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The Land That Time Forgot

Learning Through Play

Give your child the foundation for educational success during Early Education years, driven by American standards:

From 18 months to 11 years old

(08) 2222 7788 / 99

• Hands-on, activity based learning centers

• Stimulating flexible learning spaces

92 Nguyen Huu Canh Street, Ward 22, Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City

• Sensory environments that promote inquiry

Contents Apr.2017





10 / The Best of British

28 / Playing in the V-League

Banh mi gets the A-okay

11 / The Big Five April in Vietnam

The unlikely football career of Ash Apollon

30 / Eurosphere


An exhibition in June will showcase luxury goods from the EU

12 / The Trade Deal


The EU and Vietnam have a little something in the works

22 / The End of an Era

Saigon Latin-rock outfit Bad Neighbor play their last gig

24 / The Comedy Festival

Stand-up comedy comes to Vietnam big time

26 / Blind Hope

A choir whose members are visually

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50 / Many Faces

Meet British spelunker, Howard Limbert

52 / The Land that Time Forgot A trip to Phong Nha, the adventure capital of Vietnam

86 / Social Enterprises

Hanoi’s starting to get quite a few of them

92/ Vegan Noodle Soups

Noodles, soup and not a morsel of meat in sight

98 / Mystery Diner Hanoi This month: Emm’s Cafe

100 / Student Food

Cheap, cheerful and often pretty tasty

102 / Mystery Diner HCMC This month: Secret Garden


Contents Apr.2017




104 / Mi Quang

142 / Coffee Cup

149 / Book Buff

146 / Top Eats

150 / Women’s Fitness


154 / Body and Temple

32 / To Do List

156 / Know Your City

38 / Just In

163 / Terrence Taylor

151 / HCMC City Guide

176 / Medical Buff

Exploring the area home to the oddest looking fruit in Vietnam

158 / Bar Stool 1

177 / Location, Location, Location


164 / Bar Stool 2


40 / To Do List

168 / Coffee Cup

178 / The Dragon Fruit of Labour

44 / Just In

172 / Top Eats

Exporting dragon fruit to Australia and the consequences

128 / Hanoi City Guide


180 / Ten 10

132 / Day Tripper

136 / The Alchemist

140 / Bar Stool

138 / The Therapist

A noodle soup that’s so good it’s even got a song written about it

TRAVEL 108 / On the Streets in Hong Kong Capturing the city’s sites

114 / The Land of the Dragon Fruit

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The man behind Vietnam Vespa Adventures, Steve Mueller


This month we asked our team to tell us their best outdoor-style trip in Vietnam

The editorial and design of WORD is carried out by Duong Huynh Advertising JSC

BILLY GRAY Contributor

My best outdoor trip was a day stint in Tam Coc, meandering through the mountainous terrain in the mist was a sight I won’t soon forget, and it was made all the more fun by stopping to explore the caves that we found along the way. JULIE VOLA Photo Editor

Does a motorbike trip count as outdoorsy? One of the best trips I have taken in Vietnam was a drive from Hanoi to Hoi An passing through Phong Nha before it was all developed like now. It was intense, not always super fun, but damn it was badass.


VU HA KIM VY Editorial Manager

MADS MONSEN Creative Director

JULIE VOLA Photo Editor

BAO ZOAN Staff Photographer


MIKE PALUMBO Staff Photographer

ZOE OSBORNE Staff Writer

EDWARD DALTON Staff Writer (Hanoi)



Staff Writer

Mine would have to be when I stayed with a local woman in the north of Phu Quoc, three years ago. This extraordinary lady lived in a driftwood house on a beach, only accessible via a long, winding jungle path, and about 20mins out from the local town. We used to scale the rocks nearby to steal Wifi from a resort three beaches down, and we slept on a bed that stood on soft, white sand. While this isn’t your classic outdoors adventure, I was always outside and the whole experience was far from mundane.

BAO ROSS General Director


CHAU GIANG Office Assistant



NICK ROSS Chief Editor

I can name a few, including my trip to Son Doong, but the one I remember the most was a 25km cycle ride through Nam Cat Tien National Park. It was hot and wet, and then the rain came down. I hated every minute of it until the evening when I sat down to dinner. Then I realised what an achievement it had been to cycle those jungle paths in the pouring rain and come away in one piece.

For advertising enquiries please call Ms Bao on +84 938 609689 or Ms Trinh on +84 936 269244 Special thanks to Peter Scott, the EU ambassador — Bruno Angelet, TEDxBadinh, Alex Maggs, Chameleon City, Billy Gray, Innaway, Amelia Burns, Knowmads, Bad Neighbor, Magners International Comedy Festival, Hope Choir, Diane Lee, Ash Apollon, Harry Hodge, EU-Vietnam Business Network, Sasha Arefieva, Howard Limbert, Oxalis, Phong Nha Farmstay, Ben and Bich Mitchell, Hai's Eco Conservation Tours, Easy Tiger, Chay Lap Farmstay, KOTO, Tea Talk, Donkey Bakery, The Will to Live Center/Imagtor, EMM's Cafe, Teigue John Blokpoel, Secret Garden, La Gi Farmstay, Victoria Resort and Spa, Karen Gay, Douglas Holwerda, The Den Bar, Rewind Teahouse, Com Chay Nang Tam, Amazin Le Thi, Phil Kelly, Ed Haysom, Greg Ohan, Dr. Bui Nghia Thinh, Soi & Meo Taproom, Layla Eatery & Bar, Cafe Chelsea, Asian Streat, Steve Mueller and David Legard

Word is a registered trademark. No content may be reproduced in any form without prior authorisation of the owners.

MIKE PALUMBO Photographer

The best outdoor trip took in Vietnam was taking a leisure stroll through Cat Ba Island. I got extremely sunburned but loved the beautiful views of the area and having the time to take it all in without whizzing through on a motorbike.

CHUYÊN ĐỀ DU LỊCH & ẨM THỰC ISBN: 978-604-77-3085-8

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t startles me how few people know about Phong Nha. Ask five people living in Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi, and four of them will say “Where?”, and that’s even after I pronounce Phong Nha with an English accent. While they may have heard of a place in Central Vietnam that is home to the largest cave in the world, they don’t know what that cave is called (Son Doong) and they have no idea that there are many other giant

cave?”, there is much more to this rural idyll five hours’ drive from Hue than just caves; jungle trekking, countryside hangouts, great food and drink, cycling, beautiful home and farmstays in the middle of tiny villages, and some of the most stunning scenery in Vietnam. Ask the actor Samuel L. Jackson. By all accounts he loved it there. Even Leonardo DiCaprio is rumoured to be planning a trip. Phong Nha also fulfils a travel gap that was long an issue in this country; here you can go jungle trekking, cycle through the mountains and experience the

great outdoors. Other places in this country such as Mai Chau, Pu Luong, Nam Cat Tien, Dalat and Ba Be fulfill the same need. But nowhere is focused on the outdoors like Phong Nha. We hope that when you read this story you will want to visit Phong Nha, too. Fuelled by local investment and the selfless help of a small group of foreigners, the place is developing fast. At present it remains idyllic, but in five years all that may be gone. So if you are heading there, go now. You won’t regret it. — Nick Ross, Chief Editor


The Land That Time Forgot THẾ GIỚI PUBLISHERS



caverns in the same area. They also have no idea how beautiful and otherworldly the place is. There is a reason why National Geographic and the BBC have made the trip to Son Doong, and there is a reason why Kong: Skull Island was filmed there. Which is why this month we have focused our cover story, The Land That Time Forgot, on Phong Nha and what the area has to offer. For, when it comes down to it, Phong Nha is the adventure capital of Vietnam. For those who say, “Why would I want to go down into a dark and murky

THIS MONTH'S COVER Photo by Nick Ross Design by DH Advertising

Have Your Say We know you’ve got feedback. So let us know on Facebook — — or via Twitter, @wordvietnam. No matter how positive or negative your thoughts, we look forward to hearing from you.

Do you have any comments that you would like to air? If so, reach out and touch us at nick@ wordvietnam. com — we’re at your fingertips.

(Page 106, March 2017) From Facebook The grandfathers of these kids could have been anywhere in Vietnam and sprayed. The DNA is affected and through the second or third generation. It has not disappeared. — RJ PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES




Agent Orange in the Central Highlands


Planes, Trains and Automobiles March 2017 Excellent read, this month. Thanks! — CE What is it with all those London articles you’re publishing at the moment? What have they got to do with Vietnam? A lot of people are commenting about them, right now. Get rid of them. — MZ

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Perhaps. Who knows. You may be correct. How can the third generation link it to Agent Orange after years of wading in polluted waters to eat heavy metal mollusks? This article that is meant to be shared with the world is all bunk for special interest reasons. Why? I do not know. What do they gain about bringing up an article like this? Plain and simple. I DARE them for me to take them anywhere in Vietnam to see the after effects of Agent Orange. You really think such things exist after 40 years? Sorry, I get [angry] about uninformed articles like this one. — OB The other thing (barely touched on) is the years of ‘self-pollution’. Since the reunification, everyone has been buying and using chemicals on food crops, which are outlawed in almost all other countries. They are used because they are cheap and there is no education about the effects. Almost all have been linked to genetic disorders, cancers and mostly all things that kill people off. This is still going on and, when put hand in hand with all the other chemicals rubbed-on, injected and used to enhance produce before market, it's a wonder anyone is alive. Look into that sometime. — BJ But it’s not just families in Vietnam that are affected. Here in Australia, where almost 60,000 troops served in the war, a growing number of veterans, their children and now grandchildren believe they’re battling with the effects of Agent Orange exposure. Hope White, 39, from the Sunshine Coast, suffers from fibromyalgia, spinal problems and infertility. In 1968, her father was deployed for a year in Vietnam’s Phuoc Tuy Province, which was widely sprayed with Agent Orange. — RJ | Aprll 2017 Word | 9

Talk Lead



The Best of British Banh mi gets recognition in the UK


he British Board of Food Accreditation announced in March that it planned to apply for official World Trade Organisation (WTO) recognition for the banh mi sandwich to be declared a “food of British origin”, despite its ongoing popularity outside the country. “The banh mi has become super popular in Britain, and no other country can lay claim to it in its present form,” said Arturo Panini, a light foods and snack specialist at the Board. “The first part of the name is French, from the word pain, and the second word means ‘wheat’ or ‘wheat noodle’ in Chinese, so the food is clearly of mixed heritage. But the recent development of the sandwich here has made it as recognisably British as fish and chips or spotted dick.” First appearing in the UK a decade ago courtesy of the London-based sandwich shop, Banh Mi Bay, the mighty banh mi has since spread to all four corners of the British globe. Fillings include sausage, pate, pickled vegetables, spring onions, coriander, chilli, fried egg, fish cake and in a variation unique to Scotland, deep-fried Mars Bars. Despite a suggestion by some restaurant owners that the banh mi may in fact originate in Cambodia, according to the WTO, so far no objections have been received to the application.

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“We thought there may be questions raised about cultural appropriation,” said WTO spokesman Vinesh Chapatti. “The food has been widely sold outside the UK for some time, but no counter-claims have been lodged with us.”

Bread and Football In the absence of counter-claims being lodged before the end of May, “food of British origin” status should be granted to the banh mi by September, officials said. “We plan a series of publicity campaigns around the banh mi to further enhance its popularity and its Britishness,” said Panini. “These will focus on well-known figures enjoying the sandwich’s unique properties.” One such celebrity is Premiership footballer Ben Mee, who has already signed on to be the anchor figure behind the series of campaigns. “It’s a bit cheeky, linking his name to the food,” said Panini. “But that fits right in with the quirky British nature of the sandwich.” An application has also been made to include the word banh mi in the Oxford English Dictionary. This will mean that when written formally in articles or journals, the word will no longer need to be italicised.

But What About Cambodia? Anyone who has visited the former French colony — it was part of French Indochina from 1863 to 1953 — will have had the opportunity to taste the country’s own version of banh mi. The sandwich, known locally as nom pang, represents a cultural appropriation of the French baguette as opposed to the British version which has developed its own unique form. Often served with Khmer yellow curry, beef stew or beef saramann curry, nom pang can also come stuffed with meatloaf, paté, cucumber, coriander and mayo. However, this version is so different to the British banh mi that it has been suggested the Khmer apply for their own official World Trade Organisation (WTO) recognition of nom pang. Says Phnom Penh-based French restaurateur, Pierre Couture, the brains behind well-known restaurant Le Croissant: “At the moment, the only Khmer dish recognised by the WTO is fish amok. Having nom pang on the list of accredited national dishes would be a big boost for Cambodia and a big boost for Khmer cuisine.” — Peter Scott To find out more about the WTO’s food accreditation programme, click on nationaldishrecognition

Big5 The


Festivals, plays, TEDX talks and a lot of PR for Australia and Germany


Taste of Australia


Celebrity chef Luke Nguyen will be involved in many of the events at this year’s Taste of Australia

Nationwide Throughout April The Australian government in Vietnam is hosting its 2nd annual Taste of Australia in Vietnam during the month of April. It’s a nationwide celebration of Australian food, beverages, cuisine, fashion and design in Vietnam. Activities and events will be held in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Danang and Nha Trang and Australian celebrity chef Luke Nguyen will feature in many of the activities and events, which will also include examples from Australia’s world-class film and fashion and design industries. There will also be training workshops for culinary and fashion and design students at universities and institutions in Hanoi and Saigon, while partner restaurants in participating cities will offer special Aussie menus and events for the general public. For full info on what’s going on click on


Equation Festival Dong Mo Lake, Hanoi Apr. 14 to Apr. 17

If you haven’t got your tickets to the inaugural house and techno festival, Equation, you’d better get them quick. Organised by the crew behind Cliché in Hong

Kong and Savage in Hanoi, this three-day extravaganza will see both local and international artists spin a heady mix of house, techno and everything in between over two stages in a festival-style atmosphere that includes camping, food, drink and a whole host of other entertainment. The capacity of the festival is limited to 1,000 people, so don’t be disappointed. Click on equation2017. to book now. There are a number of early bird deals with tickets rising to US$129 on the eve of the festival. For info email equation@


TedX BaDinh Hanoi Star Galaxy, Hanoi Sunday, Apr. 16

The local, independently organised version of the hugely successful TedX Talks, TedX Badinh 2017, is a daylong experience for curious people who care about ideas and making connections. The TedX concept aims to foster and spread great ideas via a platform where thinkers and doers gain inspiration from others and seize opportunities to inspire others in return. There are well over 15 speakers and tickets cost VND1.2 million. There are just 300 spots available, so be quick. For more info turn to the article on the talk on page 14


Miss Julie Soul Live Project, HCMC Apr. 21 to 22

The Saigon Players are back, but this time they’ve teamed up with Soul Live Project to perform Miss Julie, a dramatic classic by Swedish playwright, August Strindberg. An 1888 play about forbidden connections and secret flirtation, all proceeds from the performance go to Little Rose Shelter. For more information click on or For tickets email Soul Live Project is at 214-216 Pasteur, Q3, HCMC


Deutschlandfest 2017 Saigon Zoo, HCMC Saturday, Apr. 22

Following the success of the Deutschlandfest 2015 in Hanoi, the Germanorganised festival will be moving to Saigon this year with a lively mix of culture, music, shows, engineering, food, and German companies presenting themselves at booths along the stretch of pavement right behind the main entrance to the Zoo. Perfect for adults and children alike, entrance is by purchasing a normal admission ticket to the zoo. The festival will run from 9am to 5pm. Saigon Zoo (Thao Cam Vien) is at 2 Nguyen Binh Khiem, Q1, HCMC | Aprll 2017 Word | 11

Briefings National



The Trade Deal


The forthcoming agreement with the EU will increase bilateral trade and decrease prices

nyone who has bought imported products in Vietnam will know how expensive they are. Whether it’s a German car, Italian ham, French cheese, or clothes manufactured in Spain, trade tariffs and import taxes make these items pricier than they would be overseas. Thanks to a new trade agreement soon to be signed between the European Union (EU) and Vietnam, in early 2018 this is all set to change. Indeed, according the EU ambassador to Vietnam, Bruno Angelet, thanks to the agreement this country will be breaking new ground. “With Vietnam what we have is a gold standard text, a new model for a trade agreement between the EU and a middleincome country,” says Angelet. “Vietnam is the first middle-income country that has negotiated such an ambitious trade agreement.”

A Long Time in the Making The agreement has taken five years to negotiate, but the time spent has resulted in a very comprehensive deal, according to Angelet. “It will cover 90% of the present trade in goods and services between Vietnam and the EU,” he explains. “The first big impact will be on almost 70% of goods being traded in Vietnam. These will be exempt from import tariffs [almost immediately].” The rest of the goods and services included in the treaty will be exempt from import tariffs over time. From Vietnam to the EU they will be tariff-free after seven

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years. And for goods going from the EU to Vietnam, the exemption will come in 10 years. Says Angelet: “We're giving Vietnam a little more time because it's a less-developed economy.”

Tax and Copyright Yet the free trade agreement is much more than about customs tariffs. Some of the negotiations were tricky, due to the different levels of economic development in the EU and Vietnam, explains Angelet. Creating a level playing field, and protecting local products was one tricky area, as was ensuring that Vietnam will not suffer when it eliminates import duties, such as that on cars. “This is a big commitment and a big engagement from Vietnam. It will trigger a loss of fiscal revenue on the import duties side,” he says. “Of course the deal will generate economic growth, so it will be compensated by fiscal revenue elsewhere. [To help with this] we are also providing the Vietnamese government technical assistance on increasing fiscal revenue, but in a smart way. We want to make sure that what European importers gain is not lost by Vietnam. “We have a programme and the finances to help Vietnam design new fiscal policies, to get new fiscal revenue. Not just taxation, but a better control on what should come in. And we will help them to design something smart which will compensate for what they will lose.” In additional, regional products such as

Phu Quoc pepper or coffee from Buon Me Thuot will now gain legal protection as part of the deal. This means, says Angelet, that “any other company from another country that copies or pirates Vietnamese brands will be prosecuted legally and will not have entrance in the European Market.”

Changing Status One reason for the agreement’s importance is that Vietnam is no longer regarded as a developing country — it is instead classified in the middle-income bracket. As a result, says Angelet, “this year Vietnam will lose access to all the aid funding from the World Bank.” This change in income status also affects Vietnam’s trading partnership with the EU. “Our preferential systems [for developing countries] will disappear also,” he adds. “So, what we are doing with the free trade agreement is that when [Vietnam] loses their preferential system, they can move into a new system that will encourage and spur on exports to the European Market.” The long-term effects of the trade agreement have yet to be seen, but one thing that’s clear is that a whole new market will be opening up for citizens of the EU and Vietnam. However, the people who will really benefit will be the consumer. In Europe, imported Vietnamese products will continue to be cheap. And in Vietnam, all those ingredients that make up non-Vietnamese cuisine, or indeed anything manufactured in Europe will suddenly become more affordable. — Peter Scott | Aprll 2017 Word | 12 | Aprll 2017 Word | 13

Briefings Hanoi


TEDxBadinh Action through inspiration


ED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conferences have been at the forefront of innovation since 1984. TED looks at the ways in which the three fields are converging and evolving, and it presents ideas in the format of 18-minute talks by experts in these fields. TEDx is its independently organized sibling, not quite on the scale of TED conferences, but with the same idea and a similar format. On Sunday, Apr. 15 Hanoi will host TEDxBadinh with over 350 attendees and up to 20 speakers. The event is themed IDEAS (Inspiration, Direction, Execution, Appreciation) and brings some of the brightest minds in Hanoi together for a full-day conference.

Diverse Interests Head organizer Long Le has already organized three successful TEDx events in Hanoi over the last three years. Long was inspired by a TED talk into quitting his job in a town 800km out of Hanoi and moving to the city to follow his passions and organize TEDx events. TED in the US took notice of Le after his last successful TEDx event in 2016, and invited him to attend a TED conference and workshop in

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San Francisco. Long is a TED success story, and his team of volunteer organisers are working hard to make this event grander than its predecessors. According to Le, TEDxBadinh will be influenced by his experience attending the conference in the US. The event will include speakers who have all done innovative work in their fields ranging from architecture to entrepreneurship and philosophy. According to co-organizer Brian Nathan, the choice of speakers aims to cater to a diverse range of interests. “There are a lot of people who are doing something interesting but not necessarily unique. We prioritised ideas over interesting speakers,” says Brian. But TEDxBadinh is not just about speakers. The all-day event will also be a space for networking, workshops, yoga and art exhibitions. Attendees of TEDxBadinh will have the opportunity to network with speakers over a two-hour lunch included in the ticket price. Brian emphasized the importance of the real TEDx experience and how it differs from watching the talks online. “I think being there in person and watching it online gives you a different feeling. You’re able to not only connect

with the speaker more but you connect with the room,” he says. “You can share your thoughts with other people around you and actually have a discussion.” Brian adds that attending TEDx events allows for the execution and growth of ideas through collaboration with likeminded people. Tickets cost VND1.2 million but Brian and Long believe that the conference will be well worth it. “We’ve learnt from experience that to have a good event you have to have a good venue and good equipment. It isn’t a lot of money to spend if you’re passionate about one of the topics,” says Brian. There will also be an online competition for people to submit videos telling the organisers why they want to attend, with the best submission receiving a free ticket. “It’s going to be big, it’s going to be unique and it’s more than just a conference. It’s more of a day of community interaction, growth and inspiration,” says Brian. Vietnam is on a path of growth and innovation, and TEDxBadinh will ride that wave as the largest TEDx event the country has seen to date. — Alex Maggs Get your tickets at and prepare for an inspiring Sunday of IDEAS

PHOTO BY JULIE VOLA | Aprll 2017 Word | 15

Briefings National


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Chameleon City Local experts on demand


ith increasing numbers of young professionals living and working abroad, access to information is more essential than ever before, and insider knowledge about the best places to eat, shop or even just where to get drinking water in a foreign city can be hard to come by. Going online in September 2016, Chameleon City is an app run by a team of locals and experienced expats living in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, whose job it is to point you in the direction of whatever it is you need while living in Vietnam.

Local Experts Included in the team of experts are college students, seasoned expats, a specialist in Vietnamese law, and a specialist in sexual health, meaning they’re well prepared to answer just about any question you can fire at them, and if they can’t, they’ll get on the phone to someone who can. The app itself is simple, easy to use and well designed. You simply open the chat icon, and you’re greeted with a messenger-style conversation box, you open a new chat for each different question, to keep the answers organised and easy to jump back to. Founder Peter Petracca gives an

example of how the app can be used practically: “On Valentine’s Day we noticed that all the restaurants in Hanoi were essentially offering the same thing, so we decided to give people an option that was different; craft cocktails at Unicorn Pub, followed by banh xeo at Banh Xeo Sau Phuoc, and another option for Ho Chi Minh City.” The app strives to answer users’ questions and to arm them with localised knowledge that they wouldn’t otherwise have access to. “A big problem we noticed was that the whole review industry was broken. Tripadvisor will give you the top 10 of someone who’s been in the city for a week, and people will perpetually go back to those top ten places, while missing the real gems the city has to offer.” The team also highlight Hanoi and Saigon’s infamous Facebook forums for adding to the problem of broken reviews.

On to the App The app is split into two distinct sections; the first is Life, offering everyday advice like where to find a decent barber, or where to pick up an industrial-size tub of sour cream, as one user requested. They’ve even conjured up flight deals to Hong Kong for the same price as

Bangkok. The second section, Travel, is where the app secures its second major potential market, tourism. Many of us have had the experience of paying what we later thought of as an unreasonable amount of money to go on a tour that turned out to be as boring as hell. “I think there’s been a shift in travel trends away from air-conditioned buses towards walking the streets and finding authentic experiences,” says Peter. “The way we see it, just cut the crap and ask us what you want, and we’ll find it for you.” Chameleon City is a service that many visitors and expats in Vietnam could well consider. But, like most on-time services, it doesn’t come without a cost; a onemonth subscription costs US$20, and three months costs US$45. Peter is quick to note the app’s money-saving potential: “We found that backpackers were the least likely to use it, yet they end up paying extortionate prices for a boat tour that we could have got them for a fraction of the cost. Sometimes a little looking around can save you some serious cash.” Chameleon City is currently operating in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and is set to expand to other cities in Southeast Asia in the near future. — Billy Gray To find out more click on | Aprll 2017 Word | 17

Briefings National

Innaway A new hotel-booking engine focuses on service


ajor online travel agencies don’t care about the customer, they only care about the money”. This is the thought that inspired Vietnam’s newest online booking agent, Innaway. Founded by Christian Ki (CK for short), Innaway is a platform for midrange travellers to choose from hand picked accommodation meeting the customers’ needs, and supplying easy-to-talk-to hosts. The service is founded on four major

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principles; super fast booking, handpicked with love, a host you can reach anytime, and an exclusive community. The aim is to take away 75 percent of the customers booking time by handpicking hotels from the wide range of hotels available (around 1,052 in Hanoi alone). All of the hotels Innaway associate with must fit the specific quality criteria that they expect from their hosts. Travellers are encouraged to speak with the hosts before, during and after their stay to ensure they

are satisfied at all times, and to comment on the accommodation after their stay on the Innaway community platform. “Unlike Airbnb, hosts associated with Innaway do not cook or clean for you, but they are there to coordinate all your needs,” explains CK. To do this, the traveller can send messages back and forth with the host. The aim is to keep the customer happy throughout the booking experience, the stay and the after-stay experience.


Honest Policies A few years ago, CK founded his own travel agency in Vietnam called Insight Frog. Along with this, he was the co-founder of ClickSpace; two successful businesses. When he decided to start working on Innaway, he wanted to commit all of his time to his new project so he dropped his company, and sold his shares in ClickSpace. Having founded and worked with successful businesses in Vietnam before should work to his advantage when trying to get Innaway to take off. The main online travel agencies that dominate the market work on a commission based salary starting from 20 percent. The more bookings they get, the higher commissions they receive. On top of this, the more the hotels pay the agencies, the higher ratings they get on their websites.

According to CK, these booking engines don’t care about the customer at all, only about the money. It’s here that he saw a gap in the industry. To keep customers happy, his platform is open and honest, and is never shut off to comments or feedback. He takes a much lower commission from the hotels to begin with, and instead “chooses to work and grow with them”, helping each other and keeping the customers happy so as to build a return-customer base.

Competing with the Best But how will this service stack up against the likes of, and Airbnb? For one, these websites host thousands more properties on their sites. This could work to Innaway’s advantage. Having

hand-picked each hotel, it makes it easier for the potential customer to find what they want. It could also be a hindrance when customers outside their target audience must go to the major booking sites to find what they want; all of which have filters available to find the facilities, locations, prices, and ratings the customer wants. To combat these issues, from April last year Innaway ran a trial using a Squarespace website and PayPal. This trial was successful and gave the founders a good idea of how well this business would perform in Vietnam. They plan to launch the website (not .com) in mid April, and from then, users will be able to browse and book from the website. — Amelia Burns For enquiries email or, when it’s up and running, head to | Aprll 2017 Word | 19

Briefings HANOI


The alternative leadership school in Hanoi


tarting out in Amsterdam in 2010, Knowmads offers a programme centred on gaining an international, creative business education through ‘action learning in a team setting’. In 2013, the school opened its doors in Hanoi, in partnership with local NGO, the Centre for Sustainable Development Studies (CSDS). The programme is a nine-week course that challenges young people to create their own education and projects to produce positive and sustainable change in the world. Over nine weekends, the team of around a dozen students are presented with five questions making up the heart of the programme.

It’s What You Know The original course, based in Amsterdam, lasted a full year and focussed heavily on business and marketing. This version however, has taken a different approach,

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with the emphasis being drawn more towards personal leadership. The initial questions that students are posed with are a reflection of this: first, students overcome the simple yet often difficult question, Who am I? But the programme seeks to explore what kind of world students want to live in and what talents they possess to bring this to life, rather than to contemplate the nature of existence for nine weeks, leading into the second question: What do I want to contribute/change? The Knowmads alumni, now six teams’ worth, have been busy bringing their desired contributions to life. Linh, an alumnus who now works with Knowmads, explains how many people who take the course leave with completely different perspectives to those they arrived with, citing one example of a student who wanted to go into business selling frozen

bananas at the beginning of the course, and yet is now in charge of the idea-sharing initiative, TedX Ba Dinh. Andre, another alumnus, hailing from Brazil, now also a Knowmads organiser, expands on this point, noting how many people who take the course look to start their own business after graduating, and most don’t feel they can return to the nineto-five life. “It opens doors that perhaps people didn’t realise were there,” he says. “I did Knowmads in Amsterdam, and if I hadn’t done it I’d probably still be in Brazil working a nine-to-five job in economics, rather than living in Vietnam.” Alumnus Hailey, who entered the programme with a clear direction of what she wanted to achieve, set up Vegan Kitty Cat, a blog providing information on how to live a plant-based lifestyle. “I already knew what I wanted to do, but


Knowmads definitely gave me the courage to actually put my own name on it.”

Practical Knowledge The latter stage of the programme is focused on entrepreneurship, new business design, marketing and creativity. The sweet spot is getting students to think about how they’re going to bring their ideas into the real world. Knowmads offers genuine skills enhancement that can be practically applied in everyday life, on top of an active alumni who keep in regular contact and support one another. In addition to a nine-week course, Knowmads frequently hosts educational workshops on topics ranging from storytelling to personal values to film-making, all free to the public, and they’re currently experimenting with a light version of the main programme that lasts for three days. — Billy Gray Click on for programme details, course fees and info | Aprll 2017 Word | 21

Briefings HCMC

Much loved Saigon band Bad Neighbor plays their final show


n a couple of hours’ time Yoko Bar will be splitting at the seams with friends, family and lovers of Latin rock-cumreggae funk outfit Bad Neighbor. It will be the band’s final gig before talented and charismatic front man Claudio leaves the country he’s called home for close to two decades. He's off for a different kind of gig in Barcelona. “Tonight it’s kind of exciting,” he says. “It’s sad in some ways, but it’s not the end. Well, it’s the end for Bad Neighbor, a band that will be remembered for years.” The Yoko crowd will be a mix of young and the not-so-young, Vietnamese and foreign, equal parts male and female — a demographic of followers that stands testament to the widespread appeal the band has garnered since it was formed. An interesting quirk is that none of the band members seem to be able to agree if it’s in fact 12 or 13 years that they’ve been together. “After all these years, the longest we’ve ever stopped playing for is one month,” says Claudio. “We’ve been playing on average 10 gigs a month, sometimes more.” As the band’s drummer John says, “It’s incredible after so long.”

The End of an Era

The show must go on Indeed, Bad Neighbor’s run has been incredible, especially given that each band member has kept their day job during the journey, something which has in the end led to the band’s decision to break up. Rumour has it that Bad Neighbor has played a thousand gigs, and not just in Saigon. They’ve played all over Vietnam, in Thailand and Macau, and across the border in Cambodia, a tour Claudio recalls with great satisfaction and pride. “Our most memorable tour was when we went to Phnom Penh and two or three busloads of friends and fans followed,” he smiles. “It was a massive gig and before we even went on stage, everyone was firing.”

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That Claudio and founding member Phuong have never cancelled a show despite bouts of illness here and there, demonstrates the commitment each member has to the group and the respect they have for each other as people and musicians. “I once fell asleep on stage singing,” recalls Claudio with a flamboyant gesture. “People don’t really know what a

musician’s life is like. In reality, a gig really takes five, six, seven hours, because we have to have a few drinks before and after the show.” Having played so many gigs means the band has had plenty of memorable moments, like the one saxophonist Aaron, who’s been with the band for almost a decade, recalls. “There was one night at Vasco’s when a fight broke out between a couple of guys,”


he says. “They went at it. They knocked chairs out of the way, the staff got out of the way and then there was this realisation that there weren’t any bouncers to break it up, so they just went on for a while longer and we just played on.”

Kiss and Make Up There have been a few internal rumblings in the band over the years, as you’d expect

within any group, but Claudio is quick to point out that after any infighting, they’d sit down as a group and talk things over. “We are very, very tight as friends,” he explains. “We’ve had almost no problems. We fight sometimes, but after probably a thousand gigs, we’ve only had about two fights.” As show time approaches, John jumps in on the conversation with something he

wants everyone to be certain of; the legacy to Saigon’s live scene Claudio and Bad Neighbor will leave behind. “Thanks to Claudio and thanks to Bad Neighbor playing at the Caravelle all those years ago, other bands from Cuba have come into the music scene. Now we have live Latin music in Saigon every week. Before Bad Neighbor, we didn’t have that.” —Matt Cowan | Aprll 2017 Word | 23

Briefings National

The Comedy Festival Last month saw laughter come to Vietnam… Big time


f you were lucky enough to be one of the 300 people who attended the standup comedy gala show at Caravelle Saigon last month, you’ll know what an amazing night it was. Six comics, five of them professional, and one local comedian, Nathan Jaiyeola, who was the winner of the Big V Comedy Competition. It was one of those magical events where laughter mixed with a fantastic environment and everyone just seemed to have fun. It was electric.

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But the gala show wasn’t the only comedy performance to come our way in late March. Four shows, all sponsored by Magners Irish Cider, formed the Magners International Comedy Festival. The first three were in Ho Chi Minh City at La Fenetre Soleil, Game On and Caravelle Saigon, while the final show flew three of the comedians up to Hanoi to perform at Standing Bar. With only one opportunity to get their fill of some excellent professional comedians, the crowd in Hanoi ensured

that the show was a sellout. So, as a testament to the growing comedy scene in this country, one that mixes amateur comedians plying their trade in Vietnam with shows featuring pro comics from overseas, here are some photos. We’ve already been told that the festival, which was also held in Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong and the Philippines, will be returning next year to Vietnam. Looking forward to it already!

Five comedians were flown in from overseas by the festival organiser, Magic Rock. They were Dana Alexander (CAN), Lars Calleiou (CAN), Andre King (NZ), John Robertson (AUS) and Matthew Giffen (UK). Five local comedians took part in the finals of the Big V Comedy Competition at La Fenetre Soleil. They were Nathan Jaiyeola (US), Brian Armstrong (US), Uy Le (VN), Nathan Sproul (UK) and Yasar Saleem (UK).

The shows were organised locally by Saigon International Comedy, Stand-Up Hanoi and DBBA | Aprll 2017 Word | 25


The Comedians and the Shows

Charity of

the Month

Blind Hope


A choir whose members are visually impaired

he modest accommodation in Hanoi’s Hai Ba Trung is a far cry from the Sri Lankan ambassador’s spacious residence, where, the previous week, the Hope Choir performed to raise funds. Here, in Hai Ba Trung, the story is a little different. Under bare fluorescent lights, in dampish surroundings, a slight but energetic septuagenarian fills tiny cups with green tea, shepherding two of his sight-impaired charges into chairs beside me. Ton That Triem's face crinkles into a broad smile as he introduces Ms Vui and Ms Huong, who have been with the choir for 10 years, and later, Mr Hoan, who is an original member.

Humble beginnings A world-renowned pianist who has performed in Europe, Russia and America, Triem established the Hope Choir with his PHOTOS BY SASHA AREFIEVA

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opera singer wife, Nguyen Xuan Thanh, in 2001, with a small group of sight-impaired singers and musicians. Now boasting 15 members, the choir has sung for dignitaries including the former Governor-General of Australia, Quentin Bryce, and former US President, Bill Clinton. Triem points out that no matter whom the choir sings for, the performance is still the same. “It is a great honour to perform for so many important officials. But every performance is important,” he said. The choir receives no financial assistance or support from the government, and relies on the generosity of embassies for scholarships and fundraising events, like the one at the Sri Lankan ambassador’s residence the week before. Triem’s motivation for starting the choir can be traced back to the American War. Like many Vietnamese, his family and friends

were casualties of war and many were killed or injured. “I understand disability because of my friends’ injuries,” he said. Later, in serendipitous circumstances, he was introduced to the Blind School in Hanoi. “I was a pupil at the Blind School, and Uncle Triem visited and taught us Christmas carols,” says Vui, who is an English major at Hanoi University.

International flavour With the demand from embassies, particularly for anthems on national days, the choir has a repertoire of traditional Vietnamese melodies and songs from around the world — in their original languages of Russian, German, Spanish and even Azerbaijani. “Preparing the songs is hard work,” said Triem. “Meeting together to practice is difficult, because everyone must work to have something to eat.” Intrigued by how songs in other languages are learned, Huong — who sings and plays a 16-stringed Vietnamese instrument — told me: “Uncle Triem explains the origins of the songs. We understand the countries, and the construction of the melody of each country.

Then we learn the lyrics.” The original lyrics are translated into Braille, and Triem enlists help from his many embassy friends to ensure pronunciation is correct. “Pronunciation is better because we understand the true meaning of the song,” said Triem, who is fluent in French and Russian, and also speaks excellent Italian, German, Portuguese and English. “We do our travelling and visit many countries through the music,” Huong told me. “We are rich in music.” Hoan, who plays bass guitar and a onestringed Vietnamese instrument, studied music at the conservatory and has a degree in journalism, said he enjoys going to embassy events and national days. “Triem provides many opportunities for us to open our minds. He shares his knowledge through the songs and music, and we meet many foreigners.” Triem is philosophical about the future of the choir. “Each time we sing, I think it is the last performance, but somehow we keep going,” he said. “God always seems to provide.” — Diane Lee For more info on the Hope Choir, please email Triem on | Aprll 2017 Word | 27

Sports Digest

Playing in the V-League


Ash Apollon’s unlikely football career has taken him from his native Boston all the way to the pros in Vietnam. Words by Harry Hodge

shkanov “Ash” Apollon has certainly taken the path less travelled in his professional football career. And that journey has brought him from the other side of the world to playing for Long An FC of the V-League. Apollon was a late bloomer in the game, playing it sparingly growing up in Massachusetts since he was more into other

sports like basketball. “Football really started to become my passion around the age of 16 when I was living in Haiti with my parents,” he recalls. “The passion for the game there is enormous; it was then that I started getting into it.” In spite of his late start, he was able to secure a scholarship to Peninsula College in the Pacific

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Northwest of the US. From there he made the cut for the academy side of the Seattle Sounders of Major League Soccer (MLS). Apollon’s pro career started in Thailand, where he played in 2014 and 2016. He called it a “slow start” to his career since he was already 23 when he signed the contract. A Thai connection contacted Long An’s manager and suggested him, and he was

on a plane as soon as his Thai contract ended. Prior to arriving he’d watched some videos and Asian Football highlights to get a feel for the Vietnamese game. “Nothing can really prepare you (to play here), there are so many unexpected things and it is a mistake to ever underestimate the league,” he said. “After the team had discovered me, their main expectation after signing

Sport in Brief Vinh guns World Cup shooting silver Hoang Xuan Vinh pocketed a silver medal at the International Shooting Sport World Cup, according to Vietnam News. The Olympic champion came second in the men’s 10m air pistol event, which also drew the world’s strongest shooters like Olympic silver medallist Almeida Julio of Brazil and bronze medal winner Yang Wei of China. In the finals, Vinh continued to lead the ranking after the first two five-shot series. However, Japanese Tomoyuki Matsuda put in an outstanding performance and overcame all other participants in the last seven two-shot series. He came from behind to take the top spot with a total of 240.1 points, setting a new world record in the process. Vinh finished second with 236.6 points, followed by India’s Rai Jisu with 216.7. Vinh won a silver medal in this event in the Rio Olympics last August.

Heat finally win on Singapore’s home floor

me was for me to bring some flair into the attack, to score and create goals in general.” As for the team, that’s another story. After the first few games, Long An FC was languishing near the lower end of the league standings. This included a bizarre match against Ho Chi Minh City FC where a soft penalty led to an on-pitch “boycott” by his Long An team-mates, who refused to try playing despite the game being locked at 2-2. Their goalkeeper even turned his back during a penalty kick in what ended as a strange 5-2 loss. The fiasco made worldwide headlines for all the wrong reasons. Suspensions and

two-year bans ensued, with a new chairman appointed shuffling the line-up over the black eye it gave Vietnamese football. “For me, as long as I’m playing, living well and getting paid I’m good,” Apollon said. “The league is not easy, any team can get a result anywhere at any time, nothing is ever given.” But Apollon has remained positive about prospects for the rest of the season. He’s currently on a one-year contract with Long An FC. “It’s been a great experience so far and it’s nice that I’m starting to make my name in the league,” he said.

It took two years, but the Saigon Heat finally visited OCBC Arena in Singapore and left with a victory, according to the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) website. For the first time ever, they celebrated on the Slingers’ home floor, winning 75-73 over the second seed in the ASEAN Basketball League in early March. Lenny Daniel led the way with 22 points, 12 rebounds, two steals, and an assist. But it was Jordan Henriquez who made a big difference in the game, as he stood his ground against Slingers big man Justin Howard in the paint, holding him to 22 points on 10-of-29 shooting from the field. Despite playing Alab Pilipinas only 48 hours prior in Vietnam, the Heat didn’t look like a tired team and played some inspired basketball to secure the win.

Women’s football team holds Hanoi camp before April tournament The national women’s football team will gather to prepare for the 2018 Asian Championship’s qualification, according to Vietnam News. A group of 26 players has

been called up, and trained under coach Mai Duc Chung all last month in Hanoi. Ha Nam Province contributed seven players, while Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have six each. Vietnam Coal and Minerals contributed five and Thai Nguyen Province sent two. Ha Thi Nhai of Vietnam Coal and Minerals and Do Thi Nguyen of Ha Nam, are making their debuts for the senior national team and have been touted as rising stars. They also had one week of intensive training in Thanh Hoa before playing up to five friendly matches. The tournament will be held from Apr. 3 to Apr. 11 in Hanoi. Vietnam are in Group D with Myanmar, Iran, Syria and Singapore.

Jr. NBA program returns to Vietnam The National Basketball Association (NBA)’s Jr. NBA development programme returned to Vietnam for the fourth consecutive year last month, according to Tuoi Tre. Besides the traditional venues at Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, the NBA’s global youth basketball participation programme for boys and girls this year will expand to the central city of Danang for the first time. The free-of-charge programme hopes to reach more than 5,000 boys and girls aged 10 to 14 at more than 200 schools across those three cities in three months, with many training activities. During the programme, all three cities will host a series of school-level coach clinics, with a selection camp in Ho Chi Minh City on Apr. 22. The top 32 boys and girls from the two selection camps will be invited to participate in the Jr. NBA National Training Camp in Ho Chi Minh City from Jun. 23 to Jun. 25 which will culminate with eight boys and eight girls being named 2017 Jr. NBA Vietnam All-Stars.

tes upda ur d n e o S out y p or ab g grou @ in ry o sp rtnt to har .com m eve vietna word | Aprll 2017 Word | 29



Eurosphere 2017 An exhibition this June will showcase luxury goods from the EU


o coincide with the upcoming signing of the the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) in June (see page 12), the EU-Vietnam Business Network (EVBN) is organising the first luxury goods exhibition in Vietnam and the region; EuroSphere — the European Art of Living Exhibition. The event, which will take place on Jun. 16 and Jun. 17 at Ho Chi Minh City’s GEM Center (8 Nguyen Binh Khiem, Q1, HCMC), will showcase high-end European goods in a variety of fields, including gourmet food, wine and spirits, fashion, fashion accessories, jewellery, watches, perfumes, cosmetics, furniture, interior design, and automotive. “One of Southeast Asia’s fastest growing consumer markets, Vietnam has all the right con-ditions favourable for the expansion of a vibrant luxury sector,” EVBN said in a statement. “With an impressive GDP growth rate, a youthful population and a rising middle

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and upper class, Vietnam presents a strategic location for international trade routes and a gateway to the Southeast Asian region.”

Growing Interest All 28 EU countries are in discussion to display their luxury goods including Germany, Belgium, France, Greece, the UK, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, The Netherlands, Sweden, Lithuania, Cyprus and Ireland. Over 100 brands from these countries will participate in Eurosphere 2017, connecting with leading importers, distributors and policy makers via pre-arranged B2B meetings and conferences. Among the regional partners involved in the event are the EU-Indonesia Business Network, the EU-Philippine Business Network, Eurocham Cambodia, Eurocham Laos, Eurocham Myanmar, and the Singapore Manufacturing Federation. There will be two conferences, on the

fashion industry and the luxury industry, conducted by French fashion expert Donald Potard, formally the CEO of the Jean-Paul Gaultier Group. The founder of the first co-branding and collaborations company, Potard has worked with more than 100 famous designers and industrial brands from around the world. Topics will include: How to create and run a fashion company; the 10 rules of luxury; new branding, licences and collaborations, and artistic strategy — a hybrid of branding, fashion and the performing arts. For further information on EuroSphere 2017 — the European Art of Living Exhibition, click on Entrance to the twoday exhibition and the talks is VND500,000. Alternatively, email Hang Dao on hang.dao@ Eurosphere is supported by the EU, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) and is co-organised with the HCMC Investment & Trade Promotion Center

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ToDo list HCMC

VinSpace’s spring camp is back. Perfect to keep the kids entertained during the holidays

Dr Jonathon Halevy and dietician Jill Tuong Truong will give a talk on nutrition and obesity at Anne Hill International School


With two new chefs at the helm, The Equatorial has created a new Sunday Brunch



The Snap Café continues its live music programme throughout April


There’s a bit of everything going on this month in Saigon



Snap Cafe in April Snap Cafe, Q2 Throughout April Snap Cafe will be continuing their live music every Saturday from 5.30pm to 8.30pm. Here’s their list of acts for April. Saturday, Apr. 1: SineKwaNon — alternative rock with a retro feel Saturday, Apr. 8: Art of Noise — playing a little bit of everything Saturday Apr. 15: La Kinh — a jazzy French duo! Saturday Apr. 22: NOLA Blues band — funky Blues vibes Saturday Apr. 29: Freckled Gypsys - acoustic loveliness! As ever, the café will also have a range of promotions including Burger Wednesdays, Mexican Madness on Fridays and a lunch special on weekdays from 11am to 2pm. The Snap Café is at 32 Tran Ngoc Dien, Q2, HCMC. Follow them for info

Equatorial Sunday Brunch Hotel Equatorial, Q5 Every Sunday To celebrate the appointment

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of new executive chef Donald Pezar and pastry chef Pongrat Prasitthimet, the Hotel Equatorial has unveil edits new Sunday brunch. Chef Donald’s flair for creativity infused with his inspiration from the US, Italy, Latin America and Asia is on display with his eyecatching range of international appetisers, including tapas, sushi and sashimi, international cheeses, cured meats and soups — all created from quality in gredients chosen from the finest and freshest of local produce. Lovers of seafood will delight in a wide array of home-smoked and fresh seafood, some of which is cooked right before your eyes. Kids are also catered for with the Equatorial’s special kids’ buffet with all their favourites including pizza and pasta, pancakes and waffles, cotton candy, a chocolate bar, andanice-cream trolley with sundaes and floats. Sunday brunch is from 11.30am to 2.30pm and costs VND790,000++ per adult and VND398,000++ per child. The deal includes free use of the swimming pool after brunch. Take advantage of a special offer where after

four visits, get one buffet free. Hotel Equatorial HCMC is at 242 Tran BinhTrong, Q5, HCMC. For more details call (08) 3839 7777

VinSpace Spring Camp 2017 VinSpace Art Studio, Q2 Apr. 3 to Apr. 21 With three hour-long classes every weekday from 9am to 12pm as well as several outdoor excursions to local garden spots, VinSpace’s Spring Camp 2017 is a great way for your little ones to spend the holidays! There’s something for everyone, whether you enjoy printing, painting, craft or handson group projects. So roll your sleeves up, get your aprons on and get ready for a summer of artsy fun. Tickets cost VND690,000 per day or VND3,105,000 per week. Book for two weeks and receive 10% off, with discounts available for multiple siblings and/or friends. Call 0907 729846 or email at info@vin-space. com for more information, or is at 6 Le Van Mien, Q2, HCMC

Nutrition and Obesity Talk Anne Hill International School, Q2 Wednesday, Apr.12



Family Medical Practice (FMP) in collaboration with Anne Hill International School is co-hosting a workshop forparents focusing on nutrition, obesity and good eating habits. Pediatrician Dr Jonathon Halevy and registered dietician Jill Tuong Truong will facilitate the workshop, which will highlight the effect that rapid urbanisation and development in Vietnam is having on the dietary habits of children. Dr Halevy is a published author on pediatric care issues and first joined FMP in 2005, while Ms Truong has studied in the US in the area of how nutrition and dietetics helps to facilitate restorative power. The workshop is free of charge and runs from 5pm to 6.30pm in the form of a 45-minute talk followed by a Q&A session. Anne Hill International School is located at 33 GiangVanMinh, Q2, HCMC. For bookings, email mktg.admin@ or call (08) 38227848 | Aprll 2017 Word | 33

ToDo list HCMC


Work by artist Vo Tran Chau will be on show at Saigon Salon

The exhibition, Poetic Amnesia, will open at The Factory on Apr. 15

German DJ Karlo Weinberg will be playing at Apo

Dr. Jane Shadwell-Li and Dr. Serge Gradstein will give a talk on Gynecologic Infections at FMP in Thao Dien





Lingering at the Peculiar Pavilion Saigon Salon, Q3 Apr. 13 to May 31 San Art and Manzi are presenting Lingering at the Peculiar Pavilion, the first solo exhibition by artist Vo Tran Chau. Since his six-month residency at San Art Laboratory in mid-2015, Tran Chau has been tracing the lives and history of a number of Nguyen Dynasty descendants. The resultant body of work creates an illusory space between forgetting and remembering, and between current affairs and autobiographical elements. It consists of embroidered paintings, fabric sculptures and a unique form of mosaic tapestry/ painting that is now rarely seen in Vietnam. Through Lingering at the Peculiar Pavilion, Tran Chau hopes to generate discourse on the psychology of the time we live in, an era that seems bound by recurrent unease and constantly loops between the past and the future. In doing so, he has linked past historical contexts with the present.

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The Ho Chi Minh City opening of the exhibition is on Thursday, Apr. 13 at 6pm and Salon Saigon in at 6D Ngo ThoiNhiem, Q3, HCMC

Poetic Amnesia The Factory, Q2 From Apr. 15 The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre is presenting Phan Thao Nguyen’s most ambitious exhibition to date, realised during her time participating in the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative as a protégé in visual arts to acclaimed American performance and video artist Joan Jonas. Remembering a bygone era would be a struggle without some kind of memento. Believing in a spiritual world without some kind of ritual would be like underestimating the power of its possible guidance. Imagining a future without allowing our minds to record our dreams would be like living the surface of a life denied hope. Phan Thao Nguyen lives in the playground between these psychological spaces, her art poetically

toying with the architecture of remembering history, and dancing an imagination of how the present might otherwise have been. Poetic Amnesia opens on Saturday, Apr. 15 at 6.30pm. The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre is at 15 Nguyen U Di, Q2, HCMC

Karlo Weinberg Apocalypse Now, Q1 Saturday, Apr. 15 Harbour (HRBR) will be bringing in German DJ Karlo Weinberg for a night of techno, electronica and deep house at Apocalypse Now on Saturday, Apr. 15. As a resident of the two leading Nuremberg event series Elektrisch& Nasty, Karlo Weinberg’s tireless search for fresh sounds and impeccable timing of tracks is known to bring out the passion in dancers. In Saigon for the first time, he will be supported by B.A.X. and OKO. The show takes place on the second floor and doors are at 9pm. Entrance his free until 10pm and VND100,000 after (including a free drink). Apocalypse Now is at 2B ThiSach, Q1, HCMC

Talk on Gynecologic Infections Family Medical Practice, Q2 Wednesday, Apr. 19 Join Dr. Jane Shadwell-Li and Dr. Serge Gradstein for a morning light breakfast health talk on gynecologic infections. Panel discussion topics will include sexually and non-sexually transmitted diseases that affect the reproductive health of women. A French native with over three decades of experience in medicine, Dr. Serge joined Family Medical Practice in January 2012 and is a specialist in sexually transmitted disease. Dr. Jane Shadwell-Li is one of the clinic’s longest-serving general practitioners. She deals with a broad variety of treatments and conditions, taking particular interest in the field of dermatology and infectious disease. For more information, click on hcmc-free-health-talk-on-gynecologicinfections.html. FMP is at 95 Thao Dien, Q2, HCMC. The talk takes place from 10am to 11.30am




ToDo list HCMC


Hong Kong-based Zac Watz plays Observatory on Apr. 28

VinSpace,Q2 Thursday, Apr.20


Thai publishers and artists will have their work on display at inpages art bookshop in early May

The hilarious and energetic Phil Nichol will perform at Game On Saigon on May 12


Canvas and Wine: Lotus Leaf Painting

Deutschlandfest comes to Saigon Zoo on Apr. 22






The much-loved San Soda returns to the Observatory

5. The theme of this month’s Canvas and Wine is lotus leaf painting

2. Miss Julie is the latest production to be put on by The Saigon Players


This month, Canvas and Wine is celebrating an iconic symbol of Vietnam — the lotus flower. Join the group as they enter an evening of textured painting, brushing, layering and tinting techniques, washed down with delicious wine and fresh summer rolls. Everyone will be using delicately layered, hand-pressed lotus leaves as a canvas, carefully tinting them to compose large scale masterpieces that express the timeless beauty and significance of Vietnam’s lotus. So raise a glass or a fresh spring roll to these remarkable plants. Tickets are VND874,000 and include tutoring, free-flow wine, materials and finger food. For info and bookings call 0907729846 or email info@vin-space. com. The workshop takes place from 6.30pm to 9.30pm and VinSpace is at 6 Le Van Mien, Q2, HCMC

Miss Julie Soul Live Project, Q3 Apr. 21 to 22

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This April, Saigon Players and Soul Live Project will be collaborating to bring you Miss Julie, a dramatic classic by Swedish playwright, August Strindberg. The show will be directed by Jennifer Dizon Turner, and music will be directed by Nguyen Do Anh Tuan. Miss Julie, an 1888 play about forbidden connections and secret flirtation,witnesses the progression of Miss Julie and Jean’s unpredictable impulsivity. Whatever it is they share, it cannot last, and their connection moves to ever darker places over frictions of power and class.All proceeds from the performance go to Little Rose Shelter. For more information click on or For tickets email Soul Live Project is at 214-216 Pasteur, Q3, HCMC

Deutschlandfest 2017 Saigon Zoo, Q1 Saturday, Apr. 22 Following the success of the Deutschlandfest 2015 in Hanoi, the German Consulate General

in Ho Chi Minh City will host an even bigger event here in Saigon: Deutschlandfest 2017. It will be a lively mix of culture, music, shows, engineering, food, and German companies presenting themselves at booths along the stretch of pavement right behind the main entrance to the Zoo. The event will be fun for adults and children alike and access is by purchasing a normal admission ticket to the zoo. The festival will run from 9am to 5pm. Saigon Zoo (Thao Cam Vien) is at 2 Nguyen Binh Khiem, Q1, HCMC

Magico The Observatory, Q4 Saturday, Apr. 22 Resident of infamous Seoul nightclub Mystik and a key player on the Korean underground scene, Magico spins an entrancing blend of house and techno, bringing kaleidoscopic colour to minimal beauty. Support comes from Nic Ford and Hibiya Line. Doors are at 8pm and entrance is free before 9pm or VND150,000 after.




The Observatory is at 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, HCMC

Zac Watz The Observatory, Q4 Friday, Apr. 28 One for the techno heads. Observatory resident and electronic wizard Nic Ford will be joined by Zac Watz, a Hong Kong-based DJ who really knows how to bring the fire with his undulating techno vibrations. Doors are at 8pm and entrance is free before 9pm or VND150,000 after. The Observatory is at 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, HCMC

San Soda The Observatory, Q4 Saturday, Apr. 29 One of the first international DJs to play at Obs back in 2014 and an ally ever since, San Soda is renowned for his magnetic productions, spectacular sets and vast collection of vinyl. Never one to miss, it’s the perfect way to cap off another month. Doors are at 8pm and entrance is free

before 9pm or VND150,000 after. The Observatory is at 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, HCMC

(in)BANGKOK inpages, Q2 May 5 to May 7 (in)BANGKOK is the third of international book showcase by recently opened bookshop, inpages. The traditional art and craft forms for which Thailand is famed — papermaking, woodcarving and lacquer art — cohabit with underground arts venues, with new spaces across all sectors of the city. The exhibition will provide exposure for independent Thai publishers and artists who echo these populous identities. The exhibition will run from 6pm to 9pm on the Friday and then 10am to 7pm throughout the weekend. inpages is at 4 Le Van Mien, Q2, HCMC.

Phil Nichol Game On Saigon, Q1 Friday, May 12 Saigon International Comedy will

be bringing in Canadian comedian, singer-songwriter and actor Phil Nichol to Game On Saigon on Friday, May 12. One of the best known, and best loved stand-ups on the UK live circuit, Phil has done everything you can think of when it comes to his career. TV, huge theatre shows, sellout Edinburgh fringe appearances, lots of awards and champagne receptions with the Queen. We saw him recently headlining the Comedy Store in London, and he was phenomenal. Here are some of the quotes: “Seismically powerful awardwinning comic force” — The Scotsman “Riotously funny-and filthy” — The Sunday Telegraph “Edgy in a cartoonish way” — The Independent “A Triumph” — The Sunday Times “Hugely enjoyable” — Time Out Having Phil play in Vietnam is a mini coup for the organisers. Expect this one to be sold out. Entrance to the show is VND200,000 in advance and VND250,000 on the door. For ticketing information go to Game On Saigon is at 115 Ho Tung Mau, Q1,



Bookstores, food markets, the return of La Habana and a restaurant called Convent



The Convent had opened opposite 30/4 on Han Thuyen

Ibis Saigon Airport is the second Ibis hotel to open in Vietnam

Soi & Meo Taproom is a new tapped wine and beer bar in town


Latin bar favourite is back, this time on Le Lai



Sol Beach House is the latest top-end resort in Phu Quoc



inpages is a new independent publisher and art bookstore


inpages Founded in 2016, inpages is an independent publisher and art bookstore based in Thao Dien. With a mission to create a platform for young artists to develop their skills and show their work, inpages has a special emphasis on producing books with Vietnamese artists. inpages’ desire is to promote indie-publishing culture within the local community from their unique art bookstore, through showcasing only a thoughtful collection of international art books. inpages also works to curate artistic events, exhibitions, artist talks and workshops both in Saigon and further afield. inpages is at 4 Le Van Mien, Q2, HCMC. For info click on

Sol Beach House Street Food Market In an effort to support the local community, including Phu Quoc’s local vendors, Sol Beach House Resort has created a pop-up market. Aimed at both residents and tourists, the market features natural products including essential oils and soaps, as well as fashion items such as swimwear and bags. As the market gains momentum and grows in popularity, more local products will be added to the range. The idea behind the market is an extension of

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the resort’s commitment to the local culture in Phu Quoc which it seeks to share in any possible way with its guests. Sol Beach House Phu Quoc is a new 284-room resort targeting guests from all walks of life who are looking for a laidback resort experience. Take advantage of their special opening offer valid until Apr. 27 with rooms starting at VND2,310,000 per night including breakfast for two. For info visit

La Habana is back! The wait is finally over. Latininspired veteran of the Saigon bar scene La Habana has found its new home on Le Lai opposite the park across from Pham Ngu Lao. Although the venue has changed, the great drinks, food and service remain the same. Happy hour is until 8pm every day with Tiger draft (VND25,000), a selection of German beers from VND100,000 and 50% off cocktails and other drinks. Food options include tapas, paella, German sausages, schnitzels and more. Whether it’s for a quiet after-work drink, live music from later on or a romantic dinner for two upstairs in the restaurant, La Habana has what you need, including a designated area for smokers on the balcony overlooking the park. The new La Habana is at 152 Le Lai, Q1, HCMC. It’s open daily from 4pm

The Convent Bar & Restaurant Another great dining option has opened its doors along a strip that continues to grow its reputation for quality cuisine. Already gaining excellent reviews, The Convent Bar & Restaurant serves up all-day Western-style breakfast favourites, including black pudding (VND130,000) and on Sundays a traditional English fry-up including a Bloody Mary (if required) for VND220,000. There are sharing plates for lunch and dinner starting at around VND65,000 and the main menu includes dishes with gnocchi, snapper, Australian beef and chicken. The steak au poivre with sides comes in at VND420,000. The menu is expected to change regularly and is being overseen by resident chefs from Australia and the UK. The Convent has gorgeous views across 30/4 park offering a great dining alternative to other restaurants nearby or for that Friday knock-off-work drink at 50% off for all basic alcoholic drinks. Convent is at 15 Han Thuyen, Q1, HCMC. For more info, go to facebook. com/theconventbar

Ibis Saigon Airport Takes Off A new, conveniently located branch of the global hotel brand Ibis has opened up in Tan Binh, Ho Chi Minh




earlier this year. With high glass windows, smoky blue painted walls, a balcony, and wooden stools and chairs, this new Saigon watering hole mixes simplicty with themed refinement. It's full of light, overlooking the streets below. Taking "taproom" to a whole new level, Soi & Meo serves a range of wines, champagne, and even tea and coffee on tap, as well as all your favourite local craft beers. Tapped wine starts at VND95,000 and all

beers are VND95,000 per 330ml glass, except for the Fuzzy Logic Pale Ale at VND75,000. There are a range snacks and food deals on offer, from prawn and bacon skewers at VND140,000 to the set lunch of salad or soup, followed by a delicious main at just VND90,000. Soi & Meo Taproom is at 33 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, HCMC. For a full review of the establishment visit page 161 of this magazine, and for more information visit


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* More precised date is to come. Please stay tuned. On manquera pas de vous informer à l’avance de la date précise. Xin bạn vui lòng chờ đợi công bố chính xác ngày.

Hai Bà Trưng

Located at the corner between Mac Thi Buoi and Phan Van Dat, Soi & Meo Taproom is a new bar opened

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City. Just five minutes from Tan Son Nhat International Airport and about 20 minutes from the city centre, this 282-room luxury hotel is ideal for both business and leisure travellers. Designed with stylish, travel-themed interiors, Ibis’ signature “Sweet Bed” and blackout curtains are on hand to enable a good night’s sleep. This hotel is the second Ibis in Vietnam, marking an important step for the brand in Southeast Asia. It will be followed by 12 additional AccorHotels properties that will open across the country within the next two years. Ibis’ unique all-daydining restaurant, Oopen, offers a global culinary journey with subtle, local influences, with both buffet and a la carte menu options. The hotel’s rooftop bar, The Hub, is the only one of its kind in Tan Binh, offering a range of fusion comfort dishes, beers and cocktails from noon to 1am. There are a number of state-of-theart function rooms available for use, and wellness facilities include a gym, swimming pool and sauna. The Ibis Saigon Airport is located at 2 Hong Ha, Tan Binh, HCMC. For further information and reservations, email, call (08) 3848 5556, or book at


CENTRE MEDICAL INTERNATIONAL 30 Phạm Ngọc Thạch, quận 1, TPHCM, Việt Nam Tel: (84.8) 827 23 66/67 • Fax: (84.8) 827 23 65 Email:

30 Phạm Ngọc Thạch quận 1, TPHCM Hai Bà Trưng | Aprll 2017 Word | 39




Exhibitions, hip-hop karaoke, symphonies and networking events. What’s on this month in the capital




The Working Women of Vietnam

1. A new exhibition at Vietnam in Focus concentrates on the Working Women of Vietnam 2. DJs Ateq and Aaron Davis will be on the decks at this month’s rendition of Snug 3. Chef Bijoy will head up proceedings at this month’s Taste of India at the JW Marriott 4. Dr Peacock will be launching their new album at Rec Room 5. An installation by GingerWork. The outfit are celebrating their fourth birthday on Apr. 8 6. Musicians Premysl Vojta, Michael Massong and Martin Greibl will perform with the VNSO next month 7. TEDx BaDinh touches down on Apr. 16

Vietnam in Focus, Hoan Kiem Until Apr. 20 Come and browse this expose of the many hardworking women on Hanoi’s streets, from traders, couriers and recycling collectors to coffee sellers and incredible cooks. In celebration of Women’s History Month, Vietnam in Focus (ViF) held a portrait photography workshop earlier this year, focusing on these Hanoi working women and the lives that they lead. Led by Vietnam in Focus tour leader Colm Pierce, this workshop attracted much attention, with 10 participants from all over the world and a TV crew from Vietnam Television Corporation filming a documentary on ViF. Before stepping out to explore Hanoi’s streets, participants studied the fundamentals of portrait composition in photography, learned their way around a DSLR camera and, perhaps most importantly of all, were taught the best way to approach people for a picture. The Working Women of Vietnam exhibition includes the best pictures taken that day, as well as a few from ViF’s team of professional photographer guides. Pictures and postcards are on sale, with all proceeds going to Blossom House shelter for

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disadvantaged girls and women. Vietnam in Focus is at 46 Hang Vai, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi. Entrance is free. For more info click on

Savage in April Savage, Tay Ho Throughout April It’s a massive month at Savage Hanoi kicking-off on Friday, Apr. 7 with Muscovites DJ Cat and GuyDee popping the lid off with a broad range of house music and loads of international disco gems, before COLOR with Phred Noir (France) burn an even deeper hole in Hanoi nightlife with the next installation of the sound that COLOUR is all about. Here is the line-up: Friday, Apr. 7 — DJ Cat & GuyDee (Russia) Saturday. Apr. 8 — COLOR w/ Phred Noir (France) Tuesday, Apr. 18 — Giegling Night w/ DJ Dustin (Germany) Friday, Apr. 21 — Snug Night w/ Ateq (Germany) Saturday, Apr. 22 — MO:SA:IC w/ Liviu Groza (Germany) Friday, Apr. 28 — El’se & Toma Kami (Germany) Saturday, Apr. 29 — Zac Watz (Hong Kong) w/ Hibs & Hobs Sunday, Apr. 30 — San Soda (Belgium) & Kreshik For more info on acts for April, hit up Savage Hanoi on Facebook. Savage is at

112 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi

Taste of India Festival JW Marriott Hotel, Hanoi Until Apr. 2 To celebrate India’s 70th Independence Day and 45 years of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and India, JW Marriott Hotel Hanoi is collaborating with the Embassy of India in Hanoi in holding the Taste of India Festival. Invited along for the occasion is Chef Bijoy Krishna Maity from JW Marriott Hotel Kolkata who will be adding his touch to the dishes. The culinary journey will start with traditional flatbreads naan and roti through to old favourites like the dum ka murgh (lamb curry) and fish malabar curry. Vegetarians will also be well-catered for. Prices start at VND770,000++ per adult. Taste of India is on until Apr. 2 at JW Marriott’s JW Café, 8 Do Duc Duc, South Tu Liem, Hanoi. For more info, call the hotel directly on (04) 3833 5588

Dr Peacock Album Launch Rec Room, Hai Ba Trung Friday, Apr. 7 Local band Dr. Peacock will be launching their first album at Red Room on Friday, Apr. 7. Describing themselves as full of “dangerous





energy and punk rock swagger” and playing tunes with “whip crack grooves” and “impulsive jive”, the album was recorded live at Quest and mixed and mastered in Berlin. Special guests on the night will include Chad Parks (from Squid Eye) and DJ Vaughan, and there will be limited editions available of the album poster on the night. Entrance is VND100,000 and the show kicks off at 8.30pm. For further info click on Rec Room is at Hanoi Creative City, 1 Luong Yen, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi

GingerWork’s Birthday Hanoi Rock City, Tay Ho Apr. 7 and Apr. 8 GingerWork has been throwing the biggest, baddest and most colourful parties in Hanoi for the last four years and now it wants to share its birthday with you starting with the opening of its latest interactive and immersive visual experience on Friday, Apr. 7 at Hanoi Rock City. The opening event will be on all day, so turn up when you’re free. This will be followed on Saturday, Apr. 8 starting at 8pm with their fourth birthday bash that will bring in some of the best DJs and live musicians in the capital. Their breathtaking performances take place amid visually mind-bending backdrops and installations.

More information on entrance cost and the DJ line-up, go to wearegingerwork. Hanoi Rock City is at 27/52 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Hanoi

Shostakovich’s Leningrad Symphony Hanoi Opera House, Hoan Kiem Friday, Apr. 14 This April, VNSO and three celebrated German guest musicians will be performing the Leningrad Symphony in Hanoi’s Opera House. Bugler Premysl Vojta, trombonist Michael Massong and trumpeter Martin Greibl will be joining the orchestra under the expert eye of conductor Honna Tetsuji, bringing one of Shostakvitch’s most famous and political pieces of music to Vietnam’s capital. The Leningrad Symphony, also known as The 7th Symphony, is composed of four movements that were originally titled War, Memories, Homeland Steppes and Victory. Although these titles were later removed, their essence remains in the music. This symphony was first performed on Aug. 9, 1942 under violent bomb attacks, but despite the very real danger just outside, the audience remained seated and enchanted as the piece began to unfold. Tickets cost VND500,000, VND350,000 or VND200,000 depending

on your seat, and VND100,000 per student. You can buy tickets at the Hanoi Opera House or call 0913 489858 or 0983 067996 to get your tickets delivered

TEDx BaDinh Star Galaxy Theatre, Ba Dinh Sunday, Apr. 16 TEDx will be returning to Hanoi this month with an impressive line-up of local and international speakers including Savvycom CEO Thanh Van Dang, KOTO founder Jimmy Phan, and Tran Hong Nhung, founder of award-winning social enterprise, Zo Project. Other speakers taking the stage will be from Norway, Taiwan, UK, US, Switzerland and Singapore. The day-long event is expected to bring together 350 curious people who care about ideas and making connections. This year’s theme is IDEA — Inspiration, Direction, Execution and Appreciation. Talks will be broken up with performances from the Bamboo Orchestra, improv comedy troupe Rotten Grapes, and electronic musician Pablo Yang, plus a series of wellness workshops and much more. Early bird tickets are VND1million and VND1.2million after that. For more info, go to TEDxBaDinh. Star Galaxy Theatre is at 87 Lang Ha, Ba Dinh, Hanoi | Aprll 2017 Word | 41


listHanoi 1




The Legends Play Hanoi

Who needs a Cham when you’ve got Spamcham?

French Michelin star chef, Christophe Lerouy will be cooking at the Metropole this month

Lauded Canadian stand-up comedian Phil Nichol will be performing at Standing Bar in May


Stand-Up Hanoi returns this month a showcase of amateur comics based in the capital



For the first time ever, Hip Hop Karaoke comes to Standing Bar



Johan Angergård, the founder of Swedish band, the Legends


Hanoi Rock City, Tay Ho Wednesday, Apr. 19 Don’t miss Swedish rock band The Legends at Hanoi Rock City this April. Brought to you by Kindassault and the Swedish Embassy, this exclusive concert in Vietnam’s capital is a must see for all lovers of Swedish pop. Although the Legends insist that their music can’t be placed in any genre, they cite TV personalities, Comet Gain, Motown and C-86 as their inspirations. Described by Swedish Pop Review as “absolutely the best band to emerge from the Swedsh indie scene since The Hives”, The Legends’ 2004 debut album, Up Against The Legends, received global acclaim. They have since released 3 EPs. Entrance is VND50,000 and the show kicks off at 8.30pm. Hanoi Rock City is at 27/52 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Hanoi

Hip Hop Karaoke Standing Bar, Ba Dinh Thursday, Apr. 20 The global institution of upbeat, urban music, Hip Hop Karaoke, is coming to Hanoi this April. Get ready to rap like you mean it, move your hips and sing your heart out with the rest of Hanoi’s Hip Hop enthusiasts.

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Well known Hanoi artists Gem, MC I’m Still Here and DJ Skip will be bringing you the best of music’s Hip Hop anthems, with over 200 songs ready to be sung to from Kool Herc to Biz Markie. All you have to do is choose a song from the list and book your spot via the Hip Hop Karaoke Hanoi Facebook page below. Entrance is VND50,000 and doors are at 8pm. You can find out more about the event at Standing Bar is at 170 Tran Vu, Ba Dinh, Hanoi

Amateur Stand-Up Showcase Standing Bar, Ba Dinh Friday, Apr. 21 Standing Bar will be hosting a showcase of Hanoi’s best amateur stand-up comedians, joined by MC Stephen Halcrow from the comedy club in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Since a riotously successful amateur comedy competition in January, Hanoi’s comics have been writing new material to bring back to the already legendary stage at Standing Bar. Expect up to 10 comedians to strut their stuff in a fast-paced night of non-stop comedic action. Tickets are VND150,000 in advance and are available from Standing Bar, 170 Tran Vu, Ba Dinh, Hanoi from Apr. 7 and include a free glass of

Pasteur Street IPA. The show starts at 8.30pm

Spamcham Al Fresco’s, Tay Ho Wednesday, Apr. 26 After running successfully for 10 years in Saigon, Al Fresco’s popular, monthly social networking event Spamcham has made it to Hanoi. An opportunity to network and eat and drink to your heart’s content, Spamcham is held on the last Wednesday of every month. A laid-back take on typical chamber social events, with a monster meat raffle, free flow spirits, beer, wine and canapés, and prizes given away each month, entry is only VND250,000 per person with all proceeds donated to REACH to support disadvantaged youth in Vietnam. Expect it to get a bit wild. The third edition of Spamcham in Hanoi will take place on Wednesday, Apr. 26 at Al Fresco’s, 62 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi from 6.30pm to 8.30pm

Metropole Hanoi Hosts Michelin Star Chef Metropole Hotel, Hoan Kiem Apr. 28 and Apr. 29 French Michelin star chef, Christophe Lerouy, will make an appearance at the Sofitel Metropole



Legend this month and to welcome the celebrity guest chef, two unique culinary experiences are on offer at the hotel’s French restaurant, Le Beaulieu. On Apr. 28, as part of the Metropole’s 11th annual Les Aromes festival, chef Lerouy will for the first time in Hanoi cook up mouthwatering dishes such as warm oysters with torched foie gras, apple wasabi puree, and Iberico ham stock. On Apr. 29, chef Lerouy teams up with the Metropole’s chef de cuisine Olivier Genique to cook a five-course feast with each chef preparing two courses featuring ingredients including seafood from Japan and beef from Argentina. Open to both hotel guests and non-hotel guests, dinner is priced at VND1.8million++ per person. For more info, call (04) 3826 6919 ext. 8200, or email h1555-fb3@sofitel. com. Sofitel Metropole Legend Hanoi is at 15 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi

Phil Nichol Standing Bar, Ba Dinh Saturday, May 13 Stand-Up Hanoi will be bringing

in Canadian comedian, singersongwriter and actor Phil Nichol to Standing Bar on Saturday, May 13. One of the best known, and best loved stand-ups on the UK live circuit, Phil has done everything you can think of when it comes to his career. TV, huge theatre shows, sellout Edinburgh fringe appearances, lots of awards and champagne receptions with the Queen. We saw him recently headlining the Comedy Store in London, and he was phenomenal. Here are some of the quotes: “Seismically powerful awardwinning comic force� — The Scotsman “Riotously funny-and filthy� — The Sunday Telegraph “Edgy in a cartoonish way� — The Independent “A Triumph� — The Sunday Times “Hugely enjoyable� — Time Out Having Phil play in Vietnam is a mini coup for the organisers. Expect this one to be sold out. Entrance to the show is VND200,000 in advance and VND250,000 on the door. Tickets can be bought at Standing Bar, 170 Tran Vu, Ba Dinh, Hanoi. For further information click on hanoicomedy

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Just Hanoi

1. Mekong-style banh canh noodles come to Hanoi 2. Who needs KFC when you’ve got Hat De?] 3. Fermented brings sour dough breads to Hanoi 4. Coffee and jungle are put in one space at Tropical Forest Café 5. A new Old Quarter ceramics shop, Cerender, is producing some beautiful hand-painted products 6. American comfort food, anyone? S&L’s Diner might just be the place to get your fix

Health guides, ceramics, jazz clubs, bars and restaurants. What’s new in Hanoi

2 1



Mai Lai Ghe — Banh Canh Ghe Tucked away off Giang Van Minh is a new restaurant that serves banh canh — a thick noodle dish from the Mekong Delta served with seafood and mushrooms. Banh, or ‘cake’ refers to the thick dough that the noodles are cut from. The menu offers a selection of dishes, such as banh canh ghe (VND45,000), a noodle soup with spider crab, shrimp and a boiled quail egg, and cuon tom su — shrimp and vegetables wrapped in rice paper with a dip. Mai Lai Ghe — Banh Canh Ghe is at CS1, 98 Ngo Nui Truc, Ba Dinh, Hanoi

Hat De It’s off Giang Vo Lake, it serves fried chicken, it’s cheaper than KFC, it delivers to your door. It’s Hat De. Could we make it any clearer?

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Armed with a deep fryer, a Honda Wave, and English speaking staff, Hat De cooks up some mean chicken, at VND20,000 per drumstick, VND17,000 per wing, and VND45,000 for a chicken, rice and mushroom sauce meal, plus VND20,000 for delivery. It doesn’t top the colonel, but it’s still finger lickin’ good. Hat De is at 38-C8 Ngo Nui Truc, Ba Dinh, Hanoi. For delivery call 0902 482340

Fermented Fermented is the mission of Nguyen Tan Hung, who bakes a variety of sour dough breads. Hung left his desk job in Sydney in November and moved to Hanoi to pursue his hobby of baking. He focuses on healthy ingredients and taste while bringing the nostalgia

of home to expats and a new experience to locals who haven’t tried sour dough bread before. With a range of flavours, costing between VND45,000 to VND120,000 per 500g, you can either pick up your bread from the Old Quarter, or have it delivered to your door for an extra VND20,000. The best way to find them is through their Facebook page, FermentedHanoi

Tropical Forest Get closer to nature while you sip on your morning brew at Tropical Forest Café on Son Tay. Established in January 2017, they serve teas, coffees and fresh juices, and also sell terrarium for you to decorate your work spaces with, or to send as a gift. The café is decorated with cactus and other plants and light wood,



5 giving off an incredibly chilled out vibe. They also put on tree planting sessions on Sundays to raise environmental awareness in young people. Tropical Forest is at 298 Tay Son, Dong Da, Hanoi

Cerender A new purveyor of handmade and hand-decorated ceramic products, Cerender prides itself on quality and uniqueness. Situated in the heart of the Old Quarter, the shop is poised to peddle its wares to both locals and tourists alike. At the heart of the operation are owners and chief designers Nguyen Thuy Duong and Phan Huy Khoi, who oversee a team of workers operating out of Bat Trang village. Every new batch of products

contains about 200 items, and includes small bowls and cups (for around VND150,000 to VND300,000) and larger objects such as pots and vases which go for around VND800,000. In addition to practical items like tea sets and dishes, there are also smaller decorative trinkets for under VND100,000. Cerender is at 11A Trang Thi, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi. For more information, contact 0913 813960 or visit cerender. com

S&L’s Diner S&L’s opened just a couple of months ago, but has already become the go-to place for American comfort food in Hanoi. Locals, tourists and expats alike rave about their American classics such as biscuits and gravy (VND130,000) or the creamy and crusty Philly cheesesteak

(VND140,000). Situated in the middle of the Old Quarter, just a stone’s throw away from Hoan Kiem Lake, the diner has a chilled out American vibe to match the comfort food menu. The breakfast options include favourite the breakfast skillet (VND140,000), which comes overflowing with home fries, bacon, ham, mushrooms, onions and peppers, topped with cheese and eggs, with a side of toast. Along with a few salads, soups, burgers and dinners such as chicken n’ waffles (VND170,000), BBQ pork ribs (VND 220,000) or chargrilled US beef steak (VND240,000), there is something on the menu for everyone. S&L’s Diner is at 22 Bao Khanh, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi and is open daily from 9am to midnight. For more information, call (04) 3710 0529 or visit | Aprll 2017 Word | 45


Just Hanoi

1. The Grove mixes and outdoor atmosphere with good cocktails and beer 2. Laser Egg is an affordable air quality monitor for anyone worried about pollution 3. The JW Marriott opens a very impressive jazz club 4. The latest Hanoi Holistic Health Guide includes practitioners in Saigon and Hoi An



The Grove Chilled out spaces don’t get much better than this. Tucked away from the dusty streets beyond, The Grove is a quaint and beautiful outdoor garden venue. Whether you want to chill out with a smoothie in the afternoon, or spend the evening with a few friends and a few bevvies, The Grove is set up to accommodate your needs. Featuring weekly events, a pool table and an hour of free beer on Friday nights between 8pm and 9pm, everyone has a reason to check it out. The beer is available in jugs (VND150,000 to VND200,000) and the Magners cider is only VND60,000. Cocktails include favourites such as the White Russian

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and Margarita, and cost between VND50,000 and VND100,000. Non-alcoholic drinks such as smoothies, fruity iced yoghurt and egg/coconut coffee are available, as is shisha, cigarettes and balloons filled with the good stuff. The Grove is at 9 Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho, Hanoi and is open daily from 6am to 1am. For more information, visit

Cheer 3 Three cheers for beer, cheese and meat! As concepts go, Cheer 3 has already won us over with these three well-matched offerings. Modelled on a chilled out tapas bar, Cheer 3 is the perfect place to unwind after work or for a cheeky

snack before dinner. The refined environment suits those who appreciate a good chat in pleasant surroundings. To help facilitate the flowing conversation, a wide variety of high quality beers are available at VND85,000 a pop, including brown ale, porter, American IPA, Belgian strong and blonde ale. The cheeses include reblochon (VND99,000), Cotija (VND88,000) and Jack cheese with a variety of flavours (VND88,000). A tray of cold cuts, such as prosciutto, salami Milano or Coppa, costs just VND80,000. Cheer 3 is at 60 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Hanoi and is open from 10am to 9pm, Tuesday to Thursday, and from 10am to 11pm Friday to Sunday



Laser Egg Smart Air Quality Monitor A Beijing-based technology startup has launched an air quality monitor in Hanoi called the Laser Egg. Fitted with technology that makes air quality monitoring smarter, faster and easier for everyone, the Laser Egg produces extremely accurate readings of pollution levels in the air all the way down to particles 0.3 microns in size. The Laser Egg is currently available at Clickspace and The Hanoi Bicycle Collective. There are plans to expand the Laser Egg’s availability nationwide in the coming months. For more info, search Origins Technology Vietnam on Facebook, or email

Cool Cats Jazz Club Cool Cats Jazz Club is fast becoming an entertainment hotspot in Hanoi for lovers of live jazz, exceptional food and fine service. After its grand opening in February, which stretched over four great nights, the venue has allowed guests to lose themselves in the music while dining on fresh seafood towers, French pate and generous sharing boards paired with signature cocktails and other beverages. Cool Cats Jazz Club is open Wednesday to Saturday from 7pm until late with tunes that will transport you back to the 1920s. Cool Cats Jazz Club is in the JW Marriott, 8 Do Duc Duc, Nam Tu

Liem, Hanoi

Hanoi Holistic Health Guide The Hanoi Holistic Health Guide was created for the Hanoian community to gather together the finest practitioners in the name of health and wellness. The recently updated guide includes recommended practitioners in Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh City as well. This comprehensive directory is an indispensable resource for those looking to optimise their physical, mental and spiritual health. For a free download of the guide, click on hanoiholistichealth


Howard Limbert / The Land That Time Forgot / Social Enterprises / Vegan Noodle Soups / Mystery Diner Hanoi / Student Food / Mystery Diner HCMC / Mi Quang Photo by Nick Ross 48 | Word April 2017 | | Aprll 2017 Word | 49




Howard Limbert Together with his wife, Deb, Howard Limbert is at the forefront of promoting caving and cave tourism in Vietnam. Words by Nick Ross. Photo by Mike Palumbo


hen Howard Limbert and his fellow cavers first arrived in Vietnam in 1990, they had no idea that 19 years later they would be exploring the largest cave in the world. Born in Bradford, Yorkshire in Northern England, Howard’s obsession with caves started when he was 15. “Our outdoors activities teacher offered me the chance of either doing athletics or going caving and climbing,” he recalls. “I looked out the window and it was [raining really heavily] and so cold. I put my hand up for caving. Me and three others went caving and we got hooked.” With the Yorkshire Dales on his doorstep, an area he says is the best place for caves in the UK, very quickly he was going caving three or four days a week and all weekend. But after a time, together with his friends he had exhausted all the caves in the area and started searching out what was available overseas. “We went to Europe, did all the major caves there, and then I started leading expeditions to Austria,” he says. “In the 1980s I started running trips to Mexico. I lead about five or six trips, pushing all the deep caves in Mexico and all around the world.” That was when the idea of exploring Southeast Asia came up.

Exploring Vietnam “In 1989 I wrote three letters — one to Laos, one to what was then Burma and one to Vietnam — for permission to come, because no one had ever been to those three countries. Laos and Burma told me they weren’t interested, but Vietnam’s Hanoi University of Science wrote back saying ‘please come’.” In 1990 Howard and his wife Deb arrived in Hanoi as part of a group of 10 people. At the time there were no maps available, so they had no clue about the geology. However, the university had a plan for them to follow, so they went with it. “By fluke, two members of the Faculty of Geography of Hanoi University were born

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in Quang Binh and had heard of Phong Nha Cave,” says Howard. “So we travelled down four days from Hanoi to Quang Binh, and the first cave they took us to was Phong Nha Cave. Straight away we knew we’d cracked it.” In 1992, Howard and Deb returned, and they completed Phong Nha Cave, Hang Toi, and discovered Hang Bong and Paradise Cave. “That’s when it really started,” says Howard. “We were here for two months exploring caves.” From the start, Howard and Deb used local people to help them with their expeditions. “When we first came [to Quang Binh] the authorities were quite worried for our security because it was quite a rough place and very basic. So we used to go out in the jungle with guns — there were wild animals in those days and the possibility of bandits coming and attacking us. We always used to have police and people from the community with us who were jungle men. They took us to the caves.” One of those men was a well-respected porter called Ho Khanh.

The Discovery “I happened to be the first group to go to Hang En [the third largest cave in the world], and as a caver it’s pretty obvious that if there’s Hang En Cave and you follow the river downstream, there should be another continuing cave that will be just as big,” says Howard. So they tried for a long time to find a way to get in to the other cave, but couldn’t find the entrance. It was only when they talked to Ho Khanh and were drawing pictures in the sands of caves that they struck gold. “I asked him do you know any caves down there?” says Howard. “He said ‘yeah I know a cave. This cave’s got a big wind coming out of it, steam coming out of it like cloud, and you can hear a river.’ I asked him where it was! And he said, ‘I can’t remember, it was 1990 when I found it.’” So Howard sent two expeditions down with Khanh to try and find this elusive cave. But never got anywhere near it. Deb got the

closest — within 100m of the entrance — but where she was you would never have guessed there was a cave nearby. Eventually Khanh decided to go out on his own and search out the cave. He found it by himself in 2008. “When we arrived here in 2009, the unknown cave was on our list of many caves to do that year. So we had three teams, and we sent them off in every direction to do caves, and one of them was Son Doong.” After finally entering Son Doong and taking measurements, for about a year Howard and his fellow cavers had no idea that they had just discovered the largest cave in the world. They thought there were caves in China that were much bigger. Then a geologist wrote to members of the expedition, and he told them that it was probably the largest cave in the world. “‘Only five caves are over 80m by 80m in the world,’ he said, ‘and yours is bigger than that all the way and a lot longer!’ We had no idea.”

Growth Since the discovery and exploration of Son Doong, Howard and Deb have settled in Phong Nha and work as safety advisors for the travel company, Oxalis. In just five years they’ve seen the company grow from a team of five to almost 500. “Me and Deb directly set up the Son Doong tour to protect it from mass tourism and it’s working very well,” says Howard. “It’s promoting the country, Quang Binh especially, and I think it can continue like that. It’s growing very well. “I’m also pleased to see all the local people getting employment. They’re using the money sensibly. A lot of people are investing in homestays, in little restaurants and things like that. That’s my only concern — the local people.” He adds: “Before long, all the big businesses will start coming in from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and it will start changing here. But at the moment there’s opportunity for all these local people to start businesses.”

“By fluke, two members of the Faculty of Geography of Hanoi University were born in Quang Binh and had heard of Phong Nha Cave”

Cover Story If you’ve ever been scuba diving, you’ll know that the world you encounter under the sea is completely different to the one you know on land.


aves are similar. Enter and you discover a hidden realm formed over millions of years, a delicate ecosystem that in large part remains untouched by man. Strange colours, odd rock formations, unearthly water systems, jungle cut off from the rest of the world and subterranean creatures that may never see the light of day. It’s like being on a different planet. Access to the caves in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in Central Vietnam is a recent phenomenon. Until six or seven years ago, the majority of these otherworldly caverns were unexplored and untouched. But if you venture inside, what you come across is mind-blowing. We know because we’ve been there not once but three times, and such is the magic of an expedition to Son Doong, the largest cave in the world, or a journey into other caves in the region such as Hang En, Hang Va, Paradise Cave and Tu Lan, that we’ve been going back for more. It’s addictive. As is the jungle trekking that goes hand in hand with any trip you may make. Yet not everyone likes caves or has the same fascination with these dark worlds that we do at Word. Fortunately, Phong Nha, the home of these gargantuan structures, has developed more than just cave trips. A visit here transports you into a rural idyll. Jungle treks, cycle rides, eco-tours, paddy fields, pepper farms, riverside bars, great local food and countryside hangouts with hammocks and cold beer are part of the experience. So for the second time in the history of our publication, we transport you to the world that is Phong Nha. We love the place, and hope that one day you will too.

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Hang Va Phong Nha has many caves that can be explored. One of its most beautiful is Hang Va. Words by Vu Ha Kim Vy. Photos by Bao Zoan


itting at a corner in Oxalis Home, I’m nervous but excited, waiting for the briefing for our Hang Va expedition. It will be the first dangerous and physically demanding adventure I have ever done. Seven of us including myself, our photographer Bao, Jessie (an American woman), two Spanish pilots (Carlos and Victor), and two Dutch high school graduates (Sebastian and Daniel), gather around a table, listening closely to our tour guide Ken. There will be jungle, streams, sharp rocks, caves, snakes, leeches and more. Hang Va is a cave located in Phong NhaKe Bang National Park, and was discovered by Ho Khanh (who also found Son Doong) in 2000. Khanh later took two members of the British Cave Research Association (BCRA), Howard and Deb Limbert, to the cave so it could be explored.

Stay Away from Poison Ivy

After a 45-minute drive, our minivan drops us off somewhere in the national park. With helmets and gloves on, we form a single path as we follow Ken into the jungle. As the path is flat and easy, we all chat. Ngoc, the national park ranger who is with the group, says: “We have found wild boars, saola and douc langurs in this area.” Jagged rocks start appearing. We step slowly and carefully, avoiding the sharp edges as we head up a mountain. At some sections, my right hand grips a rock while

the other hand searches for something firm to pull my body upward. Sometimes I have to stride over or crawl under dead trees blocking the way. I start breathing heavily and my heart begins to pound. It’s surprising that Carlos is still able to sing. The way down is easier but more slippery. We have a 15-minute break at a dried-up stream before heading on to Nuoc Nut Cave. Ngoc shows me how to recognise poison ivy and tells me to stay away from it. At the gate of Nuoc Nut we have lunch. The meal includes banh uot cuon thit heo (steamed rice pancakes with pork), bread and cheese, fruit and several packs of biscuits. Eight of us including Ken sit on a plastic sheet, sharing our meal and stories while the sound of rushing water plays in the background.

Perfect Darkness

With headlamps installed on our helmets, we follow Ken, climbing down through giant rocks stacked on top of each other, making our way to the bottom of the entrance of Nuoc Nut. Then we follow the underground river into the cave. “Follow me in a single line,” says Ken, his voice echoing inside the cave. “Watch out for the rock formations.” It’s dark inside. The water is cold and up to my waist. Ken occasionally sings a song. Perhaps, he just wants to break up the creepy and cold atmosphere of the cave. It’s completely dark. Taking photos is

a long process of setting up lights and requires patience. Although Ken always tell the models for our photos to stand still for only 20 seconds, it always takes at least 15 minutes to get an acceptable shot. Nuoc Nut is huge and in places the ceiling is 50 metres high. Flowstones, stalactites and stalagmites glitter, catching the light rays from our headlamps. Hundreds of different colours intertwine with one another on the ceiling and walls, creating an abstract painting. Ken tells us to keep silent as bats are hanging upside down in the niches within the rocks. At a flat section covered with pebbles of different sizes, we put life vests on to pass through two deep water sections to head to the cave’s end. The closer we get, the quieter the cave becomes. There’s a calm pond at the end. The water is limpid. Ken asks us to turn off the lights and be quiet to experience the darkness. I look towards my hands and then at other people standing around me, but I can’t see a thing. It feels like I’m wearing a blindfold. The cave suddenly becomes colder.

“You’ll Get Wet Again!”

We reach the camp that is located at the entrance of the next cave, Hang Va, at around 4pm. The sun is still high in the sky and we are looking for places to dry our wet clothes. I ask Ken where I can take a shower. “You were soaked in water for a whole day, and you still want to take a shower?” he

“Jagged rocks start appearing. We step slowly and carefully, avoiding the sharp edges as we head up a mountain. At some sections, my right hand grips a rock while the other hand searches for something firm to pull my body upward”

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“Flowstones, stalactites and stalagmites glitter, catching the light rays from our headlamps. Hundreds of different colours intertwine with one another on the ceiling and walls, creating an abstract painting� | Aprll 2017 Word | 57

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laughs. “The porters have to get clean water from a stream in the jungle and there’s only enough for cooking, drinking and washing your hands and face.” Dinner is served when the sun is low in the sky. I’m not sure if it’s because we are all tired or hungry, or the chef is particularly skilled, but everything tastes delicious. There is plenty of food, too. Night in the jungle is fun. It’s a symphony of frogs, crickets and leaves swinging in the air. We sit at the dining table, chitchatting and playing cards, as none of us wants to go to bed early. Rice wine is also served but only a limited amount to warm us up. My thighs start getting sore. It gets colder as the evening goes on. We finally say goodnight to one another at around 9.30pm. The whoops of douc langurs wake me

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up. The jungle dew is as plentiful as if it had rained in the night. Following the smell of cooking, I find myself hanging around at the makeshift kitchen, watching the chef prepare our breakfast. A porter is hanging the harnesses. Everything seems ready. I am planning to change into a dry outfit. It’s not because I love being clean, I simply don’t like wearing wet clothes and don’t want to get a cold. “Leave your dry clothes for the way back to the town. You’ll get wet again,” says Ngoc.

Hang Va

The entrance to Hang Va is next to the camp but the way down is steep and slippery. As I start the descent, I understand the purpose of the harness and ropes attached to my body. Hang Va is narrower than Nuoc Nut Cave

— I have to squeeze myself between the rocks in some sections; yet, the underground river flows stronger and is warmer. Or maybe the outfit I’m wearing is just colder. The water is a pristine turquoise, reflecting the curling lines and different blocks of colour on the rough ceilings and walls. It’s stunning and yet creepy, like an abstract painting. The sound of the water hitting against the rocks at the back is in tune with the sound of water dripping down from above, breaking the river surface. Carlos is humming Besame Mucho. At the end of the water passage, we use the harness and ropes again. It’s not high, steep or rough; simply there are millionyear-old rock formations underneath, which we are not allowed to step on. We follow a path created out of metal steps that are placed precisely to avoid

“Night in the jungle is fun. It’s a symphony of frogs, crickets and leaves swinging in the air. We sit at the dining table, chitchatting and playing cards”

damaging the formations, and head to the end of the cave. I open my eyes wide to define what I am looking at and if what I am seeing is real. There are about 10 rimstone pools with numerous stalagmites formed by floating calcite rafts. It may not be classically beautiful, but I cannot stop staring at them. Ken points at a grey rock wall and says: “The other side of that is Son Doong.” The theory is that millions of years ago, Hang Va and Son Doong, the largest cave in the world, were once connected. Back at our camp, we take a two-hour break for lunch and pack things up before heading back to the main road to go back into town. My thighs ache more than the day before. The way back is steep and slippery with a lot of sharp rocks breaking onto our path.

However, it’s easier as we get used to it. Sebastian leans his hand on a rotten tree branch before making a stride forward. He falls over and cuts his elbow deep enough for it to bleed. We wash off the dirt on our shoes and clothes at a stream section where there is a bridge above. I throw a leech back into the stream after catching it on my finger. Taking a sip of cold beer while leaning my back against the bridge supports, I think of all the other trips I’ve done in Vietnam. Compared to this one they are mundane and boring. As I wonder what I will do in the future, I decide I’m going to return to Phong Nha, but next time I will take the four-day trip to Tu Lan. The expedition is the toughest of all the tours available in the area, but already I can’t wait.

Information There are direct flights to Dong Hoi in Quang Binh from both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Visit and jetstar. com for flight schedules. The journey to Phong Nha from the airport takes 45 minutes to an hour. The standard transfer cost is VND500,000. Oxalis runs three Hang Va tours a week from two to eight people, priced at VND8 million per tour. Visit for more info. Oxalis also runs tours and expeditions to Hang En, Tu Lan, Hang Tien and Son Doong. | Aprll 2017 Word | 59

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The Vaey | Aprll 2017 Word | 61

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One Boat One Family Quang and his wife Suong have five children, a house and a boat. “My daughter is 23 and my sons are all younger than her,” says Quang. “The youngest is only 10, but they all work.” The children of the family have jobs in a local restaurant, and the mother and father own a long, blue boat. “This is our job. This boat, and the people who ride on it, is all that we have,” Quang says. Like many others in Phong Nha, Quang’s family rely on tourism for their income. They take tourists to and from Phong Nha Cave. “In the high season each boat is allowed one trip every four days,” he says. “We earn VND360,000 from one trip, and we have to make it last.” As we float under the rock, friends pass by in their leaf-like vessels, bumping gently into each other. “We get big fish here,” says Quang. “Bigger than your arms. They come all the way from Laos.”

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Phong Nha is more than just caves. Tourists come to visit countryside, mountains, jungle and a chill-out place called the Bong Lai Valley. Zoe Osborne and Mike Palumbo motorbike along mud paths and across rivers to get a taste of this rural idyll


he Bong Lai Valley is defiantly isolated and yet integral to Phong Nha’s tourist trail. A cantankerous dirt track links its residents together, constantly remoulded by rain and by the giant trucks that run ruts into its surface. The area is poor, but as tourism develops a number of local entrepreneurs are bringing new wealth to its hardworking people.

Three Hundred Ducks

“The crop decides if you will have a rich farm or a poor farm,” says Quynh, owner of The Duck Stop. “Our main crop is pepper and if we have a bad year the trees only produce a little, so we sell other things, too — cows, buffalo, ducks and some fruit and vegetables.” At Quynh’s farm, the pepper is pulled

from the trees by hand once a year and laid in the sun to dry. “We have 100 trees to harvest this year and 100 more still maturing,” says Quynh. “If the season is good, each tree will produce about VND200,000 worth of pepper.” The pepper is sold to traders who send it on a train of commerce that can stretch all around the world. The Duck Stop is primarily a pepper farm, but it is also one of many farms in the area that have started working with tourists. Phong Nha Farmstay founder, Ben Mitchell, came to the valley in 2010 and began to introduce the local farmers to the concept of tourism, assisting them with his own insight into what the market is looking for. “Ben gave our farm its name, The Duck Stop, because we have a lot of ducks,” Quynh says. “At one time we had 300 of

them. I run a business now showing tourists our pepper farm, selling them our pepper and taking them to play with the ducks.”

Along the River

At the other end of the valley lies the Wild Boar Eco Farm. “We own about 2km of land along the river,” says owner, Cuong. “We grow rubber and acacia trees to sell, and other, cheaper crops to serve to our guests.” He also brews rice wine and sells rice from his fields nearby. The farm has a small menu using ingredients grown onsite, from hot toasted peanuts and freshly cut sweet potato fries, to rice with vegetables and wild boar meat. The boars are caught in the jungle nearby and raised in a wide, brick-lined pen next to the house. “We have to feed one boar for 10 months to a year before it is big enough to eat,” says Cuong. “You can’t sell them for much, but people love to come here to try the meat.” Visitors can also sleep at the Eco Farm, but because the road there is so bad, Cuong is struggling to get the business on its feet. He has two clean, wooden rooms set up for visitors and a massive bathroom. “Ben gave me the idea to start this place, and when he saw the size of the bathroom he told me to

make it bigger,” he says. “That happened three times, and now it is very impressive.”

You Have a Fridge?

The Pub With Cold Beer is a must-see for any traveller to Phong Nha, but a few years ago it was just a hut on a hill with a mud floor and, strangely, a fridge. “Nhat, the owner, actually had a stereo and a fridge in her house which was really weird at the time,” Ben remembers. “Back then we used to bring people there on one of our day tours.” As word got out, Nhat’s business began to flourish. “My customers are mostly foreigners, and in the high season I can have up to 40 people here from 12pm every day,” she says. “But it rains from October to around December and the numbers are lower.” During the wet season, Nhat has to ride her bicycle to collect beer to stock her bar. “I usually make two trips in a day, each time carrying a big crate of the stuff,” she says. “Many people drive motorbikes and even buses come here in the dry season, but when the road is wet, the mud makes it impossible to navigate.” Over the years, Nhat has dug away at the hillside next to her house and cleared a wide,

Fixing a Hole Paradise Cave echoes with tourists from morning to night, holding hundreds of people in its guts each day. As we walk down into the dark, Suu, a young local with a hat defiantly stuck to his head, squats next to the stairs. He has a mobile phone in one hand and a spanner in the other. While tourists snap selfies above him, Suu and his team of light-footed tradesmen fiddle with the planks on which they walk. “We’re fixing the wires under the wood,” he says. “It’s maintenance really, making sure the lights work.” It’s a good job they don’t look down. Outside, Trang plays with the steering on her electric shuttle, waiting to take tourists down the hill from the Cave. There are too many people working her job, too many shuttles and too few tourists to sit in them, but everyone gets a salary at the end of the working day. | Aprll 2017 Word | 63

Cover Story “As the Bong Lai Valley gets more attention, more and more travellers are coming to Moi Moi and Tuan is growing more food to cater to them. ‘Eventually, I want my farm to be completely driven by the restaurant here. I want to grow things for customers to see, eat and to take away with them’”

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Be My Driver Minh (name changed) is a driver, but he didn’t used to be. “He used to carry explosives from the jungle and sell them in town,” says Hai, an old friend. “They would search for unexploded bombs and saw them in two, one man sitting on top of the metal to pour water inside as they sawed. Gunpowder was their bread and butter.” Minh was eventually caught with seven others, carrying 371kg of explosives from over the Laos border. He was imprisoned for 12 months. “When Minh came out of prison his family was poor. He needed a job,” says Hai. “He now works for me as a tour driver. There are many like him — tourism has brought them new options.” “When Minh first came on tour with me, he could not eat with the group,” says Hai. “He just stared at the food — he was emotional.” While Minh was inside, his family didn’t have enough to eat. “He couldn’t enjoy the tasty food when his daughters had so little.”

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open courtyard with a view across the river. “We do a little bit each year when we have money,” she says. “Eventually, I would like to have some rooms here so that people can stay the night.” Nhat’s pub is famous for its grilled chicken, which customers can prepare themselves. Ben remembers the first ever meal Nhat sold. “She threw down a basket as big as a table with chicken laid out on banana leaves and rice wrapped in little leaf packets,” he says. “It was perfect. She has long tables now, but the food is just as good.”

Farm to Table

Moi Moi is one of the valley’s quietest spots, tucked away behind a hill and

surrounded by soft grass. “I’ve had this restaurant for about a year now,” says Tuan, one of the owners. “I wanted to provide a place for tourists to come and enjoy the food from our farm.” But since opening, Tuan has had more of a local customer base. “Young kids from Dong Hoi often come here on a Sunday to hang out, drink, eat and socialise,” says Ben. But as the Bong Lai Valley gets more attention, an increasing number of travellers are coming to Moi Moi and Tuan is growing more food to cater to them. “Eventually, I want my farm to be completely driven by the restaurant here,” he says. “I want to grow things for customers to see, eat and to take away with them.” About a five-minute drive from Moi

“Phong Nha Farmstay founder, Ben Mitchell, came to the valley in 2010 and began to introduce the local farmers to the concept of tourism, assisting them with his own insight into what the market is looking for”

Building Sandcastles Moi is The Pepper House Farmstay. This oasis, now a favourite among couples and families, boasting several beautiful rooms and a deep blue swimming pool, was once a simple farmhouse, with pepper as a major crop. “I opened in 2013 with two simple bedrooms and bathrooms,” says owner Diem. “By the end of 2014 I had opened the villas.” She now puts her pepper in most of her savoury dishes, and if guests like, they can join her at the market and in the kitchen to learn how to prepare local food. “They have to get up early to come with me, though,” Diem says. “I can also arrange for guests to experience work with the local farmers, or to visit the animals on local farms.”

Diem is currently building a private apartment in her farmstay for guests who would like to have their own kitchen facilities.


More and more tourists visit the Bong Lai Valley every year, bringing money and opportunity to its people. But as their businesses develop, locals have to contend with the balance between business and preserving their village. With help from a number of key pioneers in Phong Nha’s tourism industry, the Bong Lai Valley is doing its best to remain conscious of its integrity and self-sufficient in its economy. But there is no doubt — the valley will change.

Lam is a sand merchant. “I’m taking the dirt out of the river and sifting it,” he says. “We lift it out with this machine, and move it to our truck.” Standing next to the river that runs the length of the Bong Lai Valley, Lam gestures to the ramshackle boat behind him. A long, plastic tube sucks grains from the water and pours them out onto the ground. This sand will be sold to local construction workers and used to render the walls of one of Phong Nha’s many new buildings, but for now it belongs to the river, slowly gathering in a pile on its bank. A man on an excavator sifts through the mountain of silken silt and a truck waits on the road above us, ready to take the sand away. Lam smiles, “Now, it's ready.” | Aprll 2017 Word | 67

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The Eco Tour

Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003, yet conservation remains a thorny issue. Local pioneer Hai Nguyen is leading the effort to fuse tourism with environmental preservation. Words by Zoe Osborne. Photos by Mike Palumbo


espite efforts throughout the 20th century to protect and sustain Vietnam’s lush biodiversity, the long-lasting civil conflicts left people and the country’s natural habitat in tatters. According to Sterling, Hurley and Le in Vietnam: A Natural History, the longrange ecocide tactics used in the American War did the most damage to Vietnam’s environment in the country's history. After 1975, Vietnam began to rebuild. “Back then, people here were very poor and [in Phong Nha] they depended on the jungle to eat,” says Hai Nguyen, owner of Hai's Eco Conservation Tours. “Their priority had to be survival, not how their lives affected the nature around them.” A number of studies have been conducted on the link between poverty and reduced forest conservation in Vietnam. Muller, Epprecht and Sunderlin found that areas of heavy forestation often coincide with high levels of poverty and poor accessibility and this 2006 study connected economic growth

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to increased environmental awareness. As Vietnam developed, farming in areas such as Phong Nha became the main livelihood for the local people, but since they couldn’t sell their crops for much they often had to return to the forest to support their families. This is still an issue today. “They grow peanuts, corn, pepper — none of these things raise much money,” says Hai. “They have to find a supplement to their income, and if there is no other option they turn to the jungle.” Illegal logging is prominent in these areas and closer to town, as locals look for ways to earn money. The illegal animal trade is equally prevalent but a national effort is being made to curb it. Jungle meat carries much more value than farm meat, because it is harder to obtain, but also because of its quality. Some animals are also sold as pets or smuggled illegally around Vietnam and to other parts of the world. “They often use local buses,” says Hai.

“The Wildlife Rescue Center here does raids. The last time we stopped a bus we found 30 turtles and a python.”

Fighting Back

A number of organisations such as Education for Nature (ENV), Freeland and its awareness campaign iThink, are now working to end animal trafficking in Vietnam. But wildlife trafficking and deforestation are also being tackled on the ground in national parks. “At the Wildlife Rescue Centre [in Phong Nha], we rehabilitate trafficked animals and try to promote eco-friendly living among local people,” says Hai. “The rangers patrol the area, stopping poaching, rescuing animals and running local awareness campaigns.” The Rescue Centre was built in 2007 as a project by the Cologne Zoo in Germany. “The zoo sent a group to set up base here in 2005,” says Hai. “At that time, there was no place to keep the rescued | Aprll 2017 Word | 69

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"[Tourism] is the best way to reduce the impact on the jungle. We provide jobs for hunters and loggers to get them out of the jungle. Many people here know that exploiting the jungle is wrong, but they have no other option." animals so they built the centre.” Although the zoo ended its involvement a few years later, the rescue centre continues its work. “We process animals in four main steps,” says Hai. “First we rescue them, then we help them to rehabilitate. We often have to fix open wounds or amputate limbs, and animals must be kept in quarantine until they are healthy. If they regain their natural instincts we release them and if not we start a reintroduction programme.” Hai owns a range of other businesses in town that help fund this work. Having grown up 160km south of Phong Nha, he first came to the area as a qualified English teacher to work with the Cologne Zoo project. When it ended in 2013, Hai was offered work at a new project in Dong Hoi, but he turned it down and set up shop in town. “I opened Jungle Bar in 2013 — it was the first backpacker bar on the strip,” says Hai. “Later, I merged it with Easy Tiger and then I opened Bamboo Café.” Hai is also the founder of Hai’s Eco Conservation Tours, promoting sustainable local tourism, and providing a way for tourists to learn about conservation in the area. Hai runs campaigns to collect donations for the Resuce Centre, and tries to work with

the local people as much as possible. “This is the best way to reduce the impact on Phong Nha's natural environment,” he says. “We provide jobs for hunters and loggers to get them out of the jungle. Many of them know that what they're dong is wrong, but they have no other option.”

Tracing Steps

All of Hai’s eco-tours cover wildlife conservation and a jungle trek. “Our customers tend to be people with insightful thinking,” he says. “Anyone can join the tour, but a basic level of fitness is required as the treks are not easy.” Hai can tailor tours to his guests and will work with specific dietary requirements. The Jungle Trek & Wildlife day tour begins in town, on the back of a local driver’s motorbike. It runs from 8.30am to 5pm. Guests are brought to the Wildlife Rescue Centre first, to hear about the work it does and take the opportunity to visit the rescued animals. “We find primates, civets, turtles, porcupines, pythons, birds and wild pigs,” says Hai. “We take them to the centre to recover.” The tour then moves to the National Park and guests follow Hai on a winding, handcut route through thick, smothering green, that the soldiers used during the war. If

no-one trod this route for even two weeks, it would be swallowed up by the jungle. Hai explains the area as the group moves, demonstrating a mock-up of a local animal trap, and leading his guests to a picnic, barbequed onsite at a cave campfire. “We send members of our team ahead of the tour to prepare the lunch,” says Hai, “When guests arrive they can watch the meat being cooked before sitting down to eat.” Close by is Weapon Cave, an old strategic ground-firing spot used during the war, and is still riddled with rusty bullets. Spending time and money on an eco-tour is a great way to contribute to local jobs and conservation in Phong Nha, but there are a number of other things you can do too, according to Hai. “You can help us to promote eco-tourism here by simply spreading the word,” he says. “And any campaign to raise support for the animals at the centre would be greatly appreciated.” But at the end of the day, just being in Phong Nha is helping the cause, because every new tourist brings another local an employment opportunity, much needed cash and a chance to get out of the jungle. For more information on Hai’s Eco Conservation tours, click on | Aprll 2017 Word | 71

Cover Story

Son Doong After talking about doing it for years, Nick Ross finally gets his trip into Son Doong, the largest cave in the world. 72 | Word April 2017 | | Aprll 2017 Word | 73

Cover Story


s I set off for Son Doong, Phong Nha Town is awash with concerned gossip. A European cable car company is in the caves conducting a feasibility study. The idea of building the longest cable car in the world to the largest cave in the world is back on again. Lots of -ests here. Guinness Book of Records type -ests. I understand the need to protect this delicate place, this cave that has formed over millions of years with startling rock formations, its own special geology, a cave so large that it has its own climate and its own

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ecosystem. As the safety expert on our trip, Trevor Wailes explains, to build an elevator to take people down into the cave, importing concrete and steel, would be the equivalent of vandalism. Yet I also see how bringing 2,000 people a day to Son Doong could benefit the area. It would bring in revenue and create jobs. And after all, why shouldn’t people be allowed to see the natural wonder that is Son Doong? At the moment only 500 people a year manage to go through the cave. This will shortly increase to 1,000. It’s still not many. But that is before I experience the mystery

of Son Doong, its otherworldliness, its unearthly beauty, its magic. Three days in and I don’t want to leave. I’ve left civilization behind and I want it to stay that way. Three days in and I’m no longer torn.

Into the Jungle

Unless you’re wealthy enough to pay for a helicopter to take you part of the way, trips to Son Doong start with a 10km jungle hike to Hang En or Swallow Cave. The first kilometre takes you 400m down the side of a mountain into a valley and then through Ban Doong Village, home of the ethnic Bru-Van

“During the trip you are cut off from civilization. No phone. No social media. No email. No news of the outside world. No nothing. This is life as it once was before communications invaded every part of our existence”

Kieu. From there you follow the river until you reach Hang En. It’s a pleasant hike, and after clambering over rocks you find yourself on a sand beach surrounded by a lake. It’s here that you camp the first night with an orchestra of hundreds of thousands of swallows chirping away above. They fly in at dusk, hook themselves to the ceiling of the cave, then leave at dawn. It’s surreal. Day two and we trek to the other side of the cave and then along the river and through more jungle to the entrance of Son Doong. After lunch, ropes attached, we descend into the gloom of Son Doong,

into this alien world that has formed over millions of years. Through the darkness, we head towards Camp 1 and then above see the most astonishing sight, the first sinkhole, or doline. At some point in this cavern’s history the ceiling of the cave collapsed, diverting the river and letting light in from above. Like a hollowed-out volcano there is now a sparse jungle in its centre. We stop, jaws open in astonishment and we pinch ourselves. We’re in a jungle in a cave. A jungle inside not just any cave. We’re in a jungle in the world’s largest cave. When we see the second doline the

following day we’re even more astonished. The jungle here is thick and coloured an emerald green, so green it has a different light to it, a light I’ve never seen before. When this doline was discovered it was supposed to be called The Garden of Eden, but somehow the name got written down wrong. Instead, Eden was replaced by Edam, the Dutch cheese, and the name has stuck.

Opposites Attract

During the trip you are cut off from civilization. No phone. No social media. No email. No news of the outside world. No | Aprll 2017 Word | 75

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“We stop, jaws open in astonishment and we pinch ourselves. We’re in a jungle in a cave. A jungle inside not just any cave. We’re in a jungle in the world’s largest cave” | Aprll 2017 Word | 77

Cover Story

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nothing. This is life as it once was before communications invaded every part of our existence. Instead, on the breaks between hikes, between scrambling down rocks or climbing up steep banks with ropes or wading through rivers, we talk. Talk about ourselves, find out about the other people in our group, immerse ourselves in conversation. There are 10 people doing the tour, from diverse backgrounds. Me, two bankers, a vet and his wife who teaches movement, a wellknown Vietnamese lawyer and his partner who has vertigo and is claustrophobic (for her the challenge is conquering her fears), a German civil engineer, a lawyer turned risk assessor and a Viet Kieu from Australia. In support is our guide, Bamboo, Trevor Wailes, five safety assistants and a team of chefs and porters. 35 people in all. It is a group who would not normally interact or come in contact with one other, and yet we bond. Much of the bonding takes place at night around the dinner table and over glasses of whisky (we brought our own with us) and rice wine. And within a couple of days the common joke revolves around Donald Trump. Would he be assassinated while we are cut off from civilization? And would we hear of it? We keep on asking the question, and then someone says: “If it does happen, well, there’s a satellite phone with us for emergencies. Surely our guide will let us know.” Fortunately for the present administration in the White House, Donald Trump survives the trip. So do we.

Beauty and the Beast

On the third night I stay up late talking to Trevor about a little bit of everything and of

course the caves. We go through too much rice wine and gradually the topic returns to the cable car. Part of the original expedition to Son Doong in 2009 and born in the UK, Trevor has been caving all his life. For him the cable car would be a disaster for the conservation of Son Doong, as it would mean building non-natural structures and an elevator inside the cave. He also feels that financially it would only benefit a few people. “What they’ll do is ship them in for the day,” he says. “The tourists will stay in Dong Hoi, come to the area, get the cable car in and then go back out again without spending any money in Phong Nha.” For me, the objection is different. Being in Son Doong is like being on another planet, a forgotten planet untouched by human hands. Part of the experience is the physical exertion and effort it takes to get here. Four days without a shower, waking up and changing into wet boots and clothes, trekking over 50km, forgoing all the comforts of modern life. Here there is no such thing as society or keeping up appearances. It is this as well as the cave and the jungle that makes the trip into an otherworldly experience. Building the cable car would destroy all that. People would come in and see the beauty, but they would never have the experience.

Journey’s End

It’s the final day and we’re heading out of the jungle towards the main road. Threeand-a-half years before when I’d done the trip to Hang En, we’d taken the same route, but I’d been out of shape and was struggling with an old sporting injury to my right knee.

It was fine until the final ascent when we had to climb 400m. After 50m my right knee collapsed. So I put my weight on the left. 50m further on, the left knee went, too. I ended up crawling to the top on all fours. It was a wake-up call. This time I am much fitter and am determined to get up in one piece. I manage it, but it is tough. My calves scream with pain and my lower back aches from the camera equipment I am carrying. So, I go 50 steps or so, stop for five or 10 seconds to catch my breath, and continue. I make it to the top in one piece, a beer awaiting me on my arrival. Sitting on the bus back to Phong Nha, we are quiet. The journey has ended but the memory and the visions of that surreal world will last forever. Suddenly my phone goes beep, beep, beep, beep, beep. All those missed messages are coming in. We’re back in civilization.

The Trip The Son Doong Expedition costs US$3,000 per person and can be booked through Oxalis ( At present only 500 people a year manage to get into Son Doong. From May 2017 this will be increased to 1,000. Due to the popularity of the trip, be prepared to book months in advance. | Aprll 2017 Word | 79

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Eating and Drinking in Phong Nha | Aprll 2017 Word | 81

Cover Story From impoverished farming community to tourism hub, in just a decade Phong Nha Town has got itself enough eating and drinking options to make it a good place to hang out and do more than just visit caves. Words by Zoe Osborne. Photos by Mike Palumbo


ince Phong Nha Farmstay opened in 2010 and began bringing the first international tourists to Phong Nha, the area has become a hive of economic activity with plenty of bars and restaurants. Here’s a rundown of what’s available.

Vung Hue Restaurant

The menu here is a long list of options, from tender meat and fish to tofu vegetarian dishes, all served with rice and bright yellow tea. Ca vuoc sot ca chua is a succulent, tangy plate of surprisingly un-fishy sea bass and tangerine tomato sauce. It’s served beneath a cluster of bright, well-done vegetables, and while you have to navigate its bones the flesh is soft and light. The muoi tri suon chua ngot (sweet and sour ribs) are another wellknown delicacy at Vung Hue, and are just as sticky as they sound. Put the chopsticks down and use your fingers. Cost: A plate of ca vuoc costs VND80,000, pork ribs cost VND80,000 and rau lang xao is VND30,000.

Easy Tiger

Easy Tiger is the kind of place where you could instantly make a bunch of new best friends simply by sitting down. The telltale buzz of a good backpacker joint seeps out of the front gate and onto the street long after most other restaurants close. The Easy Tiger kitchen serves meals and finger food from 6am to 10.30pm, focusing on Western dishes with a local twist. The bar is open until 11pm, offering a range of beer, sodas, fresh juices, smoothies, wines and even ciders, with free drinking water refills. Easy Tiger is also known for its in-house band that plays three to four nights a week, filling the space with hits and classics. Cost: Drinks range from VND15,000 for a soda and VND20,000 for a Huda beer to VND80,000 for a Magners Apple Cider.

Bomb Crater Bar

The Bomb Crater bar sells a range of beer, soda, hot drinks, coffee and comfort food,

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on a very interesting piece of land. A crisp, cold beer is always a winner, but take that beer and put it on a handmade bamboo table in the middle of a bomb crater, and you’ve got something special. The area around the bar was used as a fuel depot during The War. In the early 1970s, a 2000lb American bomb created the crater that the bar now sits in — a once deep gouge in the earth that has been filled in over time by river sediment and vegetation. Overlooking the river, the Bomb Crater Bar is a great spot to unwind and relax. Cost: A Huda beer costs VND20,000, soda is VND15,000 and mixed drinks are VND50,000. Snacks range from VND5,000 for a bag of crisps to VND70,000 for a meal.

paddies ripple in the jungle air. The kitchen at Phong Nha Farmstay is open from 6.30am to 8.30pm and staff are ready to serve you throughout the day. One breakfast favourite is the Farmstay’s pancakes — golden toasted dough with a topping of fresh fruit, local honey or jam, lemon and sugar, and cinnamon sugar. Pizzas are also popular here, as is the pho bo, served with fresh, curly beef, coriander, basil and the optional lemon. There are also a number of vegetarian dishes on the menu. A good time to come here is for sunset. The view over the paddy fields is spectacular. Cost: Food ranges from VND30,000 for a garden salad or garlic bread, to VND180,000 for a hamburger pizza with beef, bacon, salami and ham.

Phong Nha Farmstay

Omar’s Namaste

At Phong Nha Farmstay, the view is just as good as the food. Seating is mainly outside and as you eat you can watch the rice

The curries at Namaste are very satisfying. They’re the kinds of meals you would order if your stomach was particularly hungry,

and a vegetarian enchilada, and there are plenty of options if you’re looking for something light. Try the veggie hummus sandwich, a two-slice creation with roasted tomato, pumpkin, carrot, cucumber, bell pepper and lettuce, served with a generous side of fresh, crispy garden salad. Cost: Food prices range from a veggie hummus sandwich at VND70,000 to a classic pizza at VND180,000. Drinks prices range from VND15,000 for a soda and VND20,000 for local beer to a Capture Nutella frappe at VND90,000.

East Hill

or if you’d had a long day exploring and wanted to give yourself a treat. The menu offers a variety of dishes from all over India, each curry coming in its own silver bowl with a twirl of white cream on top. Red-hot curries aside, Omar’s Namaste at Phong Nha is a master of Indian breads. The roti here are wide, fluffy discs of freshly cooked dough with a light crunch on the outside but soft, warm bread on the inside. Cost: Main dishes range from VND80,000 to VND150,000. Namaste offers a deal of a bhaji or samosa, poppadom and dip, rice, naan, any vegetable or chicken main and a beer or soda included, all for VND150,000.

Bamboo Café

Bamboo Café has been built around the concept of eco-friendly living, from its recycled soda-can utensil holders to the plant pots lining its walls. Owner and founder Hai Nguyen also runs a tour company in Phong Nha, educating visitors on conservation in

the area. If you’re looking for something local and light to eat, try the Bamboo Cafe’s fresh spring rolls. These wraps of vegetables, noodles, egg and pork come in a ring around a bowl of homemade peanut sauce. Coffee here is like rocket fuel — very strong and tasty. Cost: The spring rolls cost VND60,000, sweet and sour ribs with rice go for VND80,000 and a Phong Nha vegetarian volcano (tofu, mushroom, tomato, onion and capsicum) costs VND50,000.

Capture Café

Capture Café’s main draw is its buffet of a food menu, with its warm, freshly baked bread, gourmet pizza, Texas-style enchiladas and tasty salads and sandwiches. Dig in to one of Capture’s homemade crisp-crust pizzas, or indulge on a delicious creamy lasagna. The menu also includes a number of specifically vegan and vegetarian dishes, including vegan penne, a vegetarian lasagna

East Hill is Phong Nha’s most bizarrely creative establishment, perched on the top of a mound of earth. The owner originally opened it for the backpacker market, but now most of his customers are Vietnamese — students and teachers from Dong Hoi. The café looks out over the valley and you can almost taste the peaceful quiet that washes over it with the breeze. Bright yellow flowers waft gently on one side and a long wooden bench rims the front of the café hut, laden with a few big smooth stones on which someone has painted the Wifi password. Order a morning ca phe den or sua da and join the locals as they watch the sun wake up. Cost: Ranges from VND15,000 for beer to VND17,000 for a delicious coffee.

The Best Spit Roast Pork and Noodle Shop in the World (Probably)

This local gem serves a number of dishes using what they’re famous for — crispy barbequed pork. You can order their glistening, tender meat with bun noodles, with a freshly baked banh mi and homemade sauce, with rice or simply on its own with a selection of local herbs that bring subtlety to its otherwise rich, wholesome flavour. The shop opens in the morning, but the spit starts turning later on in the day and continues until around 9pm. Strangely enough, vegetarians can be catered to here, too. Simply let the owner know and she will whip something up. Cost: Prices range from VND40,000 to over VND100,000 depending on what you’re eating with your meat and how much meat you’re actually eating. | Aprll 2017 Word | 83

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rom once having unkempt guesthouses catering to an exclusively Vietnamese audience, these days the accommodation in Phong Nha has an international feel. What’s available is varied and ranges from dormitories in hostels to homestays, farmstays and resorts. Below is a list of recommended places to stay in Phong Nha.

Phong Nha Farmstay

Hoa Son, Cu Nam, Bo Trach, Quang Binh Tel: 0944 759864


pened in 2010, in terms of architecture, Phong Nha Farmstay, has a French colonial edge to it. Set in the peaceful surroundings of paddy fields and mountains, it’s a great spot to witness some of the best sunsets in the area. The property consists of private double, twin and family rooms, with some of them next to the swimming pool. Others face farmland and the mountains. Depending on the type of room, the price ranges from VND900,000 to VND2 million per night. A great place to chill and relax.

Phong Nha Lake House

Hung Trach, Bo Trach, Quang Binh Tel: 0978 266326


Accommodation in Phong Nha Looking for the best bed and board while holidaying in Phong Nha? Vu Ha Kim Vy gives the lowdown on what’s available. Photos by Bao Zoan 84 | Word April 2017 |

tanding next to Dong Suon Lake on the main road heading towards town, the Lake House looks like a traditional Vietnamese house with big wooden columns, a thatched roof and terracotta tiles. The mini resort offers lake view villas, bungalows and dorm rooms that will suit families, couples and solo travellers. Prices start at US$42 per night for a deluxe double room and US$10 for a dorm room.

Pepperhouse Homestay

Son Trach, Bo Trach, Quang Binh Tel: 01678 731560


ot far from The Lake House, Pepperhouse Homestay is surrounded on one side by rice fields and on the other by Dong Suon Lake. It’s an authentic Vietnamese homestay experience in the middle of the countryside, with local people, customs and food all on your doorstep. Boasting seven rooms, the homestay also has a big U-shaped swimming pool that is perfect for helping you cool down on a hot summer’s day. Rooms start at VND1 million.

Easy Tiger

Son Trach, Bo Trach, Quang Binh Tel: 0232 3677844


pecialising in dorm rooms only, Easy Tiger is a budget option that also offers a full bar with live music three nights a week, a restaurant serving a wide range of food and a wide outdoor patio for drinking draught beer in the evening and catching up with other travellers. There is also a swimming pool. A dorm bed costs VND160,000 per night; breakfast is not included.

Ho Khanh’s Homestay

Phong Nha, Son Trach, Bo Trach, Quang Binh Tel: 0916 794506


ounded by Ho Khanh (who discovered Son Doong), the homestay is located on the banks of the Son River, away from the centre of town. Ho Khanh’s Homestay has two room options including garden view rooms (VND1 million) and river-view rooms (VND1.1 million). All prices include breakfast and free Wifi.

Chay Lap Farmstay

Chay Lap Village, Phuc Trach, Bo Trach, Quang Binh Tel: 0931 357677


ocated 22km away from the centre of town (although much closer as the crow flies), Chay Lap Farmstay is a charming retreat in an unspoiled area of Phong Nha. Surrounded by mountains and farms, all of Chay Lap’s 27 rooms are located in individual houses. Apart from facilities including a swimming pool, restaurant and sauna, Chay Lap Farmstay also offers waterbased activities at its Water Sports Centre on Trooc River. Prices start at VND1.3 million per night for a superior room. (See the review of Chay Lap on page 124) | Aprll 2017 Word | 85


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Social Enterprise s NATIONAL

Since the legalisati on of social enterp rises in 2014, a nu have started operat mber ing in Vietnam. Th eir goal? To solve social challenges w ith business practic e. Diane Lee speaks four social enterpri to ses who are makin g a difference. Photos by Julie Vo la | Aprll 2017 Word | 87



ne cannot talk about social enterprises in Vietnam without acknowledging the pioneer in this field; the awardwinning Jimmy Pham and KOTO. Under the Enterprise Law, KOTO was the first organisation to be awarded social enterprise status, at the end of 2016. “Being recognised as a social enterprise was an emotional time,” said Jimmy. “We gained validation and credibility. It was important not just for KOTO, but for all social enterprises in Vietnam. There are more incentives, and economic benefits for the government.” “Vietnam is now leading the charge in the social enterprise movement and we are in with the top 10 countries in the world, including Singapore, Korea, the United Kingdom, France and Australia. We now receive support and participation from the government that helps with KOTO’s sustainability.” Starting life as a sandwich shop in Hanoi almost two decades ago, KOTO has set the standard in social entrepreneurship.

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Its combination of training disadvantaged youth in hospitality, and equipping them with life skills and English, has spawned two restaurants — one in Ho Chi Minh City and one in Hanoi — that largely support the organisation’s training centres. Housing close to 100 trainees at any one time, and supporting them through the programme, is not cheap. As well as employing staff to teach English, frontof-house and kitchen skills, ancillary staff are also required; house mother, cook and support services. The restaurants in Saigon and Hanoi are pivotal to KOTO’s operations; not only do they fund a large portion of running costs, they also provide real life work experience for front-of-house and kitchen trainees before their internships. Jimmy has the following advice for other social entrepreneurs: “Don’t treat your social enterprise as an NGO. Apply business principles to the social mission. Donordriven agendas are unsustainable.” “Believe in your idea. Be unreasonable, hungry and completely insane. That’s how you change the world.”

Tea Talk T

ea Talk opened for business in April 2012, with the purpose of providing psychosocial and education services to the local community, and in particular, improving the well-being of young people. Recognising that mental health was a major issue for young Hanoians, Michael Ong, a social worker from Singapore and owner of the café, wanted to provide counselling and training services in a relaxed environment. “Tea Talk has reached several thousand young people through our programmes and workshops,” said Michael. “Our flagship programme, Let’s Talk, is a para-counselling programme that has trained nearly 140 youths in basic peer counselling skills so they can help their friends in school or at work.” Michael admits that good intentions aren’t enough to ensure the success of Tea Talk, and while he has a master’s degree in

social work and is able to design social and psychological programmes, he knew nothing about running a café. “Everyday, new challenges are thrown at me,” he said. “It could be management issues, human resource issues, funding issues or issues like the ceiling leaks or the toilet is blocked. The challenge is that you’ll never know what is going to come up. To overcome these challenges, you have to adopt an attitude that says ‘I love to look for solutions’.” According to Michael, hiring good staff is one of the keys to success, and that means finding a balance of employing people with the right skills for the job, and finding people with the right heart. “I have learnt that I must build skills and captivate hearts.” “Don't be afraid to start, because if you don't [start], you’ve already failed. But if you try, you never know. You may be very successful indeed.” | Aprll 2017 Word | 89


Donkey Bakery F

ounded in 2009 by Marc Stenfert Kroese and Luyen Shell, Donkey Bakery provides vocational training, employment and support for people with disabilities, including those with hearing and sight impairments. Its aim is to prove that people with disabilities can be successful in a competitive business environment. From its humble beginning selling doughnuts, Donkey Bakery now employs 100 people, of whom 80% have a disability, and has diversified into a café, catering, and school canteen service, as well as organic farming and handmade goods. Mr Hoan, who has been with the business since 2010, said that working at Donkey Bakery proves that people with disabilities can support themselves. “We can work for our lives,” he said. “We aren’t a burden on others.” In developing countries, people with

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disabilities are generally poor and have limited opportunities for participation in society, including work. Donkey Bakery’s main hiring criteria is that people want to change their lives. “We reprogramme them from ‘can’t’ to ‘can’,” said Marc. While recruitment of staff is easy, teaching job skills can often be a challenge. Donkey Bakery employs 50 people with hearing impairments, three with vision impairments and 10 with physical disabilities. “Our staff go through a three-month training programme before they start work,” said Hoan. “Constant supervision is required, but it is worth the effort. Our staff are sincere and hard working.” Financial sustainability is always a challenge for social enterprises, but both Marc and Hoan say the same thing: “Think about your customers, your services and your products. The money will come.”

The Will to Live Center/Imagtor W

hile the service industry is a natural fit for the social enterprise, people usually associate social entrepreneurship with hospitality and tourism, not IT. The Will to Live Center was established in 2003 and has provided IT training and employment for more than 800 people with disabilities. Boasting an 80% employment rate after graduating, the Center’s alumni are proudly independent, with some even financially supporting their families. In 2016, the Will to Live Center established Imagtor — a photo editing service for the real estate sector — to secure a stable income source to support the Center’s activities. Mr Binh, one of Imagtor’s co-founders, wanted to avoid falling into the NGO or NPO trap of depending on fundraising or donations. Binh established the social enterprise because of his own disability. “I was born into a family where two of the three children had serious disabilities. We needed personal assistance for everything in our life, and we

were worried about our future. Who would take care of us when our parents passed away?” “We wanted to create an equal environment and prove that people with disabilities can do jobs related to technology and high intellect. Providing a high-quality service for our customers is a way to change society’s attitude to people with disabilities.” Offering services such as photo retouching, background removal, colour correction, panoramas and floor plans, one of the challenges for Imagtor is training editors — and ensuring a cohesive approach to the business. “We always have discussions, share ideas, and meet with each other to comprehend each other’s roles and responsibilities.” Binh has advice for other social entrepreneurs: “Think carefully about what you want to do for yourself and for society. Answer all the questions in your head until you have covered everything. Then it will be time to start.” | Aprll 2017 Word | 91

Food and Drink EAT & DRINK


Vegan Noodle Soups H Zoe Osborne and Mike Palumbo do the rounds of Saigon's noodle soup joints and search out the best vegan options in the city.

Quan Com Chay Tin Nghia 9 Tran Hung Dao, Q1 Open 10am to 10pm

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his spot is right in the centre of town, and as long as its doors are open, it is always busy. The menu is in Vietnamese and in English, and the clientele are a mix of locals and foreigners. The hu tieu here is a light, gently flavoured bowl of fresh, steamed vegetables in a clear broth with tofu and long, stringy hu tieu noodles. If you like to eat your soup with dipping sauce, there is soy sauce on the table. While there are numerous noodle options available, you can also order just a broth on its own and

o Chi Minh City has a reputation for delicious cuisine, especially for its bowls of hot, steaming noodle soup. Many meaty favourites have vegan equivalents, from mi quang to bun Hue, and they can be very flavoursome.

an optional bowl of rice on the side. Quan Com Chay Tin Nghia’s iced tea is one of its biggest draws, because it is so strange. It comes with ice flecked with suspicious bits of brown, and it’s not until the cubes melt that you realise they are not dirty, but made of tea. Your meal comes with wet wipes, and while prices here are not cheap they are not expensive either. Cost: Prices range from VND45,000 to VND308,000 Parking: At the front of the restaurant


ucked away in a secret corner of one of Phu Nhuan’s prettier alleyways, Here & Now is not easy to find. This atmospheric restaurant is beautifully designed — its decor has a clear Buddhist influence, the air seems sweeter inside than it is outside and its light, fresh food is served in rustic, hand-painted china. Here & Now seems to be a popular lunch spot with Phu Nhuan’s Buddhist monks, who sit among groups of white-collar

Vietnamese. There is a variety of noodle soups available, but the bun Hue and mi quang are house favourites. These hot, light bowls of vegetable, tofu and imitation meat leave you full and satisfied but not stuffed to the brim. Each soup is served with its own careful mix of crisp, fresh herbs and bean sprouts, and there are condiments on the table. Cost: Soups are VND35,000 per bowl, and iced tea is complimentary Parking: At the front of the restaurant

Here & Now Vegetarian 89E Nguyen Cong Hoan, Phu Nhuan Open 7.30am to 9.30pm | Aprll 2017 Word | 93

Com Chay Loi Trinh Cho Thi Nghe, Binh Thanh Open from early morning to about 6pm

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n the edge of a bustling walkway in the middle of a market, this vegetarian joint has a sense of constant movement. You don’t linger here, and yet the food is so tasty that it’s the kind of place you would want to hang around in. The food is also prepared right in front of you, with the ingredients laid out in neat bowls, broth in huge steaming vats, sauces flying everywhere and a fry pan on constant heat. It’s hard to know what you will order before you sit down, because the menu here

changes each day according to what the owners can buy to cook. One staple, the hu tieu, is a light dish with the usual watery broth. It’s deliciously salty but with that slight, sweet tang that southern Vietnamese food is well known for. Ask for some herbs to eat with your food and help yourself to soy sauce, chilli, sauted chilli in garlic and other condiments, then step back out into the throng of a market in full swing. Cost: VND20,000 per bowl and VND2,000 for iced tea Parking: Out the front of the market, VND4,000


here is no other vegan restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City more famous for its pho than this one. That being said, the hu tieu here is just as tasty and many other types of noodle soups are on offer from mi quang to bun, as well as vegetarian broken rice. Everything is laid out in a series of displays so you can watch the cooks as they put your meal together. Each table here is decked with sauces. Little bowls for dipping sauce are provided, and your meal will be served with the correct combination of lime, fresh chilli and a garden of mint, Thai basil and other typical herbs. The

restaurant’s iced tea is that gorgeous lotus mix that you always want to find but rarely get to drink. Although this spot is very popular with locals and expats alike, especially at lunch time, the small street on which is sits is quaint and quiet, with a few coffee shops sprawling out onto the road and plenty of space to walk. Cost: soups are around VND30,000 per bowl depending on what you order, and iced tea is VND2,000 Parking: On the other side of the road. Don’t forget to lock your bike

Pho Chay Nhu 54 Truong Quyen, Q3 Open 9am to 10pm | Aprll 2017 Word | 95

Bep Chay Pham Hong Phuoc 218A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3 Open 6am to 8.30pm

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his is a tiny one-room eatery in the middle of an alleyway, known for its noodles and for its friendly family service. The kitchen here dishes out a number of other foods too, from banh chung to bun thit nuong, but noodle soups are its legacy and once you’ve had one, it’s easy to see why. The mi quang is a wide bowl of bright yellow soup with colourful toppings, from crispy sesame crackers to fresh, green herbs. It is beautiful to photograph. Its broth is quite thick for a noodle soup and full of

flavour, and the bowl comes with a plate of greens to mix in with your meal. Another soup to try here is the pho, a light and sweet mix of noodles and soy that also comes with herbs, from Thai basil to Vietnamese mint. There is a range of condiments on the table, including a rather strange vegan fish sauce that somehow manages to smell fishy without having ever seen a fish. Cost: Soups cost VND30,000 to VND35,000 Parking: Close by. No tickets are offered but there is a security guard


et back from a busy street, this restaurant extends from behind a display of vegetarian dishes and broken rice. But although com chay is popular item on their menu, their noodle soups are just as tasty. Three soups are on offer — mi quang, bun Hue and pho. The inside of this place is set up a little like an American diner, with highbacked chairs lining each wall and a long walkway in the middle. There is a

lot of bright green, and Buddha images, references and prayers hang on the walls. Here, a bowl of bun Hue comes with a plate of fresh herbs, lemon, chilli and a range of condiments already on the table. The soup itself is light, with fake beef and a generous helping of noodles. Cost: A bowl of bun Hue costs VND20,000, and drinks vary from VND4,000 for iced tea to VND11,000 for a coke Parking: At the front of the restaurant

Com Chay Phuong Tinh 215 Xo Viet Nghe Tinh, Binh Thanh Open 10am to 10pm | Aprll 2017 Word | 97

Food and Drink



EMM’s cafe French cuisine just off Giang Vo. The location seems incongruous, but as our mystery diner discovers, the food and service is anything but. Photos by Julie Vola


’ve been craving a Caesar salad for a while, so when I saw one on the menu at EMM’s Cafe (VND90,000), with an option to add chicken for VND30,000, I jumped at the opportunity with high expectations, and wasn’t disappointed. I was happy to walk into EMM’s one lunchtime being greeted by the staff immediately and shown where to park. The open-plan seating allowed me to find my friend easily and take a seat; the jazz music set a relaxing atmosphere.

The Menu The menu has an eclectic selection of French cuisine including cold

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cuts and cheese platters from VND249,000, soups and salads from VND55,000, sandwiches and wraps from VND100,000, and pastas and mains from VND90,000. They also have a small selection of homemade desserts from VND25,000. We ordered the chicken Caesar salad to share as an entrée, with a glass of house chardonnay (VND60,000), and mains to come later. The salad was presented perfectly with little quail eggs used instead of the usual chicken eggs, which was a nice touch. The dressing was the star of the show, bringing the meal together with perfect zest. The chicken was flavoursome, and was not too dry.

Once we finished the salad down to the last crunchy crouton, my friend and I leant back in our padded chairs, and at that moment, a drop of water fell from the roof and plopped right into my wine. Now usually I would have an ‘ehh’ moment, but I decided to kindly let the staff know. The owner of the restaurant came over and I let him know what happened. He apologised and replaced the glass happily, as well as moving our table and chairs over and giving us a short history lesson on the building explaining why it was dripping at the moment. He assured us that it was getting fixed as soon as possible.






Flexible This moment gave me a good chance to check out the décor, and note how easily the tables and chairs were to manoeuvre. I noticed this throughout the meal when the staff would happily move groups of tables and chairs together, and break them up again, depending on the size of the groups coming through. Even with all this movement and people, it never felt too busy or crowded, and talking was never difficult. I had the stuffed chicken breast with three cheeses for my main. For VND140,000 you’ll get six pieces of spinach stuffed chicken, steamed carrots and beans, a small

pot of mushroom sauce, and thickcut chips to top it all off. I started with a carrot, and as I put it into my mouth I was blown away. I don’t know what it was, I don’t know how they did it, but it was the best carrot I have ever had. It was not too soft, not too crunchy, and had a sweet, buttery flavour to it. The chicken was perfectly moist, stuffed with spinach to create a complimentary aftertaste. My friend enjoyed the prosciutto panini, although we were unsure if it was prosciutto or if it was simply ham. We ordered the chocolate fondant (VND70,000) for dessert and when it arrived, I was

disheartened by the portion size. However, after one spoonful, I understood why it was so small, as the rich chocolate flavour was almost — but not quite — too much for one. The vanilla ice cream served with it is the perfect addition. If you’re someone who likes to explore outside of the comfort zone of Tay Ho or the Old Quarter, and are looking for somewhere to have a relaxed lunch or dinner out, with great service and a pleasant atmosphere, EMM’s is a good place to try. EMM’s is located at 110 D1 Tran Huy Lieu, Ba Dinh, Hanoi and is open from 7.30am to 11pm every day

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

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Student Food Most street food joints are aimed at everyone. But often you find places whose target customer is the thrifty student. Words by Edward Dalton. Photos by Teigue John Blokpoel


revious Street Snackers have covered all manner of rice, noodle and bread-based street food delights. The one thing these dishes all have in common is good value, a characteristic held in high esteem by the thriftiest of all creatures; students. The alleys around Kim Lien High School, Dong Da, are a perfect example of one of the many student-centred street food haunts found in Hanoi. One of the tidiest set-ups, containing more fashionable teens than a CGV cinema on a Saturday night, is The Canteen.

Variety Once upon a time, student food was a byword for nasty, cheap grub suitable for students able to operate a microwave. Enter Instagram, and suddenly every meal is an opportunity to look trendy. The menu at The Canteen reflects that desire, with international dishes offered alongside the more local nosh. A plate of nem chua ran (VND28,000) or banh mi with sausage and pate (VND20,000) ensure that typical Vietnamese student food is represented. The former are tasteless skewers of fried grey matter, whereas the crusty banh mi is filling, tasty and a more well-rounded meal.

The rest of the menu, however, is held together by contributions from America, Korea, France, Italy, Thailand and Japan. The greatest of all Parisian inventions, mozzarella sticks (VND25,000 for four), make for an excellent snack and ideal replacement for the forgettable nem chua ran.

Hit and Miss In the Korean corner, fried rice with kimchi (VND35,000) limbers up alongside fried gimbap (VND28,000) and spicy kimchi soup (VND 35,000). The gimbap are quite stodgy, but the fishiness of the laver seaweed punches through, demanding recognition. The rice is a dynamite dish, with a crusty layer formed under the main bulk, and plenty of lean pieces of grilled meat to break up the spicy and sour notes coming from the cabbage. Representing a swing and a miss, the hamburger, in either beef or chicken variety, fails to make an impression, even with the wallet-friendly VND15,000 price tag. Don’t expect wagyu, but do expect mayonnaise and ketchup as standard. Packing the most flavour was the chicken and cheese (VND39,000). Small pieces of stir-fried chicken in a thick tomato sauce, under a blanket of melted cheese; every rushed bite an obstacle to the

next. The sum of VND25,000 will get you a plate of the most buttery French fries imaginable, which are sure to divide opinion as to whether they are sickly and fattening, or addictive and divine.

Shop Around Elsewhere on the menu, you can find spaghetti, egg crepes, bulgogi sandwiches and ramen, all boasting low prices. The biggest surprise of the meal was the Thai green tea, which at just VND10,000 is in equal parts good value, delicious, sweet and refreshing. Ready-made caramel puddings (VND8,000) will satisfy all but the most fussy sweet tooth. One of the best things about The Canteen is the location. Every alley around it contains several student eateries; each one is packed to the rafters with students during lunch and after school, and each offers different food. At The Canteen, the prices are low enough that you can order several dishes, and find yourself using good variety as an excuse for quality; something that many of the dishes do have, in addition to their aesthetic value. The Canteen is located at 104/4C Dang Van Ngu, Dong Da, Hanoi and is open daily from 6am to 9.30pm | Aprll 2017 Word | 101

Food and Drink



Secret Garden Restaurant & Teahouse Now the secret is well and truly out, our mystery diner goes to check out one of Saigon’s best loved restaurants. Photos by Mike Palumbo


he cat is well and truly out of the bag with Secret Garden — that’s if it was ever in there in the first place. The talk about town is that it’s one of the best restaurants — if not the restaurant — to go for traditional Vietnamese food in Saigon. Despite its reputation among travellers for being difficult to find — perhaps apt given its name — in reality, Secret Garden is easy to find compared to most places in Saigon, located down a small alley off Pasteur Street in District 1. The alley entrance is beside Thuc Coffee (180A Pasteur, Q1). The famous yellow Ngon restaurant is a few doors down. For motorcyclists, parking is convenient and attendants take care of things. But there’s a catch — the restaurant isn’t easily accessible. If

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you have mobility issues, especially if you’re a wheelchair user, sadly, forget about coming here. There are four floors of stairs to tackle — 83 steps to be precise — and not much to hang onto for support. Judging by the shortness of breath and collective moans emanating from some people I saw summiting the staircase, the owners could do well starting a foot spa up there to soothe the aches and pains of diners as they wait.

Top of the Heap At the top, you’re greeted with the guts of the operation. You shimmy by the kitchen jammed with cooks and kitchen hands. The wait staff elbow past as they run orders back and forth. It’s a hive of activity because this place is packed most nights. It pays to book in advance.

It’s easy to see why travellers get swept away with the romanticism of Secret Garden. There are colourful lanterns separating the waiting area from the diners. On a clear dryseason evening, the breezy ambiance makes for atmospheric dining. In a wooden cage to one side is a rooster with a large and unwieldy comb — something different. But for me, the draw is the rooftop dining area. There are fairy lights that bounce light about the diners, and the tables are backdropped by Saigon’s city skyline, albeit slightly spoiled by the Vincom Centre looming over the back wall. Still, the Caravelle Saigon, just a few blocks away, is visible and restores any ambiance lost by Vincom’s blue lights. There’s enough space for at least 80 diners,






but it doesn’t feel cramped, and the acoustics are such that a noisy table nearby won’t ruin your evening.

The Here and Nhau The menu is extensive. The cheapest items are VND65,000 while the most expensive is a seafood and mushroom hotpot for VND395,000. Our first selection was the lotus root stuffed with pork mince (VND85,000). Essentially meatballs, they are sandwiched between deep-fried lotus chips. They have plenty of flavour and look healthy, but the downside is they come with a fluoro-orange Cholimex dipping sauce, which always scares me. Next, was the fried prawn and squid with salted egg (VND125,000). This dish is typical of what you get at seafood quans in beachside towns all over Vietnam.

Its powdery coating gives it a light texture and the squid is extra tender. After that, dishes — sometimes not ours — came out plonked on our table in no particular order. Don’t expect your appetisers to come first, nor for your waiter to be able to tell you what you’re about to eat. Eventually we got our braised pork and tofu (VND75,000). It comes out in a small clay pot, enough for two people. The pork is tender, but the highlight was the tofu. Like a sponge it had soaked up some fish sauce with a hint of tomato; the only downside, there wasn’t enough. The mountain of Tonkin creeper and garlic (VND75,000) tasted as it always does, made bearable with soy sauce and fresh chilli, while the

mango salad with dried beef was the surprise package. I recommend this. It’s an unusual combination, but the sweetness of the mango works beautifully with the savoury of the beef. The watermelon juice and the lesser known amberella juice (both VND45,000 each) were refreshing, while the che (VND25,000) was an excellent choice to cleanse the palate for dessert. In total, our bill — although we were given the wrong one three times — came to just over VND600,000 for food for two that’s very difficult to fault for the price. But the real secret to raising the level of the dining experience here will be in nailing the service. Secret Garden Restaurant & Teahouse is on the rooftop of 158 Pasteur, Q1, HCMC

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

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Mi Quang Some streetfood dishes are tasty, while others are on another planet, such as mi quang. Words by Nick Ross. Photos by Zoe Osborne


f you’ve spent long enough in Vietnam and have developed a taste for street food, then every time you leave the country you’ll find yourself missing something. With me it’s mi quang. When I first came to Vietnam, the country wasn’t known for its cuisine. Even Lonely Planet didn’t have much to say that was positive. According to their 1999 edition, the closest Vietnam had to a national dish was spring rolls. It was around that time, late in 2000, that I first tried mi quang. I hated it. The sauce was too fishy, the shrimp too stale, and there was something rancid about the overall taste. It had just arrived in Saigon from Central Vietnam together with the now ubiquitous bun bo Hue and bun thit nuong. For some reason the Saigonese didn’t get it right. Today, the national dish is that speciality coming from Nam Dinh, pho bo. Even Lonely Planet knows that one. And as for my own favourite streetside fix of flavour, mi quang has wow factor written all over it.

Around Town With this article in mind I tried mi quang at four different eateries. Every place has its own take on this dish that was bought to Quang Nam by Chinese settlers in the 18th and 19th centuries. The essential ingredients are pork (usually ribs), peanuts, chopped spring onions, cha or pork sausage, boiled quail egg, shrimp and thick-cut noodles that resemble the Chinese

char kway teow you find in Penang, Malaysia. On the side is a sesame rice cracker or two and a plate of fresh herbs, beansprouts and grated banana bud. But key is the sauce. It must be spicy, lukewarm, slightly fishy tasting, and there must be enough to cover the noodles but not too much to make the dish into a soup. The most disappointing version was also the most expensive. Disappointing only because the variation created by Café Terrace (VND110,000) got the sauce wrong. It still tasted moreish, but for me, the sauce is everything. Mi Quang My Son, the chain eatery that does 10 variations or so on the dish (VND51,000 a bowl), was also disappointing. Despite adding chilli and lime, their rendition lacked both the flavour and punch I usually associate with mi quang. Maybe I was there on an off-day. Mon Hue, however, the chain restaurant that has brought central Vietnamese cuisine to just about every urban corner of Vietnam, has a take on the dish that is as good as most of the variations you find on the street (VND60,000 a bowl). It’s consistent, too. I tried their mi quang at three of their restaurants — Thao Dien, Hai Ba Trung and Huynh Thuc Khang. The key was the sauce. Thin with brown globules of fat and flavour floating on its surface with just about enough fish sauce to provide taste, but not too much to overpower. The shrimp they add, however, is tasteless and dry. I never eat it.

The nameless Bun Bo and Mi Quang joint next to the pagoda on Quoc Huong in Thao Dien doesn’t do the quail egg (An Hoa Pagoda, 42 Quoc Huong, Q2, HCMC). However, the sauce is just about perfect and instead of ribs, they use standard pork meat. At VND25,000 a bowl, it’s also one of the cheapest versions you’ll find and I can’t get enough of it. The only problem is that every morning they run out by 8am.

Viral A few years ago a spate of songs about Vietnamese cuisine went viral on YouTube. Ironic, amusing yet expressing a love for everyday Vietnamese cuisine, the best known was The Pho Song. In response two expats and a Vietnamese friend living in Danang decided to add their own rendition to the mix, The Mi Quang Song. Put together by 100 Ky, Hao and Linh, the song is sung in both Vietnamese and English, with quips and quirks along the way. Here’s how it goes: You what up co, ya already know Let me get mot to of that mi quang, yo And extra quail eggs to make me strong, yo And no girls around so let that nuoc mam flow! And then comes the chorus. Everyday for breakfast, I wanna eat mi quang Everyday for breakfast, I wanna eat mi quang Having eaten so much of this dish, I tend to agree. | Aprll 2017 Word | 105


On the Streets of Hong Kong / The Land of the Dragon Fruit / La Gi Farmstay / Chay Lap Farmstay / Victoria Sapa Photo by Mike Palumbo 106 | Word April 2017 | | Aprll 2017 Word | 107




On the Streets in Hong Kong Julie Vola takes a 48-hour trip to Hong Kong and captures the city’s sights


he visa-run ritual is a fix I need every once in a while, a good dose of big modern contemporary urban life. I usually go to Bangkok, but after six years it was time for a change. I stayed in Causeway Bay on Hong Kong Island because it is near a friend’s apartment and conveniently close to the metro system. How much I miss a good metro system that allows you to reach any part of the city. After checking in I walked around the neighbourhood, taking it all in. I discovered a little street market in Wan Chai, with fish and meat stalls and shopkeepers that weren’t too photographer-friendly. The tall glass buildings were reflecting the sunlight down on the street and at 4pm the golden light began illuminating passers-by as they hurried about. I walked around just trying to find sunlit spots, got into a discreet

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position and stood there photographing people from the hip, though I was surprised I didn’t get punched as my camera’s shutter isn’t quiet. I got a few sideways looks. Later I met a friend I worked with in Hanoi for a dim sum dinner, because when in Hong Kong you have to eat dim sum. Unfortunately, the Michelin-starred Tim Ho Wan Dim Sum restaurant we went to was hit-and-miss. Most of the food was either bland or too sweet, maybe one or two of the dim sum were good. After we left — disappointed — we decided to treat ourselves, and went to the top of Hong Kong’s highest building, the Ritz Carlton Hotel, and hit the O-Zone Bar on the rooftop which has a view like no other. We managed to get two well-placed seats to gaze over Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour while reminiscing over G&T.

Skyscraper City On my only full day in Hong Kong my first goal was to reach the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai District. It’s right on the waterfront, with a promenade. The view on the harbour was amazing as I walked among selfieobsessed tourists; I resisted the urge to participate. From the convention centre, I easily got to the New Wan Chai Ferry Pier. The green-and-white Star Ferry, which has been in operation since 1888, is a very cheap option to cross the harbour and one of the best panoramic views of the city. Victoria Harbour separates Hong Kong Island from Kowloon, and in the middle of the crossing you can witness the very dense urban fabric of the city and the famous skyline. On the other side, stood in the middle of these tall buildings, I felt small. But in the | Aprll 2017 Word | 111

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dense pedestrian traffic I blended in with the international crowd. I took the metro to Mong Kok Station, and decided to head towards the animal shop street where they famously sell little fish hanging in plastic water bubbles on the wall. I ended up walking aimlessly all afternoon, discovering little food stalls and eating my way to random street corners and spots to sneak photos of passers-by.

After Dark I met up with my friend for my last night — she had promised a surprise. The taxi dropped us at Pound Lane in Sheung Wan District. It’s at the corner of a little street; this was where we were going to eat, but I didn’t see any restaurant. We stopped in

front of a stamp shop, and as my friend put her hand inside a small opening in the window display, a secret door opened. It was not an ordinary stamp shop inside, it was Mrs Pound, an Asian-European fusion food restaurant. The manager greeted us with a wide smile and found us a table even though the restaurant was full. We then went to the fancier and more hip Soho district. The neighbourhood is situated on a hill and boasts the longest escalator system in the world. This escalator allowed us to go all the way to the top while enjoying a conversation without losing our breath. Soho is a nice mix of expensive residential buildings and commercial business, and along the escalator there were plenty of restaurants, art galleries, antique shops,

nightclubs and bars. Suddenly I stopped. Amid the clutter of businesses I recognised a Hanoi favourite — Linguini Fini. We ended the two-day escape with a glass of sparkling wine and more gossip about Hanoi.

Getting There A number of budget airlines now fly the return trip from Vietnam to Hong Kong. These include V IET J ET A IR ( from Ho Chi Minh City, HK E XPRESS ( from Danang and Nha Trang, and J ETSTAR ( from Hanoi.


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The Land of the Dragon Fruit Matt Cowan and Mike Palumbo explore the land where the oddest-looking fruit in Vietnam is grown, the dragon fruit.


here are loads of options for short getaways from Saigon. Word’s monthly travel column Daytripper features easily accessible day trips out of the city by road. Vietnam’s improved air services mean you can be sipping cocktails halfway up the coast by sunset. Phong Nha, now taking centre stage as a must-see destination in Vietnam after last month’s Hollywood premiere of Kong: Skull Island, is between Hue and Vinh. It’s a quick hop by plane to Dong Hoi, but not everyone has the time and money to get there.

Go Loopy One alternative for a quick escape from Saigon is the Mui Ne Loop by motorcycle. It’s no land of the dinosaurs, but a visit to the land of the dragon fruit in Phan Thiet offers affordable, hassle-free fun close to Saigon for time-poor travellers. Motorcycle road trips can be taxing, especially on machines not made for tackling long windswept coastal routes. One answer is to break up a road trip with a train ride — one where you can take your motorcycle with you. One such trip starts with a train to Phan Thiet, then motorcycle to Mui Ne, Ke Ga, La Gi and Ho Tram before closing the loop back in Saigon. Expect to add around 300kms or more on your speedometer and take at least four days to complete.

Chasing the Dragon Fruit The Doi Moi Express rattles its way to Phan Thiet station in just under four hours. There are some interesting sections of track, like | Aprll 2017 Word | 115

the eastern outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City as you snake your way out via Dong Nai and Binh Duong and across the Saigon and Dong Nai rivers, but for the most part, you can snooze and miss little. The seats are comfortable and the air-conditioning works well, something of a revelation. The landscape outside gradually morphs from the tropical aspect synonymous with Saigon and the Mekong Delta, to a more arid zone. Large, rocky volcanic outcrops and boulders begin to emerge — some look as if they’ve been placed into their precarious positions by hand. About 20 to 30 minutes from Phan Thiet, dragon fruit farms begin to materialise and it soon becomes evident why Vietnam is one

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of the world’s largest producers of dragon fruit. Exports of dragon fruit — mostly to China — have reached 1 million kilograms per year.

End of the Line The drive from Phan Thiet Station to the Mui Ne tourist strip should take about 20 minutes, but a few wrong turns can easily stretch it out to longer. Still, in under five hours after departing Saigon, you can be at your hotel checking in. One hotel worth considering is Mui Ne Hills Budget Hotel (69 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet) approximately 200m off the main tourist strip of Mui Ne, up a small hill. For a standard double room with all the

basics and a pool, expect to pay VND500,000 per night. For something more upmarket, try Mui Ne Hills Bliss Hotel further up the hill. Popular among ‘flashpackers’ who don’t mind spending a little more and being seen doing it, Bliss Hotel is perched on the side of a dune and offers sweeping views of the ocean. It also has dormitory accommodation, but book in advance, as it’s popular. For lunch, Joe’s Cafe (86 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet) is a good option. A Tiger bottle costs VND40,000, and at happy hours around lunchtime, a Saigon Green costs VND20,000. The vegetarian burrito (VND100,000) is good value for a light lunch. The café is on the water, so when the beach wind gets up in the afternoon,

“From 10pm most evenings, farmers turn on the lights along the rows of dragon fruit to quicken the fruiting process… The thousands of light bulbs create a romantic ambiance beneath a sky full of stars.”

their plunge pool beckons. Joe’s also offers accommodation. For dinner, there are plenty of quan options along the main strip. Quan Bo Ke Nam Y (120 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet) is a large open-air eatery by the beach that serves typical Vietnamese cuisine. Two large Tiger bottles and dinner for two will tally up to VND200,000. When the weather is fine, it’s as good a place as any for dinner.

Get Lost Mui Ne isn’t the hottest ticket in town for nightlife. Anyone looking for a big night out will have to get creative. An alternative is to ride out to the dragon fruit farms

under the stars. From 10pm most evenings, farmers turn on the lights along the rows of dragon fruit to quicken the fruiting process. Typically the fruiting season runs from May to August, but this artificial source of sunlight allows fruiting to take place most times of the year. The thousands of light bulbs create a romantic ambiance beneath a sky full of stars. Kiteboarding, swimming and a trip to the dunes are synonymous with Mui Ne. However, the back roads beyond Phan Thiet offer motorcyclists an opportunity to get away from the tourist traps and create tours of their own. Pin your GPS at Phan Thiet’s Central Market (Nguyen Hue, Phan Thiet) and after a banh mi op la and ca phe sua da

(VND30,000) for breakfast, head northwest in the direction of the hills and get lost for the morning. Some of the scenery is stunning.

La Gi Land Southwest of Mui Ne on the coast lies next stop La Gi — home to one of Vietnam’s largest fishing ports. The 80km coastal road (DT719) between Mui Ne and La Gi has some of the best and worst road conditions on the loop. The 50km leg between Mui Ne and Ke Ga offers a contrast of beautiful natural scenery — ocean on one side and towering red sand cliffs on the other. Failed resort developments ghost the shoreline. Despite strong evidence their resorts will | Aprll 2017 Word | 117

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“The 50km leg between Mui Ne and Ke Ga offers a contrast of beautiful natural scenery — ocean on one side and towering red sand cliffs on the other. Failed resort developments ghost the shoreline.” probably never make it to opening day, developers remain steadfast in building more. Quaint beachside fishing villages in between are a reminder of the powerful force of nature as they get buffeted by ocean winds on one front and threatened with suffocation by sand dunes on the other. Things look beaten here. The first glimpse of the gaudy Ke Ga lighthouse on rocks offshore signals your arrival into Ke Ga — another small windswept fishing village where the main road doubles as the local market and the sellers are too preoccupied with stopping their things from blowing away to notice you passing through. Apart from a five-kilometre stretch just outside Ke Ga, the journey becomes a tedious one of dodging potholes and corrugations. A brief respite for the kidneys comes with the town of Tan Hai approximately halfway (17km) between Ke Ga and La Gi. By now, the terrain has opened out into windswept plains where the last of the dragon fruit farms have petered out and the salt fields make you feel even

more exposed to the elements, adding to the loneliness that this stretch of road evokes. By the time you hit La Gi, you’ll be in need of some comfort. La Gi Farmstay, about 6km southwest of La Gi, is a family-owned homestay with double rooms including ensuite starting from around VND400,000 per night, including breakfast. La Gi Farmstay is a timely layover on the loop and is two kilometres from the busy Coco Beachcamp resort famous for its beach parties and weekend family gatherings.

Closing the Loop The final leg home to Saigon — approximately 150km — is the most daunting of the loop due to QL51, the main highway to Vung Tau. But the coastal road to Ba Ria beforehand is a highlight as you pass by more sand dunes and resorts. Here the road comes closer to the ocean than at any other time during the trip. The Ven Bien road takes you past the massive Ho Tram Grand Strip and The Bluffs golf course. Further along you cross the

delightful Ray River before passing through the charming farmlands on the outskirts of Ba Ria — the ideal place over a bowl of hu tieu to contemplate the awaiting chaos of QL51 before closing the loop.

Hit the Train, Jack The Doi Moi Express departs Saigon Station for Phan Thiet Station once a day at 6.40am. Purchase tickets in-person at Saigon Station at least 24 to 48 hours in advance of departure to ensure there is space for motorcycles on the train. Take your passport. Soft-seat tickets including the fee for a motorcycle to Phan Thiet Station are VND315,000 one-way per person. No motorcycle? Buy tickets online at with a credit or bank card. Print them out for presentation prior to boarding the train. Tickets can also be bought at the Vietnam Railway Office (275 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, HCMC). | Aprll 2017 Word | 119


DALAT ANA MANDARA VILLAS $$$$ Le Lai, Dalat, Tel: (063) 3555888 DALAT PALACE $$$$ 12 Ho Tung Mau, Dalat, Tel: (063) 382 5444

DALAT GREEN CITY HOTEL 172 Phan Dinh Phung, Dalat, Tel: (063) 382 7999

Located in central Dalat, this is the perfect place for budget travellers. Quiet, newly refurbished with beautiful mountain and city views from the rooftop, features free Wi-Fi, a TV and snack bar in all rooms with a downstairs coffee shop and computers in the lobby for guest use.

DALAT TRAIN VILLA Villa 3, 1 Quang Trung, Dalat, Tel: (063) 381 6365

Located near the Dalat Train Station, the Dalat Train Villa is a beautifully restored, colonial era, two-storey villa. In its grounds is a 1910 train carriage which has been renovated into a bar and cafe. Located within 10 minutes of most major attractions in Dalat.

TRUNG CANG HOTEL $ 22 Bui Thi Xuan, Dalat, Tel: (063) 382 2663

M M M HANOI – INTERNATIONAL CROWNE PLAZA WEST INTERNATIONAL $$$ 36 Le Duc Tho, My Dinh Commune, Tu Liem, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 6270 6688 This premier five-star property lies beside the My Dinh National Stadium and Convention Centre. Boasts two swimming pools, a spa, and a fitness centre in its 24 stories. DAEWOO HOTEL 360 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3831 5555

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This enormous structure offers the most modern of amenities, and with four restaurants and two bars, the events staff is well equipped to handle any occasion. Close to the National Convention Center, and a favourite of the business traveller, Daewoo even boasts an outdoor driving range. Shortly to become a Marriot property. FORTUNA HOTEL HANOI 6B Lang Ha, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3831 3333 This 350-room four-star set up in the heart of Hanoi’s financial district has a variety of rooms on offer, a “capital lounge” and three restaurants that serve Japanese, Chinese and international cuisine. And like you’d expect, there’s a fitness centre, night club and swimming pool, too, and even a separate spa and treatment facility for men and women. Set to the west of town, Fortuna often offers business deals on rooms and spaces to hold meetings, presentations and celebrations. HOTEL DE L’OPERA 29 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 6282 5555 Resting just a step away from the Opera House, the hotel mixes colonial architectural accents and theatrical interior design to create a contemporary space. The first boutique five star in the heart of Hanoi, the lavish, uniquely designed 107 rooms and suites contain all the mod cons and are complimented by two restaurants, a bar and complimentary Wi-Fi. HILTON GARDEN INN HANOI 20 Phan Chu Trinh, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel (04) 3944 9396 With 86 fully-equipped guestrooms and suites, this is the first Hilton Garden Inn property in Southeast Asia. Centrally located and a short stroll from the historic Old Quarter, the hotel offers a full service restaurant, a stylish bar, along with complimentary business and fitness centres making it perfect for the international business or leisure traveller. HILTON HANOI OPERA 1 Le Thanh Tong, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3933 0500 Situated next to the iconic Hanoi Opera House and a short stroll from the Old Quarter, this five-star hotel is a Hanoi landmark. With 269 fully-equipped rooms and suites, there’s plenty for the discerning business and leisure traveller to choose from.

INTERCONTINENTAL HANOI WESTLAKE 1A Nghi Tam, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 6270 8888 This stunning property built over West Lake falls in between a hotel and a resort. Beautiful views, great balcony areas, comfortable, topend accommodation and all the mod-cons make up the mix here together with the resort’s three in-house restaurants and the Sunset Bar, a watering hole located on a thoroughfare over the lake. Great gym and health club. JW MARRIOTT HANOI 8, Do Duc Duc, Me Tri, Tu Liem, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3833 5588 From the expressive architecture outside to the authentic signature JW Marriott services inside, this Marriott hotel in Hanoi is the new definition of contemporary luxury. Lies next door to the National Convention Centre. MAY DE VILLE OLD QUARTER 43/45/47 Gia Ngu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3933 5688 The largest four-star hotel in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, 110 rooms, a swimming pool, a top floor terrace bar and a location just a stone’s throw from Hoan Kiem Lake make this a great choice for anyone wanting a bit of luxury in the heart of the action. MELIA HANOI 44B Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3934 3343 Excellently located in central Hanoi, Melia Hanoi draws plenty of business travellers and is also a popular venue for conferences and wedding receptions. State-of-the-art rooms, elegant restaurants, stylish bars, fully equipped fitness centre with sophisticated service always make in-house guests satisfied. MÖVENPICK HOTEL HANOI 83A Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3822 2800 With its distinctive French architecture and top end service, Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi is aimed squarely at corporate travellers. An allday restaurant and a lounge bar are available to satiate their clientele while the kinetic gym and wellness studio offer an excellent range of equipment. Massage and sauna facilities are available for guests seeking to rejuvenate. Of the 154 well- appointed rooms and suites, of which 138 are non-smoking. NOVOTEL SUITES 5 Duy Tan, Cau Giay, Tel: (04) 3576 6666 Suites and apartments with all the mod cons and attrac-

tive décor you’d expect of an Accor property. Located close to My Dinh and 20 minutes from downtown Hanoi, this new property with an inhouse restaurant and bar is perfect for business professionals or travellers looking to mix a stay in Hanoi with the feeling of being located in a place you can call home. PULLMAN HANOI HOTEL $$$$ 40 Cat Linh, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3733 0688 With deluxe rooms and suites, a contemporary lobby, an excellent buffet, and a la carte restaurant, this Accor group property is prestigious and close to the Old Quarter. SHERATON K5 Nghi Tam, 11 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3719 9000 Surrounded by lush gardens, sweeping lawns and tranquil courtyards, this peaceful property features picturesque views of West Lake and is less than 10 minutes from downtown. In addition to the luxurious rooms, the hotel offers an outdoor swimming pool and great relaxation and fitness facilities, including a tennis court and spa. There are well equipped conference rooms and a newly refurbished Executive Club Lounge. SOFITEL LEGEND METROPOLE HANOI 15 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 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 ambiance of a bygone era. Definitely the place to put the Comtessa up for a night. PAN PACIFIC HANOI 1 Thanh Nien Road, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3823 8888 Boasting Hanoi’s best views of West Lake, Truc Bach Lake and the Red River, Pan Pacific Hanoi soars 20 storeys above the city skyline. Each of the 329 rooms, suites and serviced suites is furnished with stylish interiors, modern amenities and magnificent views, while the 56 serviced suites offer fully equipped kitchens and separate living spaces for the comfort and convenience of the extended-stay traveller.

HANOI – MID-RANGE 6 ON SIXTEEN 16 Bao Khanh, Hoan Kiem Another boutique hotel to grace Hanoi’s Old Quarter, the six rooms here mix contem-

porary and fresh with handicrafts and antique. Breakfast is included and in the long, lounge restaurant on the second floor, home-style Vietnamese fare is served up with fresh fruit juices and Lavazza coffee. GOLDEN SILK BOUTIQUE HOTEL $$$ 109-111 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3928 6969 Located in the centre of the Old Quarter, this little slice of heaven offers complimentary sundries and a replenishable minibar. The Orient restaurant, serves the finest in international and Vietnamese cuisine. JOSEPH’S HOTEL $$ 5 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3938 1048 Located next to the cathedral, this popular well-appointed, airy and spacious boutique hotel mixes comfort with a nice ambience and great Western or Vietnamese breakfasts. All the modern amenities at reasonable prices. MAISON D’HANOI HANOVA HOTEL $$$ 35-37 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3938 0999 A minute from Hoan Kiem Lake, this glowing pearl in the heart of Hanoi provides tranquility with an art gallery and piano bar. MAY DE VILLE 24 Han Thuyen, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 2222 9988 Set in the old French Quarter a short walk from the Opera House, May de Ville City Centre is a welcome new addition to the capital. Combining contemporary architecture with traditional Vietnamese style and materials, this elegant property has 81 well-appointed rooms including four suites.

HANOI – BUDGET HANOI BACKPACKER’S HOSTEL 48 Ngo Huyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3828 5372 Probably the cheapest, European-style hostel in town, with bunk-style beds mixed or single-sex dorms starting at VND150,000, plus a couple of double suites from VND250,000. A place to meet like-minded fold in the Old Quarter.

HCMC – INTERNATIONAL CARAVELLE HOTEL $$$$ 19 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4999

Winner of Robb Report’s 2006 list of the world’s top 100 luxury hotels, the Caravelle houses the popular rooftop Saigon Saigon bar, and the restaurants Nineteen and Reflections. EQUATORIAL $$$ 242 Tran Binh Trong, Q5, Tel: (08) 3839 7777 This massive property boasts seven dining and entertainment outlets, a business centre, meeting rooms and a comprehensive fitness centre and spa. The Equatorial also has an on-site casino. HOTEL NIKKO SAIGON $$$$$ 235 Nguyen Van Cu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3925 7777 The five-star hotel and serviced apartment complex offers: 14 instant offices, seven meeting rooms, a 600-capacity ballroom, spa, outdoor swimming pool, a gym, 24-hour fine dining, 24-hours room service, and limousine services. INTERCONTINENTAL ASIANA SAIGON $$$$$ Hai Ba Trung and Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3520 9999 In the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, resides the Asiana with signature dining options, an innovative cocktail bar, exclusive spa and health club, together with luxury boutique arcade. LE MÉRIDIEN SAIGON $$$$ 3C Ton Duc Thang, Q1, HCMC Tel: (08) 6263 6688 Marking the brand’s debut in Vietnam, Le Méridien Saigon is the gathering place for curious and creativeminded travellers. Located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City next to the Saigon River, the property is close to the metropolis's entertainment and commercial areas, making it an ideal base for exploring the local culture and community. Experience this cosmopolitan city in stimulating surroundings. LOTTE LEGEND HOTEL SAIGON $$$$ 2A–4A Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 3333 Immaculate architecture, spacious rooms, and a fine selection of fine dining, with buffets specialising in Americana and Pan-Asian cuisine. NEW WORLD HOTEL $$$$ 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 8888 Former guests include U.S. presidents — two Bushes, Clinton — and K-Pop sen-

sation Bi Rain. An ongoing event as well as a hotel, New World is one of the best luxury stops in town. PARK HYATT $$$$$ 2 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1234 Fabulous in style, prime in location, everything one would expect from the Hyatt. The Square One and Italianthemed Opera restaurants have garnered an excellent reputation, as has the landscaped pool.

PULLMAN SAIGON CENTRE $$$$$ 148 Tran Hung Dao, Q1 Tel: (08) 3838 8686

This upscale, contemporary property boasts 306 signature rooms combining design, comfort and connectivity. Innovative cuisine, a great downtown location and high-tech meeting venues able to host up to 600 guests make up the mix.

RIVERSIDE APARTMENTS 53 Vo Truong Toan, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 4111 Situated on the banks of the Saigon River, a 15-minute scenic boat ride or 20-minute bus ride from town, Riverside’s complementary shuttle services take you right in the city centre. With 152 fully equipped serviced apartments, the property offers special packages for short-term stay starting at VND2.1 million per apartment per night for a onebedroom facility. RENAISSANCE RIVERSIDE HOTEL SAIGON $$$$ 8-15 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 1117 This distinct French architectural wonder offers complimentary Wi-Fi, airport pickup or drop off, a first-floor ballroom, and authentic Vietnamese cuisine at the River Restaurant. SILA URBAN LIVING 21 Ngo Thoi Nhiem, Q3, HCMC, Tel: (08) 3930 0800 Stylish apart-hotel with 217 apartments (from studios to one and two bedrooms) for short and long stays, close to the Reunification Palace on the edge of District 1. Facilities include a 24-hour reception, a 24-hour gym with a 20-meter swimming pool, Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room. Western and Eastern specialties are served daily at Twenty-One restaurant and bar.

SHERATON $$$$$ 88 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2828 Sheraton boasts one of the best locations in town, with first–class facilities, an open–air restaurant 23 floors above the city and a live music venue on the same floor. SOFITEL SAIGON PLAZA $$$$ 17 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1555 This 20–story building in downtown Saigon, caters to upscale business and leisure travelers seeking a classic yet contemporary stay in Saigon. WINDSOR PLAZA $$$ 18 An Duong Vuong, Q5, Tel: (08) 3833 6688 The full ensemble with its own shopping hub (including a bank), fine dining, a sauna, health club, and superb panoramic views of the cityscape. Also hosts the largest Oktoberfest in the region.

HCMC – DELUXE CONTINENTAL $$$ 132-134 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 9201 This charming old hotel has been fêted in literature and in film. In the heart of Saigon, this is the first choice to highlight Vietnamese culture. NORFOLK HOTEL $$$ 117 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 5368 Intimate atmosphere and excellent service, this boutique business hotel is located minutes from famous landmarks, designer shops, and is renowned for its fabulous steaks at its in-house restaurant, Corso.

enced design, a great setting and good drinking and dining options make this a great, non-city centre choice. STAR CITY SAIGON HOTEL $$$ 144 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Tel: (08) 3999 8888 The newly-built hotel is near Tan Son Nhat International Airport. With spectacular city views and a comfortablydesigned outdoor swimming pool, there is little reason not to choose this shining star.

HCMC - MID-RANGE LAN LAN HOTEL 1 AND 2 $$$ 46 and 73-75 Thu Khoa Huan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 7926 THE ALCOVE LIBRARY HOTEL $$$ 133A Nguyen Dinh Chinh, Phu Nhuan, Tel: 08 6256 9966

HCMC – BUDGET DUC VUONG HOTEL $ 195 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3920 6992 Free Wi–Fi offered in every room. Low prices, friendly

staff, clean rooms. This modern oasis is only a few steps from the backpacker’s area. DUNA HOTEL $ 167 Pham Ngu Lao Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 3699 HONG HOA HOTEL $ 185/28 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3836 1915 SINH HUONG HOTEL $ 157 Nguyen Du Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 4648

M M M HOI AN & DANANG AN BANG BEACH RETREAT An Bang Beach, Hoi An CUA DAI $ 544, Cua Dai, Hoi An, Tel: (0510) 386 2231 DANANG BEACH RESORT $$$ Truong Sa, Hoa Hai, Ngu Hanh Son, Danang, Tel: (0511) 396 1800

FURAMA RESORT AND SPA $$$$ Vo Nguyen Giap, Khue My, Ngu Hanh Son, Danang, Tel: (0511) 384 7888 PULLMAN DANANG BEACH RESORT $$$$ Vo Nguyen Giap, Khue My, Ngu Hanh Son, Danang Tel: (0511) 395 8888 HYATT REGENCY DANANG RESORT AND SPA $$$$ Hoa Hai, Ngu Hanh Son, Da Nang, Tel: (0511) 398 1234 The Hyatt Regency Danang Resort and Spa is beachfront with a stunning view of the Marble Mountains. There are 182 luxurious residences and 27 private ocean villas, each with a private pool. MERCURE DANANG $$$ Lot A1 Zone Green Island, Hoa Cuong Bac, Hai Chau, Danang, Tel: (0511) 379 7777 Set on the Han River, this well-appointed, Accormanaged property is one of the nicest hotels in Central Danang. Kitsch but contemporary design and some phenomenal views over the city make up the mix.

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

NOVOTEL SAIGON CENTRE $$$ 167 Hai Ba Trung, Q3, Tel: (08) 3822 4866 Novotel Saigon Centre has a contemporary feel, an international buffet — The Square — a rooftop bar, and a wellness centre including a swimming pool, gym, sauna and spa. VILLA SONG SAIGON $$$ 197/2 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6090 Deliberately located away from the city centre in Thao Dien, this riverside boutique villa-style hotel is a sanctuary of peace and calm — a rarity in Ho Chi Minh City. Beautiful, Indochine-influ-

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 | Aprll 2017 Word | 121


THE NAM HAI $$$$ Hamlet 1, Dien Duong Village, Quang Nam, Tel: (0510) 394 0000 Includes three massive swimming pools, a gourmet restaurant and elegant spa on a lotus pond. Each massive room has its own espresso machine, pre–programmed iPod and both indoor and outdoor showers.

M M M HUE & LANG CO ANGSANA LANG CO $$$$ Cu Du Village, Loc Vinh Commune, Phu Loc, Thua Thien Hue, Tel: (054) 369 5800 Located on Vietnam’s South Central Coast, Angsana Lang Co commands an unrivalled beach frontage of the shimmering East Sea. Traditional Vietnamese design encompasses the resort’s contemporary buildings and chic interiors. BANYAN TREE LANG CO $$$$ Cu Du Village, Loc Vinh Commune, Phu Loc, Thua Thien, Hue, Tel: (054) 369 5888 Built on a crescent bay, The Banyan Tree offers privacy and unparalleled exclusivity with all-pool villas reflecting the cultural and historical legacy of past Vietnamese dynastic periods. LA RESIDENCE $$$$ 5 Le Loi, Hue, Tel: (054) 383 7475 la–residence– PHUONG HOANG HOTEL $ 66 Le Loi, Hue, Tel: (054) 382 6736



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caters for up to 200 delegates. COSTA NHA TRANG HOTEL & RESIDENCES 32 – 34 Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Tel: (058) 3737 222 Located in the heart of the city, The Costa Nha Trang Hotel & Residences is a symbol of modern living thanks to its luxury oceanfront residences. From a beautiful day on the beach to the great nightlife of Tran Phu Street, this is the perfect place to experience the best of Nha Trang. EVASON ANA MANDARA AND SIX SENSES SPA $$$$ Beachside Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (058) 352 2222 2.6 hectares of private beachside gardens and villa–style accommodation furnished in traditional native woods, this resort offers verandah dining, a pool bar and the signature Six Senses Spa. JUNGLE BEACH RESORT $ Ninh Phuoc, Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (058) 362 2384 On a secluded promontory north of Nha Trang, this budget place is all about hammocks, the sea, the jungle and nature. MIA RESORT NHA TRANG $$$$ Bai Dong, Cam Hai Dong, Cam Lam, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (058) 398 9666 NOVOTEL NHA TRANG $$$ 50 Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Tel: (058) 625 6900 This four-star hotel with 154 guestrooms, all with a terrace and sea view. Complete with a pool, spa, restaurant, bar and meeting room that

SIX SENSES HIDEAWAY NINH VAN BAY $$$$ Ninh Van Bay, Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (058) 372 8222 The upmarket Tatler magazine voted top hotel of 2006. The location is stunning, on a bay accessible only by boat. SHERATON NHA TRANG HOTEL AND SPA $$$$ 26 – 28 Tran Phu, Tel: (058) 388 0000

PHAN THIET & MUI NE NINH CHU BAY BEACH CLUB & BAR Hwy 702, Ninh Hai, Phan Rang, Ninh Thuan, Tel: (068) 627 2727 Enjoy the private beach with excellent facilities and have a massage. Evenings are sublime at this beach club, soon to become a fully fledged resort. Grilled seafood, European sausages, sangria, draught beer, and specialityinfused vodka all make this one of a kind destination. BLUE OCEAN RESORT $$$$ 54 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet, Tel: (062) 384 7322 COCO BEACH $$$$ 58 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet, Tel: (062) 384 7111 With charming wooden bungalows, a private beach, a swimming pool (both with attached bars) and a French restaurant, Coco Beach continues to be run by those

who opened it in 1995. JOE’S GARDEN RESORT $$ 86 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Ham Tien, Mui Ne, Tel: (062) 384 7177 A leafy, seafront bungalow resort and café with nightly live music all in one. Reminiscent of the type of places you’d find on the Thai islands, an international and Asian food menu together with a cheap happy hour on beer make up the relaxing mix. MIA RESORT MUI NE $$$$ 24 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Tel: (062) 384 7440 VICTORIA PHAN THIET RESORT AND SPA $$$$ Mui Ne Beach, Phan Thiet, Tel: (062) 381 3000 Another beachfront Victoria chain, the thatched–roof bungalows and family villas are set in exotic gardens with an infinity swimming pool, a seafood restaurant, spa, beauty salon and jacuzzi.

PHONG NHA EASY TIGER AND JUNGLE BAR $ Son Trach, Bo Trach, Quang Binh, Tel: (052) 367 7844 easytigerphongnha@gmail. com A hostel and street-front bar all in one. Has a pleasant, airy atmosphere in the bar and restaurant area while the 52 dorm beds — four beds to a room — go for US$8 (VND168,000) each a night. HO KHANH'S HOMESTAY $$ Son Trach, Bo Trach, Quang Binh, Tel: 01299 597182

PHONG NHA FARMSTAY $$ Hoa Son, Cu Nam, Bo Trach, Quang Binh, Tel: (052) 367 5135 The first western-run farmstay in Phong Nha, this wellappointed travellers’ joint has a great bar and restaurant area, a swimming pool out back and views overlooking paddy fields and mountains. Rooms start at VND600,000 for a twin or double, with a family room for five costing VND1.4 million a night.

PHU QUOC BEACH CLUB RESORT $$ Ap Cua Lap, Xa Duong To, Long Beach, Phu Quoc Island, Tel: (077) 398 0998 A quaint and popular island guesthouse featuring a beachside restaurant, and includes free Wi-Fi. Motorbike rental, boat trips and tours are easily arranged. Discount rates during rainy season. MANGO BAY $$ Ong Lang Beach, Phu Quoc, Tel: 0903 382207 An eco–friendly approach with a gorgeous beachside location, the bungalows are made of rammed earth, no TVs or telephones (although Wi-Fi is available). Excellent sunsets from the beach bar. SALINDA RESORT PHU QUOC ISLAND $$$$ Cua Lap Hamlet, Duong To Commune, Phu Quoc, Kien Giang Tel: (08) 3929 3097 Hotline 0907 99 55 02 Set on the sea and only 4km away from Phu Quoc International Airport, Salinda is inspired by an interplay of rustic local heritage with

contemporary design. The property has 121 rooms and villas with private balconies, and provides a luxury experience that embodies the understated beauty and enchanting spirit of the pearl of Asia.

SAPA CAT CAT VIEW HOTEL $$ Cat Cat Road, Tel: 0203 871946 The best view in town from its bar restaurant, the Cat Cat Guesthouse is paradise at very reasonable rates. The rooms have big windows, balconies, and log fireplaces. TOPAS ECOLODGE $$$ Thanh Kim, Sapa, Lao Cai Tel: (04) 3715 1005 (Sales) With its panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valley, Topas Ecolodge is the perfect place to experience the remoteness and quiet of the Northern Vietnamese mountains — the landscape, the fresh air and the ethnic peoples. Guests stay in private bungalows with dinner served in a local stilt house restaurant.

VUNG TAU & HO TRAM BINH AN VILLAGE $$$$ 1 Tran Phu, Vung Tau, Tel: (064) 335 1553 CON DAO RESORT $$ Nguyen Duc Thuan, Con Dao, Vung Tau, Tel: (064) 383 0939 HO TRAM BEACH RESORT AND SPA $$$$ Tel: (064) 378 1525 This attractive property is the ideal getaway from Ho Chi Minh City. 63 uniquely bungalows and villas promise a local experience complete with an excellent spa and

two swimming pools. HO TRAM SANCTUARY $$$$ Ho Tram, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Tel: (064) 378 1631 The spacious villas come with their own pool and have direct access to the beach. Extras include tennis courts, a mini supermarket, and cycling and motorbike tours. REX HOTEL $$ 1 Le Quy Don, Vung Tau, Tel: (064) 385 2135 SIX SENSES CON DAO $$$$ Dat Doc Beach, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Tel: (064) 383 1222 THE GRAND-HO TRAM STRIP Phuoc Thuan Commune, Xuyen Moc, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Tel: (064) 378 8888 The Grand-Ho Tram Strip is Vietnam’s first large scale integrated resort and includes a 541-room five-star hotel, a world-class casino, restaurants, high-tech meeting space, an exclusive VIP area, as well as a variety of beach-front recreation activities. Is located next to the Greg Norman-designed golf course, The Bluffs, one of the best golf courses in Vietnam.

TRAVEL SERVICES — HANOI BUFFALO TOURS AGENCY (BTA) 94 Ma May, Hoan Kiem Dist., Ha Noi, Tel: (04) 3828 0702 A boutique Travel Agency at the service of all Vietnamese and expatriate residents in Vietnam offering easy, hassle-free travel around the world and in Vietnam. BTA customizes leisure and corporate travel plans while offering a selected range of small group tours. EXO TRAVEL

66A Tran Hung Dao, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3828 2150 A one-stop, all-in-one travel agency with an extensive operational track record in the Indochina region and beyond. Providing up-market services, Exotissimo brings their clients close to culture through personalised tours. Also find travel desks at the Hilton, Sofitel Plaza and Intercontinental hotels, which are open on weekends and holidays. HANDSPAN TRAVEL 78 Ma May, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3926 2828 Established in 1997, Handspan provides customers with safe, high quality, diverse, small-group adventure tours to both popular and isolated locations in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Has a focus on off-the-beaten-track sustainable and responsible tourism initiatives. Also provides to excursions to more well-worn destinations. HG TRAVEL 47 Phan Chu Trinh, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3944 8844 Travel company specialising in small-group tours around Vietnam and further afield in Indochina. Is also the sole representative agent for Kenya Airways (for 40 cities in Africa — kenya-airways. com), American Airlines (aa. com) and Turkish Airlines ( INTREPID TRAVEL VIETNAM 57A Nguyen Khac Hieu, Ba Dinh, Tel: 0904 193308 Intrepid Travel Vietnam is an international travel company operating in Vietnam since 1992, offering innovative day tours, short breaks and small group adventures. With expert guides and guaranteed departures, Intrepid focuses on real life experiences in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Mekong

Delta, Halong Bay, Sapa and beyond to get you up close to Vietnam’s people, cuisine, history and culture. TRAVEL SENSE ASIA Suite 8, 2nd Floor, 103 Nguyen Truong To, Ba Dinh, Hanoi Tel: (04) 3715 3977 A homegrown travel agency providing small group journeys and tailor-made holidays to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand. Voted in Trip Advisor’s Top 10 of best tours in Hanoi since 2010.

TRAVEL SERVICES — HCMC BUFFALO TOURS AGENCY 70-72 Ba Trieu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3828 0702; 157 Pasteur, Q3, Ho Chi Minh City, Tel: (08) 3827 9170 This premium travel agency helps travellers select their destinations and organise their trips. From corporate travel to small group tours, explore the world or Vietnam. EXO TRAVEL 41, Thao Dien, Q2. Tel (08) 3519 4111, Ext. 15/17/19 A reliable and experienced travel company operating through Southeast Asia, Exotissimo brings you personalized tours across the region, many including insights into culinary customs, handicrafts and humanitarian initiatives. FLIGHT TRAVEL COMPANY 121 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 7744 Flight travel services, including global travel management, domestic and international air booking and travel insurance, to corporate companies, family and individual travelers. GRASSHOPPER ADVENTURES Tel: 0946 704095 Escape the bustle with Southeast Asia’s top rated

bike tour company. Run guided day tours to the Mekong Delta and Cu Chi Tunnels. Also organize longer, two to 14-day tours throughout Vietnam. TERRAVERDE 12/20 Nguyen Canh Di, Ward 4, Tan Binh District, Tel: (08) 3984 4754 If you like cycling through the Mekong Delta, trekking in the highlands, or lazing in a junk on Ha Long Bay — all while making a difference in people’s lives — then this company will suit you well. VIETNAM VESPA ADVENTURE 169A De Tham, Q1, Tel: 01222 993585 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 guides lead the way.

TRAVEL SERVICES — ELSEWHERE BACK OF THE BIKE TOURS Tel: (08) 6298 5659 Offer motorbike tours combined with the finest street food to give customers a truly immersive Vietnamese experience. BEENINASIA.COM Online travel in Southeast Asia. Offers you selection of best hotels and great tours. Create your own trip or we can tailor make your itinerary. TU TRAVEL 60 Hai Ba Trung, Can Tho City, Tel: 0713 752436 tutrangtravel-mekongfeeling. vn Want to set up non-standard tours in the Mekong with local guides who’ve got extensive local knowledge? This might be the place to contact. | Aprll 2017 Word | 123



ith so many good accommodation options and places to see within a short distance of Ho Chi Minh City, it can be difficult deciding on where to go. Perennial favourites like Phu Quoc, Dalat and Hoi An are a quick hop away by plane. Vung Tau is a short drive these days or 80 minutes by boat. Likewise, it doesn’t take long to get to the Mekong Delta cities of Ben Tre and Can Tho further south. In a sign of the times, there are even free shuttle buses that run from Saigon to the Grand Ho Tram Strip and back five times a day at weekends, while the Doi Moi Express rail service from Saigon to Phan Thiet is four hours of stress-free travel and can see you on the beach at Mui Ne around five hours after leaving the city.

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But greater ease in getting to places means increasing numbers of tourists, and even if you want to get away from it all, you can still wind up sharing with those who had the same idea as you. However, there is one destination not far from Saigon that’s easy to get to, affordable, but without the hordes of tourists.

Tree change La Gi Farmstay is a family-owned homestay just outside the fishing town of La Gi in Binh Thuan province, approximately 160km east of Saigon. By car, it’s about a three-hour drive. By motorcycle, it’s about four to five hours depending on stops via Ba Ria. La Gi is roughly halfway between Vung Tau and Mui Ne along the East Sea coast. The coast road that takes you there is one

of the best you’ll see in Vietnam. See our story on The Land of the Dragon Fruit in this issue. La Gi Farmstay has been in operation since 2015 and is owned and operated by La Gi local Tri, his wife and two sons. A professional tour guide for foreign tourists for over 10 years, Tri quit his job and returned to his hometown with a dream of opening his own business. The site he chose for his farmstay is about 6km southwest of La Gi town and 2km from Cam Binh beach, which makes it far enough from the parties at nearby Coco Beachcamp, but near enough if you want to spend some time at the beach. Tri used to fish and raise chickens nearby and eventually decided the area would be the perfect place to build some bungalows

La Gi Farmstay


so people from the city could come and experience country life. His decision has proved a smart one. While the location feels rural, it’s not isolated.

Diamond in the Rough The farmstay has 12 rooms suitable for couples and small families, and one stilt house with 13 beds that can cater for backpackers, large groups of holidaymakers or company staff who come for meetings, dinners and team-building activities. Double rooms including en-suite start from around VND400,000 per night including breakfast. There’s a swimming pool and plenty of green space to escape the sun. The property is quite small (about one hectare), making it intimate enough to have a family-friendly feel, but big enough so

you can slip away unnoticed to enjoy your own space and privacy when needed. At night-time, however, things get a bit livelier as Tri and his family encourage you to join them in cooking dinner on the barbecue and sharing travel stories with them over a few cold drinks. Tri’s family is big on music, so don’t be surprised to find yourself singing for your supper at some stage. La Gi Farmstay is a diamond in the sometimes rough Vietnamese tourism landscape. This farmstay represents the early stages of what appears to be an emerging trend in Vietnam, where smallscale accommodation providers offer an authentic stay, something that larger and more established providers might benefit from taking note of.

As a result, guests can enjoy time together without being distracted by unnecessary amenities that 5-star properties sometimes force upon them. You make your own fun here. Indeed, the experience that Tri has created harks back to pre-social media times when people communicated across dinner tables, not platforms. Perhaps Tri himself best sums up the vision for his property, “I’m planning to make my farmstay environmentally sustainable, where people can come to relax, eat healthy food, and become friends with my family.” — Matt Cowan La Gi Farm Stay is on Nguyen Du, Cam Binh Hamlet, Tan Phuoc Village, La Gi. For more information and bookings, go to lagifarmstay or search online at Tri can also help out with transport arrangements | Aprll 2017 Word | 125



urrounded by mountains, rivers and rice fields, and located 22km by road from the centre of Phong Nha, Chay Lap Farmstay has the benefit of location; it’s next to the entrance of Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, 3km away from Dark Cave, 4km away from Mooc Stream and just 6km away from Paradise Cave. Although it opened in its present form just a year ago, the Farmstay has become a popular spot for those who are looking for holidays away from the hustle and bustle

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of big cities, and for those who want to loosen up their tight muscles after long cave trips in the area.

A Charming Retreat Sitting at the foot of the mountain, Chay Lap Farmstay looks beautiful at any time of the day. While clouds embrace the mountain in the morning, its green spaces become brilliant in the afternoon sunlight. Chay Lap has 27 rooms for families and couples, which are located in individual houses, giving complete privacy. Some

rooms are set up with outdoor lounge chairs, allowing guests to relax over a book or a cup of coffee while birds tweet in the background. Guests can also socialise or try the resort’s cocktails in the bar and restaurant area while lazing around the pool. One of the most interesting activities at Chay Lap is the Vietnamese sauna. Set up in a 100-year-old house, the traditional sauna method is to cover the whole body with a boiling pot of herbs and a blanket. Chay Lap’s version is a little

Chay Lap Farmstay


more up-to-date and uses a sheet-covered cage and a machine burning herbal oil. Regardless of how traditional it is or isn’t, it’s a must-try. Especially after a trip to the caves. There are also free bicycles available to use, perfect if you want to start your day with a warm-up cycle ride or go to other nearby tourist attractions. You can also reach the centre of Phong Nha by bicycle as there is a shortcut that requires a short boat trip. Ask the manager or reception staff for directions, but remember to come back

before dark as the boat service, costing VND10,000 (including your bicycle) per trip ends at around 6pm.

The Water Sports Centre To add to the attractions there is a water sports centre located just a few hundred metres from the resort. Opened a few months ago, the centre offers a wide range of water sports including kayaking, water bikes, water skippers and round coraclestyle boats. If you travel with a group of friends,

you can take a private cruise tour along the river. Depending on the length and your schedule, the 12-person boat will take you through different villages along the Trooc and Son Rivers, as well as to fish farms, rice wine-making villages and souvenir shops. However, if you are a solo traveller and want to indulge yourself with cocktails and food while watching the sun set behind the mountains, there are also two floating bars on Trooc River. — Vu Ha Kim Vy For more information on Chay Lap Farmstay, click on | Aprll 2017 Word | 127



fter a restful night aboard the Victoria Express, we arrive at Lao Cai Station as night fades into day. We are welcomed by our driver and start the one-hour journey to Sapa as the sun comes up. Even though it’s early, it’s a lovely way to start a relaxing weekend getaway in this former hill station. Victoria Resort and Spa was the first luxury hotel to open in Sapa. Built in 1998, the construction uses traditional materials from the region, local timber, stone and bamboo, to create a top-end property that

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pays homage to its surroundings. As we walk in, on this cold and foggy winter morning, we are welcomed with hot apple cider. The crackling of logs in the lobby’s fireplace makes the hotel feel warm.

Welcoming The Victoria Sapa is set up on a hill; each room gets a view of the garden and the open-air corridors look over the town softly cloaked in the morning fog. Our room is spacious and comfortable with a large balcony that the sun, piercing through the clouds, fills with light. It is decorated

with touches of traditional handicrafts and fabric. Outside on the balcony I breathe in the fresh air, a much-needed change after the pollution of Hanoi. I already feel better. After a copious buffet breakfast, we embark for a day out at Fansipan mountain courtesy of the cable car. We return later in the afternoon, a bit cold from the foggy weather and tired from altitude sickness. While I wait for my spa appointment, we curl up on one of the Ta Fin Bar’s sofas next to the fireplace and drink hot coffee. The spa is pretty big as it also houses an indoor heated swimming pool. They

Victoria Resort and Spa, Sapa


offer traditional spa treatments like body scrubs, facials, body wraps and the piece de resistance, some wonderful massages costing between VND499,000 and VND959,000 for a Traditional Thai Massage. Today I am solo so I choose the divine Warm Healing Stone Massage for VND1,250,000 combined with a Red Dao Herbal Bath for VND 550,000. The Victoria Spa is famous for their traditional, authentic Red Dao Herbal Bath.

Healthful Created by the Red Dao minority, the

bath is made from various kinds of fresh and dried herbs as well as bark from the mountains; it is highly recommended for your health, especially if you have a cold. The fragrant steaming bath is a dark red brown with flower petals floating on the water ’s surface. I feel very relaxed. We decide to stay in and treat ourselves with a dinner at Ta Van, the in-house restaurant. Since December 2016 there has been a new chef in town — Ioannis Tsiapas. A Greek native, he is inspired by his years spent in Australia and has brought some casual notes to the menu,

like the Aussie burger with beetroot, an Australian lamb dish and a tenderloin BBQ. I got to taste the pork ribs with honey BBQ sauce served up with tamarind and sesame rice balls and carrot mash. On our last day we head out to wander around Sapa town, but since the weather isn’t playing on our side, we retreat back to the hotel, and spend the rest of the day indoors. The reception has kindly allowed us a late check out, meaning we’ve got access to our rooms until we depart for Lao Cai. — Julie Vola | Aprll 2017 Word | 129


Day Tripper: The Lacquer Village / The Alchemist / The Therapist / Bar Stool / Coffee Cup / Top Eats / Book Buff / Women's Fitness Photo by Julie Vola

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Hanoi Essentials

ALTERNATIVE HEALTH A-ROAMING BODYWORKER Provides various holistic healing modalities. Services include craniosacral therapy, deep tissue massage, prenatal massage, healing stones massage, as well as energy healing including Reiki and Jin Shin Jyutsu. Workshops are also available. HANOI HOLISTIC HEALTH GUIDE A guide to various holistic health practitioners in Hanoi. Only available online, but a great information source.


44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3715 3711; 1/28 Nghi Tam Village, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 3829 2322 Bookworm has been the cornerstone of Hanoi’s literary scene since 2001. It has been around the block quite a bit and now shares a space with Hanoi Cooking Centre. With over 15,000 new and secondhand fiction and nonfiction titles in stock, the shop also buys used books and offers free travel advice. Has a second shop in Tay Ho

BRITISH BUSINESS GROUP VIETNAM (BBGV) 193B Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung Tel: (04) 6674 0945 The chamber of commerce for all things relating to the UK and British-born expats living in the capital. Puts on monthly networking events, gala dinners, fundraising events and much more. CCIFV Pan Pacific Hanoi, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3715 2229 EUROCHAM Pan Pacific Hanoi, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3715 2228 ICHAM Sofitel Plaza, Ground floor, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3715 2229 SINGAPORE BUSINESS ASSOCIATION VIETNAM Business Center Fortuna Hotel, 6B Lang Ha, Ba Dinh


23/67 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3726 4896

22A Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3936 2648 Not a movie theatre per se, but a private film club that charges a membership fee in return for entrance to a wide selection of movies, new and old. The management has an eclectic taste and shows films and opera from all over the world. Call to arrange membership.





44 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3936 2151






32 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3825 4068

M M M BUSINESS GROUPS AMCHAM 4th Floor, InterContinental Hanoi, 1A Nghi Tam, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3934 2790 AUSCHAM 4th Floor, 100 Lo Duc, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 0909 710994

21 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3824 1850 GOETHE INSTITUT GERMAN CULTURAL CENTRE

58 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Ba Dinh Tel: (04) 3734 2251





5 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3828 6965 This shop’s motto “Western sizes, Vietnamese prices”, says it all. While mostly retailing women’s separates in soft cotton jersey and linen, the store also carries a range of accessories like embroidered canvas totes and printed tees. Has a good selection of unique men’s shirts.


24 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3936 2164



84 Hang Dieu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3923 1147


CHULA 43 Nhat Chieu, Tay Ho; 24 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem Tel: 0904 258960 The work of Spanish couple Laura and Diego, this homegrown Hanoi brand describes themselves as creating wearable art. Designing pieces that are trendy, elegant, Western and yet distinctly Asian, their shop and arts space focuses on lifestyle, with regular events and more.

147 Nghi Tam, Tay Ho, Tel: 0912 254045 A wide range of Vietnamese culinary classes are offered in these well-appointed and clean facilities. The knowledgeable staff will guide you through the secrets of Vietnamese cooking in an open air courtyard.



172 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: 0936 419346 With new styles arriving in store every second day, this shop offers a huge range of dresses, shirts, pants, skirts and accessories in local and imported fabrics. Clothes fit all sizes, from petite to average to the generous figure. Alterations and a made-tomeasure service are available at no extra cost.

33 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6758 Stocks women’s wear, leather bags, shoes and handicrafts. This chic boutique offers both ready-to-wear and made-to-fit clothing.

76 Yen Phu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3823 8115

44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3715 0088 Hanoi Cooking Centre is a school, retail outlet and café, where you can find classes on not just Vietnamese cooking, but international cuisine, held in a beautiful setting. They also offer culinary tours. COOKING CENTRE




23 Nha Chung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3928 9891 Launched in Hanoi in 2007, Contraband targets young hip working women. Garments are made from versatile fabrics that are comfortable to wear and easy to look after – making them ideal for work and travel. New styles are introduced each month with limited production runs, offering a sense of exclusivity.











15 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3928 8725







8 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Fair trade or bought directly from the artisans who made them, Betterworld stocks unusual handicrafts from around the world as well as second-hand books, DVDs and more. MEKONG QUILTS HANDMADE / CHARITABLE QUILTS

9 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3926 4831; 58 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3824 4607; 13 Hang Bac, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3926 4831 Community development non-profit quilt shop featuring handmade quilts and accessories. Styles vary from traditional to patterned and Asian-inspired. Founded in 2001 and with outposts in several locations around the region, the shop employs women in rural areas, enabling them to make an


DAY TRIPPER Diane Lee and Julie Vola head south out of Hanoi to Ha Thai, a village known for its lacquer products.


a Thai, famous for its lacquer products, is located around 17km southeast of Hanoi. Riding into the village through a busy market, I am struck by the serenity of the countryside. Never-ending roads stretch into the horizon, picture perfect. Streets are swept clean. Villas, in pastel colours of mint, terracotta and pink, sit comfortably alongside ancient gates and walls, the limestone washed black with age.

Temple and Tea If you stay in Asia for any length of time, you see any number of temples and pagodas. It takes a lot for one to stand out. Chua Ha Thai, with its heavy Chinese influence does, primarily because it is so well-maintained. I wander round the grounds, feeling like

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I have stepped back in time. Fat lily pads float in small ponds. A marble Buddha oversees the courtyard from a simple altar, painted grey and white. Trees and shrubs, reminiscent of bonsai, dot the area. As we stroll around the courtyard, a youngish woman ushers us over to a plain wooden table under a plastic tarpaulin. I balance on a tiny plastic stool while she pours tea into a small cup from a green and white teapot. It is freshly brewed and delicious — smooth and buttery — with no hint of the bitterness that often accompanies green tea. As a thank-you, we each place a donation in the red box on the next table.

Centuries-Old Techniques We park the motorcycle and amble through the village, peering through open gates

The Lacquer Village

and doorways, keen for any sighting of lacquer. The heady aroma of polyurethane indicates we are heading in the right direction, and we are rewarded almost immediately. The village production cycle means that work is carried out in the home. The villagers don’t seem to mind as we wander in and watch, fascinated by the mastery of centuries-old techniques, upgraded with modern twists; plastic to smooth paint and polyurethane to lacquer. In minimal light and rudimentary working conditions, the workers craft beautiful vases, bowls, plates and trays in jewel colours of silver, gold, olive and cherry. These are then shipped to showrooms in the village and around the country. One workshop, which manufactures

base products for lacquering, has, by Western standards, a noticeable lack of safety, but the workers are among the happiest I have encountered. In my halting Vietnamese, I exchange compliments with them about our respective ages before they return to work, and we return to our mission.

Simply Delicious Hungry, and having recently discovered the simple deliciousness of bun dau mam tom, I am thrilled to see a sign for bun dau next to the showroom. I order mine without meat — I’m vegetarianish — but protest when it is served; there appears to be cooked flesh in my soup. I am assured it is fish, and it is. The tofu, noodles and greens are served in a delicious broth, a

variation on what I have eaten in Hanoi. The overcast sky that had threatened rain earlier makes good on its promise. We take the drizzle as a sign that it is time to head back to the hustle and bustle of Hanoi, swapping serenity for the noise of the city.

Getting There Head to Le Duan and keep driving south for around 12km. Turn left at Tiem Toc Thu Hoa onto Highway 16 and then right at DCT Phap Van. Continue until you cross the river, then turn left. Ha Thai will be on your right via one of the access roads. | Aprll 2017 Word | 133

Hanoi Essentials

income and care for their families.

championed Vietnamese contemporary art for more than two decades. Holds regular exhibitions and artist talks.







16 Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3719 3719



14 Phan Huy Ich, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3716 3397 Founded in 2012, this independent contemporary art centre holds regular exhibitions, workshops and a wide range of art events. Manzi promotes emerging artists while presenting established artists from Vietnam. The space also sells works by leading contemporary Vietnamese artists at affordable prices.

70 Hang Bac, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0904 244941







15 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh IBIKE SALES

34 Nghi Tam, Tay Ho; 53 Ly Nam De, Hoan Kiem QUAN’S RENTALS


29 Nhat Chieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 3156


24 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0985 870316 The first experimental art space in Hanoi, the non-profit, artist-led space has given contemporary Vietnamese artists the chance to nurture their talent and experiment. Holds regular exhibitions and artist residences.



3 Nguyen Du, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: 0906 200434



2nd floor, 51A Nguyen Khac Hieu, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3715 2286 peacedentalclinic.wordpress. com

66 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3733 2131 Maintains and promotes the treasures of Vietnamese cultural and artistic heritage, allowing visitors to appreciate and understand the entire history of Vietnamese fine arts.




Packexim Building Tower 1, 23rd Floor, No. 49 Lane 15, An Duong Vuong, Tay Ho A place to work. A space to create. Somewhere to see something new. Work Room Four is pulling together the threads of creative endeavours across Hanoi. A collective that promotes collaboration and new ideas, exhibitions, workshops, artist studios, courses, contacts and events.


2nd Fl, Syrena Center, 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3710 0555 The Westcoast International Dental Clinic is composed of dental professionals who deliver modern, high-level dental services throughout Vietnam. The clinic provides the highest quality technology, comfort and after-service care to patients.


24 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3928 5190 Established in 2002, this American-run gallery has

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6T Ham Long, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3943 1009

38 Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 6680 2770 GROCERY SHOP


3 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3719 9911




4 Lane 67, Alley 12, To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 6674 4130

10 Da Tuong, Hanoi Tel: (04) 3943 7226; 28 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho. Tel: (04) 3719 8337 THE OASIS ITALIAN DELI

24 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3719 1196

1 Phuong Mai, Dong Da, Tel: (04) 3577 1100 HONG NGOC HOSPITAL PRIVATE GENERAL HOSPITAL

55 Yen Ninh, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3927 5568; Keangnam Office Tower, Khu B1 Pham Hung, Cau Giay, Tel: (04) 7305 8880


17 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3934 3854

51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3934 0666 Well-known medical clinic also known for its quality emergency services. Doctors and consultants also provide a range of services from standard GP-style check-ups through to vaccinations, paediatrics and specialist care.


99 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3719 4630 THE WAREHOUSE WINE RETAILER

59 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3928 7666; 27 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 3701




458 Minh Khai, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3974 3556

2A Cua Bac, Ba Dinh, Tel: 0987 718899 HAIR STREAM



162A Hoang Hoa Tham, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3847 3366 JUST.IN.M WOMEN’S HAIRDRESSER

48A Ly Thuong Kiet , Hoan Kiem, Tel: 04 3939 3907

Sofitel Plaza, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3266 8190



The Manor, Me Tri Street, My Dinh, Tu Liem Tel: (04) 3787 5500


241 Xuan Thuy, Cau Giay, Hanoi, Tel: 1900 555596


54 Lieu Giai, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3333 6016 PARKSON

Viet Tower Plaza, 198 Tay Son, Dong Da Tel: (04) 3537 8666 PICO MALL

229 Tay Son, Dong Da, Tel: (04) 6682 0400




96 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3826 2076; 65 Le Duan, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3941 2789









136G Tran Vu, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3715 3717


ANNAM GOURMET First Floor, 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 4487

44 Nguyen Du, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (4) 3265 6888 ACC provides effective chiropractic, physiotherapy and foot care treatments through the use of cutting edge technology for back, neck and knee pain, sports injuries as well as all types of foot related problems.

IF CONSULTING CCIFV/Eurocham, Sofitel Plaza, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3936 5370 LIBERTY INSURANCE 16th Floor, Hoa Binh International Towers, 106 Hoang Quoc Viet, Cau Giay Tel: (04) 3755 7111 REGENCY INTERNATIONAL INSURANCE 5th Floor, Press Club, 59A Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem Tel: 0966 857 488


51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3719 7214


cnr. Hang Bai and Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi VINCOM CITY TOWERS

191 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3974 9999


72A Nguyen Trai, Thanh Xuan, Tel: (04) 3974 3550

INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, HANOI Hoa Lan Road, Vinhomes Riverside, Long Bien, Tel: (04) 3946 0435 A selective, independent, co-educational day school. Provides a British-style education following the National Curriculum for England, with students taking IGCSE and A Level. Pending authorization, will offer the IB programme from 2016 onwards. CONCORDIA INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL HANOI CMC Building, Duy Tan, Cau Giay, Tel: (04) 3795 8878 A non-profit entity, Concordia has highly performing schools in both Hong Kong and Shanghai at the top tier of the educational system. All instructors and teachers are native English speakers and admission applications are accepted throughout the year. HANOI INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL 48 Lieu Giai , Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3832 8140 With schooling available for students studying at elementary through to secondary levels of education, HIS is one of the few private, international education options in the capital. Offers Cambridge IGCSE and IB Diploma for students at the secondary level. INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF VIETNAM 6-7 Nguyen Cong Thai, Dai Kim Urban Area, Dinh Cong, Hoang Mai, Tel: 3540 9183 A not-for-profit, pre-kindergarten to Grade 12 school serving the international and local community of Hanoi. ISV accepts students of any nationality aged 3 and up. Highly qualified and experienced international educators are supported by a 21st-century campus with the latest in educational technology plus excellent resources for learning. Class sizes are small.

QSI INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF HANOI #17 Lane, 67 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6418 QSI International School of Hanoi is next in a long line of ‘quality schools’ established by the Quality Schools International. The institution specialises in instructing preschool and lower elementary age students. SINGAPORE INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL 2D Van Phuc Diplomatic Compound, 46 Van Bao, Ba Dinh, Tel (04) 3726 1601; Block C3, Ciputra, Tay Ho, Tel (04) 3758 2664; Road 2, Gamuda Gardens, Km 4.4 Phap Van, Hoang Mai, Tel (04) 6666 1818 Provides an international education for students from primary up to university level. A strong curriculum provides core subjects from the Singaporean and Vietnamese curricula, as well as specialist programmes from Britain, America and Canada, all taught by qualified teachers. ST. PAUL AMERICAN SCHOOL HANOI Khu Do Thi Bac AnKhanh, An Khanh, HoaiDuc, Tel: (04) 3399 6464 St. Paul Hanoi has developed a strong reputation for providing a high quality American education. An international school that collaborates with schools around the globe to set high expectations and align with rigorous standards so that students will have a wonderful opportunity to attend a great university in the future. UNITED NATIONS INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (UNIS) G9 Ciputra, Lac Long Quan, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3758 1551 Established in 1988, 1,050 students from 60 nationalities follow the IB programme from aged 3 through to aged 18. A notfor-profit entity, UNIS aims for its students to emerge as responsible stewards of our global society and natural environment.


0915 066096



106 Hang Bac, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0912 094464 PHUNG MOTORBIKE MOTORBIKE RENTALS

13 Ngo Huyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3938 1105 VIP BIKES SOCIAL ENTERPRISE

AGS FOUR WINDS 41A Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3938 8762 A worldwide leader in international removals and relocations, with 130 offices globally. Have the capacity to move property to and from any location.


17 Ve Ho, Xuan La, Tay Ho, Tel: 0914 931390 Trains disadvantaged youth to be fully qualified, Australian-certified motorbike mechanics. Does sales, restoration, repairs and rentals.


6 Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6332 GIA LONG HOUSING

SANTA FE RELOCATION SERVICES Suite 821, Vietnam Trade Hotel, 14 Tran Binh Trong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3941 0805 With over 150 offices around the world, Santa Fe offers local and international moving, pet transportation, relocation services including home search, orientation, cultural training, immigration services and records management.



R714, Blg CT13B Ciputra, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3743 0589 HANOI RENTING RENTALS

No. 809, Ct13b building, Lac Long Quan, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 6294 4828 LANLINH PROPERTY RENTALS

38 Hang Hom, Hoan Kiem, Tel: Tel: 0933 534999

BODY&SOUL SPA House 71, Ngach 2 Dam Tri, Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho, Tel: 0904 241314 Body&Soul Spa Hanoi is located in a relaxing environment on the lotus ponds of West Lake, away from the confusion of Hanoi’s busy streets. Provides treatments including oriental ritual, massage, facial and waxing.

51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6281 The luxury gym features top-of-the-line fitness equipment, separate cardio and spinning areas and an indoor swimming pool with a retractable roof. The spacious studios and natural light make it a welcoming place to squeeze in a work out, but be prepared to pay. This place is top of the range. N SHAPE FITNESS MID-RANGE FITNESS CENTRE

5th Floor, 71 Nguyen Chi Thanh, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 6266 0495 STUDIO FIVE YOGA & WELLNESS

5th Fl, 135 Bui Thi Xuan, Hai Ba Trung. Tel: (04) 6263.1515 THE FITNESS VILLAGE 68, Alley 50, Lane 310 Nghi Tam, Tay Ho, Tel: 01627 333078 Set in a tranquil garden, The Fitness Village is Hanoi’s most unique gym. Offers fitness, dance, yoga, and Pilates classes along with a fitness room and a swimming pool a few minutes from West Lake. VIETCLIMB CLIMBING CENTRE

40 Ngo 76 An Duong, Tay Ho, Tel: 0914 143185 Although a little hard to find,


21 Alley 1/22 Au Co, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 5203

RELOCATION AGENTS ALLIED PICKFORDS Room 302, 12A Ho Xuan Huong, Tel: (04) 3943 1511 The largest home moving company in the world, Allied Pickfords moves over 1,000 families in over 175 countries every day. Has a full range of services — domestic moves, office moves and storage — both inside and outside of Vietnam. JVK INDOCHINA MOVERS 6 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04)3826 0334 Focused primarily on the international and local movement of household goods, JVK is currently a leader in the field. Has offices in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.


KINDERWORLD INTERNATIONAL KINDERGARTEN Unit 9 – 10, Shophouse CT17, Ciputra, Tay Ho, Tel (04) 3743 0306; 3rd Floor, 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel (04) 3934 7243; C5 – C11, 1st floor, The Manor Building, My Dinh, Tu Liem, Tel (04) 3764 0209 Classes are kept small with a foreign teacher leading the

class with the assistance of a Vietnamese teacher according to the teacher-student ratio. KinderWorld provides pre school education for children from 18 months to below 6 years.


37 Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: | Aprll 2017 Word | 135




recently returned from some professional development training where situations arose that triggered emotional responses within me. A friend pointed out that these situations arose to mirror representations within me. The closer I looked at the situations that triggered me, I saw that my friend was right.

Take a Closer Look The concept of the mirror as a tool for self-awareness is not a new one for me but sometimes it takes someone else to hold that mirror up for us to remind us that the events outside of us are really opportunities to look inwards to see where we hold either judgment or fear. Most of the time we are going through life unconscious of the automatic mechanisms that control our behaviours, or our reactions to the external environment. When we become more self-aware of our personality traits and the things that can elicit certain emotional responses, we are able to choose how we engage with any given situation.

Become Aware The idea isn’t to repress our emotions, and certainly there are automatic responses that the body initiates in order to keep us safe, but rather to become aware of how we are feeling; where in the body we are feeling certain sensations; and whether the feelings coming up represent who we truly are. We can sometimes get caught up in the belief that we are our feelings; angry, for example. When anger arises there is an opportunity to step back from the anger, observe it to see where it is coming from, what past experiences are now replaying within us that are causing the response of anger.

Use Discernment Once we recognise that our behaviour is in large part due to programming from past events, we are able to decipher what is really at play in the moment. We may realise the old programming, we may also realise that a person is projecting their own programming onto us in which case we need to be discerning enough to recognise this and not take on their “stuff”. When a person is doing deep reflective work around their feelings and emotions sometimes confusion arises because they cannot figure out where the feelings are

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coming from. In this case, the person may be carrying belief patterns from their ancestors, family members, or the human collective in general. Recognising this and doing work to release this unnecessary load can bring more harmony to a person’s life. Being honest and compassionate with ourselves will help process uncomfortable

feelings that arise in our day-to-day lives. If we need a friend to hold the mirror for us, ensure that they can hold it gently and with ample support. Karen Gay, A-Roaming Bodyworker, is a holistic health practitioner practicing in Hanoi. For information on the types of services provided, visit a-roamingbodyworker. com

Hanoi Essentials

VietClimb is a French-owned, 200-meter climbing gym with state-of-the-art courses. There are 100 different climbing routes within the gym that are changed every few months. They offer clinics, classes and children’s events. Membership and group rates are available, but be sure to check out the three-month pass. ZENITH YOGA & CAFÉ

w ne r fe f o SUPERMARKETS


247 Au Co, Tay Ho; 62 Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem; Tel: 0904 356 561 The oldest and most professional Yoga Studio in Hanoi, Zenith offers a vast variety of classes and levels in Iyengar, Hatha, Vinyasa, Ashtanga and Pilates while also offering Restorative, Prenatal & Postnatal Yoga, Meditation sessions, and Kundalini classes. Also have a yogic shop offering incense, clothes and yoga props, as well as a café serving up the homemade vegetarian meals, cakes and coffee.


BIG C 222 Tran Duy Hung, Cau Giay; Garden Shopping Centre, The Manor, My Dinh, Tu Liem CITIMART Ground Floor, Hanoi Towers, 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3934 2999

FIVIMART 27A Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem


19 Nui Truc, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 6273 3095 BOO SKATESHOP SKATING EQUIPMENT & CLOTHING

84 Hang Dieu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3923 1147 HANOI SPORTS SHOP 146, Mai Dich, Cau Giay, Tel: (04) 2218 5757

22-23 Le Thai To, Hoan Kiem

METRO THANG LONG Pham Van Dong, Co Nhue, Tu Liem, Tel: (04) 3755 1617

Read in Comfort The luxury of always having the latest Word edition available. At your home. Surprise yourself and have it delivered at your doorstep. Subscribe now or regret it later. We know, we all make tough choices every day. But, we know you will make the right decision.

SCORE-TECH 44, Ngo 31 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 8246 Apparel company offering personalised sport garments for companies, schools and professional sports clubs using the latest printing technology with a design team from Barcelona. Score-Tech controls the whole production process from fabric production and printing to sewing. Big and small orders for all sporting and commercial needs.


13 Hang Dieu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3771 3305

Delivery service fee

6 mon th s VND 5 0 0, 0 0 0 or 12 mon th s VND 1, 0 0 0, 0 0 0 Email: Or call Ms Trinh directly: +84 936 269 244 | Aprll 2017 Word | 137


Here is a portion of a letter I received from a Vietnamese acquaintance of mine, who is currently studying abroad. I think media plays a big role in shaping our opinion about the world. As a child, I noticed that the way my parents, especially my father, treated me was different (in a negative way) from what I saw on TV. An American father, for example, would ask his children’s opinion and treat them like adults. It is to say that we don’t need to wait until we become adults to experience the cultural differences. Adulthood is critical because it is the time we have to face bigger questions in life, such as love and marriage, our career, etc. Again, media shows us alternatives of lifestyles and other choices. We don’t need to speak English or study abroad to know that. People who go out, and then, come back to Vietnam are extreme examples. In my opinion, young Vietnamese who understand and appreciate both Western and Eastern values suffer the most. They want to be free, but they care about their families and understand the traditions. They have one foot in and one foot out and they are stuck. When I think about going back to Vietnam and facing tons of questions and pressure from my family to do what they want, I just don’t want to come back. But they are still my family. I have to meet them some day. It is sad to think about your family like that. There are no questions here, but I will

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share some thoughts about what she says. Thank you for sharing your truth with me, as painful as it might be. Your letter is an example of what I hear quite often from my Vietnamese clients. Sometimes they are anxious, quite depressed or deeply frustrated about their situation and don’t know what to do. I would like to step back from the personal experiences people are having and to look at it briefly through the lens of social change. Vietnam has gone through a great deal of change in the past 70 years, the lifetime of many who are living today. The childhoods of each generation who are living now have been very different from one another. There is no space here for a history lesson, but it's undoubtedly true that years of suffering have preceded the relative abundance that exists today. That suffering and the losses inherent in them create a history, not unlike what other countries have gone through in the aftermath of war. People existed in survival mode, uncertain if basic physical and emotional needs would be met. We all know this, but maybe we don’t always see how these differences might change the way we approach life. Abraham Maslow created a model called the “hierarchy of needs”, in which the premise is that the baseline needs for safety and survival come first. When they are not met, the needs higher up the chain such as, belonging, self-esteem and


self-actualisation will not be met. While I see the problems that many young people are facing as having a lot to do with cultural expectations, I also hold open the possibility that restrictions applied to young people are part of the effect of the collective traumatisation of Vietnamese people. Recently, some visiting German psychologists shared with me the painful part of their country’s history after World War II, where those who lived through that period and its aftermath were not able to allow the next generation the freedom to advance themselves. The conflicts that occurred and the generation gap that was felt had painful consequences that are still felt in German culture today. From my personal experience working with Vietnamese people, I also feel a limit in the options that they experience to align themselves with their own aspirations. The obligation to the influences outside of themselves creates internal conflicts that are very challenging. My hope is that a bigger discussion is created which helps an entire culture navigate the change that is so much a part of modern life. Thanks for the letter. I hope this is helpful. — Douglas Do you have a question you would like Douglas’s help with? You can email him at Personal details will not be printed

Hanoi On the Town


23 Ngo Van So, Hoan Kiem Housed in a colonial building, bare brick, comfortable sofa-like seating and grungy decor related to a past make up the mix at this venue put together by the people behind Barbetta. 88 LOUNGE CONTEMPORARY WINE BAR

88 Xuan Dieu, Tay ho, Tel: (04) 3718 8029 A wine bar with a difference, this mainstay on the watering hole scene in West Lake mixes contemporary design, black ceilings, subtle lighting and an international aesthetic with one of the best wine lists in town. Not surprisingly it is developing a faithful clientele. Well worth a visit. ANGELINA CONTEMPORARY ITALIAN

Sofitel Metopole Legend Hotel, 56 Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3826 6919 Top-end bar and Italian restaurant all in one. Five star prices, but has an atmosphere to match and a great cocktail selection. The kind of place you’ll order a wagyu and eat it at the bar. BACKYARD BIA HOI


25 Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0986 495211 A small establishment from the minds behind the party and event organisers, LinkHanoi. The bar has tables filling the first floor and spilling onto the sidewalk as well as a small loft area for lounging. FURBREW CRAFT BEER BAR

8B/52 To Ngoc Van, TayHo You like your home-style brews and you have a craving for an IPA, a pale ale or a wheat beer that you can’t get anywhere else. Furbrew is your answer. Six craft beers from the tap, all brewed by the venue, with a pleasant West Lake-like vibe to match. HANOI ROCK CITY LIVE MUSIC VENUE

27/52 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: 01633 166170 Has a downstairs, Englishstyle pub garden area and an upstairs space dedicated to live music and live production. Weekly live events feature bands and DJs both from Vietnam and overseas — established and up and coming. HOA VIEN BRAUHAUS CZECH MICROBREWERY

1A Tang Bat Ho, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3972 5088


15/50 Quang Khanh, Tay Ho From the Tet Lifestyle collection, this outdoor, hideaway, garden-based bia hoi is every bit as attractive (and popular) as its café peers in the West Lake area. A Vietnamese-style food menu and regular live music make up the mix. BARBETTA ARTSY BAR & CAFE

34C Cao Ba Quat, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3734 9134 Set in a colonial villa, when it comes to design, the funky but comfortable Barbetta with its roof terrace is difficult to beat. A great place for coffee, beer or even a bite to eat. ETE BAR FRENCH LOUNGE

95 Giang Van Minh, Ba Dinh, Tel: 0976 751331 A favourite among those who roam further west of the city centre, this multistorey restobar has been going strong for more than two years. It has balconies, mezzanine seating and a long bar guarding exactly 50 different cocktails. For many the Ete burger is right on the mark as are the sandwiches, tartines and salads. It’s always crowded — especially during the weekends. Amiable staff, pleasant vibes.


284 Nghi Tam, Tay Ho, Tel: 0915 663993 Open late, Le Soleil has become a place to be seen, especially if you’re the dancing-into-the-early hours kind of person. Sofas, bar stools, menus on blackboards and neon-coloured lighting, there’s a grunge-style feel to the place, but it’s an ambience that Le Soleil’s customers seem to love. Has a pizza joint, Paolo and Chi, upstairs. MAO’S RED LOUNGE LATE-NIGHT GRUNGE BAR

7 Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3926 3104 There’s only one Mao and there’s only one red lounge. This late-night bar has been going for years, and despite its Old Quarter dive status, it still packs in the drinkers. POLITE PUB LONG BAR

5 Bao Khanh, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3825 0959 5pm to 2am Probably the closest thing Hanoi has to an authentic English-style pub, Polite is frequented by a steady mix of locals and expats who find solace in the nightly conver-

sations at the long bar, pool and live football matches. RED RIVER TEA ROOM LAKESIDE WATERING HOLE

25 Duong Ven Ho, Tay Ho Located on the lakeside lane just below Xuan Dieu, this warm, quiet and friendly pub offers a selection of international and local beers, wine, cocktails and a nice view of West Lake. Serving pies and pasties from The Cart, Vietnamese food from Dieu’s next door, or delivery from nearby favourites. Unpretentious, dog-friendly. ROCKSTORE LIVE MUSIC BAR

61 Ma May, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 01653 336087 Hanoi's home-made, homegrown version of Hard Rock Cafe without the stigma and the expensive prices. Nightly live music or DJing events are coupled with creative decor, a selection of Belgian Beer and a food menu. Check their Facebook page for details. SIDEWALK HANOI

blue on the inside. Creating an atmosphere merging Shanghai and San Francisco, engaging contemporary artwork lines the walls at the latest incarnation of this wellknown and well-loved space. THE REPUBLIC MODERN SPORTS BAR

7A Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: 0904 010116 A contemporary mid-range bar and eatery showing live sport and boasting a convivial atmosphere. Has a creative comfort food menu, excellent breakfasts, daily specials and a popular second-floor outdoor terrace. THE ROOFTOP SKYLINE LOUNGE

19th Floor, Pacific Place, 83B Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3946 1901 The first up-on-high bar and restaurant in the capital and still a leader in its field. With DJs spinning EDM and great views of the city, this is a must for a more Vietnamese, top-shelf experience. THE UNICORN BAR COCKTAIL BAR & LOUNGE

199D Nghi Tam, Tay Ho A bar and grill with an eclectic, DIY-style semi-outdoor setting. Regular DJ nights and live music add to the great ambience. Check out their grill fare. Tasty.

2A Hang Than, Ba Dinh, Tel: 0904 886266 The latest offering of wellknown champion bartender, Pham Tien Tiep, Unicorn offers up a lounge space, a small bar area and an attractive seating space out front. Now, as for the cocktails…






12A Nguyen Huu Huan, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0932 373802 A cheap, cheerful and welcoming slither of a watering hole popular with expats and anyone looking for some good conversation. Cheap beers, oodles of Jameson’s and often open late. Oh, and check out the Danish hotdog stand out front. To die for. STANDING BAR CRAFT BEER / EVENT SPACE

170 Tran Vu, Ba Dinh Located in Truc Bach, this craft beer drinking haunt has 16 craft beers on tap together with a daily changing menu of tapas dishes and small plates. Relaxing sofas, high tables, a terrace area and an event space, this popular venue is also the home of comedy shows organised by Stand-Up Hanoi. TADIOTO LOUNGE BAR AND CAFE ARTS BAR / EVENT SPACE

24B Tong Dan, Hoan Kiem Located close to the Opera House, this alternative, arty bar is garnished in red and white on the outside, with warm brown and tones of

114 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 6675 9838 A miniscule sports bar on the main drag of Xuan Dieu is perpetually crowded with regulars drinking out front on plastic stools. Notorious for its burgers, cooked fresh to order, Tracy’s is also famous for their draft beers, claiming to serve the coldest draft beer in Hanoi. VUVUZELA MODERN BEER HALL

2A Tran Thanh Tong, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3972 8922 When Vuvuzela opened up, mixing the Hooters concept from the US with a beer hall, drinking food and a DJ booth, it created the start of a new scene — beer clubs. The original Vuvuzela on Tran Thanh Tong is still going strong, but it’s so popular that it’s best to book your table in advance. For a full list of Hanoi locations, check their website.


Syrena Tower, 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho

A trendy, deli-style café connected to Annam Gourmet next door. Bright and fresh décor is complemented by shelves stocked with imported gourmet goods and cafeteria-style furniture. An eye-catching temptation for weary shoppers. CIAO CAFÉ RESTO LOUNGE

2 Hang Bai, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3934 1494 A stone’s throw from the shores of Hoan Kiem Lake, this Saigonese franchise offers a variety of different western dishes at reasonable prices. Loaded with booths and a steady, young Vietnamese crowd, the establishment is a great place to squash a sandwich or bowl of pasta and people watch. They also do coffee. COFFEE BEAN AND TEA LEAF INTERNATIONAL COFFEE HOUSE

28 Thanh Nien, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3715 4240 This American-style chain cafe is a multilevel, indoor/ outdoor café overlooking Westlake. With its LA coffee and office feel, when you walk in you might just forget that you’re in Hanoi. CONG CAPHE LEFTIST ARTSY CAFE

152D Trieu Viet Vuong, Hai Ba Trung; 32 Dien Bien Phu, Ba Dinh; 27 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem; 15 Truc Bach, Ba Dinh; 100A Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho With a kitsch, communistdriven theme saturating this quaint cafe, most patrons are young Vietnamese bohemians and artsy expats. Sip on a blended cup of joe with beans from the Central Highlands, knock back one of the many different types of tea available or sip on freshly squeezed juice from the Spartan cups in one of the hippest café chains in town. D’ALICE BOUTIQUE CAFE

89 Trieu Viet Vuong, Hai Ba Trung Put together coffee and cake and you get one of those timeless combinations. And if you really want to binge on the cake-end, then check out d’Alice and its quirky interior. Perfect for that more modern combination of sweet tooth and iThingy. DUY TRI VIETNAMESE CAFÉ

43 Yen Phu, Tay Ho The longest-running café in the capital, this 1936-established, three-floored space is simplicity at its finest. Even the coffee here sticks to its roots — it’s made using the same blend of Arabica and Robusta cooked up by its founders. Unpretentious, en- | Aprll 2017 Word | 139



andalwood flooring, leather armchairs, and black walls sporting a library of wine bottles; Den Bar is an old-school alternative to Hoan Kiem’s generally characterless selection of watering holes. Tucked away on Nguyen Thai Bich, a stone’s throw from the original Tranquil Café and secluded from the bustle of the city centre, you’d likely miss it if you weren’t looking for it — it is, after all, in a basement. In the basement of the La Siesta Trendy Hotel, no less. The dim lighting and classic furnishing give a real sense of privacy to the place,

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and also a subtle impression that all the other tables are plotting mob hits. Combine a glass of Scotch with some low-level conversation and you’ll fit right in.

Character Originally reserved for in-house guests only, the management quickly recognised the potential of the place and they’ve since opened its doors to the general public. That being said, they haven’t yet pushed on to marketing this, so if you turn up on a weekday evening, you’ll find yourself greeted with a seat, and possibly a sofa. Given the cigar bar appearance of the

The Den Bar


Den, it comes as no surprise that it has an impressive whisky collection behind the bar. A glass of 12-year-old Singleton costs VND135,000 while a 16-year-old Lagavulin Valley costs VND230,000. Alongside the single malts is a comprehensive collection of blends, with a glass of Black Label costing VND85,000 and 18-year-old Chivas coming in at VND145,000. Complementing the spirits range is a comfortable wine selection; a glass of Leon Tarapaca Chardonnay costs VND140,000, as does the Cabernet Sauvignon. The Cotes Du Rhone Saint Esprit, red or white, is

VND170,000 for a glass. Also present is a cocktail list featuring the classics for VND155,000, and a collection of signature mixes, including their trademark La Siesta Trendy (whisky, tamarind, apple, cinnamon and ginger, VND185,000), and the Sapa Cocktail (Zacapa 23, sugar cane, kumquat and syrup, VND300,000). There’s no food on the menu, but orders can be placed to the Red Bean Restaurant upstairs that serves some of Hanoi’s most highly acclaimed Vietnamese cuisine.

For the People Now that the doors are open to the

public, Den Bar management have begun embarking on a series of reforms to the regular schedule, including the addition of regular live jazz performances, set to start this month, and a happy hour during the evenings to fit in with the after work social. In all, Den Bar is a breath of fresh air for Hanoi’s bar scene. Here is a place that you can visit in a small group, in an out-of-theway, comfortable, and most of all, classy setting, with the service of an upscale hotel. — Billy Gray Den Bar is at 12 Nguyen Quang Bich, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, in the basement of La Siesta Trendy Hotel | Aprll 2017 Word | 141



offee is a big deal in Hanoi. Everyone who has lived here will tell you that you haven’t lived until you’ve tried the famous egg coffee or the ca phe sua da. Being more of a tea aficionado, I’ve been looking for a place where my preferred hot drink is the main event, and Rewind Teahouse is the British-inspired imported tea room which fits the bill. Keep your eyes peeled for a tiny green sign above an even tinier alleyway squeezed between an ice cream shop and a tourist store on Hoan Kiem Lake. Rewind Teahouse combines the grandeur of a stately English country house and the cosiness of a lakeside café.

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You’ll be glad you made it down a doubtful alleyway and up three flights of stairs — if not for the beautiful decor then for the promise of Cornish clotted cream and fresh scones. It’s a welcoming area with an old-fashioned feel, packed with whitewashed furniture and large couches. The British flag also makes an appearance.

Waterline The deck overlooking the lake is reminiscent of an English garden party, packed with hanging plants, flowers and watercolour hues. A short introductory paragraph in the menu invites you to forget the world, a promise fulfilled as the deck is

Rewind Teahouse


in the tree canopies surrounding the lake, far removed from traffic below. Location is one of the things that coowner and co-founder Cuong Lai believes sets the café apart from other places in Hanoi. The café has been running for four months and Cuong couldn’t be prouder. “Rewind Teahouse began with three friends who have a passion for tea,” he says. “One of the co-founders studied in England for seven years. She developed a passion for tea and brought it back with her.” All of their teas are imported from France and England, and their cakes are made by a chef who used to work at a five-star hotel in Hanoi. Their most popular options are the

all-day mini tea set, ideal for two people to share, which will set you back VND190,000, and the all-day full tea set which caters to larger groups and hungrier patrons starting at VND350,000 depending on the tea you choose to go with it.

Cocktail Time Customers can choose from perhaps the widest selection of teas available in Hanoi. If you see yourself as a tea connoisseur, you can go with premium, their most expensive selection of teas. If you’re looking for something a little stronger, Rewind Teahouse also offers tea-inspired cocktails. The Earl Grey martini looks appealing but

I settle for the mini tea set with a classic Earl Grey tea and some scones, and I’m more than happy with my choice. The tea set comes on a traditional stand and I’m impressed with the selection. What’s a tea party without cucumber sandwiches, macaroons, éclairs, and tiny glasses of panna cotta? The scones are also excellent and the fresh raspberry jam is an extra touch. Rewind Teahouse is definitely a treatyourself-Friday kind of excursion. It’s ideal for tea-loving couples and groups of friends, or if you just need a quiet place to work on a comfy couch. — Alex Maggs Rewind Teahouse is at 11B Hang Khay, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi and is open from 9am to 11pm | Aprll 2017 Word | 143

Hanoi On the Town

dearing and old-fashioned. EMM CAFE URBAN CAFÉ & BRASSERIE

110 D1 Tran Huy Lieu, Giang Vo, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 6293 6361 An urban café and brasserie serving international and French-Mediterranean cuisine in a casual and cozy atmosphere. A popular social hub in Ba Dinh District featuring a wide selection of coffees and wines from around the world. HANOI COOKING CENTRE CAFÉ

blends, this on-the-edge of the Old Quarter cafe is a dream. When it comes to good old caffeine, this small yet homely, vintage-styled cafe stands on its own. Also boasts and excellent selection of teas. KINH DO PATISSERIE / SIMPLE CAFE

252 Hang Bong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3825 0216 One of the longest-running cafes in town, this hole-inthe-wall, no frills café-cumrestaurant home-makes its patisseries and is renowned for its excellent yoghurt.


44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh Relax in a leafy courtyard, aircon dining room or under a covered roof terrace with a Vietnamese ca phe, Italian coffee, beer, wine or freshly squeezed juice. Order from a seasonally changing menu or try one of the all-day breakfast specials for VND110,000, including juice and coffee or tea. HANOI HOUSE HIDEAWAY CAFE

2nd Floor, 47A Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem Set in a colonial-era building with equally colonialera styled furnishings, this hidden away family house café is one of those gems synonymous with Hanoi. Quiet, intimate and simple, the staff will treat you like you’re a guest in their home. HIGHLANDS COFFEE CONTEMPORARY / COFFEE CHAIN

5 Dinh Tien Hoang, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3936 3228; Opera House, 1 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem; Hanoi Towers, 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem With numerous locations around town, what originally started as a fourth-floor joint overlooking the lake has become one of the most popular, home-grown cafes in Vietnam. JOMA COFFEE/BAKERY

22 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3747 3388; 43 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6071 Popular café with a contemporary western feel to the counter-style service and atmosphere. The food is all there, too: breakfasts, salads, soups, ice cream, muffins, cakes, cereals and bagels. Starting in Laos in 1996, Joma moved to Hanoi in 2009. Joma contributes 2 percent of each sale to charitable organisations. KAFEVILLE COFFEE SPECIALIST & CAFE

22 Nguyen TrungTruc, Ba Dinh, Tel: 0906 221030 If you like your coffee brewed in different styles and made with hard-to-find

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14 Phan Huy Ich, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3716 3397 A stunningly designed contemporary café and events space that screams out the words ‘modern art’. Housed in a converted colonial-era villa, a continuous flow of exhibitions, talks, experimental music and game shows make up the mix here. Great cuisine, too. MAISON DE TET DÉCOR LIFESTYLE CAFE

36 Tu Hoa, Nghi Tam Village, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3823 9722 On-site coffee roasting, comfortable seating arrangements, rustic style furnishings and décor, and a focus on healthy, non-processed foods. This is the concept behind Maison de Tet Décor, and it’s a popular one, too, as witnessed by the size of the clientele. Also run occasional farmers’ markets. MOC CAFE CAFE / INTERNATIONAL

14-16 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem. (04) 3825 6334 Set in a slightly run down colonial villa, the faded but charmingly run down Frenchstyled retro interior, good WiFi and some of the best coffee in town makes this a great spot to while away a couple of hours. The food menu mixes Vietnamese fare with sandwiches, western and pan-Asian mains.


5 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3933 2355 This cafe and French-style boulangerie is best visited in the morning when that Gallic, fresh-cooked bakery aroma hits you as you walk through the door. The downstairs space is split into the bakery on one side with a small non-smoking dining space on the other. The upstairs lounge area has standard tables as well as sofa seating. Simple but tasty French and international fare is served at meal times. SPACEBAR COWORKING CAFE

Nha 15, 76 To Ngoc Van, TayHo A pleasant, ground floor cafe with an outdoor terrace that sits below offices and a co-working space. Serves up coffee, juices, breakfasts and western-style cafe fare. Perfect for work, Wifi, a bite to eat and coffee. TET DÉCOR CAFÉ ART CAFÉ & ESPRESSO BAR

Villa 25, 1, 3 Ha, Dang Thai, Tay Ho Cloistered among the back streets of West Lake and sheltered from the noise of Xuan Dieu, TET Décor Café is a destination for those who appreciate life’s pleasures: coffee, food, art and music. Simple and unpretentious, the café has an old-fashioned warmth and rustic feel combined with unique and inspiring art installations. THE HANOI SOCIAL CLUB CAFÉ / CONTEMPORARY EATERY

6 Hoi Vu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3938 2117 A cozy midsize café/restaurant where you can forget the heat and bustle of Hanoi. The atmosphere is relaxed and here you can imagine, for a second, that you’re sitting in a European café. The ood is fresh and internationally inspired, and has an excellent top-floor terrace.


247 Au Co, Tay Ho, Tel: 0904 356561 A vegetarian and vegan cafe respecting the philosophy of yoga — simple living, mindful thinking. Using 100 percent natural ingredients, the cuisine has no additional additives or MSG and is cooked using the minimal amount of oil. The stress is instead on eating whole food in its natural state.


24 Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3938 1155 AMATO TAPAS / FRENCH CUISINE

1A Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 01227 367470 Located next to Binh Minh Jazz Club, Amato is a fusion tapas bar by night and a French restaurant during the day. Tiny, hip and yet surprisingly spacious, Amato offers an international dining and drinking experience in the heart of Hanoi. AU LAC DO BRAZIL BRAZILIAN

6A Cao Ba Quat, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3845 5224 ASAHI SUSHI SUSHI RESTAURANT

288 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3974 5945 CAFÉ 129 MEXICAN/COMFORT FOOD

129 Mai Hac De, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3821 5342 Long-running, slightly incongruous hole-in-the-wall café and restaurant that has served up up a Western menu since the late 1990s. Check out their and their excellent breakfasts, all scoffed down in a traditional, Vietnamese environment. CHOPS





16-18 Tong Duy Tan, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3938 1745 This spacious spot on Food Street is open around the clock, offering Aussie-inspired comfort food along with more eclectic Irish nachos, cottage pies and pan-Asian fare. Upstairs is fit for social gatherings and live music while the no-smoking downstairs space is filled with people working and socialising. Serves as community centre, especially late at night.


32C Cao Ba Quat, Ba Dinh Boasting an abundance of communal seating, funky decor and a full roster of regular live music performances, this rollicking café-slash-bar has quickly earned a place in the hearts of Hanoi’s young and trendy. Fun, unpretentious and unashamedly quirky, it’s endearing use of recycled furniture — antiques and colourful artwork create a vibrant atmosphere — make for a popular hangout. Open 24 hours.


4 Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 6292 1044 Finally Hanoi has a dedicated gourmet burger joint, and this West Lake eatery with its fan-cooled atmosphere get it just about right. This is comfort food at its finest. Served up with locally brewed craft beer, and this one’s a bit of a winner. COUSINS CONTEMPORARY INTERNATIONAL

3 Quang Ba, Tay Ho, Tel: 01238 670098 A contemporary, French-

influenced restaurant selling international cuisine at reasonable prices in a spacious, airy atmosphere. Blackboards, whitewashed, bare-brick walls, period tiles, a well-chosen wine list and an outdoor terrace overlooking the lake make up the formula. DA PAOLO CLASSIC ITALIAN

18 Lane 50/59/17 Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6317 This airy, contemporary looking Italian restaurant next to the famed lawn chair and coconut café on West Lake has all the right ingredients to become a classic. Run by the long time former manager of Luna D’Autunno, it features scrumptious woodfired oven pizzas from VND120,000 and other Italian delicacies. Open every day for lunch and dinner, delivery is also available. DALUVA FUSION / MIDDLE-EASTERN

33 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 5831 A popular hang-out for expats and trendy Vietnamese in the Xuan Dieu area on West Lake. This bar and restaurant offers casual dining with a classy, Middle-Eastern twist, as well as wine, tapas, events and attractive décor. DON’S TAY HO CONTEMPORARY NORTH AMERICAN

16 Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3719 3719 This lake-facing venue with its top floor Oyster Bar is the work of charismatic Canadian restaurateur and wine connoisseur Donald Berger. Focusing on comfort food done well, the main restaurant menu includes anything from wood-grilled rare tuna steak with fragrant Chinese black bean beurre noir to gourmet pizza and pasta dishes Excellent range of imported oysters, great breakfasts and an extensive wine list. EMM CAFE URBAN CAFÉ & BRASSERIE

110 D1 Tran Huy Lieu, Giang Vo, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 6293 6361 An urban café and brasserie serving international and French-Mediterranean cuisine in a casual and cozy atmosphere. A popular social hub in Ba Dinh District featuring a wide selection of coffees and wines from around the world. EL GAUCHO STEAKHOUSE ARGENTINIAN STEAKHOUSE

11 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3824 7280; 99 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6991 With venues in Saigon and Bangkok, the essence of El

Gaucho is quality top grade meats off the grill. Steak is the mainstay — the USDA cuts are to die for — but everything from chicken, pork and seafood is also up for grabs. Add to this a backdrop of low Latin music, low, subtle lighting, an extensive wine list and slick service. There’s a reason El Gaucho is so successful — everything’s being taken care of. FOOD EXCHANGE INTERNATIONAL BUFFET RESTAURANT

5 Duy Tan, Cau Giay, Tel: (04) 3576 6666 Food Exchange offers up a well-priced international buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner with a live cooking station. Excellent Asian and Western cuisine set in a contemporary restaurant with trendy décor and a chilled out ambiance. FOODSHOP 45 INTERNATIONAL INDIAN

59 Truc Bach, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3716 2959 Lakeside location and low bamboo seating, this eatery is one of the most popular Indians in town. Selling an international version of the mighty curry — they even sell pork and beef here — the menu keeps to the northern part of the subcontinent with masala, dopiaza, korma and the more Goan vindaloo taking centre stage. FRENCH GRILL TOP-END GRILL

JW Marriott Hanoi, 8 Do Duc Duc, Me Tri, Tu Liem, Tel: (04) 3833 5588 With unique decor, contemporary ambience, a walk-in wine cooler and a delectable seafood bar, this classy restaurant offers guests a service experience with crafted food difficult to find in the capital.


48 Hang Be, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3825 1286 A leafy, cobblestone courtyard with dark green castiron backed chairs greets you as you walk into this French era-built villa that houses the main section of this Indochina-styled restaurant. Serving up an enticing mix of classic and contemporary French cuisine, blended in with Vietnamese ingredients and cooking styles, the resultant fare has had customers coming back again and again. A traditional Vietnamese and kids menu is also available, as is a wine list focusing mainly on French wines. HIGHWAY 4 VIETNAMESE / ETHNIC

5 Hang Tre, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3926 4200; 25 Bat Su, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3926 0639; 575 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3771 6372 The home of Son Tinh liquor, Highway 4 is also known for its communal dining and ethnic food menu taking in dishes from around the regions of northern Vietnam. Try out their catfish spring rolls. Phenomenal! INDIA PALACE NORTH INDIAN

10B Quang An, Tay Ho Tel: 01247 668668 Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, so India Palace has once again returned to Tay Ho, this time on the strip between Don’s and The Warehouse. Tasty North Indian fare in a pleasant environment from the team behind Tandoor. J.A.F.A. INTERNATIONAL

G2-G3 Ciputra, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3758 2400 One of the larger and more comfortable bars in Hanoi, J.A.F.A. is a great place for drinking cocktails by the pool. The beverages are not the cheapest, but this is made up for by service and ambiance. They also have a

full menu featuring familiar western dishes such as pizza and cheeseburgers and cater for large parties or dinner functions. Periodic buffets and drink specials are also offered.

joint, this wonderful restaurant is your typical, Japanese working person’s rice eatery. Has a bar area downstairs and booth-like seating on the upper floors.





23J Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3938 8388 An all-day eating and drinking lounge fit for all occasions, with of course, a focus on steak. Has three floors all with different vibes, the kind of slick service you’d expect from the Al Fresco’s Group and an extensive wine list. JASPA’S INTERNATIONAL / AUSTRALIAN

Hanoi Towers, 49 Hai Ba Trung (4th Floor), Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3934 8325 Recently refurbished, the Australian-influenced Jaspa’s is known for its attentive service, tasty food and large portions. Popular with both the western and Asian expat communities who come back again and again. The comprehensive menu is a fusion of western and Asian cooking. The cocktails come large and the wine is mainly New World. KOTO ON VAN MIEU RESTAURANT / CAFÉ / BAR

59 Van Mieu, Dong Da, Tel: (04) 3747 0337 The restaurant arm of Koto, an F&B training school for disadvantaged youth. Authentic Asian and European cuisine is served over four big floors of restaurant space. It’s cushioned, comfortable and has a rooftop terrace, too. Wrap it yourself nem, bun bo Nam bo, Koto burgers, pastas, fish and chips, chicken Kievs and sandwiches all under one homely roof. KY Y JAPANESE RICE EATERY

166 Trieu Viet Vuong, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3978 1386 Not to be mistake for a sushi

10 Nam Ngu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3942 4509 On entering La Badiane, you are instantly caught by the multitude aromas coming from the open front kitchen. Then, surrounded by leaf plants, and predominantly white walls, the customer is struck by this venue’s calm and elegance. Although the dining experience at la Badiane is about the food, great attention is also paid to the ambience so you can enjoy every aspect of your meal. Voted one of Miele Guide’s Top 500 Restaurants in Asia. LA SALSA IBERIAN / MEDITERANEAN

5 Bui Thi Xuan, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3995 0950 A small but eternally popular Spanish-themed café and bar with an extensive list of reliable cuisine. Tapas are available, as well as full courses such as veal, and duck with currant sauce. Known for its good, European-style coffee and first-floor terrace area with views over the cathedral. LA VERTICALE CONTEMPORARY FRENCH

19 Ngo Van So, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3944 6317 Situated in an art-deco villa, this establishment is run by the most famous French chef in the country. With modestly priced set lunches and subtle Vietnamese touches on the dishes, the up market establishment lures in its high class customers with quality Vietnamese-French fusion cuisine. LE BEAULIEU CLASSIC FRENCH / BUFFET

Sofitel Metropole Legend, 15 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem,

Tel: (04) 3826 6919 The Metropole’s signature restaurant serving up both classic and contemporary French fare. Buffet options mix with an a la carte menu and an ambience that could be straight out of Paris. LINGUINI FINI ITALIAN-AMERICAN

36-38 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3266 8968 With branches in Hong Kong and Manilla, the contemporary Italian-American Linguini Fini pulls no punches with its first outlet in Vietnam. Sleek modern décor, high quality cuisine, home-made pasta, reasonable prices and dishes cooked up with the freshest ingredients available are part of the deal, as are some damn fine pizzas. LUNA D’AUTUNNO CLASSIC ITALIAN

27 Nam Ngu, Tel: (04) 3823 7338 This old-favourite Italian uses traditional wood ovens to prepare some of the city’s finest pizzas, which range from VND100,000 to buildyour-own-skies-the-limit. Set inside a large, thoughtful space seasoned chefs also make fresh pastas, soups and cheeses. Has regular live music and a great Italian wine list. MAY MAN CHINESE CUISINE PAN-CHINESE

Fortuna Hotel, 6B Lang Ha, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3831 3333 Elegant and luxurious, May Man has long been regarded as one of the best Chinese restaurants in Hanoi. Showcasing a selection of authentic Chinese fare together with dim sum, May Man boasts extensive a la carte menus, dim sum menus and set menus. Reservations recommended.


23 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3826 6288 This long-running, cozy restaurant near the cathedral serves all the traditional Italian fare you could need — homemade mozzarella and fresh pasta, spinach and ricotta ravioli, cold cut boards, soups, salads and fish. Boasts an extensive wine list and a traditional wood fire oven. MING PALACE CANTONESE & DIM SUM

Pan Pacific Hanoi, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3823 8888 A fine dining destination at the Pan Pacific serving Cantonese fare in a sleek modern setting with private dining rooms. With more than 80 dim sum selections available along with Chinese entrees, Ming’s is an ideal eatery for those hungry for higher end Chinese fare. MILLENIUM-CAFÉ DES ARTS PAN-FRENCH

11 Hang Hanh, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3828 7207 A contemporary and chic three-storey restaurant with a terrace and views over one of Hanoi’s best-known alleys. Serves up quality French cuisine such as: snails, foie gras, lobster, scallops, chateaubriand and tournedos Rossini. Does an excellent set menu and also has a daily specials board. MOOSE AND ROO CANADIAN / AUSTRALIAN RESTAURANT

42B Ma May, Hoan Kiem, Tel:(04) 3200 1289 Contemporary Australian and Canadian comfort food in a pleasant setting together with a nice bar area. Best known for their Scotch egg, poutine and burgers. Clever changing imagery on the walls.



n a city whose culinary landscape seems to change with every new moon, Com Chay Nang Tam has been a bastion of consistency for over two decades. With a 100% vegetarian menu, Nang Tam owes its success to producing food so good, even omnivores can’t stay away. “We are not vegan,” says owner Nguyen Quoc Hoang, 45. “Even though 80% of the menu is vegan-friendly, we want to appeal to everyone.” Such a lowest common denominator approach would be risky were it not for the wisdom and expertise brought to the table by Hoang’s mother, Diem. Now in her 70s, Diem helped open the

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restaurant 22 years ago, and still works in the kitchen as an advisor, focusing on quality control and coming up with new recipes. “She travelled all over Vietnam, and even went to Paris in search of new recipes and inspiration for vegetarian food,” says Hoang.

Fake Meat and Two Veg The restaurant lies down an unassuming alley, and is spread across two dining rooms which flank the outdoor kitchen. Chefs and waiters buzz around in limegreen uniforms, and with the kitchen in full view, hygiene standards are as high as the certificate displayed on the wall claim

they are. Many choices on the menu include beef, chicken, pork and fish — but only in a synthetic soy-based vegan form. “It’s a Buddhist tradition,” explains Hoang. “Buddhists serve fake meat so they can show hospitality without depriving guests of their favourite dishes.” The French salad (VND60,000) is a perfect example of this, as among the broccoli, edam cheese and lashings of mayonnaise, there are sticks of fake ham, which look and taste uncannily like the real thing. For vegans, the coconut salad (VND55,000) is a delicious alternative, combining everything that is best about

Com Chay Nang Tam


Vietnamese cuisine; three varieties of fresh herbs, desiccated coconut and strips of coconut shoot all tossed in a simple vinegar-based dressing.

Fried Omnivores will be happy to note that going green doesn’t mean the meal has to be a bland affair of salads and steamed rabbit food. The fried vegetable spring rolls, just VND8,000 apiece, are crispy on the outside, and carry all the flavour of their pork or crab-filled cousins. The dipping sauce, also vegan-friendly, contains no nuoc mam, and is simply water with a little soy sauce, vinegar and sugar.

Keen to show off a more creative side to the menu, Hoang recommends trying the “beef” in la lot leaves (VND40,000). A dish of grilled green parcels arrives, each one containing slices of fake beef and mushroom, a real gift of flavour after a liberal dip into the soy sauce. The understated fried tofu (VND30,000) is the surprising star of the meal. Deep fried in breadcrumbs, the tofu is mixed with mashed potatoes to create a texture and flavour guaranteed to secure a return visit.

Big Business The menu also features several lunch sets starting at VND60,000 for one person, and going up to VND800,000 for a feast big

enough to feed six people. After 22 years of being constantly surprised by his own success, Hoang is finally considering expansion. “We have another restaurant at Yen Tu Pagoda, in Quang Ninh.” he says. “Now I’m looking for a location for a second Nang Tam restaurant in Hanoi.” Before leaving, I ask Hoang what the name of the restaurant means, and he guides me to a full-page story printed in the menu. No spoilers here, so go and read it for yourself over lunch. — Edward Dalton Com Chay Nang Tam is located at 79A Tran Hung Dao, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi and is open daily from 10am to 9pm | Aprll 2017 Word | 147



The American Club, 19-21 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3939 2470 There’s a reason for Smokehouse’s popularity — the excellent, on-site smoked meats together with all the typical, American-style sides. Set in the American Club, dining is both indoors and out, and comes with the best bourbon selection in town.

On the Town


4 Ly Dao Thanh, HoanKiem Ramen, stewed pork banh my, ha cao dumplings and banh my trung, all served up in an eclectic, Berlinesque setting a stone’s throw from the Opera House. Add in a beer, a G and T or a coffee, and this is the perfect munchie-satisfying joint to keep you going at any time of the day. NAMASTE HANOI PAN-INDIAN

46 Tho Nhuom, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3935 2400 The well-loved Namaste specialises in dishes from both northern and southern India — using Halal meat throughout. Hosted by the gregarious Gopi, a meal will cost you between VND150,000 and VND300,000 and everything is there, from curries and breads to soups and desserts. NAN N KABAB 49 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: 0922 087799 Specialising in Pakistani cuisine and of course nan bread and kebabs, this semioutdoor, bamboo tabled, laid back eatery also sells fare from Afganistan and India. In a sentence? Curry, but not as you know it.


The Opera House, 1 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3933 4801 Named after the completion date of the Hanoi Opera House, this upscale yet casual restaurant maintains an ambience of elegance, luxury and mystery. The cuisine mixes international fare with twists on Vietnamese cuisine and comes complete with a formidable wine list and an in-house sommelier. OLD HANOI GOURMET VIETNAMESE

4 Ton That Thiep, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3747 8337 Gordon Ramsay once filmed a show at this restaurant in a renovated French villa and now the ribs carry his namesake. But it’s the twist on old world favourites, think fried snail spring rolls and miniature vegetarian banh xeo, all in a casually elegant setting that make this spot near the train tracks a standout. PANE E VINO PAN-ITALIAN

3 Nguyen Khac Can, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3826 9080 Just a stroll away from the Hanoi Opera House, Pane e Vino serves up authentic Italian food and has done for as long as anyone can remember. Renowned for the highly rated, oven fresh pizzas and large variety of pasta and salad dishes — look forward to fine food done well at this eatery that has the feel of Europe. Huge wine lists, friendly staff and a loveable owner. PIZZA 4P’S JAPANESE PIZZA JOINT

24 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 01208 034444 Famed for its home-made mozzarella and Japaneseinspired pizzas that break all the rules, the Hanoi outlet of

Pizza 4P’s is as popular as its Saigon branch, a restaurant that has been greeted by accolades by all asunder. All pizzas are cooked in a woodfired oven and use fresh, local ingredients.

reliable, which makes this lunchtime favourite ideal for when you need to eat at the desk. THE KAFE CONTEMPORARY CAFE / CUISINE


57 Bui Thi Xuan, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3944 0204 Brought to you by a group of former disadvantaged youth from Hanoi’s own KOTO, this unique fine dining restaurant, bar and lounge blends the old with the new. Vietnamese fusion cuisine, like profiteroles with green tea and café fillings, a private chef’s table with a kitchen view, and an extensive wine list combined with modern formal styling bring a unique experience to Hanoi. SAINT HONORE BOULANGERIE / BISTRO

5 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3933 2355 This bakery and Frenchstyle bistro is best visited in the morning when that Gallic, fresh-cooked aroma of bread, croissants and patisseries hits you as you walk through the door. The downstairs space is split into the bakery on one side with a small non-smoking dining space on the other. The upstairs lounge area has standard tables as well as sofa seating. Simple French and international fare is served at meal times. THE CART SANDWICH SHOP / CAFÉ

8B, Lane 1, Au Co, Nghi Tam Village, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3938 2513 Small cozy café and sandwich bar hidden away in Nghi Tam Village. Serves and delivers tasty baguettes, homemade juices, quiches, pies, muffins and cakes. The delivery service is quick and

18 Dien Bien Phu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3747 6245 Spacious, casual, energetic and beautifully designed, The KAfe serves up unfussy comfort food that aims to satisfy the modern urban diner. Preparing fresh food and drinks that show respect to natural ingredients and flavours from around the globe, this café-cum-restaurant is a popular choice for Hanoi’s metrosexual community. WANNAWAFFLE WAFFLES

27 Dinh Tien Hoang, Hoan Kiem; 138 Trieu Viet Vuong, Hai Ba Trung; Unit 108, Indochina Plaza, 241 Xuan Thuy, Cau Giay Waffles, but not as you know it. Here it’s about taking this humble dish and recreating it in a contemporary environment in as many ways as is humanly possible. Ever had a matcha waffle? What about a waffle stuffed with cream cheese and smoked salmon? How about a banoffee pie or a pizza waffle? Wannawaffle serves up all these creations and much more.



6 Ngo 31 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho BANH MI 25 STREETSIDE BANH MI



67 Hang Dieu, Hoan Kiem BUN CHA DAC KIM BUN CHA

1 Hang Manh, Hoan Kiem; 67 Duong Thanh, Hoan Kiem KCC (KIEN CAN COOK) COM RANG DUA BO



54 Hang Chieu, Hoan Kiem PHO BO CU CHIEU PHO BO

48 Hang Dong, Hoan Kiem PHO CUON HUNG BEN PHO CUON

WRAP & ROLL 5th Floor, Trang Tien Plaza, 24 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3824 3718 The lime green walls and bright pastel colours of Wrap ‘n Roll are just part of the theme of this homegrown, Vietnamese brand which is all about spring rolls of all types, and healthy, Hue-influenced cuisine. Now with two restaurants in Hanoi — the second in Royal City. ZENITH VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT

26 Nguyen Khac Hieu, Ba Dinh PHO GA BA LAM PHO GA

7 Nam Ngu, Hoan Kiem PHO GA HANG DIEU PHO GA


49 Bat Dan, Hoan Kiem PHO LY QUOC SU PHO BO

10 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem



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247Au Co, Tay Ho, Tel: 0904 356561 zenith-cafe A vegetarian and vegan café connected to Zenith Yoga that respects yoga philosophy. Simple living, mindful thinking and 100 percent natural ingredients, all the food here is served up without additional additives or MSG and using only fresh seasonal products. All dishes are made in house.



13 Lo Duc, Hai Ba Trung PHO TRON MIXED PHO

5 Phu Doan, Hoan Kiem; 47 Ma May, Hoan Kiem; 2 Hang Hom, Hoan Kiem; 6 Luong Van Can, Hoan Kiem PHO TU LUN PHO BO

23 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem





18 Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho

44 Hang Hom, Hoan Kiem



here’s a lot of interest right now in pediatrics in figuring out how electronic media affects young kids’ brains, learning styles and habits — especially toddlers who are attempting to get a handle on spoken language. There is also ongoing interest in how relationships with good books and stories affects their cognitive and social growth. A lot of contemporary parents find nothing wrong with plonking little kids, regardless of age, in front of TV sets, tablets or iPhones to keep them entertained, ignoring or ignorant of recent research about parent child interaction from the ages of 10 to 16 months. It was found that when they were playing with electronic and digital toys, both parents and children used fewer words or vocalisations than they did with traditional toys.

Evoking Language Dr. Jenny Radesky, a developmental behavioural paediatrician and assistant professor of paediatrics at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, is one of the authors of a new American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement on media use for children from birth to age 5. “Preschool children learn better when there’s an adult involved,” she said. “They learn better when there are not distracting digital elements, especially when those elements are not relevant to the story line or the learning purpose.” So what about the interactive digital picture books that have all the best kids’ books covered? It was stressed that especially for children with language delays, certain features of electronic books that reinforce the connection between image and word (for example, animated pictures) may help children integrate information, but that distracting features and games may cause cognitive overload, which gets in the way

of learning. Paediatricians worried, of course, that screen time might displace parent-child time. Brain imaging of young kids has suggested that: “hearing stories evokes visual images in children’s brains, and more strongly if those children are accustomed to being read to.” To the annoyance of plonk-style parents, it was suggested that all older children should not use digital devices more than two hours a day — preferably less — and that all screens for children under two be discouraged. There is also debate about educational digital stuff. Dr. Bernard Dreyer, the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics and a professor of paediatrics at NYU says that even high-quality educational electronic content shouldn’t crowd out the other parts of childhood. “Unstructured, unplugged playtime is very important for all children and especially very young children.”

Toddlers’ Library Favourites Lots of our customers with young kids who believe in the value of daily face-to-face reading of picture books to their offspring also believe that it’s important for the kids to have lots of good books in their bedrooms. We digitally canvassed a few to ascertain their toddlers’ past or present all-time favourites. Popular titles include: Sheep in the Jeep by Nancy E. Shaw and Margot Apple, which is full of laugh-aloud rhymes that children never seem to tire of. How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long and David Shannon, about an ocean voyage where no one eats vegetables and bedtimes are for babies and where, at first, life is a raucous adventure. Walter, the Farting Dog by William Kotzwinkle, Glenn Murray and Audrey


Colman. About a dog rescued from the pound. He is full of obnoxious gas but is saved from being sent back when he rescues the children. It’s a compellingly funny series. Robert Sabuda’s luscious pop-up books should be on every small or big kid’s shelves, and the best to start with is Cookie Count: A Tasty Pop-Up, which is set in a pastry shop and is a counting book involving cookies and mice. One mother says that it’s best to buy two copies — one for the toddler to love to death in four minutes and one for her to read just out of small finger reach. It would be a crime if any toddler missed out on Corduroy, a shabby bear tale by Don Freeman; Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown which is every parent's special favourite to put kids to bed; the photographic Busy Penguins by John Schindel which has inventive rhyming word pairs; and Gossie by Oliver Dunrea about a yellow gosling who loves her red boots to death and wears them every day until they suddenly disappear. She searches under the bed, over the wall, in the barn and beneath the hens until she discovers them on the feet of a smaller gosling. All parents with fiercely independent toddlers will appreciate Elivia Savadier’s Time to Get Dressed. Truong Hoang is behind the much-loved book shop, Bookworm. For more info click on or visit their shop at 44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh, Hanoi | Aprll 2017 Word | 149




hen it comes to female weight training, myths and false perceptions abound. Many women are too intimidated to even set foot into a gym, imagining a terrifying scene of unfamiliar equipment and people’s perfect bodies. Some women worry that if they do begin strength training, they might turn into muscle-bound freaks. This will not happen. Strength training is as much about toned fitness as it is about building muscle. And for any woman looking for muscle tone, weight loss, increased strength, a daily fitness routine, rehabilitation, or just overall general health and fitness, there is no better choice than lifting weights. One of the biggest barriers to effective weight training is lack of knowledge. I have witnessed too many people train year in, year out without seeing any of the results they set out to achieve. To make those weights work effectively for you, you first need to understand how to use them properly, along with sorting out fact from fiction so you can enjoy one of the most satisfying and resultsdriven sports available.

Common Myths There are possibly more myths and misconceptions surrounding weight training than any other physical activity. This is due largely to a combination of ignorance and fear. Many people have never stepped into a gym because they are intimidated by the machines and afraid of making fools of themselves. Or perhaps they’re scared of developing huge muscles, which they believe will immediately turn into fat when they stop lifting. None of these fears are justified. Fiction: Weight training isn’t effective for weight loss. Fact: Fitness begins in the kitchen eating whole, natural foods and lean meat free from visible fat, sugar and MSG, along with regular weight training to increase your lean muscle mass. Going on a starvation diet and jumping on the scales may tell you you’re losing weight, but this weight loss is partly due to dwindling muscle and reduced water content in the body. Losing your muscle tissue has a direct impact on your ability to lose weight, as it causes your body’s metabolism to slow down. This means that when

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you come off the diet and start eating normally, your body will put on weight more easily than if you had never dieted at all. But with weight training, you can maintain or increase lean muscle, which in turn will maintain or increase your metabolism — improving your ability to burn off fat. Your muscles are the key to burning extra calories when active and at rest. Fiction: Weight training will make women look like the incredible hulk. Fact: Virtually every woman faced with the prospect of weight training has said: “I don’t want to develop bulging muscles that make me look like Arnold Schwarzenegger!” But the truth is that most women aren’t capable of building huge muscles, even if they try. Women don’t have the genetic capacity to build muscular size the way men do, nor do we have the high levels of musclebuilding hormone, testosterone. Most women will have to work reasonably hard to obtain a slight increase in lean muscle, let alone developing the type of muscular development of a male bodybuilder. Weight training will result in a leaner and more toned physique. Genetics play a big part, of course, and some women will be able to tone their muscles more quickly than others. Weight training can actually enhance your femininity by

creating a well-toned shapely physique. Fiction: Weight training is dangerous for seniors. Fact: It’s never too late to start weight training; it improves coordination and strengthens bones, since osteoporosis is a real danger — particularly for women — as you get older. Through regular physical activity, the muscles remain strong and well-toned, the body maintains its flexibility and the chances of illness and injury are greatly reduced.

Amazin Le Thi Amazin is a Prana Samyama meditation Yin Yoga teacher and performance coach with over 20 years’ experience in the health and fitness industry, having trained Olympic athletes to special forces. She is also a former natural competitive bodybuilder and the first Vietnamese internationally published health and fitness author and DNA fitness trainer. Amazin also has a background in martial arts, weapons training, boxing for fitness, yoga and Pilates, and she is also founder of the Amazin LeThi Foundation and global ambassador for Athlete Ally and Vietnam Relief Services. For more info click on

Ho Chi Minh City

Body & Temple / Know Your City / Bar Stool 1 / Terence Taylor’s Saigon Stories / Bar Stool 2 / Coffee Cup / Top Eats / Medical Buff / Location, Location, Location Photo by Bao Zoan | Aprll 2017 Word | 151

HCMC Essentials







223 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1 Baguettes, croissants, pizza, cakes, muffins, donuts and brownies, this bakery and café all in one is a popular stop for those heading through the Backpacker District. Online ordering available. BREAD TALK

40 Nguyen Hue, Q1; 60-62 Le Loi, Q1 Selling up a good selection of English language books — in a range of reading areas — this multi-storied bookshop also does stationery, toys and a range of related products. Has a good selection of ESL texts.

fective network of business associates together and to facilitate discussion forums about business in Vietnam. NORDCHAM 17th Floor, Petroland Tower, 12 Tan Trao, Q7, Tel: (08) 5416 0922 PHILIPPINES BUSINESS GROUP VIETNAM 40/4 Pham Viet Chanh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 3518 0045


106 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3; 2 Cao Thang, Q3; Vivo City, 1058 Nguyen Van Linh, Q7 A Singaporean bakery chain that is vying for the Vietnam cake and bread market. Produces Asian-friendly patisseries and cakes in a spacious, airy atmosphere. Has eight locations and counting. HARVEST BAKING

LIBRAIRIE FRANCAISE NAM PHONG 82 Truong Dinh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 7858 Nam Phong Bookstore was founded at the of end 2002 in Ho Chi Minh City as the first and only francophone bookshop in the whole of Vietnam. Only books written in French are for sale, covering for all ages and tastes. A catalogue is available at

AMERICAN BAKERY With a production facility in Thu Duc, Harvest Baking focuses on both the retail and non-retail trade, cooking up the best American-style bakery products in the city. Has an excellent home delivery service. Check the website for details. L’AMOUR BAKERY & CAFE

Hung Phuoc 2, Le Van Thiem, Q7, Tel: (08) 5410 4072 TOUS LES JOURS


2A Le Duan, Q1; 2nd Floor Parkson Center, 35-45 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Although there are some English-language texts in this modern, well laid out bookstore, the focus here is on all things Vietnamese. Worth checking out, thought, for the occasional gem.



180 Hai Ba Trung, Q1; 59 Tran Hung Dao, Q1; 187 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1; 66B Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q3; Lotte Mart, 469 Nguyen Huu Tho, Q7; 17/14 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 The background of this Korean bakery chain makes interesting reading. Established in 1996, in 2004 they opened in the US, 2005 in China and 2007 in Vietnam. French-styled with an Asian touch, the bare-brick décor makes this a popular joint. Has over 25 locations in Vietnam. VOELKER BAKERY

39 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 6296 0066 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.

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AMERICAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE (AMCHAM) New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 3562. AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE (AUSCHAM) 2nd Floor, Eximland Building, 179EF Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q3, Tel: (08) 3832 9912 BRITISH BUSINESS GROUP OF VIETNAM (BBGV) 25 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 8430 CANADIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE (CANCHAM) Room 305, New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 3754 Open to all nationalities, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce aims to create an ef-

SINGAPORE BUSINESS GROUP 6th Floor, Unit 601, Tran Quy Building, 57 Le Thi Hong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 3046



37 Thao Dien, An Phu, Q2, Tel: 0917 567506 In addition to a varied selection of garments for babies and children up to 10 years old, Little Anh-Em stocks sleeping bags and other accessories. L’USINE LIFESTYLE / ACCESSORIES

First floor, 151 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 6674 9565 Exclusive labels, elegant and sophisticated clothing and casual high-quality cottons are stocked at this boutique/ café. Lifestyle accessories include shoes, homewares, knickknacks, cameras, stationery and a range of vintage bicycles. MANDARINA TAILOR-MADE SHOES

171 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 5267





9 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2394 Monday to Sunday, 9am to 8pm This centrally located unique boutique has been converted into an eco-boutique which exclusively retails the complete Anupa leather and semi-precious jewellery range as well as other unique eco brands such as bamboo eyewear, pendant scarves and cushion covers.

152 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3820 2620 9am to 10pm PAPAYA BUDGET CLOTHING


39 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 4556


174 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: 0903 641826


163 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Q1, Tel: 0978 967588


1B Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 2210 2084 GINKGO VIETNAM-THEMED CLOTHING

10 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3521 8755; 54-56 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 6270 5928 Quality, original, Vietnamthemed tees are the showpiece at this airy French-run store. Designs are inspired by anything from the Vietnamese flag, local telecom wires and motorbikes to creative, Siddharta-style imagery. IPA-NIMA BAGS & ACCESSORIES

77-79 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 3277; 71 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 2701


80 Xuan Thuy, Q2 Stocks a wide range of Vespa-inspired tidbits and memorabilia including t-shirts, riding gear, Italian helmets, Respro face masks, DVDs, books, bags, magazines, posters and more. Rental scooters and bikes available.

M M M CORPORATE GIFTS AMBRIJ 14-16-18 Chu Manh Trinh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 8364 A one-stop-shop concept company providing marketing services including POSM, corporate gifts and luxury ranges of business gifts

SHOPPING MALLS DIAMOND PLAZA 34 Le Duan, Q1. Tel: (08) 3825 7750 9am to 10pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Café, Food Court


126 Hung Vuong, Q5. Tel: (08) 2222 0383 9.30am to 10pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Café, Food Court


35-45 Le Thanh Ton, Q1. Tel: (08) 3827 7636 9.30am to 10pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Café, Food Court


65 Le Loi, Q1. Tel: (08) 3829 4888 9am to 9pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Café, Food Court

SAIGON SQUARE 77-89 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q1 9am to 9pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics

VINCOM CENTER 70-72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1. Tel: (08) 3936 9999 9am to 10pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Café, Food Court


54-56 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 0339 9am to 10pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Café, Food Court

from international brands like Swarovski, Cerruti 1881, Nina Ricci, Christian Lacroix, Ungaro and more. Also do event management services.



OVERLAND CLUB 35Bis Huynh Khuong Ninh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3820 9734 The Overland Club organises pottery classes, VietnameseJapanese cooking classes, cultural art events and monthly special activities, such as the Soba Festival, pottery painting classes, the art of decorating paper and multinational cuisine days. SAIGON COOKING CLASSES BY HOA TUC 74 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 8485 Learn to cook quality Vietnamese cuisine with local specialist Hoa Tuc. The threehour lesson, conducted by an English-speaking Vietnamese chef, includes a trip around Ben Thanh Market to gather fresh ingredients for the class. VIETNAM COOKERY CENTRE Suite 45, 4th Floor, 26 Ly Tu Trong, Q1,Tel: (08) 3827 0349




175 Ha Noi Highway, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4543 This well-known Vietnamese furniture brand is a good choice for most families with its respected highquality 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. EM EM SOUVENIRS

38 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 4408 8am to 9.30pm FEELING TROPIC FURNITURE & ACCESSORIES

51 Le Van Mien, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2181 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 bamboo-imitation and mosaic table sets, while the second level stocks all types of indoor furniture except beds. Accessories are found on the level above. MEKONG CREATIONS FAIR TRADE CRAFTS


35-37 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: (08) 2210 3110


268B Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Dist.3, HCMC, Tel: (08) 3932 6455; 30A Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, HCMC, Tel: (08) 3840 3946


2 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 9459 8am to 8pm MEKONG QUILTS




42 Nguyen Dang Giai, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 0023 This An Phu-based 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.


1st Floor, 68 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: (08) 2210 3110 NHA XINH HOME FURNISHINGS

2nd Floor, Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 6115 REMIX DECO INDOOR FURNITURE

Happy Valley, 826 Nguyen Van Linh, Q7, tel: (08) 5410 7432 THE FURNITURE HOUSE HOME FURNISHINGS

81 Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4640/4643 | Aprll 2017 Word | 153



he best workouts target all muscle groups, ligaments, tendons, fascia and use both aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. The mentality of most is that to get a fit, toned and wellshaped body one must go to the gym and lift weights or use fancy machinery. This simply is not the case. Body weight or callisthenic exercise is more beneficial than equipment-based exercise. Is it time to move more and lift equipment less to achieve your ideal body? Movement-based exercises, or callisthenics, focuses on increasing range of movement and mobility, and strengthening joints. It not only increases your range, it strengthens your secondary system, which includes ligaments, tendons, inter-connective tissue and fascia. This is directly transferable to increasing the strength of the primary muscular system that it supports. By strengthening your secondary system this type of exercise massively helps in preventing injuries. The injury prevention and improved function of callisthenics, while also receiving great fat-burning and muscle-building gains, should make it a necessity to include in your workouts.

Strength, Balance and Power The best bodies on the planet belong to gymnasts. Gymnasts never lift weights or use machines to achieve their physiques, yet their balance, stability, power, strength and control are second to none. Functional strength and power training techniques require the construction of a movement continuum. This style

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of training demands coordinated and integrated body movements, which offer challenging variations to the participant or athlete that will accelerate neural and physiological adaptation. Gymnasts are incredibly strong because multi-plane and multi-joint exercises develop synergistic movement, as opposed to isolated movement. Bodyweight exercise destabilises the body under load, which creates a challenging position where the muscular structure and fascia must work harder to enable the core and other joint stabilisers to manage the centre of gravity over its base of support. While using weights and lifting machines may have a very slight advantage over bodyweight training in regard to the fact that progression is smoother and easier to effect, bodyweight training makes up for it with its greater variety, balance, agility and flexibility gains.

Fitness and Function The latest fitness trends, like Ido Portal and Zuu, are leading the way in revolutionising the fitness industry. They provide a system of exercise that delivers amazing benefits in all fitness components and functional movement with the lowest risk of injury. If your exercise is not achieving the objective of improving the way you function, then no matter how strong a single muscle becomes, you are only as strong as the weakest muscle in the kinetic chain of that movement. This is where the majority of machine or ‘outer’ body resistance programmes fail.


They operate on an isolated basis that doesn’t work or strengthen the entire secondary muscular system. Furthermore, conventional weights exercises are performed in a single plane of movement, making participants more inflexible and susceptible to injury when they go through a real-world multi-plane movement. This is why so many people who train only with weights and machines, sustain injuries when playing sport or completing simple activities. Their body is simply not conditioned to work through a full range of motion.

Changing the Routine In my view body-weight exercise is the superior form of resistance exercise. A functional definition of strength is the ability to control, stabilise, lift, accelerate and decelerate your body through space. Before moving on to performing conventional weight lifting people should first develop their functional strength and movement control via bodyweight workouts. The greater point is that if your goal is to build a lean, toned and well-shaped body, callisthenic exercise should be a part of your workout routine. All resistance exercise is beneficial but if you do not include functional bodyweight exercise, that strength and muscle you gain might be unusable in the real world of activity and function. Phil is founder and master trainer at Body Expert Systems. Contact him on 0934 782763, at his website or through Star Fitness (

HCMC Essentials


3B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 6657 0788 vn

M M M CYCLING FIRSTBIKE VIETNAM FirstBIKE balance bikes for two to five-year-olds eliminate the need for training wheels or stabilisers, and support proper balance development.


167A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (08) 3829 8424 Globally renowned provider of medical assistance and international healthcare offers full dental services in the clinic. Foreign and Vietnamese dentists provide high skilled dental service. Orthodontics is also available.





384 Tran Phu, Q5; 168 Vo Thi Sau, Q3 The showroom home of Jett Cycles, a homegrown cycling company with all products designed in Vietnam. Sells up budget bicycles to high-end product, with the full range of accessories in between. Also stocks GT and Cannondale. SAIGON CYCLES CYCLING & ACCESSORIES

44 Phan Van Nghi (S51-1 Sky Garden 2), Q7, Tel: (08) 5410 3114 Specialising in Trek and Surly, Saigon Cycles is also famed for its Sunday morning rides. Sells the full range of accessories and also does bicycle repairs. THE BIKE SHOP CYCLING & ACCESSORIES

250 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6405 The go-to location for all your cycling needs in District 2. Sells a range of brands including Cannondale, Jett, GT and Aluboo, as well as the full selection of accessories. Organises regular cycle rides, does repairs and rentals. Check for more details.


Kumho Asiana Plaza, 39 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 8800

w ne r fe f o


2 Bis Cong Truong Quoc Te, Q3, Tel: (08) 3822 6222 24, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 6282 8822 Long–established, modern 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.

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WESTCOAST INT’L DENTAL CLINIC INTERNATIONAL DENTAL CLINIC Norfolk Mansion, 17-19-21 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 6999 Thao Dien Clinic, 27 Nguyen Ba Lan, Q.2, Tel: (08) 35 191 777 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.


Md6 Nguyen Luong Bang, Q7 (across from FV Hospital), Tel: Tel: (08) 5410 0100 Specialising in healthcare, dental services and chiropractic medicine, the recently opened Maple Healthcare comes replete with the latest technology together with efficient and comfortable service.

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6 mon th s VND 5 0 0, 0 0 0 or 12 mon th s VND 1, 0 0 0, 0 0 0 Email: Or call Ms Trinh directly: +84 936 269 244



ith a lot of interest in preserving the colonial heritage in District 1, it is perhaps worth looking at District 3 and its relationship with District 1. A characteristic of District 3 is its large number of detached villas dating from the French occupation, built due to a class divide in Vietnamese society with differing rules for the French and the Vietnamese. The system that taxed the Vietnamese on property width did not apply to the French, whose merchants settled their houses on higher ground in well-planted streets and avenues, following a similar pattern to New Orleans. Many of these villas were built and occupied by French rubber planters in the area known as the “rubber plantation district�. It is bordered by Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Le Quy Don and Vo Thi Sau Streets. The villas were built close to the offices of the rubber companies. Even today Nam Ky Khoi Nghia is home to the Rubber Research Institute of Vietnam and the Vietnam Rubber Group.

A Vital Component A visitor to the city speeds past District 3 from the airport without realising or fully understanding its importance to the history of the city.

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The pattern of these large houses on large plots of land is not an easy fit with the modern metropolis. Their somewhat profligate use of land is hard to integrate with the need for density; to house more people as well as businesses. Nevertheless, they are an important part of the city’s history. Ho Chi Minh City is not the first city in the world that has had to deal with this issue of integration of villas into the city fabric, as many Western cities have had to grapple with the problem, too. In my own home town of Auckland, many beautiful large inner merchant houses were razed to make way for the university situated in the city. Auckland is poorer for it. In the particular case of Western cities, most wanton destruction occurred 30 to 50 years ago before it was realised that removing the memory of these villas also damaged the quality of the city environment. It was realised that cities must, above anything else, give a wide range of choice to their inhabitants of buildings to use and enjoy. A city needs to embrace its whole history rather than just the parts it happens to like at a particular point in time. Fashions for buildings change and the most vulnerable structures are those less than 70 years old. The veneration period begins at around 100 years.


A New Model? There is though, a way forward and a model that Ho Chi Minh City can follow. First, a properly conducted survey of these structures must be completed. This will determine the quality of each structure. Second, a classification system is needed to determine which buildings should be protected or refurbished. This needs to occur quickly as many of the old villas are under threat. Saving them all, while desirable, is unlikely in the present and future rapid growth of Ho Chi Minh City, but if there are some agreed criteria for preservation and retention, this will give certainty to both the community and the owners. This system has worked well in other jurisdictions and I understand that the Ho Chi Minh City Institute for Development Studies has issued a draft decree detailing a system of classification for old villas, but it has not yet been enacted by the city due to a lack of agreed criteria. It is not enough to merely protect these buildings, but there is a need to repurpose them and reuse them so that they can continue to play a role in the past, present and future of the city. Ed Haysom is the general director of Mode / Haysom Architects and is based in Ho Chi Minh City. You can contact him on ehaysom@

HCMC Essentials





CRAIG THOMAS GALLERY 27i Tran Nhat Duat, Q1, Tel: 0903 888431 Craig Thomas Gallery offers a compelling mix of up-andcoming and established local artists. In operation since 2009, its founder has been promoting Vietnamese art for a decade. Now has a second newer gallery at 165 Calmette, Q1, HCMC DOGMA 8A/9C1 Thai Van Lung, Q1 The home of Vietnamese propaganda art and a collection put together over the last two decades by art collector Dominic Scriven, the majority of the work comes from the war period when provocative poster art was used to inspire and motivate. Sells prints of the originals and related products. GALERIE QUYNH 65 De Tham, Q1, Tel: (08) 3836 8019 In addition to working with artists based in Vietnam, Galerie Quynh also exhibits the work of artists from around the world. This wellestablished gallery supports education through talks, lectures and publications. HO CHI MINH CITY FINE ARTS MUSEUM 97A Pho Duc Chinh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 4441 Set in one of the finest remaining buildings of colonial-era Vietnam, this multi-storey museum houses collections spanning centuries of Vietnamese art. Has regular exhibitions. SAN ART 48/7 Me Linh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 6294 7059 San Art is an independent, artist-run exhibition space that offers residency programmes for young artists, lecture series and an exchange programme that invites international artists / curators to organise or collaborate on exhibitions.


16–18 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9332; 41A Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 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. CLASSIC FINE FOODS GROCERIES & IMPORTER

No. 17, Street 12 (perpendicular to Tran Nao street), Q2, Tel: (08) 3740 7105 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.

MEATWORKS BUTCHERY BUTCHERS 1 Street 2, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2565; 401 Pham Thai Buong H11-2, My Khanh 3, Q7, Tel: (08) 5412 5228 Focusing on the retail trade, the meat at this Australianmanaged butcher comes pre-prepared and, if you so wish, pre-marinated. Sells up some of the best imported meats in town together with homemade sausages, free-range products and excellent Australian grassfed steak.


58 Ham Nghi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 1318 A small yet amazingly wellstocked store that puts many a supermarket in this country to shame. As well as a dizzying selection of imported foods, also sells

frozen meat and fish, fruit, vegetables, herbs, spices and a wide selection of dairy products. THE WAREHOUSE WINE SHOP

15/5 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 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. VEGGY’S GROCERS & DELI

29A Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 8526 Courtesy of a farm in Dalat, Veggy’s retails some of the best quality fruit and veg available in the city. Also has a wide selection of imported food products including USDA beef, the same beef served up at El Gaucho.

M M M HAIRDRESSERS, SALONS & SPAS AVEDA HERBAL SPA Villa 35A, Street 41, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel:(08) 3519 4671 CAT MOC SPA 63 Tran Dinh Xu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6295 8926 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. CONCEPT COIFFURE 48 Tran Ngoc Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4625 Hair stylist and colourist specialist Sandrine has relocated her long-standing flagship salon Venus Coiffure to a villa in Thao Dien. A full range of services is offered including a dedicated kids salon. FAME NAILS SALON 3 Truong Dinh, Q1, Tel: 0909 682 827 GLOW SPA 129A Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 8368 Modern and bright downtown spa, offers massages lasting from 30 minutes, to two-hour hot stone therapy, includes one suite with a Jacuzzi bath; offers hand and foot care and a hair styling area.

SPORTS CRICKET ECCS (THE ENGLISH CRICKET CLUB OF SAIGON) Adam Zakharoff Email: adamzakharoff@ 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 samie.cashmiri@gmail. com 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, Tel: 0937 079 034 VIETNAM CRICKET ASSOCIATION (VCA) Manish Sogani, Tel: 0908 200 598

FOOTBALL & RUGBY AUSTRALIAN RULES FOOTBALL Tel: 0937 683 230 LES GAULOIS DE SAIGON OLYMPIQUE SAIGON Contact Fred on 0919 709 024 or Viet Luu 0909 500 171.

SAIGON RAIDERS SAIGON RUGBY CLUB RMIT University, 702 Nguyen Van Linh, Tan Phong, Q7 saigonrugbyfootballclub@ SAIGON SAINTS

SPORTS — GENERAL HASH HOUSE HARRIERS RANGERS BASEBALL TEAM SAIGON INTERNATIONAL DARTS LEAGUE SAIGON INTERNATIONAL SOFTBALL LEAGUE SAIGON SHOOTERS NETBALL CLUB saigonshootersnetball. SAIGON SPORTS ACADEMY 28 Tran Nao, Q2, Tel: (08) 7303 1100 SQUASH The Landmark, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2098 ext 176 TORNADOS HOCKEY CLUB 436A/33 Ba Thang Hai, Q10, Tel: 0938 889899 ULTIMATE FRISBEE RMIT, 702 Nguyen Van Linh, Q7 X–ROCK CLIMBING 7Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q3, Tel: (08) 6278 5794 | Aprll 2017 Word | 157



ituated at the corner of Mac Thi Buoi and Phan Van Dat, on the location once occupied by Seoul House, Soi & Meo Taproom is a hangout opened just after Tet. To explain the name Soi & Meo (wolf and cat), Quynh, the bar manager, says: “It’s inspired by America, where animals are used to name their bars.” When it comes to design, Soi & Meo mixes simplicity with refinement: high glass windows, smoky blue painted walls highlighted with pictures of wolves and cats, and wooden stools and chairs. While the ground floor is equipped with a big bar counter, the kitchen is located on the floor above. The balcony with its wrought-iron railings is an option for those who don’t like air-conditioning. It is full of light and possesses a good view of the street below.

Everything On Tap Beer on tap is not new in Ho Chi Minh City, yet wine on tap is still rare. Soi & Meo take it one step further. Everything, including tea

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and coffee, is on tap here. “To be able to serve wine and champagne on tap, we had to import tap wine equipment from overseas,” says Quynh. The Wineemotion dispensers come from Italy. “It cost us VND200 million.” Wine on tap starts at VND95,000 for a small glass of white and VND75,000 for a red, and the bar will let you try from a selection of eight wines for free. Traditionalists can buy wine by the bottle, as Soi & Meo also stocks a good range of Old and New World wine priced from VND540,000. Guests can find their favourite local brewed beers including Pasteur Street, Fuzzy Logic, Lac and Heart of Darkness at Soi & Meo. Prices for all are VND95,000 per 330ml glass, except the Fuzzy Logic Pale Ale which goes for VND75,000.

The Deals Soi & Meo’s menu tends towards snacks and plates to share, including cheese (VND75,000

for 50g of Parmigiano reggiano), salami, skewers (VND140,000 for prawn and bacon), oysters (from VND150,000 for six pieces) and much more to go with their selection of wine and beer. Which means that hanging out at Soi & Meo after work can be great fun, especially since the bar is running a daily programme of four glasses of wine, four oysters and four types of cheese or salami for only VND200,000. Another deal that you should try is the set lunch. For VND90,000, you have two options of starter (salad or soup), seven options for the main course, ranging from beef and pork to red snapper, and ‘detox’ water. People have different reasons for choosing their favourite venues — good food and drink is one, another is the chance to experience something new, such as tea or wine on tap. Either way, Soi & Meo Taproom has you covered. — Vu Ha Kim Vy Soi & Meo Taproom is at 33 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, HCMC. For more info and promotions, visit

HCMC Essentials


68 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: (FREEPHONE) 1800 1108 A unique themed hair salon where stylists use no scissors but styling equipment only, giving female clients the opportunity to get their hair done on the run. Of course, they have to look fabulous, too. Fortunately this is one of Hair Bar’s specialities. Check the salon out on Facebook: hairbarvn. INDOCHINE SPA 69 Thu Khoa Huan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 7188 Indochine Spa provides a peaceful and serene atmosphere with aromatic scents and lulling melodies. Customers are pampered by qualified therapists using natural French products in a clean and pleasant environment. JASMINE 45 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (08) 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 including massage and some excellent treatments. MERCI 17/6 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 8799 A unique nail spa and bistro where you can pamper your nails, enjoy a massage, meet your friends, enjoy a meal and sip a cocktail. Provides only waterless nails treatments to avoid bacteria and dry skin as well as Zoya and Kure Bazaar non-toxic varnishes. QUYNH BEAUTY SALON 104A Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3512 4321 A District 2 favourite, this is the salon to head to for anything from massage to haircuts, hairwashing to nails. Cheap prices, too. SOI SPA 6th & Rooftop, 44 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 8678 A lovely little place with nail services, shampoo head massages, and other simple treatments for a quick getaway experience. Also features a rooftop terrace and a great little drinks and wine selection. Open daily from 10am to 9pm.

SPA TROPIC 79 Phan Ke Binh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 5575 Spa Tropic is a stylish boutique spa housed in the refurbished former Chilean Consulate. Spa Tropic has a long-standing reputation among expats and visitors alike for its professional quality service.


161-161A Hai Ba Trung, Q3, Tel: (08) 3939 3930 ACC provides effective chiropractic, physiotherapy, acupuncture and foot care treatments through the use of cutting edge technology for back, neck and knee pain, sports injuries as well as all types of foot related problems without the need of drugs or surgery. AMERICAN EYE CENTER 5th Floor, Crescent Plaza, 105 Ton Dat Tien, Q7 Tel: 5413 6758 / 5413 6759 American Eye Center is located in the heart of Phu My Hung, providing eye care services to Adults and Children by an American Board-certified ophthalmologist with 17 years of experience. The American-standard facility is equipped with state of the art equipments for the early detection and treatment of important eye diseases from Lasik and cataract surgeries to presbyopia, glaucoma and diabetic eye disease treatments. Cosmetic procedures such as eyelid surgery and Botox injections are also available. CENTRE MEDICAL INTERNATIONALE (CMI) FRENCH MEDICAL CLINIC

1 Han Thuyen, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2366 This French medical clinic provides general practice and a range of specialties including cardiology, gynecology, psychotherapy, ophthalmology, paediatrics and acupuncture. FAMILY MEDICAL PRACTICE INTERNATIONAL CLINIC

34 Le Duan Street, Q1; 95 Thao Dien Q2, Tel: (08) 3822 7848 Family Medical Practice (FMP) is the largest and one | Aprll 2017 Word | 159

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of the oldest foreign, privately-owned, international health care providers in Vietnam. As the only health care provider that can offer a countrywide network of integrated clinics for foreign and local populations, FMP’s main specialties include family medicine, pediatrics and emergency medicine as well as health checks and work permit health-tests.

nese medicine clinic in Phu My Hung specialising in acupuncture. Established in Ho Chi Minh City for over a decade. INTERNATIONAL SOS HCMC MEDICAL CLINIC INTERNATIONAL CLINIC / MEDIVAC

167A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (08) 3829 8424 The world’s leading provider of medical assistance and international healthcare offers primary health care, diagnostic services and 24/7 emergency care. Specialist care is available in many fields.

FV HOSPITAL INTERNATIONAL HOSPITAL 6 Nguyen Luong Bang, Saigon South Parkway, Q7, Tel: (08) 5411 3333

Emergency: (08) 5411 3500 FV Hospital is one of Vietnam’s leading, healthcare facilities, receiving international recognition from the global leader of accreditation, the JCI (Joint Commission International). With over 950 service staff, including 130 doctors, FV Hospital provides care in over 30 medical specialties in a complete, one-stop modern hospital.


3rd Floor, Bitexco Financial Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6290 6167 FV Saigon Clinic offers international standard primary care for patients of all ages right in the heart of District 1 in the iconic Bitexco Financial Tower. The clinic provides consultations in a variety of specialities; as well as vaccinations, blood tests, and diagnostic imaging. HANH PHUC INTERNATIONAL HOSPITAL


432 Pham Thai Buong, Q7, Tel: 0906 684969 Well-known traditional Chi-

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INSURANCE PACIFIC CROSS VIETNAM 4th/12th Floor Continental Tower, 81-83-85 Ham Nghi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 9908 Pacific Cross Vietnam recently changed names, from Blue Cross Vietnam, to align with their regional sister companies. Together they form the Pacific Cross group of companies with over 60 years’ experience providing health and travel insurance to people who call Asia home. Their reputation for transparent, honest and reliable service means they are the strength behind your insurance. Contact them now for a free quote.

SIAN SKINCARE CLINIC SKIN CARE / COSMETICS 27 Nguyen Trung Truc, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 6999 The Australian and Canadian managed SIAN Clinic offers a wide range of skincare medical therapies to treat problems by an experienced dermatologist and facial care team. The clinic utilises the latest therapies.


99 Suong Nguyet Anh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3925 1990 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 excellent equipment for a variety of procedures. TRADITIONAL MEDICINE HOSPITAL EASTERN MEDICINE

187 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (08) 3932 6579


Binh Duong Boulevard, Thuan An District, Binh Duong Tel: (0650) 363 6068 Claiming to be the first Singapore-standard hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, this institution based on the outskirts of town is gaining a growing reputation for service and treatment. Specialises in providing healthcare to women and children. Has a clinic at 97 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1



79 Dien Bien Phu, Q1, Tel: (08) 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.

IF CONSULTING IBC Building, 3rd Floor, 1A Me Linh Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 7362 Independent advisors that represent top reputable medical insurers provide you with the best suitable medical cover for individual, family or company needs. For emergencies call 0903 732365 LIBERTY INSURANCE 15th Floor, Kumho Asiana Plaza, 39 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: 1800 599 998 International insurance firm providing the full range of services to the individual — car insurance, travel insurance, health insurance, home insurance and much more. NOAH JAMES INSURANCE AGENCY Mobile: (1) 617 676 7858 Skype: A full service broker offering expatriates and local Vietnamese customized solutions from highly rated insurers for life, health, travel, as well as speciality cover for student travel, medevac, international marine, extreme athletics and adventure. For details contact: TENZING PACIFIC SERVICES 181 Dien Bien Phu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 5367 A full-service insurance broker offering a wide range of insurance solutions from the best local and international providers. Recommendations are based exclusively on client needs.

KIDS CLASSES & SPORTS DANCENTER 53 Nguyen Dang Giai, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4490 Children and teenagers can enjoy jazz, ballet, hip-hop, funk, belly dancing, salsa and in multi-level classes at this modern dance studio. HELENE KLING OIL PAINTING 189/C1 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 0903 955780 INSPIRATO MUSIC CENTER 37 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 0932 737700 MINH NGUYEN PIANO BOUTIQUE 94A Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 7691 PERFORMING ARTS ACADEMY OF SAIGON 19A Ngo Quang Huy, Q2, Tel: (08) 6281 9679 Has a range of music-based programmes teaching kids in anything from guitar and drums to piano, clarinet and saxophone. Also provides musical assessment and a mixture of private and group classes. PIANO CLASSES Tel: 01225 636682 SAIGON MOVEMENT Tel: 0987 027 722 SAIGON SEAL TEAM 55 Nguyen Dang Giai, An Phu, Q2, Tel: 0905 098 279 SAIGON PONY CLUB 38, Lane 42, Le Van Thinh, Q2, Tel: 0913 733360 SAIGON SPORTS ACADEMY 28 Tran Nao, Q2, Tel: (08) 7303 1100 International coaches provide training in soccer, basketball, tennis and swimming for children aged four to 16 years and private lessons for children and adults. Youth soccer league Sundays from 2pm to 6pm in District 7. TAE KWON DO BP Compound, 720K Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: 0903 918 149 VINSPACE 6 Le Van Mien, Q2, Tel: 0907 729 846

M M M INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS ABC INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (ABCIS) Saigon South Campus 1 (Primary & Secondary), Tel: (08) 5431 1833/34/35/36; Saigon South Campus 2 (Foundation Stage & Early Primary), Tel: (08) 5431 1833/34/35/36 Rated as ‘outstanding’ by British Government Inspectors, academic results puts ABCIS among the top 8% of schools worldwide. ABCIS is accredited by CIE, AQA, the Education Development Trust and members of COBIS and FOBISIA. Provides education for two to 18 year olds in a supportive and friendly environment. BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (BIS) 246 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2335 Inspected and approved by the British Government, BIS provides a British style curriculum for an international student body from pre-school to Year 13. The school is staffed by British qualified and trained teachers with recent UK experience. Fully accredited by the Council of International Schools and a member of FOBISIA, BIS is the largest international school in Vietnam.

serves local and foreign students from Kindergarten to grade 12. Talented, certified teachers implement the internationally recognised Ontario curriculum to create a student-centred learning environment promoting academic excellence. Has a newly built campus.

INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL HO CHI MINH CITY — AMERICAN ACADEMY 16 Vo Truong Toan, Q2, Tel: (08) 3898 9100 ISHCMC — American Academy is a U.S. curriculum secondary school for students aged 11 to 18 years old. Early university credits, a 1:1 University Counseling Program, and an extensive EAL program set our graduates on the road to 100% acceptance rate at overseas universities and a US$1 million scholarship fund.

KIDS CLUB SAIGON 79/7 Pham Thai Buong, Q7; 27/3 Ha Huy Tap, Q7, Tel: (08) 5412 5944 Early childhood centres in Phu My Hung offering creative play-based programmes for children ages two to five. Known for unique facilities, experienced staff, highquality learning resources, and small class sizes.

INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL HO CHI MINH CITY 28 Vo Truong Toan, Q2, Tel: (08) 3898 9100 HCMC’s most established international school offers three International Baccalaureate programmes for students from two to 18 years old. ISHCMC will be launching a new secondary campus in the first semester of 2017/18, featuring Vietnam’s first Innovation Centre, a 350-seat professional theatre, NBA-sized basketball courts and a 25m competitive swimming pool.

CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL 7 Road 23, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (08) 5412 3456 The first Canadian international school in Vietnam

INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL SAIGON PEARL 92 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 2222 7788/99 Vietnam’s only international school offering a U.S. curriculum for children aged 18 months to 11 years old. With 100% English language immersion, a library containing over 13,500 English books and more than 60% of students achieving above grade level English, ISSP students are well prepared for secondary school at ISHCMC or ISHCMC - American Academy.

EUROPEAN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL HO CHI MINH CITY (EIS) 730 F-G-K Le Van Mien, Q2, Vietnam, Tel: (08) 7300 7257 The European International School offers a supportive and challenging academic education from Early Years to Grade 12 based on the IB curriculum. EIS is a Nobel Talent School and is part of the Nobel Education Network. The school educates global citizens to enjoy learning, inquiring and caring for others. MONTESSORI INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL 42/1 Ngo Quang Huy, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2639 Aiming to encourage children’s engagement with their surroundings, MIS offers children from age three to 12 a classic Montessori education as well as a variety of extra–curricular activities. RENAISSANCE INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL SAIGON 74 Nguyen Thi Thap, Q7, Tel: (08)3773 33171 ext 120/121/122 Renaissance is an International British school providing an inclusive curriculum based upon the British curriculum complemented by the International Primary Curriculum and International Baccalaureate. It is a family school with first-class facilities including a 350-seat theatre, swimming pool, mini-pool, play-areas, gymnasium, IT labs, music and drama rooms, science labs and an all-weather pitch. SAIGON KIDS EDUCATIONAL CHILDCARE CENTRE 15 Street 12, Q2, Tel: (08) 3740 8081 SKECC has evolved over 10 years to create a creative, playful learning environment for children ages two to six. Limited class sizes and highly engaged teachers ensure personal attention for all students. SAIGON SOUTH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (SSIS) 78 Nguyen Duc Canh, Q7, Tel: (08) 5413 0901 Offers an American-style education (SAT, IB and AP) from elementary to high-school, emphasizing a multi–cultural student environment and a commitment to well–rounded education at all levels.

SAIGON STAR INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL Residential Area No. 5, Thanh My Loi, Q2, Tel: (08) 3742 7827 Established in 2006, Saigon Star is a British School and one of only four schools in Vietnam to adopt the International Primary Curriculum (IPC). A combination of experienced, UK qualified teachers and a maximum of 16 students per class means learners receive the individual attention they deserve. A secondary school is opening in August 2017. SMARTKIDS 1172 Thao Dien Compound, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6076; 26, Street Nr. 10, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3898 9816; 15 Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4236 This international childcare centre provides children ages 18 months to six years with a high quality education in a playful and friendly environment. THE AMERICAN SCHOOL 172-180 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 0903 952223 Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), TAS represents 20 nationalities and provides an American-based curriculum with rigorous performance standards and a variety of academic offerings. Runs advanced placement courses and university credit courses through their partnership with Missouri State University, as well as an Intensive ESL Program for English Language Learners.

M M M PROPERTY RENTALS CHUM’S HOUSE 121/21 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3920 7237 EASY SAIGON Tel: 0932 112694 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. HAPPY HOUSE 32-34 Ngo Duc Ke, Suite 701, Q1, Tel: 01659 419916 NAM HOUSE 48A Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: 0989 007700 Expert in providing rental properties, constructions

and interior decoration, especially in District 2. Supports professional services and aftersales. RESIDENT VIETNAM Unit 601 48 Hoa Su, Phu Nhuan, Tel: (08) 2226 8855 SNAP 32 Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4282 Owners of Snap Café in District 2, Snap offers a web– based real estate search service with information on rental properties all around the city, as well as an advisory service for those averse to wading into the internet depths for their needs. THE NEST 216/4 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 0938 580800 Well–known property search and real estate agency with a useful website listing properties available for rent and sale, orientated towards expats. Website is in English, French and Spanish.


185/30 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: 0903 643446 Probably the best-known motorbike rental joint in town with over 200 bikes and a range of models and makes. Rents by the day or by the month. Call or check the website for details. Also does visa extensions. SAIGON BIKE RENTALS Tel: 0972 451273 Rents out a range of models including Honda Waves, Yamaha Nouvos, Classicos, Luvias, SYM Attilas and Excels. Call for details and prices. SAIGON SCOOTER CENTRE RENTALS / CLASSIC SCOOTERS

77a Hanoi Highway, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: 0903 013690 Just relocated to its new home in District 2, Saigon Scooter Centre is more than just the place to go for all your classic scooter needs. Also does accessories, quality imported helmets and bike rentals. | Aprll 2017 Word | 161

HCMC Essentials

RECRUITMENT & HR ADECCO VIETNAM 11th floor, Empire Tower, 26 - 28 Ham Nghi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3915 3430 Adecco is the world leader in human resources solutions. Established in Vietnam in 2011, Adecco offers a wide array of global workforce solutions and specialises in finance & legal, sales, marketing & events, IT, engineering & technical, and office. HR2B/TALENT RECRUITMENT JSC 1st Floor, Thien Son Building, 5 Nguyen Gia Thieu, Q3, Tel: (08) 6288 3888 G.A. CONSULTANTS VIETNAM CO., LTD. Ho Chi Minh Office: Room 2B-2C, 2nd Floor, 180 Pasteur, District 1, HCMC. VIETNAMWORKS.COM 130 Suong Nguyet Anh, Q1, Tel: (08) 5404 1373 The best-known recruitment website in Vietnam. Post you’re the position you’re looking for and wait for the responses. You’ll get many. Also a good site for expat jobseekers.


ing, 21 Nguyen Trung Ngan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 1220 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.

AGS FOUR WINDS (VIETNAM) 5th Floor, Lafayette De Saigon, 8A Phung Khac Khoan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3521 0071 A global leader in international removals and relocations, with 130 offices globally, we can move your property to and from any location.

ASIAN TIGERS MOBILITY Unit 9.3, Floor 9, Ree Tower, 9 Doan Van Bo, Ward 12, District 4, HCMC, Tel: (08) 3 826 7799 Asian Tigers is one of the largest regional move management specialists, with services including door-to-door moving, housing and school searches, local and office moves and pet relocations. JVK INTERNATIONAL MOVERS 1st Floor, Saigon Port Building, 3 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, Tel: (08) 3826 7655 Focused primarily on the in-

ternational and local movement of household goods, JVK is a leader in the field. LOGICAL MOVES — VIETNAM 396/4 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, Tel: (08) 3941 5322 Specialists in international, local, domestic and office moves for household goods and personal effects through our global partner network. Experts in exporting used scooters that do not have documentation. SANTA FE RELOCATION SERVICES 8FL, Thien Son Building, 5 Nguyen Gia Thieu, Q3, Tel: (08) 3933 0065 With over 150 offices around the world, Santa Fe offers local and international moving, pet transportation, relocation services including home search, orientation, cultural training, immigration services and records management. Email Vietnam@santaferelo. com for info.

M M M SERVICED APARTMENTS DIAMOND ISLAND LUXURY RESIDENCES No 01 – Street No.104-BTT, Quarter 3, Binh Trung Tay, Q2, Tel: (08) 3742 5678 Diamond Island Luxury Residences offers 68 fully-

furnished apartments, from two to four-bedroom units with spectacular panoramic views of the city. Each apartment comes with a fullyequipped kitchen, en-suite bathrooms, separate work and living areas, a balcony, modern amenities, elegant furnishings and carefully chosen trimmings. INTERCONTINENTAL ASIANA SAIGON RESIDENCES Crn. of Nguyen Du & Le Van Huu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3520 8888 Adjacent to the InterContinental Asiana Saigon you’ll find 260 luxurious and spacious residential suites. The residences offer panoramic views of the downtown area. NORFOLK MANSION 17–19-21 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 6111 Offers a wide choice of luxurious and modern furnished accommodation with attentive and discreet service. Facilities include an outdoor swimming pool, a gym, sauna and steam room, as well as two on-site restaurants. RIVERSIDE APARTMENTS 53 Vo Truong Toan, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 4111 Over four Saigon Riverbank hectares, Riverside Apartments combines a resort lifestyle with the amenities of a fully serviced-apartment. Located minutes from down-

TATTOO ARTISTS With tattoos becoming increasingly popular, over the past few years there has been an increase in the number of tattoo studios around the city. Customers have the choice of picking their own tattoo out of the many look books on offer in the studios or bringing in their own design. Most of the studios offer bodypiercing services as well. Pricing depends on size and style.


57 Xuan Thuy, Q2, Tel: (08) 6675 6956 SAIGON BODY ART

135 Cong Quynh, Q1 Tel: 0908 443311 SAIGON INK

26 Tran Hung Dao, Q1 Tel: (08) 3836 1090



206B Le Van Sy, Phu Nhuan, Tel: 01204 738939 (Fiona) spirittatts


Respected tattoo and body-piercing studio specialising in traditional Japanese, black and grey, portraiture, realism, western traditional, neo-traditional, dot work and geometric.


128 Nguyen Cu Trinh, Q1 Tel: 0938 303838

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town by high-speed boat shuttle.

CINEMAS Showcasing the latest Hollywood blockbusters and 3D cinematic sensations, chains such as CGV, 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 and Idecaf carry little known Vietnamese and European efforts.


240 Ba Thang Hai, Q10 Tel: (08) 3862 2425


13th Floor, Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (08) 38227897 3rd Floor, Lotte Mart, 469 Nguyen Huu Tho, Q7 Tel: (08) 3775 2521


230 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3920 6688 116 Nguyen Du, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 5235 246 Nguyen Hong Dao, Tan Binh Tel: (08) 3849 4567

SHERWOOD RESIDENCE 127 Pasteur, Q3, Tel: (08) 3823 2288 Sherwood Residence is a luxurious serviced apartment property where modern living spaces meet prime location, comfort and class, with five–star facilities and service. SOMERSET SERVICED RESIDENCES 8A Nguyen Binh Khiem, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 8899; 21-23 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9197; 628C Hanoi Highway, An Phu, Q2, Tel: (08) 6255 9922 Somerset Chancellor Court, Somerset Ho Chi Minh City and Somerset Vista 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.

SPORTS & FITNESS CHIARA SQUINZI Tel: 01278 163620 Experienced health coach and corporate & school wellness coach. Can help clients achieve health and weight goals through an innovative holistic approach of food, body and mind. Email for info.


Level 5, Crescent Mall, Nguyen Van Linh, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (08) 5412 2222; Level 10, CT Plaza, 60A Truong Son, Tan Binh, Tel: (08) 6297 1981; Level 2, Thao Dien Mall, 12 Quoc Huong, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 3000; Level 5, SC VivoCity, 1058 Nguyen Van Linh, Q7, Tel: (08) 3775 0555; Level 7, Hung Vuong Plaza, 126 Hung Vuong, Q5, Tel: (08) 2222 0388

34 Nguyen Dang Giai, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6672 A well-appointed gym also offering fitness classes and personal training with excellent facilities. Group classes include power yoga, pilates, circuit training, martial arts and spinning. Also has a restaurant serving calorie– calibrated meals. SAIGON HASH HOUSE HARRIERS Sunday 2pm sharp, Caravelle hotel. Bus out to the county with a walk, usually 4km and a run around 8km. VND150,000 for locals and VND220,000 for expats. Bus, water, snacks and freeflow beer after the run. SHERATON FITNESS

place to climb. Has a number of climbing sections, runs training courses and also sells daily climbing passes for VND150,000 (for a 10-visit pass pay VND1 million).

VETERINARY CLINICS ANIMAL DOCTORS INTERNATIONAL 1 Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Q2. (08) 6260 3980 Offers the very highest levels of compassionate, competent and professional veterinary medicine and surgery to all pets in Ho Chi Minh City with international veterinary surgeons. Upholding international standards, the team works tirelessly to help clients with the support of a dedicated surgical suite, digital X-Ray and comprehensive diagnostic facilities.



Level 5, Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers, 88 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2828 SOFITEL PLAZA FITNESS CENTRE 17 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1555 A small but well-appointed gym with regular fitness classes, a steam room and sauna. Has a small but consistent membership. STAR FITNESS GYM HEALTH CLUB & GYM

Manor Apartments, 91 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 3514 0253 Steve Chipman, who had a hand in establishing gyms at the Sofitel hotels in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, is behind Star Fitness — one of Vietnam’s largest and bestequipped gyms.

VIETNAMESE CLASSES VIETNAMESE LANGUAGE GARDEN 135/10 Nguyen Cuu Van, Binh Thanh, Tel: 0916 670 771 vietnameselanguagegarden. com VLS SAIGON 45 Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 0168 Offers courses ranging from basic conversational Vietnamese to upper elementary, intermediate and advanced levels, as well as special courses including Vietnamese literature, composition or a 6-hour survival crash course.



31 Thai Van Lung, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 5451







BODY AND MIND BOXING / FITNESS 49A Xa Lo Ha Noi, Q2, Tel: 0947 771326 This sports centre in An Phu, started by fitness guru Cyril, features the same personalised mentorship Cyril's clients love. Includes yoga, boxing and fitness for kids and adults every day. No membership fees. Pay for classes. Tuesday to Friday every week at 5pm. All activities are safe and run by Cyril himself.

The Landmark, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 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. VERTICAL ACADEMY CLIMBING GYM

Truc Duong, Q2, Tel: 0966 920612 A bouldering gym and pro climbing wall replete with a showroom and café offers something that this area has never experienced before, a

SCORE-TECH 1870/3G An Phu Dong 3, Q12, Tel: (08) 3719 9588 Apparel company offering personalised sport garments for companies, schools and professional sports clubs using the latest printing technology with a design team from Barcelona. Score-Tech controls the whole production process from fabric production and printing to sewing. Big and small orders for all sporting and commercial needs. | Aprll 2017 Word | 163



omething feels different upon stepping inside Layla for the first time that sets it apart from other cocktail bars in the same category around Saigon. It could be the floor-toceiling windows that bookend the space and allow the last of the fading afternoon light to filter in before the sun dips behind the buildings along Dong Khoi Street below. Or it could be the high ceilings and industrial-like interior that give it its rustic and robust warehouse look, much like that seen in London, New York or even Melbourne. As in most Australian cities,

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Melbourne has managed to retain some of its historic wool stores where they’ve been converted into high-end apartments and hospitality establishments. Perhaps the vision for the owners of Layla was similar — to design a bar that retains a sense of history and place, and which pays respect to the colonial-era building it’s housed in.

Visionary Led by career F&B professional from Australia, Jay Moir, who has worked the full gamut of hospitality jobs from bar-back in a casino to duty manager in a five-star hotel,

the staff at Layla epitomise its reason for existence — for the love of cocktails. The service at Layla is what any bar should aspire to; service that reflects pleasure at meeting new customers and greeting old ones when they return. The staff are warm, welcoming and considerate, which creates a hospitable atmosphere. Along the 11-metre-long bar sit jars of fresh botanicals — herbs, spices and berries — used to enhance Layla’s cocktails and produce bouquets that stir the senses before the rim of the glass even touches the lips. Everything is done properly, right down to the shape and size of ice depending on the drink.

Layla Eatery & Bar


Got Me on My Knees The cocktails — of which there are scores of possibilities — are exquisite. Where I come from, you don’t see grown men gushing over Rasberry Cardinals, Kiwi Basil Delights and Salted Caramel Espressos. But here I was, doing just that. At VND160,000 per cocktail or VND95,000 at happy hour between 5pm to 8pm Monday to Saturday, mixologists can serve up something from Layla’s menu, or a customised cocktail with your favourite ingredients. There’s the macho-sounding Viking

Funeral cocktail with its Grey Goose vodka, peach liqueur, freshly pressed passionfruit juice, a dash of sugar syrup and a passionfruit “boat” doused in absinthe and then set alight. Along similar lines is the Licky Tiki Mai Tai, a chest-beating cocktail served in a chilled tiki vessel with a floating, burning sugar cube, before it’s extinguished beneath a concoction of Bacardi Superior rum, Bacardi ORO rum, orange curacao, infused orgeat — a sweet syrup made from almonds, sugar and rose or orange flower water — freshly pressed lime, black walnut bitters and crushed ice.

And then the more demure, but no less sexy Lady Jane, a number made from homeinfused Earl Grey gin, infused lavender syrup, freshly pressed lemon juice, finished with creamy egg white and dried red rose petals. If ever there was a cocktail to conjure images of French Indochina, perhaps this is it. Layla proves that it’s possible to deliver on a promise of high quality drinks and service without having to pass the cost on down to the customer. This is a cocktail bar that everyone can afford. — Matt Cowan Layla Eatery & Bar is on the 2nd floor at 63 Dong Du, Q1, HCMC | Aprll 2017 Word | 165

HCMC On The Town


Park Hyatt, 2 Lam Son, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1234 International décor blends seamlessly with local themes. Style joins forces with a wide-ranging drink menu and hip dance tunes to create one of the most tasteful if pricier bars in Saigon. ACOUSTIC BAR LIVE MUSIC

6E Ngo Thoi Nhiem, Q3, Tel: (08) 3930 2239 Though only 1km from the city centre, Acoustic is well off most foreigners’ radars. Come see the Vietnamese house band play nightly, as well as performances from overseas bands and guest artists. APOCALYPSE NOW DANCE / NIGHTCLUB

2B-C-D Thi Sach, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 6124 An institution and the kind of place you end up drunk after midnight. Famed for its notso-salubrious clientele, this two-floor establishment with DJs and occasional live music is also famed for its hotdogs, which are served up in the garden terrace out back. BIA CRAFT CRAFT BEER BAR

90 Xuan Thuy, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2588; 1 Le Ngo Cat, Q3 As craft beer continues to take over watering holes around Ho Chi Minh City, so bars dedicated to all things ‘craft’ and ‘real ale’ are pretty sensible, right? With wooden tables perfect for sharing, and beer both on tap and by the bottle, Bia Craft sells up a delectable range of the good stuff. Looking for Tiger? Go take a hike. Also has a decent food menu. BLANCHY’S TASH RESTOBAR / NIGHTCLUB

95 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: 0909 028293 A multi-storey bar with décor and atmosphere more akin to such an establishment in New York or London. Has a reputation for bringing in big-name DJs. And when we say big, we mean big. Check their website for details. BELGO GASTROPUB / CRAFT BEER

159 Nguyen Van Thu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 0485 Located within a lion’s roar of Saigon Zoo and a block or two from Dien Bien Phu,

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Belgo is a craft beer pub specialising in Belgian beer and food. Belgo also caters for parties, is good for groups, and has outdoor seating. BREAD & BUTTER INTERNATIONAL / COMFORT FOOD

40/24 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3836 8452 With a free book exchange, and tasty Sunday night roasts, the tiny Bread & Butter is a perfect place for homesick expats and beer enthusiasts (excellent HueBrewed Huda beer served here exclusively in Ho Chi Minh City). BROMA, NOT A BAR COCKTAILS / ROOFTOP

41 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 6838 Broma’s medieval rooftopcocktail lounge conglomeration is a magnet for the city’s weirdest and coolest events/ random moments. A sophisticated cocktail menu and quite possibly the best lamb burger in town. Check out their bun bo Hue-inspired cocktail. BUDDHA BAR RESTOBAR

7 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3345 6345 Just across the lane from Mc’Sorley’s, this pub with an eccentric European tilt and some nice, authentic cuisine draws an older crowd with darts, pool and weekly poker tourneys. CHAMPION SPORTS BAR SPORTS BAR

45-47 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3920 4202 A recent addition to the sports-and-watering-hole drinking scene, Champion is located in the Backpackers’ area and shows all the major televised sports. Also has a pool table, darts, tasty Western and Vietnamese food, great cocktails and ice cold beer. Western managed, wonderful local staff. #BeAChampion. CHILL SKYBAR TOP-END BAR & TERRACE

Rooftop, AB Tower, 76A Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2372 For the spectacular views alone, Chill Skybar remains the place to go to mix topend, outdoor terrace drinking around an oval-shaped bar with cityscapes of Saigon. One of the top watering holes in the city. D2 SPORTS BAR

55, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 5453 What does the Thao Dien area of Saigon seriously lack? A sports bar. And this is the Al Fresco Group’s answer to a

distinct shortage hole in the market. Sleek lines, modern décor, elegant and spacious, dartboards and of course, lots of large screens to watch the televised sports. Check out their daily food specials. DUBLIN GATE IRISH PUB & RESTAURANT

19 Thai Van Lung, Q1, Tel: (08) 6656 1103 Typical of Irish pubs the world over, The Dublin Gate has a fun, welcoming atmosphere and offers a break from the craft beer scene taking a hold over the city. The Dublin Gate is just a short walk from the Opera House, is open from 7.30am and has a pool table for a break between football matches, live bands and all that Irish charm. EAST WEST BREWING CO. VENUE & BREWERY

181-185 Ly Tu Trong, Q1 If you love craft beer and want to catch a glimpse of the brewing process in a contemporary yet vast and thoughtfully constructed environment, head to East West. A tasty range of on-site brewed craft beer mixes with an excellent food menu and an impressive vibe. ENVY NIGHTCLUB

76 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q1, Tel: (08) 3913 8168 Located a short stroll from Ben Thanh Market, Envy has taken nightlife in Saigon to a whole new level with its theatrical performances and beautiful people swinging by the ankles tethered from the ceiling. Attracts international DJs and the rich and famous, but expect to pay for the experience. EON HELI BAR LOUNGE BAR

Level 52, Bitexco Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 8750 Breathtaking views require a vantage point and EON Heli Bar is by far the highest spot in Saigon for a spectacular cityscape, appealing drinks and a vibrant ambience. Night live music and DJs. GAME ON SPORTS BAR

115 Ho Tung Mau, Q1 Tel: (08) 6251 9898 A fresh feel thanks to the large space and light-wood tables makes this Australian-influenced watering hole a popular bar for televised sports, pub food, darts, pool and more.


31D Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: 0903 017596 The home of its eponymously named craft beer, Heart of Darkness features up to 20 different beers on tap at any given time with each one having a name that pays homage to Joseph Conrad’s novel. There’s also a sports bar and a space for live shows with pizzas cooked onsite by 4Ps. Enter the darkness. HOA VIEN


Tel: 0906 912730

www. restaurants-ben-style


28 Mac Dinh Chi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 8605 The original microbrewery, this large, wooden-panelled, brass-kegged Czech Brewhouse is as popular as it was 15 years ago when it was first opened. Does a great food menu to accompany the home-brewed beer. ICE BLUE EXPAT BAR

24 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 One of this city’s longest running watering holes — and the original home of the darts league — has recently reopened in its new premises. Naturally, darts are still key here, with each of the bottom three floors having elements devoted to this most pub-friendly of sports.


Tel: (08) 3898 3747 DOMINO’S PIZZA Tel: (08) 3939 3030 EAT.VN


Tel: (08) 3848 9999

www.kfcvietnam. INDIKA


43 Nguyen Van Giai, Q1, Tel: 0122 3994260 From movie screenings, DJs, acoustic sessions, and open mics, Indika just about has it covered for all types throughout the week. Located just away from the inner city mangle, Indika is still close enough to kick your night off or end it in a chilled atmosphere. LA FENETRE SOLEIL


Tel: (08) 3910 0000

PIZZA HUT (PHD) Tel: (08) 3838 8388 SCOOZI

Tel: (08) 3823 5795


44 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 5994 A seductive watering whole in a great corner location thanks to its old Saigon glamour, Japanese-Vietnamese fusion cuisine, imported beer, classic cocktails, and entertaining music events / DJ sets. LAYLA BAR & EATERY 63 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2279 Housed on the 2nd floor of a former apartment overlooking Dong Khoi, Layla is a nice option for a bottle of wine, a few cocktails and carefully


crafted sharing dishes. Here you can lounge after work on a comfy couch or pull a surprise party for a loved one. Behind the 11-metrelong bar mixologists create their magic. LAST CALL AFTERHOURS LOUNGE

59 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 3122 If you’re in need of dense, soulful atmosphere and maybe an artisanal cocktail on your way back from wherever, Last Call is your stop — and fast becoming that of the similarly inclined. Great happy hour deals for early evening starters. LE PUB INTERNATIONAL / RESTOBAR

175/22 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 7679 Warm colors, artsy décor and a friendly ambiance combine to create a perfect setting for enjoying tasty international and Vietnamese cuisine. Gets busy at weekends with a clientele made up of hip, young Vietnamese and the occasional foreigner. LONG PHI FRENCH / RESTOBAR

207 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 2704 French-run but universally appealing, Long Phi has been serving the backpacker area with excellent cuisine and occasional live music since 1990. Excellent late-night bistro cuisine. MALT GAMES & CRAFT BEER BAR

46-48 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1 Malt is a non-smoking bar in downtown Saigon offering shuffleboard, darts, craft beers on tap, signature cocktails and delicious tapas and pub grub. Its unpretentious vibe and casual atmosphere will have you feeling at home.

fel Tower, a jungle-like atmosphere and views over central Saigon. O’BRIEN’S IRISH BAR / INTERNATIONAL

74/A3 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 3198 This Irish-themed sports bar with classic pub décor is widely appreciated for its excellent international fare, large whiskey selection and upstairs pool table. Great pizzas. And for a real treat, check out their zesty rolls. PHATTY’S AUSTRALIAN / SPORTS

46-48 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 0796 From its roots as the famed Café Latin, Phatty’s has become the goto, Aussie beer-guzzling / sports viewing emporium, showing everything from international cricket to Aussie rules and serving an array of pub grub favourites. PITCHERS SPORTS AND GRILL SPORTS BAR & GRILL RESTAURANT

C0.01 Riverside Residence C, Nguyen Luong Bang, Q7, Tel: (08) 6274 1520 Located in the heart of Phu My Hung, this spacious restobar with an affection for showing televised sports has a family friendly edge thanks to its kids play area. Does a great grill menu and of course, lots of very cold beer for those developing a thirst in the Saigon heat. QUI LOUNGE INTERNATIONAL BAR & LOUNGE

22 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3828 8828 A recently opened, stylish top-end bar with a house DJ that is the plaything of Saigon’s jetset and anyone who is prepared to pay for atmosphere and one of the most hedonistic venues in town. Has an excellent food menu and a tasty brunch.





19-21 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 3686 An international comfort-food menu mixes with excellent cocktails and an extensive winelist at this attractive, international bar and restaurant. Dine at the bar or upstairs in the restaurant space. NUMBER FIVE EXPAT BAR

44 Pasteur, Q1 The original expat bar, this institution of a place gets packed every night thanks to its drinking hall atmosphere, attractive bar staff and German food menu. Has regular live music. OMG!

13 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: 0902 365780 Hidden on the upper floors of a crumbly old building in the heart of the city, Rogue Saigon is a hideout for craft beer lovers. Tricky to find, once you’re at the address, look up and you’ll see it. There’s a rooftop bar with excellent views of the neighbourhood and plenty of local craft brews on tap. Finger food tops off a chilled atmosphere with live music out in the open air. RUBY SOHO CARTOON BAR

S52-1 Sky Garden 2, Q7, Tel: (08) 5410 3900 A Phu My Hung mainstay thanks to its cartoon décor and light but fun ambience. Has a reasonable food menu to complement the drinks.


Top Floor, 15-17-19 Nguyen An Ninh, Q1 A contemporary and attractive rooftop restaurant with a lounge bar just 50m from Ben Thanh Market. Features a glass shell modeled in the image of the Eif-


New World Saigon Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1 The ultimate in poolside entertain-

ment, Saigon Soul is defined by its great party atmosphere. Booming house music, cold drinks and beautiful people. What better way to spend a Saturday? Runs every Saturday from late November until mid May. SAIGON OUTCAST EVENTS / MAKESHIFT CAFÉ BAR

188/1 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 0122 4283198 Up-cycling and innovative design form the foundation for this bar / arts venue / mini-skate park and graffiti space. Come for barbeque and reasonably priced drinks, stick around for entertaining events and markets. SAIGON RANGER ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

5/7 Nguyen Sieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 7300 0559 Aspiring to be a focal point for artistic activities, the space at Saigon Ranger has been established to create encounter and dialogue between different forms of art. Boasts concrete floors, dark wooden furniture, quirky wall designs and a stage for live music and other types of performance. SAIGON SAIGON BAR LIVE MUSIC / ROOFTOP BAR

9th Floor, Caravelle Saigon, 1923 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4999 This iconic bar is a great place to watch the sun go down over the city and relax for a few drinks with friends. Has live entertainment six nights a week courtesy of resident Cuban band, Q’vans, from 9pm Wednesday to Monday.

the home of Saigon’s Scandinavian community thanks to its laid-back atmosphere and excellent food menu. A good place to watch the live sports. THE OBSERVATORY BAR, ART & DJ SPACE

5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, (Opposite Elisa Boat) Known for its late night parties and focus on international artists, Observatory is now at a bigger space in District 4. Complete with a new balcony overlooking the Saigon River and an even larger sound system, The Observatory is a key node in the Asian underground music circuit. THE SOCIETY GRILL AND LOUNGE BAR

99 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 3999 Designed as a Laneway-style restobar, the kind of place found in Hong Kong, London, New York or Central Melbourne, thanks to its indoor and outdoor ambience, The Society brings dining and drinking to a new level. Phenomenal cocktails, steaks, grilled fare and seafood make this a place to go for drinks, a full-blown meal or a mixture of both. THE TAVERN EXPAT & SPORTS BAR

R2-24 Hung Gia 3, Bui Bang Doan, Q7, Tel: (08) 5410 3900 The first bar established in Saigon South, great food, great music and loads of laughs. Has regular live music nights, theme nights and a variety of live sports events to please everybody. Big screens and outdoor seating add to the mix, with BBQs available for parties and events.


61 Ton Thap Thiep, Q1 Shrine creates a drinking and dining experience in a temple-like atmosphere. Inspired by Bantay Srei, a temple from the ancient Angkor kingdom, the walls are covered in statues depicting ancient Khmer gods and kings. With ambient lighting and town tempo music, here it’s all about good cocktails and an even better atmosphere. SEVENTEEN SALOON THEMED MUSIC BAR

103A Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 0007 Wild West-themed bar doubles as a music venue, where three talented Filipino bands (B&U, Wild West and Most Wanted) play covers of rock icons like Bon Jovi, U2 and Guns n’ Roses. Top shelf spirits and friendly, hostess style table service are the name game here. STORM P DANISH / INTERNATIONAL

5B Nguyen Sieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 4738 Named after the Danish artist Storm P, this long-running bar is | Aprll 2017 Word | 167



ever judge a café by its entrance; Café Chelsea isn’t what you would expect to see entering an old compound of souvenir shops just behind Ben Thanh Market. The path leading to the café is an alley with stores selling sunglasses and nail salons left and right. With the aim to make customers feel at home and comfortable, owner Lee Yong Seok chose this secluded area in District 1 so locals, tourists or expats can have a place to relax, reflect, and recharge. Mr. Lee’s passion for good coffee means that the beans they use are 100% Arabica, which are mainly from Korea. Mr. Lee and his team plan the menu. They have a wide

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variety of drinks from coffee and smoothies to teas, which are all at affordable prices. They serve hot and iced coffees in two sizes, small and medium. The prices for hot coffee range from VND25,000 to VND60,000, and cold coffee from VND40,000 to VND70,000. Ice-blended drinks can be enjoyed from VND55,000 to VND75,000. Different flavours of sweet cakes are also served, to balance the strong taste of their coffee. Each slice of cake costs VND50,000, with flavours like raspberry, blueberry, chocolate chip, passion fruit and the café special, Chelsea cake. Their best-selling beverage is the floating tea at VND45,000. It is a mixture of tea

and smoothie, hence the name, and can be enjoyed in different fruity flavours. They also have their regular teas, which cost VND30,000.

Free Space Café Chelsea has two floors. The ground floor is where you’ll find the bar and the huge pseudo-chalkboard menu on the right. From outside, there is a staircase with colourful murals leading to the first floor where customers can take naps on the bean bags, lounge on the rocking chairs or have their meetings and small gatherings on the long wooden picnic tables. It can feel as if you’ve been transported to South Korea with the overall cool

Café Chelsea


and calm ambiance of the café. The heat outside is reduced by the neutral colours and minimalist design of the walls, and wooden accents from the furniture. Aside from plenty of natural light coming from the glass wall and door upfront, the café’s simple yet well-designed warm lights also help achieve a comfortable feel. The centrepiece, though, remains the coffee, and Mr. Lee’s pursuit of excellence. “I love Vietnam. I love coffee. Others think about sales first, but I want to give a comfortable space for people who like coffee first,” he says.

For the Love of Coffee Mr. Lee’s keenness in providing coffee

lovers a haven in the middle of a bustling city started when he was still bartending in Korea. He then tried his hand in advertising for a famous Korean café chain, before finally deciding to open up his own café. The name Chelsea, which the owner defines as free space, reflects his view of what a café should be. Having lived in Vietnam for over 10 years, Mr. Lee’s passion for the whole experience of drinking coffee grew stronger. “The idea of drinking coffee to start one’s day with the company of family, friends and other people makes me feel good,” he says. Staying true to the meaning of the café’s

name, customers have a say on what kind of music they want to listen to, or nothing at all. Café-goers aren’t the only ones enjoying this free space. The team behind the refreshing drinks is also given freedom as they are mostly working students. “When there are not many customers, I let them study, or read a book to learn more about coffee or anything.” Café Chelsea is a nice discovery, and escape from the busy Ben Thanh Market nearby, with drinks and light meals that won’t make huge dents on your wallet. — JB Jance Café Chelsea is located at 136/21 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, HCMC. It is open daily from 9am to 9pm | Aprll 2017 Word | 169

HCMC On The Town


Landmark Building, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9698 A sophisticated yet downto-earth cocktail bar and restaurant with subtle lighting and one of the best spirit selections in town. Serves creative, Japanese and German-influenced cuisine to supplement the drinks. VINYL BAR MUSIC & SPORTS BAR

70 Pasteur, Q1 Tel: 0907 890623 A small but popular bar with all the shenanigans of the nightlife scene set to a backdrop of classic 60s, 70s and 80s tunes. Has a darts area out back and is a popular space for watching the live English Premier League. WINE BAR 38 CONTEMPORARY WINE BAR

38 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 3968 With a huge selection of self-imported wines from Bordeaux, this classy but contemporary venue is a wine bar downstairs, and a lounge on the first floor. Has a French-Asian menu paired to all the wines, with a huge selection of the good stuff sold by the glass. XU CAFÉ / LOUNGE BAR

71-75 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 8468 This iconic upmarket downtown bar is known for its cocktails and wine list. It serves a range of international and Vietnamese dishes to be enjoyed in its richly decorated interior. Regular DJ nights.

CAFES & ICE-CREAM (A) CAFE 15 Huynh Khuong Ninh, Da Kao, Q1, Tel: 0903 199701 Settle into the Javanesestyle interior and enjoy possibly one of the best brews in Saigon. Using own grown and specially sourced Dalat beans, speciality coffee such as cold drip, siphon, and Chemex are must haves for the avid coffee drinker. AGNES CAFE DALAT COFFEE HOUSE

11A-B Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 6281 9772 A cozy and comfortable cafe in Thao Dien serving excellent fresh coffee from Dalat, smoothies, juices, homemade desserts. Offers up tasty breakfasts, lunch and dinner all the way through until 9pm.

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BANKSY CAFE 1st Floor, 14 Ton That Dam, Q1, Tel: 01699 990003 A small but swanky cafe, Banksy promises a young and vibrant hideout in an old 1960s-era apartment building. Remember to head up the steep stairs within to dig into their secret stash of clothes and accessories. CAFE THOAI VIEN 159A Nguyen Van Thu, Q1, Tel: 0918 115657 Veer off the street and find yourself plunging straight into lush greenery. Cafe Thoai Vien serves up a spacious and airy setting to enjoy a quiet sip. From small eats to big bites and everything to drink, it’s a great place to unwind from all that buzz. COFFEE BEAN & TEA LEAF INTERNATIONAL

157-159 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Q1; Metropolitan Building, 235 Dong Khoi, Q1 Large portioned coffee lures customers into the flagship store of this international café chain. The contemporary, yet generic atmosphere is bolstered by comfortable seating and a menu to satisfy any sweet tooth. DECIBEL INTERNATIONAL

79/2/5 Phan Ke Binh, Q1, Tel: (08) 6271 0115 Trendy without pretense, this two-floor, relaxed café offers beautiful decor and unique original events like live music, film screenings, and art exhibits. Great prices and food with daily specials. GUANABANA SMOOTHIES CONTEMPORARY JUICE BAR

23 Ly Tu Trong, Q1 Tel: 0909 824830 An American-style juice bar and café dedicated to healthy, nutricious smoothies that avoid the local obsession with sugar and condensed milk. A pleasant, contemporary environment adds to the theme. HIDEAWAY INTERNATIONAL

41/1 Pham Ngoc Thach, Q3, Tel: (08) 3822 4222 Hidden in a colonial building with an outdoor courtyard, the ample soft, sofa seating renders a great spot to relax. The mouth-watering western menu is well-priced and maintains a creative flair. I.D. CAFÉ CONTEMPORARY CAFE

34D Thu Khoa Huan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2910 Centrally located near Ben Thanh Market, i.d offers casual café dining with a wide variety of food and beverages. Where modern design and a warm ambience meet for coffee. KLASIK COFFEE ROASTERS CAFE AND ON-SITE ROASTING

40 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 6685 4160 Nitro cold brew coffee, single origin coffee and healthy food. Klasik Coffee Roasters is a small coffee shop with a passion for seeking high quality coffee beans from around the world to roast in Saigon. Holding the belief that each cup tells its own story, drinking coffee at Klasik is all about pleasure and experience: the aroma, the taste, the warmth and the senses inspired by each and every cup. Open daily from 7am to 10pm. L’USINE CONTEMPORARY / FRENCH

First Floor, 151 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 6674 9565; 70B Le Loi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3521 0703 French-style wooden decor compliments the spacious, whitewashed contemporary interior of L’Usine. A simple, creative menu combines with reasonably priced coffee, and a fashion store and art gallery out back. Second location on Le Loi. M2C CAFE 44B Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2495 At M2C (Modern Meets Culture), everything gets a touch of modernity. From the rich menu of Vietnamese food and drinks, shows immense local culture, done with a modern flare. Be seen here at one of the latest popular joint in town. MOCKINGBIRD CAFE 4th Floor, 14 Ton That Dam, Q1, Tel: 0935 293400 Sitting atop of a number of cafe establishments in an old apartment complex, Mockingbird is just the place for a romantic time over mojitos, or good ol’ caffeine-infused relaxation. PLANTRIP CHA TEA ROOM

8A/10B1 Thai Van Lung, Q1 Tel: 0945 830905 Tea, tea and more tea, all in a contemporary, quirky environment. At Plantrip Cha customers go on a sensory journey to experience the tastes and smells of teas from across Asia, Europe, America and the Middle East.


49 Thao Dien, Q2 Tel. (08) 3602 6385 Low-key yet nice-on-the-eye décor helps create the caféstyle atmosphere at this European-influenced café and restaurant. Sells excellent coffee and if you like bagels, here you’ll be in heaven. THE MORNING CAFE 2nd Floor, 36 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: 0938 383330 Have a book to read? Pick a bright spot by the window and get snuggly with the comfy upholstery in this second-floor cafe. With a cup of well-brewed coffee, accompanied by some background jazz, it is an afternoon well-spent. THE OTHER PERSON CAFE 2nd Floor, 14 Ton That Dam, Q1, Tel: 0909 670272 Fancy being served up by maids in costume? Call for a booking and enjoyed customized service to your liking while spending an afternoon in this candy-land inspired cafe. THE PRINT ROOM

and other international grillstyle fare in a refined yet contemporary atmosphere. Subtle lighting and an extensive wine list make up the mix. AL FRESCO’S INTERNATIONAL

27 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 38238424 The downtown outlet of one of Vietnam’s most successful restaurant chains, Al Fresco’s offers international, Australian-influenced comfort fare in a pleasant environment with efficient, friendly service to match. Also has an excellent garden-style branch at 89 Xuan Thuy, Q2. AU LAC DO BRAZIL BRAZILIAN CHURRASCO

238 Pasteur, Q3, Tel: (08) 3820 7157 AU PARC EUROPEAN / CAFÉ

23 Han Thuyen, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 2772 Consistently tasty European café fare — think deli-style sandwiches, salads and mezzes, plus coffees and juices — served at a popular park-side Le Duan location with classic cream and green-tiled décor.


158 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4990 Second-storey coffeehouse offers a quiet atmosphere to chill out or read from their book-nook collection. Comfortable couch seating, open table space and a cappuccino costs VND40,000. THINGS CAFE 1st Floor, 14 Ton That Dam, Q1, Tel: (08) 6678 6205 Feel the calm and serenity of this rustic little quiet corner tucked away in an Old Apartment. The quaint and relaxing atmosphere sets for some alone time, or quality conversations held over a drink or two.


Top Floor, 29 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 1631 The original, on-the-table barbecue restaurant still goes strong thanks to its rooftop atmosphere, excellent service and even better fish, seafood and meats. An institution. 27 GRILL GRILL-STYLE RESTAURANT

Rooftop, AB Tower, 76A Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2372 Besides the spectacular views, the cuisine at 27 Grill is a real draw, with steaks


17/10 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 1372; 33 Tong Huu Dinh, Q2, Tel : (08) 3744 4177 Long-running, award-winning Indian restaurant famed for its excellent kebabs, creamy curries and Chinese-Indian fare. BABA’S KITCHEN NORTH / SOUTH INDIAN

164 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3838 6661 This 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 fiery vindaloos. Has a delivery outlet in District 2. BLACK CAT AMERICAN

13 Phan Van Dat, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 2055 Creatively named burgers, tasty Vietnamese-styled sandwiches, spiced up cocktails, mains and more, all served up with a Californian edge at this small but popular two-storey eatery close to the river. BLANCHY STREET JAPANESE / SOUTH AMERICAN

The Courtyard, 74/3 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 8793

The work of former Nobu chef Martin Brito, the Japanese-South American fusion cuisine at Blanchy Street is among the tastiest and most unusual in the city. All complemented by fresh, contemporary decor and a leafy terrace out front. BOAT HOUSE AUSTRALIAN / INTERNATIONAL

40 Lily Road, An Phu Superior Compound, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6790 A revamp has seen this riverside restaurant get a new management and a new menu — think American-style burgers, sliders and Tex-Mex together with soup and salad and you’ll get the idea. Excellent nachos and frozen margaritas. BOOMARANG BISTRO SAIGON INTERNATIONAL / GRILL

CR2 3-4, 107 Ton Dat Tien, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (08) 5413 6592 Australian themed but Singaporean-owned eatery and bar on The Crescent with great terraced seating specializing in huge-portioned international fare, all set in a contemporary, spacious environment. CAFÉ IF VIETNAMESE FRENCH

38 Dang Dung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3846 9853 MSG-free traditional Vietnamese cuisine with a French twist, cooked fresh to order. Dishes include noodle soup, steamed ravioli and beef stew, stir fries, hot pots and curries. CHI’S CAFÉ INTERNATIONAL / VIETNAMESE

40/31 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 2502 This affable café is a rarity in the backpacker area for its genuinely good musical playlist. Excellent, build-your-own breakfasts, baked potatoes, toasties, Vietnamese fare and more. Has a popular motorbike rental service.


Tel: 0909 365525 (English) / 0909 320717 (French) chrisfoodonline.blogspot. com or Traditional French cuisine and exotic dishes from the Reunion Island served up in Ho Chi Minh City and delivered to your door. All dishes are prepared with fresh ingredients, nothing is frozen. Options include cheesecake, tiramisu, lasagna, chicken curries and muffin. All speciality foods are cooked to order. CIAO BELLA NEW YORK-ITALIAN

11 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 3329 New York-style Italian restaurant offering a range of tasty and affordable antipasti, pastas, and pizzas. Friendly staff and rustic bare brick walls adorned with Hollywood film legends make for a relaxed and attractive setting. CORIANDER THAI / VIETNAMESE

16 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 1311 A small, homely Vietnameseowned Thai restaurant that over the past decade has quite rightly gained a strong local and expat following. Try their pad thai — to die for. CORSO STEAKHOUSE / INTERNATIONAL

117 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 5368 Although a hotel restaurant, the enticing range of US and Australian steaks plus great grill and comfort food menu in this contemporary eatery make for a quality bite. Decent-sized steaks start at VND390,000. ELBOW ROOM AMERICAN

52 Pasteur, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 4327 The comfort food on offer at this striking US-style diner ranges from meatball baguettes to chilli burgers, pizzas, blackened chicken salads and a selection of

more expensive international mains. EL GAUCHO ARGENTINIAN STEAKHOUSE

74 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2090; Unit CR1-12, The Crescent, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (08) 5413 6909 A themed eatery mixing an Argentinian steakhouse theme with pork, chicken, lamb, homemade spicy sausage, skewers, burger dishes and everything that can come off a grill. Slick service, a good wine menu, and caramel vodka teasers at the end of the meal. Probably serves up the best steak in town. EON51 FINE DINING TOP-END EUROPEAN / ASIAN

Level 51, Bitexco Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 8750 Situated on level 51 of the most iconic building in town, Eon51 Fine Dining offers a unique fine dining experience accompanied by unparalleled 3600 picturesque views of Saigon. The sky-high restaurant proffers the taste of Europe in Asia, orchestrated from the finest local foods and top-quality imported ingredients. GANESH PAN-INDIAN

74 A2 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 38229366 Located opposite Martini Bar, this relative newcomer to the dining scene with its bright decor serves up mainly North Indian cuisine with a large vegetarian selection as well as South Indian curries, dosa, vada and uthapam.Meat curries cost from VND100,000 to VND120,000. HOA TUC CONTEMPORARY VIETNAMESE

The Square, 74/7 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 1676 Highly rated restaurant with stunning outdoor terrace. Specialities include pink pomelo squid and crab salad, mustard leaf prawn rolls, fishcake wraps and barbecue chicken in ginger, onions and a lime leaf marinade.


7 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 1101; The Crescent, 103 Ton Dat Tien, Q7, Tel: (08) 2210 2304 If you’re looking for midrange, aircon Vietnamese restaurants that just seem to do every dish perfectly, then Hoang Yen really is the place to go. The atmosphere may be a bit sterile, but its amply made up for by the efficient service and excellent cuisine. Now with a number of restaurants around town.

striking décor and the bonus of views over the Saigon River. Dishes range from VND80,000 to VND900,000. KOH THAI CONTEMPORARY THAI FUSION

Level 1, Kumho Link, 39 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4423 Modern Thai fusion restaurant serving Thai classics alongside tom yam cappuccinos and more. Koh Thai’s creative cocktails merge Thai flavours with local seasonal fruits and herbs.





Ground Floor, Bitexco Financial Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3915 6066 Mixing hearty pub grub such as burgers, salads and prime rib steaks with a sports bar atmosphere, this Australian chain also offers regular promotions and a 4pm to 7pm happy hour. Excellent outdoor terrace. INAHO SUSHI / SASHIMI

4 Chu Manh Trinh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 0326 A sushi bar needs a good chef, and the chef-owner of Inaho is one of the best. Sit downstairs at the low-key bar or upstairs in the private VIP rooms. Either way, this is one of the best sushi and sashimi joints in town. JASPA’S WINE & GRILL INTERNATIONAL FUSION

The Square, 74/7 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 0931 Although a chain restaurant, the international offerings here are consistently good and creative. Excellent service, an attractive outdoor terrace area, and a good kids menu. Check out their pepper steaks. KABIN CANTONESE

Renaissance Riverside Hotel, 8–15 Ton Duc Thang. Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 0033 Offers authentic, gourmet Cantonese cuisine in an elegant, classic setting, with

3rd Floor Rooftop, Kumho Link, 39 Le Duan, Q1. Tel: (08) 3822 9357 The restaurant associated with the KOTO vocational training school. All the staff — from bar tenders and waiting staff through to the chefs — come from disadvantaged backgrounds and are being trained on the jon in hospitality. Serves up tasty Vietnamese cuisine, to boot! L’OLIVIER FRENCH/MEDITERRANEAN

Sofitel Saigon Plaza, 17 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1555 Exuding a southern Gallic atmosphere with its tiled veranda, pastel-coloured walls and ficus trees, this traditional French restaurant has quarterly Michelin star promotions and an award winning pastry team. LA CUISINE FRENCH / MEDITERRANEAN

48 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 2229 8882 This intimate, open-kitchened restaurant bathed in white specialises in a mix of contemporary Mediterranean and French cuisine. Has a small but well thought out menu, backed up with an extensive wine list. LE CORTO CONTEMPORARY FRENCH

5D Nguyen Sieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 0671 Open for lunch and set din- | Aprll 2017 Word | 171



sian Streat is a new pan-Asian restaurant specialising in Sri Lankan cuisine, located on the second floor of the building that houses well-known cafe L’Usine on Dong Khoi Street in District 1. The concept behind Asian Streat is to bring the taste of street foods from around the region to an environment more comfortable for diners. Finding Asian Streat is a little tricky. Walk through the art gallery alley opposite the Sheraton Hotel at 151 Dong Khoi, turn left and head to the end where there’s a sign pointing up the stairs to the left. Walk up two flights of stairs before turning right and proceed to the end of the verandah where Asian Streat is located.

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Size Doesn’t Matter Asian Streat is a delightful little find. It’s a narrow property with a small entrance that takes you past the kitchen on the left and then into a small colourful vestibule to the right. Interestingly, the owners have decided to retain the colonial-era decor — timber shutters, patterned floor tiles, high ceilings and vibrant colours — over one that is more typical of south Asian restaurants. The result is a warm and welcoming atmosphere that feels more like entering someone’s living room than a restaurant. While cosy, Asian Streat seats up to 35 people for lunch and dinner, and up to 25 people for standing cocktail receptions.

As well as serving up delicious street food favourites, Asian Streat is able to cater for small events off the premises, and in the future there are plans for cooking demonstrations. Because it’s open from 11am each day, Asian Streat makes a nice escape from the noise and heat in the middle of the day. Overseeing the day-to-day operations of Asian Streat is restaurant manager Hazmi, who’s work in F&B includes stints at the Hilton Hotel in Colombo in his native Sri Lanka, Dubai, Seychelles, and Europe. He has helped bring together chefs from Sri Lanka, India and Vietnam, and it’s this small, eclectic team that creates the menu.

Asian Streat


The Word on the Streat The world of Asian street food is a mighty beast and one that can’t be sampled in its entirety across just one menu. Still, Hazmi and his team give it a go and offer samples of street food from Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia. The prices range from VND100,000 for an aloo tikki chaat — an Indian street snack made from pan-fried potato cutlets, topped with tangy spicy sauce — to VND250,000 for a Goan crab curry with roasted coconut. The chicken tikka is a knockout with its tender pieces of chicken marinated with Indian spices and served with a light green dipping chutney. Other Indian options include a Hydrabadi vegetarian

biryani (VND180,000), the southern favourite masala dosa (VND130,000) and the chicken chettinad — boneless chicken cooked in a coconut-based gravy (VND160,000). The dish that sparks the most curiosity on the menu is the hoppers (VND130,000), a culinary remnant of the Dutch colonisation of Sri Lanka in the 17th and 18th centuries. The hoppers dish is a circular pancake similar in consistency to Vietnam’s banh xeo, but smaller, unfolded (until eaten) and with the edges turned up to resemble a small palm-sized bowl. The batter is made from fermented rice and coconut milk and served with a choice of chicken curry or fish with ambul thiyal — a

sweet and sour condiment typically with a tamarind base — accompanied by a Sri Lankan dhal curry, katta and seeni sambol. This dish is impossible to find elsewhere in Vietnam. Another dish that hits the spot is the restaurant’s version of the classic laksa (VND140,000), a spicy rice noodle soup with shrimp and tofu reduced with coconut milk and synonymous with Singaporean and Malaysian cuisine. Spicy, coconutty and packed with plenty of ingredients, like the rest of the menu here, it’s great value for money. — Matt Cowan Asian Streat is at 151/6 Dong Khoi, Q1, HCMC. For more info, go to asianstreat | Aprll 2017 Word | 173

HCMC On The Town

ner, this beautifully designed restaurant and bar seamlessly mixes contemporary and with classic. With a menu cooked up by reputed chef Sakal Phoeung, and with a contemporary twist to traditional French fare, this is a place to enjoy the luxuries of fine cuisine and even finer wine. LE JARDIN CLASSIC FRENCH

31 Thai Van Lung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 8465 Unpretentious but tasty French fare in a relaxed garden setting within the French cultural centre. The robust, bistro-style cuisine is very well-priced, and excellent, cheap house wine is served by the carafe. LION CITY SINGAPOREAN

45 Le Anh Xuan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 8371 Friendly, authentic fivestorey Singaporean eatery, plating up the likes of nasi lemak, mee rebus, and awesome chicken curry, as well as specialities like frog porridge, chilli crab and fish head curry. LOVEAT MEDITERRANEAN

29 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6260 2727 Located bang opposite the Bitexco Tower, Loveat serves up three floors’ worth of Mediterranean cuisine mixed in with continental favourites like moules frites. A great place for dinner, cocktails and wines in a contemporary Saigon atmosphere. LU BU CONTEMPORARY MEDITERRANEAN

97B Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 6281 8371 Drawing inspiration from the great cuisines of Europe, The Mediterranean and The Orient, this contemporary, Australian-run restaurant bathed in white focuses on wholesome, fresh ingredients, with breads, cheeses, pickles, pastas and preserves made on site daily from scratch. A well-conceived wine list supplements the excellent fare. Has petanque on the terrace. LUONG SON PAN-VIETNAMESE

31 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 1330 A typical Vietnamese-style quan nhau, this fan-cooled downtown eating and drinking haunt is famed for two things: it’s on the table, grill-it-yourself bo tung xeo (marinated beef) and oddities such as sautéed scorpion. A great place to take out-of-town guests. Set over a pool in a leafy, tropical garden, the beautiful rustic décor is matched by a darkwood, aircon interior. Subtle lighting and an attention to details is matched by some of the best contemporary cuisine in the city, all with a European influence. Also has an extensive wine list, a good selection of imported beers and a happy hour. MARKET 39 INTERNATIONAL BUFFET

Ground Floor, InterContinental Asiana Saigon, Crn. of Hai Ba Trung & Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3520 9999 MAY RESTAURANT INTERNATIONAL COMFORT FOOD






136/15 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 38 250261; 116 Suong Nguyet Anh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3925 9996 If you want to take friends, relatives or people out of town to eat Hue-style street food in a hygienic yet downto-earth environment, Nam Giao is the place. Not only is it well-priced, but the bun bo Hue, bun thit nuong, com hen, banh bot loc and other such dishes are excellent. NINETEEN INTERNATIONAL / ASIAN



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87 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 8181; 36 Tong Huu Dinh, Q2, Tel: (08) 6253 282 Opening out into a large, leafy terracotta-tiled garden area, this trattoria-style Italian restaurant serves up quality homemade pasta, risotto, gnocchi, excellent pizza and grilled dishes. Has a second branch in District 2.


18 Thai Van Lung, Q1; SD04,


C0.01 Riverside Residence C, Nguyen Luong Bang, Q7, Tel: (08) 6274 1520 Located in the heart of Phu My Hung, this spacious restobar with an affection for showing televised sports has a family friendly edge thanks to its kids play area. Does a great grill menu and of course, lots of very cold beer for those developing a thirst in the Saigon heat.

8/15 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9838 This quirky but highly rated Italian / Japanese fusion pizza parlour serves wacky yet delicious pies such as tuna curry pizza and calamari seaweed pizza, as well as more traditional varieties. PROPAGANDA CLASSIC VIETNAMESE / BISTRO

21 Han Thuyen, Q1 Part of the group that includes Au Parc and Refinery, Propaganda serves up classic Vietnamese cuisine in an atmosphere of barebrick walls interposed with Propaganda Art murals and prints. QUAN BUI TRADITIONAL VIETNAMESE

8 Nguyen Van Nguyen, Q1, Tel: (08) 3602 2241; 17A Ngo Van Nam, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 1515 Make sure to try the sautéed shrimps with cashew nuts and crispy fried tofu with lime wedge, at this popular, high-quality, chicly designed eatery where all food is served in traditional crockery. One of the best Vietnamese restaurants in town. QUAN UT UT US-STYLE BARBECUE

168 Vo Van Kiet, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 4500 It’s a no-brainer, right? American-style barbecue in a contemporary Vietnamese, quan nhau-style setting. Of course If you like your buffet selections to be big, then here it is gargantuan, with every type of option under the sun. A great place to catch up on your seafood addiction or to pig out over a Sunday brunch. SAN FU LOU CANTONESE KITCHEN



23 Thao Dien, An Phu, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6478 The rustic looking, bananaleaf roofed Mekong Merchant has long been the place in An Phu. Set around a cobblestoned courtyard the cuisine includes gourmet seafood and pastas. Bakery-style Bistro out front.

it is, which is why Quan Ut Ut is constantly packed with grill-obsessed diners going for the burgers, meats off the barbecue and Platinum pale ale served on tap.


19 – 21 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 3686 may.restaurant19@gmail. com Casual yet stylish, May places international-style wining and dining in the heart of historic Saigon. Subtle lighting, comfortable seating, an extensive wine and cocktail list, and beautifully crafted comfort food from Europe, the Antipodes and Asia all make up the mix at this multi-floored restaurant and bar. Check out their set lunches and happy hour.

Ground floor, Caravelle Hotel, 19 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4999 One of the top three buffet restaurants in town. Although the selection is small, the meats, fishes and seafoods are all fresh, and everything you eat here is quality.

6/1/2 Nguyen U Di, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4009

Lo H29-2, KP My Phat, Phu My Hung, Q7 If you fancy dosing out on ramen and soba noodles, then Osaka Ramen is noodle soup heaven. A typically Japanese aircon environment mixes bar-style seating with booths and private dining. Open late.

RACHA ROOM CONTEMPORARY THAI RESTOBAR 12-14 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel (08) 6253 7711 The Racha Room delivers Thai accented Pan-Asian cuisine with a focus on high quality ingredients. Racha features a large selection of spirits at a seated bar and high table to ensure drinking along with eating remains central to the experience. The current and future of Asian-inspired drinking and dining is right here at the Racha Room.


The Square, 74 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 0509 A slightly retro feel pervades this popular French-style bistro and wine bar which once housed the city’s opium refinery. The cuisine runs from creative salads through to Mediterranean influenced mains.

RELISH & SONS GOURMET BURGER BAR 44 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: 01207 214294; 105-107 Xuan Thuy, Q2, Tel: 0909 004294 Relish & Sons burgers are lovingly made with a healthy food philosophy in mind and fresh high quality ingredients. The beef patties are 100% Australian grass-fed; the buns are made with a reduced sugar and salt content. Burger relishes such as chutneys are all made inhouse from scratch.


Renaissance Riverside, 8–15 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 0033 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. SAIGON CAFÉ INTERNATIONAL / BUFFET

Level 1, Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers, 88 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 2828

Ground Floor, AB Building, 76A Le Lai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 9513 Open until 3am, this popular, contemporary Cantonese dining hall mixes contemporary with traditional, in a space that takes Chinese dining in Saigon to a new level. And if you like your dim sum, look no further. SANCHO CANTINA TEX-MEX

207 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: 0901 268226 This hole-in-the-wall sized Mexican cantina is located bang on party street Bui Vien towards the Cong Quynh end. It maybe small, but it’s big in flavour. Sancho’s will quell those Mexicali cravings once and for all — the burritos are huge. It’s also an excellent place to watch the mayhem unfolding on the street over a craft beer or three SEOUL HOUSE KOREAN

33 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 4297 The longest running Korean restaurant in town, with all the Koreans moving out to the hinterland, the clientele here are mainly Vietnamese. Fortunately the food preparation remains traditional. An excellent place for group dining. SHANG PALACE RESTAURANT PAN-CHINESE / CANTONESE

Norfolk Mansion, 17-19-21 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 2221 Featuring over 200 dishes and 50 kinds of dim sum prepared by chefs from Hong Kong, Shang Palace has nine private dining rooms and a main dining area seating over 300. Good for events. SKEWERS INTERNATIONAL / MEDITERRANEAN

9A Thai Van Lung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 4798 Simple, unpretentious Greekinfluenced, international cuisine ranging from the zucchini carpaccio through to the saganiki, a range of dips, mousaka, osso buco and lamb chop skewers. Also has an excellent upstairs cigar room. SHRI CONTEMPORARY EUROPEAN

23rd Floor, Centec Tower, 72–74 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3, Tel: (08) 3827 9631 A breezy terrace, indoor bar and separate dining room

with sweeping views over central Saigon make up this enormous, comfortable space. A well-thought out and romantic venue, with excellent food. SORAE SUSHI SAKE LOUNGE

Level 24, AB Tower, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: 0938 687689 Set over two floors, this astonishing, no-expensespared Japanese restaurant and lounge brings to Saigon the type of environment and ambience you’d expect of New York, Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai. With the décor comes a modern take on Japanese fare. A place to see and be seen.

STOKER CONTEMPORARY STEAKHOUSE 44 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel (08) 3826 8691 One of the world’s oldest culinary techniques — grilling over a wood fire. Stoker kitchen uses different woods to infuse foods with different smoky flavours. These techniques revolutionize live fire cooking by providing precise heat control through the use of a grilling surface that can be adjusted to different cooking heights above the hot coals.


29-31 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 9244 Once a hotel for Indian dignitaries visiting old Saigon, the elegant and atmospheric Temple Club is one of the city’s best-preserved buildings. Serving quality

Vietnamese and Indochine cuisine at reasonable prices. THE DECK MODERN ASIAN FUSION

38 Nguyen U Di, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6632 Set on the banks of Saigon River across from Thanh Da Island, this innovative restaurant serves up modern Asian fusion cuisine in a Bali-style atmosphere, complemented by great cocktails and a long wine list. THE SOCIETY GRILL AND LOUNGE BAR

99 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 3999 Designed as a Lanewaystyle restobar, the kind of place found in Hong Kong, London, New York or Central Melbourne, thanks to its indoor and outdoor ambience, The Society brings dining and drinking to a new level. Phenomenal cocktails, steaks, grilled fare and seafood make this a place to go for drinks, a full-blown meal or a mixture of both. TIN NGHIA VEGAN

9 Tran Hung Dao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 2538 One of the city’s oldest eateries (established in 1925) does some of the cheapest and tastiest vegan cuisine in town, all cooked up without onions, garlic or MSG. VESPER GOURMET LOUNGE INTERNATIONAL

Landmark Building, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9698 Headed up by well-known chef Andy Ertle, Vesper is a sophisticated yet down-toearth cocktail bar and restaurant with subtle lighting and a great spirit selection. Serves creative, Japanese and

German-influenced cuisine to supplement the drinks and has a separate dining space. WRAP & ROLL 62 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2166; 111 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 8971; 226 De Tham, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 5097 The lime green walls and bright pastel colours of Wrap ‘n Roll are just part of the theme of this homegrown, Vietnamese brand which is all about spring rolls of all types, and healthy, Hueinfluenced cuisine. YU CHU TOP-END PAN-CHINESE

1st Floor, InterContinental Asiana Saigon, crn.of Hai Ba Trung & Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3520 9999 Skillful chefs prepare authentic hand-pulled noodles, fresh dim sum and hot wok dishes within an impeccably designed open kitchen, as diners look on. Stylish and spectacular. ZEUS GREEK / KEBAB

164 Cong Quynh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 3248 The service is often slow, and the staff are often surprisingly lazy, yet the food here is so good and so unique to this city, that no-one seems to mind. The perfect place to feast out on gyros and all things off a skewer. Cheap, too. ZOOM CAFÉ


84 Dang Van Ngu, Phu Nhuan BA NAM BO KHO

Alleyway to the left of 162 Tran Nhan Tong, Q10 BANH CANH HOANG TY BANH CANH / TAY NINH CUISINE


195 Co Giang, Q1


55 Tu Xuong, Q3


40A Quoc Huong, Q2

70 Vo Van Tan, Q3



38 Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1



11A Cao Thang, Q3



189 Bis Bui Vien, Q1



102 Cao Thang, Q3



288/M1 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3



62 Nguyen Van Trang, Q1



260C Pasteur, Q3




413-415 Nguyen Trai, Q5



146E Ly Chinh Thang, Q3


107 Truong Dinh, Q3



339 Le Van Sy, Tan Binh


271 Nguyen Trai, Q1


169A Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3920 3897 vietnamvespaadventures. com/cafe_zoom This corner-located Vespainfatuated venue is a café and restaurant by day and a sidewalk drinking joint by night. Friendly staff and American deli-style and Cajun fare makes it a regular expat haunt.




122/37/15 Vinh Khanh, Q4


200 Bis Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3; 157 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (08) 3930 3917 BUN CHA HA NOI BUN CHA

26/1A Le Thanh Ton, Q1


23 Hoang Sa, Q1


67 Le Thi Hong Gam, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 7751 | Aprll 2017 Word | 175



hen a Western tourist collapsed outside the Independence Palace last January, media outlets reported that the tourist had suffered a stroke. This wasn’t accurate — according to the emergency doctor who arrived on the scene by ambulance just minutes after receiving the alert, the patient had suffered from a heart attack, before going into cardiac arrest. The patient was taken into intensive care at a nearby cardiology unit. What stood out about this incident wasn’t only the media misdiagnosis, but also the fact that the victim suffered from the attack in a public place in full view of many passers-by, most of whom were unable to offer any assistance whatsoever. Few members of the public in Ho Chi Minh City have the basic medical awareness needed to help in an emergency. As emergency medical director at Family Medical Practice, I have been an integral part of the development of Ho Chi Minh City’s first private emergency medical response system, EMR *9999. While in this case the unit was able to respond immediately to the call for help, after a bystander dialed the emergency number, I remain very concerned about spreading awareness in Ho Chi Minh City about the basic protocols needed to deal with medical crises. It’s mostly a lack of understanding that makes bystanders hesitant to act, resulting in delays that often cost lives.

the problem is likely to be. A stroke is a cardiovascular accident in the brain. If a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain gets clotted, that’s called an ischemic stroke. Ischemic means that the brain doesn’t get enough blood. If the vessel is bleeding, that’s called a haemorrhagic stroke. Both kinds of stroke occur in the brain, leading to a neurological defect. You have slurred speech, you can’t pronounce words, you cannot raise your hand; you can feel a tingling numbness, until you go into a coma. So if you see signs associated with neurological defects, that’s a stroke. Heart attacks are different. If you have chest pain, discomfort in the chest, in the upper part of the body, that is the beginning of a heart attack. You will often see someone clutching at their chest, complaining of difficulty breathing, or breaking out into a cold sweat. The function of the heart is to pump blood throughout the body, and if it doesn’t pump enough to the brain, then the brain gets involved. The patient will then also go into a coma. At that point, it can be confused with a stroke. In either case, the response of a bystander should be the same — they should call for medical help. I urge people in this situation to dial our emergency number *9999, because you will get free and proper instruction. The call-taker will question you and then lead you through the correct course of action.

Stroke or Heart Attack?

Emergency Response

The differences between a stroke and a heart attack are easy to recognise, and in the moments leading up to a cardiac incident, there are several clues that can identify what

One issue that proved difficult in setting up a 911-style emergency response system in Vietnam, is that there is a degree of scepticism about the usefulness of medical


instruction over the phone, especially in the case of life-saving techniques such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). For people in Vietnam, it seems too new, but people can really do it — this has been proven in America and all over the world. The most important thing is not to panic, and to call for instructions. If you call the emergency line, the question and response protocols can give you the best assessment possible. CPR is an essential first response in cases of cardiac arrest, and I would advise everybody to learn it — we run a monthly course in FMP’s District 2 clinic instructing in this technique — but if you don’t know CPR, call *9999, and the call-taker will talk you through it. In cases of an ischemic stroke, prompt medical response can be very effective. If a victim can be taken to hospital within the first three hours of the incident, we can administer a blood clot-dissolving medication called tPA (Tissue Plasminogen Activator) that is able to restore the blood flow. In our clinic we have had three cases already. You can see the patients come in with hemiplegia — paralysis of half the body, and within five to six hours, they can walk. In all events, time is the most critical component. Whether or not you know CPR or have enough information about the victim to be able to figure out what has happened, call *9999 within Saigon for professional emergency assistance and stay calm. The speed of your response is likely to be the difference between life and death. Dr. Bui Nghia Thinh is the Emergency Medical Director of EMR *9999. For more information on FMP’s emergency response service, click on



uying property in Vietnam is one thing and the now not-so-new legislation was a very progressive step and extremely well received. However, when it comes to cashing in — selling and renting out your new property — there are a few things you need to know that the developer won’t tell you. Almost 20 months on from the legislation which flung the gates open for foreigners to buy, a lack of subsequent legal documents clarifying relevant procedures means the law is yet to be implemented in practical terms, and as such, there is no clear defined process. For the more than 80,000 foreigners living and working in Vietnam and more than 4 million overseas Vietnamese who have close links with their home country, complications and frustrations are normally expected and managed. However, if you are an offshore foreign investor not living in Vietnam — be prepared. So what should foreign property investors need to know if they looking to sell or rent out their apartments? Allow me to share a few pointers from my own recent experience.

Selling and Transferring Should you have been fortunate enough to make a quick buck and have found

someone to sell your apartment too, congratulations. Though, no matter how odd it seems, you will be required to demonstrate marital status with a notarized and translated document from the registry in your home country which will need to again be notarised and translated in Vietnamese at a local notary office — this takes time and is done for a fee. Then you will need to prepare a deposit contract and a sale contract, both of which must be notarised and signed by all parties, including the developer that sold you the property in the first place. There are no standard contracts so you must prepare one yourself (or have a consultant do so). The next step is to have those documents translated into Vietnamese, signed and witnessed by a local notary. Once the transaction is completed, the next step will be your tax and paying this amount. You cannot repatriate your funds by the book if your tax has not been paid — fact. Finally, when the time comes to have all that hard-earned cash sent to your bank account, be aware that the only way you can repatriate your money with most international banks to comply with Vietnam law, is to provide all of the above documents including your red invoice as payment proof from the tax department. Then and only then will the bank allow you to receive your funds and or repatriate


them. Once this is complete, you will need to also pay the developer to finalise the transfer.

Renting or Leasing Your Property With many major projects due to complete in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi in late 2017, if you are an investor, it’s almost time to lock in a tenant. However, while rent is typically paid monthly, be aware that the above rules (largely enforced by the bank) in regards to taxation, repatriation and receipt of funds will apply. Unless you’re willing to pay a visit to the tax office every month, you may need to settle on collecting your rental return on a quarterly, monthly or annual basis for convenience. Make sure you plan and factor for this. Easy, right? I wish someone would have told me. While market activity is promising in 2017, if you have purchased a property and are considering to sell or lease it just make sure you have a supportive local consultant willing to give you a hand — otherwise, it’s complicated. Greg Ohan is the Solutions Development Director for Jones Lang LaSalle, a global real estate services firm specialising in property and investment management. Email your questions to or visit joneslanglasalle.



The Dragon Fruits of Labour Once a peculiar-looking fruit brought to Vietnam from South America, these days dragon fruit is getting everywhere. Even Australia. Words by Matt Cowan


n January this year, the Australian Government handed down its final report on its review of biosecurity import requirements for fresh dragon fruit from Vietnam. It recommends that the importation of fresh dragon fruit to Australia from all commercial production areas of Vietnam be allowed, subject to a raft of biosecurity conditions. This follows the decision to allow Vietnamese imports of lychees to Australia in 2015. Dragon fruit production areas in Vietnam have increased significantly over the past decade and the industry reached a yield of 1 million tons per annum a few years ago as a result of increased demand for the fruit in local and overseas markets.

An Introduced Species Binh Thuan Province on Vietnam’s southeast coast is the country’s largest producer of the fruit native to South America known as pitaya. It was introduced to Vietnam by Catholic missionaries during the French colonial era, as the climate around Phan Thiet was found to be ideal for growing the fruit. According to Ho Chi Minh City-based fresh produce exporter, The Fruit Republic, Vietnam is the only country in Asia producing dragon fruit on a commercial scale. Traditionally, China is the biggest market for Vietnamese dragon fruit with 400,000 tonnes exported abroad in 2013. That figure has since risen. Local Phan Thiet packing company Binh Loan says that in the low season, it receives on average five to six tons of dragon fruit per day from neighbouring farms, while in the high season from May through to August, it receives between 20 to 30 tons per day depending on the harvest. All of their produce is destined for the fruit bowls of kitchens in China. The company pays farmers between VND20,000 and VND22,000 per kilogram. In some fruit shops in Saigon, dragon fruit retails for around VND33,000 per kilogram.

Scandal Once a fruit primarily used as decoration

178 | Word April 2017 |

during important times of the year such as Lunar New Year and Tet in Vietnam — prized for its vivid magenta colour over its edible qualities — the dragon fruit is enjoying a rise in popularity in nontraditional export countries like Australia owing to its low sugar content compared to most other tropical fruits. However, the road to procuring the right to export to Australia hasn’t been without controversy. In 2015, the then Northern Territory (NT) Primary Industries Minister was forced to stand down amid allegations of impropriety after links were discovered between his personal finances and a Vietnamese conglomerate that had intended to buy a 2,000 square km cattle station 500km south of Darwin to develop into what can be best described as a mega-dragon fruit farm. While the property in question at the time wasn’t suitable for dragon fruit production due to a lack of water, it had found itself at the centre of a water and soil study conducted by the NT Government. The study found that 22,000 square km of the farm was fit for irrigation projects that would eventually mean the property could support water-intensive crops, including dragon fruit. Eventually the property was sold last year to another Vietnamese investor for AU$18 million. Direct links between the scandal and the trade deal between Australia and Vietnam cannot be drawn, but it demonstrates the complexities involved and how the actions of individuals connected to both sides can potentially derail negotiations.

The Juice The scuttling of the deal between the minister and the Vietnamese conglomerate represented a reprieve for fledgling Australian dragon fruit farmers supplying an already flooded Australian market. Now, the passing of legislation to allow Vietnamese dragon fruit imports, which are slated to begin some time this year, presents a new challenge on the horizon.

According to one dragon fruit grower from Bundaberg in the northern Australian state of Queensland, who was contacted for this story, he expected minimal impact on his business due to seasonal differences between the two countries, instead citing the potential for biosecurity breaches as the area of major concern. Given the recent detection of white spot disease in native shrimp populations in Queensland waters — most likely from imported shrimp from Asia — which threatens Australia’s AU$360 million shrimp industry, his concern is valid. The discovery is already creating waves in Vietnam, as it’s feared exports of shrimp to Australia will be interrupted. Meanwhile, in Australia, there is a fear that its shrimp industry may never recover. In Vietnam, dragon fruit farmers, as expected, are upbeat about the latest decision to allow their fruit into Australia. At his farm approximately 10km west of Phan Thiet, Mr Huong, whose entire yield goes to China, breaks into a broad grin when asked about the future for him and dragon fruit farming. “Although the quantity will be very small at the beginning because it’s a new market, I’m still very happy about it.” By adding dragon fruit to its expanding agricultural export portfolio, which already includes rice, coffee, shrimp and catfish, Vietnam is demonstrating its agility in finding new markets for its produce, which is a sign of better things to come for the country’s development and future prosperity. The question is, can both countries ensure quality control measures will be stringent enough and monitored carefully to ensure the sustainability of Vietnam’s dragon fruit export industry to Australia, and at the same time protect Australia’s biosecurity and its dragon fruit farmers? In light of what’s been happening in the shrimp farming industries of both countries, it will be an interesting space to watch.

The Final Say What was your background before making a go of it in Vietnam? I left a corporate job in telecommunications in Hawaii to travel the world for a year.

What are the key factors in achieving success in business in Vietnam? The most important attribute for success in business is to stick with it. Nothing comes easy, especially in Vietnam. Find something that you want to do, so when the bad times hit, at least you’re enjoying what you do.

Success doesn’t come without failures. Can you share a memorable one? Failures are a vital part of the road to success. My failure stories are just as fun as the successful ones because of the lessons learnt. In 1999, I started a tuna grade export business in Vietnam. I did a 10-day crash course in tuna grading. At the end of the 10 days, I thanked my trainer and all he did was shake his head and wish me luck. I spent most of my time in Central Vietnam buying fish for processing in Saigon destined for Hawaii. We were in business for a year and never made a profit. The lessons I learnt from that venture made up for never making any money.

How is the state of the tourism industry here? How does its future look? I have 10 years’ hands-on experience in the industry, but there is still so much to understand and the learning process is ongoing. Vietnam has unlimited potential for tourism if the industry takes the right path. It has so much to offer. The question remains as to how Vietnam can improve its visitor return rate. Less than 7% of visitors return while 50% of visitors return to Thailand.

Tourism is a rapidly evolving space. How do you keep ahead of the competition? All you had to do 10 years ago was offer a decent product with good service and you had a successful business. That’s no longer the case. You have to keep up with trends, deliver unique products and consistently offer high-quality service. Tourists demand value for money and technology is helping that. Businesses have become more accountable for value. You can’t afford to have unsatisfied guests.

Customer complaints can be a tricky beast. What’s the best way to deal with them? The customer is always right — as hard as that is to swallow at times. We always try to correct what guests complain about. There’s nothing wrong with constructive criticism. You have to be open to better your service. We have a policy: if a guest isn’t happy and provides evidence as to why, we give their money back.

What’s the most memorable experience you’ve had on one of your Vespa tours? 180 | Word April 2017 |



The man behind Vietnam Vespa Adventures, when it comes to the development of tourism in Vietnam, Steve Mueller has seen it all The best part of my job is taking part in developing new tours. I get to explore new places and learn along the way. Most of my memorable experiences are on the multi-day tours, exploring new roads and marvelling at discovering new landscapes.

You’re involved in research and development of biofuel production. How did that come about? The idea started in 2005 when a friend pointed out an article about Willie Nelson riding across the US in a gas guzzling RV fueled by French fire recycled waste oil. So, I became the garbage man collecting waste vegetable oil. Before collecting the vegetable oil we needed to find the equipment to refine it into a biofuel or bio-diesel. My brother lives in Vietnam and he built one from specs off the internet. Things went well and many restaurants and hotels got involved with this environmental project, recycling oil waste. In late 2006 petrol prices started going up and we couldn't satisfy our biofuel customers with enough products. That's when we came across a crop called jatropha that grew on

marginal land that other crops couldn't grow on sustainably.

What’s the way forward for ecotourism in Vietnam? Proper guidelines from people knowing what they’re doing. Too many people claim to be experts. Yes, tourism can have a negative impact on the environment and Vespa Adventures is no exception — twostroke engines aren’t environmental friendly, so we’re countering that by balancing our carbon footprint. Vespa Adventures is also a founder of a non-profit organisation called Keep Vietnam Clean and Green (Sach & Xanh in Vietnamese). Its focus is on anti-littering and education, and we’ve developed strong partnerships with leading organisations like RMIT Vietnam.

Name one destination in Vietnam that everyone must see before they die. Halong Bay. I believe the government is doing a decent job in keeping it from over-tourism and preserving the environment.

Sách Chuyên Quảng Cáo Not For Sale

Word Vietnam April 2017  

Everything you need to know about Vietnam and a little bit more. This month we visit Phong Nha, home to the largest cave in the world. Or as...

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