and other odd ends.

generation v and piano in Vietnamese and English for VND200,000 per 45–minute session. He has 30 years experience teaching youngsters, and after a stint in Spanish city Seville now offers classes in flamenco, call him at 091 387 7884.

PHUONG NAM 1st Flr, Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, Q1 Picture books for babies to stories and education books for older children can be found here.

CLASSES & SPORTS ALPHA GALLERY 10 Chu Manh Trinh, Q1, Tel: 3822 4946 Swiss artist Bernadette Gruber runs six– week printmaking classes for children and adults, starting from the very beginning and working through to final prints made from copper plates. Other printing methods are also addressed.

189/C1 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2 (gallery and workshop), 88 Ho Tung Mau (FLOW – permanent exhibition), Tel: 0903 955780 French painter teaches beginners how to work with different mediums and techniques. For more advanced artists, she shows you how to release your creativity. Daytime and evening courses available for children and adults.

KINDERMUSIK Tel: 0907 099 480, The world’s premier music & movement program for children from birth to 7– years–old taught by Ms Lauralynn, B.A. & M.M.Ed.. The courses nurture every facet of a child’s development – social, physical, cognitive, emotional and English language skills – through music & movement.


Minh Nguyen piano boutique for all ages and levels for VND150,000 a session.

MONTESSORI SCHOOL 42/1 Ngo Quang Huy Street, Q2, Tel: 3744 2639 Steffen Christophe teaches introduction to musical instruments for students aged four upwards at Montessori, as well as private and group lessons in guitar, keyboard, and voice. With a diploma in guitar and singing from 10 years spent at the Geneva Conservatory, lessons at his home come from 25 years experience playing – one hour private tuition cost VND500,000 for students aged four to 14, and VND550,000 for those over (

PARKLANDS COUNTRY CLUB 628A An Binh, Q2, Tel: 3898 9788 Provides a range of leisure activities including sports and movie nights for children of all ages. Participation requires membership of this well–known country club. Email for more details.

PIANO CLASSES Tel: 0122 5636 682, Offers a full range of piano lessons, from basic to advanced ones such as Bach, Mozart and Chopin. Suitable for kids of all ages.

53 Nguyen Dang Giai, Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: 3519 4490/4340 The Crescent Mall, Phu My Hung Children and teenagers can enjoy jazz, ballet, hip hop, funk, belly dancing, salsa and more classes of all levels at this modern dance studio.

Tel: 0909 269511 Group swimming, tennis and golf lessons run by Michael Belmes, the former Head Coach of the Vietnam National Polo Team and the Phillipines Elite Development Group of Swimmers. Prices start from around VND120,000. A Saigon Masters Swim Club is also being formed. Visit the website for more info.




82 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q1, Tel: 3823 7691 Former conservatory student Nguyen Trung Minh offers lessons in piano at

Tel: 0987 027722, Offering a variety of classes for movement development for ages two to 11 in An


Mr Anh Vu Phi, another conservatory graduate now teaching at the International School, offers private tutoring in guitar

RUBBA DUCKIES SWIM SCHOOL Tel: 01227 163844 Infant water familiarisation classes for little ones from six months to three years at Somerset, Q1; AIS, Q2: APSC, Q2; Sherwood Residence, Q3 & classes now available in Q7. Run by Elizabeth Hollins.

Phu and Phu My Hung. Saigon Movement aims to improve children’s total body awareness through games and sports– based activities. Contact Abbie Klein for more info.

SAIGON SEAL TEAM 55 Nguyen Dang Giai, An Phu, Q2, Tel: 3744 6825, Scuba Diving Adventures in a Swimming Pool for 8 + 9 year olds. 15 week PADI programme conducted by Rainbow Divers, the leading PADI dive centres throughout Vietnam.

RMIT VIETNAM 702 Nguyen Van Linh, Q7, Tel: 3776 1300 The venue for a large number of sporting activities for children of all ages. Sports include baseball, softball, football (soccer) and more.

SAIGON PONY CLUB 42 Le Van Thinh, Q2, Tel: 0903 930907 An excellent way for children to escape the urban bustle is to ride one of the 16 ponies and learn the correct riding technique from the three part–time teachers. Half–hour lessons with the engaging Amaury cost VND200,000.

SAIGON SPORTS ACADEMY Tel: 0862 819790 Saigon Sports Academy offer coaching for children aged 4–16 years and private lessons for children and adults. They currently offer soccer, basketball, tennis and swimming. They have a team of International coaches offering training for beginners all the way up to professional levels. Please check the website for details. Also offers a youth soccer league that runs on Sundays 2pm–6pm in District 7. Call 0932 153502.

STAGEMAGIC Tel: 0903 145087, The city’s first stage school, offering youngsters between seven and 19 the opportunity to develop their acting and singing skills. The ultimate aim is to put on public performances at the end of each term. Cost for a 10–week term begins at VND2.1 million.

TAE KWON DO BP Compound, 720K Thao Dien, Q2 Martial arts expert Mr. Phuc welcomes anyone over the age of five to take part in his thrice–weekly classes. One class a week costs VND160,000 per week; two classes a week are VND800,000 and three classes a month are VND1 million. There’s an additional fee for non–members. Contact Mr. Phuc on 0903 918149.

CLOTHING 123 BABY CLOTHING 226 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q3 Focuses on good–quality clothing for up to the one–year–old mark, with prices starting from just VND120,000. Also has a decent range of shoes and other accessories.

BELLI BLOSSOM 4F-04 (4th Floor), Crescent Mall, Nguyen Van Linh, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: 5413 7574 Belli Blossom is a shop catering to mums and babies stocking imported brands of maternity and nursing wear and accessories, infant clothes, baby bottles and feeding products, strollers, high chairs, slings, baby carriers, diaper bags and much more. Brands available include Mam, Mamaway, Quinny, Maclaren, Debon, Luvable Friends, and Gingersnaps.

DU LUNDI AU SAMEDI 17/5 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: 3823 3853 The emphasis here is on attractive and

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generation v

generation v facility caters for nursery through to grade 5 (sixth grade added in 2011). All passport holders, including Vietnamese are welcome. Unique features include Mandarin language classes, golf, home languages and an active extra-curricular programme.

unique designs for the very young, encompassing clothing, pyjamas and bedding. A great place to browse for some memorable items.

THANH THUY 93 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: 3822 4893 There are clothes for all ages in here, mostly made of cotton and reasonably– priced, with friendly English–speaking staff on hand to help.

SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL 227 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 With the belief that each child is a prince or princess, the store offers an exclusive selection of brand names in clothing, accessories and creative toys. Creative toy brand names such as Playmobil, Vilac and Trousselier are on display and clothes by international designers such as Sonia Rykiel, Petit Bateau, Baby Dior and Kiwi are also available. As an added touch, the shop has been designed especially for children so that they feel at home.


CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL 13C Nguyen Van Linh, Binh Chanh Tel: 5412 3456

The first Canadian international school in Vietnam offers co-educational classes from Kindergarten to grade 12 for local and foreign students. Talented, certified teachers implement the awarded Ontario curriculum to create a student-centered learning environment. Focuses on academic achievement, character education and global thinking with a commitment to the arts and languages (Vietnamese and French). Students graduate with the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD), recognised by universities worldwide.

ABC INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL 2, 1E Street, KDC Trung Son, Binh Hung, Binh Chanh, Tel: 84 8 5431 1833 Founded in 1995, this international school of 800+ students drawn from 32 national backgrounds is served by 80+ UK expatriate teachers and 70+ support staff. It is the only international school in the city whose curriculum is wholly based on UK standards for all pupils from age two yrs (Playgroup) to 18yrs (Pre–University matriculation). Students graduate with IGCSE’s & A levels awarded by Cambridge University examinations board.

ACG INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL East-West Highway, An Phu, D2 Tel: 3747 1234 Part of the Academic Colleges Group’s international network of schools, ACG offers comprehensive education from kindergarten to senior school and a range of extracurricular activities. The new campus provides exceptional learning and sports facilities. Offers international curricula (IB PYP and Cambridge International Examinations).

AUSTRALIAN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL Early Childhood - Primary Campus - 36 Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: 3744 6960 Middle/Senior Campus – East -West Hwy | Q2 Tel: 3822 4992 A co-educational day school with dedicated early childhood, primary, middle and senior school campuses. An IB World School, students follow the PYP and MYP curriculum. Senior students follow the IGCSE – Cambridge A Levels. AIS is the only school in Vietnam authorised to deliver the University of New South Wales Foundation Studies GRADE 12 Curriculum (UNSW). Focus on academic excellence, international student body, and exceptional facilities in quiet residential settings, qualified expatriate staff, range of co-curricular sport, creative, academic and musical activities and languages. Scholarships available.

BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL 246 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2 Tel: 3744 2335 Three campuses offer a British–style education to moret than 1,500 children aged from two to 18. A centre for the UK Cambridge International Examinations boards, it is also an IB World School, delivering the IB Diploma Programme.

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COMPASS EDUCATION 15 Tran Doan Khanh, Q1, Tel: 3820 3302 / 3820 3202 Promoting and facilitating English language acquisition, Compass Education is a English language education company that offers a range of courses for teachers, students and managers, corporate and teacher training, nanny and teacher placements and career counseling.

GERMAN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL 257 Hoang Van Thu, Tan Binh, Tel: 7300 7257 A bilingual school with native German and English teachers. A language programme is followed in both German and English, alongside the German curriculum. Extra curricular activities are available for all primary school students.

GYMBOREE PLAY & MUSIC OF VIETNAM Somerset Chancellor Court, 1st Floor, 21-23 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1 Tel: 3827 7008/3827 7008 Gymboree Play & Music has been fostering creativity and confidence in children aged 0 - 5 for over 30 years. Today there are over 550 locations in over 30 countries, making them a leader in early childhood development programs. Recognized for their approach to parent involvement, their programmes encourage participation in, and understanding of, each child’s development.

INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL HO CHI MINH CITY 28 Vo Truong Toan, An Phu, Tel: 3898 9100 ISHCMC, located in District 2, has been successfully graduating students with an IB Diploma to high-profile overseas colleges and universities since 1999. ISHCMC is the only fully authorized IB World School in HCMC, providing an International Baccalaureate curriculum (PYP, MYP & IBDP) to all students, ages 2 to 18. It is fully accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS) and the New England Association of School and Colleges (NEASC).

INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL SAIGON PEARL 92 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, Tel: 2222 7799 ISSP offers a rigorous American standardbased curriculum taught by certified North American teachers. ISSP started the academic year of 2010-2011 with more than 100 students enrolled from 20 different nationalities. A brand new single purpose-built campus and state-of-art

THE LITTLE GENIUS INTERNATIONAL KINDERGARTEN 102 My Kim 2, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: 5421 1052 Little Genius Kindergarten has joined Sisterhood with school in USA and uses same curriculum. It is the Kindergarten with the best facilities and environment compare to any similar size school in Vietnam

MONTESSORI INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL 42/1 Ngo Quang Huy, Q2, Tel: 3744 2639 School following the Montessori methodology for children from two to six years old, offering natural learning environments to complement the child’s natural sense of engagement with their surroundings. Also offers extra–curricular activities for children from three to 12.

NOAH’S CLUB 3 Duong So 4, Nguyen U Di, Thao Dien Ward, Q2, Tel/Fax: 3744 4709 Children’s club for toddlers and children from 18 months to 6 years old offering daycare, a toddlers’s club in the morning, an afterschool club in the afternoon for 3 to 6 year olds and art and swimming classes.

PERFOMING ARTS ACADEMY OF HCMC Tel: 0862819679, Enrolling aspiring learners 6 and up for instruction in piano, guitar, drums, singing, flute, clarinet, and saxophone by real musicians and experienced teachers. ABRSM Qualified. Group dance and drama sessions also available. Plus new vacancies in our popular Tiny Tots music enrichment & dance program for ages 3–5.

RENAISSANCE INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL SAIGON 74 Nguyen Thi Thap Street, Q7, Tel: 3773 3171 RISS provides British/International education with native English teachers and state–of–the–art facilities. Students from more than twenty–five nationalities from age two to 18. RISS is an IB World School, a member of CIS and IPC, and an approved centre for IGCSE.

SAIGON KIDS EDUCATIONAL CHILDCARE CENTRE 104A Tran Quoc Toan, Q3, Tel: 3932 5579 Has evolved over 10 years to create a creative learning environment through play for children between the ages of two and six. There are 12 teachers, and the school limits numbers to 85 to ensure personal attention for all the children.

SAIGON SOUTH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL Saigon South Parkway, Q7, Tel: 5413 0901 Offers an American-style education (SAT, IB and AP) from elementary to high school, emphasising state–of–the–art facilities, a multi–cultural student environment, and a commitment to a well–rounded education at all levels.

SAIGON STAR INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL Residential Area No. 5, Thanh My Loi Ward, Q2 Tel: 3742 3222, The school offers a British primary curriculum, supported by the Cambridge International Primary Program, as well as an integrated Montessori programme for nursery and kindergarten. Experienced teachers and small class sizes cater to individual needs and abilities. The school focuses on providing a stimulating learning environment, and a value priced education. A brand new 8,000 sq. meter

eco-friendly campus, the largest of any primary school in Ho Chi Minh City, includes a pool, running stream and more.

at this 26–metre–tall wall, where you (or they) can climb up or abseil down. A day pass costs VND200,000

SMARTKIDS 1172 Thao Dien Compound, Q2, Tel: 3744 6076 26, Street Nr. 10, Thao Dien Ward, Q2 Tel: 3898 9816 15 Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien Ward, Q2 Tel: 3519 4236, An international childcare centre provides kindergarten and pre–school education for children between 18 months and six years old. A fun and friendly environment, the school focuses on learning through play.

THE AMERICAN SCHOOL OF VIETNAM 177A Nguyen Van Huong, Q2 Tel: 3519 2223, Fax: 3519 2224 A fully-licensed American school programme designed by administrators and educators experienced in the development and operation of American and international schools. An independent and private college preparatory school with an individualized programme, The American School of Vietnam offers a USbased curriculum for Kindergarten through Grade 12.

TINIWORLD 218 Pasteur, Q3, Tel; 38241385 tiNiWorld is a chain of EDUTAINMENT centres that combines education and entertainment in an exciting, safe and social environment for kids aged from 2 to 12 years old.

VIETNAMESE LANGUAGE STUDIES SAIGON (VLS) 45 Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1, Tel: 3910 3266 / 3910 0168 This professional school has built a good reputation over 16 years. VLS offers set and tailor-made courses of all levels at high quality with time flexibility. Lessons can be taken either at the school or at the learner’s office and home.

KIDS’ PARTIES A2 196 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: 3912 0161 Popular toy shop which also houses a large selection of partywear and costumes.

DOTS & CON Tel: 0909 052502 Specialising in producing environmentally friendly handmade flaglines for any occasion including kids’ parties, picnics or school decorations.

THE BALLOON MAN 100/531B Thich Quang Duc, Phu Nhuan Tel: 3990 3560 For an unusual and special performer, contact the excellent Balloon Man, who has earned a reputation for dashing instantly to any party that needs balloon shapes.

THE CATERERS 46D Vuon Lai, Tan Phu, Tel: 3812 6901 If you don’t know how to cook jelly, never mind, because The Caterers do. Although mainly focused on grown–up events, they will cater for kids’ parties as well.


FAMILY MEDICAL PRACTICE Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: 3822 7848 Three paediatricians make up the childcare speciality at this well– equipped medical care centre. Also has

obstetrics and gynaecology services for expectant mothers including pre–natal screening.

FV HOSPITAL 6 Nguyen Luong Bang, Q7, Tel: 5411 3333 This international–standard hospital has a dedicated and fully equipped paediatric centre staffed by a team of international specialists. Also offers other maternity services.

Saigon Kids Where children grow with love and care.


167A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3 Tel: 3829 8520 Operating in Vietnam since 1989, this clinic is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. An internationally experienced general medical and pediatric team will meet the preventative, diagnostic and treatment needs of your child. Emergency cases managed 24 hours a day. House call service is also available.


3 Han Thuyen, Q1, Tel: 3822 6222 Up–to–date well–equipped clinic with both western and local dentists experienced in providing preventative care, alignment and reconstructive procedures for children of all ages.

VICTORIA HEALTHCARE INTERNATIONAL CLINIC 79 Dien Bien Phu, Q1, Tel: 3910 4545 Victoria Healthcare is especially committed to paediatrics, and its services for children include general examinations (vision and hearing checks, immunisation, growth and development assessment) as well as specialist consultations.

“Materials gather history as children play with them”

18 months – 6 years old. Part-time and full-time attendance plans. Enrolment throughout the year. Saigon Kids Educational Childcare Centre 104A Tran Quoc Toan Street, D.3 Tel: (08) 39325579 |

ENTERTAINMENT CIRCUS & FAIRGROUND Pham Ngu Lao, Q1 Not stylish but fast paced and cheerful is the outdoor Circus and Fairground on Pham Ngu Lao. Shows on weekend nights at 7.45pm feature trapeze artists, fire eaters, dancing monkeys and other lively acts. Entrance is VND40,000 for adults and VND20,000 for children.

DIAMOND PLAZA 34 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: 3825 7750 Diamond Plaza features a top–floor bowling alley and video arcade as well as youth–oriented eating options, with KFC and Pizza Hut.

PARKSON PLAZA 35Bis Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: 3827 7614 Over at Parkson Plaza there is a large selection of arcade games to choose from along with a bowling alley, with a food court one floor down where you can regroup after zapping millions of aliens.

WATER PUPPET THEATRE History Museum, 2 Nguyen Binh Khiem, Q1 Tel: 3823 4582 Much more cultured than malls and a sure–fire winner with children, is the enchanting Water Puppet Theatre, devoted to this traditional art which the Vietnamese called mua roi nuoc.

X–ROCK CLIMBING 503A Nguyen Duy Trinh, Q2, Tel: 3402 2542 X–Rock Climbing is the city’s first venture of this kind. The facilities for children are excellent (children under 12 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian)

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IN YOUR Amid an avalanche of distorted bass and bone-crunching beats,

FACE JC Smith dives face-first into Hanoi’s emerging dubstep scene



hile producers and DJs are discussing the sonic vectors emerging from the burgeoning international dubstep scene, Hanoi is now starting to catch on to this wobblybassline, thrashy 140 beats per minute sound. Mutating out of the London suburb of Croydon back in the early 2000s into its present form, Hanoi-based DJ, Luke Poulson, one half of the Nam Jam DJ Collective, dates dubstep’s cross-over into Hanoi’s public consciousness to just a few months ago. “We arrived early to DJ at a bar and the only people there were a table of suited local businessmen,” he recalls. “They became increasingly insistent that we play

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the ‘heavy stuff’ and it became clear after flitting through a range of tracks that they meant filthy sounding dubstep.” Luke and Nam Jam Collective partner Andy Crompton, who gained a reputation for playing deep house around Sydney, definitely think there’s a shift in music taste in the capital. “We’re trying to get drum and bass going,” they explain. “We’re playing breakbeat off the back of the dubstep breakdowns, and it’s like a gigantic tinopener to a whole range of genres, from which everyone should benefit.”

A Passing Fad? However, some Vietnamese bass music aficionados aren’t so convinced by the current vogue for dubstep. Jase Nguyen, the pioneer behind

Ho Chi Minh City’s five-year-old Bass Republic nights, fears the rumble of the subwoofer. For him dubstep won’t be more than a passing fad. “The dubstep scene here lacks its true dub essence,” he says. “[They] prefer listening to mid-range distortion and white noise — the American dubstep sound known as Brostep — rather than the sub-bass [from the UK]. If you talk to an average Vietnamese dubstep enthusiast about the Croydon Sound (focused around the modulation of subbass frequencies), they wouldn’t have a clue. I think this is a passing trend.” This faddishness Jase attributes to a lack of dedication or interest in digging into the roots of the genre. “Local audiences soon lose interest if you play a deep bass set,” he explains.

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SHORT HISTORY OF DUBSTEP Dubstep is a genre of electronic dance music that originated in Croydon, South London. Its overall sound has been described as tightly coiled productions with overwhelming bass lines and reverberant drum patterns, clipped samples and occasional vocals. The earliest dubstep releases date back to 1998 and were darker, more experimental, instrumental dub or non-vocal remixes of 2-step garage tracks attempting to incorporate the funky elements of breakbeat, or the ‘dark’ elements of drum and bass into 2-step. In 2001, this and other strains of dark garage music began to be showcased and promoted at London's Forward club night at Plastic People, which went on to be a major influence in the development of dubstep. The term dubstep began to be used around 2002, by which time stylistic trends used in creating these remixes started to become more noticeable and distinct from 2-step and the British rap subgenre of grime. Dubstep started to spread beyond small local scenes in late 2005 and early 2006, with later, more commercial or mid-range focused versions of the sound derogatively referred to a Brostep.

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“Vietnam lacks a sound system culture and people here haven’t really experienced being ‘punched’ by a subwoofer. Also, clubs and bars aren’t really investing in quality speakers, and when they do, there's no decent sound engineer.” Despite the gloom, Jase does give the nod to some home-grown talent. Along with some of his own production work, he gives plaudits to Solid Machine in Ho Chi Minh City, Touliver in Hanoi and the DJ sets of Slo-lo.

Addicted to Bass On the production front, Hoang Touliver is Hanoi’s leading light. Citing an interest in dubstep dating back to 2008, when a friend introduced him to the genre, he says he became instantly addicted. Influenced by UK artists like Rusko, Nero and Modestep, he started making is own dubstep in 2009. And unlike Jase he’s more optimistic about the long-term future of the scene. “There are more dubstep fans in Hanoi than Ho Chi Minh City,” he explains. “However, a lot of DJs are playing to meet the demands of specific bars or clubs. So I think eventually, when the initial demand for dubstep dies down, many of them will

return to electro, house and hip hop. [By this time] I personally hope that dubstep will have a strong enough foundation to move on to something bigger and better.” Touliver, using Reason 5 and Logic Pro software and an arsenal of synth keyboards and midi controllers, admits his initial inspiration was firmly rooted in UK dubstep, but he has attempted to adopt his own style. “I believe that I have a unique sound, I have my own rhythm and synth sounds,” he says. “But most importantly, I think, creativity and knowledge of dubstep makes it special. I try to paint an emotional picture, where [the music] tells a story; usually it’s peaceful in the beginning with a mellow melody but then goes on into a really powerful break down. It’s like a love story with tenderness, love, peace, lust and fury.”

Stepping it Up Dalat native Bush Lam who plays under his DJ Slo-lo tag, is also heavily inspired by the deep bass sound promoted by Jase Nguyen. Newly back from the tattoo parlour, Bush is listening to Vietnamese rock band CoCC’s Six Hours when I catch up with him. Bush was introduced to dubstep

while living in Ho Chi Minh City, having attended some of Jase Nguyen’s Bass Republic nights in 2009 and 2010. “The first time I heard Jase play dubstep I thought that was really cool, almost soulful,” he says. “I also picked up on the glitchy, LA bass sound of people like Flying Lotus. I didn’t know who Skrillex was, I just listened to good sub-bass music, and I think that’s how it should be. I’m not judging mid-range music, it’s cool. Myself I like sub-bass music, the vibration. Bass Republic was the definitive night, it kind of determined music for me.” Bush is sceptical about Vietnam’s dubstep scene. “Hanoi at the moment is too straight,” he explains. “It’s too commericalised. Dubstep is hot, and I’m guessing that the kids are going to get really bored with the mid-range stuff. A lot of the Vietnamese dubstep DJs have moved from commercial popelectro or hip hop to dubstep. It takes time for everybody in a genre to realise what’s real and what’s not. The DJs aren’t deep enough, the bass isn’t in their blood yet, which is to me what the basis of the scene should be about.” However, rather than bemoaning the state of the genre in Vietnam, Bush is taking proactive steps to encourage a more authentic, bass-driven scene. “Some of the young kids are listening to deep and proper bass stuff,” he says. “And some are DJs. So we’re going to have a launch party for our new Sub-Elements project, which will focus on bass, with no specific genre in mind.”

Scene Unseen Hanoi’s Amazon Bar owners Gary or Nhu Dang Nhan Binh and DJ Do Xuan Huy, host one of Hanoi’s regular dubstep nights. They recall how they eventually fell for the wobbly basslines

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and thrashy electronic riffs after a steady stream of backpacker requests and an opportune visit to Hanoi Rock City opened their eyes. Huy has no doubts that sound quality is an issue affecting the Vietnamese dubstep scene. “I was in Singapore at the Stereo Lounge,” he recounts. “They’ve got a million dollar sound system. That’s got to make a difference.” The two are also pretty scathing about the Vietnamese mainstream club circuit. “The Vietnamese only listen to high tempo music at around 130 bpm, or commercial bangers,” they say. “Then there’s Vina House. Back in 2009 you’d hear international electro in the clubs, now they’ve taken original foreign songs, cut the bass from the drums and simplified the basslines, with a melody that is easy to listen to for Vietnamese, creating nha que (countryside) house music!” Gary admits the dubstep scene is still pretty small, with only four or five DJs — Slim V, Ujno, Giang Loa and Quang Cue — playing at venues like La Casa, T-bar, Temple Bar and Amazon, along with bigger events at Hanoi Rock City. Huy believes that dubstep isn’t a fashion. “People are starting to listen to real

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music; it is improving. We’ll keep playing dubstep on a Thursday and Dirty Dutch House on a Saturday.”

Another Brick in the Wall After a year of organising the Wall of Dub nights at Hanoi Rock City, Touliver is still confident that the domestic dubstep scene can grow. “I’ve seen youngsters fall in love with this genre,” he says. “At the moment, it’s pretty strong in Hanoi, but I hope dubstep will become popular across the country, and there’ll be many more events.” However, like others he bemoans the lack of good quality sound systems, something he believes is holding back the scene. “Dubstep needs a really powerful system to express itself,” he says, which as ever brings us back to the venues. To really move the scene forward, bar and club owners need to invest in state-of-theart sound equipment. This is where the reality factor kicks in — few if any venue owners are likely to take the next step. Dubstep nights are held every Thursday at Amazon Bar, 34 Luong Ngoc Quyen, Hoan Kiem and regular Wall of Dub events take place at HRC, 27/52, To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho

BROSTEP Brostep is a relatively new sub-genre (born out of the dubstep micro-genre) which has no emphasis on soul. “The goal appears to be to produce music as fast as you possibly can, without placing any emphasis on quality. Unlike dubstep where sub bass is key, Brostep places more emphasis on ratty, high-frequency samples and oscillators that aren’t even low frequency. Toss in a few hip-hop vocal samples and you are well on your way to being the world’s next big Brostep producer.” — Urban Dictionary BROSTEP AND BEYOND “I think it was invented as a joke like ‘bromance’, as it suited the energetic noisy midrange bass music that young men like to jump up and down to and hug each other. For me it describes the North American sound, Excision and Datsik, and the UK’s Funtcase and Flux Pavilion.” — Unnamed interview, BBC Radio 1 Extra “It [Brostep] is sort of my fault, I sorta took it there, now everybody else is taking it too far… when I play in America they’re like ‘Rusko I want you to melt my face off tonight, play the hardest that you got’ and it’s not about playing the hardest tracks for an hour and a half, it’s like someone screaming in your face for an hour, you don’t want that. A lot of dubstep fans come because they want to hear the most disgusting, hard, dirty, distorted music possible… and that’s not what it’s about.” — Rusko, BBC Radio 1 Extra



Nếu bạn đến thăm trung tâm phát triển kinh tế nhanh nhất thế giới này, không có gì thích hợp hơn bằng một chuyến đi trên tàu chở khách nhanh nhất thế giới - Michael Arnold cho hay. Hình ảnh bởi Raphaël Olivier / NOI Pictures

THÔNG TIN Để biết thêm về Thượng Hải, có thể tra cứu trên Wikipedia hoặc đến các trang web sau:


oá coá thïí dêîn baån àïën têët caã nhûäng núi maâ baån cêìn ài — taâu àïåm tûâ (taâu maglev) chó vêån chuyïín haânh khaách ài nûãa àûúâng vaâo thaânh phöë, noá ngûâng úã traåm, trïn möåt tuyïën taâu àiïån ngêìm maâ tûâ àoá baån coá thïí dïî daâng bùæt chuyïën àêìu tiïn – nhûng vúái töëc àöå lûúát trïn khöng haâng àêìu 431km/giúâ, baån seä nhanh choáng deåp boã nhûäng àõnh kiïën vïì Trung Quöëc nhû laâ möåt núi chó chuyïn laâm giêìy vaâ àöì loát. Taâu nùçm lú lûãng caách àûúâng ray vaâi centimet, tiïëc thay chuyïën ài 30km cuãa noá chó keáo daâi coá baãy hoùåc taám phuát, nhûng rêët ïm cûá nhû laâ lûúát trïn vaãi luåa Trung Hoa – vaâ chùæc chùæn noá laâ phûúng tiïån nhanh nhêët trïn mùåt àêët maâ baån àaä tûâng ài. Baån seä nhanh choáng phaãi boã laåi phña sau nhûäng àõnh kiïën khi úã Thûúång Haãi. Thaânh phöë naây vöìn vaä, cuãa nhûäng ngûúâi khöng coá nhiïìu thúâi gian – chó cêìn nhòn nhûäng du khaách Chêu Êu àang loáng ngoáng vúái chiïëc theã tûâ taåi cûãa traåm – vaâ noá thûúâng xuyïn chùèng quan têm sûå haáo hûác mong àúåi cuãa nhûäng ngûúâi lêìn àêìu tiïn àïën Cöång Hoâa Nhên Dên Trung Hoa. Coá möåt vaâi du khaách sùén saâng cho möåt chuyïën ài tham quan toaân böå Thûúång Haãi, möåt vaâi söë khaác chó tham gia tham quan veã àeåp quöëc tïë vaâ nùng àöång hay daáng veã tûå tin hiïín nhiïn cuãa noá. Ðêy àuáng laâ thúâi àiïím du lõch úã Thûúång Haãi. Trong nhiïìu nùm, nhiïìu ngûúâi cho rùçng ngûúâi Thûúång Haãi chaåy theo phong caách phûúng Têy – úã Trung Quöëc, hoå luön luön bõ nghi kõ vïì viïåc sûã duång nhûäng mêíu thoaåi tiïëng Anh haâng ngaây, vaâ bõ cho laâ ra veã "khöng Trung Quöëc". Tuy nhiïn, tûâ höåi chúå World Expo 2010, sûå kyâ thõ àaä biïën mêët. Xu hûúáng thõnh haânh úã Thûúång Haãi cuãa thêåp niïn naây chùæc chùæn laâ quöëc tïë - nhûng sûác maånh taâi chñnh laåi khöng phaãn aánh cuãa phûúng Têy maâ laâ do àöåi tiïn phong cuãa quyïìn lûåc kinh tïë cêy nhaâ laá vûúân Trung Quöëc. ÚÃ möåt nûúác maâ nhiïìu thïë kyã bõ aãm aánh vïì viïåc giûä gòn böå mùåt baãn sùæc dên töåc, àiïìu àoá àöëi vúái Thûúång Haãi khöng coân cêìn thiïët.

An Phú của Thượng Hải Phong caách nûúác ngoaâi laâ rêët àöîi quen thuöåc úã Thûúång Haãi do quaá khûá thuöåc àõa cuãa noá. Thaânh phöë ngaây nay vêîn coân giûä laåi möåt phêìn cuãa thúâi àaåi àoá trïn Bïën Thûúång Haãi nöíi tiïëng, möåt daäy caác dinh thûå thuöåc thïë kyã trûúác laâ núi úã cuãa caác nhên vêåt nöíi tiïëng cuãa àêìu thïë kyã 20. Khu vûåc naây thónh thoaãng àûúåc miïu taã nhû trung têm thaânh phöë Höì Chñ Minh – caã hai trûúác kia àïìu laâ caác thaânh luäy thuöåc àõa vaâ àûúåc biïën àöíi thaânh trung têm àö thõ thûúng maåi hiïån àaåi, vaâo thúâi àaåi

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hoaâng kim, caã hai àïìu àûúåc vñ nhû "Paris cuãa phûúng Ðöng". Quan saát kyä caách baây trñ cuãa Bïën Thûúång Haãi cho thêëy nhûäng neát tûúng àöìng giûäa hai thaânh phöë laâ khöng phaãi chó bïì ngoaâi. Sûå thêåt, du khaách Thûúång Haãi àïën Viïåt Nam thûúâng cho hay khoá maâ phên biïåt quang caãnh trïn söng Saâi Goân vúái Thûúång Haãi vaâo nhûäng nùm àêìu thêåp niïn 80. Thaã böå xuöëng Bïën Thûúång Haãi, dïî daâng nhêån thêëy sûå tûúng àöìng. ÚÃ búâ phña têy con söng Hoaâng Phöë - noá cuäng uöën cong lûúån voâng nhû con söng em hoå úã Viïåt Nam, nùçm àoá laâ Cöng Cöång Tö Giúái cuä; 30 nùm trûúác, phña àöëi diïån coá veã giöëng nhû Quêån 2. Ngaây nay, khu vûåc àoá têët nhiïn tröng giöëng nhû bòa cuöën saách khoa hoåc viïîn tûúãng – nhiïìu toâa nhaâ cao nhêët Trung Quöëc Ðaåi Luåc dûúâng nhû cöë ganh àua vúái àûúâng chên trúâi, àûúåc trang hoaâng vúái nhûäng aánh àeân nhêëp nhaáy rûåc rúä cuâng nhûäng maân hònh LED khöíng löì. Quang caãnh hai bïn söng thêåt àöëi nghõch; khöng cêìn phaãi nhòn qua bïn búâ bïn kia, taãn böå doåc Bïën Thûúång Haãi gêìn giöëng nhû taãn böå úã möåt vuâng ngoaåi ö Chêu Êu vaâo àêìu nhûäng nùm 1900. Noá laâ möåt cuöåc ài daåo duyïn daáng, nhûng àûâng mong àúåi baån coá thïí àûúåc úã möåt mònh miïn man vúái nhûäng suy nghô cuãa mònh khi baån úã àoá: Bïën Thûúång Haãi laâ möåt trong nhûäng àiïím vui chúi phöí biïën nhêët úã möåt thaânh phöë maâ dên söë hiïån taåi àaä vûúåt qua mûác 23 triïåu. Doåc theo con àûúâng ven söng, möåt nûãa Thûúång Haãi seä cöë baán cho baån nhûäng àöì nûä trang bùçng nhûåa vúái àeân nhêëp nhaáy, vaâ thûúâng thò coá rêët àöng ngûúâi àïën nöîi khoá maâ àïën àûúåc àuáng chöî caái ròa söng àïí chuåp hònh quêån Pudong hiïån àaåi.

Jazz và Suy Đồi Khaách saån Fairmount Peace (20 Ðûúâng East Nanjing) nùçm ngay trung têm Bïën Thûúång Haãi, laâ möåt trong nhûäng cöng trònh kiïën truác cöí cuöëi thêåp niïn 20, núi maâ nhûäng buöíi nhaåc jazz haâng àïm laâm söëng laåi tuöíi treã vui tûúi cuãa du khaách hay nhûäng ngûúâi coá veã söëng xa xûá. Bêët kïí sûå khaác biïåt vùn hoáa cuãa thúâi gian àoá, vúái nhûäng keã buön thuöëc phiïån hay soâng baåc, sûå söi nöíi cuãa quaán bar Old Jazz úã khaách saån naây – thûúâng múã cûãa cho túái têån 2 giúâ saáng, àiïìu naây àaä laâm cho noá trúã thaânh möåt núi vö cuâng nöíi tiïëng. Ðiïìu laâm cho nhûäng àïm biïíu diïîn taåi Old Jazz trúã nïn tuyïåt vúâi laâ chñnh nhúâ caác nhaåc sô – ban nhaåc göìm caác nhaåc sô nhaåc jazz cuä tûâ thúâi nhûäng nùm 30, nhûäng ngûúâi àaä chúi vaâo nhûäng ngaây àêìu khi khaách saån vêîn coân khaá múái. Nïëu nhû baån àuã khaã nùng chi tiïu, haäy àïën àoá thûúãng thûác: nhûäng tu sûãa gêìn àêy àaä laâm cho khaách saån cöí naây trúã thaânh möåt taác phêím nghïå Bay trực tiếp từ Việt Nam đi Thượng Hải khá mắc. Giá vé một chiều từ Hà Nội đi Thượng Hải của Vietnam Airlines là 7 triệu đồng. Từ thành phố Hồ Chí Minh là khoảng 7.5 triệu đồng. Hãng AirAsia có chuyến bay đến Thượng Hải từ Kuala Lumpur, nhưng để có một chuyến đi xứng đáng bạn sẽ cần phải đặt vé trước. Giá vé một chiều tiêu chuẩn từ Kuala Lumpur là 5.5 triệu đồng. Một lựa chọn khác là bay đến Hong Kong và bắt chuyến bay nội địa hay theo hãng China Southern Airlines đến Quảng Châu và chuyển sang chuyến bay nội địa khác đến Thượng Hải. thuêåt maâ noá àaä tûâng khi múái àûúåc xêy dûång. Noái chung, úã gêìn hay trong khu vûåc Bïën Thûúång Haãi laâ möåt yá tûúãng hay, vò baån seä coá àûúåc võ trñ töët àïí khaám phaá trung têm thaânh phöë. Do khöng söëng úã Thûúång Haãi, nïn khoá tòm hiïíu caác khu vûåc nùçm ngoaâi trung têm – sûå múã röång àö thõ cuãa Thûúång Haãi rêët sêu, caác vuâng ngoaåi ö hêìu nhû cûá nöëi àuöi nhau xuêët hiïån giûäa trung têm thaânh phöë vúái möåt vaâi thaânh phöë khaác úã tónh lên cêån. Vúái möåt maång lûúái thaânh phöë lúán, thêåt khöng thïí naâo diïîn taã hïët àûúåc giao thöng úã àêy, vaâ chñnh quyïìn thaânh phöë àaä àûa ra möåt giaãi phaáp kheáo leáo àïí giaãi quyïët vêën àïì naây – xêy dûång hïå thöëng àûúâng têìng thûá hai chó caách vaâi meát trïn hïå thöëng àûúâng cuä. Kïët quaã laâ hïå thöëng àûúâng têìng chöìng cheáo hoaânh traáng naây trúã thaânh möåt trong nhûäng àùåc trûng àùåc biïåt nhêët cuãa Thûúång Haãi; noá laâm cho caái con àûúâng bïn dûúái maát rûúåi àêìy boáng rêm, cuäng coá nghôa laâ baån coá thïí thêëy nhûäng chiïëc xe húi chaåy qua cûãa söí nhaâ mònh cho duâ thêåm chñ laâ baån àang söëng úã têìng 15.

Thành Phố Của Các Vị Thần May thay, baån coá thïí traánh giao thöng bùçng viïåc sûã duång hïå thöëng taâu àiïån ngêìm cuãa Thûúång Haãi - núi àûúåc xem laâ taâu àiïån ngêìm kiïíu mêîu vaâ dïî daâng sûã duång. Chó vaâi àöìng nhên dên tïå, baån seä àûúåc àûa àïën möåt söë núi àùåc trûng thuá võ nhêët cuãa thaânh phöë - trûúác tiïn laâ Ðïìn Chenghuang phi thûúâng (247 Ðûúâng Middle Fangbang), àûúåc xêy dûång dûúái triïìu vua Minh Thaânh Töí (1403-1424). Chó möåt àoaån ngùæn ài böå tûâ traåm taâu àiïån ngêìm àûúâng West Nanjing trïn tuyïën söë 2 laâ túái. Möîi thaânh phöë cuãa Trung Quöëc àaä tûâng dûång möåt ngöi àïìn àïí thúâ phûúång vaâ àïìn àaáp nhûäng võ thêìn àõa phûúng. Chó möåt vaâi ngöi àïìn nhû thïë coân töìn taåi úã toaân àêët nûúác, nhûng coân khaá nhiïìu àïìn àûúåc gòn giûä cuâng vúái baãn sùæc cuãa Thûúång Haãi – nhûäng höåi

öm troån vaâ boá saát cú thïí nhû chiïëc aáo daâi Viïåt Nam.

Cocktail ở Thiên Đường

àûúâng àûúåc trang hoaâng phûác taåp, lúán nhû möåt trûúâng àaåi hoåc – àaä trúã thaânh möåt mï cung traáng lïå cuãa caác thûúng nhên. Nhûäng toâa nhaâ cuä àûúåc àoáng panö maâu trùæng nhû nhûäng cùn nhaâ cuä thúâi Tudor, nhûng möåt caách nghiïm trang, chuáng àûáng löång lêîy tuyïåt àeåp, phong caách truyïìn thöëng Trung Quöëc, traãi ra nhû möåt cung àiïån vúái vö söë ngûúâi baán haâng ài laåi trïn nhûäng con heãm àöng àuác, cöë gùæng tiïëp cêån ngûúâi nûúác ngoaâi àïí àûa nhûäng têëm hònh lúán vïì nhûäng chiïëc àöìng höì àeo tay haâng nhaái vaâ hy voång vúái cêu buâa chuá "Ruo-lek-si?" Haäy cho pheáp mònh thûúãng thûác nhûäng moán ùn nheå àñch thûåc cuãa Thûúång Haãi khi baån coân úã àêy. ÚÃ Nanxiang Steamed Bun, baån haäy thûúãng cho mònh möåt mêíu baánh xiaolongbao nöíi tiïëng, noá laâ möåt loaåi baánh bao chûáa àêìy suáp thõt heo beáo. Nïëu baån quan têm vúái möåt caái gò àoá nheå nhaâng hún nhûng êën tûúång, baánh tang bao laâ möåt phiïn baãn

cuãa cao lûúng myä võ. Cêìn möåt öëng huát àêm thuãng qua lúáp voã baánh daây àïí coá thïí huát saåch lúáp nûúác duâng ngon ngoåt bïn trong vaâ lúáp voã nhaäo bïn ngoaâi cuäng nïn àûúåc loaåi boã. Caác höåi àûúâng tön giaáo cuãa ngöi àïìn vêîn àang hoaåt àöång, têåp trung thúâ phûúång caác quan chûác nöíi bêåt cuãa thaânh phöë tûâ quaá khûá xa xöi – nhûäng ngûúâi maâ àûúåc tön kñnh nhû thaánh thêìn. Nïëu nhû baån thñch thuá thò haäy gheá xem, nhûng chó lang thang qua khu vûåc buön baán vaâ têån hûúãng nhûäng tiïëng öìn aâo cuãa du khaách vaâ thûúng nhên, baån coá thïí nhêån thêëy noá laâ caái gò àoá hún hùèn viïåc gòn giûä baãn sùæc cuãa Thûúång Haãi. Moåi thûá àïìu àûúåc baây baán úã àêy, àöì trang sûác bùçng vaâng vaâ ngoåc bñch cuâng vúái traái cêy giaã bùçng nhûåa vaâ nhûäng xe húi mö hònh; quaåt tay vaâ luåa àûúåc treo trïn caác quêìy haâng bïn caånh nhûäng quêìy haâng rao baán thuá nhöìi böng. Ra sûác tòm kiïëm chiïëc aáo daâi phiïn baãn Thûúång Haãi - möåt chiïëc aáo àêìm quyïën ruä vúái tïn goåi sûúân xaám

Caách khöng xa àïìn Chenghuang laâ möåt trong nhûäng quêån ài böå hiïån àaåi nhêët Thûúång Haãi, khu Xintiandi thöng minh — coá nghôa laâ "Traái Ðêët vaâ Thiïn Ðûúâng Múái". Khu thûúng maåi phên chia caác nhaâ haâng vaâ caác cûãa haâng thúâi trang naây laâ möåt nöî lûåc baão vïå möåt vaâi àùåc trûng nguyïn thuãy cuãa kiïën truác shikumen Thûúång Haãi truyïìn thöëng kïët húåp vúái möåt thiïët kïë mang phong caách hiïån àaåi – möåt meåo hiïåu quaã. Nhòn tûâ xa, khu phûác húåp naây tröng giöëng möåt böå sûu têåp nhûäng ngöi nhaâ truyïìn thöëng àûúåc laâm múái – vaâ nhiïìu ngûúâi Thûúång Haãi àaä söëng trong nhûäng ngöi nhaâ naây tûâ beá. Vaâo bïn trong vaâ baån seä nhêån thêëy mònh àang úã trong nhûäng quaán cafe vaâ bar húåp thúâi nhêët. ÚÃ àêy baån seä tòm thêëy êím thûåc quöëc tïë vaâ nhaåc söëng àûúåc biïíu diïîn búãi caác nhaåc sô àùèng cêëp thïë giúái, úã àêy baån seä coá cúá àïí chïënh choaáng say nöìng cuäng nhû laâ möåt núi thuêån tiïån àïí vui chúi hïët mònh. Hún möåt thêåp kyã qua, Xintiandi àaä laâ möåt àõa àiïím chùæc chùæn phaãi àûúåc gheá ngang úã Thûúång Haãi, möåt sûå khùèng àõnh êën tûúång trong möåt thaânh phöë núi maâ coá rêët nhiïìu àõa àiïím àeåp caånh tranh dûä döåi cho danh hiïåu naây. Thêåm chñ nïëu baån khöng coá têm traång laâm möåt ly bia hay cafe mùæc moã, chó cêìn thaã böå xung quanh kiïën truác quyïën ruä naây vaâo ban ngaây cuäng àuã hêëp dêîn. Noái caách khaác, Xintiandi giao hoâa nhûäng mêu thuêîn giûäa caác mùåt khaác nhau cuãa thaânh phöë, khúi dêåy möåt Thûúång Haãi cöí xûa vúái neát lõch sûã thuöåc àõa riïng biïåt, vaâ cuâng luác àõnh hûúáng du lõch cho du khaách ngaây nay. Noá laâ möåt núi lyá tûúãng trong möåt thaânh phöë àöng àuác, núi maâ baån seä caãm thêëy cuöëi cuâng baån àaä bùæt àêìu hiïíu Thûúång Haãi laâ nhû thïë naâo.

April 2012 The Word | 143


Xa xôi từ Đan Mạch đến người hàng xóm Thái Lan, người sành ăn của chúng tôi tiếp tục khám phá ẩm thực của hai đất nước này. Hình ảnh bởi EJ Chung

Nhà Hàng Koh Thai KUMHO LINK, 39 LÊ DUẨN, Q1. ĐT: 3823 4423


ïëu nhaâ haâng naâo hiïån nay àûúåc cho laâ hònh aãnh thu nhoã cuãa thaânh phöë Höì Chñ Minh "múái", thò àoá laâ Koh Thai. Tûâ trang trñ sang troång vaâ húåp thúâi àïën thûåc àún àöåc àaáo vaâ khaác biïåt trong êím thûåc àñch thûåc cuãa Thaái, nhaâ haâng múái múã naây toaát lïn khöng khñ hiïån àaåi. Luác chuáng töi àïën, möåt àiïìu nöíi bêåt laâ caác baân àïìu àaä coá àêìy thûåc khaách ngûúâi Viïåt. Nhaâ haâng thanh lõch. Nhûäng bûác tranh trùæng àen tinh tïë àêìy khiïu khñch veä cú thïí ngûúâi phuå nûä àûúåc trang trñ trïn tûúâng, hûúáng mùæt nhòn lïn trêìn mang nùång chêët cöng nghiïåp kïët húåp vúái nhûäng àeân chuâm mang phong caách gothic. AÁnh saáng nheå nhaâng, laâm dõu ài nhûäng maâu sùæc sùåc súä khaác vaâ röìi caã nhûäng chöî ngöìi thêåt thoaãi maái (nùçm riïng biïåt, nhûäng daäy ghïë daâi boåc caã àïåm lûng vaâ baân trang troång), têët caã toaát lïn möåt veã cao cêëp sang troång nhûng khöng gian thò yïn bònh vaâ thû thaái. Chuáng töi bùæt àêìu nghiïn cûáu muåc thûác uöëng trûúác tiïn, möåt danh saách cocktail àûúåc àûa ra àêìy saáng taåo. Mùåc duâ khöng àûúåc kï trong thûåc àún, töi vêîn goåi möåt moán cuä (rûúåu whisky ngö pha vúái àûúâng nêu, kïët húåp vúái võ àùæng vaâ laå cuãa voã cam). Thûác uöëng àûúåc mang ra vaâ cho àïën nay noá laâ moán àöì uöëng ngon nhêët maâ töi tûâng nïëm qua úã àêët nûúác naây. Tûúng tûå, moán cocktail giaã caâ-ri dûâa, A Little Thaid Up, cuäng laâ möåt moán tuyïåt. Vodka cay nöìng

144 | The Word April 2012

àem laåi cho moán cocktail nûúác dûâa möåt cuá hñch. Ngûúâi pha chïë rûúåu chùæc phaãi àûúåc huêën luyïån töët, hoå biïët hoå àang laâm gò. Thûác ùn laåi laâ möåt cêu truyïån thuá võ khaác. Chuáng töi trûúác tiïn goåi moán baánh caá Thaái, gaâ chiïn doân goái trong laá dûáa vaâ sashimi caá höìi. Mùåc duâ hai moán khai võ ban àêìu khaá ngon (baánh caá dêìy vaâ mïìm mõn, thõt gaâ naåc nhûng khöng khö), nhûng võ chua chua cuãa moán sashimi caá höìi cuäng nöíi bêåt khöng keám. Saáu miïëng thõt caá höìng höìng nùçm trïn àôa ngêåp trong nûúác söët wasabi nheå nhaâng. Võ cay nöìng cuãa wasabi àûúåc laâm dõu bùçng nûúác eáp cam taåo sûå cên bùçng hoaân haão. Moán naây àem laåi sûå ngaåc nhiïn. Taåm gaác laåi sûå khúãi àêìu töët, nhûäng moán chñnh laâ möåt sûå phoãng àoaán. Caã hai chuáng töi àïìu àöìng yá moán caâ-ri àoã vúái thõt võt laâ moán àaáng chuá yá nhêët cuãa àïm. Coá dûáa trong moán nhûng chuáng töi laåi nhêìm vúái caâ tñm Thaái, nûúác söët ngoân ngoåt laâm tùng muâi thúm nöìng cuãa nhûäng miïëng thõt võt mïìm maåi. Ðôa pad Thai goong khaá lúán (àuã cho ba ngûúâi ùn) chûáa nhiïìu thaânh phêìn vaâ gia võ cêìn thiïët (göìm trûáng traáng phuã trïn buán gaåo chiïn, giaá, töm vúái àêåu phöång giaä, böåt úát vaâ chanh àïí úã bïn caånh), theo hiïíu biïët cuãa chuáng töi thò dûúâng nhû thiïëu mêët nûúác chêëm me. Thêåt tiïëc thay – moåi thûá coân laåi cuãa moán àïìu àaáng tiïìn.

Laâ möåt moán ùn nhanh phöí biïën (mùåc duâ noá khöng mang möåt chuát tñnh chêët Chêu Êu) úã Thaái Lan, moán pad krapow moo phiïn baãn Koh Thai coá võ àñch thûåc nhû moán àoá àûúåc baây baán úã àûúâng phöë, mùåc duâ phiïn baãn naây tinh tïë vaâ cên bùçng hún - úã àêy baån coá thïí caãm nhêån àûúåc chêët lûúång cuãa caác thaânh phêìn trong moán. Thõt heo xay chiïn chaão, huáng quïë Thaái, toãi vaâ úát laâm cho moán naây ngon tuyïåt vaâ thúm lûâng. Möåt sûå lûåa choån tuyïåt vúâi. Thêåt khöng may, moán caá höìi hêëp àûúåc kïët húåp vúái baåc haâ, toãi, úát vaâ chanh laåi khöng hiïåu quaã lùæm. Koh Thai luön nöî lûåc àûa vaâo möåt vaâi moán taåo dêëu êën cho êím thûåc Thaái, nhûng thûúâng seä coá möåt hoùåc hai moán khöng taåo àûúåc àiïím nhêën. ÚÃ moán naây, GIÁ nûúác mùæm chêëm chua BÁNH CÁ THÁI ngoåt cay nöìng nhû phiïn 138,000 ĐỒNG baãn baån thûúâng thêëy taåi GÀ CHIÊN GIÒN caác nhaâ haâng Viïåt Nam CUỐN LÁ DỨA úã Saâi Goân, khöng húåp 138,000 ĐỒNG vúái kïët cêëu vaâ võ ngoåt SASHIMI CÁ HỒI cuãa caá höìi. Chuáng töi àaä 168,000 ĐỒNG thûã moán naây lêìn thûá hai CÀ-RI ĐỎ VỚI vaâ noá cuäng khöng khaá THỊT VỊT hún. 188,000 ĐỒNG Sau traãi nghiïåm chñnh, CÁ HỒI HẤP têët nhiïn àïën traáng 238,000 ĐỒNG miïång – hai chiïëc baánh chuöëi chiïn ùn keâm vúái PAD THAI GOONG 168,000 ĐỒNG mêåt ong vaâ kem dûâa. Boåc trong möåt lúáp böåt PAD KRAPOW gioân, moãng vaâ ngoân MOO 188,000 ĐỒNG ngoåt, chuöëi mïìm, êëm vaâ deão trong khi àoá kem CHUỐI CHIÊN ngon vaâ thúm, mùåc duâ 88,000 ĐỒNG chuáng àaä tan ra möåt nûãa khi àûúåc mang túái. NHÂN XÉT Nhûäng löîi nho nhoã trïn chùæc chùæn seä àûúåc giaãi quyïët , Koh Thai laâ THỨC ĂN möåt nhaâ haâng lúán àoan chùæc seä thûåc hiïån lúâi hûáa cuãa mònh. Nhaâ haâng àaä PHỤC VỤ thûåc hiïån rêët nhiïìu àiïìu töët chó trong möåt thúâi gian ngùæn, vaâ hy voång seä caãi thiïån hún nûäa.

10 10 12


Nhà Hàng Bar Storm P 5B NGUYỄN SIÊU, Q1. ĐT: 3827 4737


úã cûãa tûâ nùm 2002 vaâ àûúåc àùåt tïn theo tïn hoåa sô biïëm hoåa ngûúâi Ðan Maåch Robert Storm Petersen, nhaâ haâng bar Scandinavia khöng kiïíu caách naây phuåc vuå nhûäng moán ùn thõnh soaån vaâ böí dûúäng theo phong caách àõa phûúng Ðan Maåch vaâ Bavaria trong möåt khung caãnh àeåp laå vaâ êëm cuáng. Chuáng töi keáo ghïë ngöìi àöëi diïån nhau úã möåt chiïëc baân göî nhoã, hai thûåc khaách sau lûng chuáng töi im lùång chúi Balut, möåt troâ chúi xuác xùæc truyïìn thöëng cuãa Ðan Maåch tûúng tûå nhû troâ Yahtzee, trong khi nhûäng ngûúâi khaác xuám tuå úã quêìy bar, trïn tay cêìm bia vaâ mùæt thò daán vaâo maân hònh TV phùèng phña trïn àang chiïëu àaá banh. Möåt bûác aãnh cuãa ngûúâi chuã chuåp chung vúái Tiger Woods àûúåc haänh diïån treo trïn bûác tûúâng chêët àöì röång lúán phña sau quêìy bar, trong khi àoá bûác tranh in cuãa Petersen nùçm trïn bûác tranh veä tay vïì caãnh búâ söng Copenhagen, chuáng traãi daâi trïn bûác tûúâng phña sau. Mùåc duâ coá phuåc vuå xaâ-laát, êím thûåc Êu AÁ vaâ moán ùn thuêìn AÁ, vúái nhûäng moán nhû winerschnitzel, thõt bï nêëu vúái nûúác xöët kem chua, baánh mò thõt, cuäng coá caác loaåi baánh mò sandwich möåt laát truyïìn thöëng cuãa Ðan Maåch (göìm loaåi ostemad, rule polse, pate lever posteg), roä raâng Storm P laâ möåt núi daânh cho nhûäng ai coá thiïn hûúáng thñch böå àöi thûåc phêím bêët huã laâ thõt vaâ khoai têy. Thêåt dïî chõu, caác cö gaái sau quêìy bar khöng chó cûúâi maâ nhanh choáng lêëy bia

khöng cêìn àúåi khaách goåi; hoå thuöåc thûåc àún vaâ nùæm rêët roä caác moán ùn. Theo lúâi khuyïn, cuâng vúái möåt chuát tûå tin hiïëm hoi maâ ñt khi àûúåc thïí hiïån úã thaânh phöë naây, chuáng töi àöìng yá goåi moán xuác xñch àoã, thõt viïn Ðan Maåch vúái xaâ-laát khoai têy laånh, moán karbonade vaâ xuác xñch phö mai kransky. Ði keâm vúái möåt chiïëc baánh nûúáng, àûúåc trang trñ cuâng haânh têy chiïn vaâ möåt vaâi miïëng dûa leo, moán xuác xñch àoã laâ möåt moán ùn nhanh àún giaãn nhûng hiïåu quaã. Thïm tûúng caâ chua vaâ muâ taåt saãn xuêët theo phong caách Ðûác laâ moán xuác xñch naây thêåt sûå hoaåt àöång. Boã qua Apocalypse Now, xuác xñch ngon nhêët nùçm phña bïn Nhaâ Haát Thaânh Phöë thuöåc vïì Storm P. Nhûäng moán coân laåi àûúåc mang ra nhiïìu vaâ nhanh, bùæt àêìu vúái moán thõt viïn àûúåc nhiïìu khen ngúåi. Chuáng ngon thêåt! Daây, nhiïìu rau muâi vaâ mïìm, ba viïn viïn thõt boâ deåt cùng moång kïët húåp töët vúái võ beo beáo cuãa xaâ-laát khoai têy vaâ võ ngoåt sùæc neát cuãa cuã caãi àûúâng vaâ bñ ngö chua. Moán tiïëp theo laâ möåt moán tinh quaái xêëu xa. Ðûúåc laâm úã Haâ Nöåi daânh àöåc quyïìn cho Storm P, moán phö mai kransky khöíng löì. Beáo, àêìy nûúác vaâ chûáa lúáp phö mai tan chaãy, xuác xñch coá võ khoái hoâa húåp cuâng muâ taåt thúm phong caách Ðûác cöång thïm võ rau thuá võ cuãa dûa bùæp caãi. Ðiïìu thêët voång duy nhêët cuãa moán naây laâ khoai têy chiïn, moán naây nïn àûúåc nïm nïëm thïm muöëi, tiïu vaâ coá leä laâ caã toãi. Tuy nhiïn, khoai têy luöåc ài chung vúái

moán cuöëi cuâng cuãa chuáng töi khöng thïí naâo thúm ngon hún thïë. Mùåc duâ noá àûúåc àïí nùçm saát bïn moán karbonade, nhûng moán khoai têy naây àïí laåi êën tûúång lêu. Baãn thên moán karbonade cuäng xuêët sùæc. Tröng noá giöëng moán gaâ baánh mò kiev nhúâ lúáp baánh mò boåc bïn ngoaâi, lúáp nhên daây bïn trong giöëng nhû baánh mò thõt heo coá võ ngoåt ngoåt mùån mùån khi rûúái thïm nûúác xöët cay cay lïn phña trïn. Cho duâ veã bïn ngoaâi nhaâ haâng khöng àûúåc GIÁ hoaânh traáng cho lùæm cuäng húi möåt chuát àaáng ngaåi, nhûng nhûäng moán ùn Trung Êu vaâ Scandivia àûúåc chuêín bõ cêín thêån àaä laâm têët caã thêåt thuá võ vúái giaá caã húåp lyá, àiïìu naây coá nghôa laâ nhaâ haâng bar Storm P coá thïí àûúåc xem nhû möåt trong nhûäng viïn àaá quyá êím thûåc bõ àaánh giaá sai úã trung têm Saâi Goân. MỖI THANG ĐIỂM CHO THỨC ĂN, TRANG TRÍ VÀ PHỤC VU DỰA THEO THANG ĐIỂM TỪ 0 ĐẾN 15 13 – 15 = đặc biệt đến hoàn hảo 10 – 12.5 = rất tốt đến tuyệt 8 – 9.5 = tốt đến rất tốt 5 – 7.5 = khá tới tốt 0 – 4.5 = kém tới khá BÀI VIẾT NÀY CÓ MỤC ĐÍCH ĐÓNG GÓP XÂY DỰNG TÍCH CỰC


11 10 8.5 THỨC ĂN




IS SAIGON FOR HIPSTERS? Julia Plevin’s only claim to fame is that she is quoted on the Wikipedia entry for “hipster.” Is she a hipster? Are you? Read this to find out


he ever-elusive hipster is hard to define, but I’ll try. ‘Hipster’ may be an American term, but most American hipsters are more sympathetic towards any culture besides their own. A hipster is a blasé semiintellectual below the age of 40. A hipster may both act against the grain and own jeans with an against the grain wash. Few people will identify themselves as a hipster, but curiously you see incarnations of them everywhere. They are the ones in tight jeans, Converse sneakers, ironic t-shirts, a scarf and/ or hooded sweatshirts (even in the Saigon heat). They sit at cafes like L’usine and Yoko with their iPhones, Macs and iPads, probably blogging, updating their status on Facebook or reading indie online newspapers. I’m sure you are starting to get the idea. My boss tells me that some elements of Saigon now have the same vibe that Prague had in the early 1990s, when artsy folk seeking la vie Boheme set up shop and sat around shooting photographs and writing poems. I was more concerned with learning my multiplication tables than I was with

becoming a coffee and music aficionado and being part of any fringe movement in the early 1990s. But I’ll take his word for it because whether you are a hipster or not, the boss is always right. However, these wayward hipster folk are nothing new. They were in Paris with Gertrude Stein and The Lost Generation in the 1920s, with Jack Kerouac roaming across the US in the late 1940s. They’ve done Bali and Berlin, and were apparently brewing their own beer and smoking fancy cigarettes in Prague in the 1990s. So, where has the hipster movement migrated to now? Many signs point to Vietnam — both Saigon and Hanoi. Look around. Even you yourself are most likely a hipster. Maybe with our Hipster Characteristics Checklist, it will become apparent whether or not this city is currently hosting the hipster movement.

1) Skinny jeans and Converse All-Stars Hipster men are most often rail thin and clad in skinny jeans. They might get that physique from their nutrient-lacking vegan diet or more likely from drinking beers and coffee for dinner instead of eating food. Well, most Vietnamese guys are super trim and wear tight pants. But if a hipster can be anyone wearing tight jeans and Converse sneakers, then most motorbike racing teenage boys would qualify. So yes, then there would be a lot of hipsters in Ho Chi Minh City. But that can’t be right.

2) Asian Girlfriends Another dead giveaway for a hipster is the Asian girlfriend. Don’t ask me why. Many men here, whether they are banker bros or super business jocks, have Asian girlfriends, but that does not a hipster make. That tick on the checklist needs to have a big red strike through.

3) Wiling Away at Cafes Hipsters tend not to have nine to five jobs. That type of artificial construction ruins the creative process. It’s always amazed me that in all the hustle and bustle of the city, so many people have time to spend hours over coffee, most often accompanied by a laptop computer and maybe another likeminded friend. Foreigners and Vietnamese alike spend countless daytime hours with a ca phe sua da or latte. Coffee culture helps make good ideas happen and hipsters like good ideas (and good coffee — none of that corporate stuff). Check.

4) Being Cheap Hipsters may be willing to drop dough on some of life’s utter necessities — like iPod speakers and designer vintage — but for the most part, the mantra they chant in and out of yoga is, “Don’t pay the man.” Hipsters may be as cheap as they want. Bia hoi, BGI and large bottles of Tiger can often be cheaper than water, and buying vegetables to cook cross-cultural meals is possible with pocket change. Some non-hipsters complain, “Saigon expats are cheapskates.” That might be right, but they are really missing the point.

5) Loving Culture Hipsters love to feel cultured and Ho Chi Minh City has a lot of cultural outlets. From art openings and open mic nights to short film showings and music performances, the city has events where hipsters can open their minds and gain new perspectives almost every night. Well, at least, most nights.

6) Being Artsy Whether it’s knitting, baking, writing or rapping, hipsters feel the need to express themselves artistically. And most expats have some sort of artsy hobby. I have a friend who DJs, many who blog, write, sing, act, cook and dance, and some who make art from

JUDGE'S SCORE If you identify with more than four of the characteristics on this list, you might be a hipster. You already get one point for living in Saigon, however you got here and whatever you are doing here. Of course there is a lot more to being a hipster than these eight enumerated items. No hipster would agree to such a simplified version of such a complex and carefully crafted ironic outlook on life. Still, just by writing this I have committed the ultimate act of selfdestruction and made the hipster a cliché. Saigon, with its history, culture, cheap food and chaos, may be the perfect environment for hipsters to thrive. Ironically, once this becomes known (and once an overwhelming amount of global corporations arrive in the city), the real

hipsters will be off to the next location… Now will the real hipsters please stand up! Oh, you stood up? You’re not a hipster then.

junkyard scraps. Everyone seems to feel the urge to create and many people living in Saigon even manage to make a living (or make ends meet, anyway) by blogging, photographing, filmmaking and writing. You might think that these artists are all buying time before they start a real career, but many artists in residence are really making it. That girl at the coffee shop is probably writing her first novel and that guy in the goofy hat is actually a famous blogger. And the smiling lad uploading photos? He just shot a story for The New York Times. Everyone in this group knows each other and shares links on Twitter when someone else in the group makes it big with freelance pieces in The Washington Post or CNNgo. com. Something about this environment is endlessly inspiring to artists of all types.

7) Bike Repairing Hipsters like to dabble in hands-on affairs. They ride around town on fixed gear bikes and have felt nostalgic for motorcycles ever since reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. This city is the prime spot for everything motorbikes. True hipsters can baby their Honda Super Cubs and vintage Vespas. Some might even make a hobby out of fixing up and selling used bikes.

8) Leaving the Rat Race All hipsters who have washed up on the shores of Saigon have made a strong declaration to their family and friends back home that they are different. They don’t want that predictable life with a steady job, a mortgage and a weekend home in the country. They deferred law school, quit their career or left a hometown sweetheart to “see the world” ld and learn what life is all about. Saigon hipsters are decidedly against dec the grain.




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148 | The Word March 2012

Nguyen Cu Trinh, Q1 - F3 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q1, Q3 - A4, A5, B3, B4, C2, C3, D1, D2, E1 Nguyen Du, Q1 - A6, B5, B6, C5, D3, D5 Nguyen Hue, Q1 - C5, C6, D6, D7 Nguyen Huu Canh, Q1 - A7, B7 Nguyen Sieu, Q1 - C6 Nguyen Son Ha, Q3 - E1, E2, F1 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4 - E7, F7 Nguyen Thai Binh, Q1 - E5, F4 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Q1 - E4, F4, F5 Nguyen Thi Dieu, Q3 - C2, C3, D2 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1 - A5, A6, B4, B5, C3, C4, D2, D3, E1, E2, F1 Nguyen Thong, Q3 - B1, C1, C2 Nguyen Thuong Hien, Q3 - D1, E2 Nguyen Trai, Q1 - E2, E3, F2 Nguyen Trung Ngan, Q1 - A7, B6 Nguyen Trung Truc, Q1 - D5 Nguyen Van Thu, Q1 - A4 Pasteur, Q1, Q3 - A2, A3, B3, B4, C4, C5, D5, D6, E6 Pham Hong Thai, Q1 - E4 Pham Ngoc Thach, Q1, Q3 - A3, A4, B4, B5 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1 - E3, E4, E5, F2, F3 Pham Viet Chanh, Q1 - E1, F1 Phan Boi Chau, Q1 - D5 Phan Chau Trinh, Q1 - D5 Pho Duc Chanh, Q1 - E5, F5, F6 Phung Khac Khoan, Q1 - A4, A5 Suong Nguyet Anh, Q1 - D2, D3, E2 Thai Van Lung, Q1 - B6, C6 Thi Sach, Q1 - C6, C7 Thu Khoa Huan, Q1 - D4, D5 Thu Thiem Tuunnel, E7 Ton Duc Thang, Q1 - A6, B6, B7, C7, D7, E7 Ton That Dam, Q1 - D6, E6 Ton That Thiep, Q1 - D6 Ton That Tung, Q1 - E2 Tran Cao Van, Q1 - A5, B4 Tran Hung Dao, Q1 - E4, E5, F3, F4 Tran Quoc Thao, Q3 - A1, A2, B2, B3, C3 Tran Quoc Toan, Q3 - A2, B2 Truong DInh, Q1, Q3 - B1, B2, C2, C3, D3, D4, E4 Truong Quyen, Q3 - A3, A4 Tu Xuong, Q3 - A3, B2, C1 Vo Thi Sau, Q3 - A2, A3, B1, B2, C1 Vo Van Kiet ( East West Highway) - E6, F5, F6 Vo Van Tan, Q3 - B4, C3, C4, D2, E1, E2 Vuon Chuoi, Q3 - D1 Yershin, Q1 - E4, F5

uoi Ch on Vu

Alexandre De Rhodes, Q1 - B5, C4 Au Trieu, Q1 - D6, E6 Ba Huyen Thanh Quan, Q3 - B1, C2, D3 Bui Thi Xuan, Q1 - D3, E2, E3 Bui Vien, Q1 - F3, F4 Cach Mang Thang 8, Q1, Q3 - C1, D2, D3 Calmette, Q1 - E5, F5 Cao Thang, Q10 - E1 Chu Manh Trinh, Q1 - B6 Co Bac, Q1 - F4 Cong Huynh, Q1 - E1, E2, F2, F3 De Tham, Q1 - E4, F4 Dien Bien Phu, Q1, Q3 - A4, B2, B3, C1, C2, D1 Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1 - A5, A6 Do Quang Dau, Q1 - F3 Doan Van Bo, Q4 - F6 Dong Du, Q1 - C6, D6 Dong Khoi, Q1 - C5, C6, D6, D7 Hai Ba Trung Q1 - A3, A4, B5, C6, C7 Ham Nghi, Q1 - E5, E6, E7 Han Thuyen, Q1 - C5 Ho Huan Nghiep, Q1 - D6, D7 Ho Tung Mau, Q1 - D6, E6 Ho Xuan Huong, Q3 - C2, D2 Hoang Dieu, Q4 - F6, F7 Huyen Tran Cong Chua, Q1 - C4, D4 Huynh Thuc Khang, Q1 - D6, E5 Ky Con, Q1 - E4, E5, F5 Ky Dong, Q3 - A1, B1 Le Cong Kieu, Q1 - E5 Le Duan, Q1 - A6, B5, B6, C4, C5 Le Lai, Q1 - E3, E4, E5 Le Loi, Q1 - C6, D5, D6 Le Ngo Cat, Q3 - C1, C2 Le Quy Don, Q3 - B2, B3 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 - B6, B7, C5, C6, D4, D5, E4 Le Thi Hong Gam, Q1 - E4, E5 Le Thi Rieng, Q1 - E3 Luong Huu Khanh, Q1 - E2 Luu Van Lang, Q1 - D5 Ly Chinh Thang, Q3 - A1, B1, C1 Ly Tu Trong, Q1 - B6, C5, C6, D4, D5 Mac Dinh Chi, Q1 - A4, A5, B5, B6 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1 - C6, D6 Me Linh Circle, Q1 - D7 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q1, Q3 - A2, A3, B3, B4, C4, C5, D5, E5, E6 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1 - D6, D7 Ngo Thoi Nhiem, Q3 - B2, B3, C2 Ngo Van Nam, Q1 - B7 Nguyen An Ninh, Q1 - D4, D5, E4 Nguyen Binh Khiem, Q1 - A6, A7 Nguyen Cong Tru, Q1 - E5, E5, F4, F5


g Sa Truon ng Sa H oa




hinh Thang Ly C

Street Index


Din h




Photo of the Month

Answers on page 4















4. Cook partly, as meat in preparation for roasting 5. Farmland unit 6. Communist leader ____ Tse-tung 7. Dancer’s one-piece bodysuit






3. Italian “a”




65. Over ____ (way to cook eggs)

2. I’m impressed!”




By Dhruv Ashra Photography

1. “Attack, Spot!”




64. Purpose






19 21













8. Meat in a submarine sandwich 9. Fencing sword


10. Like beef that’s barely cooked



11. Small cookers with motor-driven spits for barbecuing



12. Like highly seasoned New Orleans-style cuisine


13. Small sofa


18. Stoop over













22. React to yeast, as bread 23. Donated 24. Nights before holidays 25. Small baking appliance: 2 wds.

The thelotornis kirtlandii (Vine Snake) taken at Hanumanagundi Falls, Kudremukh National Park, Chikkamagaluru District in Karnataka, India

26. “____ first you don’t succeed …”: 2 wds. ACROSS

35. ____ for tat

27. Sighs of relief

1. Consommé, borscht or gazpacho

36. ____ Paul’s (brand of frozen fish)

30. PC key below Shirt, often

5. Person making others laugh

37. Neo-soul singer Corinne Bailey ____

32. Dock

11. Some colas

40. London art gallery

35. E-mail abbr. that means “See ya later”

14. College in New Rochelle, N.Y.

42. “Rebel without a Cause” actor Mineo

36. Turn to pulp, as potatoes

15. Topped cracker eaten as an appetizer

43. Fish’s respiratory organ

38. Jal ____ (game like handball)

16. Mined metal

44. Cooks by immersing in fat: Hyph.

39. Tall shade trees

17. Grilled on a rack that leaves black stripes

47. Heavy ____ (Cooking ingredient with a high percentage of butterfat)

41. For each one: 2 wds.

19. Vietnamese New Year 20. Stinging bug

48. Corporation involved in a 2002 scandal

21. ____ kwon do ( Korean martial art)

49. Slangy refusal

43. Bake with a topping of browned bread crumbs and butter

22. Mob brawl

50. Green patch in a desert

44. Cease, in legalese

23. Climb aboard: 2 wds.

51. “Enough already!”

45. Dish that’s the main course

26. Sam-____ (Dr. Seuss character): Hyph.


46. Doing the same old thing over and over: 3 wds.

27. Supermarket walkway

53. Pimple

47. Mattress component

28. Steer clear of

54. Hip-hop producer Gotti

52. Round, flat bread in an Indian restaurant

29. Meat browned lightly, stewed, and served in a sauce made with its own stock

55. Like sugar that’s been heated until it turns brown

53. Citrus peel used in cooking

31. Wiener schnitzel meat

60. Observe

56. About half of all adults

32. Cushion

61. Cooks quickly in a pan with a little fat

57. Suffix meaning “animals”

33. “With this ring I ____ wed”

62. “That’s ____ bad idea”: 2 wds.

58. Space aliens, for short

34. Letter before tee

63. Two short of a dozen

59. Week division

150 | The Word April 2012

Do you ow na photograp h that would look good here? Ema il it to christin e@ wordhcmc. com

42. Navigable channel leading to the ocean: 2 wds.

{pop lingo



Win three, free 20-hour Vietnamese courses at Vietnamese Language Studies Saigon (VLS) at their new Phu My Hung centre.* Send your correct answers to



6) Đại lộ Nguyễn Văn Linh a)

2) Đại học RMIT Việt Nam

f) 7) Những trang vàng Phú Mỹ Hưng

b) 3) Hồ Bán Nguyệt

g) 8) Cầu Phú Mỹ


55. CBS series about forensic evidence experts 4) Cầu Ánh Sao

h) 9) Bệnh viện Pháp Việt

d) 5) Cầu Ông Lớn (cầu Đỏ)

i) 10) Trung tâm triển lãm Sài Gòn



1) Siêu thị

A) Apartment

2) Quán cà phê

B) Parking Lot

3) Nhà hàng

C) Hotel

4) Bãi giữ xe

D) School

5) Khách sạn

E) Park

6) Bệnh viện

F) Shopping Centre

7) Trường học

G) Coffee Shop

8) Công viên

H) Restaurant

9) Trung tâm mua sắm

I) Supermarket

10) Căn hộ chung cư

J) Hospital

*Prizes are for first time winners only and all submissions will be forwarded to VLS

April 2012 The Word | 151

on THE


When Trish Franklin isn’t busy being a ‘grandma’ to over a 1,000 kids she runs the Loreto Vietnam-Australia Program, a charity organisation that helps disadvantaged and disabled children in Vietnam. With a minute of breathing space, she speaks to us about her fears and achievements

but you’re one of the few who are actually hands-on. Do you think this is why LVAP is so successful? Investment into what is actually happening requires pro-active leadership and energetic attentiveness. I don’t do this alone. My wonderful staff is generous and they are fully committed young women: also our volunteer group complements all our plans for the kids Dishonesty and gossip

How do you choose the places that need the most help?

On what occasions do you lie?

We ‘research’ poorest areas of need, go and look, and then explore the long-term effects of our help, particularly giving chances for local communities to attain self-sustainability

‘White lies’ — when it saves someone from being hurt or humiliated

THE PERSON What is your idea of perfect happiness? Being in heaven and having NO PAPER WORK to do there

What is your greatest fear? Continually hearing stories of kids in our world dying of starvation. I’m also deadscared of snakes and spiders

What historical or living figure do you most identify with? Though no way near to her excellence, Mother Teresa, for giving her life to the poor

What living person do you most admire? Hard question. Maybe Oprah Winfrey because she raises challenging issues and highlights the goodness of hundreds of people’s lives

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Setting too many tasks in a day and feeling frustrated when I don’t complete them all

What is the trait you most deplore in

152 | The Word April 2012

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? My sleeping patterns

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Setting up the Loreto Vietnam-Australia Program (LVAP), which has helped tens of thousands of poor and disabled kids in Vietnam

How would you like to die? Quietly and with my family around me — though I am the youngest of five…

THE ORGANISATION From humble beginnings as a school teacher in Australia to CEO of LVAP in Vietnam, and then invested with the Order of Australia in 2005 — what is your proudest achievement? To have been invested with AO in 2005 — which also accredited all that I have done with my family, friends and all those associated with my work in Vietnam

Many CEOS of NGOs in Vietnam often sit in their offices delegating duties,

One of LVAP’s objectives is to “help parents to realise the importance of ‘releasing’ young children from working in the fields”. Farming is a tradition and livelihood that has existed for centuries all over the world. Can there not be a balance of both? Do they have to choose one or the other? The choice between farming and education needs to be futuristic looking. Do both, for sure, but advance the fundamentals of agriculture through additional knowledge, new procedures and approaches that earnestly require study and research. Begin this in kindergarten by actually going to kindergarten

Have you revisited any of the families you’ve helped in the past to see how they’ve progressed? How do you monitor projects and make them self-sustainable? Many former students/kids revisit me (as adults) and enthusiastically relate their successes in their work, in their lives (I’m a ‘Grandma’/’Ba’ to their kids) and with their ongoing journey. Monitoring projects? By countless visits and ongoing support until we somehow can ‘see’ and ‘feel’ the depth of self-confidence in local communities. This gives us ‘permission’ to exit!



The Word Ho Chi Minh City April 2012  

The what's on guide to Ho Chi Minh City and beyond.

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