Word Vietnam February 2017

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Contents Feb.2017



86 THE TALK 10 / Toasting Tet


Boozing, the New Year and traffic accidents

44 / A Visual Story

11 / The Big Five

February in Vietnam

46 / Red River Brick Factories

BRIEFINGS 12 / Blade Runner

54 / District 4

Learn to make your own knife

16 / The Treehouse Homestay

Photojournalism and storytelling

Transcending cliché

From mafia hotspot to modern-day tiger

Who needs an elevator when you’ve got a ladder?

62 / The Ethnic Minorities

18 / Communal Art

70 / The Orphanages of Southern Vietnam

The toilets of Saigon get a makeover

22 / Walking Street

Portraits of the people

A snapshot in time

It’s a social experiment

Life in the furthest north of Ha GIang

86 / Weaving Hemp

What cannabis is really used for in Vietnam

96 / Tay Ho at Night

Expat life is full of lessons

104 / Housing Stories

Development leads to inequality, especially when it comes to housing

112 / The Churches of Vietnam In Nam Dinh and Ninh Binh there are a lot of them


26 / Zuu


Primal movement, professional flair

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78 / Portraits of Ha Giang


Contents Feb.2017





166 / City Map

165 / Book Buff

122 / The Road Trip


172 / Body and Temple

28 / To Do List

174 / Know Your City

34 / Just In

176 / Medical Buff

168 / HCMC City Guide


181 / Terrence Taylor’s Saigon Stories

196 / A Vietnamese Abroad

182 / Bar Stool

200 / Ten 10

A northern hemisphere winter, a trip through Europe

132 / The Last Train Driver The last man to drive the train between Dalat and Phan Rang

142 / The Amusement Park It’s just south of Hue and it’s abandoned

HANOI 36 / To Do List

186 / Coffee Cup

40 / Just In

190 / Top Eats

148 / Hanoi City Guide

194 / City Map

156 / Bar Stool


158 / Coffee Cup

152 / The Alchemist

162 / Top Eats

154 / The Therapist

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First time overseas… in Australia

The brains behind Vietnam Photo Adventures, Arnaud Foucard


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This month we asked our team to tell us what images come to mind when they think of the word “Vietnam” HARRY HODGE Contributor I think of a mosaic. Terraced fields in Sapa, flat swampland in the Mekong, sandy beaches around Nha Trang, flowers all over Dalat, skyscrapers in Ho Chi Minh City. Food from all those places. My brain is awash with images from all over the country. JULIE VOLA Photo Editor The first time I encountered Vietnam was in a book I read when I was 12. It described the landscape of Halong Bay on a misty morning, when the limestone islands come out of nowhere and you expect to see a dragon quietly flying into a labyrinth.

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

EDITORIAL NICK ROSS Chief Editor nick@wordvietnam.com

VU HA KIM VY Editorial Manager vy@wordvietnam.com

MADS MONSEN Creative Director mads@wordvietnam.com

JULIE VOLA Photo Editor julie@wordvietnam.com

BAO ZOAN Staff Photographer baozoan@wordvietnam.com

MATTHEW COWAN Deputy Editor matt@wordvietnam.com

MIKE PALUMBO Staff Photographer mike@wordvietnam.com

ZOE OSBORNE Staff Writer zoe@wordvietnam.com

EDWARD DALTON Staff Writer (Hanoi) edward@wordvietnam.com

NGUYEN LOC Layout Designer loc@wordvietnam.com

MADS MONSEN Creative Director Ca phe sua da. Chaos. Riding with the flow of motorbikes. You have never seen it all here, always something to surprise you. HAI VU Contributor Even as Vietnam changes so rapidly, it’s the organised chaos of the city’s traffic and the incredible streetfood that will always be first in my mind. ZOE OSBORNE Staff Writer The view over the handlebars of my motorbike, weaving, dipping in and out, and narrowly missing all manner of things that may or may not belong on a road... I love driving in Vietnam, especially in Ho Chi Minh City. MATT COWAN Deputy Editor Final descent into Tan Son Nhat and it looks like you’re about to land in the world’s largest Legoland village.

ADMINISTRATION BAO ROSS General Director bao@wordvietnam.com

ADVERTISING TRINH BUI Sales Manager trinh@wordvietnam.com

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SUBSCRIPTIONS hai@wordvietnam.com

For advertising enquiries please call Ms Bao on +84 938 609689 or Ms Trinh on +84 936 269244 Special thanks to Vu Hong Thanh, Dao Anh Khanh Studio, Adam Palmeter, ILV, Hai Vu, Green Dreams, Mignon van Zyl, Harry Hodge, Phil Kelly, Jon Sanwell, Réhahn, Catherine Karnow, Jesse Meadows, Joan Bardeletti, Thomas Barrett, Mr. Vien, Little Cat Ba, Karen Gay, Teigue John Blokpoel, Douglas Holwerda, Tay Ho Tiki Company, Ocafe, Anita's Cantina, Billy Gray, Sasha Arfieva, Truong Hoang, Ed Haysom, Dr. Pedro L. Trigo, Breeze Sky Bar, Annam Cafe Gourmet, Confidant, Arnaud Foucard and David Legard

NICK ROSS Chief Editor For me its cafes, motorbikes, construction, streetside drinking haunts and the bustle of markets — images that show the industry, energy and growing creativity of Vietnam.

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MIKE PALUMBO Contributor I will always picture the big smiles from street vendors and markets. Also, the heavily congested traffic of Saigon.

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CHUYÊN ĐỀ DU LỊCH & ẨM THỰC ISBN: 978-604-77-3006-3

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CÔNG TY TNHH MTV NHÀ XUẤT BẢN THẾ GIỚI Trụ sở chính: 46 Trần Hưng Đạo, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội Tel: 04.3825.3841 – Fax: 04.3826.9578 Email: thegioi@ thegioipublishers.vn Website: www. thegioipublishers.vn

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hotography is an art, made even more beautiful by the equipment we can work with in the modern day. From the cameras available, through to the lenses and the postproduction software we have to hand, what we can do with a photo today is far removed from what we were able to achieve just 20 years ago. And yet good photographers, while they will change white balances, contrast,

We’ve tried to avoid the standard photo essay format. Instead we are treating each story like a documentary. That well-worn phrase, a photograph is worth 1,000 words has resonance, but also creates ambiguity. Provide depth and talk about the meaning behind the images, and it adds certainty, changing how you see and feel the visual story unfolding in front of your eyes. We hope you enjoy our photography issue. It’s a once-a-year event that requires a lot of planning. And we hope that 2017 and The Year of the Rooster treats you

well. Many people are worried about times ahead, times they see as dark and uncharted. However, try seeing it from the perspective of a photographer. You may plan a photoshoot as much as possible, or maybe have just a vague idea about the images you want to shoot. And yet, when you actually go out there with your camera, you never quite know what photos you will come away with. As Forrest Gump said back in 1994: “Life [is] like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” — Nick Ross, Chief Editor






shadow, saturation, levels and so much more in Lightroom or Camera Raw, will rarely alter a photo much beyond what they see through their viewfinder, and what is recorded on their camera’s sensor. Take a close look at the images reproduced in this month’s cover story and you will see how the photographers have refrained from making too much postproduction change. For them, the correct light, composition and subject matter is king. Instagram, this is not. Also take a close look at the stories that accompany the photos.

THIS MONTH'S COVER Photo by Julie Vola Design by DH Advertising

Have Your Say We know you’ve got feedback. So let us know on Facebook — facebook.com/word.vietnam — 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 New Year, so, reach out New You and touch us at nick@ wordvietnam. com — we’re at New Year, New You your fingertips. January 2017

Really enjoyed your rather meaty January issue. The life changes series was particularly well put together with some deep diving, up close, heart tingling, nerve rattling stories and personal revelations

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by the subjects. This is good brave stuff all round, and well written. It separates your magazine from a listing or tourist rag, and sends it towards the calibre of Vanity Fair, Esquire, Interview and others. Great cover, too. — RR

Dialects I just had time to read the article on Learning Vietnamese (January 2017, page 76) and I loved it. But I don’t know who misinformed you about the southern and northern Vietnamese issues. The grammar and the spelling are the same, the vocab differs to a maximum 10%, I would say. The pronunciation yes, is different, but not as it says in the article. I’m afraid southern people, as well as the people in the centre all understand northern Vietnamese with no problems. Northerners, however, have problems, yes, but not up to the level of not understanding anything. Only if

two Saigonese people talk with each other in their regional slang, then yes, northerners won’t understand much. The official language is the northern dialect. Professional singers are taught to sing in the northern dialect, and the northern pronunciation is the one that respects the written tones. Southern people don’t like nor want to accept that. Obviously, this would be an interesting new article. — VC

Apology We would like to apologise for the error with writing the name of the business, Annam Gourmet Market in our January issue (page 15). The correct name is not Annam Gourmet but Annam Gourmet Market. For further information on their products and locations, please click on annam-gourmet.com.

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Talk Lead

Toasting Tet When alcohol consumption knows no bounds


ietnam is the biggest drinking country in Southeast Asia and third in Asia, after Japan and South Korea. In 2016, Vietnam’s beer consumption reached 3.78 billion litres (3.4 billion litres in 2015) — 42 litres per person per year, more than 4 litres up from 2015. Like people elsewhere, Vietnamese people drink more during festive seasons, especially Tet when rice wine and beer are considered a necessity. Although Tet lasts no more than a week, its consequences might require months and even years to be resolved.

Numbers Late at night during Tet a few years ago, my brother got stabbed by a friend in a fight while drinking. Another brother rushed him to hospital while my mother was questioning the man who had done the stabbing. Different reasons were given but essentially it was because they were both drunk. My brother survived but had to wear an arm cast for more than six months. He is still drinking. His was not the only case. According to the Ministry of Health, more than 5,000 people ended up in hospital because of drunken fighting during Tet last year. Ho Chi Minh City, Dong Nai, An Giang, Kien Giang and Hanoi were the cities and

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provinces with the highest number of incidents. Drinking is also the main reason behind the death toll increase last Tet. There were more than 2,200 cases of alcohol poisoning in the first three days of Tet, with one death, mainly because of consuming homemade rice wine. More than 536 traffic accidents took place in eight days with 44,000 people rushed to hospital, including 224 fatalities and 5,400 recorded brain injuries. The four cities and provinces with the highest number of incidents were Ho Chi Minh City (2,141 cases), Hanoi (2,047), Kien Giang (1,611) and Dong Nai (1,507). Compared at Tet 2015, the number of injuries and deaths caused by traffic accidents in Tet 2016 fell by about 30%. It’s not enough.

What’s New in 2017? None of my foreign friends would dare to drink drive when they go back home for Christmas or New Year, but they would do that in Vietnam. This is despite the new traffic fines brought in last August. Drivers with alcohol levels exceeding 80mg per 100ml of blood or 0.4mg per litre of breath, or those who refuse to comply with an alcohol or drug test, are fined VND16 million to VND18 million (up from VND15

million) for car drivers and VND3 million to VND4 million for bikes. The authorities will confiscate driving licences for two years, and anyone caught driving without a licence will be fined the same as drunk drivers. Even with the fine increased to VND18 million, some people don’t believe it’s enough. Vietnam’s Automobile Transportation Association has proposed that driving under the influence should be taken more seriously as a crime. In addition, more traffic police checkpoints should be set up, especially in areas where there are restaurants and bars. Last month, a new national traffic safety campaign for 2017 was launched with the theme Traffic Culture for Children — Human Life First. The campaign aims at a 5 to 10 percent year-on-year reduction in the number of traffic accidents. All violations, especially high-risk behaviour including driving under the influence, speeding, overloaded carriages, and buses dropping and picking up passengers on highways, will be strictly enforced in line with regulations. Whether the new fines and campaign will work in 2017 or not, and whether you are in a drinking mood for the festive season, don’t drive if you drink and simply let Grabbike or Uber do the work for you. — Vu Ha Kim Vy

Big5 The


Comedy, comedy, DJs, chamber music and did someone say Tet? a


In case you didn’t know, we’re now in the Year of the Rooster

They’re big, they’re bold, they’re Ensemble Resonanz

Comedian William Childress will perform on Feb. 22 and Feb. 23





The Aftermath of Tet

By the time you read this, the New Year might well be a distant memory. Here are a few things to remember. — Things restart slowly in this country. A rule of thumb is to give Tet a month, two weeks either side, for the wind down and the wind-up period — This is the Year of the Rooster, or the chicken, if you want be gender neutral. Which according to astrologers means if you’re going to do something, then do it perfectly, stick to the known rather than the unknown, prepare yourself for lots of petty disputes, and expect governments to flex their muscles and take offence at the smallest thing — 2017 is not going to be nearly as bad as everyone thinks it will be, despite all the concerns and unknowns — We wish you, the reader, an khang thinh vuong — happiness and prosperity. We really hope 2017 is a good one. It needs to be!


Ensemble Resonanz Rec Room, Hanoi Monday, Feb.13

Chamber music meets electronic courtesy of Hamburg, string ensemble, Ensemble Resonanz. Brought to Hanoi by the Goethe Institut, the ensemble interprets old masterpieces in dialogue with contemporary compositions, combining them with the ‘doof doof’ of the dancefloor. Hence, the ensemble is supported by DJs.

For more info on what will be an unusual gig, turn to page 36


The Big V Semi-Finals Game On, HCMC Friday, Feb. 17

Part of the second annual Magners International Comedy Festival that will run from Mar. 20 to Mar. 23 in both Saigon and Hanoi, after three-minute sets in mid-January to an audience of over 150 at DTwo, eight semi-finalists have progressed to the next round to see who will be crowned the top amateur comic in Vietnam. Hosted by last year’s winner, Adam Palmeter, the comedians will be competing for a spot in the final on Monday, Mar. 20 at La Fenetre Soleil. So, come along and support the growing comedy scene in this city. This one will be fun! For more info turn to page 30


William Childress Game On, HCMC and Standing Bar, Hanoi Feb. 22 and 23

There can never be too much comedy, right? Well this month there certainly can’t be. And in this instance, it comes in the form of American comic, William Childress. Beginning his stand-up career in 2011 in Shanghai, William then moved to Myanmar, where he founded the country’s first Englishlanguage comedy group, Standup Yangon.

Twice a finalist in the Hong Kong International Comedy Competition, finishing second runner up in 2014, William has headlined all over Asia and in 2015 took his one-man show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Now based in his native Atlanta, Georgia, William performs throughout the US. This will be his second time headlining in Vietnam. This guy is immense. For more info on the shows, turn to page 30 and 36. The Saigon show takes place on Wednesday, Feb. 22 while the Hanoi show is on Feb. 23


LPZ Savage, Hanoi Saturday, Feb. 25

Described as Latin America’s hottest export since Gisele Bundchen, LPZ is a Paraguayan trio of DJs and producers who’ve built themselves a huge reputation. With their soulful music making waves on the dance music scene since their remix of Morten Sorensen’s Burn Down on Tirk, they’ve gained support from the likes of Groove Armada, Maya Jane Coles, Mr Scruff, Sinden, Gilles Peterson and Toddla T. Now based in Berlin, expect the Paraguayan amigos to play their soulful underground tunes that range from House all the way to the future side of bass. Savage is at 112 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Entry is free before midnight, VND100,000 thereafter. For more info, click on facebook.com/savagehanoi/

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Blade Runner


An ‘edgy’ workshop with a difference


ome souvenirs are more equal than others; and those which you can make yourself always rank highest on the cool gauge. Hanoi has workshops to suit every taste, where guests can learn how to make ceramics, jewellery, conical hats and leather accessories to name but a few. One of the more recent crafts to don the trendy threads and step into the limelight is the art of knife making. The class is organised by local tour guide Vu Hong Thanh, and led by master craftsman Van Chinh, who guides students through the two to four-hour lesson. The end result is a souvenir more meaningful and

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useful than a faded fridge magnet or tacky coaster set.

Cutting Edge Most 12-year-olds are busy falling off their bicycles, avoiding homework or playing games, but Chinh was learning how to make knives. Having already worked for six years doing general chores to help out around the workshop, his father then introduced him to the craft which has been in the family since the time of the French. “We started working with metal since the arrival of the railway,” says Chinh, 48. “Our family has been doing this for the longest, out of all the crafters in Ha Dong.”

The workshop classes and majority of his business is still in knives, although he also produces other tools such as scissors and instruments for gardening or farming.

Sharp Business Chinh was approached by Thanh, who wanted to include his craft in a collection of workshops and activities she offers as part of Hanoi and Around with Thanh, an amateur tour company she operates. Thanh works as both guide and translator, insuring Chinh’s instructions are followed to the letter. In addition to the knife classes, Thanh can also arrange other workshops, including fabric


dying, lacquer painting and jewellery making. The knife class is VND400,000 per person, lasts for up to four hours and of course includes the knife you take home.

Shanks All Round The process for making a knife with Chinh follows several steps. First, a design for the shape of the blade is made on a sheet of metal, specially chosen for its long-lasting strength. Chinh has several example templates for students needing motivation, but is also happy to work with suggestions. Using a hammer, cutter and anvil, the blade and tang (the metal part

which extends into the handle) are cut out and then thrust into the crackling embers of the furnace. Alternating blows with Chinh, the student will then work the blade with a hammer to continue shaping it. The blade then has any imperfections trimmed by a hydraulic cutting machine, before it heads to the grindstone to be sharpened. Sharpening happens in several phases, including one round of being soaked in a special tar-based chemical wash, the recipe for which is a closely guarded family secret. “All of our competitors have tried to copy it,” Chinh says. “But none of them have managed to work it out!” The chemical mixture adds further

strength to the blade, and increases the effectiveness of the whetstone in the final stage of sharpening. The handle, formed of two wooden pieces fastened on either side of the blade by rivets, is whittled out of a fresh log. Chinh burns and soaks the wood after it’s been carved, to ensure it never moulds or warps. The final product, tested on a pumpkin, cuts with terrifying ease. I show Chinh a photo of a curved Elvish blade from Lord of the Rings. “Next time?” he asks, as I nod. “No problem!” — Edward Dalton To arrange classes, contact Thanh on 01675 767692. Alternatively, do a search on Facebook for her page: Hanoi and Around with Thanh

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Briefings HCMC

The New Campus ISHCMC gets itself a second, state-of-the-art home


hen the International School Ho Chi Minh City (ISHCMC) opened its first campus in 1993, it was the first international school to come to Vietnam. When it moved to its current location in District 2 in 1997, it was the first international school to set up in the now, education enclave of Thao Dien. This year it is set for another first, the completion of a brand new state-of-the-art secondary school campus. Located in District 2, 3km away from its present site on Vo Truong Toan, the new campus is designed to provide a safe and

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secure school for 11-18 year olds, and comes complete with the latest security and a pure air filtration system that delivers a centrallycontrolled climate to the whole school. If you’re worried about Ho Chi Minh City’s declining air quality, then while your kids are in school, the air will be pollution free without the need for air-conditioners or air purifiers. This concern with air quality has already been brought into the existing campus, which is introducing air filtration systems throughout the whole building. The existing campus will also be turned into a primary school, a transformation that is now under way.

The Real World According to Phil Rogers, the secondary school principal, the concept is to create a 21st-century learning environment which will provide “opportunities for kids to explore, but within the confines of keeping them safe, and in a caring environment.” To do this both campuses will be promoting several different kinds of learning. “We’ve got environments that are based around design,” explains Phil. “[The 21st century] world is going to see people not so much working for someone but for themselves, and designing their own types of innovations or being involved in a

A newly designed and refurbished classroom at ISHCMC’s Vo Truong Toan campus

different global community to that we are used to.” In the new campus, this has meant the creation of a food tech area, arts spaces and a 350-seat theatre with professional sound and lighting equipment, collaborative learning spaces, senior student study areas and Vietnam’s first high-school Innovation Center. All these spaces will “allow kids to explore,” says Phil, “but explore in a way that if it doesn’t quite work, it doesn’t matter, but it’s giving them that opportunity to try things and be risk-takers.” The concept, says Phil, is to give their students an opportunity to get experience of working in the real world, as due to living in an expat environment, they’re unlikely to have the opportunity to find jobs before they leave school.

Collaboration An addition to this is better utilisation of the corridors and walkways, something they’ve already created by gutting and redesigning

one floor of the existing campus. “Instead of just being walkways, [the corridors are] now places where collaborative learning can occur,” says Phil. “So, during the time that kids aren’t actually moving from class to class, they’re working in the corridors — they’ve got different spaces that they can connect with. They can use the floor for drawing on or can use the space for practising a dramatic piece or their oral presentation or doing some creative thinking as a group.” The new classrooms are also building on this idea of collaborative learning through the use of technology. “We want kids to be able to show what they’re doing at a moment’s notice,” he says. “So you may use an Apple TV or a Google Chrome Box, and you’ve got the kids working on their computers or their tablets and you can just say right, Joe, can you just put up and show us what you’ve got. We’re going to use whiteboard walls, so kids can write over the walls and share their ideas

and suggestions, and the classrooms will also have sound systems.” This concept is also built into the Innovation Center, which has been designed as a creative thinking space with writeable walls and large tables where kids can write on the tables, share and develop ideas. “We want to be able to get kids up and doing things,” adds Phil. “Research shows the brain works best when it’s moving — it’s not very good when it’s sitting still. It needs blood flow. We want kids to be active, to be out and about, and we want that collaboration, to help kids develop and build ideas.” For centuries, urban planners and architects have designed buildings and cities with particular concepts of human activity in mind. ISHCMC’s design of its campuses is also looking at the outcome. It’s part of the school’s mission which is to create a supportive, challenging learning environment which lets students be energized, engaged and empowered. For more info click on ishcmc.com

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Briefings Hanoi

The Treehouse Homestay Why stay in a hotel when you can stay in a treehouse?


anoi is home to hundreds of hotels, ranging from budget cockroach nests to luxury international behemoths. Tucked away from the mainstream, Dao Anh Khanh Studio offers accommodation unlike anything else in the city. The studio is home to half a dozen unique treehouses, hidden among a jungle of trees planted by its owner, Dao Anh Khanh, 20 years ago.

Artist, Engineer and Performer If life’s a stage, then Khanh, 58, has danced and painted his way across it without stopping to take a breath. His foray into the world of art began aged nine, and has led him to exhibitions in Paris, contemporary dance workshops in New York and eccentric celebrity status in Vietnam.

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A homestay at his studio feels like stepping into his mind. “I want people to feel like they’re joining my life,” Khanh says. “I like talking with guests, eating with them; I want to be a part of their lives too.” In addition to building various treehouses, Khanh has also dug into the earth to create the Underground Dungeon room, which guests can enjoy for US$45 (VND1.04 million) per night. Each room is different. The Aquarium, available for US$65 per night, features giant fish tanks on either side of the bed, with ambient lighting all around. The Sky Treehouse, the highest of the bunch and costing US$100 per night, has a large outdoor terrace offering a panoramic view of the whole property. The other rooms, such as the Cosy Treehouse, Zen Space

Treehouse and Happy Together House, each have distinct qualities and range in price from US$55 to US$130.

Jungle Is Massive The grounds of the studio are as much a reason to stay there as the accommodation. “I wanted to create a jungle atmosphere,” explains Khanh. “I love to be close to nature, and I think nature should contribute to the architecture of my home.” Trees, bushes, flowers and creepers fill the area. Hidden between them are works of art by Khanh and other artists he has invited or collaborated with. Some of the sculptures are bound to induce nightmares, and yet other areas of the garden are a fantasy wonderland with flowing streams and white pebbled paths. You would be forgiven for expecting to

find an Ewok hiding around every corner, such is the dense and bizarre environment created by the combination of flora and art.

Something Different


The practical side of the business, as a homestay or hotel, is far more ordinary; but still executed with the same attention to detail as the décor and environment. There’s WiFi, complimentary toiletries, fresh linens and a hair dryer. Every room comes with a thick blanket for the winter, and air conditioning for the summer. You won’t find a TV, but each room has a dedicated speaker system, allowing guests to customise the atmosphere with their own music. The beds are thick and soft, and there are quirky features in abundance. The Sky Treehouse has glass floor tiles; not for sufferers of vertigo. Others have bathroom walls made from old wine bottles, or paintings by Khanh hanging above the bed. Breakfast is free, and lunch options are US$5 per person. An impressive dinner feast by resident Chef Minh is available for US$15 per person, which can be enjoyed in the art gallery. Be sure to bring a chequebook, however, as some of Khanh’s work is on sale for up to US$30,000. — Edward Dalton Dao Anh Khanh Studio is located at 7/462 Ngoc Thuy, Long Bien, Hanoi. For bookings and more information, call Jenny on 0917 660902

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Briefings HCMC


dam Palmeter was relieving himself when the idea came to mind for how he could get his artwork out there for more people to see and maybe even increase his chances of having someone approach him to commission him for a job. Fortunately, at the time, he wasn’t in the regular thinktank environs of a design studio where great ideas tend to come about in more conventional ways. Otherwise, he may have been arrested. “I was in the toilets in Piu Piu and was wondering what kind of installation I could do,” says Adam, a 35-year-old New Yorker who’s becoming better known in Ho Chi Minh City for his work as an MC on the comedy circuit, and now his art. “I looked up at the wall and thought it would be fun to paint it with this design I’d been working on. I have a lot of connections in bars through my comedy work so it went from there.”

For the Art So far, Adam has painted the inside of the bathrooms at four venues in Ho Chi Minh City — Kokois in District 2, and Broma, La Fenetre Soleil, and Piu Piu in District 1 as part of his latest installation Adam Palmeter In Stalls. As time has gone on, the project has become less about finding new ways for, er, exposure and more about doing art for art’s sake. “Bathrooms are kind of cool and coming

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Communal Art Installations for the people

from a graffiti background, I used to always carry a marker when I was younger and tagged bathroom walls,” says Adam. “They’re a kind of communal space. People might be waiting in line, others might be doing drugs, a couple of people might be hooking up with each other, or you may have had too much to drink and find yourself hugging a toilet. But seriously, going to the bathroom sometimes you feel vulnerable, so I like the idea of people being vulnerable in an installation, in the actual art and being surrounded by it.”

Asian Inspiration Adam has used regular house paint for the installations, with the colours and design varying from venue to venue. At Kokois, a light and airy venue, he’s used a turquoiseblue as a base and then layered it with white geometrical shapes and patterns in the ladies’ bathroom. The textured pattern appears to reflect the influence Asia is beginning to have on Adam (he lived in South Korea for three years before coming to Vietnam) as the boxy look bears some semblance to Chinese, Japanese and Korean scripts. Indeed, many of the squares look a lot like the Japanese character for mouth or opening — kuchi — something that may or may not be intentional. “Travelling has hands down been the best thing for my art. I feel more complete


as an artist thanks to travel. Korea is where I started using chopsticks for painting instead of brushes,” says Adam when explaining that he’s become more experimental over the years. He adds: “I don’t have a theoretical background in art or the skill set that someone might have who’s graduated from art college, so everything I do is very organic, in a way it’s natural. I like making a mess and I like the contrast of colours and

how they work together.” Before moving to Korea to live and work, Adam had already begun his foray into becoming a full-time artist. He started painting around the time he was preparing to graduate from college. One day he came across a crate of records and decided to use them as canvasses because they were cheaper than the real thing, that’s when he started painting New York City skylines on vinyl. “NYC is probably the worst and the best

place to be an artist,” he says. “Not only are you surrounded by so many artists and so many talented people, but the living expenses and the competition can be crushing. Whereas, Vietnam is a great place for creatives, it really embraces a creative lifestyle and for me personally, the weather’s nice, so my career with winter is done. Still, I’ve never been to Europe and there’s something about Spain that’s calling me.” — Matt Cowan

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Briefings HCMC

ILV Turns 25 The International Ladies of Vietnam prepare for a huge celebration 20 | Word February 2017 | wordvietnam.com


t started out on the floating hotel on the river,” recalls Mary Matheson from Scotland, who’s been living in Ho Chi Minh City since 1998. The floating hotel Mary refers to — or “the floater” as it’s fondly remembered by some — is the 201-room Saigon Floating Hotel once moored at the Ton Duc Thang Street jetty opposite the Tran Hung Dao statue and roundabout in District 1. It was Vietnam’s first foreign-invested hotel and survived until 1997 just before Mary arrived. “Since then, all of the hotels in Ho Chi Minh City have been used for our events.” The events in question are those organised by the International Ladies in Vietnam group, which in March this year celebrates its 25th anniversary since its formation. Mary is ILV’s longest serving member — almost 19 years — and while the number of members the group started out with all those years ago is long forgotten, ILV recently sent out over 4,500 invitations to past and present members from many parts of the world for the celebration at The Grand Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City. “We’ve survived 25 years,” says current ILV chairlady Linda DeHart, a North Carolina native who has called Vietnam home for the last few years. “We have over 40 countries represented in our active membership now — I think we’re getting it right.”

Not-For-Profit ILV is a not-for-profit social group whose mission is to offer information, entertainment and support for women of all ages over 18 of any nationality and background, although men are encouraged to join as associate members. ILV has begun to recognise the increasing number of male “trailing spouses” arriving in Vietnam — a term used in expat circles for a person who follows their life partner to another city or country because of a work assignment. However, while men are most welcome to join, their associate membership affords them one less privilege than the ladies — they can’t become members of the committee. “We’re changing with the times, but they can’t become the chairlady,” says Linda with a smile. ILV welcomes newcomers to Vietnam through its special newcomers’ meeting once a month where they are given advice and information on life as an expat in Ho Chi

Minh City and Vietnam. The kind of advice offered can be as simple as a warning, like how easy it is to confuse a VND500,000 note with a VND20,000 note, while other information might be related to upcoming events being held by local charities or the advertising of jobs. But ILV is more than just an information service for newly arrived expats. The group currently has around 230 members — including some Vietnamese members — who, like Mary and Linda, have been living in Vietnam for quite a while. The weekly coffee meetings always have a guest speaker, and while talks tend to centre on opportunities for women, they often cover other topics of interest. “It’s not just about women’s things,” adds long-term ILV member Mary Lower from Canada, who is entering her 14th year in Ho Chi Minh City, and who was the elementary school principal at Saigon South International School for a time. “We once had a very informative talk on credit card fraud. Sometimes it’s also about survival, because we tend to live in a bit of a bubble, so ILV provides opportunities to hear about different experiences, good and bad, and how we survived.”

Growing Popularity The majority of women who join ILV are looking for a purpose for being in Vietnam other than just being the partner of the person who moved here for work. It’s a place to explore opportunities and have fun through outings and activities. While innovations in technology mean expats have access to greater information than ever before to help with settling into a new environment, ILV can offer more than a Google search can turn up, which may explain a recent uptick in the number of young people joining the group. Activities include line dancing, bridge, mahjong, golf and ten-pin bowling. And rest assured, the ladies in ILV don’t let important dates of the year go by without a celebration. “We do know how to party,” stresses Linda. “Recently we had a DJ and then there was an after-party after that and then another after-party after that at a bar, so we can’t wait until March for the 25th anniversary celebrations.” — Matt Cowan For more information on International Ladies in Vietnam, head to facebook.com/ILVietnam or ilvietnam.com

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Briefings Hanoi

Walking Street Pedestrianised streets are here to stay


ny Hanoian who has battled the city’s hectic traffic has a theory on how to best regulate the barrage of motorbikes, cars and pedestrians that are guaranteed to clog the pathways of the Old Quarter on any given weekend. Due to limited space in the area’s narrow streets, the most popular opinion has always been that the motorbikes and vehicles would one day have to go. The initial trial of Hanoi’s walking street began in 2014 and involved barricading Hang Buom, Ma May, Hang Giay, Luong Ngoc Quyen, Ta Hien and Dao Duy Tu streets to everything other than foot traffic. The test run gained positive reviews from both bia hoi drinkers and Old Quarter shopkeepers alike. The next major step came in September 2016 when the city expanded the walking street area to include the entire circumference of Hoan Kiem Lake.

New-found Beginning at 6pm on Fridays and stretching into the late hours of Sunday evening, the Hoan Kiem area of the walking street now sees thousands of visitors each weekend. The newfound real estate has been claimed by local street vendors and buskers performing everything from traditional Vietnamese folk music to break-dancing and magic tricks.

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The gathering crowd of pedestrians are a mixture of expats, tourists, bar hoppers, weekend warriors, dog walkers, children, teenagers and families. The chaotic Dong Kinh Nghia Thuc Square can now be walked without fear of oncoming traffic. Instead, the jam of cars has been replaced with balloon merchants and the enticing aromas of street food carts. In front of the Cam Tu “self-sacrifice” monument, you will find local children and some nostalgic adults playing schoolyard games, such as tug-of-war, double dutch and o an quan, a traditional Vietnamese board game drawn and played on the pavement where the object of the game is to collect as many rocks as possible from your opponent. Many of the local spectators and players will happily teach you this game if you show an interest.

Blessing or curse? Closing off an entire district of the city to vehicles can either be a curse or a blessing depending on who is being asked. For area shop owners, this arrangement has brought increased business. People who visit Hanoi’s Bia Hoi Corner will also be happy to know that, due to the success of the walking street the city's mandated and much-loathed 11pm curfew has been lifted, or at the very least, much loosened. The downside is that getting to your


usual Old Quarter watering hole may now take more steps and planning. You may have to park your motorbike farther away than anticipated, and then wade through a sea of people to get to your destination. As for motorbike parking, one of the most convenient and secure locations is the parking lot under the bridge at Nguyen Huu Huan and Luong Ngoc Quyen. The fee is a flat rate of VND5,000, and the lot is open well into the night. There are many other parking options farther into the Old Quarter, but these spots are often crowded and there is a premium charge on weekends, especially if you are a foreigner. Hanoi’s walking streets are an enjoyable place to spend a day or night on a promenade with friends and family. For those who can deal with the throng of people, it is a great environment for drinking and people watching. It is refreshing to be able to experience local culture and food without having to fend off motorbikes and vehicles, although you may still find it necessary to deal with the occasional hoverboard and child in a rented electric car. With the large crowds, it has become apparent that the walking streets are a much-needed addition to the city. Hanoi was becoming almost unwalkable, so any place that will allow you to walk freely is surely welcomed, even if it is only on the weekends. — Hai Vu

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Charity of

the Month

Green Dreams Providing a family for Hanoi’s orphans


ounded by Pastor Pham Duc Trung from The Blessings Church in 2013, Green Dreams provides a home for just a few of the thousands of orphans living in Hanoi. According to a research project by Boston University in collaboration with Hanoi School of Public Health, there were over 1.5 million orphans living in Vietnam about a decade ago. Vietnam’s population increased from 85.1 million in 2008 to 92.7 million in 2016. Without doubt, the number of orphans in the country has grown too. Before his role in the church, Pastor Trung struggled with drug addiction for 11 years. When he was a child his mother left home, leaving him in the care of his father. “I didn’t get much support from my family so I felt like an orphan,” he says. “When I became a teenager I wasn’t very good and started using drugs.” He overcame his addiction when he found salvation through Christ and dedicated his life to serving God. This included going to bible school and becoming a pastor, assisting other former drug addicts and providing food and ministering to street children.

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“We cooked twice a week for the kids and gave them small bibles. When we took them to church they were happy because they felt like they had a family,” he says. “Their living conditions were not good. It’s difficult to become a good person in the future with this sort of lifestyle.”

A New Family Pastor Trung had a vision to create a home in which he would adopt, raise, care, educate and provide for these cast-off children. He wanted to give them the family they never had and a chance for a better life. Incredibly, his brother (who was living in Canada at the time) had a similar vision and offered finances to fund this dream. With financial support in place, Pastor Trung adopted two boys and a month later another five. Today, Green Dreams Orphanage is home to 21 boys aged between seven and 19. There is one permanent staff member who takes care of the children and nine church members who assist. Most of these care takers are also former drug addicts who have turned their lives around.


“Each of the assistants have experience of brokenness and a similar past so they can empathise with the children,” says Pastor Trung. “They understand what the children think and what they need.” Many of the children at Green Dreams come from remote villages in regions surrounding Hanoi. People in these areas are often very poor, drug addicts, have unstable relationships and resort to leaving the country. As a result, many children grow up in broken homes or without parents. They relocate to the city to find work and often end up living on the street. Not only does Green Dreams offer these children a home and a new life but also a family. “I feel so grateful because at home, my parents don’t love me, but here [I have] new parents. They are Pastor Trung and his wife, who love me so dearly,” says Vang A Chang, a 14-year-old boy who was adopted in 2014. — Mignon van Zyl Green Dreams is located at The Blessings Church in A19, lo 15, Khu Do Thi Dinh Cong, Dong Da, Hanoi, Tel: 0968 164770. For more information please email greendreamsvietnam@ gmail.com

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Sports Digest



A different kind of workout is set to sweep Thao Dien. Words Harry Hodge. Photo by Bao Zoan

he newest addition to fitness options in Thao Dien may make you feel like you’ve arrived in a real zoo. In a hem off the high-brow artery in District 2, nestled among the villas behind the British International School, Kiwi fitness trainer Phil Kelly gathered a group of us on a Saturday to acquaint us with Zuu, which is designed around “primal movement” patterns and body-weight strength

through range. Based on the movements of animals and young children, this freewheeling primal movement workout is designed to put the fun back into fitness. Indeed, with movements like “bear crawls,” “the frog,” and more, the animal theme extends beyond the big gorilla face on the wall. Various crawls, squats and explosive leaps left muscles swimming in lactic after a short but sweet intensive session.

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Interaction The half-dozen of us in the class were encouraged to pump each other up and motivate one another, an element that Phil says is absent from typical solo gym workouts. Phil pointed to the lack of human interaction as a failing factor behind most gyms nowadays, and that the Zuu collective’s motivationthrough-groupwork aesthetic is key. “Get a touch” is repeated throughout the session, signaling

high-fives, handshakes or other positive reinforcement which takes about 40 minutes including short pauses between the different blocks. The minimalistic space was mostly used for circle and relay work. Partners were encouraged often to “mix it up” and go to different spaces and work with different people. Phil says these methods bridge the gap between traditional strength and conditioning programmes as well as the core

Sport in Brief Golden Olympian Opens 2017 in Top Spot Vietnamese marksman Hoang Xuan Vinh is the world No. 1 in the men’s 10m air pistol event, according to the latest International Sport Shooting Federation ranking in January, Vietnam News reports. Vinh won Vietnam’s first-ever Olympic gold at Rio 2016. He now has 3,261 points. Brazilian Wu Felipe Almeida, who won the silver medal, ranks second in the world rankings. Vietnamese sharp shooter Tran Quoc Cuong remained in 31st place. In the men’s 50m pistol pool, South Korea’s Jin Jongoh, who triumphed in Rio, claims the top spot. Vinh, who nabbed silver in Rio, ranks second. Teammate Cuong dropped five spots to world No 39.

Hanoi Buffaloes link up with Thailand Basketball Super League

strength, mobility and flexibility gains associated with yoga and Pilates. He also says that getting muscle groups to work in harmony is more effective than individual parts at different times, and the routine we ran through that Saturday certainly worked multiple areas. Back, legs, shoulders were all feeling it by the end of the session. He cites UFC athletes, professional rugby teams, the military and other adherents from different sports as

practitioners of the Zuu method. For the general public the benefits are simple; to get fitter, become functionally stronger and move better. “Classes will be starting after Tet, we’ll be starting off gradually,” says Phil. “We won’t do the same class each day. But if you come in around the same time (daily) you’ll get a wellrounded complete workout.” For more information, visit bodyexpertsystems.com or email phil@bodyexpertsystems.com

The Hanoi Buffaloes, which was formed in 2016 as part of the new Vietnam Basketball Association, began competing in the Thailand Basketball Super League with three foreign players last month, according to the Communist Party of Vietnam Online Newspaper. The club signed contracts with Lance Perique, Steve Thomas and Marcus Douthit, all of who are American players. Apart from Perique, the two others have been competing in Southeast Asia for several years. Thomas is a forward and can also play centre. He won the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) title in 2012 with the Indonesia Warriors and in 2014 with Hitech Bangkok City. Douthit is a former member of the Los Angeles Lakers at the NBA Draft in 2004. He played for 12 years in the NBA Development League before leaving for Europe and Asia. He received citizenship of the Philippines in 2011 and became a member of the national team. The Thai league also includes foreign teams from Singapore and the Philippines. The Saigon Heat is the only other VBA team playing internationally, and is currently in its fifth season in the ABL.

Vietnam Set for Debut at Asian Winter Games For those who have seen Cool

Runnings, about the unlikely heroics of the Jamaican bobsleigh team, a similar dream may be taking shape for Vietnamese skiiers on the slopes of Japan. Vietnam will take part in the Asian Winter Games in Sapporo and Obihiro, Japan, this month, according to Vietnam News. It will be the first time that Vietnamese athletes will compete in the games, which is one of the two biggest sporting events on the continent. Vietnam is slated to compete in skiing, and national sports leaders have opened the doors to overseas Vietnamese to join the national team for the Sapporo event. The eighth Games will have 11 sports with 64 events to take place from Feb. 19 to Feb. 22. The Games have developed into a large-scale sporting meet attended by athletes from countries and regions across Asia, and have produced significant results towards achieving the Olympic Council of Asia’s goal of developing winter sports in Asia.

Truth Break Winless Record by Beating Saigon Heat The Saigon Heat couldn’t handle the Truth in early January. In their first trip to play a Taiwanese pro side, the Heat couldn’t get it done as the Kaohsiung Truth notched their very first win in franchise history 83-82, at the Kaohsiung Municipal Senior High School. Cedric Oliver led the Truth with 25 points and 13 rebounds, according to the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) website. For Saigon, Joshua Munzon had 19 points but he also needed 17 shots. Lenny Daniel notched 25 points on 50 percent shooting and 12 boards. Heritage player Achie Inigo had a breakout game for Kaohsiung with 18 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 assists.

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

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ToDo list HCMC

Exhibitions, live music, pool parties, St. Paddy’s and a whole lot of comedy



The Snap Café is hosting live music every Saturday night throughout February

Saigon Soul Pool Parties… The best place to be on a Saturday afternoon?




February at Snap The Snap Café, Q2 Feb. 4, 11, 18 and 25 Tet may have brought the country to a halt, but it’s not stopping District 2 chill-out zone, The Snap Café. With their fingers heavily pressed down on the pulse, they’ve got a nice line-up of Saturday night live music for the month of February. Running every week from 5.30pm to 8.30pm, during the live music there’s a buy-one-get-onefree on draught beer. Just to get you in the mood, of course. Here’s the schedule: Saturday, Feb. 4 SineKwaNon Rock with a retro feel Saturday, Feb. 11 Art of Noise Playing a little bit of everything

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Saturday, Feb. 18 La Kinh A jazzy duo Saturday, Feb. 25 Freckled Gypsys Acoustic loveliness The deals don’t stop there. On Burger Wednesdays get two free drinks with any burger order all day, while Friday is Mexican Madness. Get a free margarita, Corona or personal jug of sangria with every Mexican order all day. The Snap Café is at 32 Tran Ngoc Dien, Q2, HCMC

Saigon Soul Pool Parties New World Hotel, Q1 Feb. 4, 11, 18 and 25 It’s hard to believe, but those Saturday afternoon Saigon Soul Parties at the New World Hotel are

already halfway through their sixmonth season. Not that it means the lively poolside bashes are getting staid. The organisers have been doing this for a few years now and like to mix things up a bit. So, expect different DJs, evolving beats, some banging music and as ever, some bangingly hedonistic fun. So, if you’re looking for an escape from the city while remaining in its very heart, mark down 10am to 10pm every Saturday for “a sexy, water-fueled event with some fantastic house music and amazing people.” Know a better way to spend the weekend? Don’t think so. New World Saigon Hotel is at 2F, 76 Le Lai, Q1, HCMC. Entrance costs VND150,000. Book your VIP cabana on saigonsoul.com

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ToDo list HCMC



The Big V Semi-Finals

The amateur comedy competition continues on Feb. 17

US comic William Childress will perform at Game On on Feb. 22



Game On, Q1 Friday, Feb. 17 There’s a lot of comedy coming up in the next few weeks, and it starts with the semi-finals of the Big V amateur comedy competition on Friday, Feb. 17 at Game On. Part of the second annual Magners International Comedy Festival that will run from Mar. 20 to Mar. 23 in both Saigon and Hanoi, after three-minute sets in mid-January to an audience of over 150 at DTwo, eight semi-finalists have progressed to the next round to see who will be crowned the top amateur comic in Vietnam. Hosted by last year’s winner, Adam Palmeter, the comedians will be competing for a spot in the all-Vietnam final on Monday, Mar.

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20 at La Fenetre Soleil. The winner will not only receive the lion’s share of a rather nice pot of cash, but will get an all-expenses-paid trip to Singapore for the regional BIG V finals. So, come along and support the growing comedy scene in this city, and laugh your ao dai off, too. Well, maybe not. Entrance is VND150,000 and tickets can be purchased on the door. For advance table bookings, please email diana.a.bailey@gmail.com. Game On Saigon is at 115 Ho Tung Mau, Q1, HCMC

William Childress Game On, Q1 Wednesday, Feb. 22 For those of you out there who dream of comedic greatness — and

there are many — then you need to look no further than American comic, William Childress. The third comic to perform in Saigon who cut his teeth in the region, William began his standup career in 2011 in Shanghai, China as one of the earliest members of Kung Fu Komedy and helped open mainland China’s first standup comedy room. Moving to Myanmar, William founded the country’s first English-language standup group, Standup Yangon, which he still runs from afar. Having headlined all over Asia, William has twice been a finalist of the Hong Kong International Comedy Competition, finishing second runner up in 2014. In 2015, he took the long way back home, stopping off at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where he put on


MAD House D7 E V E R Y D AY a successful full-run solo show. Now based in his native Atlanta, Georgia, William performs throughout the US. For the moment, though, he is thrilled to be getting the hell out of America for a while to get your chairs rocking, your bellies aching, your smiles breaking and your beer spilling mightily upon the floor. This will be his second time performing in Saigon. His first show was immense. Support comes from Estonian gagster Ari Matti Mustonen. Entrance is VND200,000 and tickets can be purchased on the door. For table bookings, please email nick@saigoninternationalcomedy. com. Game On Saigon is at 115 Ho Tung Mau, Q1, HCMC. Doors are at 8pm


11 AM - 10 PM

No.2 street C,Tan Phu Ward, Dist 7 2nd floor at Capri by Fraser

08 5417 1234 Facebook.com/MADhouseD7

MAD House D2 E V E R Y D AY


08 AM - 10 PM

6/1/2 Nguyen U Di, Thao Dien, Dist 2

08 3519 4009 Facebook.com/MADsaigon

ToDo list HCMC 1


St Patrick’s Day Festival

This year’s St. Paddy’s will be celebrated in style on Mar. 18

Australian comic John Robertson will be performing at The Magners International Comedy Festival

Pacific Ocean (2005) by celebrated Vietnamese artist, Nguyen Cam




Venue to be confirmed Saturday, Mar.18 To be sure this is going to be the best craic yet. This year’s IBAV (Irish Business Association Vietnam) St Patrick’s Day celebration will be huge. With help from the local Irish community and support from the Embassy of Ireland in Vietnam, St Paddy’s Day starts at 6pm and winds up at midnight. There will be live music, an ‘Irish Village’ and vendors providing plenty of food and drinks. While the venue is yet to be confirmed, a little leprechaun has told us that the beer will flow at the Saigon Outcast, just like it did last year. But this one needs to be confirmed, so check back with wordvietnam.com for updates and for where you can get your green on. Again, all proceeds raised at the event will go to the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation in Vietnam. The Irish Business Association of Vietnam can be contacted via iba.vn and facebook.com/ irishbusinessassociationvietnam

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The Magners International Comedy Festival Around District 1 Mar. 20 to Mar. 22 There’s been a bit of build up to this one — three heats of an amateur comedy competition and growing swathes of publicity — but after a long wait and a hell of a lot of organising, the second annual Magners International Comedy Festival will finally get lift-off in Saigon. Three shows will run over three consecutive days with some big, big names being flown in by Magners Irish Cider. While the organisers will be providing more information closer to the laughfest, here’s the breakdown. Mar. 20 at La Fenetre Soleil Entrance VND200,000 The all-Vietnam finals of the amateur comedy competition, the Big V, hosted by Lars Calleiou (CAN) Mar. 21 at Game On Saigon Entrance VND250,000 (VND200,000 in advance) The Pro Night featuring Dana Alexander (CAN), Andre King (NZ) and John Robertson (AUS) Mar. 22 at the Caravelle Hotel Entrance VND400,000

(VND300,000 in advance) The Grand Finale featuring Dana Alexander (CAN), John Robertson (AUS), Andre King (NZ), Matthew Giffen (UK) and Lars Callieou (CAN) Prepare for a feast of tummy tickling, side-splitting laughter. You may even shed a tear or two. For more information and table reservations for the Big V, click on facebook.com/dandbshows and for the shows on Mar. 21 and Mar. 22, go to facebook.com/saigoninternationalcomedy. Advance tickets for the final two shows can be purchased by emailing nick@ saigoninternationalcomedy.com. The Magners International Comedy Festival is running throughout Southeast Asia. For full info click on comedyfest.com.sg

Mindscapes & Mystic Spaces Salon Saigon, Q3 Feb. 15 to Mar. 15 The newly established Vietnamese heritage and culture centre, Salon Saigon, is teaming up with Hanoi’s Art Vietnam Gallery to present the works of esteemed Vietnamese artist, Nguyen Cam. The exhibition marks the 23rd anniversary of the artist’s poignant return to his country after


an absence of 40 years. Born in Haiphong in 1944, Cam returned to Vietnam for the first time in 1994 after the exodus of his family in 1954. Cam lived in Laos, singularly raising his five siblings from the tender age of 17. Cam opened a gallery in Vientiane and had some local repute as an artist of talent and passion. In 1969, fueled with ambition and dreams, Cam moved to Paris to study at the Ecole des Beaux Arts. In 1994, the Ho Chi Minh Fine

Arts Association invited Cam to come back to his country to exhibit and teach at the National Fine Art Universities. Reunited with his homeland after a 40-year absence was a powerful, moving experience for the seasoned artist. His memories of Vietnam were those of a child, an innocent trapped in the turmoil of his country within forces beyond his control. Mindscapes & Mystic Spaces reflects the journey of the man and the heart of the artist. The works progress

from random, broad calligraphic brush strokes on free canvas to a more tempered, restrained energy. Nguyen Cam has exhibited widely. His work has been shown in Spain, the US, France, Belgium, Hong Kong, Japan and Germany, and is part of many personal and public collections worldwide. The exhibition will take place at Salon Saigon, 6D Ngo Thoi Nhiem, Q3, HCMC, with the opening reception on Wednesday, Feb. 15 at 6pm. For more info go to salonsaigon.com



A Cantonese restaurant, a maths competition, the city marathon, a new museum and the hydrofoil service to Vung Tau





The VinaExpress hydrofoils to Vung Tau sail their last journey

The Precious Heritage Museum in Hoi An

Yeji, Serim, Sumin and Jin from ISHCMC, winners of the Senior Mathematics Logic Competition

Last month, Ho Chi Minh City held its first marathon in 25 years

Cantonese restaurant Ngan Dinh Saigon opens up on Dong Khoi






The Last Hydrofoil? With licenses awarded on a temporary basis until the various companies operating the route between Ho Chi Minh City and Vung Tau could prove the safety of their boats, one company effectively went out of business on Dec. 31, 2016 with the sailing of their last hydrofoil from Vung Tau to Ho Chi Minh City. VinaExpress, the operator who had been sailing the route down the Saigon River for well over 20 years, finally closed shop on Dec. 31. Another operator, Petro Express, is also no longer running the service. However, for those of you who both like and take advantage of the 80-minute commute between the two cities, all is not lost. A third operator, Greenlines, recently launched spanking new boats and have been awarded a new operating license. Running three times a day, the price per ticket is VND200,000 (adults) and VND120,000 (children aged six to 11), with under-fives going for free. For information on the Greenlines service call (08) 6258 1136. The boat in Ho Chi Minh City departs from Nha Rong Port (Ben Tau Khach Nha Rong), 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, HCMC

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Anywhere, Anytime Promotion Members of AccorHotels’ global loyalty programme Le Club have the opportunity to qualify for the chance to win one of 10, US$2,017 credits to take the trip of a lifetime to any of AccorHotels’ 3,400 participating hotels around the world. To qualify for the lucky draw, Le Club members need only complete a simple online registration form, then book and stay at any AccorHotels property worldwide by Tuesday, Feb. 28 this year. The more you book and stay, the more chances of winning the credits for that dream trip. Non-members can make themselves eligible by enrolling online free of charge at leclubaccorhotels.com. Members head to accorhotels-anywhereanytime.com to complete the online registration form. The Accor group includes the likes of Sofitel, Novotel, Mercure, MGallery and Ibis Hotels

Precious Heritage Art Gallery Museum Hoi An-based French photographer Réhahn has just unveiled the

culmination of five years’ work that has seen him meet and document the lives of 45 of Vietnam’s 54 ethnic groups. The Precious Heritage Art Gallery Museum is his art space housing more than 30 authentic traditional costumes, 200 photos, precious artefacts and stories in French, English and Vietnamese. On display is one of only five complete costumes remaining from Vietnam’s smallest ethnic group, which was gifted to Réhanh by the group’s chief for preservation in the museum. There’s also the opportunity to learn more about a little known ethnic group inaccessible to tourists that Réhahn had to wait three years for to gain access to. The space offers a multidimensional experience with videos, music, photos, and the last vestiges of some of Vietnam’s most vulnerable ethnic groups. The museum is at 26 Phan Boi Chau, Hoi An. Entrance is free and it’s open from 8.30am to 8.30pm daily. For more information, click on rehahnphotographer.com. To see more of Rehahn’s work, turn to page xxx



Maths Students Have the Winning Formula International School Ho Chi Minh City (ISHCMC) played host to two annual, city-wide mathematics contests last semester as part of the Saigon Mathematics Competition. Four grade 12 students — Yeji, Serim, Sumin and Jin — won the Senior Mathematics Logic Competition, competing against 12 other teams, two of whom also represented ISHCMC. The three came first in both the individual and relay contests, and Yeji achieved the highest individual result of the competition overall. The Intermediate Saigon Mathematics Competition was also hosted at ISHCMC and the Grade 9 students were awarded joint first position. ISHCMC is at 28 Vo Truong Toan, Q2, Ho Chi Minh City. Visit their website ishcmc.com for more information.

The City Marathon The 4th edition of the HCMC Run — The City Marathon took

place on Sunday, Jan. 15 in Phu My Hung, offering a range of distances for runners of all levels. Powered by Taiwan Excellence and organised by Pulse Active, runners chose from the staple distances of 5km, 10km and 21km, as well as a full distance marathon of 42km. With races starting at 4am, Swedish runner Henrik Tannbord from the male full marathon category won the event in an impressive 02:34:24, while Marlene Lootz took the women’s title with a time of 03:12:24. For the 21km distance the male title went to Hoang Thanh (01:16:33) and the female title went to Thuy Lam (01:38:35). This year there was a significant increase in the number of race participants, with a total of 7,218 runners across all distances. For info click on hcmcrun.com

Ngan Dinh Saigon Ngan Dinh Saigon opened its doors on Dong Khoi last month, bringing a Cantonese dining

experience to the heart of Ho Chi Minh City. Set in a fabulous, three-storey structure, and decorated with mosaics and wall coverings reminiscent of Hong Kong, an impressive aquarium sits in the entrance, offering a range of fresh seafood, followed by a grand staircase leading to the main dining halls and private VIP rooms. Ngan Dinh is ideal for big, family-style dining, catering to a range of tastes and preferences. The restaurant’s menu comprises a wide selection of Cantonese dishes from Chef Chung Man Poi, such as succulent barbecued pork, Peking duck, baked abalone puffs with diced chicken and Yang Chow fried rice. Lunch is an expansive dim sum menu of traditional favourites, from shrimp dumplings, steamed pork buns and steamed scallop dumplings to steamed pork spare ribs with black bean sauce. The restaurant opens daily from 11am to 1am and is located at 5254-56 Dong Khoi, Q1, HCMC, Tel: (08) 3982 6688



1. Berlin-based DJ Paramida plays Savage on Feb. 11 2. They’re big, they mix classic with contemporary, and they’re playing at The Rec Room. Meet Ensemble Resonanz 3. Cutting his teeth on the comedy scene in Shanghai, the very funny William Childress headlines Standing Bar on Feb. 23 4. Maggie G will be one of the DJs performing at the Equation Party at Savage 5. Lauded Paraguayan trio LPZ play Savage on Feb. 25 6. Asia Outdoors is running an acroyoga retreat on Cat Ba Island in mid-March

Lots of comedy, a music festival, DJs, a food festival and an acroyoga retreat




Paramida Savage, Tay Ho Saturday, Feb. 11 Boss of the Love On The Rock label with artists such as Telephones, Sharif Laffrey and Fantastic Man on her books, Berlin-based Paramida will be on the decks at Savage as part of her first tour in Asia. She will be accompanied by Savage’s Graz under his Color Night party. Savage is at 112 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Entry is free before midnight, VND100,000 thereafter. For more info, click on facebook.com/savagehanoi/

Ensemble Resonanz Rec Room, Hanoi Creative City Monday, Feb.13 Described as chamber music meets electronic, Ensemble Resonanz is a German string ensemble hailing from Hamburg, who innovatively connect tradition with the present. Brought to Hanoi by the Goethe Institut, the ensemble interprets old masterpieces in dialogue with contemporary compositions which

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has evolved into an established concert series called Urban String where the classics are combined with the ‘doof doof’ of the clubs. Hence, the ensemble is supported by DJs, with Vietnamese DJ Le Nam Khanh aka NK playing with Ensemble Resonanz for their Hanoi show. Admission is free and the concert starts at 8pm. The Rec Room is located on the 20th floor of Hanoi Creative City, 1 Luong Yen, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi. For updates, go to facebook.com/Goethe. Institut.Hanoi or goethe.de/ins/vn/en

William Childress Standing Bar, Ba Dinh Thursday, Feb. 23 For those of you who dream of comedic greatness — and there are many — then look no further than American comic, William Childress. The third professional comic to perform in Hanoi who cut his teeth in the region, William began his stand-up career in 2011 in Shanghai, China as one of the earliest

members of Kung Fu Komedy and helped open mainland China’s first stand-up comedy room. Moving to Myanmar, William founded the country’s first English-language comedy group, Standup Yangon, which he still runs from afar. Having headlined all over Asia, William has twice been a finalist in the Hong Kong International Comedy Competition, finishing second runner up in 2014. In 2015, he took the long way back home, stopping off at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where he put on a successful full-run solo show. Now based in his native Atlanta, Georgia, William performs throughout the US. For the moment, though, he is thrilled to be getting the hell out of America for a while to get your chairs rocking, your bellies aching, your smiles breaking and your beer spilling mightily upon the floor. This will be his second time headlining in Hanoi. His first show in 2013 was immense. The MC for the night will be Estonian gagster Ari Matti Mustonen,




with support coming from Nathan Sproule and Yasar Saleem, the top two comics in the recent Stand-Up Hanoi Amateur Comedy Competition. Entrance is VND200,000 (including a free glass of Pasteur Street IPA) and tickets can be purchased on the door or in advance at the bar. For more info visit standuphanoi.com. Standing Bar is at 170 Tran Vu, Ba Dinh, Hanoi. Doors are at 8pm

Equation Party Savage, Tay Ho Friday, Feb. 24 Equation, the first house and techno music dedicated festival in Vietnam is taking over Savage and is inviting the local talent to perform. House DJs Maggie G and Agata will hit the decks with their impressive selection of house, while Quan will be performing live with his multitude of music-making machines. Savage is at 112 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Entry is free before midnight, VND100,000 thereafter. For more info, click on facebook.com/savagehanoi/

LPZ Savage, Tay Ho Saturday, Feb. 25 With recent releases and remixes on various labels such as Get Physical, Tirk, Loungin’, Brownswood, Wah Wah 45s, First Word, Body Work and their own LPZ Records, the production unit known as LPZ have been described as Latin America’s hottest export since Gisele Bundchen. It’s easy to see why the Paraguayan trio has built such a reputation, with their soulful music making waves on the dance music scene since their remix of Morten Sorensen’s Burn Down on Tirk. It’s led to them gaining support from the likes of Groove Armada, Maya Jane Coles, Mr Scruff, Sinden, Gilles Peterson and Toddla T. Now based in Berlin, at Savage expect the Paraguayan amigos to play their soulful underground tunes that range from House all the way to the future side of bass. Savage is at 112 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Entry is free before midnight,

VND100,000 thereafter. For more info, click on facebook.com/savagehanoi/

Acroyoga Retreat Cat Ba Island, Halong Bay Mar. 11 to Mar. 12 This coming March, Asia Outdoors will host a two-day Acroyoga Retreat on beautiful Cat Ba Island. The retreat package will include 10 hours of instruction, all meals, transportation around the island and an evening of songs around the bonfire on the beach nearby. Participants will stay at Little Cat Ba Hotel, a secluded spot about five minutes out of busy Cat Ba town, nestled among gardens with only a short walk to the beach. All meals will be freshly prepared and vegetarian (with a seafood option for those who prefer). Acroyoga, a combination of yoga and acrobatics, is about finding balance, trust and having fun keeping your body and mind in shape. This two-day intensive workshop is open for both beginners and intermediates with

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listHanoi 1

1. Lars Callieou and Andre King will play the Magners Comedy Festival in March 2. Cao lau is probably Hoi An’s best known dish 3. The three-day festival, Equation, will take place just outside of Hanoi from Apr. 14 to Apr. 17

2 an interest in improving their acroyoga skills. It begins with simple, fundamental principles such as trust building, roles of the base, flyer, spotter, as well as beginner poses such as bird and throne, taking you right back to the basics. Participants will be led by two, professional acroyoga instructors who are well versed in adapting to their students’ various needs, making the course flexible and enjoyable for everyone. The retreat starts on Saturday at 8am and closes on Sunday at 4pm, so that participants can catch the last ferry back to Hanoi. The cost is US$140 per person (dorm accommodation) or US$155 per person (double bed room). Book your spot at booking@ asiaoutdoors.com.vn or contact Asia Outdoors on (031) 368 8450

The Magners International Comedy Festival

Leading the line will be the deadpan but seriously funny Canadian comic Lars Callieou, with some serious comedic genius coming from magician, actor, comedian, musician, Kiwi and general Jack of all stage-based trades, Andre King. It’s possible there may be another pro flying in from climes nearby, but this won’t be confirmed until nearer the date. So, prepare yourself for a feast of tummy tickling, side-splitting laughter. You may even shed a tear or two. Entrance is VND200,000 in advance and VND250,000 on the door. For more information and table reservations, click on facebook.com/ hanoicomedy/. Standing Bar is at 170 Tran Vu, Ba Dinh, Hanoi. The Magners International Comedy Festival is running in Ho Chi Minh City and throughout Southeast Asia. For full info click on comedyfest.com.sg

Standing Bar, Ba Dinh Mar. 23

Hoi An International Food Festival 2017

After a long wait and a hell of a lot of organising, the Magners International Comedy Festival will finally make its debut in Hanoi. With one show already out of the way — the Stand-Up Hanoi Amateur Comedy Competition in mid-January — now the big boys are here.

An Hoi Sculpture Garden, Hoi An Mar. 20 to Mar. 22

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If you’re a food-lover then make your way to Hoi An this March for the Hoi An International Food Festival 2017. This large-scale event will feature 12 international chefs

from all over the world, ready to showcase their country’s cuisine in some of the city’s best restaurants. Each participating Hoi An restaurant will be themed to a specific country during the event, embracing the festival with their decor, music, costumes and of course their menu. Hoi An Culinary Events Founder and CEO Mr Happy (Keerthi Hapugasdeniya) and Chairperson Ms Trinh Diem Vy also see this festival as the perfect opportunity for introducing and promoting Vietnamese cuisine to foreign communities, as well as bringing foreign cuisine to Vietnam. The guest chefs will showcase the finest of locally sourced Vietnamese ingredients in their food, creating a beautiful paradox of global spirit in quaint, romantic Hoi An. The festival opens each night at 5pm, from Mar. 20 to Mar. 26. Visit hoianinternationalfoodfestival.com for more information on the event, participating chefs and featured cuisines

Equation Dong Mo Lake, Hanoi Apr. 14 to Apr. 17 One for the house and techno heads in Vietnam is Equation, which hits our shores this April. The inaugural three-day festival just outside of

Hanoi promises to create an exotic environment filled with the best international and Asian house and techno on offer. Backdropped by the idyllic landscape of northern Vietnam, the event will be propped up by a heavy international roster across two stages, including Konstantin, Ateq and DJ Dustin (Giegling) from Germany, Telephones (Norway), San Soda (Belgium) ShlĂ˜mo and Phred (France), Andy Hart (Australia) plus many more. Local acts Hibiya Line, Dan Lo and Nic Ford (HCMC) and Maggie G, Graz, Quan and Ouissam (Hanoi) will be there, with other regional DJs from Shanghai, Taipei, Hong Kong and Bangkok rounding off the bill. Numbers are limited so get in quick. Tickets are already on sale and can be purchased online at equation2017.eventbrite.com. For ticket enquiries email equation@ cliche-booking.com


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Just Hanoi

Barber’s shops, relocated art galleries, cafes and yes, more cafes




1. Tay Ho gets an Indonesian restaurant, perfect for that fix of nasi goreng 2. Gardenista relocates to Trung Hoa 3. Finally, a real traditional barbershop makes its way to Hanoi 4. Le Marz is the latest café to open in Tay Ho 5. Art Vietnam relocates and changes its name to Salon Art Vietnam 6. Little Vietnam is a new buffet and hotpot restaurant in the Lotte Center

Batavia Hanoi’s rainbow of restaurants just got a new colour and Batavia is quickly becoming the go-to place for people needing their fix of rendang or nasi goreng. With Indonesian owners and chefs, you can be sure the food is as authentic as possible, without actually booking a flight to Jakarta. The menu packs a lot of variety, and includes fried appetisers, soups, vegetarian dishes, fish, seafood and many types of meat. Prices are mid-range, with most dishes costing between VND40,000 and VND175,000. Fried noodle and rice dishes provide a complete and filling meal, and there are even breakfast options, such as chicken porridge (VND80,000) and pancakes with honey or jam (VND70,000). Set menus are available for four people (VND210,000 per person) or six people (VND195,000 per person). Open daily from 9am to 11pm, with last orders at 10.30pm, Batavia is located at 25 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi. For info call (04) 3938 2525

The Farmer: Gardenista Gardenista café, formerly found on Van Bao, has a new home. Reborn

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as The Farmer: Gardenista, the new café keeps the same concept but at the new address of B40 Nguyen Thi Dinh, Trung Hoa, Hanoi. The greenhouse design works even better in the new space, where masses of natural light brings the rustic, indoor-garden style décor to life more than ever before. Some tables are made from whole logs cut in half, while others feature miniature Japanese-style pebble gardens running through the middle of them. The menu has some spectacular options, including the decadent Nutella latte (VND58,000), mint chocolate shake (VND52,000) and coconut ice cream coffee (VND48,000). Other usual suspects are available, such as fruit juices, smoothies, tea and coffee. The health conscious can enjoy a selection of detox and weightloss promoting blended drinks, while the rest of us can choose from four flavours of ice cream (VND42,000). Open daily from 7am to 11pm, with last order at 10.30pm, for more info click on facebook.com/gardenistacoffee.

House of Barbaard Gentlemen of Hanoi, put down

your copy of GQ Magazine and listen up. The first ever real gentlemen’s barbershop in Hanoi has just opened for business. Following the format set by 1930s Amsterdam barbering, Dutch founders Guido de Leeuw and Tom Goedhart hope to cultivate an appreciation for the art of barbering they haven’t seen in Vietnam before. Current services offered include haircuts (VND400,000), a shave (VND200,000) or both for the reduced price of VND550,000. To strengthen the gentlemanly atmosphere, women are kindly asked to wait in the comfortable lobby, maintaining the barbershop upstairs as a haven for gents. Beverages including whisky are available, as are cigars; this isn’t the type of barbershop you go to in a rush. It’s a place to relax, and enjoy some good chat in a good atmosphere. Various products are for sale, including hair tonics, shaving balms and wax, from some of the best brands around. Located at 36 Hang Chao, Dong Da, Hanoi, House of Barbaard is open daily from 10am to 9pm. Call (04) 6262 7737 or visit barbaard.com for appointments and more information




Le Marz Tay Ho has a new café threatening to unseat your current favourite coffee spot. Le Marz opened for business last month in a beautiful yellow villa on To Ngoc Van. Swathes of faux grass combine with flowers, bushes and patio furniture to create a strong summer garden party vibe. With three floors of spacious seating plus two balconies, the layout ensures the atmosphere will never feel overcrowded. The menu features favourites such as latte (VND55,000) and nau da (VND35,000), made using typica and robusta beans respectively. Fruit juices, yoghurt blends, smoothies and frappuccinos are also available, costing between VND40,000 to VND80,000. The kitchen offers a few hot snacks, such as the generouslyfilled bacon, egg and cheese panini (VND125,000) or a plate of seafood spaghetti (VND110,000). The coffee beans are also available to buy for use at home, and include typica (VND600,000 per kilo), catmor

(VND450,000 per kilo) and robusta (VND300,000 per kilo). Le Marz is at 24 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Hanoi and is open daily from 6am to 7pm

Salon Art Vietnam Hanoi’s favourite art gallery has packed its bags and moved. Art Vietnam Gallery has shed its skin to become Salon Art Vietnam. The new space is now found at 2/66 Yen Lac, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi. The old location at Ly Quoc Su created many happy memories, with unique exhibitions featuring some of Vietnam’s best artists. Looking ahead to the new place, however, director Suzanne Lecht is confident it will be a positive change, as it will offer the chance to revitalise and stimulate greater creativity. The new space is a beautiful building which was constructed in 1994 with help from Suzanne’s artist friends. Embarking on a new way to be in the art world, Suzanne believes the location will offer a quiet, personal and intimate


space for both artists and clients. In addition to exhibitions, Salon Art Vietnam will also host poetry readings, music events, “meet the artist” parties and offer art consultations. Open by appointment only, visit artvietnamgallery.com or call (04) 3862 3184 for appointments and info

Little Vietnam Located on the sixth floor of the Lotte Center, the recently opened Little Vietnam is an all you can eat hotpot and buffet restaurant. The buffet showcases a wide range of Vietnamese comfort food, with the all-you-caneat buffet price depending on the time of day (lunch or dinner, weekdays or weekend). Costing from VND249,000 to VND349,000, the restaurant is running a grand opening special offer of 20% off until the end of February. Little Vietnam is on the 6th Floor of the Lotte Center Hanoi, 54 Lieu Giai, Dong Da, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3333 2633


A Visual Story / Red River Brick Factories / District 4 / The Ethnic Minorities / The Orphanages of Southern Vietnam / Agent Orange in the Central Highlands / Weaving Hemp / Tay Ho at Night / Housing Stories / The Churches of Vietnam Photo by Nick Ross

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Cover Story




n 2015, in a market dominated by Canon and Nikon, 46 percent of all cameras sold were DSLRs, those large, mainly black digital cameras with big interchangeable lenses. And yet few of these DSLR owners will use or even have much knowledge of the legendary Leica, the German-built camera brand that changed the face of photography. The technological leap started in 1925 with the commercial production of the first compact 35mm Leica camera, which was small enough to carry around. A few years later came the rangefinder, interchangeable lenses, shutter controls, and flash bulbs. People could move around and take photos on the spot anywhere they had enough light. This led to the rise of a new style of magazine and newspaper that used photography more than text to tell stories. The pioneer was Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung (Germany), with other publications including

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Vu (France), Life (US), Picture Post (UK) and newspapers such as The Daily Mirror (UK) and The New York Daily News (US). From nowhere, the photojournalist was born. Look back at the American War in Vietnam, and some of the most poignant documentation comes from the series of photos published in the magazine Life. This kind of work was the bread and butter of famous photographers of the era including Horst Faas, Nick Ut, Larry Burrows, Catherine Leroy and Tim Page. These photojournalists were able to produce a sense of place, time and atmosphere that other types of correspondents or film-makers were unable to capture. Yet by the 1970s, many photo-magazines were struggling to compete with other media for advertising revenue. Unable to maintain their large circulations and sustain their high costs, they ceased publication.


With its ability to reduce costs, digital cameras have changed all this, as has the increasing need for photographers to double up as writers, and writers to double up as photographers. This is what we try to do in Word — publish articles that combine words with strong photography. Some pieces are told by one person. Others are recounted by two. Together they tell stories that provide a depth unable to be found by one medium alone. The following photo documentaries are a testament to this, to all those Vietnam-based stories out there that make this magazine tick. They are also a testament to the work of all those people in the past — camera makers, publishers and photojournalists — who have brought the visual, static image version of telling a story to where it is today.

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Red River Brick Factories British photographer Jon Sanwell goes beyond the clichéd images of Vietnam. Words by Edward Dalton


ertain images associated with Vietnam have become clichés; the conical hats, the yellow walls around Hanoi and the endless rice paddies with more shades of green than Kermit the Frog’s family portrait. When British photographer Jon Sanwell followed a friend’s tip to the brick factories along the Red River, he found something he had never associated with Vietnam before. The buildings there are a threedimensional canvas of earthy tones of orange and brown, and called out to him in such a way that he knew this would become a project demanding more than one visit. “There’s a kind of strange beauty in the buildings, and the patterns and textures around them,” says Jon, 43. The attractive arrangements created by the bricks and the changing colours as they dry in the sun are two of the factors

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which made the process so photogenic.


Despite only recently turning to a career in photography, Jon has already established a style for his work. “The human element, whether a closeup portrait or a figure in a landscape, can really make a picture for me,” he explains. Photographing people in their everyday surroundings allows him to say something about a person’s character or life, without needing words. An important aim of this particular project was to document the lives of the brick factory workers, without objectifying them or romanticising the hard labour they’re involved in. “In many of the pictures, the workers’ faces are obscured,” Jon says. “I like those pictures, but I wanted to include more traditional portraits too.”


By including these portraits, Jon intended to ensure the workers are not dehumanised. After several years of living in Vietnam, Jon has grown used to people welcoming him and his camera, even if they are somewhat bemused by someone wanting to take photos of what they might consider to be mundane and difficult work. On his second visit to the area, he wanted to get inside one of the factory buildings. Unsure how to proceed, he did what many photographers do; hang around and wait for something to happen. “I didn’t want to just march in like I owned the place,” Jon says. “After I’d spent a little time taking pictures outside, one of the workers gestured for me to follow him up the wooden ramp to the entrance and I found myself inside.”

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District 4 From mafia den to a fast modernising district of Ho Chi Minh City, District 4 is changing fast. Words by Vu Ha Kim Vy. Photos by Mike Palumbo


istrict 4 is the smallest district in Ho Chi Minh City with a total area of 4km2. It’s also the most notorious. Located next to District 1 and acting as a connection to the suburbs of District 7, despite some well-to-do neighbourhoods, the district still has its own distinctness with old houses interwoven with modern buildings, food carts pushed through tiny alleys or the weathered faces of young boys selling lottery tickets. Bordered by rivers, Saigon Port is located here and the area has a strong shipping background. It also has a tough reputation, with warnings not to mess with anyone and to be careful of your belongings, as the area was once notorious for criminal gangs and illegal activities. In the 1990s, food delivery motorbikes refused to service District 4 for fear of having the food stolen, along with the motorbike. District 4 is still the closest place to downtown where you can observe the ordinary daily lives and culture of Vietnamese people.


When Word photographer Mike Palumbo took to the streets of District 4, he tried to capture these contrasts with his lens. He was searching out the juxtaposition of a dark past and positive present mixed with poverty and wealth and an area

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undergoing vast structural change. In the past, District 4 was where the poor from all over the country came to settle, forming slums with plank houses on stilts along the rivers. Adults worked as porters or cyclo drivers; children didn’t go to school, hung out on the streets and became pilferers. Fights for money, robbery and snatching took place almost every day. As Mike discovered, while the negative effects of poverty are disappearing fast, some of this still exists today. Ranked as the most dangerous street of District 4, Ton Dan, especially Alley 148, was considered as a cradle of criminals and was where Nam Cam, Vietnam’s best-known gang boss, built his crime empire. He ran a criminal system operating gambling dens and fronting hotels and restaurants for prostitution. But he also spread money around the district, which offered him some protection from the local police. In October 2003, Nam Cam was arrested and convicted of the assassination of Dung Ha — a rival gangster from Hai Phong — as well as other criminal activities. His high-profile trial in the Ho Chi Minh City’s People’s Court ended with the death sentence and he was executed by firing squad a year later. Move on 13 years and if there is a legacy to the Al Capone-like activities of Nam Cam, then it is difficult to see. The mafia past is all but gone.


As Mike’s photos show, District 4 today is far safer. It’s also become well-known as a place to eat seafood. Vinh Khanh is a great place to sample some crustacean fare as seafood restaurants run all the way down the street. Street snacks are also big in District 4, with vendors selling the likes of che (sweet soup), banh xeo, bot chien, agar-agar jelly, xoi (sticky rice) and little cream puffs on Doan Van Bo or Xom Chieu. Another highlight is the old architecture. You can either drive straight to the Ho Chi Minh Museum or park your bike somewhere and have a walk on Mong Bridge. While the museum was built in 1862 and marks the spot where Ho Chi Minh left Vietnam to go to France at the start of his 30-year journey around the world, the bridge was built in 1893. Other old architectural sites include Xom Chieu Market, Khanh Hoi Temple, Vinh Hoi Temple and Xom Chieu Church. If you are looking for those plank houses, the shanty-town like constructions of the past, then head to Ton That Thuyet. Here you will see children playing and adults smiling despite the lack of clean water, daily basic needs and the polluted environment. It’s when you head to places like this that you realise your life is blessed.

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The Ethnic Minorities Including the Kinh majority, or the Viet, this country has 54 ethnic groups. French photographer Réhahn is trying to document all of them. Words by Zoe Osborne


hotographer and gallery owner Réhahn has been based in Hoi An since 2011. In his latest body of work, his aim is to document all of Vietnam’s ethnic minorities. To Réhahn, this project is both a pleasure and a necessity. “I realised that these peoples’ original traditions and customs would eventually disappear,” he says. “I wanted to preserve their culture and heritage for future generations.” Before coming to Vietnam, Réhahn was a printer in his home country, France. He fell in love with photography during his travels in early 2007, on his first trip to Cuba. Regularly featured in the media, he is often referred to as the photographer who manages to capture his subjects’ souls. “I like to meet the people I photograph,” he says. “I have made a lot of friends and learnt a lot about other cultures this way, and for this I am very grateful.” The body of work he is gradually putting together is now being displayed in his recently opened Precious Heritage Gallery Museum in Hoi An.


Of all the tribes Réhahn has spent time with, he has felt a particular connection to the ones that were dwindling the fastest. One of these is the Brau, a minority based

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in and around Dak Me Village in Kon Tum. They are the second smallest ethnic group in Vietnam. “The Brau have an unusual custom of filing their teeth and straining their ears with heavy jewellery, to create long, large, hanging earlobes,” he says. “They use ivory or wood depending on their level of income.” The Brau also used to have their bodies tattooed. “I was told that all the people who had their faces tattooed had sadly already died,” says Réhahn. “No one in the village makes their costume anymore.” Réhahn visited another tribe, the Black Lo Lo, in 2013. This group migrated to Vietnam and Laos from China approximately 400 years ago. The Black Lo Lo use black as the main colour in their traditional costumes, and while the tradition is fading, many women still wore these garments when Réhahn met them. When he travelled to find the Bo Y ethnic group two years later, Réhahn found himself lost in the labyrinth of local roads. “I had to ask a number of strangers to help me find my way,” he says. “Then my motorbike key got stuck in the ignition.” Once there, the carefully embroidered patchwork, beading and detail of the Bo Y traditional dress stuck with Réhahn, as did the pride of the woman weaving them. “She says she is the last one in her

community that can make the costumes,” he recalls. “Looking at her work, one can’t help but feel that her history is sewn into each detail.”


Passionate about preserving this history, Réhahn believes that the people of a community are the foundations of their own unique traditions. His documentation is largely in the form of photography, but he also preserves physical artifacts from different tribes such as costumes, jewellery and pipes. He unveiled The Precious Heritage Art Gallery Museum on the Jan. 1, 2017 in the quieter Old French Quarter of Hoi An. It holds the culmination of five years’ work with Vietnam’s ethnic peoples, with text in French, English and Vietnamese. Inspired by the captivating stories and glowing cultural pride of the ethnic elders he had met, and saddened by their younger generations’ lack of interest, Réhahn felt driven to document the tribes before it was too late. “I believe that one of the reasons there is little thought about cultures disappearing in some regions is because that culture isn’t valued outside that community,” he says. “But Vietnam is so rich in cultural diversity. I think it’s important to be proud of that heritage.”

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The Orphanages of Southern Vietnam For almost a decade photographer Mads Monsen has been visiting, documenting and helping raise money for orphanages in Southern Vietnam. Words by Zoe Osborne


orwegian photographer and graphic designer Mads Monsen was contacted in 2007 by an overseas Vietnamese who wanted to spread awareness about orphaned childrens’ situations, raising funds and support for the orphanages they lived in. “[The guy] set up a portal online and commissioned stories to be put up on the website,” says Mads. “We provided him with words and photographs, along with bank details for the orphanages so that people could donate directly.” The stories were successful, and every donation that was given went directly to the children. There were no middlemen and no percentage cuts to cover costs. While there are a number of state-run orphanages in southern Vietnam, all of the orphanages that Mads and the team worked with were privately run. “The funds go to the necessities, such as food and clothes for the children,” says Mads. “Because they are independent, all the orphanages we worked with rely on donations to survive. That’s why we went for the local ones, without an NGO

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network. For them, every dong makes a big difference.”


To Mads, the most important thing that the children in these establishments need is education. “They need the tools to be self-sufficient,” he says. “They also need love, the feeling of belonging to a family, and a safe, stable environment, but the most important thing is an education for their future.” Quite often, the children have not enjoyed the happy childhoods many of us experience. “Looking back on how I was raised, I consider myself very lucky. I wish all children could have a safe upbringing,” says Mads. “Unfortunately, there are many sad stories connected to the children at these orphanages prior to their arrival. Some have been abused, others have simply been given away as their parents could not afford to feed them.” Inspired to help, Mads has visited the orphanages directly to document the children who live there.


“At the different orphanages, I have been able to walk around and meet the children,” he says. “Some pose, but with others I get ‘snapshot’ moments, including a few tantrum spells where the children start crying when they don’t get their way.” Over the years, Mads has volunteered similar services to other orphanages around Vietnam, to give them better images so that they are able to raise more funds. He often visits the orphanages on his own time and money. “You reap what you sow,” he says. “My first encounter with the orphanages provided me with a small fee to cover travel costs and so on, but since then I have donated my time and effort without payment. I believe it is important to do good when you can.” If you are interested in donating to one of the many orphanages in southern Vietnam, you should connect with them directly. “Depending on how well known they are, it is simply a matter of getting in touch,” says Mads. “There are also various groups that help on a regular basis, and once you start looking, you will find them.”

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Portraits of Ha Giang Iranian photographer Hosein Nazari heads to Ha Giang in search of the people who inhabit the most northerly province of Vietnam. Words by Edward Dalton


ural Vietnam is home to 54 ethnic minority groups. Some of the better documented groups, such as the Hmong and Dao, already have a substantial history of interaction with foreign tourists, and as such, their stories are part of modern culture. In the region furthest north, however, the people of Ha Giang are much more disconnected from the benefits and tribulations of modern city life. The seclusion enjoyed by the Pu Peo, La Chi and Pa Then people, to name but a few, is what attracted Iranian photographer Hosein “Hemad” Nazari. “I don’t like modern life in big cities,” says Hemad, 27. “Sitting with old families

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in a small village, or in a teahouse in the mountains, is much better.”


Hemad sees himself as a storyteller; and there are no stories he wants to tell more than those of people living a traditional life in the countryside. “I’m always looking for people with a life different to the typical modern routine, such as shepherds and fishermen,” he explains. “I want to show that they are still part of our world; they just have different lifestyles.” Hemad uses his photos to portray rural lifestyles which so often revolve around animals, farming and mountains. The real life of people in Ha Giang is not

centred on WiFi, or catering to visitors. The images in this collection are intended to show this reality. “You can’t find this kind of traditional life easily,” says Hemad. “That’s why Ha Giang is one of the few places I’ve been to where I have enjoyed every moment of it.” Some of the portraits are shown in black and white, something which Hemad thinks helps to weave a richer story. “If colour isn’t playing a role, it shouldn’t be in the photo,” he says. “By leaving out colour, I can show different perspectives, or demonstrate the power of my object more clearly.” To see more of Hosein Nazari’s work, click on hemadnazari.format.com

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Weaving Hemp Julie Vola heads to a Hmong village close to Sapa to see first-hand the process of weaving hemp. Words by Matt Cowan


ulie Vola is obsessed with the history of place. So, when the opportunity arose for the Hanoi-based French photographer and Word photo editor to shadow Vietnamese fashion designer Vu Thao on a British Council sponsored trip to Sapa, she seized it. “The project was an amazing opportunity to be able to witness over a few days a process that usually takes months,” she says. The process Julie refers to is the production, dyeing and weaving of hemp into fabric for clothing by women from Hmong communities. The story behind the use of hemp in the Hmong culture of northern Vietnam is more than 5,000 years old. Throughout their history, the Hmong have made the use of the plant, cannabis, and the weaving of its fibres as an

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indispensable part of their culture. “I’ve always loved indigo and batik fabric from Sapa, so meeting these women and sharing a few days with them was great,” says Julie. “When you witness how long it takes and how much work it is for them to produce these beautiful fabrics, you come to understand why the items are expensive. You feel bad for every time you’ve chosen the cheaper option, and something which is lesser quality.”


Somewhere along the line, Vietnam’s fashion industry has become known for two things — speed and low prices — not always a good thing. This has become damaging to the reputation of Vietnamesemade products, something made clear

during Julie’s trip to Sapa. “I realised that we, myself included, aren’t willing to pay a fair price anymore,” she says. “Fast, cheap fashion has skewed the system completely.” Bucking the trend of the ‘cheap is best’ mentality is a growing global interest in high-end, ethically sourced fashion that is helping transform the negative perceptions of the Made in Vietnam label. In the process it raises the profile of some of the country’s traditions and artisans. In a recent interview with Harper’s Bazaar, Julie’s chaperone for the trip Vu Thao, a Hanoi-based fashion designer and founder of Kilomet 109, an eco-friendly fashion brand that works with women from the Nung, Thai, and Hmong ethnic communities, said, “People are looking for something unique,

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valuable... Value is not superficial, it’s the culture behind it, the story behind it, the environmental issues behind it.”


Yet, the skills behind producing and weaving hemp into high-quality fabric may not be passed down to future generations. Vietnam is undergoing a cultural shift caused by development, threatening the traditional ways of life for millions of people. “Their main challenge is being able to keep their traditional methods while being able to sustain their families,” says Julie. “They need to find more people like Thao, but also be able to transmit their knowledge so the next generation can take over.” Ways of passing down creative knowledge in communities like the Hmong haven’t kept pace with change in the rest of society, which is compounded by kids from ethnic villages leaving for the big cities. There they study and begin living a way of life far-removed from that of the generations before them. “Working with these women one-on-one, you feel responsible for finding a way to preserve their techniques,” said Thao in a recent interview with The Creators Project. As for Julie, she plans to continue raising awareness of important issues in Vietnam through her photography and sharing the stories that arise from them. Her long-term goal is to document the work of NGOs around the globe. She adds, “But don’t we all want to do that in our field?”

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Tay Ho By Night Expat life is full of lessons. Jesse Meadows remembers what nights in Tay Ho taught her


ne summer morning, my housemate bought a bouquet of lotuses. She was leaving soon, as so many others would do that summer. We didn’t know each other when I moved in, but strangers in a strange land quickly become family. I watched over the next few nights as the flowers fell apart on our coffee table. It happened so fast, but the end was even more beautiful than the beginning.

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I had a friend tattoo this imagery on my arm, so I would never forget it. “We’ll be dead by morning,” she always used to say in the face of worry, teeth glinting at me on the dancefloor. And if we weren’t, we’d be picking glitter off our skin. Tay Ho is covered in the stuff. It would stick in every crevice, and remind us in the light of day about the nights we’d forgotten. That friend left soon after, too, and new

faces replaced hers. Towards the end of my own time in Hanoi, I told a newcomer that I’d rather feel my heart break than not love at all. He didn’t agree. But see, he hadn’t learnt yet. It’s all about hope, and loss. Risk, and danger. Loving deeply in the dark of night and looking back on past lives like vibrant fever dreams. Because it’s not the living that gives life meaning, but the dying.

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Housing Stories As French photographer Joan Bardeletti shows in a recent project, development increases inequality, especially when it comes to housing. Words by Matt Cowan


t all started with me working in developing countries,” says French photographer Joan Bardeletti of his most recent work Housing Stories, which documents the inequalities in the wake of rampant development in countries like Vietnam. “I really wanted to look behind the development data, because although development worldwide is getting better, the greater inequality that goes with it tends to get hidden, and that’s a world issue.” In his work, Joan turns his lens away from the romantic scenes that conjure notions of the old Saigon that once afforded it the moniker of the Pearl of the Orient, and instead zooms in on the plight of individuals and families battling to live a decent life and trying to win a roof over their heads. “I decided to focus on something very simple, which is housing, and to highlight the difficulties people have getting access to it,” says Joan from his base in Barcelona where he’s currently working on a new project that will enable aspiring photographers greater opportunities to earn income from images taken on their phones.


Joan became aware of the societal upheaval underway in Vietnam triggered by unprecedented economic growth

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through his research online, and wanted to document its impact on the population through videos and photos. Housing Stories zeroes in on low-wage earners living in Ho Chi Minh City where the population has expanded 70 percent in the last 20 years, as rural workers migrate to the city chasing dreams of better pay and a better life for them and their families. “I identified two key issues. The first one was the resettlement process that affects people who have been living in Ho Chi Minh City for a long time, but now their buildings have either become unsafe to live in, or they’ve become valuable for investors in real estate,” says Joan. “So they are relocated with the promise of reasonable compensation, however, it’s only enough for them to be able to afford to live far from the city centre in satellite cities, which means they have to leave their jobs, their kids have to leave school and they become disconnected.” It’s projected that Ho Chi Minh City’s population will have grown a further 40% by 2025 reaching 14 million people, heaping even greater pressure upon an already strained infrastructure, something that Joan gained an understanding of while he was here for 10 days last year documenting the situation. What he witnessed was issues compounding one on top of the other.

“The second issue was that the gentrification process of areas downtown means rents are going up very quickly. For those living on the ground floors, and who may still be able to afford the rent, they’re suffering from the elevation of streets which have been constructed to avoid flooding. Outside their homes or businesses, they now have a one metre high wall [which directs flood waters into their homes].”


Yet, despite the apparent inequalities in housing conditions across the city and its outskirts, Joan was struck by one example where 80 people were living in one house by the factory where they worked “in the middle of nowhere.” This case, he says, drove home the point that for many people, living in these conditions is actually an improvement on what they are used to back home in the provinces. “They weren’t complaining about it,” he says. “I thought I’d go there and people would tell me they couldn’t cope living in these conditions, but what I saw was people living together who’d come from much harsher conditions — it was an improvement for them. When you compare it with living conditions in most of Europe, however, I thought, ‘Wow, that’s incredible’.”

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The Churches of Vietnam Two motorbike trips in Northern Vietnam reveal churches the size of cathedrals. Words and photos by Nick Ross


don’t follow the Christian faith, and yet churches have always fascinated me. From the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, through to the local church in the area I grew up in in London and the adobe church in Kontum, Vietnam, there’s an aura in these monuments to organised religion which goes beyond the bricks and mortar, or in some cases, the adobe and clay. The photos in this collection are from two recent trips I made to Ninh Binh and Nam Dinh in Northern Vietnam. The first was solo on a Yamaha Nouvo, when I got drenched in a late afternoon storm. The second was in a group — three large bikes, four people and a lot of speed. On the second trip we mislaid one of our travelling companions. So we waited for him and his riding partner for almost an hour in the square outside Nam Dinh Cathedral. The light was perfect and the photos I took there are among my favourites.


My interest in the Nam Dinh and Ninh

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Binh area of Northern Vietnam started with church photos I saw online. They were part of a series called 10 Beautiful Churches in Nam Dinh. The image that struck me was one of a ruined church surrounded by sea. I was determined to find it. The problem was getting information. Where was the church? What was its story? How did it end up on the beach in ruins, half washed away by the sea? Google Maps placed the church in the middle of the sea — not very helpful. After asking around I found the church. It was in a village called Hai Ly. But the people I spoke to were vague. They weren’t concerned about the past, only the present. During my second trip I cornered a woman in her 70s. She remembered the church well, had worshipped there. She told me there were two more churches on the same stretch of beach. They were now bricks washed up on the shore. The land had been eroded and encroached on by the sea, she explained. When the three churches were built 100 years ago, the sea was in the distance. Over time as it came closer,

the churches were rebuilt further inland.


What strikes me is the grandeur of these buildings. Every village has a church and they are enormous, as big as cathedrals. It feels there’s a competition going on to see who can build and maintain the biggest and best church in the area. There may be a historical reason for this. In the 17th century, Alexandre de Rhodes, a French missionary who invented quoc ngu, the Romanised script used to write Vietnamese, spent much of his time preaching in the area. To this day, Nam Dinh and Ninh Binh remain the heart of Catholicism in Vietnam. The people I spoke to were proud of their roots. Another reason might be Phat Diem, or ‘the stone church’, in nearby Ninh Binh. Famed for its design — it mixes Vietnamese architecture with Western — it’s become a place of pilgrimage ever since it was constructed by Father Six in 1891. So revered is this church that it’s been designated one of the key sights to see in Vietnam.

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The Road Trip / The Last Train Driver / Day Tripper: The Amusement Park / Destination Zero: Little Cat Ba Photo by Nick Ross 120 | Word February 2017 | wordvietnam.com

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The Road Trip In the depths of a northern hemisphere winter Nick Ross embarks on the non-Vietnam road trip — by car through Europe

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t’s one degree outside and the fields, forests, undulating hills and stone villages of Brittany in northern France are frozen over like a winter wonderland. And yet the sky is clear azure blue, the sun peeking over the horizon but never rising too high to provide warmth. I’m on a road trip with my teenage daughter and we’re travelling by car. Since I was a child I’ve been doing road trips, by car, by motorbike, in Europe, Central America and Southeast Asia, but this is the first time I’m taking my next generation along for the ride. We’ve just done an overnight ferry trip from the Land of Brexit to Saint Malo in France and now, before we drive to Spain — nine hours to San-Sebastian in the Basque

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northeast — we’re stopping off at Mont Saint-Michel, a magical rocky island in the sea detached from the mainland by the ebb and flow of the tide. It’s early, and as we climb the cobblestone streets towards the abbey at the summit, our hands freeze in the biting sea-air cold. Only 50 people live on the island these days — eight of them monks — but rewind 150 years and the population was almost 2,000. Now hotels, restaurants, bars and souvenir shops take the place of private residences, but at the top, the Catholic Church still reigns. History, the aura of the monastery and abbey, soaring landscapes, castle-like embankments — this place has ‘special’ etched into every bas-relief, every Celticdesigned stained-glass window, every nook,

cranny, stone, brick and tile. As we leave and the busloads of tourists start to unload, we hold our breath. The trip was magical, more so because we came early, among the first to arrive.

The Car For years I’ve been wanting to do the European road trip — my last was when I was in my early 20s. The most recent idea was to fly from Vietnam to Paris, get a connecting flight to Nice and then rent a car. We would do the French Riviera before heading north into the Alps and driving a loop that would take in Switzerland, Venice, Rome, Florence and Milan. Then we would return to Nice via Monaco.

It’s a cheap and fun way of seeing Europe, and unlike other parts of the world, the places to visit are close by; the highways of Europe let you cover long distances at speed. Unfortunately, the road trip never happened and that summer we instead went to the UK. This time I was determined to make it happen. I took a car from the UK, an overnight ferry crossing included. Then the long drive through France. But our two days in San Sebastian held the promise of good weather, nightlife, the beach and tapas so good the city has been garnering awards and more Michelin stars than you can count on the EU flag.

“[Renting a car] is a cheap and fun way of seeing Europe, and unlike other parts of the world, the places to visit are close by; the highways of Europe let you cover long distances at speed”

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“Our two days in San Sebastian held the promise of good weather, nightlife, the beach and tapas so good the city has been garnering awards and more Michelin stars than you can count on the EU flag” The Land of Pintxos The drive to San Sebastian is painfully long. But once we got past Nantes in western France, it’s fast. The highways and their 130km/h speed limit see to that. But we don’t arrive in Spain until 9pm and by then we are exhausted. Still, I am determined to go out, have a beer and get something to eat. I settle on a local bar in the Gros area of town called Desy Bar. The owner speaks English and we chat. I have some tortilla and some other tapas known locally as pintxos (pronounced pin-tosh). The

various dishes are lined up on the bar — they’re what the city is famous for. I also try the beer — two local IPAs. The Gross IPA is as good as Britain’s finest, Punk IPA from Brewdog. The Basqueland Brewing Project IPA which I try by the bottle is even better. Yet as we discover the next day, besides the beautiful municipal beach, the old town, the nightlife and the mountains, it’s the pintxos that make this city tick. Similar to tapas, the main difference is that pintxos come spiked with a skewer or toothpick,

often to a piece of bread (although we see an olive, pickled chilli and octopus pintxos which looks amazing). They are part of the eating and drinking culture, of the nightlife, which centres on the city’s many bars. What strikes us is the sophistication of the cuisine — bar after bar seems to have their own elaborate versions of pintxos. What we taste is so moreish we just don’t want to leave. And as for the pulpo, the octopus with paprika and salt, if I could insert a big smiley face into this article, I would.

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Mountains, Fog and Toledo Two days after arriving in San Sebastian and we’re driving through the mountains of Northern Spain towards Toledo. It’s mid-morning but with blue skies above it’s still bitterly cold. It’s a word you don’t often associate with Spain. We drive through one of many tunnels and on the other side we see a layer of fog resting in the valley below. Then we go through another tunnel and now the fog descends. Visibility in places is less than 100m and the temperature gauge goes down to -4°C. As the road descends towards Madrid, some warmth returns. And by the time we get to Toledo, an hour before sunset, we can take off a layer of clothing. It’s not hot, Spanish hot, but it’s bearable. Years ago I visited Venice. I spent most of a day there and then left for the next city along, Padua. I loved Venice and yet couldn’t stand it — it felt like a living, breathing museum, a place set up for tourists and not much more. Toledo is similar.

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Driving in is spectacular. A medieval stone-built city with turrets and castle-like walls emerges out of the central Spanish plains. Around it on all sides are gorges, rivers and mountains, and ascending the cobblestone streets and tight alleyways you feel transported back in time. And yet we both get bored with the place. I love the way it looks and feels, and yet the cathedral, despite its size and spectacular exterior, is disappointing. It’s been overhyped. The souvenir shops at every turn give the place a tacky feel and even the two synagogues — Toledo once harboured Islam, Christianity and Judaism all in one tiny space — lack interest. I’ve seen better elsewhere. Budapest, Lithuania and even Yangon.

The Garage I’ve lost the car. It’s early morning, still dark and we’re trying to leave Toledo, but the car’s not there. We parked it in a private garage — it was arranged by our hotel — but

now I go to pick it up, someone else is in our space, number 29. For a moment, everything I have to do runs through my mind. The insurance company, a police report, travel plans for getting home. It will be complex, but we’ll be okay. No need to panic. But then I decide to walk outside the garage and see if the car’s been moved outside. There’s a possibility it’s been put somewhere else. The question is how? When I entered the garage I walked down the stairs. It was dark and I couldn’t see. This time I ascend via the roadway and suddenly I realise that there’s another level above me. Had I descended too far? My mind focuses. All the spaces have numbers. So I walk along to space 29 and there is the car. I laugh, laugh and laugh. Laugh at my stupidity. Laugh like a madman. Thank God it’s early and no-one can hear me. Spain wakes up late.

“We’re driving through the mountains of Northern Spain towards Toledo. It’s mid-morning but with blue skies above it’s still bitterly cold. It’s a word you don’t often associate with Spain”

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“Madrid is a criss-cross of grand boulevards, underpasses and intersections, lined with apartment buildings, shops, cafes, restaurants and bars. There is something majestic about the city, whether you’re in town by the palace, or in the barrios”

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Madrid We arrive in Madrid on New Year’s Eve and after a trip to the hypermarket for Spanish wine, jamon and cheese, we head to the Stadio Santiago Bernabeu, the home of Real Madrid. I park the car and spend five minutes working out how to use the pay and display machine. It’s all in Spanish, but my French gets me through. The Real Madrid stadium tour is phenomenal. The museum, the changing rooms, the dugout, the VIP box, the multimedia effects. Two hours of wow, although I don’t come away supporting the world’s most successful team. There’s too much positivity, not enough talk of the failures and difficulties the club has faced. Too much one-sided PR. Then we head to the hotel. Like in Toledo, we park the car in a private garage, only this time I won’t forget where the car is. Madrid is a criss-cross of grand boulevards, underpasses and intersections, lined with apartment buildings, shops, cafes, restaurants and bars. There is something majestic about the city, whether you’re in town by the palace, or in the barrios — we stay in Salamanca, 30 minutes’ walk from the centre. After heading to the Plaza Mayor and then stumbling on the Mercado de San Miguel, a bustling food court version of a typical Spanish bar, we walk to the palace at sunset and then get the metro back to the hotel. It may be New Year’s Eve but the temperature

is starting to drop — it’s going to be minus 3 out there and my daughter is only 13. I can hardly take her out for the night. So with a bottle of whisky to hand — for me, not her — and back episodes of Game of Thrones — for me, not for her — the two of us settle down in our hotel room and wait for midnight. She’s got her own movies to watch and books to read. At times I go outside for a walk. No matter how cold it is, I want to see, breathe and feel Madrid at night. The place has an energy to it that I’ve not seen or felt elsewhere. It’s an energy I feel attracted to, like the pulse I felt when all those years ago I first crossed from Cambodia to Vietnam. It’s an energy I want to discover, too. But we have two days in this city, enough to scrape the surface. It’s the final stopping point of our trip before we head back to the UK. Midnight strikes and the whisky glass gets raised, the hug between father and daughter, the wishes for the New Year. I’ve already done this once tonight, six hours earlier when Vietnam made it into 2017. On that occasion it was my wife, other daughter and brother-in-law. By Viber and Facetime. Now it’s us two. I decide to take a walk outside again and above me stars peek through the lightened haze of the city. Fireworks blast. Police car sirens go off. Taxis speed through the streets. People shout, cheer, scream, roar. And out there with its downtown focus on Plaza

Puerta del Sol, the main gathering point for New Year’s Eve, Madrid continues its afterhours party into the coming year. Tomorrow I can sleep. I’m looking forward to it.

Car Rental and Licenses Car rental in Europe is cheap and easy — although expect to pay a premium if you pick up the car at an airport and return it to another location. For a small car, off-peak you should be able to get a decent vehicle for under US$150 (VND3.45 million) a week. Make sure the vehicle uses diesel. Diesel is cheap on the European mainland and one litre of diesel should take you about 20km, important if you’re travelling long distances. In the past I’ve used Budget, Europcar and Avis. However, the best company I’ve come across for variety of vehicles and price is Sixt. They’re German but with branches across Europe. Vietnamese driving licences are accepted in Europe as are licences from pretty much everywhere in the world. Although it varies from country to country, the general rule is that if you are a nonresident, you can drive for 12 months on a foreign licence from the date of your last entry into that country.

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The Last Train Driver Thomas Barrett heads down the now defunct train line from Dalat to Thap Cham and meets the last remaining train driver. Photos and translation by Pham Thu Nga


t was Apr. 3, 1975, Dalat had been liberated, and a steam powered locomotive rolled into the town with a solitary Vietnamese flag attached to its roof. A day of celebration was also a day of sadness, as it would be the final time the Dalat-Thap Cham route would be used. It was the train’s death march and last hurrah. The Dalat-Thap Cham railroad was constructed by the French to transport both goods and people from the coast to the mountains. It took about 30 years to complete. The first 41km stretch from Thap Cham to Song Pha was opened in 1919, with a second section, from Song Pha to Dalat opening in 1932. Anyone who has visited the area will know what an impressive feat building a rail network that weaves through the rolling mountains that dominate the landscape must have been, and the French took measures to ensure a respectful relationship with gravity by implementing a unique cog system. This meant an extra wheel underneath the train which allowed for extra grip and traction

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as the trains went up and down some steep inclines and descents. Most of the line is gone, now. But it’s still possible to trace its route all the way to Thap Cham on the coast.

The End of the Line My day starts where the old line ends at Trai Mat Station. The 7km section of the track from Dalat to Trai Mat was reopened for tourists in 1991, and the diesel-powered train rolls in at a leisurely pace before letting out a large group of Japanese tourists. The bullet train it is not. It is, however, reassuringly quaint, giving off the pleasant sensation of a bygone era. The train line that once continued down the line has been replaced by a washing line, and is today fully stocked with various colourful items of clothing. Mr. Vien was the man in charge of driving the train on its final trip. He has recently celebrated his 96th Christmas and to mark the occasion a tree stands resplendent in his front room. He began working on the trains in 1947, and drove them on the line up until regular service was halted in 1968 due to

the war. During the conflict, service was sporadic, and he was in charge of driving the train on its final swansong on Dalat’s liberation day in 1975. His memories are still vivid when he recalls the emotion of the day. “I remember feeling sad because the train line was something very close to me for many years,” he says. “It was a way to feed my wife and children — we had 10!” He is animated as he explains how independence was an uncertain time for many in the country, least of all for those who had manned the soon to be scrapped Dalat-Thap Cham line for most of their working lives. “Everyone was poor and nobody could afford to take the train anymore,” he explains. “The new government recycled much of the line to help rebuild the Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City Reunification Express.”

What Remains Using a hand-drawn map created for me by local businessman and train enthusiast, Curtis King, I visit an old station Da Tho (or “Le Bosquet” in French) that has stood

“‘[When the line closed down] I remember feeling sad because the train line was something very close to me for many years. It was a way to feed my wife and children — we had 10’”

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still since the line was closed. Hidden from the roadside, it has been bathed in half a century of sunlight. Its yellow paint peeling in the heat makes it look like a piece of glistening gold jewellery that has been neglected and left in a drawer. Many of the fittings are still intact, and a beautiful fireplace still sits proudly in the corner. The tracks are long gone, with perhaps the only clue that this shell of a building was once a train station is the shelter to guard waiting passengers from the rain. There is something almost whimsical when you see the tourist train happily chug down the small part of the line that

was reopened from Dalat to Trai Mat. It’s a vision which downplays how dangerous and perilous the line actually was. Mr Vien shows a picture of the men who worked on the train and points out those co-workers who met their end on the landmines which littered the landscape during wartime. Despite the uncertain times, Vien remained admirably steadfast, and concentrated on the job at hand. “I told my co-workers to just focus on what you need to do in the job. If you have a gun, shoot it. If you need to fix the road, fix it! My job was to drive the train. So that’s what I did.” He adds: “I knew I could die, but all I was

focused on was bringing a salary home to my wife and kids.”

In the Face of Danger Beauty and danger sat closely together on the Dalat-Thap Cham line, and it wasn’t just the menace of landmines that posed a mortal threat to those working and travelling on the route. The physicality of the mountains was demanding on the steam locomotives, and as Vien explains, this could lead to accidents. “The most beautiful and most dangerous section of the route was between Song Pha, which is the base of the mountain, up the Belle Vue Pass,” he says. “It is incredibly steep, with lots of turns.”

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“There was an accident on this path in 1940; the train didn’t have the power to climb it,” says Vien. “So it reversed 2km backwards down the tracks before it fell into a huge valley. All the passengers and the driver died.” Sadly, it was one of many accidents that befell travel on the line. There are five tunnels that serviced the line going up and down the mountains. The first tunnel as the trains began their descent down from Dalat can be reached via road just a few kilometres away from Da Tho Station. On the day I visit it is inhabited by an army of frogs in the deep puddles of water that fill about half of the tunnel. They make a real racket, so if you are walking past in search of the hidden tunnel you just might hear them and know you have reached the spot. For Vien, the tunnels offered a welcome respite from concentrating on the route. “When we went through the tunnel I would look back into the carriage and could see the passengers smiling and being happy. It was a good feeling,” he says.

The Line


ou can visit the remnants of the line yourself by taking the diesel train from Dalat to Trai Mat. From there you will need to either walk 10km down Highway 20 or take a xe om or taxi to the next station, Da Tho. The ruins lie about 20m away from the main road. By following a path that sits where there were once rails, walk another 3km past Organik farm and through an alpine forest, and you’ll get to the first of the tunnels (tunnel 5 on the map).

The train station in Cau Dat Village is also still standing. Head a further 3km down Highway 20 past tunnel 4. The station is in the centre of the village close to the market. All the old stations except K’Beu are still accessible, although many of them have been repurposed and have been turned into private accommodation. Just head to the village with the same name as the station. The stations are in town, close to the road.

A New Line But could we see trains appearing out of the tunnels again? Dalat-based business owner Curtis King has lofty ambitions for the line. A lifelong train enthusiast, he is developing plans to restore the whole route — and hopes that 2017 will bring further progress. But hasn’t the line had its day? “It’s for the children in all of us,” says Curtis. “The thrill of riding a steam train from Dalat all the way to Thap Cham would be a once in a lifetime experience for any rider. This could be a major boost for tourism, especially in Lam Dong and Ninh Thuan Provinces.” Vien is cautiously optimistic for the line — but at 96 years old, he says he won’t be tempted out of retirement to man the control room once more. He is content with the memories he has. “The only thing I miss was the feeling of satisfaction I got when the passengers safely reached the station. Mission complete!”




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DALAT ANA MANDARA VILLAS $$$$ Le Lai, Dalat, Tel: (063) 3555888 anamandara-resort.com DALAT PALACE $$$$ 12 Ho Tung Mau, Dalat, Tel: (063) 382 5444 dalatpalace.vn

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 crowneplazawesthanoi.com 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 hanoi-daewoohotel.com

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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 fortuna.vn 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 contact@hoteldelopera.com 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 hanoi.hgi.com 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 hanoi.hilton.com 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 hanoi.intercontinental.com 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 jwmarriotthanoi.com 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 maydeville.com 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 meliahanoi.com 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 moevenpick-hanoi.com 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 wellappointed rooms and suites, 93 are non-smoking. NOVOTEL SUITES 5 Duy Tan, Cau Giay, Tel: (04) 3576 6666 novotel.com/9813 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 pullman-hanoi.com 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 sheraton.com/hanoi 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 sofitel.com 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 panpacific.com 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 sixonsixteen.com 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 $$$ 109-111 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3928 6969 goldensilkhotel.com Located in the centre of the Old Quarter, this little slice of heaven offers complimentary sundries and a replenishable minibar. The Orient restaurant, serves the finest in international and Vietnamese cuisine. JOSEPH’S HOTEL $$ 5 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3938 1048 josephshotel.com 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 hanovahotel.com 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 hanoibackpackershostel.com 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 caravellehotel.com

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 $$$ 242 Tran Binh Trong, Q5, Tel: (08) 3839 7777 equatorial.com/hcm This massive property boasts seven dining and entertainment outlets, a business centre, meeting rooms and a comprehensive fitness centre and spa. The Equatorial also has an on-site casino. HOTEL NIKKO SAIGON $$$$$ 235 Nguyen Van Cu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3925 7777 hotelnikkosaigon.com.vn The five-star hotel and serviced apartment complex offers: 14 instant offices, seven meeting rooms, a 600-capacity ballroom, spa, outdoor swimming pool, a gym, 24-hour fine dining, 24-hours room service, and limousine services. INTERCONTINENTAL ASIANA SAIGON $$$$$ Hai Ba Trung and Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3520 9999 intercontinental.com/saigon In the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, resides the Asiana with signature dining options, an innovative cocktail bar, exclusive spa and health club, together with luxury boutique arcade. LE MÉRIDIEN SAIGON $$$$ 3C Ton Duc Thang, Q1, HCMC Tel: (08) 6263 6688 lemeridien.com/saigon Marking the brand’s debut in Vietnam, Le Méridien Saigon is the gathering place for curious and creativeminded travellers. Located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City next to the Saigon River, the property is close to the metropolis's entertainment and commercial areas, making it an ideal base for exploring the local culture and community. Experience this cosmopolitan city in stimulating surroundings. LOTTE LEGEND HOTEL SAIGON $$$$ 2A–4A Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 3333 legendsaigon.com Immaculate architecture, spacious rooms, and a fine selection of fine dining, with buffets specialising in Americana and Pan-Asian cuisine. NEW WORLD HOTEL $$$$ 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 8888 saigon.newworldhotels.com 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 $$$$$ 2 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1234 saigon.park.hyatt.com Fabulous in style, prime in location, everything one would expect from the Hyatt. The Square One and Italianthemed Opera restaurants have garnered an excellent reputation, as has the landscaped pool. PULLMAN SAIGON CENTRE $$$$$ 148 Tran Hung Dao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3838 8686 pullmanhotels.com Recently completed on the site of the old Metropole, this upscale, contemporary property boasts 306 signature rooms combining design, comfort and connectivity. Innovative cuisine, a great downtown location and hightech meeting venues able to host up to 600 guests make up the mix. RIVERSIDE APARTMENTS 53 Vo Truong Toan, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 4111 riverside-apartments.com Situated on the banks of the Saigon River, a 15-minute scenic boat ride or 20-minute bus ride from town, Riverside’s complementary shuttle services take you right in the city centre. With 152 fully equipped serviced apartments, the property offers special packages for short-term stay starting at VND2.1 million per apartment per night for a onebedroom facility. RENAISSANCE RIVERSIDE HOTEL SAIGON $$$$ 8-15 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 1117 renaissance-saigon.com This distinct French architectural wonder offers complimentary Wi-Fi, airport pickup or drop off, a first-floor ballroom, and authentic Vietnamese cuisine at the River Restaurant. SILA URBAN LIVING 21 Ngo Thoi Nhiem, Q3, HCMC, Tel: (08) 3930 0800 silaliving.com Stylish apart-hotel with 217 apartments (from studios to one and two bedrooms) for short and long stays, close to the Reunification Palace on the edge of District 1. Facilities include a 24-hour reception, a 24-hour gym with a 20-meter swimming pool, Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room. Western and Eastern specialties are served daily at Twenty-One restaurant and bar. SHERATON $$$$$ 88 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08)

3827 2828 sheraton.com/saigon 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 $$$$ 17 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1555 sofitel.com This 20–story building in downtown Saigon, caters to upscale business and leisure travelers seeking a classic yet contemporary stay in Saigon. WINDSOR PLAZA $$$ 18 An Duong Vuong, Q5, Tel: (08) 3833 6688 windsorplazahotel.com 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 $$$ 132-134 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 9201 continentalhotel.com.vn This charming old hotel has been fêted in literature and in film. In the heart of Saigon, this is the first choice to highlight Vietnamese culture. NORFOLK HOTEL $$$ 117 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 5368 norfolkhotel.com.vn 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.

STAR CITY SAIGON HOTEL $$$ 144 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan, Tel: (08) 3999 8888 starcitysaigon.vn 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.


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 dunahotel.com HONG HOA HOTEL $ 185/28 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3836 1915 honghoavn.com

ROYAL HOTEL SAIGON $$ 133 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 5914 kimdohotel.com

SINH HUONG HOTEL $ 157 Nguyen Du Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 4648 sinhhuonghotel.com.vn

LAN LAN HOTEL 1 AND 2 $$$ 46 and 73-75 Thu Khoa Huan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 7926 lanlanhotel.com.vn


THE ALCOVE LIBRARY HOTEL $$$ 133A Nguyen Dinh Chinh, Phu Nhuan, Tel: 08 6256 9966 alcovehotel.com.vn

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

HOI AN & DANANG AN BANG BEACH RETREAT An Bang Beach, Hoi An anbangbeachretreat.com CUA DAI $ 544, Cua Dai, Hoi An, Tel: (0510) 386 2231 hotelcuadai-hoian.com/ DANANG BEACH RESORT $$$ Truong Sa, Hoa Hai, Ngu Hanh Son, Danang, Tel: (0511) 396 1800 danangbeachresort.com.vn

FURAMA RESORT AND SPA $$$$ Vo Nguyen Giap, Khue My, Ngu Hanh Son, Danang, Tel: (0511) 384 7888 furamavietnam.com PULLMAN DANANG BEACH RESORT $$$$ Vo Nguyen Giap, Khue My, Ngu Hanh Son, Danang Tel: (0511) 395 8888 pullman-danang.com HYATT REGENCY DANANG RESORT AND SPA $$$$ Hoa Hai, Ngu Hanh Son, Da Nang, Tel: (0511) 398 1234 danang.regency.hyatt.com The Hyatt Regency Danang Resort and Spa is beachfront with a stunning view of the Marble Mountains. There are 182 luxurious residences and 27 private ocean villas, each with a private pool. MERCURE DANANG $$$ Lot A1 Zone Green Island, Hoa Cuong Bac, Hai Chau, Danang, Tel: (0511) 379 7777 mercure-danang.com 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 $$$ 167 Hai Ba Trung, Q3, Tel: (08) 3822 4866 novotel-saigon-centre.com Novotel Saigon Centre has a contemporary feel, an international buffet — The Square — a rooftop bar, and a wellness centre including a swimming pool, gym, sauna and spa. VILLA SONG SAIGON $$$ 197/2 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6090 villasong.com 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-influenced design, a great setting and good drinking and dining options make this a great, non-city centre choice.

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

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DAY TRIPPER South of Hue lies an amusement park, Ho Tuy Thien. But it’s popularity with visitors lies not in the amusements, but in the fact that it’s abandoned. Words and photos by Thomas Barrett


elcome to the place where fun came to die. Ho Tuy Thien opened in 2004 to the tune of US$3 million, but it never got off the ground as a destination for tourists in Hue. More of a damp squib than a big splash, the project was shelved before construction was even completed. Over 10 years of decay have given the park a surreal, creepy ambience and intrigued tourists have started to come back to the park to explore its quirky delights. Hue is of course most famous for its Imperial Citadel, itself a crumbling relic, but now there’s a new (old) kid on the block. It is not known why the park closed, but it’s not difficult to hazard a guess. Perhaps it was the sheer ambition of the project that

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was its biggest undoing: it’s a vast arena, full of nooks and crannies and hidden gems that mean you’ll probably need a motorbike to explore all of it.

Crocodiles and Dragons Located 8km outside of Hue, you arrive after a trip on a winding and serpentine path. With every corner you hope to catch a glimpse of the famed dragon that is on all the pictures of the place. The entrance still stands intact as a man asks for a VND10,000 entrance fee. It’s one of the many mysteries of this place. Where does the money go? It can’t be for upkeep, as Mother Nature has long taken on the role of gardener. The story goes that since the park closed, crocodiles took it over and made the place

home. Since then, the government has in the last year or two transported them to a wildlife park in the north of the country. Visions of killer crocodiles outrunning a Honda Wave would be the stuff of backpacking nightmares, though it might add a bit of spice to the trip. The lake that was once here is now bone dry, local farmers have moved their cattle in and they wander about grazing on the grass that has grown. Over the bridge of the empty lake you reach the aquarium which is shaped in the form of a giant egg and is set inside the huge, imposing dragon. The aquarium is ill-lit and all the tanks are smashed out. Did whatever beasties that were in there escape? This is a place to let your imagination run wild with B-movie fantasies.

The Amusement Park

Once inside the belly of the beast, you walk up a staircase that is shaped like the dragon’s carcass. You follow its ribcage up high to the dragon’s head, and once up, it offers a superb view of the park from inside its giant jaws. The dragon’s jagged teeth are painted with graffiti, with messages from young couples and adventurers imprinted onto them like a receipt.

Slime, Sludge and Ampitheatres The water slides are overgrown with giant leaves, moss and foliage blocking the entry to a thick green pit of slime with sludge below. The water is still, and a model elephant feigns to take a drink to refresh itself. A wooden bridge leads to a smaller pool for young children to play in, with little

play houses now marooned in the slime. It looks more like a dangerous assault course than a place to leave your kids. On the other side of the park there is an amphitheatre which was built to house a couple of thousand spectators. It now stands empty with the machinery that once facilitated some sort of water display lying dormant. It’s another clue to the ambition of the place, and there is something postapocalyptic about the deserted stand as a gentle breeze blows an empty packet of crisps across the seats. Enterprising vendors have set up shops selling food and drink in the makeshift motorbike parking lot. Scores of young Vietnamese are dotted outside the park having a picnic or playing with their kids, and a steady stream of excited backpackers

roll in to find out what the fuss is about. An expensive disaster 10 years ago, this place could yet become the unlikely word-ofmouth success story for tourism in Hue.

Getting There It takes about 30 minutes to reach Ho Tuy Thien from the centre of Hue via motorbike. Travel 8km southwards down Dien Bien Phu. Turn right onto Ngu Binh then take a quick left onto Minh Mang. Follow this road until you see Boi Tran Gallery on your right. Then turn right down the smaller road which takes you to the park’s entrance.

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ittle Cat Ba opened three-and-a-half years ago, aiming to provide idyllic island accommodation to guests who appreciate something more quaint, with a personal touch. It’s not a place with lashings of luxury; don’t expect to find Molten Brown toiletries next to your shower or a uniformed legion of sycophants bending over backwards to accommodate every incongruous demand. However, if you value friendly staff, personalised service and good food, against a picturesque backdrop of mountains and water, then Little Cat Ba will give you a collection of memories worth treasuring.

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Boat, Bike and Two Smoking Buses Getting to the resort requires one of the many tour companies connecting Hanoi and Cat Ba. I used Good Morning Cat Ba for this trip. Their bus, which picks up from anywhere in the Old Quarter twice a day, takes the shiny new highway to Hai Phong. After the speedboat drops you on Cat Ba, a second bus will take you to any property of your choice. Little Cat Ba is situated around 2km from Cat Ba Town, and thanks to free use of an automatic motorbike for every guest, getting around is easy. “If we run out of motorbikes, we’ll call our friends or partners to bring more,” explains Mai Trang, one of the employees

bearing a list of job titles. The operation of Little Cat Ba is managed by a team of 10 people; they cover everything from ownership and management to housekeeping and cooking.

Peace and Quiet The result is a family atmosphere into which every guest is absorbed as an honorary new member. The resort is found at the end of a long path, allowing plenty of distance between the rooms and the main road. It sits adjacent to Hang Vem Lake, which lies at the foot of a small range of lush mountains. Breakfast is included and served al fresco

Little Cat Ba


in the garden. The only sound disturbing the tranquil morning air comes from the pair of resident dogs, the self-proclaimed security guards. As I enjoy my eggs and coffee, I overhear Trang giving her expert, yet blunt advice to some optimistic Hungarian tourists. “Don’t go there, it sucks,” she says, dismissing their suggestion and pointing on the map. “Around here is much better, and the view from there at sunset is amazing.”

A Day on the Water The staff at Little Cat Ba are enthusiastic and knowledgeable when it comes to guiding guests around the island.

Trang brought me to a private boat, driven by a partner from a floating village. The tour which followed was extraordinary. We visited secluded beaches hidden away in the rocky maze of Halong Bay, went kayaking with no other boats in sight, watched the sunset from a peak on Monkey Island and enjoyed a home-cooked meal with a family living on the water. Every day out is customised by the staff to meet the needs and taste of each guest; one of the many things which makes this resort feel so different.

Spartan Back at the resort for dinner, the menu is

as simple as the rooms; fried noodles/rice or seafood hotpot for something a bit more special. The small bar makes up for the lack of options by offering unbelievable value, and a bottle of red wine sends me to bed earlier than usual. The rooms are basic, but spacious and clean; air conditioners and a few essentials come as standard, although the modern traveller might feel hindered by one issue. “The WiFi is not superb,” admits manager, Pham Thang. — Edward Dalton Little Cat Ba is located at 350 Ha Sen, Cat Ba, Hai Phong. For bookings and information, visit airbnb.com/rooms/9479371

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THE NAM HAI $$$$ Hamlet 1, Dien Duong Village, Quang Nam, Tel: (0510) 394 0000 ghmhotels.com 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 $$$$ Cu Du Village, Loc Vinh Commune, Phu Loc, Thua Thien Hue, Tel: (054) 369 5800 angsana.com/en/lang_co Located on Vietnam’s South Central Coast, Angsana Lang Co commands an unrivalled beach frontage of the shimmering East Sea. Traditional Vietnamese design encompasses the resort’s contemporary buildings and chic interiors. BANYAN TREE LANG CO $$$$ Cu Du Village, Loc Vinh Commune, Phu Loc, Thua Thien, Hue, Tel: (054) 369 5888 banyantree.com/en/lang_co Built on a crescent bay, The Banyan Tree offers privacy and unparalleled exclusivity with all-pool villas reflecting the cultural and historical legacy of past Vietnamese dynastic periods. LA RESIDENCE $$$$ 5 Le Loi, Hue, Tel: (054) 383 7475 la–residence–hue.com


PHUONG HOANG HOTEL $ 66 Le Loi, Hue, Tel: (054) 382 6736 hoangphuonghotel.com

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M M M NHA TRANG EVASON ANA MANDARA AND SIX SENSES SPA $$$$ Beachside Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (058) 352 2222 sixsenses.com/evasonresorts/ana-mandara/destination 2.6 hectares of private beachside gardens and villa–style accommodation furnished in traditional native woods, this resort offers verandah dining, a pool bar and the signature Six Senses Spa. JUNGLE BEACH RESORT $ Ninh Phuoc, Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (058) 362 2384 junglebeachvietnam.com On a secluded promontory north of Nha Trang, this budget place is all about hammocks, the sea, the jungle and nature. MIA RESORT NHA TRANG $$$$ Bai Dong, Cam Hai Dong, Cam Lam, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (058) 398 9666 mianhatrang.com NOVOTEL NHA TRANG $$$ 50 Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Tel: (058) 625 6900 novotel-nhatrang.com 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 caters for up to 200 delegates. SIX SENSES HIDEAWAY NINH VAN BAY $$$$ Ninh Van Bay, Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (058) 372 8222 sixsenses.com/resorts/ninhvan-bay/destination The upmarket Tatler maga-

zine 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 sheraton.com/nhatrang

M M M PHAN THIET & MUI NE NINH CHU BAY BEACH CLUB & BAR Hwy 702, Ninh Hai, Phan Rang, Ninh Thuan, Tel: (068) 627 2727 ninhchubay.com 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 $$$$ 54 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet, Tel: (062) 384 7322 blueoceanresort.com.vn life-resorts.com COCO BEACH $$$$ 58 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet, Tel: (062) 384 7111 cocobeach.net With charming wooden bungalows, a private beach, a swimming pool (both with attached bars) and a French restaurant, Coco Beach continues to be run by those who opened it in 1995. JOE’S GARDEN RESORT $$ 86 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Ham Tien, Mui Ne, Tel: (062) 384 7177 joescafemuine.com 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 $$$$ 24 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Tel: (062) 384 7440 miamuine.com VICTORIA PHAN THIET RESORT AND SPA $$$$ Mui Ne Beach, Phan Thiet, Tel: (062) 381 3000 victoriahotels.asia 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.

M M M 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 $$ Son Trach, Bo Trach, Quang Binh, Tel: 01299 597182 phong-nha-homestay.com PHONG NHA FARMSTAY $$ Hoa Son, Cu Nam, Bo Trach, Quang Binh, Tel: (052) 367 5135 phong-nha-cave.com The first western-run farmstay in Phong Nha, this well-

appointed 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.

M M M PHU QUOC BEACH CLUB RESORT $$ Ap Cua Lap, Xa Duong To, Long Beach, Phu Quoc Island, Tel: (077) 398 0998 beachclubvietnam.com A quaint and popular island guesthouse featuring a beachside restaurant, and includes free Wi-Fi. Motorbike rental, boat trips and tours are easily arranged. Discount rates during rainy season. MANGO BAY $$ Ong Lang Beach, Phu Quoc, Tel: 0903 382207 mangobayphuquoc.com 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 salindaresort.com 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 en-

chanting spirit of the pearl of Asia.

M M M SAPA CAT CAT VIEW HOTEL $$ Cat Cat Road, Tel: 0203 871946 catcathotel.com The best view in town from its bar restaurant, the Cat Cat Guesthouse is paradise at very reasonable rates. The rooms have big windows, balconies, and log fireplaces. TOPAS ECOLODGE $$$ Thanh Kim, Sapa, Lao Cai Tel: (04) 3715 1005 (Sales) topasecolodge.com 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.

M M M VUNG TAU & HO TRAM BINH AN VILLAGE $$$$ 1 Tran Phu, Vung Tau, Tel: (064) 335 1553 binhanvillage.com CON DAO RESORT $$ Nguyen Duc Thuan, Con Dao, Vung Tau, Tel: (064) 383 0939 condaoresort.vn HO TRAM BEACH RESORT AND SPA $$$$ Tel: (064) 378 1525 hotramresort.com 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 $$$$ Ho Tram, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Tel: (064) 378 1631 sanctuary.com.vn The spacious villas come with their own pool and have direct access to the beach. Extras include tennis courts, a mini supermarket, and cycling and motorbike tours. REX HOTEL $$ 1 Le Quy Don, Vung Tau, Tel: (064) 385 2135 rexhotelvungtau.com SIX SENSES CON DAO $$$$ Dat Doc Beach, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Tel: (064) 383 1222 sixsenses.com/sixsensescondao THE GRAND-HO TRAM STRIP Phuoc Thuan Commune, Xuyen Moc, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Tel: (064) 378 8888 thegrandhotramstrip.com 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.

M M M TRAVEL SERVICES — HANOI BUFFALO TOURS AGENCY (BTA) 94 Ma May, Hoan Kiem Dist., Ha Noi, Tel: (04) 3828 0702 buffalotours.com.vn 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 exotravel.com 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 handspan.com 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 hgtravel.com 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 (thy.com). INTREPID TRAVEL VIETNAM 57A Nguyen Khac Hieu, Ba Dinh, Tel: 0904 193308 intrepidtravel.com/vietnamsales 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 kien@travelsense.asia 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 buffalotours.com 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 exotravel.com 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 flightravelco.com 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 grasshopperadventures.com 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 terraverdetravel.com 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 vietnamvespaadventure.com 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 backofthebiketours.com Offer motorbike tours combined with the finest street food to give customers a truly immersive Vietnamese experience. BEENINASIA.COM beeninasia.com info@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.

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The Alchemist / The Therapist / Bar Stool / Coffee Cup / Top Eats / Book Buff Photo by Jesse Meadows 148 | Word February 2017 | wordvietnam.com

Hanoi Essentials

ALTERNATIVE HEALTH A-ROAMING BODYWORKER karen@a-roamingbodyworker.com a-roamingbodyworker.com 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 issuu.com/hanoiholistichealth 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 bbgv.org 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 ccifv.org EUROCHAM Pan Pacific Hanoi, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3715 2228 eurochamvn.org ICHAM Sofitel Plaza, Ground floor, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3715 2229 icham.org SINGAPORE BUSINESS ASSOCIATION VIETNAM Business Center Fortuna Hotel, 6B Lang Ha, Ba Dinh sbav-hanoi.org


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 amchamhanoi.com AUSCHAM 4th Floor, 100 Lo Duc, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 0909 710994 auschamvn.org

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 goethe.de/hanoi






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 vphanoi-lespace.com



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


CHULA 43 Nhat Chieu, Tay Ho; 24 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem Tel: 0904 258960 chulafashion.com 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 hiddenhanoi.com.vn 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 emporiumhanoi.com 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 ateliervietnam.com 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 thehanoiclub.com

44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3715 0088 hanoicookingcentre.com 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.










AIR ASIA airasia.com

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




AIR FRANCE airfrance.com.vn CATHAY PACIFIC cathaypacific.com/vn CHINA AIRLINES china-airlines.com JAPAN AIRLINES vn.jal.com JETSTAR PACIFIC jetstar.com/vn/en KOREAN AIR koreanair.com LAO AIRLINES laoairlines.com



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 Mekong-quilts.org 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

MALAYSIA AIRLINES malaysiaairlines.com SINGAPORE AIRLINES singaporeair.com THAI AIRWAYS thaiairways.com.vn TIGER AIRWAYS tigerair.com VIETJETAIR vietjetair.com VIETNAM AIRLINES vietnamairlines.com

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 Dons-bistro.com



14 Phan Huy Ich, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3716 3397 facebook.com/manzihanoi 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 thbc.vn


24 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0985 870316 nhasanstudio.org 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 australiandentalclinic.com



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 vnfam.vn 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 workroomfour.com 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.

19 Nguyen Truong To, Ba Dinh, Tel: 0989 067888 serenitydentalclinic.com WESTCOAST INTERNATIONAL DENTAL CLINIC DENTAL CLINIC

2nd Fl, Syrena Center, 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3710 0555 westcoastinternational.com 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 artvietnamgallery.com Established in 2002, this American-run gallery has

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

38 Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 6680 2770 kitchenart.vn 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 naturallyvietnam.com

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 hfh.com.vn 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 hongngochospital.vn


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

51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3934 0666 Internationalsos.com 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 warehouse-asia.com




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

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

lottecenter.com.vn PARKSON

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

parkson.com.vn 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 Daloc.vn









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


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

44 Nguyen Du, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (4) 3265 6888 acc.vn/en 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 insuranceinasia.com LIBERTY INSURANCE 16th Floor, Hoa Binh International Towers, 106 Hoang Quoc Viet, Cau Giay Tel: (04) 3755 7111 libertyinsurance.com.vn 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

trangtienplaza.vn 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 bishanoi.com 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 concordiahanoi.org 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 hisvietnam.com 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 isvietnam.org 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 hanoi.qsi.org 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 kinderworld.net/sis 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 stpaulhanoi.com.vn 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 unishanoi.org 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.



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 agsfourwinds.com 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 fair-realestate.com GIA LONG HOUSING

SANTA FE RELOCATION SERVICES Suite 821, Vietnam Trade Hotel, 14 Tran Binh Trong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3941 0805 santaferelo.com 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 gialonghousing.com HANOI RENTING RENTALS

No. 809, Ct13b building, Lac Long Quan, Tay Ho Tel: (04) 6294 4828 hanoirenting.com

BODY&SOUL SPA House 71, Ngach 2 Dam Tri, Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho, Tel: 0904 241314 bodyandsoul.com.vn Body&Soul Spa Hanoi is located in a relaxing environ-

ment 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. ELITE FITNESS TOP-END HEALTH CENTRE

51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6281 elitefitness.com.vn 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 nshapefitness.vn STUDIO FIVE YOGA & WELLNESS

5th Fl, 135 Bui Thi Xuan, Hai Ba Trung. Tel: (04) 6263.1515 studio5.vn VIETCLIMB CLIMBING CENTRE

40 Ngo 76 An Duong, Tay Ho, Tel: 0914 143185 vietclimb.vn


38 Hang Hom, Hoan Kiem, Tel: Tel: 0933 534999 houseinhanoi.com VIETLONG HOUSING RENTALS

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

RELOCATION AGENTS ALLIED PICKFORDS Room 302, 12A Ho Xuan Huong, Tel: (04) 3943 1511 vn.alliedpickfords.com 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 jvkasia.com 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 kinderworld.net 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:

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eeking your soulmate this Valentine’s? The modern definition of soulmate usually infers a romantic relationship. If we expand the definition, however, to include anyone who influences your life one way or another, then potentially everyone in your life is your soul mate. According to this more spiritual application, the people in our lives who interact with us on an emotional, mental, spiritual or physical level are here to help us work through certain issues. These relationships can bring out the best and the worst in an individual depending on the issues that need to be resolved. In this context, even the most difficult relationship can be a soulmate alliance.

more for life-long companionship, this is the role of a life partner. Chubb states that although there may not be as deep a soul connection with a life partner as there is with a soulmate, there is a mutual feeling of trust; understanding; respect, and of course love. Our life partner still has lessons to offer us but according to Chubb, this type of relationship is more about receiving support and gentle guidance as we navigate our soul journey. Knowing what we want from a relationship and how we can grow and evolve within it allows us to be in the energetic frequency to receive it. The following are a few characteristics, as outlined by Chubb, that differentiate soulmate and life partner relationships.

Soulmate vs Life Partner

Soulmate Relationship

Life coach, Tanaaz Chubb, suggests we be clear about what type of relationship we are seeking and she distinguishes between ‘soulmate’ and ‘life partner’. Chubb asserts that if we are in search of a soulmate, what we are really seeking is to learn, grow and develop in consciousness. If we feel we have learnt our lessons and we are looking

You feel a deep, spiritual connection to this person almost as though you have known them for a long time. You seem to understand each other, and have a similar way of thinking. Your connection is intense and so too is the relationship, often moving from extreme highs to extreme lows.

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You know intuitively what the other is thinking or feeling. Your relationship is emotional, challenging and can bring things out in you that you didn’t know existed.

Life Partner Relationship You feel attracted to each other physically and resonate with each other’s values. You get along like best friends, your relationship does not suffer from extremes. Your relationship is based on logical or intellectual decisions. Your relationship is based on being physically present and creating new memories. You feel the need to marry or start a family in order to cement your relationship. Whether you are seeking a romantic soulmate or a life partner, be open and receptive also to the opportunities to expand your consciousness through the interactions you have with everyone in your life. 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

Although a little hard to find, 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.



247 Au Co, Tay Ho; 62 Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem; Tel: 0904 356 561 zenithyogavietnam.com 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

bigc.vn CITIMART Ground Floor, Hanoi Towers, 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3934 2999

FIVIMART 27A Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem

INTIMEX 22-23 Le 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 bosua.vn

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


HANOI SPORTS SHOP 146, Mai Dich, Cau Giay, Tel: (04) 2218 5757 hanoisport.vn

SCORE-TECH 44, Ngo 31 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 8246

score-tech.net 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 umove.com.vn

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Dear Douglas, I have some questions for you about self-esteem. My daughter’s teacher told my husband and I that she thought my daughter had low self-esteem. It was her explanation for why my daughter (who is 12) was doing only average in school and seems not to have many friends in her class. It seems she keeps to herself at school and appears to her teacher to be shy. We are confused, because at home my daughter is not shy and is happy to be in the midst of whatever social events are going on, often revolving around her older brothers or when we have another family join us for dinner or an outing. Should I be concerned? Should I be doing something different? My husband seems to have little concern about the comment, but I am not so sure that it isn’t something to pay attention to. — Mom Dear Mom, Your questions are good. It is often difficult to determine when our adolescents are exhibiting behaviours that are a cause for concern and when it is part of the normal process of growing through the awkward stages that are true in adolescence. Self-esteem refers to the belief a person has about themself as it applies to the way they perform or fit in. Someone with low self-esteem holds core beliefs that they are not “good enough”, either to do the things required of them (like school), or to be loved and appreciated by others. This belief becomes a source of selfjudgement and self-criticism and they can look for messages from people around them that re-enforce the belief they have. The difficult part is that it becomes selffulfilling. The more one believes those things to be true, the more they behave as if it is true and then get feedback that tells them that it is true. The fears, doubts, judgements and criticisms we have about ourselves do influence the person we become. It is a serious concern. Based on what you have told me, I am not ready to conclude anything about your daughter’s self-esteem. There are a number of things I would want to know more about. What appears to be true is that she functions differently in different situations. At school she appears to be shy, while at home she is more outgoing and comfortable to be herself. I would want to explore some things

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about her personality, specifically whether she is introverted or extroverted. It is not uncommon for introverted people to be interpreted as being shy or less social, when it is really congruent with how they relate to themselves in the context of a social situation. I would also want to know some history. How long has she been in the school she is in and is she behaving similarly to other times in her life? I would also want to know more about her academic performance and how she feels about it. Does she try hard and then fail to learn or is she somewhat disinterested in school? I would also be interested to know how opinionated she is about the world and people around her. It can be part of how we might determine her level of engagement. Sometimes bright people don’t see the value in some of the ways we live life and can withdraw from activities and people that don’t interest them. This can be true of children who have been around older siblings and adults a lot. Someone with low self-esteem is more likely to have fewer opinions and not trust the value of what they think or conclude. The human brain changes a great deal during the stage of life your daughter is in. It seems to create some natural insecurity, being able to understand abstract ideas and hypothetical situations, but not yet feeling experienced enough

to trust one’s own perspective. Often that insecurity manifests in competitive behaviours among adolescents, and a social environment which is simultaneously a priority (parents less so) and a difficult environment to manage. Some children opt out or stay around the periphery. What can be done if a child has low self-esteem? The most important thing is that parents and teachers see that a child’s performance is not who they are. We can communicate unconditional love which helps a child see that they are loved and valued no matter what grades they get or what behaviour they exhibit. It can be easy to lose track of that when the demands for grades are high and the belief is that one’s future is determined by the performance now. A child’s selfesteem will have more to do with their life in the future than their grades. With the help of a psychotherapist, adults can challenge some of the core beliefs that are developing in our children, if they are overly critical or hurting their ability to be engaged in life. I hope this is helpful. Wishing you and your family wellness, — Douglas Do you have a question you would like Douglas’s help with? You can email him at douglasholwerda@hotmail.com. Personal details will not be printed

Hanoi On the Town


23 Ngo Van So, Hoan Kiem facebook.com/bar84hanoi 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 88group.vn 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 linkhanoi.com 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 furbrew.com 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 facebook.com/hrc.hanoi 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 facebook.com/lesoleilpaoloandchi 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 facebook.com/pages/RedRiver-Tea-Room 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 facebook.com/RockstoreHanoi 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 republic.vn 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 therooftop.vn 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 facebook.com/sidewalkhanoi 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 standingbarhanoi.com 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 tadioto.com 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 tracyspub.com 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 vuvuzela.com.vn 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 coffeebean.com 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 congcaphe.com 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-

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hink Hawaii, and then think Hanoi… sort of somewhere in the middle of that. Tay Ho Tiki Company is the latest addition to Hanoi’s fast expanding cocktail of craft watering holes. Since September they’ve been operating on Au Co, close to the flower market, and they’ve been gathering crowds looking for their signature tiki-inspired cocktails. Barman and co-owner Carl Hamilton has 10 years’ experience mixing cocktails across Australia and in Toronto, and his craftsmanship is evident in the drinks he puts on the table. The bar draws its inspiration from the tiki fad that began in California after the Second World War. Two bartenders

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who’d been stationed in Polynesia during wartime had come home to a bleak and anxious urban sprawl. They created the alter egos Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic, opening bars with their own take on Polynesian style, and mixing fruity and exotic cocktails. The tiki fascination swept through America during the 1950s and 1960s, where people would flock in droves after work seeking an escape from the monotony of their daily routines. This unassuming little venue, with its thatched roof, ocean-blue wall hangings and Pacific-looking water feature is now carrying the torch in Hanoi for this reviving trend. Their menu is a mix of rum infused tiki classics like mai tai and the zombie, and a collection of their own cocktails that use

local fruits, home-made syrups, and even Vietnamese coffee beans, giving the drinks a whole new edge that pineapples alone couldn’t provide.

Mai Kind of Drink The menu is divided into three main sections: Tay Ho Tiki Originals, Classics and Tiki Classics. The foundation of the menu are the tiki classics. The most famous tiki cocktail, the rum-infused mai tai is VND120,000, and the very first tiki cocktail, the zombie — described by its inventor as “a mender of broken dreams” — costs VND200,000. Also present is the ginger beer-based Dark ‘n’ Stormy for VND80,000, while the pina colada and the excellent winter warmer, hot

Tay Ho Tiki Company


buttered rum, cost VND140,000. The Tay Ho Tiki Originals are where barman Carl’s passion for the tiki cocktail shines through. With a choice of seven drinks to choose from, it’s difficult to know where to start. A quick read through the ingredients in each concoction will leave you questioning your understanding of the English language, but a glance at the other tables’ drinks will give you enough confidence to pick one and wait for the best to come. A great showpiece here is The East Sea. Premium rum mixed with homemade allspice liquor, homemade passion fruit syrup, orgeat syrup and lime — VND120,000. The Classics menu includes all the standards like the Old Fashioned, martini,

mojito and some less common sights like the Last Word, a mix of Bombay Sapphire, cherry liquor and green chartreuse, with lime. All the drinks on here cost between VND80,000 and VND200,000. Also worth a try is their homemade ginger beer — available in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, for VND60,000 per 500ml bottle.

Guest Chefs On top of having a small but permanent food menu including both vegetarian and carnie Jamaican patties for VND30,000 and VND40,000, and hot dogs for VND80,000, Tay Ho Tiki Company has also been supporting local chefs who don’t have a platform for their cooking.

Every month they have a guest chef to run a pop-up kitchen, ensuring that vegetarian options are given equal consideration in the process. Previous chefs have included chef Shay from Middle Eastern restaurant Daluva, who cooked up laksa — Indonesian curry noodles; Pham Nhu Long from Hanoi who graced guests with a pho burger; and Erin Ellis from Kentucky, who put together southern-style pulled pork sandwiches and cubanos. Tay Ho Tiki Company is the premier spot in Hanoi right now for speciality cocktails; space is limited and most accommodating to small groups or a romantic date. — Billy Gray Tay Ho Tiki Company is at 228a Au Co, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Opening hours are 5pm to 11.30pm

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ot all beautiful things cry for attention; Ocafé is a rose in a thorn bush hidden on the second floor of an old colonial town house in the Old Quarter. The entrance to the café is through a dilapidated alley sporting those familiar worn-yellow walls and a crumbling floor that means you have to be careful not to twist an ankle on the way up.

Intelligent Design A smart balance of modern and classic design, everything in here has been selected by owner and fashion designer Bui Linh. The dominant colours of the interior are

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black and white, interrupted by green plants sitting on the surface of tables, and hanging in glass balls from the ceiling. The space is flooded with natural light. Bare brick walls climb to heavy wooden ceiling beams making it feel reminiscent of an old renovated barn house. Black-andwhite photos mounted on the walls add to the classical atmosphere, while tree trunks recycled into tables and the abundance of plants and tea lights give the room a sense of naturalism. Everything in Ocafé is designed in detail, right down to the way the handle on the mugs fits into your fingers. Even the air conditioning units have been painted



brown to blend in with the wooden beams. None of it is accidental, yet none of it feels micro-managed. The space is divided by a hollow wall into two comfortable sections, and outside are two separate balconies overlooking fruit sellers and busy electric cables on Hang Buom, an appropriate setting for a private date in a busy atmosphere.

The Menu Pick up a menu and you’re greeted with professional-quality photographs of the food and drinks. The breakfast menu is a simple four options including the American breakfast — bacon and egg — or a banh mi

for VND65,000 and chicken or beef noodles for VND60,000. Soup is served in creamy mushroom, chicken corn or pumpkin flavours for VND45,000. The main courses consist mainly of rice dishes with chicken, beef or pork and cost VND65,000 to VND100,000. Some Italian classics such as spaghetti Bolognaise and spaghetti carbonara are also available for VND68,000. Coffee comes as standard — single espresso for VND35,000, latte and cappuccino for VND50,000, and a Vietnamese coffee with egg for VND50,000. The real icing on the cake are the milkshakes, served in a glass jar and

topped with all sorts of treats. They come in five flavours; mint-white chocolate, Oreo, chocolate banana, cookies cream and Nutella. They cost VND85,000 a pop. We recommend you order a side of Gelato ice cream on the side.

The Lowdown Ocafé is a contemporary spot, ideal for a lunch date, or just as a place to enjoy quality food and drinks while not leaving the centre of town and not stretching your wallet too far. — Billy Gray Ocafé is located at 59 Hang Buom, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi. Opening hours are 7am to 10.30pm daily

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Hanoi On the Town

dearing and old-fashioned. HANOI COOKING CENTRE CAFÉ

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 highlandscoffee.com.vn 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 joma.biz 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 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

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14 Phan Huy Ich, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3716 3397 facebook.com/manzihanoi 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 tet-lifestyle-collection.com 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.

Nha 15, 76 To Ngoc Van, TayHo clickspace.vn/spacebar 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 tet-lifestyle-collection.com 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.


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. PUKU INTERNATIONAL / CAFE

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. SAINT HONORE CAFE / BOULANGERIE

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


24 Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3938 1155 alfrescogroup.com 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 aulacdobrazil.com ASAHI SUSHI SUSHI RESTAURANT

288 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3974 5945 asahisushi.vn




French and international fare is served at meal times.

6 Hoi Vu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3938 2117 facebook.com/thehanoisocialclub 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.


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.


32C Cao Ba Quat, Ba Dinh facebook.com/YoloCoffeeShops 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. ZENITH VEGETARIAN CAFE VEGETARIAN / VEGAN

247 Au Co, Tay Ho, Tel: 0904 356561 zenithyogavietnam.com 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.


33 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 5831 daluva.com 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 Dons-bistro.com 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. EL GAUCHO STEAKHOUSE ARGENTINIAN STEAKHOUSE


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.


4 Quang An, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 6292 1044 chopsvietnam.com 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 facebook.com/cousins.hanoi A contemporary, Frenchinfluenced 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

11 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3824 7280; 99 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6991 elgaucho.com.vn 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 accorhotels.com/9813 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.


59 Truc Bach, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3716 2959 foodshop45.com 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

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 indiapalacehn@vnn.vn 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.


JW Marriott Hanoi, 8 Do Duc Duc, Me Tri, Tu Liem, Tel: (04) 3833 5588 facebook.com/frenchgrill 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. GREEN TANGERINE FRENCH / VIETNAMESE FUSION

48 Hang Be, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3825 1286 greentangerinehanoi.com 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


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.

pat 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 koto.com.au 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 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 alfrescogroup.com 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 alfrescosgroup.com 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 ex-

10 Nam Ngu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3942 4509 labadiane-hanoi.com 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

lasalsa-hanoi.com 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.

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.




19 Ngo Van So, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3944 6317 verticale-hanoi.com 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 linguinifini.com/en/hanoi 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 lunadautunno.vn This old-favourite Italian


Fortuna Hotel, 6B Lang Ha, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3831 3333 fortuna.vn 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. MEDITERRANEO PAN-ITALIAN

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.


11 Hang Hanh, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3828 7207 cafe-des-arts.com 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. MOOSE AND ROO SMOKEHOUSE AMERICAN GRILL

The American Club, 19-21 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3939 2470 mooseandroo.com 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. MOTO-SAN UBER NOODLES

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.

Chuùc Möøng Naêm Môùi Con Gaø HAPPY NEW YEAR OF THE FIRE ROASTED CHICKEN 2017 HAPPY VALENTINES DAY International nternational Modern & Comfort Cuisine - live Music Nightly 16 Quang An - Tay Ho - Hanoi Tel: (84-4) 3 719 2828 | 3 719 3719 www.dons-bistro.com | donchef@donviet.vn



anoi’s newest addition to its sparse Tex-Mex restaurant scene is Anita’s Cantina, overlooking a small area of Westlake on the quiet street of Quang Ba. Opened three months ago, Anita’s Cantina is restaurant owner and Austin, Texas, native Javier Rodriguez’s ode to his hometown’s speciality of Tex-Mex and traditional Mexican cuisine. Having created many successful pop-ups throughout Hanoi in the last few years, Anita’s Cantina is Javier’s first venture into an actual restaurant. The atmosphere inside feels much like an

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outdoor patio and is open and relaxed. Even the eatery’s mascot, Chihuahua Bo, upholds the Mexican heritage. The menu consists of the usual TexMex mainstays; burritos (VND120,000), enchiladas, soft tacos, quesadillas, flautas and nachos, though the menu’s weekly specials change on the fly. The speciality dishes are where Javier lets his culinary skills shine. On the week that Word visited, Javier was experimenting with a new dish he had yet to name — simply giving the creation a placeholder name of “sweet corn, green chilli and cheese fritters.”

“Whatever food works and customers request will make it on the specials menu more often. I am now working on a cha ca fish taco,” Javier divulges. Taking one of Hanoi’s most famous fish dishes and reimagining it as a taco has our interest piqued.

Handmade It wasn’t long before we asked the question: Who is Anita? “She was my au pair while I was growing up,” Javier explains. “She taught me everything I know about Mexican food. Whenever she was cooking in the kitchen, I

Anita’s Cantina


was always there right beside her.” Javier now takes the skills that Anita taught him and makes most everything on the menu by hand. “Everything including the chips, dip and tortillas are all handmade — everything except the alcohol,” Javier says. But the cocktails are anything but a joke. The cantinera (from VND90,000) (rum, lime, apricot-ginger syrup and soda) hits the soft spot between sweet and bitter. The margaritas (VND120,000) and Mexican hot chocolate with vanilla-infused bourbon is also worth trying.

Our first dish was the handmade nachos (VND90,000). The chips were thick and crispy and made a good complement to the lightly garnished and warm cilantro, tomato and cheese queso dip. Next came the tacos (VND130,000) served in three flavour options; chicken, pork and vegetarian potato. Again, the handmade tortillas had a light taste with the right consistency of texture, in contrast to the rubbery and chewy store-bought varieties used in some Hanoian restaurants. The dishes were presented with four made-from-scratch sauces that pair well with tacos or any of the other offerings. The

sauces are called simply green, orange, red and pickled chillis. Anita’s Cantina is only open evenings, Thursdays to Sundays. “I need the beginning of the week to hand-make all the ingredients for the remainder of the week,” Javier justifies. The only solace is that customers will soon have the option for delivery via the Vietnammm app. But, even then, you will have to stick to the restaurant’s limited hours. — Hai Vu Anita’s Cantina is at 36 Quang Ba, Tay Ho, Hanoi and is open Thursday to Sunday, 5.30pm to 10pm

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46 Tho Nhuom, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3935 2400 namastehanoi.com 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.

On the Town

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. NINETEEN 11 INTERNATIONAL / ASIAN

The Opera House, 1 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3933 4801 nineteen11.com.vn 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 hanoixua.vn/en 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.

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3 Nguyen Khac Can, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3826 9080 facebook.com/panevinoHN 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 pizza4ps.com 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. POTS ‘N PANS CONTEMPORARY VIETNAMESE

57 Bui Thi Xuan, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3944 0204 potsnpans.vn 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 sainthonore.com.vn 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 thecartfood.com 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 reliable, which makes this lunchtime favourite ideal for when you need to eat at the desk. THE KAFE CONTEMPORARY CAFE / CUISINE

18 Dien Bien Phu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3747 6245 thekafe.vn 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 facebook.com/wannawaffle 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. WRAP & ROLL 5th Floor, Trang Tien Plaza, 24 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3824 3718 wrap-roll.com 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 HOLISTIC VEGETARIAN

247Au Co, Tay Ho, Tel: 0904 356561 zenithyogavietnam.com/ 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.



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

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obert McCrum, critic for the Observer, wrote of Sebastian Barry’s latest novel: “Some novels sing from the first line, with every word carrying the score to a searing climax, and Days Without End is such a book.” As yet I haven’t got my hands on that book, but if it sings as well as Barry’s previous novels and plays then it will be a magnificent read.

A Long Way My Christmas holiday book this year was his 2005 novel, A Long Way, short-listed for the Man Booker Prize. It starts: He was born in the dying days. ‘He’ is Willie Dunne, the main character in the novel, who is aged 18 at the beginning of World War I when he joins the Royal Dublin Fusiliers to spend four years in the hellish trenches in Belgium. He is 22 when he is shot in the head when he heard a man singing from the German section, singing a tune he knew…. “He lifted up his own voice and sang back to his enemy, the strange enemy that lay unseen. They shared a tune that was still true. A single shot marked its own note in the easy dark, hushing the owl.” Although a devastating account of the horrors of trench warfare and the simultaneous political and bloody calls for home rule in Ireland, the novel has a lyricism that is, in a lot of reviews, compared with the poetic accounts of the

same world war by British poets, Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. Both were killed in the trenches.

Livin’ On Canaan’s Side Barry takes up the history of Willie Dunne’s family again in his 2011 book, On Canaan’s Side, which begins: Bill is gone. Bill has returned from the Gulf War, a traumatized young man. He hangs himself. Bill is the grandson of Willie Dunne’s youngest sister Lilly who was forced to flee Ireland in 1920 when she fell in love with Tadge, a friend of her brother’s who had returned to Dublin after the war but who refused to support Home Rule for the Irish and joined the local British police force known as the Black-and-Tans. After being identified in an ambush of revolutionaries where some were killed, Tadge is a marked man and is forced to flee to America with Lilly who has been wrongly denounced as an informer. Lilly is now 89, and in the 17 days without Bill she recounts her life story, wandering back and forth in time as the elderly often do; which is why their stories are too often dismissed as rambling nonsense. Barry tells Lilly’s tale with a poetic touch that took my breath away. It has been described as a sepia-toned history. It has the same anti-war message of its predecessor and the same lyricism. Readers with a taste for contemporary American history may find the character Mrs Wolohan (for whom Lilly cooked for

many decades) bears a resemblance to Rose Kennedy whose own sons and brothers and husbands were killed or mentally damaged in wars and assassinations. Perhaps the best-known Sebastian Barry novel, The Secret Scripture, published in 2008 and a multiple award winner, has garnered attention due to the movie of the same name released last year. I’m looking forward to opening up to page one and reading its birdsong sentence. Undoubtedly I’ll become enmeshed in a new family history, that of the McNultys, who are the mainstays of Barry’s second novel, The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty, and the one with which I started this article. Another of my favourite Irish authors, Joseph O’Connor, writes of the Secret Scripture as being a novel that subverts iconographic beliefs: “Barry is doing something darker and more daring than image-breaking. He makes beautiful prose out of the wreckage of these lives by allowing them to have the complication of actual history in all its messy elusiveness.” He adds: “History, as far as I can see, is not the arrangement of what happens, but a fabulous arrangement of surmises and guesses held up as a banner against the assault of withering truth. His achievement in this magnificent and heart-rending novel is a kind of restitution.” Truong Hoang is behind the much-loved book shop, Bookworm. For more info click on bookwormhanoi.com or visit their shop at 44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh, Hanoi

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Body & Temple / Know Your City / Medical Buff / Terence Taylor’s Saigon Stories / Bar Stool / Coffee Cup / Top Eats Photo by Mike Palumbo 168 | Word February 2017 | wordvietnam.com

HCMC Essentials







223 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1 phamngulao.abcbakery.co 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 fahasa.com 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 nordcham.com PHILIPPINES BUSINESS GROUP VIETNAM 40/4 Pham Viet Chanh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 3518 0045 pbgvn.com


106 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3; 2 Cao Thang, Q3; Vivo City, 1058 Nguyen Van Linh, Q7 breadtalkvietnam.com 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 namphongsaigon.com


harvestbaking.net 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 lamourbakery.com.vn TOUS LES JOURS


2A Le Duan, Q1; 2nd Floor Parkson Center, 35-45 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 pnc.com.vn 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 touslesjoursbakery.com 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 voelker-vietnam.com 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. amchamvietnam.com AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE (AUSCHAM) 2nd Floor, Eximland Building, 179EF Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q3, Tel: (08) 3832 9912 auschamvn.org BRITISH BUSINESS GROUP OF VIETNAM (BBGV) 25 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 8430 bbgv.org CANADIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE (CANCHAM) Room 305, New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 3754 canchamvietnam.org 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 sbghcm.org



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 lusinespace.com 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 anupa.net 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

232 Bui Vien, Q1 papaya-tshirt.com T&V TAILOR TAILORS

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


174 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: 0903 641826 Bamskateshop.com.vn


163 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Q1, Tel: 0978 967588 Ubesthouse.com


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 ginkgo-vietnam.com 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 ipa-nima.com


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 ambrij.com 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.


AIRLINES AIR ASIA airasia.com AIR FRANCE airfrance.com.vn CATHAY PACIFIC cathaypacific.com/vn CHINA AIRLINES china-airlines.com JAPAN AIRLINES vn.jal.com JETSTAR PACIFIC jetstar.com/vn/en KOREAN AIR koreanair.com

OVERLAND CLUB 35Bis Huynh Khuong Ninh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3820 9734 overlandclub.jp 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 saigoncookingclass.com 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 vietnamese-cooking-classsaigon.com

M M M LAO AIRLINES laoairlines.com MALAYSIA AIRLINES malaysiaairlines.com SINGAPORE AIRLINES singaporeair.com

TIGER AIRWAYS tigerair.com VIETJETAIR vietjetair.com VIETNAM AIRLINES vietnamairlines.com


175 Ha Noi Highway, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4543 chilai.com 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 mekong-creations.org


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


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


THAI AIRWAYS thaiairways.com.vn


42 Nguyen Dang Giai, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 0023 austinhomeinteriors.com 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 mekong-quilts.org NHA XINH HOME FURNISHINGS

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

222 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3, Tel: (08) 3930 4190 remixdeco.com THE FURNITURE HOUSE HOME FURNISHINGS

81 Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4640/4643

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take supplements. They are my insurance policy for health and optimal recovery from stress and exercise. However, there are so many supplements that claim miracle benefits that just aren’t true. To help make your 2017 as healthy and productive as possible here are my top four essential supplements.

Super Green Most people’s diets are lacking in vegetable consumption. Vegetables are the essential factor in our diets. The colours of vegetables are derived from a variety of chemicals called antioxidants. These chemicals are almost exclusively found in plants. They are only present in animal-based foods to the extent that animals eat them and store a small amount in their own tissue. Plants produce these antioxidants to fight free radicals (compounds that destroy healthy cells — basically causing the aging process) and protect healthy cells. Here’s the thing; we do not naturally build shields to protect ourselves against free radicals. Fortunately, the antioxidants in plants work in our bodies the same way they work in plants. We need to eat plants to borrow their antioxidant shields for our cells, and thus our health. Unfortunately, in modern times the vitamin and mineral quality of vegetables has reduced. In the fast-paced world our consumption of vegetables has also reduced, hence the need for a Super Green supplement. A super green drink provides all the micro-nutrients the body needs — many of which help us lose fat either directly or indirectly. Good quality Greens drinks have shown to increase the antioxidant status of the body, improve pH, lower stress hormones, and more.

Omega-3 We generally need to rebalance the ratio between Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, which has been upset by all the vegetable oil, junk food and poor quality grain-fed, chemically laden animal products consumed in the diet. The benefits of Omega-3 are vast and include; reduced pain and inflammation, better brain function, improved memory, recall, protection against depression, protection from heart attack and stroke, reduction of menstrual pain, and many more. The best impact is that it turns off the fat-storing mechanisms and turns on the fatburning mechanisms. When purchasing an Omega-3 supplement check the ingredient list to ensure it is free of carrier oils like soy.

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Probiotic It’s very difficult to lose weight and be healthy if you don’t have a healthy gut for two interrelated reasons. 1) If your gut is not healthy, it will negatively affect the production of the neurotransmitters, leading to poor cognitive function, low mood, feelings of depression, and low motivation. A bad outlook and lack of drive will make you less motivated to exercise and take the action necessary for you to make progress toward reaching your goals. 2) Gut health is essential to improve digestion and help you feel better. You will actually feel more energetic because your neurotransmitters will be firing at optimal levels, and your metabolism will be supported so that nutrients and energy sources are getting broken down, absorbed, and used by the body in the most effective manner. Additionally, research shows probiotic supplementation helps lower anxiety and stress levels, which leads to less secretion of cortisol (the hormone related to abdominal fat).

Magnesium Magnesium is one of the most important nutrients needed by the human body. Magnesium is involved in at least 300 essential biochemical reactions, including protein synthesis, testosterone production, insulin sensitivity, calcium absorption, and regulation of the sympathetic nervous system. Plus, magnesium has been shown to enable the metabolism of vitamin D,

meaning it is essential for bone health and treatment of osteoporosis. Research suggests that magnesium deficiency is a big contributor to an enlarged waist. Magnesium plays a very important role in glucose regulation, it has the ability to decrease inflammation and anxiety, lower cortisol, improve HDL cholesterol levels, and adequate levels are absolutely critical for a lean body. These are the most valuable points highlighting the essential role of magnesium in weight management and health. Be careful when choosing your supplements. Here are some general guidelines to help you select a high-quality dietary supplement: 1) It should be as close as possible to its natural (whole food) form. 2) What certifications or industry standards for quality control has the product undergone? Look for ISO 9001, ISO 17025, and Good Manufacturing Processes (GMP) certifications. Be an informed consumer and if in doubt talk to a health professional who does not have a vested interest in any product or supplement brand. Phil is founder and master trainer at Body Expert Systems. Contact him on 0934 782763, at his website bodyexpertsystems.com or through Star Fitness (starfitnesssaigon.com)

HCMC Essentials


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

M M M CYCLING FIRSTBIKE VIETNAM firstBIKE.com.vn 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 internationalsos.com 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 jett-cycles.com 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 xedapcaocap.com 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 thebikeshopvn.com 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 facebook.com/thebikeshopvn for more details.


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


2 Bis Cong Truong Quoc Te, Q3, Tel: (08) 3822 6222 24, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 6282 8822 starlightdental.net 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.

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 westcoastinternational.com 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 maplehealthcare.net 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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o help understand what this topic is about, please cast your mind back to before Starbucks arrived in the city, to when you could go into any café, sit down and be served. After Starbucks arrived you needed to go to the counter, place and pay for your order, and then return to pick it up. No more service! Why? To save Starbucks money, and when they did it, it was then okay for the other chains to follow suit and they did. The same has happened with architecture. Less than a century ago an architect would not be able to design a building without adding texture to the exterior because both the market and the clients expected it. Building texture comes from its form and how that form is expressed using shadows and patterns that not only give relief to the building but also allowing the building form to subtly change during the day. Ho Chi Minh City is full of buildings that are fine examples of this. The texture of these older buildings took the form of balconies and sunshading (often selfshading devices) designed to keep the sun off the facade of the building. This provided a rich texture and delivered an attractive cityscape. Most of these buildings had load bearing walls — the weight of the building was taken through the facade.

Offensive From the middle of the 19th century

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attempts were made to reduce that weight and thus the cost of the outside of a building. In the 1920s the German Bauhaus design school promoted buildings with lightweight facades, however Hitler found their modernist design philosophy offensive — calling it communist intellectualism — and shut them down, expelling their leaders to the US where — ironically — they flourished. After World War II, technological advances in the manufacture of glass and fixing systems allowed these new buildings to be built quicker and cheaper. Mies Van Der Rohe, an original Bauhaus teacher, demonstrated in New York (along with an architect called Gordon Bunshaft), that buildings could be built quickly and effectively with a few millimetres of glass separating the inside from the outside, saving costs and allowing facades to become a series of patterns applied over a structural frame. It was a building’s Starbucks moment as it was a way to reduce costs without affecting the coffee. Look around the new buildings of Ho Chi Minh City and you can see examples of these curtain-wall exteriors of buildings. Some of these buildings have added mirror glass to their exterior — like giant mirrored sunglasses reflecting themselves — making it impossible to see what is inside except at night. Unfortunately these buildings have a tendency to reflect the sun’s rays and heat


up surrounding buildings. Who would know what uses lie behind these facades?

Drawbacks The net result is building blandness, as the texture is removed and only the rectangular building form remains. An example of this is the Times Square building on Nguyen Hue that is only interesting once the LED lightshow is turned on at night. An additional drawback to these buildings — even those equipped with high-tech heat reducing glass — is that they cannot prevent glare and people inside must deal with it by closing the blinds, removing the view. Think of any international city, think of the buildings in it and think of the memorable ones. The ones that you retain in your memory are those that are textured or unique in their shaping or form. The older buildings dealt with Ho Chi Minh City’s sun problem by stopping the sun from getting past the facade. In doing so they created buildings that were interesting as well as practical. Can we develop an architecture that understands and solves these problems in a modern way? More next month… Ed Haysom is the general director of Mode / Haysom Architects and is based in Ho Chi Minh City. You can contact him on ehaysom@ modehaysomarchitects.com

HCMC Essentials





CRAIG THOMAS GALLERY 27i Tran Nhat Duat, Q1, Tel: 0903 888431 cthomasgallery.com 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 dogmacollection.com 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 galeriequynh.com 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 baotangmythuattphcm.vn 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.org 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 Annam-gourmet.com 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 classicfinefoods.com 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 meatworksasia.com 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 avedaherbal@gmail.com CAT MOC SPA 63 Tran Dinh Xu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6295 8926 catmocspa.com 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 Conceptcoiffure.vn 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 famenails.com GLOW SPA 129A Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 8368 glowsaigon.com 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@ gmail.com ICCS (INDIAN CRICKET CLUB OF SAIGON) Deeptesh Gill, Tel: 01228 770 038 deepteshgill@gmail.com ISCS (INDIAN SPORTS CLUB IN SAIGON) Munish Gupta, Tel: 0986 973 244 gmunish29@yahoo.co.in 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 sacccricket@gmail.com SSC (SRI LANKA SPORTS CLUB) Suhard Amit, Tel: 0988 571 010 suhard.amit@yahoo.com UCC (UNITED CRICKET CLUB) Asif Ali, Tel: 0937 079 034 npasifali@hotmail.com VIETNAM CRICKET ASSOCIATION (VCA) Manish Sogani, Tel: 0908 200 598 manish@ambrij.com

FOOTBALL & RUGBY AUSTRALIAN RULES FOOTBALL Tel: 0937 683 230 vietnamswans.com LES GAULOIS DE SAIGON gauloisdesaigon.com OLYMPIQUE SAIGON Contact Fred on 0919 709 024 or Viet Luu 0909 500 171. astere@hotmail.fr

SAIGON RAIDERS Saigonraiders.com SAIGON RUGBY CLUB RMIT University, 702 Nguyen Van Linh, Tan Phong, Q7 saigonrugbyfootballclub@ yahoo.com SAIGON SAINTS saigonsaints.com

SPORTS — GENERAL HASH HOUSE HARRIERS saigonhash.com RANGERS BASEBALL TEAM isao.shimokawaji@sapporobeer.co.jp SAIGON INTERNATIONAL DARTS LEAGUE thesidl.com SAIGON INTERNATIONAL SOFTBALL LEAGUE saigonsoftball.info SAIGON SHOOTERS NETBALL CLUB saigonshootersnetball. blogspot.com SAIGON SPORTS ACADEMY 28 Tran Nao, Q2, Tel: (08) 7303 1100 saigonsportsacademy.com SQUASH The Landmark, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2098 ext 176 thelandmarkvietnam.com TORNADOS HOCKEY CLUB 436A/33 Ba Thang Hai, Q10, Tel: 0938 889899 James.chew@vietnamhockey.vn ULTIMATE FRISBEE RMIT, 702 Nguyen Van Linh, Q7 Saigon-ultimate.com X–ROCK CLIMBING 7Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q3, Tel: (08) 6278 5794 xrockclimbing.com

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am a lucky man. I was born in a little Argentine province bordering on Chile — San Juan, one of the poorest in my country. At that time, there were no smartphones, no internet, and only a few hours of cartoons each week on TV. With little else to do, I grew up running. It was a desert. The adults would nap during the middle of the day; it was too hot to do anything else. But we kids, we did not like to nap. We climbed to the tops of the trees during sandstorms to feel the force of the swaying boughs. We imagined the hot wind at our backs to be the fiery breath of monsters and dragons, forever chasing us. We ran like free, wild animals. At high school, we played sports. Basketball, football — and running. None of us were overweight; the food we ate, we grew ourselves, high in calories — but we burned all those calories, especially in the winters when it was extremely cold. Opportunities to have a medical checkup were rare, but I got checked when I was 18. Life is not always kind; I was diagnosed with a serious illness. After complicated surgery, I was close to the end of my life — fever, shaking, infections. So many needles. The pain was unbearable. But I was fit. Unexpectedly, my symptoms disappeared. After five days without fever, they sent me home. It was two years before I could run again. Slowly at first, just a few kilometres

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at a time, to keep active. I ran because I wanted to be as fit as possible, because I knew that at some point, my illness would return. As I ran, the energy, power, and wellness returned to my body, and so too came the memories and joys of my childhood. I felt the monster’s breath at my back again, and I ran.

worldwide. The fat inflames the liver chemically, similar to that caused by heavy drinking. It is the number one cause of liver transplantation. The leading cause of fatty liver is a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle. The best treatment for this disease is to keep active — running many times a week is perfect — and to follow a healthy diet based on vegetables, fruit and fish.

The Science of Running

Our Biology

I am a doctor. There is a certain magic about running and its power to heal, but I cannot ignore my profession and my medical knowledge. In fact, scientific information about the benefits of exercise has really only come to light in the last ten years. These include: the calories you burn even after you work out; the endorphins released while running that combat depression and anxiety; the highly oxygenated blood that boosts toxin removal, the heightened neurogenesis that sharpens mental acuity. Running is linked to lower risks of cancer, longevity and a higher quality of sleep. Running is now known to help prevent and treat diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, migraines, strokes, myocardial infarctions, Alzheimer’s and cancer. It improves memory, eyesight, sexual activity, selfesteem and job productivity. In my own field — hepatology — fatty liver is one of the most common diseases

We are biologically prepared to run. Our forebears survived by persistence hunting and avoiding predators. We are like a machine shaped to walk long distances or run every day in an environment where food was scarce. Many modern diseases have their basis in the fact that we are not active any more, and we eat a lot. I am a lucky man. To this day, my illness has never returned. I live in an age of smartphones that help me to check my speed, the calories spent on my training, my heart rate, and to stay in contact with the friends of my childhood, sharing our battles again with the monsters and dragons always behind us, training on the streets and feeling the power of our legs, the strength of our breath trying to catch as much oxygen as possible, the heavy beating of our heart in our chest, exactly as it was all those decades ago. Dr. Pedro is an Internal Medicine and Hepatology Specialist at Family Medical Practice

HCMC Essentials


68 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: (FREEPHONE) 1800 1108 hairbar.vn 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: facebook.com/ hairbarvn. INDOCHINE SPA 69 Thu Khoa Huan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 7188 Indochine-spa.com.vn 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 Jasminespa.vn 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 merci-space.com 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 soispa.vn 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 spatropic.com 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 www.acc.vn 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 americaneyecentervn.com 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 cmi-vietnam.com 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 vietnammedicalpractice.com Family Medical Practice (FMP) is the largest and one

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HCMC Essentials

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 internationalsos.com 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 fvhospital.com 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 fvhospital.com 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 pacificcross.com.vn 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 sianclinic.com 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 stamfordskin.com 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 hanhphuchospital.com 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 victoriavn.com 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 insuranceinasia.com 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 libertyinsurance.com.vn 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 noahjamesinsurance.com Skype: jp.global 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: james@noahjamesinsurance.com TENZING PACIFIC SERVICES 181 Dien Bien Phu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 5367 ten-pac.com 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 dancentervn.com 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 helenekling.com INSPIRATO MUSIC CENTER 37 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 0932 737700 Inspirato.edu.vn MINH NGUYEN PIANO BOUTIQUE 94A Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 7691 Minhnguyenpiano.com PERFORMING ARTS ACADEMY OF SAIGON 19A Ngo Quang Huy, Q2, Tel: (08) 6281 9679 paa.com.vn 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 morrissokoloff@hotmail.com SAIGON MOVEMENT Tel: 0987 027 722 saigonmovement@gmail.com 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 Saigonponyclub.com SAIGON SPORTS ACADEMY 28 Tran Nao, Q2, Tel: (08) 7303 1100 saigonsportsacademy.com 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 vin-space.com

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 theabcis.com 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 bisvietnam.com 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.

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 aavn.edu.vn 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 kidsclubsaigon.com 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 ishcmc.com 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 2017, featuring Vietnam’s first Innovation Center, 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 cis.edu.vn The first Canadian international school in Vietnam serves local and foreign

INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL SAIGON PEARL 92 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 2222 7788/99 issp.edu.vn 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 eishcmc.com 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 montessori.edu.vn 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.edu.vn 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 saigonkidskindergarten.com 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 ssis.edu.vn 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 saigonstarschool.edu.vn 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 smartkidsinfo.com 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 tas.edu.vn 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 easysaigon.com 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 namhouse.com.vn 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 residentvietnam.com SNAP 32 Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4282 snap.com.vn 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 thenesthousing.com 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 chiscafe.com 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 nga.natalie@gmail.com saigonbikerentals.com 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 saigonscootercentre.com 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.

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HCMC Essentials

RECRUITMENT & HR ADECCO VIETNAM 11th floor, Empire Tower, 26 - 28 Ham Nghi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3915 3430 adecco.com.vn 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 hr2b.com G.A. CONSULTANTS VIETNAM CO., LTD. Ho Chi Minh Office: Room 2B-2C, 2nd Floor, 180 Pasteur, District 1, HCMC. vieclambank.com VIETNAMWORKS.COM 130 Suong Nguyet Anh, Q1, Tel: (08) 5404 1373 vietnamworks.com 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 alliedpickfords.com 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 agsfourwinds.com 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 asiantigers-mobility.com 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 jvkasia.com 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 logicalmoves.net 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 santaferelo.com 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 the-ascott.com 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 intercontinental.com/saigonres 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 norfolkmansion.com.vn 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 Riverside-apartments.com 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

exileinkvietnam.com SAIGON BODY ART

135 Cong Quynh, Q1 Tel: 0908 443311

saigonbodyart.com SAIGON INK

26 Tran Hung Dao, Q1 Tel: (08) 3836 1090





206B Le Van Sy, Phu Nhuan, Tel: 01204 738939 (Fiona)

facebook.com/ 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 sherwoodresidence.com 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.com 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 laholista.com 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 chiara@laholista.com 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 nutrifort.com 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 saigonhash.com 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 animaldoctors.vn 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 sheratonsaigon.com 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 vlstudies.com 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 cyril-and-you.com 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 thelandmarkvietnam.com 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 facebook.com/vertical.academy.vn 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 score-tech.net 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.

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ou are reminded of the age of this place when you travel up to the 5th floor of the Majestic Hotel in quite possibly the smallest elevator in Ho Chi Minh City. Its wooden panelling gives the illusion of stepping into a time machine — back to when Ho Chi Minh City was still Saigon, and Dong Khoi was the Rue Catinat. But when you walk onto The Breeze Sky Bar it’s an airy space, with plenty of space befitting of the bar’s name. The hotel has stood at 1 Dong Khoi since 1925 — with the rooftop bar being a staple in the city for nearly as long. It has

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stubbornly survived war, as well as the arrival of deluxe super-hotels such as the nearby Park Hyatt. The bar hopes to retain some of the class that helped make its famous name. Cocktails are the name of the game up here, with all the 20th century design classics such as the Long Island Ice Tea to a margarita that you’d expect to see. The Happy Saigon (VND185,000) is the bar’s signature — it was concocted for the war correspondents who came to the bar looking for a good time among the chaos, with the hope that it could give a bit of vigour back to those who drank it. It’s made with

Vietnamese rice wine, Malibu, triple sec, orange juice and grenadine — and it hits the spot without being earth-shattering. The cocktails are all sweet with the intention being to bring a bit of feel-good factor to your visit.

Evocative A couple of the cocktails on the menu take their name from the hotel itself and I also try the ‘Majestic by Night’. (VND185,000). It’s a tipple featuring vodka, cherry brandy, cranberry juice and lime juice. It’s a refreshing drink to help while away the afternoon watching the river below.

The Bar at the Majestic Hotel


As well as the special cocktails that were designed by the head bartender — there is also an extensive shorts menu (VND170,000), with classic options such as the margarita and daiquiri sitting alongside many others. There is a stacked menu of long drinks (VND180,000), ensuring you won’t be short on choice. The bar is famous for being the favourite watering hole of Fowler in Graham Greene’s classic 1959 novel The Quiet American. Greene’s rich and evocative description of the bar still lingers when you sit up here — “it would ever be seven o’clock and cocktail-time on the roof of

the Majestic, with a wind from the Saigon River” he wrote, and much of the classic style of Greene’s era has been kept.

Dignified Photos of the various world leaders and dignitaries who have stayed at the hotel have pride of place on the walls inside the bar. Like the hotel, the bar’s design has remained in that recognisable French colonial-era fashion for its long lifespan. It’s a style that was built to last. The rooftop is where the bar shines the most. With a main outside area standing adjacent to the bar inside and two further

levels above it offering blessed seclusion from the city, it offers a fabulous view of what is happening on the other side of the Saigon River with the Thu Thiem project, as cranes and machinery engulf the green space that once was. With a Happy Saigon cocktail in hand, it’s impossible not to reflect on how much the city has changed from the days when The Majestic was in its pomp, and how drinkers at the rooftop bar here have watched the city change into what it is today, and what it will be tomorrow. — Thomas Barrett Breeze Sky Bar is in the Majestic Hotel, 1 Dong Khoi, Q1, HCMC

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HCMC On The Town


Park Hyatt, 2 Lam Son, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1234 saigon.park.hyatt.com 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 apocalypsesaigon.com 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 biacraft.com 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 blanchystash.com 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 facebook.com/TheBelgianCraftBeerBrewery 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 Buddhabarsaigon.com 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.

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 facebook.com/irishpubsaigon 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. ENVY NIGHTCLUB

76 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q1, Tel: (08) 3913 8168 facebook.com/envyclubsaigon 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

cooked onsite by 4Ps. Enter the darkness. HOA VIEN CZECH BREWHOUSE

28 Mac Dinh Chi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 8605 hoavien.vn 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. INDIKA BAR, CAFÉ & RESTAURANT

43 Nguyen Van Giai, Q1, Tel: 0122 3994260 facebook.com/pg/IndikaSaigon 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.



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 chillsaigon.com 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

Level 52, Bitexco Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 8750 eon51.com 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


31D Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: 0903 017596 facebook.com/heartofdarknessbrewery 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


Tel: 0906 912730

www. vietnammm.com/ restaurants-ben-style CHEZ GUIDO

Tel: (08) 3898 3747

www.chezguido.com DOMINO’S PIZZA Tel: (08) 3939 3030

www.dominos.vn EAT.VN www.eat.vn


www.hungrypanda.vn KFC

Tel: (08) 3848 9999

www.kfcvietnam. com.vn


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.


115 Ho Tung Mau, Q1 Tel: (08) 6251 9898 gameonsaigon.com 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.


LAYLA BAR & EATERY 63 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2279

facebook.com/LaylaEateryandBarHCM 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 lastcallsaigon.com If you’re in need of dense, soulful atmosphere and


Tel: (08) 3910 0000 www.lotteria.vn

PIZZA HUT (PHD) Tel: (08) 3838 8388

www.pizzahut.vn SCOOZI

Tel: (08) 3823 5795 www.scoozipizza.com

TACO BICH www.tacobich.com VIETNAMMM www.vietnammm.com

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.

zas. And for a real treat, check out their zesty rolls. PHATTY’S AUSTRALIAN / SPORTS

46-48 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 0796 phattysbar.com 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 facebook.com/PitchersPMH 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 quilounge.com 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 mayrestaurant.com.vn 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 facebook.com/pg/roguesaigon 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 Eiffel 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 irish-barsaigon.com 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 piz-


New World Saigon Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1 saigonsoul.com The ultimate in poolside entertainment, 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 Saigonoutcast.com 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 facebook.com/saigonranger 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.

ger 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 facebook.com/TheSocietyHCM 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


9th Floor, Caravelle Saigon, 1923 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4999 caravellehotel.com 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. SHRINE BAR LOUNGE BAR

61 Ton Thap Thiep, Q1 shrinebarsaigon.com 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.

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. VESPER GOURMET LOUNGE INTERNATIONAL

Landmark Building, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9698 facebook.com/vespersaigon A sophisticated yet down-to-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.


103A Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 0007 seventeensaloon.com.vn 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 Stormp.vn Named after the Danish artist Storm P, this long-running bar is 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 big-

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ccupying a corner of Annam Gourmet Market in Saigon Centre, Annam Café Gourmet combines quality coffee with simple yet tasty food. Opened last July, this compact space is an ideal resting stop for shoppers looking to recharge their batteries or have some lunch. Designed to create a contemporary ambience, with wooden tables, chairs and leather sofas, Annam Café Gourmet’s menu focuses on French-inspired, European cuisine, created by well-known five-star chef Sakal Phoeung. The focus here is on quality, imported ingredients

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Annam Café Gourmet


that provide a taste of home. Apart from salad (VND170,000 for tomato and mozzarella), tartines (VND140,000 for tartine Mediterranean), main courses (VND170,000 for the beef lasagna), cheese and a cold cuts board (from VND290,000), there is a huge selection of hot and cold sandwiches. The café also caters to wine lovers, serving up wine from France, Italy, Spain and Australia. The beer selection is comprehensive including local (VND35,000 for 333), imported (VND120,000 for Coopers Pale Ale) and dark beer (VND170,000 for Chimay Blue).

More Than Just Sandwiches The first dish we try on our visit is the American breakfast (VND250,000) — a mix of omelette, bacon, ham and sausage. This combo is an ideal size for sharing as it comes with three different breads including a French-toasted baguette, croissant and a pain au chocolat. By the time our smoothies — mango mixed with banana and passion fruit (VND75,000) and orange mixed with pomelo, strawberry and yogurt (VND75,000) are placed on the table, our second dish arrives. It’s a Paris-inspired bistro-style dish (VND120,000) with a

French baguette, white ham, Emmental cheese and a jar of salad. Our final dish is panini stuffed with Parma ham, mozzarella and sun-dried tomatoes (VND150,000). The sandwich looks simple but the taste is light and fresh. Annam Café Gourmet is a great venue to stop by for a quick coffee or for those looking for tasty, European comfort food made with quality ingredients. — Vu Ha Kim Vy Annam Café Gourmet is located at B2-11/12 Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, Q1, HCMC

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HCMC On The Town


70 Pasteur, Q1 Tel: 0907 890623 vinylbarsaigon.com 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.

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


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.

157-159 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Q1; Metropolitan Building, 235 Dong Khoi, Q1 coffeebean.com.vn 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


71-75 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 8468 xusaigon.com 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. BANKSY CAFE 1st Floor, 14 Ton That Dam, Q1, Tel: 01699 990003 sam.nguyen197@gmail.com 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 cafethoaivien.com Veer off the street and find

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79/2/5 Phan Ke Binh, Q1, Tel: (08) 6271 0115 Decibel.vn 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 guanabanasmoothies.com 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 Hideawaycafe-saigon.com 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 Idcafe.net 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 klasik.coffee 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 lusinespace.com 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 facebook.com/m2ccafe 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 facebook.com/mockingbirdcoffee 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. THE LOOP HEALTHY CAFÉ FARE / BAGELS

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 themorningcafe.com.vn Have a book to read? Pick a bright spot by the win-

dow 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 facebook.com/TheOtherPersonCafe 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 CONTEMPORARY CAFE

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 facebook.com/thingscafe 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 chillsaigon.com Besides the spectacular views, the cuisine at 27 Grill is a real draw, with steaks 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 alfrescosgroup.com 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 aulacdobrazil.com AU PARC EUROPEAN / CAFÉ

23 Han Thuyen, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 2772 auparcsaigon.com 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. ASHOKA NORTH INDIAN / CHINESE INDIAN

17/10 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 1372; 33 Tong Huu Dinh, Q2, Tel : (08) 3744 4177 ashokaindianrestaurant.com 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 babaskitchen.in 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 blackcatsaigon.com 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 boomarang.com.vn 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 Chiscafe.com 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. CHRIS FOOD ONLINE TRADITIONAL FRENCH / DESSERTS

Tel: 0909 365525 (English) / 0909 320717 (French) chrisfoodonline.blogspot. com or facebook.com/muasaleoff2014 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.


11 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 3329 saigonrestaurantgroup.com 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 norfolkhotel.com.vn 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

es 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 eon51.com 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 padamjivietnam@gmail.com 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

52 Pasteur, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 4327 elbowroom.com.vn 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.






74 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2090; Unit CR1-12, The Crescent, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (08) 5413 6909 elgaucho.com.vn A themed eatery mixing an Argentinian steakhouse theme with pork, chicken, lamb, homemade spicy sausage, skewers, burger dish-

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.

cinos 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 hogsbreathcafe.com.vn 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 Alfrescosgroup.com 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 marriott.com Offers authentic, gourmet Cantonese cuisine in an elegant, classic setting, with 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 cappuc-

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 sofitel.com 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 lacuisine.com.vn 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 facebook.com/LeCorto Open for lunch and set dinner, 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.

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ince opening almost two years ago, Confidant restaurant and bar has become a home away from home for many expats and locals living in District 7 owing to its warm hospitality and pub-like atmosphere. In an area crammed with Korean barbecue joints, business hotels and spas, Confidant offers something different from other dining options in the area. Dwarfed by the towering Sky Garden apartment complex across the street, Confidant can be found on the corner of Hung Gia 2 and Pham Van Nghi streets (off Nguyen Van Linh) at the quieter, leafier end of the neighbourhood. Look for a white, fourstory villa opposite a Circle K convenience store. It’s also pinned on Google maps.

The Real Thing There are a number of reasons why

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Confidant is worth a try, but the main one is the food. Outside of Nguyen An Ninh street near Ben Thanh Market and Dong Du street in District 1, Confidant serves up some of the most authentic Singaporean and Malaysian fare in Ho Chi Minh City, if not Vietnam. A “Confi” favourite is the fish-head curry. It’s a great choice to share among a group of three or four people. There’s a choice of large (VND360,000) or small (VND320,000). The regular Singaporean and Malaysian clientele say it’s the closest thing to the real taste in Vietnam. The curry comes out bubbling in a large pot filled with vegetables that you can dip into at any time. The pieces of pineapple add sweetness, which sets it apart from more traditional fish-head curries. Other dishes that get the nod from the Singaporeans and Malaysians are the



Penang char kway teow (VND115,000), the Singapore chicken curry (VND140,000), and the beef or chicken rendang (VND140,000). For pork lovers, there are kinh do ribs (VND160,000), which are a popular choice among the Filipino regulars at Confidant. Four ribs come glazed in a sweet, treaclelike barbecue marinade sprinkled with sesame seeds. The ribs are some of the thickest and juiciest going. Then there’s the Indonesian chicken belachan (VND145,000). Typically, it’s fried chicken wings, but sometimes a drumstick, served in a spicy shrimp paste that’s also common to Malaysian cuisine. The shrimp paste has a pungent smell that might turn some diners off at first, but this is its signature aroma and be assured, its taste is much better than its smell. One final Confidant favourite is the Malaysian fried rice (VND120,000). It’s

a serving of brown fried rice embedded with mini-shrimp topped with a fried egg sunny-side up alongside a fried chicken wing. To liven things up, it comes with a spicy sambal paste on the side that can be added to suit personal taste.

Bottoms Up While the drinks list at Confidant isn’t as extensive as the food menu, there’s enough to keep everyone happy. For non-drinkers there are three kinds of Italian soda (VND65,000) with some imaginative names like Night in White Satin, Once in a Red Moon, and Into the Night of Blue. There’s a small selection of cocktails ranging in price from VND75,000 for the Silent Killer (gin and orange) to VND125,000 for a Blue Lagoon (vodka and blue curacao). Wine by the bottle from Australia, Chile,

Argentina, and South Africa ranges from VND495,000 to VND795,000, while beer drinkers can get stuck into happy hour from 5pm to 7pm daily from VND35,000 for a Tiger draught. Skiving off work? Head down from 11am to 3pm for VND22,000 Heineken and enjoy 20% off lunch at the same time. On Friday nights there’s 20% off food, too. Confidant also has a space upstairs big enough for parties and large gatherings, so the venue caters for those looking for a quiet drink with friends as well as those wanting a venue for an upcoming party. — Matt Cowan Confidant is at #R1-72 Hung Gia 2, Phu My Hung, Q7, HCMC and is open Mondays from 4pm to 11pm and from 11am to 11pm Tuesday to Sunday. Visit facebook.com/confidant.hcmc. vn or call (08) 5410 9898 or 0909 882478 for bookings and delivery

wordvietnam.com | February 2017 Word | 191

HCMC On The Town


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 lioncityrestaurant.com 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 loveat.vn 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 luburestaurant.com 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. MAD HOUSE CONTEMPORARY CAFE, BAR, RESTAURANT

6/1/2 Nguyen U Di, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4009 facebook.com/madsaigon 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.

192 | Word February 2017 | wordvietnam.com

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 intercontinental.com/saigon MAY RESTAURANT INTERNATIONAL COMFORT FOOD

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. MEKONG MERCHANT INTERNATIONAL CAFE FARE / SEAFOOD

23 Thao Dien, An Phu, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6478 info@mekongmerchant.com 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.





87 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 8181; 36 Tong Huu Dinh, Q2, Tel: (08) 6253 282 pendolasco.vn 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. PITCHERS SPORTS AND GRILL SPORTS BAR & GRILL RESTAURANT

C0.01 Riverside Residence C, Nguyen Luong Bang, Q7, Tel: (08) 6274 1520 facebook.com/PitchersPMH 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. PIZZA 4P’S EUROPEAN/ASIAN FUSION

8/15 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9838 pizza4ps.com 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.





136/15 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 38 250261; 116 Suong Nguyet Anh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3925 9996 namgiao.com 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

Ground floor, Caravelle Hotel, 19 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4999 caravellehotel.com 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. OSAKA RAMEN JAPANESE NOODLES

18 Thai Van Lung, Q1; SD04, 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.

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.

The Square, 74 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 0509 therefinerysaigon.com 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. RIVERSIDE CAFÉ INTERNATIONAL / ASIAN

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 sheratonsaigon.com 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

Ground Floor, AB Building, 76A Le Lai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 9513 sanfulou.com 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 facebook.com/sanchocantina 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


168 Vo Van Kiet, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 4500 facebook.com/quanutut It’s a no-brainer, right? American-style barbecue in a contemporary Vietnamese, quan nhau-style setting. Of course 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.

33 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 4297 seoul.house@yahoo.com.kr 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 shangpalace.com.vn 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 skewers-restaurant.com 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 soraesushi.com 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. TEMPLE CLUB PAN-VIETNAMESE

29-31 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 9244 Templeclub.com.vn 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 thedecksaigon.com 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 facebook.com/TheSocietyHCM 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 facebook.com/vespersaigon 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

wrap-roll.com 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 intercontinental.com/saigon 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

infatuated 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.



107 Truong Dinh, Q3 BANH TAM BI TO CHAU



84 Dang Van Ngu, Phu Nhuan

271 Nguyen Trai, Q1





Alleyway to the left of 162 Tran Nhan Tong, Q10 BANH CANH HOANG TY BANH CANH / TAY NINH CUISINE

70 Vo Van Tan, Q3

200 Bis Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3; 157 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (08) 3930 3917 Namsonsteak.com BUN CHA HA NOI

38 Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1 NAM GIAO BUN BO HUE

189 Bis Bui Vien, Q1 PHO DAU PHO BO

288/M1 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3 PHO HOA PHO BO & PHO GA

260C Pasteur, Q3 PHO LE PHO BO

413-415 Nguyen Trai, Q5 PHO PHU GIA PHO BO

146E Ly Chinh Thang, Q3





169A Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3920 3897 vietnamvespaadventures. com/cafe_zoom This corner-located Vespa-

170 Vo Van Tan, Q3


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. AMERICAN / TEX-MEX



11A Cao Thang, Q3

26/1A Le Thanh Ton, Q1 CHI THONG


339 Le Van Sy, Tan Binh



102 Cao Thang, Q3 BANH MI HONG HOA 62 Nguyen Van Trang, Q1 BANH MI HUYNH HOA ‘LESBIAN’ BANH MI

26 Le Thi Rieng, Q1

195 Co Giang, Q1



122/37/15 Vinh Khanh, Q4


55 Tu Xuong, Q3



23 Hoang Sa, Q1




67 Le Thi Hong Gam, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 7751

wordvietnam.com | February 2017 Word | 193


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A Vietnamese Abroad

196 | Word February 2017 | wordvietnam.com

When westerners first come to places like Southeast Asia, they are struck by the differences to everything they know back home. So, what’s it like when someone from Vietnam first travels to the west? Words and photos by Zoe Osborne


hen Tran Binh Nguyen first stepped outside Vietnam and onto Australian soil, he wasn’t sure what he would find. It was his first trip abroad and after almost a month of Sydney life, he formed a number of opinions. To Nguyen, Australia is a mixed bag.

In Limbo He saw the plane we flew on as a bubble, suspended in the air. “My heart beat so fast when the plane took off,” he says. “It feels like being in a tube with the sky both above and below us like we are flying through a huge ball. I was amazed by how the clouds could be bright but the sea grey because the sun couldn’t get down to touch them.” Leaving Ho Chi Minh City, Nguyen was most worried about immigration at the other end, but when he finally exited Kingsford Smith Airport his biggest concern were the flies. “They welcomed me to Sydney!” he laughs, “and they never left me alone. I think I must smell different or something? Maybe they can smell nuoc mam…” He was struck by the blatant black and white of Eastern Australian weather. “Now I know why Australians like to lie in the sun,” he says. “It’s either very cold or very sunny in Sydney. Without the sun, it is cool, and when the sun shines you feel it on your skin. But in southern Vietnam it’s hot all the time and the sun just makes it worse.” And as we drove to where we were staying in northern Sydney, he began to marvel at the buildings we passed by. The houses in this area are often built on a slope because the land is hilly. They are levelled by layers of brick in their foundations so that their floors are flat but their bases are slanted with the ground. Sitting in the back seat, Nguyen watched them for a while, then he turned to me, “How can people live in them?” I asked him what he meant. “They are not flat.” he says, “they’re so unstable — they look like they’re falling down the hill.”

‘“Sydney is lonely. Life is not lived on the streets like it is in Vietnam. The people are always inside, the doors are never open, and there is no one walking on the roads’”

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A Different Place Nguyen sees Sydney life as a strange collaboration of progress and isolation. My mum asked him to describe the place in four words, and he chose beautiful, large, green and sad. “Sydney is lonely,” he says. “Life is not lived on the streets like it is in Vietnam. The people are always inside, the doors are never open, and there is no one walking on the roads.” People drive rather than walk in Sydney and many build their houses as refuges to spend a lot of time in, rather than a place to sleep and eat. “I think the houses there are prettier than in Vietnam,” he says. “They are colourful, and they’re beautiful even if they are made of wood. In Vietnam people only use wood if they can’t afford brick.” But in the city’s less affluent Inner West, life is a lot harder. “Before I went to Cabramatta, I couldn’t tell how wealthy the houses on the North Shore were,” says Nguyen. “I had expected rich houses to be very big, but many of them seemed similar in size to an average Vietnamese house. I think the main difference between rich and poor in Sydney is upkeep. In the poorer areas of Sydney the whole area is rough and the buildings are older and more broken.” He had expected to find a first world country in Australia, but while most areas of life there are well developed, others are not. “It’s strange that many houses still use TV aerials when most people in Vietnam stopped using them a while ago,” he says, “and yet, the entire public transport system runs on touch-operated Opal Cards!” Nguyen was also struck with the rate of homelessness around central Sydney, not expecting this to be an issue in a country

with a welfare system and a healthy GDP. “I felt disappointed to be honest,” he says. “People are on the streets in Sydney for a different reason than in Vietnam, but at the end of the day Australia shouldn’t have this problem.”

Home Away From Home Nguyen’s understanding of Sydney and its extremities became epitomised by that famous Asian concept of relativity — same, same but different. “There are definitely plenty of new and strange things here,” he says, “but many other things are the same as where I come from. I think I was prepared for what I would find because I’ve talked with backpackers, I’ve read about Australia and my girlfriend is from Sydney. To some degree, I knew what to expect.” But no matter what you’ve heard or read, the reality of a place is always more interesting. “I knew what Sydney Harbour would look like from the internet,” says Nguyen, “but actually being there felt different. I was next to the Opera House, I walked over Harbour Bridge and I stood in the Queen Victoria Building. It’s a memory that I can keep forever.” Visiting Sydney was, in many ways, like visiting an old friend. Nguyen felt a similar way when he went to Cabramatta, the Vietnamese side of the city. The Vietnamese community here dates back to the first boat people fleeing the war. It has a history of crime and disharmony, but is now a bustling, flourishing epicentre of typical Vietnamese activity. “Cabramatta is like a mini Ho Chi Minh City,” says Nguyen. “The Vietnamese people speak their own language, and they

sell street food and market goods just like back home. The main road even looks a bit like downtown Saigon — it was like they’d moved a slice of my culture to another country.” You can find almost all of Vietnam’s staple fruit, vegetables, spices and other ingredients around Cabramatta, even the king of fruit — the durian. Nguyen and I had travelled by train to get to the Inner West, and we decided to buy one of these notoriously pungent fruits to bring back to my family. As we entered the train station at Town Hall, Nguyen flinched. He stopped and started to take off his jacket. “What are you doing?” I asked “I want to wrap it up,” gesturing at the Durian, “are we allowed it on the train?” He was genuinely worried and set on doing the right thing. And while I assured him that this fruit was not offensive in the West, largely because no one knew what it was, he wasn’t really comfortable until we were off the train an hour later at the other side.

It’s My Opinion By the end of his time in Australia, Nguyen had reached the conclusion, common to many travellers, that every country has things you will miss and things that you won’t. I asked him what he would take away from his experience, and he said that one sentence kept running through his mind. “The trees have a lot of colour and the noise comes from the birds.” A precious memory for a man from bustling, raucous Ho Chi Minh City.

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The Final Say

Ten10 The photographer and brains behind Vietnam Photo Adventures, Arnaud Foucard has been in Vietnam for 20 years and counting. Interview by Thomas Barrett How did you end up in Vietnam? The first time I came to Vietnam was through a job in tourism. It was during Tet back in 1994. We were one of the first tour operators in France sending clients to Vietnam. Photography only became my job in Vietnam three years ago, though. It has always been my passion, so I developed this into the photography tours that I now run all over Vietnam.

it all depends on where you are in the world. In Vietnam we really can approach the people, it’s quite unlike Paris or New York. It’s much more personal here. We exchange a moment and share it. It’s about charming the people. It’s not just about taking the photo and going on your way. It’s about understanding the situation and the people — getting to know them a little bit — trying to learn about their world.

What makes Vietnam such an attractive destination for photographers?

Have you taken any risks trying to get the perfect photo?

I believe the people are just great. They’re easy to shoot and happy when you take a photo of them. There are 54 ethnic minorities here so there are so many types of faces, which for a photographer is fantastic.

I believe everyone has their limits or comfort zones — if you stay in it, you produce the same kind of photos. For example, in the rice fields, if you don’t work in the rice fields, you will always have a distance, so you have to find a way to get close to the people who work there.

In all the years in Vietnam what are some of the changes you’ve seen? I knew Vietnam in 1994; half of the vehicles were bicycles. The buildings have also changed, we’ve lost a lot of the colonial architecture — the physiognomy of Ho Chi Minh City [and Hanoi] is constantly changing.

What are you still learning about photography? Everything. If you have decided you’ve learnt everything you’ll never get better. I will learn until I take my last shot. Every day I am learning and getting better — you are dead if you never change.

What advice would you give to a budding photographer? Look at different photographers — different art — and try to get inspiration. Try and see and be curious with everything. Don’t stay the same. The world is different every day. Try to innovate and create.

You spend much of your time on the streets of Cholon, how do you shoot street photography without annoying people? There are many ways —

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How do you feel about the rise of the camera phone? I did a tour this morning with just that. A client wanted just to shoot on her iPhone. She emailed after saying all her friends were amazed at the quality of the photos that she got. I’m like everybody else, I take photos with the camera phone but running a photography workshop is something different!

If you could be invisible for the day with your camera, where would you go? North Korea — when you go there you have an official tour guide, so I’d like to go without an escort. I’d love to see how it really is there.

What motivates you to continue with photography? I like to be with people. It’s not just about taking photos but it’s sharing the experience with the people that I bring on my tours. I like to help people get a better understanding of photography. It’s about helping people get to another level. It’s my vocation. To find out more about Arnaud’s photography tours, click on vietnamphotoadventures. com

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