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Contents Mar.2017




THE TALK 10 / The River Bus

If you can’t do it by road, do it by river

11 / The Big Five March in Vietnam

BRIEFINGS 12 / The Alley Gallery

22 / The Wheels on a Bus

Hanoi’s Bus Rapid Transit System

28 / Muscled Up

114 / Mystery Diner Hanoi


116 / Bun Thai Hai San

56 / The Hanoi Skytrain

16 / Urban Sketchers

64 / Planes, Trains and Automobiles

18 / Martial Arts in Vietnam A newly published book packs a veritable punch

20 / Raising Money the Hard Way

Cycling from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City for a cause

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Two families, two different experiences

A mother and daughter who go against the grain

When your neighbourhood becomes your canvas Sketching the world, one drawing at a time

Central Highlands

Rising high above the capital

Life’s a journey. So is travel

94 / The Train to Sapa

Travelling to the far north in luxury

100 / Cyclo

The cyclo drivers determined to cling to their wheels

106 / Agent Orange in the

This month: The Fat Pig

Is this the noodle soup of all noodle soups?

118 / Mystery Diner HCMC

Koh Thai on Nguyen Hue gets the onceover

120 / Hot Vit Lon

Boiled duck embryo. Finger lickin’ good…


Contents Mar.2017






161 / Book Buff

124 / London, Anyone?

30 / To Do List

162 / Starting a Family

40 / Just In

163 / Medical Buff

166 / HCMC City Guide

172 / Body and Temple

170 / Day Tripper

174 / Know Your City

HANOI 44 / To Do List

181 / Terrence Taylor’s Saigon Stories


50 / Just In

182 / Bar Stool

A Hanoi expat makes a career move

142 / Hanoi City Guide

186 / Coffee Cup

144 / Day Tripper

190 / Top Eats

152 / Bar Stool

194 / City Map

154 / Coffee Cup


156 / Top Eats

148 / The Alchemist

164 / City Map

150 / The Therapist

With the drop in the pound, London’s not so expensive any more

132 / El Nido

The Philippines’ answer to Halong Bay?

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196 / Xe Om For a Day 200 / Ten 10

One of the hotel industry’s best known faces, Tony Chisholm



This month we asked our team to tell us their most interesting journey HARRY HODGE Contributor I remember going to Tijuana from San Diego. The car was full so I rode in the trunk. Then we walked through the Mexican border and hopped a taxi waiting on the other side. I was sandwiched between six US college students in the back of a Tijuana taxi when I heard “ping! ping!” on the roof, and no one knew what it was. Being the only Canadian in the car, I had to explain the bad news: It was hailstones. The one and only time I go to Mexico, and I ride through a mini ice storm. BILLY GRAY Contributor Mine was travelling around the West Bank. The people were friendly, the history so rich, and the political situation certainly gives it a uniqueness that most other countries are fortunate enough not to possess. Specifically I remember the drive from Ben Gurion airport to Ramallah — passing through Qalandia Checkpoint, and seeing the separation wall for the first time. JULIE VOLA Photo Editor In Guatemala ten years ago, my first taste of backpacking, we travelled from one small town to another, the transport during the 12-hour trip included: mini bus, back of a pick-up truck in the company of pigs, an animal transport truck, taxi, walk, the best of the day though was the rooftop of the last and very full mini bus that would bring us to our final stop, the hostel. Best. Ride. Ever. DIANE LEE Contributor One of my most interesting (and unforgettable) trips was in 2015, when I travelled from the north of India to the south largely by train. I talked to so many wonderful people, and got a remarkable insight into the culture. A highlight was playing Uno on the way to Goa with a young man who was about to head off to New York to do his master’s degree in something sciencey. And believe it or not, the food on Indian trains is absolutely delicious! AMELIA BURNS Contributor It was the first time I went to Sapa. My group was dropped off before the agreed meeting time at 5am, and in the freezing cold, we were left alone with no idea where we were or where we were supposed to go. We were told our hotel hadn’t been booked for us and were taken straight on a 12km walk before we had a chance to change or freshen up. The day ended with a dodgy homestay and a lot of house made rice wine. Definitely a memorable one. ZOE OSBORNE Staff Writer I once took a night bus from Mumbai to Jaipur. I booked the bus online and took a tuktuk to the main artery where said bus was supposed to stop. It never stopped. Eventually, the people there helped me to leap onto another bus as it passed through the area, and I found myself in a double-bed sleeper surrounded by Rajasthani gentlemen in beautiful bright kurtas and bell shoes. Over 30 hours later, in the black of the night, I arrived at my hostel and sat down to a hot glass of chai.

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For advertising enquiries please call Ms Bao on +84 938 609689 or Ms Trinh on +84 936 269244 Special thanks to Nguyen Van Minh, Karen Lanyon, Peter Scott, Tran Thi Thanh Thuy, Mignon Van Zyl, Gus Rose, H2H, Ouissam Mokretar, Nguyen Ngoc Thanh Hang, Harry Hodge, Diane Lee, Sasha Arefieva, VietJet Air, Amelia Burns, Nguyen Khang, Catherine Karnow, The Fat Pig, Teigue John Blokpoel, Koh Thai Nguyen Hue, Vi Pham, Karen Gay, Douglas Holwerda, Bia-Khu 9, Billy Gray, Coffee and Chill Station, Kisu Sushi, Truong Hoang, Lee Shayi, Dr. Jane Shadwell-Li, Phil Kelly, Ed Haysom, East West Brewing Co., Vietcetera Cafe, Pullman Saigon Centre, Tony Chrisholm and David Legard

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MIKE PALUMBO Photographer Any type of travel through Myanmar is always an interesting journey. I had to hire a driver from Mawlamyine to the Thai border... Three hours later, we got to the border on a dirt road only to be kicked out of the car with our bags still in the car. About 15 minutes later, the driver returned with our bags and left again after being paid. To this day I have no idea why he did that — nothing was missing from bags.

CHUYÊN ĐỀ DU LỊCH & ẨM THỰC ISBN: 978-604-77-3007-0

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any years ago I travelled from the city of Pekanbaru in the Indonesian Riau Peninsular to Singapore. It was one of the worst journeys of my life. That morning my partner had got uppity with the owner of the hostel we were staying in. She’d ripped her trousers on a nail sticking out of our bed and despite my attempts to calm her down, was demanding compensation. Before

or Indonesian bath, for days. It was the smell of kretek (cloves) from the Gudang Garam cigarettes being smoked on the bus. It was nauseating. When we finally got off the bus we had to take a boat through the islands of the Riau Peninsular to Batam, the Indonesian island a half-hour boat ride from Singapore. The boat was in poor condition, the sea was choppy and we both felt scared for our lives and sick. From there we crossed the Singapore Straits to the Lion City — this time in a good boat — before taking the metro to our hostel.

By the time we arrived we were exhausted and so fed up that the next night we decided to treat ourselves to dinner at the Raffles Hotel. Thank God for the old credit card. Not all journeys are like that. But I hope you like the journeys we’ve included for you in this month’s issue of Word Vietnam. There are a lot of them. Some of them pleasant, some of them interesting, some of them a little more unusual. Fortunately, my little trip from Pekanbaru to Singapore hasn’t made the cut. Well, it hadn’t until just now! — Nick Ross, Chief Editor






we knew it her angry adversary had pulled a knife on her and somehow locked me out of the hostel. We came away unscathed, but by the time we got on our local bus out of Pekanbaru, we were shaken up. Her in particular. It was a lesson. I’ve taken many local buses in my time, but this five-hour journey was the worst. It wasn’t the clucking of the live caged chickens above our head or being scrunched up into a seat with no leg-room thanks to the man next to me who obviously hadn’t taken a mandi,

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 so, reach out and touch us at nick@ wordvietnam. com — we’re at your fingertips.

(Page 12, February 2017) I’ve seen some odd stuff in this country, but this one beats them all. Learn to make your own knife? Couldn’t think of anything that says Vietnam more than this. Next we’ll be learning to repair motorbikes with bits of tin can. — TY


Great story Vu Hong Thanh, way to go! So proud of you my friend. And I will be attending one of your classes soon! — SVM THẾ GIỚI PUBLISHERS



Blade Runner


The February Issue I love the variety of topics on offer every month and the February issue had some outstanding photographs and the front cover immediately caught my eye on the shelf. — NO Finally got my print copy at Game On — well worth the wait. Good to see that Private Eye is not the only magazine with a Pedants’ Corner. Were Annam Gourmet MARKET threatening not to renew their subscription? — AM

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Breakfast in Hanoi (Page 98, January 2017) Very useful article. Yes, I get fed up with eating pho all the time. — GG

A Vietnamese Abroad (Page 196, February 2017) I felt very similar about Sydney, good read — JVJ

Housing Stories (Page 104, February 2017) More like this please! The development of Vietnam’s big cities affects us all and is exactly why we find ourselves saying “it’s changed so much”. But there are so many complex stories such as these — a reminder to us all not to try and sum it up in a sound bite that aligns with our point of view. — JD

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Talk Lead

The River Bus A new public transport option comes to Saigon


few years ago we ran a cover story called, Life’s a Boat. We took a sampan down the Mekong, explored the importance of boats, rivers and canals in the development of Hanoi and Saigon, looked at the history of boat tourism in Halong Bay and went rowing on West Lake. One frequently heard comment, particularly with regards to Saigon, was the need to start up a river boat service. “Normally, travelling to Phu My Hung from District 2 would take at least half an hour,” said boat enthusiast and speedboat owner Carl Gay. “On a [speedboat]? 10 minutes.” As we discovered, it got better than that. Downtown District 1 to Thao Dien in District 2 on the same vessel was five minutes, and you could get to District 9 in under 10. Not only would a river boat service along the various tributaries and canals of the Saigon River shorten travel time, it would help ease some of the traffic congestion that over the past few years has been bringing Vietnam’s largest city to a standstill.

The New Service Three years later and the Department of

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Transport have announced the launch of a river bus service this coming June. Connecting Bach Dang Wharf in District 1 with Linh Dong Ward in Thu Duc, the river bus will travel just under 11km along the Saigon River and Thanh Da Canal, with seven stops in between. In September, a second service will be added that will connect District 1 with the Lo Gom area of District 8. With seven stops and travelling a distance of just over 10km, like its sister route, tickets are expected to cost VND15,000 per ride. According to the operator, Thuong Nhat Ltd Co, in the first phase of the service’s development they will have a fleet of 10 boats that can carry 60 passengers each. The two services, they say, will be able to serve 5,000 passengers per day. This won’t ease congestion issues in this sprawling metropolis, but it will certainly add to the transportation options available in the city.

Changing Mindsets The problem of setting up any new transport service is will people use it? The Saigonese are so attached to their private transport, whether it’s on two wheels or four, that getting them into public transport mode will be a challenge.

To do this will require a number of things to be put in place including motorbike and car parking near the passenger stations, taxi and xe om ranks, and connecting bus services. It will also require a change in mindset. Public transport is often deemed to be the transport mode of the poor. This was certainly an issue in Bangkok when the Skytrain was first launched. The city’s middle classes wouldn’t use the service as they deemed it to be below them. Over time the status issues were conquered. But it wasn’t an easy process as in the first few years of operation, the Skytrain ran at a substantial loss. The biggest issue will simply be getting people used to putting aside their wheels in favour of going public. It’s a conundrum that will affect the upcoming metro system, as well. Bangkok has managed it with their decades-old river boat services that run along the Chao Phraya River and the Saem Saep Canal, and a Skytrain and metro system that connects the two. The question is, will Saigon? If the river bus can offer a substantial decrease in travel time, then perhaps it will. — Nick Ross

Big5 The

Festivals, album launch parties, St. Paddy’s, comedy and the return of CAMA



The New Zealand Wine & Food Festival 1

RMIT, HCMC Saturday, Mar. 11

up-and-coming South African electronica talent Nonku Phiri. Typical of the kind of artist CAMA have been bringing into Hanoi, expect a night of house, electronica, hip hop, and kwaito. Support comes from Hanoi-based Pablo Yang. Tickets are VND100,000 at the door. The show starts at 8pm and Standing Bar is at 170 Tran Vu, Ba Dinh, Hanoi

South African artist Nonku Phiri will be playing Hanoi on Mar. 18

The release of the album Saigon Supersound comes with three launch parties



3 Anyone who’s been to past incarnations of the New Zealand Wine & Food Festival will know one thing: the Kiwis sure can throw a party. Okay, fair enough, this particular party is promoting all those excellent food and wine products being produced in one of the most isolated countries in the world. But hey do they know how to have fun. So, if you want to indulge in some tasty sauvignon blancs or pinot noirs, washed down with some excellent lamb, beef and cheese, and with lots of live entertainment to boot, you know where to head on Mar. 11. Just remember. Pets and kids are not allowed. This is an adult-only affair. Tickets cost VND2 million and are available at Caravelle Saigon, AIS Cherry Blossom, Lu Bu and Pitchers or online at ticketbox.vn

Nonku Phiri 2

Standing Bar, Hanoi Saturday, Mar. 18

If you thought the closure of the bar CAMA ATK in December meant the end of CAMA, the promoters who for years have been bringing leftfield bands, DJs, comedians and entertainers to Hanoi, think again. The Club for Arts and Music Appreciation is back, just at a different venue. Working with Standing Bar, CAMA will be holding a live music event on Saturday, Mar. 18 featuring

St. Patrick’s Day

The American Club and Sheraton Westlake Hotel, Hanoi Mar. 17 and Mar. 18

Hanoi will turn green again this year for St. Patrick and all things Irish, with not one but two events to celebrate the Emerald Isle’s patron saint. Kicking off with the St. Patrick Rocks Concert at The American Club (21 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi) from 6pm on Mar. 17, this year’s line-up includes bands from both Ireland and the UK, supported by an array of local musical talent. The following evening, the festivities continue at The Sheraton Westlake Hotel (K5 Nghi Tam, 11 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi) with a five-course dinner, free flow wine and beer, and live musical entertainment by Derbyshire powertrio, Junction 15. For more info, turn to page 46

The Magners International Comedy Festival 4

Hanoi and Saigon Mar. 20 to Mar. 23

Four days of stand-up comedy await us this month courtesy of Magners Irish Cider. Starting in Saigon on Monday, Mar. 20 with the finals of the Big V Comedy Competition, the laughter continues on the Tuesday at Game On Saigon with three topnotch pro comics before heading the day after to Caravelle Saigon for the comedy gala with five professional comics. There are some big names playing here including Canadian comic Dana Alexander and TV show host, John Robertson. Not to be outdone, the comedic antics will then head up north to Hanoi for a final show at Standing Bar on Thursday, Mar. 23 where comedians Lars Calleiou and Andre King and Jim Brewsky will make the jokes. This one is going to be big and will get you, the audience, falling off your seats! We promise! For more info on comedians, venues and ticketing, turn to page 24, 36 and 47

Saigon Supersound Release Party 5

HCMC, Danang and Hanoi Mar. 17, Mar. 24 and Mar. 25

The release of Saigon Supersound Volume 1 — a compilation reflecting the musical era of Vietnam from the period between 1965 and 1975, the so-called ‘Golden Music’ era of music in the south — will be celebrated with three launch parties. Live band Saigon Soul Revival supported by DJs Datodeo and Jan Hagenkotter will head to La Fenetre Soleil on Friday, Mar. 17, before heading to the Waterfront in Danang on Mar. 24 and then HRC in Hanoi on Saturday, Mar. 25. Should be a fascinating affair. For more info turn to pages 34 and 48

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Briefings HCMC

The Alley Gallery When your neighbourhood becomes your canvas


rtist Nguyen Van Minh’s bright, eye-catching paintings are well known among the people who live in his neighbourhood. For the past two years he has been gradually filling the alleyways at 62 Nguyen Khoai, Q4, with colourful artworks on the walls of people’s houses and walkways. “I began this project for the pleasure of making the area beautiful,” he says. “Structurally, the houses around where I live are quaint and lovely, but I noticed that many of their walls were dirty, quite bland and quite old.” Struck by this disparity, Minh began an ongoing project of decoration that would eventually stretch throughout the network of alleyways around his home. His first painting was on the wall behind a coffee shop. “I explained to the coffee seller what I wanted to do and asked her if I could paint it,” he says. “She said yes, go ahead, and when I had finished everyone thought it was beautiful, so I did more. Some people even invited me to their

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houses to decorate their own walls.” Initially, he was nervous to paint in such a public place. “My whole family are creative people just like me, so they supported the idea,” says the 75-year-old. “But I am older now and my hands keep shaking so I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to paint well.” Minh suffered a brain injury 10 years ago, and his hand is not as firm as it once was.

The Artist Born in Dalat, Minh came to Ho Chi Minh City aged 18 to study at the Fine Arts School of Gia Dinh. “I studied art because I was gifted in it,” he says. “I have always had a passion for the arts in general — sports, dancing, music, etc. I love to sing and I also play the guitar.” But his studies were put on hold during the war. He was conscripted to fight for the former government, and when the conflict finally ended in 1975 he found himself without employment and with little prospect of finding any. “After the war, Vietnam was a poor place

and there were few opportunities for people working in the arts,” he says. “Many people had to leave their profession and take up more menial work in order to survive.” At this point, Minh became a cyclo driver, working in this trade for over a decade. His career path changed in 1990 when he got to know a monk who ran a centre for disabled children nearby. “I started to get involved in the centre,” he says. “I shared my interest in the arts with the kids there, teaching them sports, drawing, singing and many other activities.” About 10 years ago, Minh left the centre due to a brain injury. “They told me that part of my brain had died,” he says. “I am still taking medication now, and although I don’t teach at the centre anymore, I am still involved in the arts with some local groups for singing, drawing, etc.”

Expression Like many artists, Minh never plans what he is going to paint. He simply starts and sees where his mind takes him.


“Some of my paintings have meaning and others don’t,” he says. “It depends on how I feel, what is happening at the time, etc. One example is a big painting I did about a song called Spring Comes and Birds Fly Back, just like how the Vietnamese return home for Tet.” He uses oil paints, applying them straight onto the wall. “If the wall is smooth I will just start painting,” he says, “but if it has cracks or is rough I will use plaster to make it smooth beforehand.” Since he began painting the alleyways two years ago, Minh has paid for his own paints and brushes. It only takes him one or two hours to paint a small wall of around two metres square and under, but a larger one can take up to two days simply because he has to wait for the paint to dry. Minh has painted up to 40 artworks on the walls of his neighbourhood, and still adds to it when he feels inspired. “I paint when I can,” he says. “I’m not young like I used to be and I am busy with work, but when I have the energy and the free time I go out and add more art to the walls.” Painted in warm, primary colours and often depicting flowers, springtime themes and folk song lyrics, his art continues to brighten the alleyways and lift the spirits of the people who live in them. — Zoe Osborne To see Minh’s work, head to the alleys off 62 Nguyen Khoai, Q4, HCMC

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Briefings National

Taste of Australia A month-long programme features Australian food and wine

Australian-Vietnamese celebrity chef Luke Nguyen will be heading up the culinary competition at Taste of Australia


pril sees the return to Vietnam of Taste Australia, a food and drink extravaganza. It reflects the growing importance of Australian goods in the Vietnamese market, according to Karen Lanyon, the Australian Consul-General in Ho Chi Minh City. “Australian food and beverages — particularly beef, lamb, fruit, dairy and wine — enjoy a reputation as safe, clean and healthy products,” she says. “Vietnam’s retail, hospitality and tourism sectors are already utilising high-quality Australian meats, fruit, wine and dairy products, and demand for these products is increasing as these sectors expand.” According to Lanyon, Australian exports to Vietnam are lower than to other countries in the region. For this reason, Taste of Australia — a month-long programme of dinners, wine shows and culinary competitions — makes its second annual appearance on the calendar. Organisers say it will also help businesses from both countries promote their goods and services to a wider audience, with the involvement of Austrade, the Australian government’s trade commission for export/ import.

Hospitality The event kicks off with a two-day wine show in Ho Chi Minh City (Mar. 31 and Apr. 1), with the first day being an industry day, promoting Australian wines available incountry to F&B and hospitality leaders, and the second day a public event. On the same day, there is a four to five-course ticketed public dinner for approximately 70 guests at Grain cooking studio.

Leading Australian chefs each prepare a signature Australian dish live in front of diners, educating them on the fresh and high-quality nature of Australian produce as well as the innovative nature of Australian cuisine. The dishes are paired to matching Australian wines. On Apr. 3, the wine show moves up north to Hanoi. The following week sees gala dinners in both Hanoi (Apr. 11) and Ho Chi Minh City (Apr. 13) for several hundred of Australia’s key government, F&B and hospitality contacts in Vietnam, showcasing Australian food, beverage, cuisine and fashion. Danang gets its turn towards the middle of the month (Apr. 18 and Apr. 20) with the heats and finals of a culinary competition and a community BBQ.

Master Chef The culinary competition will also appear in Hanoi (Apr. 18) and Ho Chi Minh City (Apr. 18). The organisers believe it provides a rare and valuable opportunity for Vietnam’s budding young chefs to learn from culinary experts, including celebrity chef Luke Nguyen. They will learn how to prepare Australian ingredients to the highest standard, and then utilize these ingredients to create their own innovative dishes, competing to win an all-expenses paid trip to Australia and a chance to further their culinary education with renowned Australian culinary institutions. The competition follows a Masterchef/ Iron Chef/Chopped model; teams of two students from Vietnamese culinary institutions around the country will compete

in heats held simultaneously in four cities. The team that wins each heat will travel to Danang to compete in the final at the Intercontinental Sun Peninsula Resort. Acclaimed Vietnamese chefs, including Masterchef winners Ngo Thanh Hoa and Minh Nhat, as well as Madame Tuyet, will join Australian celebrity chef Luke Nguyen and Korean Masterchef winner Sid Choi in mentoring and judging the competitors throughout the heats and final. Taste of Australia also reflects the broader trading relationship between the countries, according to Lanyon. “Australia and Vietnam have a very complementary agricultural trading relationship,” she says. “High-quality Australian produce is manufactured into popular Vietnamese products, for example wheat is turned into flour for baked goods and malt is used in beer production. Australian technology and investment is also helping to strengthen and develop the productivity and sophistication of Vietnam’s agricultural production methods. “But this isn’t just a one-way street, Australia imports Vietnamese seafood, fruit and nuts, along with manufactured products, and Vietnamese cuisine is rapidly becoming one of the most popular in Australia.” — Peter Scott Further information about Taste of Australia is available in HCMC from Ms Phuong Nguyen (phuong.nguyen3@dfat.gov.au) and in Hanoi from Ms Giang Cao (giang.cao@ dfat.gov.au). For information about retail promotions and business development please contact Ms Thanh Cao at Austrade (thanh. cao@austrade.gov.au)

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Briefings Hanoi

Urban Sketchers Showing the world, one drawing at a time


rban Sketchers Hanoi (USH) has set itself a goal to capture the essence of a city that’s constantly developing, growing and reshaping itself. Formed late in 2016 by architect Tran Thi Thanh Thuy, Dinh Trong Hai, Chu Quoc Binh and Nguyen Hoang Lam, USH aims to document cultural, historic and architectural facets, and give a wider audience a glimpse of the city before it is lost to modernising urbanisation. “Our city changes every day,” explains Thuy. “I was born in Hanoi and from the time that I was a child until I became a student, the city is not the same. It changes very fast. If I don’t sketch it now I will forget. I sketch to keep good memories, to capture a beautiful place and to share it. To show my children what the city was like in the past.” Each week, available members of USH meet at a pre-planned location in the city to sketch. Subject matter can range between ancient and old architecture that is on the verge of demolition, scenes rich in Vietnamese culture that cannot be replicated or are unknown to the broader public (think iconic street corners, chaotic Hanoian electric cabling, napping xe om drivers and Tet festivities), and documenting significant

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buildings that give insight into the city’s history, lifestyle, traditions and culture.

Conservation Through Art “A sketch needs to be done quickly,” says Thuy. “It’s a way of drawing fast, of capturing a moment that is rich in emotion. When you are about to sketch and you have the air, voices around you, sunshine or rain, your emotions are different and that comes through in a sketch.” Conservation is not a term that is usually associated with art. For USH, there’s a drive to conserve the architectural heritage of Hanoi at different developmental stages through sketches. This means that for every building that’s torn down and rebuilt, there’s a sketch to prove the former’s existence. What’s more, USH works to identify areas for sustainable urban development from sketches that reflect reality.

Global Movement The Hanoi group forms part of Urban Sketchers Vietnam and the global Urban Sketchers (USK) network. The movement for on-location drawing was started on Flickr (an online picture gallery platform) in 2007 by journalist and illustrator Gabriel

Campanario. The USK blog states that Campanario started an online forum for “all sketchers out there who love to draw the cities where they live and visit, from the window of their homes, from a café, at a park, standing by a street corner... always on location, not from photos or memory.” Since then, USK has grown into a global nonprofit organisation with the motto “show the world, one drawing at a time.” Currently, USH has over 500 members and is open to anyone who is interested in sketching, sharing and commenting on the development of the city. This includes both beginners and advanced. “It’s not a problem if you don’t know how to sketch, we will teach you,” says Thuy. “As long as you love sketching and want to keep a memory of the city, you are welcome.” There are a number of benefits that come with this sort of sketching. This includes assisting the elderly with memory recall and giving them a way to share their images of the past with future generations. It gives children the opportunity to become more aware of their responsibility to the surrounding environment. It encourages community connection, exchange of knowledge and awareness of areas in the city which need to be maintained, preserved and developed and it gives people a chance to observe the history, present and future of the city as and when it unfolds. — Mignon Van Zyl For more information, contact Thuy Tranthithanh on tranthithanhthuykts@gmail.com and join the Urban Sketchers Hanoi Facebook group

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Briefings National


Martial Arts in Vietnam A newly published book packs a veritable punch


artial arts buffs are known for their dedication. In Gus Roe’s case, dedication comes in the form of two years of travelling around Vietnam gathering authentic material for his new book on the traditional fighting skills of this country. Titled Martial Arts in Vietnam: An Overview of the Histories and Styles and published in Vietnam, Roe’s book is the first English-language publication of its kind to delve into the systems, styles and histories of Vietnamese martial arts and their related practices. Roe’s work is the culmination of years of research into traditional martial arts in Vietnam and “getting beaten up in various scenic locations, then taking notes.” The book draws extensively on Roe’s own knowledge and experiences of a number of the styles featured in the book. Roe is an instructor in the southern Vietnamese style of martial arts called Buu Son Phat Mon Quyen, or Dharma Mountain Martial Arts. He has also trained in various other

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Vietnamese styles including traditional wrestling, Binh Dinh regional martial arts, Nhat Nam style martial arts and Vovinam, among other foreign martial arts.

First Hand Martial Arts in Vietnam is informed from first-hand sources, including interviews with masters, students and academics across Vietnam to provide the most detailed and up-to-date written work on the history and culture of martial arts practices in Vietnam. Almost all of the research undertaken by Roe for his book took place in the field, often with little or next to no information available in English, which was one of the major hurdles he faced in getting the book to print. “Often I would have just the name of a village or person, go there and ask around until someone could point me in the right direction,” recalls Roe, who is based in Hanoi. “A lot of the places I visited were well off the beaten track, so people were

often quite shocked to see a random foreign guy walking around and asking about local history and families.” While Martial Arts in Vietnam isn’t breaking new ground in a literary sense — Roe admits himself that he deliberately avoided being what he calls “too academic in his writing style” so that Vietnamese or other second-language speakers would find the book accessible and engaging, just getting the content together has been a significant undertaking that has taken Roe the length and breadth of Vietnam. “Some research that I’d done led me to Binh Dinh Province, which is renowned for martial arts,” says Roe. “My research turned up the name of Long Phuoc Pagoda as the place to be, but we had nothing else to go on. After driving around for hours and getting hopelessly lost in these tiny countryside hamlets, some kids with kung-fu uniforms sped past us on their motorbikes and signalled for us to follow them. We arrived at the pagoda [just] as a martial arts demonstration was beginning.”

Going the extra mile Indeed Roe’s book demonstrates the lengths he’s gone to in bringing the information together. Including an introduction which provides an abridged history of Vietnam and its people, there are seven chapters tracing the histories and styles from the north, central, south, ethnic minority,

Sino-Vietnamese and Chinese, and foreign schools of martial arts in Vietnam. Each school is introduced with a brief history and a focus on its grand master and founder, followed by information on the school’s characteristics, its uniform and facts. While Roe has painstakingly put together a lot of facts about each school of martial arts and succeeds in his goal of “sharing what I’ve learned... and in doing so making Vietnamese martial arts more well-known and accessible to foreigners,” perhaps the book could have been more insightful had Roe offered greater discussion relating to his own thoughts and experiences. For example, his introduction reinforces just how much war has shaped Vietnamese society throughout its history, but Roe misses an opportunity to showcase the development of martial arts in Vietnam’s formative years in favour of a chronology of Vietnam’s development instead. Further, sticklers for academic robustness may be critical of Roe’s lack of referencing throughout the book, but given

the amount of primary research Roe has undertaken, surely he can be forgiven for now. Despite these lapses, Roe has achieved something that many of us have dreamt about for years, but have never done anything about. That’s to write a book and get it published. — Matt Cowan Martial Arts in Vietnam: An Overview of the Histories and Styles is available at Bookworm Hanoi, 44 Chau Long, Hanoi and Nha Xuat Ban The Gioi, 46 Tran Hung Dao, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi. For more information on where to purchase a copy, visit facebook/ themartialartsofvietnam

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Briefings National

Raising Money the Hard Way Gearing up for the fund-raising ride from Hanoi to HCMC


he trip from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City is not one of the world’s great exotic journeys. Whether you drone down by plane (two hours), rumble your way by train (two days), or bump and curse your way by car or bus (forever), it is a journey which most people only enjoy when it’s over. But the H2H group take a different view. Rather than make it quicker, they make it slower. Rather than let the plane take the strain, they choose the unforgiving bicycle saddle, over 2,000 kilometres and 27 days. This charity ride has been rolling since 2009, and this year features 20 riders who will traverse the often stunning scenery of

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the inland Ho Chi Minh Highway raising money for a wide selection of charities. A good cause which this year aims to raise US$50,000 (VND1.1 billion), according to ride leader Zach Kester. “[That would be] the record amount of money raised by a single H2H ride... It would bring our total impact to US$300,000, which is a nice round number.” Riders are mainly expats who live and work in Vietnam, this year featuring riders from the UK, US, France, Syria and South Africa. The ride, says Kester, provides riders an opportunity to give something back to their new home country as well as having the trip of a lifetime.

Curiosity “You just become aware of how amazing the world and the people in it can be,” he says. “You become far more aware of your privilege. Another great experience of the ride are the people we get to meet in these small villages that we ride through and spend our nights in. “Many of them never have seen or met foreigners, let alone had 20 of them riding through their towns on bikes. The people are incredibly friendly and curious.” The way to get involved without doing the hard yards is to sponsor a rider, each of whom has to raise at least US$1,000 to take part. Direct donations can be made via the Just Giving page on the group’s website and choosing any of the H2H 2017 riders. All costs

Peril on a Plate Still, the riders have to suffer for charity. Injuries are common, ranging from minor to

serious. Three riders failed to complete the trip in 2015, one even fracturing three bones in her wrist while slipping when ordering a banh mi. Organisers have tried to minimise the danger by avoiding the busy coastal route, and pedalling through the Truong Son Mountains to places such as Pleiku and Phong Nha. There must be easier ways of raising charity dollars, but H2H’s record is impressive. So far in eight years it has raised over US$250,000 to combat poverty in Vietnam, focusing primarily on children’s education, healthcare and safety. Much of the money goes to organisations that build schools, fight sex-trafficking, foster orphans and provide educational opportunities. Charities include Saigon Children’s Charity, Blue Dragon, KOTO, Live

and Give, and ILA Community Network. There are also few charitable occupations which bring such benefits to the fundraisers themselves, Kester believes. “One can get jaded spending most of one’s time in the big cities such as Hanoi or Saigon where it feels that everyone is trying to take advantage of you,” he says. “In the countryside, people are so open and honest, and share nearly everything they have, even if they shouldn’t. It’s refreshing and helps you to reset and fall in love with the country all over again.” — Peter Scott Donations can be made at the website h2hride. wixsite.com/vietnam For further details by -mail h2h.ride@gmail. com

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for the ride are covered by the riders and sponsors, so all donations go directly to the beneficiary charities. In addition, various fundraising events including quizzes, charity dinners and other events are being held until the end of April. With the experience gained from previous years, the group now encourages readers to invest in a proper bike costing upward of VND6 million, with popular models being the Giant Escape 2 (a hybrid tourer) and the Cannondale Synapse (an endurance road bike).

Briefings Hanoi

The Wheels on a Bus

… go round, round round. Hanoi’s Bus Rapid Transit system


he one thing most people complain about in Hanoi is the traffic. With over 4.9 million motorbikes on the roads, it’s no surprise that this is a major contributor to discontent. As an attempt to reduce the congestion, the Hanoi Department of Transport has initiated the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system. Officially launched on Jan. 1, 2017, BRT has been touted as a civilised and modern public transport system that is cost-effective, reliable, disabled-friendly and suited to the transport conditions of the city. The 15km bus route connects Kim Ma Station in Dong Da District with Yen Nghia Station in Ha Dong District and is said to take about 30

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minutes. With dedicated bus lanes and traffic lights, the idea, of course, is for the buses to travel faster and more efficiently. The route runs through some of the city’s major streets: Giang Vo, Lang Ha, Le Van Luong, Le Trong Tan, Tran Phu and Ba La. This allows easy access to places of interest such as the Giang Vo Exhibition Centre, the National Cinema Centre, The American Embassy and more. There are two types of tickets for the buses; a single-journey ticket which costs VND7,000 (the same price as normal buses) and a monthly ticket and student smart pass (between VND55,000 and VND200,000 per month). Waiting times for buses are between five and 15 minutes

and a maximum of 90 passengers can fit on a bus. The 24 buses run from 5am to 10pm, Monday to Saturday, with 14 buses on a Sunday.

Recognised Globally The new public transport system is modelled on the first BRT system which was developed in 1974 in Curitiba, Brazil. Similar schemes now operate in over 130 cities worldwide, including Beijing, Seoul, Bangkok, Paris and Istanbul. The Hanoi BRT forms part of the Hanoi Urban Transport Development Project and was approved by the Hanoi People’s Committee in 2007. The project started in 2013 with support from the


World Bank which invested US$55 million into it. According to its website, the Hanoi Urban Transport Development Project “aims to increase urban mobility in targeted areas in Hanoi by (i) increasing the use of public transport in two existing and one new corridors; and (ii) reducing travel times by all modes between the city centre and the west and northwest sections of the city (west of West Lake).” Another key objective is to promote more environmentally sustainable modes of transport.

A Rocky Start Vietnam Breaking News reported last month

that the buses have served a total of 65,000 passengers since Jan. 6, and that numbers are increasing daily. Like any new project, however, there have been a few bumps in the road. During the test run in January (when services offered by BRT were free of charge) a bus had its door broken after colliding with a car. Reports say that the car tried to overtake the bus in the BRT lane. A month later, a state-owned blue numberplated car was found travelling along a BRT-only lane. As a consequence, vehicles entering restricted bus lanes are now fined between VND800,000 and VND1.2 million. President of the Hanoi Public Transport Association, Nguyen Trong Thon, is

positive that these minor setbacks won’t hinder the success of the new system. “The BRT system is the start of the second ‘revolution’ for the capital’s buses,” he was reported as saying. “I think travelling by BRT is not just the optimal choice to move but also a selection to show civilised culture of Hanoi.” The Hanoi Urban Transport Development Project aims to launch seven more BRT routes in the city over the next 13 years. The goal is to have eight routes set up by the year 2030. — Mignon Van Zyl For more information visit hanoibrt.vn. The writer was unable to get a response from the Hanoi Department of Transport

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Briefings HCMC

Magners International Comedy Festival Stand-up comedy gets itself a festival

Andre King


arch is comedy month in Vietnam with punters having the opportunity to see six quality international acts live, supported by the best up-and-coming comics Vietnam has to offer at the Magners International Comedy Festival from Monday Mar. 20 to Thursday Mar. 23.

Monday, Mar. 20 It kicks off on Mar. 20 with the All-Vietnam Finals of the Big V Comedy Competition at La Fenetre Soleil in Saigon, hosted by Canadian comic Lars Calleiou and UK comic Matthew Giffen. Calleiou has compiled an impressive list of Canadian comedy credits with a special airing on the Comedy Network, including appearances at the Just For Laughs and Halifax Comedy Festivals. His comedy radio show was nominated for a 2011 Canadian Comedy Award. He’s also been on CBC’s The

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John Robertson Debaters, XM Radio and Shaw Cable. As well as co-hosting the All-Vietnam Big V Comedy Competition finals, you can catch him live in Saigon at the Grand Gala at the Caravelle Saigon on Mar. 22 and at Standing Bar in Hanoi on Mar. 23 where he’ll be performing with co-host of the All-Vietnam Big V Competition finals, award-winning comic Matthew Giffen. Giffen is the star of BBC 3’s hit show The Fear in the UK and has headlined theatres across Asia and Europe. His debut show Cocaine & Potatoes won the Critics’ Choice Award at the Perth Fringe festival in 2015. This will be Giffen’s second appearance at the Magners International Comedy Festival in Vietnam. He will also be performing at the Grand Gala at the Caravelle Saigon on Mar. 22. Tickets are VND200,000 in advance or day of the show and can be purchased at La Fentre Soleil, 44 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, HCMC or by emailing

Lars Calleiou diana.a.bailey@gmail.com. Doors open 8pm. For more info, visit facebook.com/dandbshows/

Tuesday, Mar. 21 Following the crowning of Vietnam’s best comic at the All Vietnam Finals of the Big V Competition, three big guns take over on Mar. 21 at Game On (115 Ho Tung Mau, Q1, HCMC) in Saigon with outspoken Canadian comic Dana Alexander, UK gagster Andre King, and Aussie comic John Robertson. Alexander started stand-up when she was 18 and has gone on to establish herself as a regular at Yuk Yuk’s comedy venues across Canada. Alexander packed her bags and moved to the UK in 2011, where she made her Edinburgh Fringe festival debut. In 2012 she was nominated best comic at the Chortle Awards and following that, made her way onto television in BBC programmes like Russell Howard’s Good News and The Culture Show on BBC 2.

Jim Brewsky

Dana Alexander Appearing with Alexander will be Kiwi comic powerhouse Andre King who has spent the last six years travelling throughout the UK, Europe, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific. King is a regular on New Zealand television hosting his own TV series Hardcase, and stars in the world’s number one rated comedy web series The High Road. King will also appear at the Grand Gala at the Caravelle Saigon on Mar. 22 and Standing Bar in Hanoi on Mar. 23. Rounding out the trio at Game On on Mar. 21 is Australian comic John Robertson who describes himself as “TV presenter, columnist, multimedia artist, games designer, crowdsurfer, and recreational sadist.” Robertson first gained attention in 2003 when he faked a seizure on national television in Australia. Since then, he has toured much of Europe and Asia and has co-hosted Sky’s Videogame Nation — the UK’s only dedicated gaming TV show. You can also catch Robertson at the Grand Gala at the Caravelle

Matthew Giffen Saigon on Mar. 22. Early bird tickets are VND200,000 until Mar. 17 and then VND250,000 from Mar. 18 onwards. They can be purchased at Game On or online at magnersfestivalgameon.eventbrite.com. For more info, visit facebook.com/saigoninternationalcomedy. Doors open 8pm

Wednesday, Mar. 22 The highlight of the festival comes with the Grand Gala at the Caravelle Saigon (19 Lam Son Square, Q1, HCMC) where Alexander, King, Robertson, Giffen and Callieou will all perform under one roof. Ticket prices start at VND300,000 for the early bird promotion until Mar. 17 and VND400,000 from Mar. 18 onwards. There are special VIP tickets available at VND1 million each. All tickets are strictly limited and can be purchased at the Caravelle Saigon, Business Centre, Level 2 or online at magnersfestivalcaravelle.eventbrite.com. For more

info, visit facebook.com/saigoninternationalcomedy Doors open 8pm.

Thursday, Mar. 23 The comedy festival winds up in Hanoi at Standing Bar (170 Tran Vu, Ba Dinh, Hanoi) with Andre King, Lars Callieou and American comic Jim Brewsky. Brewsky has become one of the biggest and brightest names in comedy on the Asia circuit. Based in Hong Kong, Brewsky was the overall winner of the 2015 Magners International Comedy Festival, which included comedians from four countries. Early bird tickets are VND200,000 until Mar. 21 and VND250,000 from Mar. 22 onwards. They are available at Standing Bar or at facebook.com/ standuphanoi. For more info, visit standuphanoi. com Doors open 8pm. For further information regarding all of the shows visit facebook.com/ MagnersInternationalComedyFestival

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Briefings Hanoi

Equation A house and techno festival touches down in Vietnam

Telephones Photo by Maximilian Becker

San Soda


ouse and technoheads will be in hedonistic heaven next month with the arrival of the inaugural Equation Festival From Apr. 14 to Apr. 17. Taking place at Dong Mo Lake, an hour from Hanoi, the three-day event promises to create an exotic environment filled with the best international and Asian house and techno on offer. We spoke to Ouissam Mokretar, co-founder and co-organiser, about the upcoming festival.

How did you get the idea for putting on Equation? The idea came last year in Croatia during the Love International Festival 2016. I thought we could have the same kind of event with Equation in Hanoi, to bring people from the Asian music scene together for a weekend.

What kind of people are you expecting to attend the festival? Where are you expecting them to come from? 26 | Word March 2017 | wordvietnam.com



Andy Hart

Hibiya Line

The people who are coming are people who have known our team for the past five years from events organised by Cliche in Hong Kong. They are also people that come to Savage in Hanoi and music lovers from all over. We’ve even got people coming from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berlin, France, Seoul and Hong Kong. It is a rally of people from all around the world coming together to celebrate.

Obviously putting on a huge festival costs money. Do you think people understand this when they look at the ticket prices? Usually people are [happy] to pay for a name or a well-known festival — they don’t really mind booking flight tickets to go there and attend. Since it’s the first edition of the festival, we do not have [a reputation] yet. We are focusing on the line-up and the quality of the event, so we are hoping that when people see who will play, they understand the price and trust us for the complete experience.

Global Gathering, Sensation, Electric Daisy, Tomorrowland. All these are huge festivals. Are you trying to emulate these festivals? We are not trying to be like those festivals, but more like Organik in Taiwan, Labyrinth in Japan and Love International in Croatia. We want to create something more intimate and not go for quantity, but for quality. We are not focusing on a big marketing event, but on a more organic kind of promotion, that’s why we don’t have any sponsors.

Equation has a big focus on Asian-based DJs. Why is it so important to put such talent on such a big stage? And why is it important to mix this talent with DJs from outside of the region? We really want to promote Asian-based DJs because there’s a lot of talent here and they might not have the opportunity to [get the same exposure] as European and American DJs. They are the future of the house and techno scene and they deserve their moment to show people what they can do.

Dan Lo

Maggie G


Nic Ford



What about logistics — sound, lighting and so on? We are really picky when it comes to sound, and that’s why we are bringing up one sound system from Saigon. The other will be the one that’s in Savage; both are Funktion 1 sound systems. For everything else, we are working with a team based in Hanoi to create the environment, something minimalist, but effective.

How have you organised the two stages? Will they play different types of music? The Universe stage will offer techno and deep music for a more individual moment, while the Journey stage will be musically more diverse, going from funk and classic 80s to house music. This one will have the DJ booth placed in the middle and will be a more colourful and playful vibe.

What food and drink will be on sale? How much camping capacity is there? We will have a varied choice of tasty

and healthy meals, with Vietnamese and vegetarian choices available. For the drinks, we wanted something more than just beer, so we have decided to do a cocktail bar to allow people to gather in a club-like environment to hang out and socialise. We have enough camping space for 1,000 people and there’s an option to rent a tent for two, four and 10 people, with bedding included.

What other activities do you have set up for the festival besides the music? There are many different activities that will be set up on site. There will be yoga and meditation classes, a healer is also coming from the US to offer her services. Graz, a resident DJ at Savage will have a tea tent, and there will be movies and documentary screenings.

In your opinion, what will make Equation special? Our goal is to create an intimate moment for people to live a positive and intense experience.

Tickets can be purchased online at equation2017.eventbrite.com. Prices for early bird tickets cost US$89. On the door the price rises to US$129. Equation is limiting their numbers to 1,000 people. For info email equation@cliche-booking.com

The Line Up It’s extensive to say the least. Here are just a few of the acts who will be playing at Equation:






Konstantin, Ateq and DJ Dustin (Giegling) from Germany, Telephones (Norway), San Soda (Belgium) ShlØmo and Phred (France), Andy Hart (Australia)


Hibiya Line, Dan Lo, Nic Ford, Maggie G, Graz, Quan and Ouissam

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Sports Digest

Muscled Up Fitness is more than a lifestyle choice for a Vietnamese woman and her mother. Words by Harry Hodge

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or Nguyen Ngoc Thanh Hang, becoming a fitness competitor was simply following her mother’s footsteps in the family business. The 20-year-old is one of the bright young stars in Vietnam’s competitive fitness scene, but recalls drawing inspiration from her mother, 45-yearold award-winning bodybuilder Nguyen Thi My Linh. “(I remember) I saw my mother on stage, which was an extremely beautiful image in my eyes even then,” the younger Nguyen recalled. “Eventually it made me curious, and when I got older I knew I’d be competing like my mother.” From there, their paths diverge. Her mother followed a regimen of

Sport in Brief German Team Eyeing Vietnamese Footballer

intensive bodybuilding and weight training with a very strict diet, focused on building huge muscles. Look at Nguyen Thi My Linh and you see a ripped specimen, with a big frame, broad shoulders and bulging biceps. And while there seems to be a beauty pageant of some sort on TV virtually monthly in Vietnam (look no further than Miss University Vietnam as an example), fitness and bodybuilding competitions do not yet enjoy the same level of mainstream coverage. If anything, gyms around Ho Chi Minh City show ridiculously huge (often foreign) bodybuilders in their storefront posters to lure in new members. The younger Nguyen’s fitness aims are more about tone than building mass like her mother. And anyone who’s seen a fitness pageant is aware of the theatrical aspect and a greater focus on the feminine side of its competitors. Having abs of steel won’t cut it if you don’t look good in a bikini, have an eye-pleasing tan and a memorable floor routine. While her mother has been competing for a long time, Hang is only in her fourth year of competition. She has already joined the Asian competitive circuit, competing in Thailand last year. She trains throughout the week except for Saturday and Sunday, with five-hour, three-hour and two-hour blocks. Diet is also important to her success. “I generally eat mainly fish, protein, meat, eggs, vegetables, fruits and absolutely do not use carbonated soft drinks and starch sugar,” she confided. She is already making waves around the continent and has a busy competition schedule, with events in May in Singapore, Vietnam in June, late August and early September in South Korea, and Mongolia in December. “I love theatre and I love people,” she said. And at just 20, she is set to be a big name across the continent in the years to come.

Defender Doan Van Hau has attracted the attention of Germany’s Fortuna Dusseldorf, according to Hoang Anh Tuan, coach of the U20 squad, Vietnam News reports. Hau, 18, trains and plays with V-League champions Hanoi FC. He was one of the best players for the U19 team which won a berth to compete at the upcoming U20 World Cup in South Korea in May. Responding to the news, Hau said he had not yet received an official offer, but added that it would be great news to any player to get an opportunity to play abroad. Hau and his teammates will play a friendly match against Fortuna Dusseldorf’s youth team as part of their training in April. They will also compete against Dortmund and PSV Eindhoven.

Saigon Heat Win Key Game The Heat picked up a crucial upset win last month to stay in the hunt for a playoff berth in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) action, according to the league website. The Heat stormed back from a 15-point deficit to shock Alab, 72-65, at the Almendras Gym in Davao City. The Heat not only avenged their loss against the same team the week before, but they also broke a four-game losing stretch. More importantly, Saigon improved to 2-7 in the team standings as they launched themselves back into the tight race for the fourth playoff spot. David Arnold was the top scorer for Saigon with 19 points, 12 coming in the pivotal fourth quarter where Saigon outscored Alab 28-8. Lenny Daniel and Christien Charles added 18 and nine points, respectively. Both grabbed 17 rebounds and combined for seven blocks as the Heat shut Alab down in the final quarter.

New Gambling Decree Those aged 21 years and up will be allowed to bet on horse and dog racing and international football, according to a recent government decree as reported by Tuoi Tre. The decree issued by the Vietnamese government came more than three years after the country’s lawmaking National Assembly approved the issuance of regulations regarding the activity. Prior to the legislation, all forms of betting were outlawed in Vietnam and punters could face up to three years behind bars on gambling charges. According to the new decree, those over 21 years of age whose parents,

spouse or children are not involved with the betting company are allowed to place bets on legally organised horse and dog races as well as FIFA-approved international football matches. Eligible matches for betting are to be listed by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the decree noted. This comes after a recent announcement that Vietnamese citizens who meet specific criteria will be able to gamble in domestic casinos this year. The amount someone can bet is set from a minimum of VND10,000 (US$0.45) to a maximum of VND1 million (US$45) a day at one betting company. Parents, spouses or children of bettors can formally request a betting company to ban their loved ones from placing bets, with which the company is obliged to comply, according to the decree. The bettor may file the request on their own to prevent themselves from being addicted to gambling, the decree said.

World Masters in Danang Golfers from around the world will flock to Vietnam’s central coast for the Accor Vietnam World Masters Championship from Aug. 13 to Aug. 19, according to Vietnamnet.vn. The event’s organiser said it invited club golfers from around the world for Asia’s biggest amateur week of golf, with US$10,000 in prizes to be won. More than 200 golfers from more than 20 countries are expected to compete at golf courses in the central region including the Ba Na Hills Golf Club, BRG Danang Golf Club and the Montgomerie Links Vietnam. The championship will be a 72-hole single Stableford event so the occasional bad hole doesn’t kill players’ chances. ‘A’ grade golfers will also be eligible to compete in a 72-hole gross event. Golfers will be drawn to play two rounds at each of the two host courses. All golfers will play two morning and two afternoon rounds. The competitions are played in age divisions and subject to change based on entry numbers. The handicap range for each grade (A, B, C) will be based on final entries.

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list HCMC

You can tell March is here because all the events are back, meaning there’s a bit of everything this month in Saigon



Live Music at The Snap Cafe

The second edition of the Saigon Bouldering Cup returns on Mar. 4

The legendary Italian DJ, Fabrizio Mammarella


Saigon Soul Parties continue every Saturday throughout March



Snap Café continues their Saturday night live music throughout March


The Snap Cafe, Q2 Mar. 4, 11, 18 and 25 The Snap Cafe are continuing their Saturday night live music throughout March, with bands playing from 5.30pm to 8.30pm in the café’s calm and breezy garden space. Here is the line-up for the coming month: Mar. 4 — The world groove and reggae of the Background Allstars Mar. 11 — Musical all-rounders Art of Noise Mar. 18 — Acoustic artists The Freckled Gypsys Mar. 25 — The funky blues vibes of the NOLA Blues Band As ever, the café is holding a range of promotions including the all-day Burger Wednesday Special where you can get two free drinks with any burger on the menu. Fridays are Mexican Madness days. Get a free Margarita, Corona or personal jug of Sangria with every Mexican order all-day. Snap Café is at 32 Tran Ngoc Dien, Q2, HCMC

Saigon Soul Pool Parties New World Hotel, Q1 Mar. 4, 11, 18 and 25 It’s hard to believe, but those

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Saturday afternoon Saigon Soul Parties at the New World Hotel are already four months into 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 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.” New World Saigon Hotel is at 2F, 76 Le Lai, Q1, HCMC. Entrance costs VND150,000. Book your VIP cabana on saigonsoul.com

Saigon Bouldering Cup: 2nd Edition Vertical Academy, Q2 Saturday, Mar. 4 Interest in the sport of bouldering is... well... climbing. Vertical Academy’s first bouldering cup was a raging success as almost 70 hard nuts of all ages and levels from the local climbing community and afar — including from Hanoi, Bangkok

and Singapore — snubbed gravity and hit the walls. To satisfy an even wider audience this year, Vertical Academy’s second edition will be organised primarily for climbers under 17 years old. A separate competition for adult categories will be organised later in the year. Vertical Academy is at 18 Truc Duong, Q1, HCMC. Qualifying rounds run from 8am to midday, with finals from 2pm to 4pm. Registration is VND300,000 with all participants receiving an official t-shirt, Petzl chalkbag and free entrance to Jump Arena Trampoline Park

Fabrizio Mammarella Observatory, Q4 Saturday, Mar. 4 A legendary figure of the cosmic / Italo disco universe, Fabrizio Mammarella has released a retinue of records that explode with originality and groove, while his sets have moved anything from a vegetable market in Italy to some of the most discerning dance floors across the planet. Get your space suit shined and prepare for lift off. Doors are at 8pm and entrance is free before 9pm and VND150,000 after. Observatory is at 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, HCMC



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ToDo list HCMC



The Holistic Fair will return to Saigon on Mar. 5

German-born DJ Marc Romboy will play Apo on Mar. 10

If you like the produce of New Zealand, then mark down Mar. 11 in your calendar…

The exhibition Peculiar Fruit will open at The Factory on Mar. 17






Holistic Art Fair

Marc Romboy

Eton House, Q2 Sunday, Mar. 5

Apocalypse Now, Q1 Friday, Mar. 10

Come and treat yourself at the second edition of Ho Chi Minh City’s Holistic Fair this March. Aimed at health-conscious individuals and families with a real interest in keeping fit, happy and healthy, this market supports small and local businesses to bring you a range of vendors, classes and talks on what it means to live a holistic lifestyle. This edition will also feature a live conference talk and Q&A session with American physician, author, and professional speaker Dr. Michael Greger. Get ready for an interesting discussion on the benefits of a whole foods, a plant-based, healthy diet and the harm of eating animal products. With plenty of fun things planned for the whole family, this month’s Holistic Fair promises to be an event to remember. Free entry and talks, VND50,000 per demo and class. Please visit thaodien-etonhouse.vn for more information. The fair runs from 9.30am to 6.30pm and EtonHouse is at 42 Duong So 10, Thao Dien, Q2, HCMC

If you are a fan of house and techno, then don’t miss German-born DJ Marc Romboy at Apocalypse Now. Ho Chi Minh City record label and musician booker, Heartbeat, presents another night of electronic ecstasy in the middle of our crazy city. A true chameleon of sound, Romboy has dabbled in a range of genres, eventually becoming known for his signature soulful, vocal infused house and techno vibes that have taken him all over the world. He founded the influential Systematic Recordings label in 2004, a label now home to well-established artists Blake Baxter and Booka Shade, Robert Babicz and Stephan Bodzin. Despite being a key player for so long, Marc is still as relevant as ever and remains right at the sharp end of electronic music. He will be welcomed by starter acts Bach, mastermind of well-known Ho Chi Minh City electronic music project B.A.X, and Heartbeat’s founding father Chris Wolter. The night will also feature a one man live show, Erol, producing visuals in real-time. Doors are at 9pm with free entry until 11pm and VND150,000 after.

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Visit heartbeatsaigon.com for more information. Apocalypse Now is at 2B Thi Sach, Q1, HCMC

The New Zealand Wine & Food Festival RMIT, Q7 Saturday, Mar. 11 After a revival over the last two years, the present format of the New Zealand Wine & Food Festival will return on Saturday, Mar. 11 to RMIT in Phu My Hung. With live music, a wine pavilion and food tents, the festival has three main purposes. First, to showcase all that is good about New Zealand. Second, to raise funds for New Zealand related charities present in Vietnam. And of course, to have a lot of fun! Together it provides festival goers with the opportunity to give a boost to those less fortunate than themselves while enjoying responsible EATing and DRINKing. Tickets cost VND2 million and are available at Caravelle Saigon, AIS Cherry Blossom, Lu Bu and Pitchers or online at ticketbox.vn. The festival runs from 4.30pm to 10.30pm at RMIT University, 702 Nguyen Van Linh, Q7, HCMC. Please note that this is a child and pet free event


Peculiar Fruit The Factory, Q2 Mar. 17 to Apr. 15 Sustainable building expert and photographer, Melissa Merryweather, and The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre present Peculiar Fruit, an exhibition of Southern Vietnam’s bizarre local fruits. The exhibition aims to both record and celebrate the unique abundance found in the local Southern Vietnamese marketplace. As the world is steadily more integrated, local cuisines are ever further influenced by global tastes and commercialism. Packaged food is a well-known concept in almost all areas of the earth, as are chemically enhanced fruits and vegetables. At the same time, there has been a push among some parties towards healthier, more natural choices, and strange, exotic foodstuffs are becoming increasingly fashionable across the globe, taken out of context and adapted to global taste. This trend can lead to a slow distancing from local cuisine. Having exhibited across Vietnam since 2009, Melissa Merryweather is currently working on a number of

wordvietnam.com | March 2017 Word | 33

ToDo list HCMC


Ssh, don’t tell anyone! The venue of the next Le Diner en Blanc remains top secret!

The Magners International Comedy Festival kicks off on Mar. 20 with the finals of the Big V Comedy Competition


The release of a unique album bringing back the sounds of Saigon’s past will be accompanied by a launch party at la Fenetre Soleil




Much loved DJ Trus’ Me returns to Saigon on Mar. 17



book projects both in Ho Chi Minh City and in Hanoi. Her Peculiar Fruit series features single-object compositions, photographed in natural light with a neutral background. They are reminiscent of botanical illustrations, recording scientific specimens for generations to come. It is a direct record of the fruits just as they are, in a country on the brink of global integration. The exhibition is sponsored by The Warehouse and hosted by The Factory Arts Center. Entry is free of charge and the opening party is on Thursday, Mar. 16 at 6.30pm. The Factory is at 15 Nguyen U Di, Q2, HCMC

Trus’ Me Observatory, Q4 Friday, Mar. 17 An ally of Observatory from the time when it was still just an empty room in District 1, globallyrenowned producer and DJ Trus’ Me is back to shake us with his masterfully special selections and sound. Doors are at 8pm and entrance is free before 9pm and VND150,000 after. Observatory is at 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, HCMC

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Saigon Supersound Release Party La Fenetre Soleil, Q1 Friday, Mar. 17 What started out as an idea five years ago has become a reality with the release of Saigon Supersound Volume 1 — a compilation reflecting the musical era of Vietnam that was almost lost to us forever. A selection of tracks have been chosen from the period between 1965 and 1975 — the so-called ‘Golden Music’ era of music in the south. To celebrate the re-mastering and re-release of this music by live band Saigon Soul Revival (supported by DJs Datodeo and Jan Hagenkotter), three release parties will take place on three dates at three locations in Vietnam’s three major cities. The Saigon party will be at La Fenetre Soleil on Friday, Mar. 17 and will most likely kick off at 8pm (although this hasn’t been confirmed). La Fenetre Soleil is at 44 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, HCMC

revellers are expected to converge on a new, secret location for the second edition of Le Diner en Blanc somewhere in Saigon. The annual ‘secret affair’ which was launched in Paris almost 30 years ago, is that the event will take over an undisclosed public space revealed only minutes prior to its commencement. According to the hosts, “This event allows us to enjoy some of our most prestigious and iconic spaces of the city with flair.” The 2015 inaugural “tres chic” picnic attracted close to 500 cultural enthusiasts for a memorable evening at the Saigon Zoo. If this kind of thing is your raison d’etre and you’d like to attend, keep in mind there are a number essentials to remember — wear white (elegant) only and bring a picnic basket of fine food, including proper stemware and white dinnerware, and champagne and/or wine — no beer or hard liquor. To sign up, go online to hochiminh. dinerenblanc.com/register

Le Diner en Blanc

The Big V Comedy Competition

Venue to be announced Saturday, Mar. 18

La Fenetre Soleil, Q1 Monday, Mar. 20

On Saturday Mar. 18, more than 600

With over 30 contestants whittled


down to five, the finals of this year’s Big V amateur comedy competition will take place at La Fenetre Soleil on Monday, Mar. 20. Part of the Magners International Comedy Festival that will be laughing its way through Saigon and Hanoi, the winners of this event will get the chance to perform on the big stage in the regional finals in Singapore. It’s a big prize, and one that has the potential to launch a career in stand-up comedy. Hosted by professional comics Matthew Giffen (UK) and Lars Calleiou (CAN), gracing the finals will be three contestants from Saigon and two from Hanoi: — Brian Armstrong (US) — Nathan Sproul (UK) — Yasar Saleem (UK) — Uy Le (VN) — Nathan Jaieyola (US) So are you ready for a night of laughter and competitive suspense? You’d better be! Entrance is VND200,000 on the door and the show kicks off at 8pm. La Fenetre Soleil is at 44 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, HCMC. For more info, click on facebook.com/dandbshows


MAD House D7 E V E R Y D AY


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



The Magners International Comedy Festival at Game On

The affordable art fair, Art For You, returns on Mar. 23

Take a Chick’s Club, women only retreat this month at Vedana Lagoon Resort & Spa


Dana Alexander, Andre King and John Robertson



Five comics will be performing at this month’s comedy festival: Lars Calleiou, Matthew Giffen,

Game On, Q1 Tuesday, Mar. 21 The first show of the Magners International Comedy Festival dedicated to pro-comedians will touchdown at Game On Saigon on Tuesday, Mar. 21. A night of laughter, belly ache, falling off your chair, tears and general hilarity is assured with three top comics gracing the stage to provide a night of stand-up comedy not yet witnessed in this city. Dark, morbid and gruesomely entertaining Australian comic John Robertson will headline the show. Described by The Age as having material that’s “edgy, intelligent and smoothly delivers,” the Australian paper goes on to say that “this is astute, amoral stand-up for the morbidly inclined.” Robertson will be joined by awardwinning Canadian comic Dana Alexander famed for her television work with appearances on Russell Howard’s Good News, Edinburgh Comedy Fest, and a featuring role on the Culture Show in 2013 for BBC2. Playing the final fiddle, but certainly not relegated to the second desk is comedy powerhouse Andre King. Originally from New Zealand, King is known for his stinging

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punchlines, well-crafted observations, razor sharp improvisation, and hilarious impersonations. Standard entrance costs VND200,000 for advance tickets (before Friday Mar. 17) and VND250,000 thereafter or on the door. Tickets are available at Game On Saigon, 115 Ho Tung Mau, Q1, HCMC or can be purchased online at magnersfestivalgameon.eventbrite. com. For info please go to facebook.com/ saigoninternationalcomedy

The Magners International Comedy Festival Grand Gala Caravelle Saigon, Q1 Wednesday, Mar. 22 Laugh, but laugh within the plush confines of one of the city’s leading five-star hotels. That’s what will be in store if you head to the Caravelle Saigon for the grande finale of the Ho Chi Minh City leg of the Magners International Comedy Festival on Wednesday, Mar. 22. Punching her way to the headline spot at the Grand Gala will be the award-winning Canadian comic Dana Alexander. Hailing from Edmonton, Cananda, Alexander started stand-up when she was 18 and was voted ‘best discovery’ by Now Magazine in 2006. In 2011 she moved to London and the following year was nominated for

best club comic in the Chortle Awards. Refreshing and fearless, she’s been described as “smart, irreverent and revolutionary.” Also taking the stage will be comedy powerhouse Andre King who, according to Mark Ritchie from The Stage UK, is “one of New Zealand’s finest comedy exports... irresistibly funny!” Funny in equal but far more morbid amounts is Australian comic John Robertson, who’s garnered himself a cult following thanks to his dark humour and manic stunts. Robertson is presently the co-host of Sky TV’s Videogame Nation — the UK’s only dedicated gaming TV show. And back for a second bite at the comedic cherry because they loved last year’s festival so much are Lars Calleiou and Matthew Giffen — both wickedly funny comics, each of them with an impressive list of comedy credits. Standard entrance costs VND300,000 for advance tickets (before Friday, Mar. 17) and VND400,000 thereafter or on the door. The VIP package goes for VND1 million and includes a free-flow of alcohol as well as food and drink prepared by the five-star chefs at the Caravelle. Tickets are available at Caravelle Saigon, 19 Lam Son Square, Q1, HCMC in the Business Centre on

This year’s fair will comprise works by over 150 artists from across the country, carefully handpicked by the Art for You team. Prices will be kept between US$25 and US$900, and artists will be with their works to discuss them with you. Mai’s Gallery is at 3A Station, 3A Ton Duc Thang, Q1, HCMC. For more info email artforyouvietnam@gmail.com. The fair runs from 9.30am to 8pm, daily

Build Yourself: Reflect and Realign 3

the 2nd Floor or can be purchased online at magnersfestivalcaravelle.eventbrite. com. For more info, please go to facebook. com/saigoninternationalcomedy

Art for You Mai’s Gallery, Q1 Mar. 23 to Mar 27 Brought to you by Manzi and Work Room Four, Art For You is quite simply a gallery of affordable, quality local art. Come and browse a collection of original sketches, photographs, illustrations and paintings by some of the country’s finest creative talents, and support

artists in your own community. This March, Art For You will be holding their sixth and seventh editions in Ho Chi Minh City and in Hanoi. This is the perfect chance to get your hands on something eye catching for your wall, to connect with other creatives or simply to enjoy an exhibition! The event is open to everyone and anyone, in support of our local arts community. Since the first Art For You fair in Hanoi in December 2014, Manzi and Work Room Four have hosted five successive events, paid over VND1 billion to artists and inspired a range of similar endeavours across Vietnam.

Vedana Lagoon Resort & Spa, Hue Mar. 24 to Mar. 26 Join Chick’s Club at the Vedana Lagoon Resort & Spa this March, for an empowering weekend of selfreflection. Chick’s Club is a bespoke retreat company that organises memorable getaways for like-minded women. Each girls-only retreat is organised at a new, beautiful venue, with a carefully tailored itinerary designed to bring you and your fellow soul-searchers together for a weekend of rejuvenation. This all-inclusive retreat offers guests yoga, tai chi and #IcanWecan workshops, two nights’ accommodation, airport shuttle, a welcome drink and complimentary tea during the stay. All meals are prepared with fresh, organic products sourced locally, and all Chicks have exclusive access to spa discounts and free use of the resort tennis courts, bicycles, kayaks and infinity pool. There are only 18 spots available on this exciting retreat, so get in quickly and apply for your seat and there is a 10% discount for all Word readers. Make your way to Hue, join your fellow adventurers and hop on the Chick’s Club bus for a hassle-free weekend of luxury and rejuvenation. Tickets cost VND7,400,000 per person. Get in touch with the Chick’s Club team on 01674 407381 or by emailing contact@chicks-club.com

ToDo list HCMC



Saigon Star International School will be hosting a day of family fun at their Roller Dash

Mad Hatter’s Charity Ball


Basic Soul Unit plays Observatory on Mar. 31

Australian food and drink will be the focus of this year’s Taste of Australia

ISHCMC will be holding a discovery affair to allow people to explore new learning areas at their campus in Q2



Avalon Emerson and Courtesy will play Observatory on Mar. 25



The Mad Hatter’s Charity Ball takes place on Mar. 25 at Caravelle Saigon



Caravelle Saigon, Q1 Saturday, Mar. 25 The British Business Group Vietnam (BBGV) is holding The Mad Hatter’s Charity Ball at the Caravelle Saigon on Saturday, Mar. 25. All proceeds, including those from a raffle to win flights to the UK with Etihad Airways and an auction, will got to the charity Newborns Vietnam. The charity was established in 2011 and its goal is to save lives by reducing neonatal mortality and promoting the health of newborn children and their mothers in Vietnam and the rest of Southeast Asia. Tickets for the ball are VND2.9 million for BBGV members, and VND3.5 million for non-members. For more info and tickets, go to facebook.com/bbgvietnam

Avalon Emerson and Courtesy Observatory, Q4 Saturday, Mar. 25 Two ladies who have gathered serious

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credentials in the electronic music world for both their productions, journalism and sets will be hot off their Japanese tour. Expect Avalon Emerson and Courtesy to lay down a powerful synthesis of house and techno. Doors are at 8pm and entrance is free before 9pm and VND150,000 after. Observatory is at 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, HCMC

Taste of Australia HCMC, Danang & Hanoi Mar. 31 to Apr. 23 Starting with a two-day wine show in Saigon on Mar. 31, Taste of Australia is a Vietnam-wide event which is an opportunity for the Australian Government to present Australian food, beverages and culinary culture — including Australia’s innovative approaches to fashion and music — to Vietnamese industry and consumers through a range of trade and consumer events. Spread out over a month, there will be a dinner

at celebrity chef Luke Nguyen’s Grain cooking studio, gala events where the Australian Government’s official contacts in Vietnam get to rub shoulders and nosh down on some of Australia’s finest produce, a cooking competition hosted by Luke Nguyen, a community BBQ in Danang, and a film screening in Hanoi. For more information on Taste of Australia or to discuss partnership and sponsorship opportunities, visit tasteofaustralia.com.vn or facebook.com/ tasteofaustralia.vn. And to get the full story, please see the article on page 14

Basic Soul Unit Observatory, Q4 Friday, Mar. 31 Another major player of the underground electronic world rounds off this big month with serious style. Basic Soul Unit has released on labels such as Mule Electronic and Ostgut Ton, and is a sound force to be reckoned with. Not to be missed. Doors are at 8pm and entrance is free


5 6 before 9pm and VND150,000 after. Observatory is at 5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, HCMC

Discovery Fair at ISHCMC ISHCMC, Q2 Saturday, Apr. 1 International School Ho Chi Minh City is inviting the whole family to their Discovery Fair this April, to explore new learning areas at the ISHCMC campus. They’ll be organising a range of fun activities for your kids, from hands-on cooking and art classes to a DIY juice bar. Code your way into the future with your little ones, help them cook up something tasty or watch them make new friends and discover new things. The Discovery Fair will also offer a selection of inquiry-based play spaces for kids under eight, so bring the whole family for a day of adventure! Indulge in some boutique shopping for

the little ones, get away from the city bustle and take a deep breath of ISHCMC’s clean and purified air. ISHCMC is at 28 Vo Truong Toan, Q2, HCMC and the fair runs from 9am to 12pm. For more info visit ishcmc.com

Saigon Roller Dash Saigon Star International School, Q2 Saturday, Apr. 1 A family fun-run with a twist, head to Saigon Star International School for a day of races and entertainment on rollerskates, bicycles, tricycles, scooters, skateboards or even strollers! Any wheels will do! Kicking off at 4pm, races will commence at 4.30pm with long, medium and short courses for different age groups. Children’s entertainment includes Wacky Races, Vina Racing, bouncy castles, face-painting,

hoverboards and the infamous Dunk Tank. Prizes are going for race winners and there’s also a lucky draw. The food and refreshments include stalls run by Chuck’s Burgers and craft beer from Phat Rooster. Also at the Roller Dash will be Saigon Cycles, Viet Bamboo Bikes and FFSC Handicrafts, while live music will come from The Lost Art. And naturally this is all done in the aid of a good cause — proceeds go to Friends for Street Children (FFSC). With fun, fancy dress encouraged on the day, this should be a great day out for all the family. The Saigon Roller Dash runs from 4pm to 8pm and takes place at Saigon Star International School, Thanh My Loi, Q2, HCMC. Entrance is VND75,000 per child and VND150,000 per adult. Advance tickets are available at ticketbox.vn



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


Chicken kottu is one of the dishes on sale at the newly


Jetstar to Australia opened Asian streetfood joint, Asian Streat

Pizza by the slice is now on sale on the street in Thao Dien


The Eastin Grand Hotel gets itself a new bar with an


unforgettable name

Jetstar is launching direct flights to Australia



In January, Jetstar announced direct services connecting Ho Chi Minh City with Australia’s two largest cities — Sydney and Melbourne. The new service aims to continue the large growth in two-way travel between Vietnam and Australia. Taking off in May 2017, Jetstar will be operating four times weekly to Sydney and three times weekly to Melbourne with the tin bird of choice being the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Flights to Melbourne will commence on May 10, while Sydney flights will commence on May 11.

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Fares and full conditions are available at Jetstar.com

Mot Hai Bar Dzo. So there’s a new bar in town, a new cocktail bar in the Eastin Grand Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City’s Phu Nhuan. Located on the ground floor next to the hotel’s Executive Lounge, Mot Hai Bar serves innovative drinks and snacks and is the perfect meeting venue for an after work or pre-dinner drink. Other features are a DJ every Friday and Saturday night and fun promotions running for the first

three months of the bar’s opening. For more info, visit eastingrandsaigon. com or head on down to 253 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan, HCMC

Gusto Installed in the front yard of Uncle Bills, Gusto is a pizza corner offering fresh pizza by the 18cm x 9cm slice. The dough is natural with no preservatives or chemicals and 100% sugar and fat free. The pizzas can be either served at the shop or delivered to your place with two options including ready to eat or vacuum packed and half



cooked. The vacuum packages can stay in the fridge at 60C for two weeks or can be stored frozen for over one year. District 7’s unit only delivers vacuum package orders with a minimum of six slices per order, and they have to be ordered before 2pm to be delivered the next day. Depending on the type of pizza, a take-away slice of Margherita costs VND30,000 rising to VND70,000 for the more fancy options. VND10,000 will be added in for a salad if you eat at the unit, while soft drinks are priced at VND25,000 and draft San Miguel is VND40,000. Wine by the

glass (VND80,000) is also available. Gusto is at 26 Thao Dien, Q2, HCMC. Call (08) 3744 2166 for District 2 delivery and 0946 781542 for District 7

Asian Streat Located in the art gallery alley opposite the Sheraton Hotel on Dong Khoi, Asian STREAT is a contemporary 35-seat restaurant specialising in Asian street food. Dishes are prepared with fresh ingredients by chefs from Sri Lanka, India and Vietnam, with a focus on creatively presented yet authentic Asian street food. The

menu is diverse, from tom yum goong (VND120,000) and Sri Lankan hoppers (VND120,000) to Indian crab Goan curry (VND250,000) and Mongolian rice (VND180.000). The drink list is also varied, including tea, juice, coffee (VND40,000 for a Vietnamese coffee), and beer (VND50,000). There are also wine and cocktail options. The restaurant offers a regular business luncheon menu and delivery service. Asian STREAT is located at 151/6 Dong Khoi, Q1, HCMC. Call 01208 720179 for reservations or delivery

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Ballet teacher Elise Roper in her days as a professional ballerina

Toong, the country’s largest coworking space, will soon be opening in Saigon

Get fit by taking a free ZUU class. It will bring out the animal in you!

You want your cushions large? Check out the Dream Big range at Anupa






Elise Roper Ballet Classes Professional ballerina Elise Roper is offering ballet classes to students of all levels, from four-year-olds to adults. Elise spent most of her career with the world-renowned Paris Opera Ballet Company, dancing professionally with the company for 13 years. She has had the privilege of being directed by some of the industry’s great masters including Rudolf Nureyev, Maurice Bejart and Patrick Dupont. She has been teaching adults and children in France for the past 15 years, and can’t wait to share her knowledge and passion with students in Ho Chi Minh City. Besides her kids’ classes, Elise is running Ballet Body Shape classes

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that are open to all levels from 12-year-olds to adults. Focusing on floor work to centre the body and improve alignment and posture, Elise teaches her students methods for breathing, stretching and core exercises as well as classic dance technique. This class suits students of a range of levels and with a variety of goals, and it’s a great way to return to exercise after an injury, pregnancy or time off, or to simply enjoy the joy of dance. For more information and class schedules click on facebook.com/ EliseRopersBalletSaigon. The classes are taking place at Cyril’s Body and Mind, 49 Xa Lo Ha Noi, Thao Dien, Q2, HCMC

Toong Coworking Spaces in Saigon Following the signing of a partnership with Singaporean real estate giant CapitaLand, Hanoi-based Toong will open its first ever Ho Chi Minh City coworking space in CapitaLand’s newest upcoming mall, The Oxygen in District 2. The space will offer convenient access to modern amenities and a range of services on site. Presently Vietnam’s largest coworking space developer and operator, after 17 months of successful operation, Toong now boasts four top-quality coworking spaces across Vietnam. For more info please email hai.le@ toong.com.vn or visit toong.com.vn



ZUU Vibrant new exercise class, ZUU, is designed to liberate human movement. It bridges the gap between traditional strength and conditioning programs, and the core strength, mobility and flexibility gains associated with yoga and Pilates. This group exercise class has just arrived in Vietnam, and is now ready to hit Ho Chi Minh City. As a truly multi-purpose fitness workout, ZUU suits a range of fitness levels and goals. If you are looking to strengthen your core, lose fat, get incredibly fit, increase your strength and joint stability, improve your flexibility and increase your

general fitness then this is the class for you. These are the only fitness classes of their kind in Vietnam. ZUU is a low impact workout with exercises and techniques that bring the joints of the body through a full range of motion in multiple planes of movement. For a limited time only, the first ZUU class is free of charge. Classes run on Mondays at 7pm, Wednesdays at 9am and Saturdays at 7am, at Body Expert Studio, Thao Dien, Q2, HCMC. To book your trial class, email bookme@ bodyexpertsystems.com. And for more info visit bodyexpertsystems. com/classes

Dream Big at Anupa Eco-boutique Anupa has a new line of big cushions created by Age of Reason Studios and made 100% in the UK. Costing VND3.5 million a piece, the Dream Big cushions are made traditionally. They’re sewn in Yorkshire and stuffed in Sussex with pure sheep’s wool from the UK. The wool comes from a mill on North Ronaldsay, the most northerly of the Orkney Isles. The sheep on the island are extremely hardy and mainly eat seaweed, making this a unique product. For more info click on anupa.net or head to the boutique at 9 Dong Du, Q1, HCMC



listHanoi An event called Spamcham, more standup comedy, exhibitions and lots of DJs. March in Hanoi




Lingering at the Peculiar Pavilion 1. An image from Lingering at the Peculiar Pavilion, an exhibition that will be shown at Manzi 2. Jeremy Cheung and Ocean Lam from OMA Hong Kong will play Savage 3. The visually-impaired Hope Choir will be performing on Mar. 5 4. Mar. 8 is International Women’s Day. Men, forget at your peril 5. If you like your Old World wine, check out what’s coming to the Metropole on Mar. 9… 6. Stills from a video installation by Uudam Tran Nguyen that will be exhibited from Mar. 10

Manzi Art Space, Ba Dinh Mar. 4 to Apr. 3 Manzi and San Art present Lingering at the Peculiar Pavilion, the first solo exhibition by Saigon artist Vo Tran Chau. Following a six-month residency at San Art in Saigon in mid-2015, Tran Chau created a body of work encompassing embroidered images, fabric sculptures, and a form of mosaic painting rarely seen in Vietnam. Focusing on long con, the ritual clothing worn by the Nguyen kings, the last emperor dynasty of Vietnam, Tran Chau has managed to link the context of the past with the the present day. Her solo exhibition creates an illusory space between forgetting and remembering, between current affairs and autobiographical elements, to create a discourse on the psychology of the times that seem to embody a recurrent uneasiness, looping between past and future generations. The exhibition will run from Mar. 4 to Apr. 3 at Manzi Art Space, 14 Phan Huy

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Ich, Ba Dinh, Hanoi. Entrance is free and the opening reception will be at 6.30pm on Mar. 4. The exhibition is supported by the Danish Embassy (CDEF)

OMA Night Savage, Tay Ho Saturday, Mar. 4 A well-known and much loved techno and house club that has helped shape the Hong Kong electronic music scene for the past 3 years, OMA will be coming to Hanoi for one night courtesy of Savage. If you’ve never had the chance to visit OMA, them don’t miss the DJ set of two of their best-known resident DJs — Jeremy Cheung and Ocean Lam. Entrance is free before midnight, VND100,000 after. Savage is at 112 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi

Hope Choir Concert Hanoi (location provided on RSVP) Sunday, Mar. 5 Friends of Vietnam Heritage (FVH) and the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Vietnam have teamed up to organise

a special fundraising concert to support the Hope Choir which is made up of visually-impaired singers and folk instrument musicians. The choir performs Vietnamese folk songs as well as those from numerous other countries and in different languages, including English, French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish, Malaysian, and some from Africa. All proceeds from the event will go to the choir. Programme details will be sent to those who RSVP. For attendees, entrance will be a minimum VND100,000 donation, although higher contributions will be greatly appreciated. For more info, contact Ms Helen Huntley at helenshuntley@yahoo. com, Ms Stella Ciorra at stellaciorra@ hotmail.com or Ms Lan (Embassy of Sri Lanka) at slembvn@fpt.vn

Melia International Women’s Day Melia Hanoi Hotel, Hoan Kiem Wednesday, Mar. 8 The Melia Hanoi Hotel invites all


ladies to take a break from their busy schedules to pamper themselves in celebration of International Women’s Day. There will be a sumptuous seafood buffet dinner at the hotel’s El Patio Restaurant featuring all your aquatic creatures from the sea inseason. Each lady will be welcomed with a special door gift. Prices per person are VND825,000++ without drinks, VND890,000++ with free-flow draught beer and soft drinks, or VND1,170,000++ with a free-flow of six red wines and three white wines. For more info and bookings, call (04) 3934 3343 or drop into the Melia Hanoi Hotel at 44B Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi

Bordeaux Rendez-Vous Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi, Hoan Kiem Thursday, Mar. 9 One of the region’s largest wine events, the Les Aromes Festival, is coming to Hanoi again this March. Now in its 11th year, the Metropole’s annual Les Aromes Festival is one of the most exciting culinary events in

the city, showcasing the very best in gourmet food and wine. This year, the Bordeaux RendezVous 2017 will be coming to Hanoi as a part of this festival. Organized by French wine merchants Barriere Freres, the Bordeaux Rendez-Vous has journeyed across Southeast Asia over the past few years, to introduce select wineries to the region. This year’s Rendez-Vous will take place from Mar. 2 to Mar. 10 in cities across Southeast Asia, with its Hanoi event running as part of the annual Le Aromes Festival. On Mar. 9, 19 château’s from the Bordeaux region and their ambassadors will travel to Hanoi to share their passion and knowledge with wine enthusiasts and connoisseurs alike. Participating parties include First-Growth Château Guiraud, Second-Growth Château Rauzan-Ségla, ThirdGrowth Château d’Issan as well as a number of fourth and fifthgrowth wineries. This one-day wine extravaganza will showcase more than 45 of the best Bordeaux wines imported especially for the occasion. Guests will have the opportunity


to savour brilliant red and white wines of vintages ranging from 1996 to 2014. The event will take place at the Metropole’s La Veranda restaurant and outdoor patios from 5pm to 8pm, with a private auction of rare Bordeaux vintages to finish off the evening. Tickets to the event cost VND1,200,000 and include wine tasting and speciality foods from the hotel’s French chef Olivier Genique. For additional pricing and more information, please call (04) 3826 6919 ext. 8200 or email h1555-fb3@sofitel.com. The Sofitel Metropole is at 15 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi

Dream a Future Dream Goethe-Institut, Ba Dinh Mar. 10 to Apr. 2 UuDam Tran Nguyen creates huge scale artwork involving hundreds of motorcycles, inflatable sculptures and robotic crowdsourcing artworks. His videos have been shown in museums all over the world and speak of the rapid development of Vietnam. Motorcycles are used as a symbol for the driving force that propels Vietnam’s economy into the

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listHanoi 1

1. Chamber Music comes to Manzi on Mar. 17 2. South African artist Nonku Phiri will perform at Standing Bar on Mar. 18 3. St, Paddy’s, anyone? 4. German musicians Boris Schönleber and Katharina Padrok 5. Jim Brewsky will be one of three pro comics performing at Standing Bar on Mar. 23

3 future with uncertain consequences. At the Goethe-Institut, Uudam Tran Nguyen will present two videos and a new installation for which he uses the Honda Dream and Honda Future, the most popular motorbikes during his teenage years. Born in 1971 in Kon Tum, Vietnam, UuDam is one of Vietnam’s leading contemporary artists. After his studies at the Fine Arts University in HCMC he spent time living in the US and studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York. Working with video, performance, photography and sculpture, he has had his work shown at international exhibitions in Brisbane, Singapore, New York and London. He is also co-founder of the Vietnamese art magazine, XEM. The exhibition will be open daily from 9am to 7pm, with the opening reception at 6pm on Mar. 10. Entrance is free. The Goethe-Institut is at 56-58 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Ba Dinh, Hanoi

A Night for Chamber Music Manzi Art Space, Ba Dinh Friday, Mar. 17 A beautiful chamber concert with famous compositions by Bach, Beethoven and a range of talented

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Vietnamese composers will be held at Manzi on Mar. 17. Participating in the concert will be the string quarter GLADIA as well as pianist Do Tuan and oboist Do Kien Cuong. Entrance is VND200,000 per person. Due to limited seating capacity, please register at manzihanoi@gmail.com before Mar. 16 to reserve seats. Manzi is at 14 Phan Huy Ich, Ba Dinh, Hanoi

Nonku Phiri

a great night of house, electronica, hip hop, and kwaito, and in the meantime, show your support for local and international acts touring Vietnam. Nonku Phiri will be supported by Pablo Yang (Hanoi). Tickets are VND100,000 at the door. The show starts at 8pm and Standing Bar is at 170 Tran Vu, Ba Dinh, Hanoi

Magners St. Patrick’s Day

Standing Bar, Ba Dinh Saturday, Mar. 18

The American Club, Hoan Kiem and Sheraton Westlake Hotel, Tay Ho Mar. 17 and Mar. 18

Standing Bar in collaboration with CAMA will hold its first live music event on Saturday, Mar. 18 featuring up-and-coming South African electronica talent Nonku Phiri. Nonku stepped onto the scene at 17 and since then has gone on to work with the internationally acclaimed a la Swindel, Branko, Mr Carmack and the Classix, as well as legendary Mahotella Queens. She has multiple collaborations alongside P.H Fat, Crazy White Boy, Jack Parow and fellow Red Bull Music Academy Bass Camp alumni Card on Spokes, Okmalumkoolkat, and Robin Brink. Get on down to Standing Bar for

On Mar. 17 and 18 every year, the whole of Hanoi goes green for St. Patrick and all things Irish. There are two major events planned for this year’s celebrations — the Magners St. Patricks Rocks Concert and the Magners St. Patricks Gala Ball. The first evening of this twoday celebration kicks off with the St. Patrick Rocks Concert at The American Club (21 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi) from 6pm. This year’s lineup includes bands from both Ireland and the UK, supported by an array of local musical talent. It promises to be a fun-filled family friendly occasion with tickets priced at



VND100,000 for kids, VND200,000 for students and VND350,000 for adults. The following evening, join the rest of Hanoi’s St. Patrick’s Day revellers for a night of food and continued festivities at The Sheraton Westlake Hotel (K5 Nghi Tam, 11 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi). The evening includes a five-course dinner, free flow wine and beer, and live musical entertainment by Derbyshire power-trio, Junction 15. Tickets cost VND2,500,000 per person. For all details and to book tickets please visit stpatrickshanoi.com or email stpatricksdayhanoi@gmail.com

Italian Songbook Youth Theatre, Hai Ba Trung Saturday, Mar. 18 Katharina Padrok (mezzosopran), Sebastian Myrus (tenor) and Boris Schönleber (piano) will perform the Italian Songbook (Italienisches Liederbuch) by Hugo Wolf on Saturday, Mar. 18 at the Youth Theatre. Young dancers from the Dance Academy Hanoi will interpret the music with short choreographies. The Italienisches Liederbuch (Italian Songbook) is a collection of 46 songs by the Austrian Hugo Wolf.

The words are German translations of Italian poems. The character of the songs ranges from infatuation to mockery and conflict, to attempts at reconciliation. The show will commence at 8pm and the Youth Theatre is at 11 Ngo Thi Nham, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi. Free tickets are available from the Goethe-Institut Hanoi. Call (04) 3734 2251 for details

The Magners International Comedy Festival Standing Bar, Ba Dinh Thursday. Mar. 23 Prepare for a feast of tummy tickling, side-splitting laughter when the Magners International Comedy Festival moves to Hanoi on Thursday, Mar. 23. With three shows in Ho Chi Minh City — including the grand final of the Big V Amateur Comedy Competition — the festival will finally get its debut in the capital courtesy of three topnotch stand-up comics: Andre King (NZ), Lars Callieou (CAN) and Jim Brewsky (US). Hailing from Canada, Lars Calleiou has an impressive list of Canadian comedy credits. He has a comedy special airing on the Comedy

Network, appearances at the Just for Laughs and Halifax Comedy Festivals and his comedy radio show was nominated for a 2011 Canadian Comedy Award. He’s been on CBC’s The Debaters, XM Radio and Shaw Cable. He has also been a finalist at the Seattle International Comedy Competition, has travelled to Iraq and Kuwait twice to entertain US servicemen and women, and has appeared at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival in Portland, the Boston Comedy Festival and played Brad Garrett’s comedy club at the Tropicana in Las Vegas. Andre King is a comedy powerhouse from New Zealand known for his stinging punchlines, well-crafted observations, razor sharp improvisation and hilarious impersonations. According to Mark Ritchie from The Stage UK, Andre is “one of New Zealand’s finest comedy exports… irresistibly funny!” One of the biggest and brightest names in comedy on the Asian scene — and now around the world — Hong Kong-based US comic Jim Brewsky is an international awardwinning headliner, and winner of the 2015 Magners International Comedy

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1. Saigon Supersound will have its Hanoi album launch at HRC on Mar. 25 2. Indonesian DJ, Jonathan Kusuma 3. Who needs USCham, OzCham or BritCham when you’ve got Spamcham? 4. Japanese DJ Taku Hirayama will be playing Savage 5. After a long absence, TedX returns to Hanoi on Apr. 16

3 Festival Comedy Competition. Brewsky’s comedic delivery style combines a clean, good-natured stage presence with a healthy dose of self-deprecation. Guaranteed to make you laugh. You may even shed a tear or two! So prepare yourself for a smorgasbord of bellyaching comedy and get yourself down to Standing Bar. This one’s going to be big. Tickets are available at Standing Bar, 170 Tran Vu, Ba Dinh, Hanoi or online via facebook.com/hanoicomedy. Entrance is VND250,000 (VND200,000 in advance) and the show kicks off at 8pm

Saigon Supersound Release Party HRC, Tay Ho Saturday, Mar. 25 What started out as an idea five years ago has become a reality with the release of Saigon Supersound Volume 1 — a compilation reflecting the musical era of Vietnam that was almost lost to us forever. A selection of tracks have been chosen from the period between 1965 and 1975 — the so-called ‘Golden Music’ era of music in the south. To celebrate the re-mastering and re-release of this music by live band Saigon Soul Revival (supported by DJs Datodeo and Jan Hagenkotter), three release parties will take place on three

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dates at three locations in Vietnam’s three major cities. The Hanoi party will be at Hanoi Rock City (HRC) on Saturday, Mar. 25 and will most likely kick off at 8pm (although this hasn’t been confirmed). HRC is at 27/52 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Check HRC’s Facebook page for further info

Snug with Jonathan Kusuma Savage, Tay Ho Saturday, Mar. 25 A new chapter of Snug, the cosy night for the fabulous, the dancers, the kissers, the huggers, the homos, the queers and all the curious is returning to Savage on Saturday, Mar. 25. This time Savage will be bringing in Jakarta-based musician, producer and DJ Jonathan Kusuma to take over the decks. With support from resident DJ Ouissam, expect this to be a raucous night. Entrance is free before midnight, VND100,000 after. Savage is at 112 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Support comes from resident DJ, Ouissam

Spamcham Al Fresco’s, Tay Ho Wednesday, Mar. 29 After running successfully for 10 years in Saigon, Al Fresco’s has brought its

popular, monthly social networking event Spamcham to Hanoi. An opportunity to let your hair down, meet some new people, and eat and drink to your heart’s content, Spamcham is held on the last Wednesday of every month. A laidback take on typical chamber social events, with a monster meat raffle, free flow spirits, beer, wine and canapés, and prizes given away each month, entry is only VND250,000 per person with all proceeds donated to REACH to support disadvantaged youth in Vietnam. If the Saigon renditions of Spamcham are anything to go by, expect it to get a bit wild. The second edition of Spamcham in Hanoi will take place on Wednesday, Mar. 29 at Al Fresco’s, 62 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi from 6.30pm to 8.30pm

Taku Hirayama Savage, Tay Ho Friday, Mar. 31 Hong Kong-based Japanese DJ and artistic director of OMA, Taku Hirayama, will be rocking the dancefloor at Savage on Friday, Mar. 31. Behind the local chapter of the Jazzy Sport label and a DJ renowned for his eclectic selection, expect a night with tunes that will move from house to techno with some Japanese rarities

in between. Entrance is free before midnight, VND100,000 after. Savage is at 112 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi


TedX Hanoi Star Galaxy, Ba Dinh Sunday, Apr. 16


The local, independently organised version of the hugely successful TedX Talks, TedX Badinh 2017, is a daylong experience for curious people who care about ideas and making connections. The TedX concept aims to foster and spread great ideas via a platform where thinkers and doers gain inspiration from others and seize opportunities to inspire others in return. At TedX Badinh, 2017, you’ll hear from some of the most intriguing speakers from Hanoi and beyond as they explore this event’s them IDEA: Inspiration, Direction, Execution and Appreciation. Speakers will be announced in the coming weeks. Early bird tickets are available before Mar. 15 at VND1 million, after that at VND1.2 million. There are just 300 spots available, so be quick. Hanoi Star Galaxy is at 87 Lang Ha, Ba Dinh, Hanoi. For tickets and more info, head to tedxbadinh.com/tedx2017

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Just Hanoi

Burger joints, a zine library, a price comparison website and Hanoi’s first Pakistani restaurant. What’s new in the capital


Handi is the first Pakistani restaurant in Hanoi

A new zine library opens in Hanoi

1. 2. 3.

Vietnam Airlines now flies direct from Hanoi to Sydney

The Hanoi Zine Library The Hanoi Zine Library is a free arts library project that was created to give people in Vietnam access to the types of cool international arts-and-culture materials that are often only locally available on the internet. These small, creatormade books about niche interests have been donated overseas and carried over in people’s spare luggage allowance. This is the only dedicated space for the medium in Vietnam. Part of the @youthculturelibrary network, which also has library spaces in Saigon, the Hanoi incarnation has 300+ zines to sort through and get inspiration from. The space is open most Sundays, and has a maker’s corner — where you can make your own

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zines — free water and tea, and occasional low-cost workshops. Go to facebook.com/hanoizinelibrary to check for future Open Sundays. Address and contact details of the library are posted with events

Arrowprice Set up by an expat in Hanoi who was tired of paying more than the locals do, Arrowprice is a price comparison website, aimed at giving you the best deal for your money on all things food and drink. Their website arms you with an understanding of local pricing, ensuring that you don’t end up paying more than you ought to. The service is still in its early stages, and some more work is

needed to bring it up to scratch, but they’ve been gaining momentum since launching a few weeks ago. Check out their Facebook page for the latest deals, comparisons and recommendations for top notch street food, coffee houses and any gems that may have passed you by. Go to facebook.com/arrowprice/ to see what’s going on. When it’s fully operational, this will be the URL of the website — arrowprice.com

New Flight Routes to Sydney and Macau Vietnam Airlines are beginning chartered flights direct from Hanoi to both Sydney and Macau. The move comes after the airlines’ establishment of the direct Hanoi


to London route, and reflects the country’s increasing visibility on the world map. The new routes will mean that travellers bound for Sydney will no longer have to change over in Ho Chi Minh City when flying with the airline. Macau, the autonomous region on the south coast of China, has been dubbed the Las Vegas of Asia due to its abundance of casinos and shopping malls, its addition to the route map will give residents of Hanoi an interesting new option for their weekend break. For info go to vietnamairlines.com

Handi Sitting on To Ngoc Van is the latest addition to Hanoi’s international

cuisine; Handi, the city’s first Pakistani restaurant. The restaurant opened after the Lunar New Year, and is already fast becoming a popular destination amongst Hanoi’s foodies. The menu is straight talking, Pakistani food, split into two main sections — handi, a traditional dish with a lot of sauce, and karahi, a well spiced dish with a thicker sauce. There’s also a large selection of naan breads and rice dishes. All of the spices used are imported directly from Pakistan, and the meat is all halal. Downstairs offers a comfortable dining experience while upstairs seats 10 to 15 guests, and can be hired for private parties. Handi is at 50 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Hanoi


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Just Hanoi

The posh bia hoi, Tay Ta, has got itself a makeover

Handmade burgers overlooking West Lake? Why not?

1. 2. 3.

EMM’s Café provides Western Dining in the Giang Vo area of town


SunKat’s Burgers Burger lovers, this one’s for you. Recently opened SunKat’s has all the potential to be Hanoi’s most popular go-to for beef ‘n’ buns. Drawing inspiration from Burger Bro’s, its famous Danang based partner, SunKat’s only uses Australian and Kiwi beef, sources all of its vegetables locally, serving up homemade greatness without breaking the budget. While currently operating with a

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limited menu, they’ll soon be offering a choice of 10 burgers, plus a monthly special, with fillings like mozzarella beef, salmon, BBQ pork and even a vegan friendly option. It doesn’t stop there; they also serve freshly squeezed fruit juices, gelato ice-cream, and a variety of Italian style salads. With its stylish design, view of West Lake, and to-die-for burgers, SunKat’s comes close to having it all. SunKat’s is at 172 Yen Phu, Tay

Ho, Hanoi or online at facebook.com/ SunKatsBurgers

Western Dining on Giang Vo Living around Ba Dinh can leave you stuck for options when it comes to Western dining. EMM’s café, located next to Giang Vo Lake, is one of the few restaurants solving that problem. The French brasserie style of EMM’s makes it an ideal setting to grab some lunch or relax after work. The interior



and atmosphere are suitable for couples dining, while wooden tables out front are suited to an afternoon coffee break. Their new menu includes sandwiches and wraps, pastas, cheese platters and steaks, and the pricing is reasonable, with most dishes averaging around VND100,000. Wine tastings and master classes are held monthly. EMM’s is at 110/D1 Tran Huy

Lieu, Giang Vo, Ba Dinh, Hanoi

Bia Tay – Ta Gets a Makeover Bia Tay – Ta, the ‘posh bia hoi’ on To Ngoc Van has undergone an extensive revamp over the New Year. The popular watering hole now features a pub space downstairs kitted out with a pool table, a foosball table, a dartboard, DJ

decks and swinging tire chairs. The new clubhouse-style area also has an extensive cocktail menu, including signature cocktails, overseen by experienced bartenders, and can fit around 50 people at full capacity. Keep an eye out for events being hosted here, or just drop in for a signature cocktail and a game of darts. Bia Tay – Ta is at 33/52 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Hanoi


The Hanoi Skytrain / Planes, Trains and Automobiles / The Train to Sapa / Cyclo / Agent Orange in the Central Highlands / Mystery Diner Hanoi / Bun Thai Hai San / Mystery Diner HCMC / Hot Vit Lon Photo by Julie Vola

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The Hanoi Skytrain With new funding and support in place, the Skytrain system looks set to open up in 2021. Diane Lee goes in search of the details. Photos by Sasha Arefieva

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have been told there’s been little construction action on the Hanoi elevated train for months — I am new to Hanoi and, therefore, to the Skytrain project — but with the Hanoi Metropolitan Railway Management Board signing a deal in January worth VND7,667 billion (US$334.5 million) with French contractors, it seems that this is all about to change. With this injection of funds, the estimated completion date of the Nhon-Hanoi section is now estimated to be 2021. Line 3, also known as the pilot line, began construction in 2011 and was slated to be completed in 2015; but it has been plagued with delays, setbacks, funding issues and safety concerns. This new deal, financed with loans from the French Government, will be used to fund everything from design and installation of the railway system to signals and communications management to facilities at the depots. The line starts at Nhon and reaches Cau Giay via National Highway 32, Ho Tung Mau and Xuan Thuy, and passes through Kim Ma, Nui Truc and Quoc Tu Giam. Hanoi Railway Station at the T-junction of

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Le Duan and Tran Hung Dao will be the final stop.

Impressions The spectre of the Metro construction hangs over Hanoi much like the pollution and traffic jams it hopes to reduce. Its various stages of construction are unmissable. Huge concrete pillars support the elevated track, and, where there are tracks — and depending on the stage of the build — some landscaping and beautification has been undertaken. Artists’ impressions paint a modern picture, all sleek glass and chrome and abstract art marrying nicely with the concrete, and dovetailing with the immediate environment. Along Lang Street, which forms part of the Cat Linh to Ha Dong line, another station is almost complete. Mr Hiep, the site manager, has been with the project for three years and has worked on three of the stations along this section of the line. He says that once construction is finished in the middle of March, the station infrastructure — rails, electricity, signage — will be assembled. He anticipates that the trial run of the line will begin in October, with this section being

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commercially operational after six months. Around the station, it’s business as usual despite the construction. Fruit sellers, with large baskets of tiny green apples balanced on the back of their bicycles, wait patiently alongside the road for buyers. A tea seller uses a concrete pillar as a backdrop to his business; ubiquitous and brightly coloured plastic seats circle his stand. Vendors continue to ply their wares, claiming that there was little impact on their businesses on the one hand, but they had noticed the effects of the station build on the other. Ms Thuy, who sells fruit in the area around Lang Street, says that people are inclined to buy more from her when they are stuck in traffic, which is now more free-flowing

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because the station is almost finished. Traffic jams are better for her business.

Sweet Spot She is looking forward to the station being finished, though, and providing the area underneath isn’t blocked off, thinks it will be a sweet spot to sell her fruit because of the foot traffic and protection from the elements. Mr Dai, who has been selling tea near the construction site for 12 months, says that while his customers from the construction site have increased, like Ms Thuy he has fewer sales from motorists because the traffic is now free-flowing. But he says that it is unlikely he will use the Metro because his business is mobile; he uses his motorcycle to carry all his

equipment to the site where he sells his tea. And that is the million-dollar question; will Hanoians use the Metro? Will they trade the convenience of their motorcycles for public transport? Mr Hiep says that there will be parking for around 400 motorcycles at each station as part of the build to encourage patronage. Of course, this largely depends on where commuters are travelling from, and the purpose. Mr Nam, who operates a business near Lang Street Station, says that he will use the Metro. He lives in nearby Ha Dong and thinks it will be safer and more convenient to travel to his business by train rather than use his motorcycle. Ms Huong, a student at Hanoi University, says her use of the Metro

will depend on how quickly she can get from the university to her part-time job in the Lang Street area. She uses the bus and currently her journey is around 10 minutes.

Philosophy Xe om driver Ms Ha, who parks her motorcycle on the footpath, is philosophical about the Metro and the impact on her business, acknowledging that while she may lose customers in the short term, it is better for the city generally. For Hanoians, she says, it is a better way to travel; cooler and nicer — as long as it is safe. The train will be better for her, she says, as traffic jams are bad for business. It’s not just motorcycles that are a problem

for Hanoi’s road system, though. While modern transport infrastructure and urban planning are necessary to combat the rising tide of vehicles on Hanoi’s roads, the number of cars is cause for concern. There are around 5 million motorbikes on Hanoi’s roads and this is increasing, but passenger car ownership across Vietnam is also ballooning at a rate of around 36% per annum, even with prohibitive fees and taxes. Motor cars, symbolic of affluence and a growing middle class, compete with motorcycles and public buses — and even the good-old-fashioned bicycle — on Hanoi’s roads and streets that were not designed for high car volume. Global trends show it is unlikely that those who can now afford to

buy a car will swap their vehicle for public transport. Shifting attitudes is no easy task, even with Hanoi’s legendary traffic jams, gridlocks and pollution. There must be a greater incentive to travel by public transport than by private motor vehicle or motorcycle, and it’s not always about cheaper transport options or even altruism. Convenience, comfort and safety are major considerations, and factor into whether Hanoians will or won’t patronise the Metro. Given the long-term nature of this project, though, unless pre-emptive commuter education begins now, the Metro may not be the game-changer Hanoi expects. Time, which the Metro seems to have an excess of, will tell.

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Cover Story

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Planes, Trains and Automobiles


e are obsessed with destinations; the goal of our journey, the ultimate purpose of our lives, the endpoint. But what about everything that happens along the way? It’s something we tend to forget, the journey from A and B, the endless hours in between. Whether it’s by plane, train, automobile, boat or even cable car, this month we embark upon different journeys throughout Vietnam, and get

familiar with all the various types of transport this country has to offer. In doing so, we focus on the journey itself, and get a glimpse of life in this country through the eyes of the passenger. As Iggy Pop once sang: I am a passenger And I ride and I ride I ride through the city’s backside I see the stars come out of the sky Yeah, they’re bright in a hollow sky You know it looks so good tonight Time to get riding.

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Cover Story / Planes, Trains and Automobiles

A Day in the Life of a Flight Attendant We see them at work, but what’s life really like for this country’s flight attendants? Zoe Osborne and Bao Zoan spend a day with two of VietJet Air’s cabin crew and tell us their story


inh and Jeffrey joined VietJet Air because they wanted to be a part of the glamorous professional world of cabin crew travel. Now part of the team, they have discovered that flying for a living is far less glamorous than it seems, but also far more rewarding.

Step One “I like to get up three hours before flight time,” says Linh. “So depending on my schedule, this often means I wake before sunrise.” Born in Vung Tau, Linh studied a Bachelor of Business Administration in Ho Chi Minh City, before joining VietJet Air straight after graduating. “I had the chance to travel at that time and I visited a few countries in Asia,” she says. “I remember seeing the VietJet Air crew, admiring their professionalism and style, and really wanting to join them.” Luckily for her, the company was interviewing at the time, but she couldn’t go without her family’s blessing. “In Vietnamese culture, the family stays together, so it is not common for a girl to live alone like I do,” she says. “I had to ask my family’s permission to work with VietJet Air, promising to come home if I could not support myself.” Three years later, Linh is a purser, leading

a cabin crew team of four (on A320 aircraft) and five (on A321 aircraft) on several flights a day. Unlike Linh, Jeffrey had the support of his family when he decided to spread his wings. He left Malaysia seven months ago for a career with VietJet Air, having been recruited in his hometown, Malacca. “I am the youngest of four, with three elder sisters, and it was very hard to leave them all,” he says. “I had graduated with a Bachelor in Fine Arts and wasn’t sure what to do next, when my friend suggested I try out for a place on the VietJet Air team.”

Come Fly With Me Each morning, VietJet Air flight attendants are instructed to arrive at their base airport an hour before flight time, for a team briefing on the weather at their destination, safety procedures, the passengers and the aircraft. The crew members will then ensure that their plane has all the required safety and service equipment, before tidying the cabin and welcoming passengers on board. In the air, the flight attendants are required to manage more than just F&B. “We run cabin service and the merchandise sales, but we also ensure passengers safety during the flight,” says Jeffrey. “We must be alert at all times.” “All new flight attendants spend three

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Cover Story / Planes, Trains and Automobiles

to four months in training before flying, learning about safety policies and airport security,” says Linh. “We go over safety procedures every morning before work, and we are well-trained in how to react to an emergency.” In order to have a safe and comfortable fight, staff must be able to communicate effectively. “In my experience, any issue in-flight can be resolved if we take the time to understand each other,” says Linh. “It is important to stay professional and to listen.” If a flight attendant speaks a certain language, the airline will often roster them on to flights that visit corresponding destinations. Jeffrey speaks Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese, Cantonese and English, and Linh speaks English and Vietnamese. “It’s also about the way you speak,” says Linh. “You have to be well-spoken as well as fluent.” Personal appearance is another top priority for any flight attendant, since they carry the airline’s brand. “It’s not about having a beautiful face,” says Jeffrey. “It’s about your personal presentation — how you talk, style yourself, behave, etc. When people see you, they see VietJet Air.” In order to maintain a standard across all of its cabin crew, the company has a guidebook outlining etiquette for various parts of the job, from personal grooming to how to serve an in-flight meal.

In the Clouds With 63 flight routes, 37 flying domestic and the rest flying international, VietJet Air caters to thousands of customers each day. The company employs over 700 cabin crew from

Asia and some areas of Europe. Because there are so many of them and each jet holds only four staff members, many flight attendants could work for years for the company without meeting. “It means that we always have to be open to working with new people,” says Linh. “We have to form a functional team with people we may have never met.” Each month, staff are given a schedule outlining their working hours for that month. The cabin crew typically work three or four days in a row followed by a few days off, and most monthly schedules will have several standby afternoons or mornings rostered in. Having flown to a new destination, cabin crew members will make sure their guests are ready for landing, thank them for a pleasant trip and help them off the plane. They will then begin team cleanup and debriefing. “We will go back to the VietJet Air office and meet up to debrief about the flight,” says Linh. “I am the purser so I have to make records about the flight and the aircraft equipment, and the pilot must make his own records too.”

Is it Lonely Up There? Both Jeffrey and Linh live far from their families and are always on the move, so they have had to learn a new way to form and maintain connections with the people they care about. “Since VietJet Air has bases in all its major destinations, they have staff living on the ground at each place,” says Jeffrey. “We are moved to different cities periodically.” To Jeffrey, this represents a chance to

explore, and he is consistently blown away by how diverse Vietnam is from north to south. “Being away from my family and friends is hard,” he says, “but I am not really lonely — I meet new people every day!” Linh also misses her family, especially since her schedule often clashes with theirs. “Flight attendants either work nights or days for a whole month,” she says. “When my schedule is at night time it’s hard to meet up, and if my time off is during the week my family are all at work.” Distance can be hard for relationships, but both Linh and Jeffrey have managed to find lasting love even with their busy schedules. “My girlfriend was in the same cohort as me coming into VietJet Air,” says Jeffrey. “We met just after training, and now she is based in Hanoi with me, with a lot of the same days off. We like to explore the city together.” Linh’s boyfriend also works for VietJet Air, and they met while working on a flight. “When we met he had a lot of experience and I was new to the job,” says Linh. “We are both pursers now so we can’t fly together, but we meet whenever we are in the same city.” When asked what they want to do in the future, Jeffrey and Linh said they wanted to keep flying. They hope to continue working with VietJet Air, perhaps be on call less and make more decisions, but they have no intention of changing career path. Their hours are not typical working hours, they are far from loved ones and their job is hard, but at the end of the day the two of them are happy and inspired. It just goes to show — a day in the life of a flight attendant may not be as glamorous as it seems, but it is just as exciting.

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How do you get to an impossible-to-reach tourist destination which as the crow flies is just 200km away? You take every means of transport at your disposal. Edward Dalton and Julie Vola made their way to Co To Island on the other side of Halong Bay


hu Quoc is Vietnam’s answer to The Maldives. A two-hour flight from Hanoi or a middling onehour flight from Ho Chi Minh City is the only obstacle to beach resort island paradise. But what if I told you, that for more than three times the duration, you could go somewhere much worse? It doesn’t sound enticing, but visiting Co To Island might be the unexpected hit of this summer.

A Co To Embargo Co To Island is an archipelago consisting of a few inhabited islands, and a sprinkling of smaller rocky formations situated in Quang Ninh Province, approximately 270km east of Hanoi. Until recently, Co To Island was off limits to foreign tourists, unless an elusive permit was acquired first. This was owing to its close proximity to Chinese territory, and the large military presence on the island. This meant it remained unknown to, and unspoiled by, foreign visitors. In the first six months of 2016, it only attracted a modest 15,000 domestic travellers. This contrasts with Phu Quoc, which attracted nearly one million visitors in 2016. However, on Jul. 15, 2016, the sharply named Decision No. 1288/QD-UBND designated Co To Island a local tourism site, and foreign visitors would be permitted to visit permit-free. However, the long distance and difficulty in reaching Co To Island still threatens to keep it lagging far behind Phu Quoc and Cat Ba in popularity. I decided to make the journey for myself, hoping to discover

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The J


ey to

Co To

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whether being allowed to visit is something to be celebrated or not.

Alarm Clock Rage Due to the projected eight-hour travel time from Hanoi, an early start is unavoidable if you want to arrive on Co To with a few hours of daylight remaining. Because it’s 2017 and I’m super trendy, I start my journey with an Uber. The first destination is My Dinh Bus Station, a crowded and unglamorous place to be at 6.30am. Still scraping thick chunks of crust out of my eyes for most of the ride, I give my driver a five-star rating for no reason other than for not assaulting my fragile morning ears with repeated horn use. Half an hour later, I somehow successfully drag myself from the correct ticket booth to the correct bus without walking into anyone or falling asleep.

Start Your Engines Today’s sponsor of the bus driver lottery is KUMHO Viet Thanh, a company which has departures for Cam Pha every 15 minutes, for VND100,000 a ticket. My Tet prayers must have been heard by someone, because the driver is not so bad. The driving is quite smooth, the horn use is minimal and nearby motorcyclist fatalities are zero. The bus itself is a mixed bag of tricks. The

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seats are comfortable, even for a lumbering behemoth like me. There’s no WiFi or toilet, but there is a big-screen TV. Whether or not that’s a good thing depends on your opinion of thumping Vina House music or Chinese costume dramas. After the first two-and-a-half hours, we make a scheduled stop at a service station owned by the bus company. Tasteless bowls of tepid pho, questionable sausages and mountains of industrial sweet snacks become much more attractive when I remember there’s still another three hours of the bus journey to go. After holding my breath long enough to facilitate a visit to the toilets, I’m back on the bus and popping my first two painkillers of the day, as my back, nether regions and head all take turns screaming out for mercy.

Death Cab Pulling into Cam Pha Bus Station, I make a mental note to send a lengthy thankyou email to Bose for their superb noisereduction headphones. A 30-minute taxi ride to Cai Rong Port awaits me. My taxi driver is either drunk, angry or both. His woeful driving even causes a van to stop in front of us, the furious driver getting out to confront my driver, as I cower in the back pretending not to notice. Once at the port, I find a number of boat companies offering fast (90-minute)

journeys to Co To Island. I go with Manh Quang because of the imminent departure time, and hand over VND150,000 for my ticket. Although I don’t need a permit, I still need to hand over my passport to be registered, but the process is smooth and quick. The boat is noisy, but comfortable and quite modern. Due to our proximity to Ha Long Bay, the view from the boat window is spectacular, and time flies as I take photos and listen to podcasts.

The Verdict My arrival on Co To Island is about eight hours after leaving my home in Hanoi. The island is in low season, so everything is shut. The beach resorts are unfinished, but should be open for summer. It’s worth pointing out that I used the Ka Long boat company on the return journey; a much better overall service. Despite using the same bus company to come back, the new driver was a madman, but that’s the fun of the bus driver lottery. For now, you would be crazy to choose Co To over Phu Quoc or Cat Ba, but the planned beach resorts on Co To look fantastic, so don’t rule it out just yet. The journey is hard work, but once Co To has upgraded itself a bit, the value and convenience will make it a very attractive option.

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With the expressway cutting journey time to Vung Tau to well under two hours, Vu Ha Kim Vy goes in search of reasons to stay with the venerable boat option


t was more than 10 years ago that I last found myself standing at the back of a hydrofoil heading to Vung Tau. Water splashed in at a corner as the boat left the port, and it was hot and stuffy with more than 100 passengers inside. The smell of diesel and loud engine noises were everywhere, and standing at the back, the racket was even louder. But at least there was some fresh air and nice views along the river. Hydrofoils are not a new concept in Vietnam. In January 1993, the first three second-hand hydrofoils — Meteor-class vessels, from Russia — arrived in Vung Tau. Operated by Proshipser Company, the daily

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service started from Ho Chi Minh City at 8am and returned from Vung Tau at 4pm, with three different classes of tickets for front, middle and rear compartments.

The Glorious Past In 1995, Sembawang of Singapore formed a joint venture with Proshipser called Vina Express; two Meteor boats were refitted and named Vina Express 1 and 2, starting a new service with sailings in both directions every two hours. The three-tier price structure was simplified to two; one for foreigners (US$10) and one for Vietnamese (VND80,000). In 1997, the Petro Express and Greenlines entered the market, importing second-hand

hydrofoils and operating the same route. The service became more frequent with the first boats leaving either city at 6am. For years, if you could afford the fare, then in return for comfort and a journey that took 80 minutes, the hydrofoil was the best way to travel to and from Vung Tau. It all went wrong in January 2014 when a hydrofoil caught fire on the Saigon River and the service stopped. The same month the new expressway from Ho Chi Minh City to Long Thanh was opened, cutting the road journey between Saigon and Vung Tau down to one hour 45 minutes. When one year later, the hydrofoil service restarted with a temporary licence, passenger numbers were down. On Dec. 31, 2016, with the temporary license expiring, the last Meteor hydrofoil service left Vung Tau at 4pm. In response to licensing issues, Greenlines DP replaced its hydrofoils with catamarans in mid-2016, which allowed them to apply for and be awarded a new license. During

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Tet, Petro Pacific Express followed suit and now the service is up and running again, with one-way tickets between the two cities costing VND200,000.

Express Boat Era With safety issues addressed, I decided to take the return trip to Vung Tau on the new hydrofoils. Painted yellow, Petro Pacific Express’s boats look like a school bus. Inside, equipped with two rows of cushioned seats and air-conditioning adjustment sets installed above each pair of seats, the boat can only take 44 passengers. A wet napkin and a bottle of water were handed out. There were around 20 people on board including the staff and captain. Two Dutch tourists decided to leave their seats to search for the fresh air at the back when the hydrofoil started moving. The boat went pretty fast. Water splashed in everywhere at the back,

creating a bubbly wall blocking my view. Unable to stand still, I went back to my seat. I’m not sure whether it was because of the speed, the size of the boat or the waves, but it felt like being on a rollercoaster, bouncing up into the air then dropping back to the surface of the river. I began to feel sick. The two Dutch guys came back with their t-shirts soaked. After an hour and 30 minutes, we arrived at the Express Ship Harbour in Vung Tau. With my head and guts still reeling from the experience, I decided to go back to Saigon with Greenlines. However, Greenlines’ catamarans are moored at Ho May, about 2km from the other harbour. Larger, with 50 seats set up in two rows of three, and equipped with an air-con system and two flat-screen TVs, the boat also had around 20 passengers. For some reason, this trip was flatter and more comfortable, not bouncing so much on the water. As with my ride to Vung Tau, the

journey to Saigon took one hour and 30 minutes.

Bus or Boat? With most people travelling between Vung Tau and Ho Chi Minh City by road, the arrival of the new speedboats has brought back some competition. Still, many Vietnamese prefer to travel by bus. “Buses [to Vung Tau] are cheaper, from VND80,000 to VND100,000 per trip. And I find it safer than boats,” says Hue from Vung Tau. “Although I suffer from car sickness, I think it will be worse if I go by boat.” But Cedric, a French tourist travelling around Southeast Asia for six months, whom I met on Petro’s speedboat, admits he prefers the boats. “It’s more relaxing, not stuffy like buses. Plus, the scenery is just beautiful,” he says. For ticketing and boat schedules, visit greenlines-dp.com for Greenlines DP and taucaotoc.vn for Petro Pacific Express

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Take a Seat

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Zoe Osborne and Mike Palumbo avoid the high-speed, aircon buses to the provinces and instead take a trip on clapped-out local vehicles to My Tho. Here’s what they find


sk anyone in Ho Chi Minh City how to get to the Mekong Delta, and they will probably point you to Phuong Trang (FUTA) or another big, reliable bus corporation. But for all their reputation, speed and comfort, travelling on these closed-off, air-conditioned coaches can be rather mundane. Perhaps for this reason, a small minority of the Vietnamese population still prefer to go local. Mien Tay Bus Station sits about 30 minutes’ drive from Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1 and is the beating heart of bus lines for the Mekong, spitting hundreds of buses out onto the Highway 10 artery every day. Here, a few privately-owned minibuses hide under the shadow of their towering counterparts, with homemade signs in their front windows stating where they came from and where they are going. You will find the bus to My Tho on the far left of the station, next to the exit gate. All the smaller buses at Mien Tay are the private property of the people who drive them. They are not regulated — the owners simply rent a parking spot so that they can pick up customers. The driver of our bus, Dat, lives in My Tho. “This bus only travels between My Tho and Ho Chi Minh City, and we own it,” he says. “We make the journey several times a day.”

Di Di! Getting onto his bus, we are greeted by an array of gold seat covers and a conical hat jammed into the railing above our heads. A thick, frilly curtain about 20cm long sits like a fringe around the top of the windows and does nothing to keep out sun and dirt. The windows are darkened, like giant sunglasses, and most are cracked a little to let the outside in. There is no air-conditioning. I eventually find myself squashed in the window seat next to a surprisingly sturdy woman of about 70 named Ba Trang, who carries an ancient plastic bag and wears what may have been pyjamas. She leans across me and shoves the window wide open. Ba Trang is not going to My Tho. “I’m going to Tan An to visit my family,” she says.

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“We will celebrate the anniversary of the death of a family member, and then I will return to the city. Tan An is before My Tho, and I hope the bus stops.” The young woman in front of us is also going home to visit family, and as we begin to talk I realise that most people in the bus around us are travelling for a similar reason. Millions of people across Vietnam make journeys like these every day, in fact FUTA Bus Lines claims to serve over 20,000,000 passengers per year nationwide. If these are the statistics of one company, imagine how

much more the total sum could be. Vietnam relies on its buses. As we drive, the ticket lady suddenly rises from her seat and begins to lurch around the bus like a well-worn sailor — it is time to cough up. Each person pays VND31,000 regardless of where they are getting off, and we continue our journey. By then, the sun is so hot that I have put on my facemask and zipped up the hood on my jacket until only my eyes peep out, like some kind of navy-blue penguin. With the window wide open, thanks

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Vinh, Vinh Long and even as far as Rach Gia. With almost half the day gone already and our stomachs growling, we decide to explore our surroundings rather than go further. My Tho seems to be the mecca of vegan cuisine. The road from the bus stop down to the Tien River is peppered with com chay and noodle joints, offering a steaming bowl of tasty hu tieu chay or a big plate of rice and tofu for around VND10,000 to VND12,000 per person. Judging by most people’s reaction to our posse of three, foreigners don’t often wander around in My Tho. We eventually find the river and walk along it, marvelling at the brightly coloured fishing boats moored at the riverside and enjoying the clean Delta air, before winding our way back to the bus station.

16 and On the Road On the way back to Ho Chi Minh City, I sit next to a young woman of 16 named Duyen who seems to be carrying her whole life on her back. “I am meant to be a student at this age, but I don’t want to study,” she says. “I am a nha phieu luu — an adventurer — I want to see many new places, so I have decided to work.” Duyen is from Dong Nai Province, to the north of Ho Chi Minh City, but she has been working at a roadside drink shop in My Tho. She has just quit her job and is returning to her home town, making the six-hour bus ride alone with evening fast approaching. Struck by her boldness, I ask her what her parents think about her living and working so far from home, but she tells me she doesn’t know. As we drive, we try to make sense of each other with my broken Vietnamese. Duyen tells me she wants to go to China. “I am studying Chinese,” she says. “It’s so hard to pronounce, so I listen a lot and train my ear and hopefully this will help my speaking too. I don’t want to stay with my family. After I go home I will go somewhere else and work there.” And as the bus pulls up to Mien Tay and we all pile off, I watch her walk away into the evening.

Ve Roi to the indomitable Ba Trang, the wind whips through everyone’s personal space, dragging the road and its fumes with it. The men behind us light up to blow their cigarette smoke into the mix.

The Streets Getting off the bus at My Tho, we are greeted by the usual throng of idle taxi men waiting for an easy customer. My Tho Bus Station is a large, open square, with 10 or so distinctly stagnant-looking buses, all waiting in a line. The bus back to Ho Chi

Minh City sits under a small shelter near to the front of the station. To its left is a bus to Ben Tre, the next province, and to its right is a clan of sleepy cyclo drivers. “You can get to Ben Tre, then Tra Vinh, all by local bus,” says Dat, our bus driver. “Just ask the people at each bus station and they will tell you which bus to take.” The whole system seems based on chance — you don’t know which buses you’ll find until you get to a place. But there are many local buses going directly to other cities back at Mien Tay. Local buses run to Tra

It is just after 6pm when we arrive back in Ho Chi Minh City, having left My Tho about two-and-a-half hours earlier. The bus back had been decked in magnificent green and gold trimmings and blasted icy air-conditioning at us from the moment we stepped inside. Having made this day trip and met the people we met, I can’t help but wonder what would happen on another local bus on another day to another place. You can complain all you like about comfort and punctuality, but at the end of the day you never know what to expect on a local bus, and that’s exactly what makes them worth trying.

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e h T

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l b Ca

r a C e

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It’s controversial and it’s brought litter to the summit of Vietnam’s highest peak. Yet as the visitor numbers attest, people just love the cable car to the top of Mount Fansipan. Words by Amelia Burns. Photos by Julie Vola


ansipan is Indochina’s tallest mountain and is located in the Hoang Lien Son mountain range. It’s a long one to three-day hike up to the summit, or at least it used to be, until last year when the Doppelmayr-designed cable car made its debut. Now, the Guinness World Record breaking cable car soars to the peak of the mountain in a mere 20 minutes over the sublime views of the rice paddy fields, making you feel like you’re on top of the world.

Litter and Degredation? Yet this cable car is a controversial topic in Vietnam, with many thinking it’s a lazy man’s way out. “The cable car takes away from the experience of climbing Fansipan,” said one person I spoke to. “Climbing a mountain should be for those who wish to challenge

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themselves, not those who want to take the easy option.” But Vietnam is not the first country to jump on the cable car bandwagon. France did it in 1991, with the Aiguille de Midi in the Mont-Blanc massif, and it has since been a popular and easy way for people to see a mountain summit they might never get to otherwise. So why can’t Vietnam have the same opportunity? Concerns have also been raised about environmental degradation. The cable car provides access to up to 2,000 guests per hour, resulting in people littering, defacing, and generally disrupting the serenity and the environment. Although these are reasonable concerns, they have been considered throughout the design and building process and many rubbish bins have been installed. As we discovered, people did leave behind their own personal memories in the

form of graffiti, a natural human behaviour or impulse that goes back to the time of cavemen. Not so welcome.

Walk and Ride However, the journey to Fansipan summit is now a simple, stress-free one. You can take a taxi from Sapa town, for around VND50,000 to VND60,000. From there, you arrive at the cable car station, purchase the cable car tickets for VND600,000, and the optional funicular tickets for VND100,000 extra. After taking the breathtaking 20-minute trip through the mountains and valleys, 100 or so stairs under stone paifangs (Chinese gateways) and past pagodas take you to the funicular which transports you to the summit. Or if you choose, you can walk. It’s only 600 steps these days. The cable car tickets can be bought at the station once you arrive for VND600,000. The funicular costs an extra VND100,000

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Stra n in th gers e Nig ht

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Vu Ha Kim Vy gets on the commuter train from Saigon to Bien Hoa and meets passengers who have travelled the length and breadth of Vietnam. Photos by Bao Zoan and Vu Ha Kim Vy


n 1881 construction started on the 70km railway line from Saigon to My Tho. Completed in July 1885, the rail network was gradually expanded to the whole country. During the war, the country’s railways were heavily damaged and it was only in 1986 that Vietnam was able to restore its main railway lines and stations. Today’s network is better and faster than it was 10 years ago. If in the past it took two days to travel from Thanh Hoa to Saigon, now it only takes one-and-a-half. Train travel is affordable and offers attractive scenery from the comfort of an air-conditioned environment, and new services like the commuter service from Saigon to Bien Hoa have sprung up. Tickets can even be booked online. However, the most interesting aspect of train travel is the human cargo it carries. On the train from Saigon Station in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 3 to Bien Hoa and back, these are some of the people I met. THE SAIGON TO BIEN HOA TRAIN

Saigon to Bien Hoa trains run every day. Depending on the type of seat and train, the fare costs between VND26,000 and VND34,000. The trip takes 40 minutes. Visit dsvn.vn for the full schedule and online tickets.

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“I am taking [my son] home to leave him with my mother. [I and my husband] have been here six years and are both factory workers, and busy and not able to take good care of him. He’s skinny, isn’t he? It’s better to leave him with my mother.”

“My eyes have a problem so I had to go to Saigon. It was not a one-time treatment, though. I had to go back and forth many times. But this time was the last treatment. I am going home for good. I stayed at a family place in Saigon for a week. Everything in Saigon is expensive. Good to be back home.”

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Thanh AGE 28 DEPARTURE: Saigon DESTINATION: Danang “I used to work in Saigon, sometimes as a worker, sometimes as a delivery guy. But then I came back to live at home, as my mother wanted. I am going home after having my stomach checked by the doctors. Not sure when the treatment will end.”


“I am waiting for my mother to come back from Thanh Hoa. She’s 84 years old and is travelling alone. I didn’t have the time to go with her and she wanted to visit her family. The trip started at 9am yesterday and the train is supposed to be here at 3.30pm today. This train trip used to take longer, two days and two nights, it’s faster now. “I don’t want her to travel by plane. It’s so complicated and I don’t want her to get lost. I came to Bien Hoa from Thanh Hoa in 1990 and decided to settle down here. I asked my mother to move in with me many times. Eventually, she did.”


Tam AGE 60 DEPARTURE: Thanh Hoa DESTINATION: Saigon “I am visiting my nephew who is working in the army in Saigon. I come to Saigon once every year, as I only can afford that. Life in Saigon is fun but everything is expensive. You know? I’m a farmer, and agriculture is dying now.”





“I’m from Bien Hoa and married to a Saigonese man. I come to Bien Hoa three or four times a week to visit my family. I travel by train because my husband’s house is next to the train station. Plus, it’s quicker than by bus. The train normally just takes 40 minutes to get back home, while buses require around 1.5 hours.”

“I used to work at a clothing company in District 12 in Ho Chi Minh City. Then they moved to Binh Duong and I couldn’t follow them. Plus, the salary was not that high and sometimes we had to work overtime. So I quit, but they didn’t pay me the final salary due and other insurance fees. I am coming back to Saigon to collect what I’m owed.”

“My whole family live in Saigon but my wife and I went to Hue to visit relatives and for a holiday. Our ancestor house is in Hue and it’s looked after by my younger sister. It was a boring trip as it was raining a lot in Hue. We used to go to America before. I bought this hat there. It was US$56. Cheap?”

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d n a H d n o c e S e Th t e k r a M r Ca

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hree years ago, the four different taxes and fees on imported cars meant that Vietnamese car buyers were facing prices more than two or three times the original price. However, as is so often the case in Vietnam, things have changed at a pace no one could have predicted. New cars are becoming more affordable, and one knock-on effect is the creation of a huge second-hand car market. To discover the current state of that market, I put on my metaphorical fake moustache and went undercover as a potential customer. With my colleague taking secret iPhone photos and a convincing backstory prepared, we prepared to meet a few different secondhand car sellers, and gauge what kind of wheels my fake dollars could buy.

Suited and Booted

We’ve written heaps on motorbikes in this publication, but nothing before on cars. Edward Dalton test drives his way into the world of four-wheeled vehicles. Photos by Julie Vola

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At the time of writing, over 3,000 used cars are listed for sale in Hanoi across three different online marketplaces. The first car which catches my eye is a sixmonth-old Volvo XC90, the only luxurious workhorse which has ever challenged Range Rover for the crown of Chief Chelsea Tractor. I don my best suit, and go to check it out with my colleague, as we pretend to be investment consultants needing a decent motor to impress clients. The showroom, Truc Anh Auto, contains a vast collection of second-hand luxurious SUVs and imported German saloons.

Cover Story / Planes, Trains and Automobiles “We respray the older cars,” explains Nguyen Khang, the owner. “It makes them look as good as new.” His claim is evidenced by a pristine BMW 5-series and a pair of white Porsche Cayennes, all more than six years old, yet looking like they rolled off the production line last week. Khang is as sharp in his answers as he is in his appearance, and riffs off details concerning fuel economy, previous owners, performance and admin. “We can help you with everything,” says Khang. “Insurance, registration, servicing… we can do it all.”

a dream, and I can’t deny enjoying the superiority afforded to me by its sheer size. Once back at the showroom, we look around a few other SUVs. Most of the cars he has are six years old or less, and he says the average time between getting new stock and finding a buyer is about one month. The street contains dozens of other second-hand car showrooms, all of which Khang says regularly turnover and update their stock. The market has become more competitive since the government reduced the registration fee on second-hand cars to just 3%.

Va Va Voom

Staying at the more interesting end of a market filled with bland Toyotas and revolting little Kias, the next meeting is with a private seller, who wants US$100,000 in exchange for her two-year-old Range Rover Evoque. The asking price is very optimistic, considering a brand-new top-of-the-range model costs around US$65,000 in the US. We don’t even exchange pleasantries before the key is being thrust towards me for the test drive. With a couple of friends present to help translate and negotiate, the seller accompanies us on a quick drive around the area, telling us to ask questions later. With more than 30,000km on the clock and a surprising amount of turbo lag during the test drive, I am filled with questions to try and justify the obscene

After getting some more information about the Volvo I had come to see, I ask if we can take it for a quick spin around the block. After some deliberation with his colleagues, Khang returns with a key and a nod. As I prepare to drive a car in Hanoi for the first time, I try to forget that even secondhand, this is still a US$130,000 vehicle. Khang tells me the car has only done 10,000km, but when I check the readout inside the car, I find the true number is actually 26,000km. Taking his lead from British second-hand car dealers on that one, then. The test drive is no different to others I’ve done in England; the nervous-looking salesman sits beside me and continues answering questions. The Volvo rides like

Shifty Dealing

asking price. The brakes feel like they’ve had their shiny red discs replaced with wet sponge cake, and there is an oil warning light staring at me from behind the steering wheel. When I ask the seller’s associate for evidence of service history, they are unable to offer anything. The engine is the entry level 2.0L turbocharged model, and it feels like it’s been driven to the moon and back. Despite this, the seller insists she’s only used it for modest driving around Hanoi. A day later, I receive a follow-up message offering me a US$3,000 discount on the Evoque before I’d even made an offer. However, the car would still cost well over US$100,000 once the registration fee and insurance have been added on; both of which the private seller also offered to help with. In a reflection of the second-hand car market back home, I’m unsurprised to learn that if you go private, you’re asking for trouble. At Truc Anh Auto, peace of mind was delivered courtesy of a knowledgeable, professional salesman and the offer of a one-year warranty; two things missing from any meeting with a private seller. For the most comprehensive used car listings, check out muabanoto.vn, muaxe24.com and anycar.vn. The showroom we visited was located at 115 Le Van Luong, Trung Hoa, Hanoi. This street contains many other large second hand car dealerships

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The Train to Sapa

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Amelia Burns and Julie Vola take the train to Sapa. But this is not just any old train they get on. This is the Victoria Express and it’s a little bit special

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fter settling in, it comes time for the train to depart. The silence and stillness of the train carriage ends with the groans and creaks of cogs turning and wheels on tracks, as well as the distinctive noise of the train’s loud whistle. We are on the overnight Victoria Express Train from Hanoi to Lao Cai, on our journey towards Sapa. Although the train ride is not the fastest route, there is a certain charm to boarding a train that’s so old, and styled that way too, with deep red walls and green curtains that give the train a simple yet elegant façade. The Victoria Express Train is a five-star

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journey that takes passengers back in time. Victoria Hotels has owned the train since 1999 when it had just three carriages, including a dining car. They were the first private train service provider from Hanoi to Lao Cai. In 2006, they increased the number of carriages to five but in late 2016, the dining car was removed, although food is still served on the train.

Rocking 20s We start our journey at the Victoria Lounge (Level 10, 115 Tran Hung Dao, Hanoi) at 9pm, where we are taken to the train station

and greeted by neat uniformed women who show us to our cabin and make sure we are comfortable. The train’s simple touches such as the soft pillows with complimentary toothbrushes and bottled water on them are what make it feel so luxurious. As the train starts to rock and sway on its journey to Lao Cai, just standing in the corridor, looking out the window at the city passing by gives you a feeling of being in another era. I imagine myself rewinding almost 100 years, taking the train on my own with a brand-new leather suitcase and my best dresses, laced in ivory pearls and

wearing my cloche hat. I can see Daisy, running away from Tom to finally be with Gatsby. Standing here I can see it all. This feeling is something I will never have got had we made the journey by car. After a bumpy, yet undisturbed night’s sleep, we are woken 30 minutes before arrival with a choice of coffee, tea, or orange juice, and a warm croissant. When the train stops, we are greeted almost instantly with people taking us to our transfers. We are handed fresh face washers and bottled water to refresh us from our long journey, before the hour-long car ride to Sapa.

The Emergence Arriving in Sapa is like arriving in a dream. The fog that had submerged the mountains is finally relieved as the morning sun peeks over the hills, illuminating the greenery surrounding the road and exposing the beauty for which Sapa is known. The cloud reigning over the mountains allows my mind to go wild as I see the ancient legends of Vietnam coming to life. I can imagine dragons, weaving in and out of the hills, faster than any car could go on these roads. When we arrive in Sapa we are shown to the Victoria Sapa Resort and Spa (Xuan

Vien, Sapa), the owners of the Victoria Express Train, where we are staying for the day. We spend the day exploring the town, and visiting Fansipan via cable car before our trip home. The journey comes full circle as we leave Sapa back down the bends and turns of Highway 4D towards Lao Cai. It’s here that we step back on the train and depart again for Hanoi, leaving the magic behind us. Check out the Victoria Hotels website at victoriahotels.asia for more details on the Victoria Express Train and how to purchase train tickets and transfers

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Cyclo Cyclos are an essential part of Vietnam’s history. Yet today, their importance in society is starting to wane. Zoe Osborne talks to the drivers who are determined to cling to their wheels 100 | Word March 2017 | wordvietnam.com

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’ve been working in this business for over 40 years. I’m 65 this year.” Tiny and resilient, cyclo driver Thanh has the air of someone who’s learned to be content with what life gave him. “I grew up near Dong Khoi,” he says. “Before the war, I worked for the former government, and when it ended I spent six or seven months in a re-education camp.” When Thanh got out, he couldn’t find work. So he bought himself a cyclo. In the years after the war, Vietnam’s economy was isolated from the rest of the world under an American embargo on trade that was to last until 1994. At that time very few vehicles were imported, and motorbikes did not become a way of life until the 1986 doi moi policy re-integrated the country into the global economy. Before then, cyclos were society’s staple means of transport. “There were no xe oms or taxis,” says Thanh, “and the bus system was very small, so everyone used the cyclo. At that time I earned a lot of money.” He often used to serve nine to 10 customers per day, earning

up to VND1,000 at a time, the equivalent of about VND1 million today. Like many other cyclo drivers, Thanh also carried goods and supplies for companies around the city. “The strangest thing I have ever carried was a sling of trees,” he laughs. “I still carry things for companies today. They have my number and they call me to work when they need me.” After doi moi, Vietnam’s economy began to develop along with a fast-rising GDP. Foreign investment was encouraged, as was a new focus on tourism, with 1.6 million international visitors recorded in 1996. Tourists came looking for culture, adventure and excitement, and the cyclo drivers’ clientele began to change. Long-time expat Ben Scott (name changed) remembers what life was like for the cyclos in those days, when tourism was still young. He came to Vietnam in early 2000. “At that time most of the cyclo drivers I knew were trying to work with tourists,” he says. “They complained constantly about money, and because they were often short and in debt, some of them would try and

scam their customers. This made other cyclo drivers angry and there were often big arguments and even fights.” Over the years, Ben has observed a decline in the number of drivers working in Ho Chi Minh City. “There used to be cyclo drivers everywhere,” he says. “Not any more. Part of the reason is a government drive to get rid of them. The other reason is that the work is hard, and with more options available, many drivers have found other jobs.”

The Hustle Today, an hour’s private cyclo tour will cost you VND200,000. Most cyclos have a tourist map and they will discuss a route and price with their customers before setting off. Cyclo driver Nam has been working solo for 23 years, but today, freelance work can be hard to find. Local society has little need for cyclos, and tourists are growing sceptical after a number of scam scares during 2016. For Ho Quang Man, owner of The 5 Oysters on the Bui Vien backpacker strip, this scepticism is not unfounded. Working with tourists, Man has heard many stories of cyclo scams.

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“We try to create stable jobs for our cyclo drivers. Drivers register with our company, and then we get in touch when we have work for them. We pay them by the hour, and we have a rewards policy for our best staff” “I would only take a cyclo through a registered tour company, and I remind my guests to be careful when I see a solo cyclo driver approach them,” he says. “Often a driver will seem completely professional and might offer a good deal at first, but the price will go up significantly at the end of the ride.” Hoping to keep the cyclo trade alive and to attract new interest from foreign clients, a number of corporate tour providers are starting to run cyclo tours. They usually get in touch with one of two middlemen to coordinate drivers for a tour. Son, a cyclo driver of over 40 years, is one of them. You will find him lounging on the corner of Bui Vien and Tran Hung Dao, the big boss of cyclos waiting for the next big deal. His cyclo is one of the expensive ones. “Mine is made of stainless steel, and it cost about VND15 million,” he says. “But a cheaper one could be as low as half of that.” When companies call Son, they ask him to arrange a specific number of drivers to drive a certain tour, at a certain time for a certain duration, and Son gathers the cyclos. “The companies only have my number but I have all the other numbers,” he says. “So it’s easier to call me and let me arrange the drivers.” Son’s group has earned itself a

good reputation among local tour companies and charges a cheap but fair rate.

The Big Bosses There is a wide range of companies offering cyclo tours in Ho Chi Minh City. Kim Travel on the corner of Bui Vien and De Tham, offers two cyclo tour options to its clients. “You can take a 15-minute ride as part of our night tour, and you can also create a custom trip with the drivers through our agency,” says sales manager Annie. A night tour with Kim Travel costs customers VND890,000 and the cyclos take VND50,000 for their 15 minutes, but a custom tour just using cyclos is priced by the hour and all payment goes straight to the drivers. Middleman Son charges companies VND100,000 per driver per hour for tours like these, and most travel agents in the backpacker area offer similar deals. According to Annie, most of Kim Travel’s clients who want to ride a cyclo are older. “A lot of Europeans of about 30 to 40 years old want to ride cyclos,” she says. “They like it because it’s less dangerous than motorbike tours and you have time to take everything in.” Kim Travel carefully monitors the safety of the cyclo tours they run, working with the same group of drivers each time and

assigning a tour guide to follow the tour. “Some freelance cyclos are very good scam artists,” says Annie. “But the drivers that we work with take care to keep up their good reputation. They work well and charge a fair price.”

Creating Stability In a society where cyclos are increasingly rare, this new trend of corporate-organised cyclo tours has helped to keep the trade alive, increasing the average cyclo driver’s income and lessening his workload. “Many foreigners don’t trust freelance drivers and are lazy to bargain with them, so it can be hard for cyclos to find work,” says Annie. “We get the work for them, and we also guarantee a safe, reliable experience to our customers.” Most travel agencies on Bui Vien arrange cyclo tours this way, but a few bigger companies offer more carefully regulated trips. Vietnam Adventure Tours uses only registered cyclo drivers. “We try to create stable jobs for our cyclo drivers,” says sales representative Trinh. “Drivers register with our company, and then we get in touch with them when we have work for them. We pay them by the hour, and we have a rewards policy for our best staff.” With more private vehicles in Vietnam than ever before and the wheel of progress in full tilt, the future of cyclos and the history they represent seems based entirely on the tourism sector. For now, they have work, but the demand is thin and with every year that passes, fewer drivers roam the streets. Iconic cultural symbols or simply a thing of the past, at the end of the day these are working men and the question remains — where will they be in another few years?

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Agent Orange in the Central Highlands Two families with kids suffering the effects of Agent Orange. Two different experiences. Photos by Catherine Karnow. Words by Edward Dalton


he photograph is really just an excuse for the experience,” says Catherine Karnow, an American photographer with National Geographic. “Getting out and learning stories, showing emotions; that’s what I want to show in my photographs.” In 2010, the opportunity came to join a project which allowed Catherine to take photographs of families with children who suffer from disabilities caused by Agent Orange, the toxic herbicide dropped on Vietnam during the American War. It allowed her to highlight the difference between two families; one was well supported, while the other was shunned and not helped in any way. “Both families had moments of happiness,” explains Catherine, “but one

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had money for nutrition, funds to build a better roof and so on.” The difference is hard to ignore. The little girl, Nguyen Thi Ly, looks healthy and strong. She can be seen playing physically demanding games or sitting on the back of a bicycle. Her family received support from the NGO, Children of Vietnam. At the time, however, The Tan family, received no such support. The two boys, Tri and Hau, look malnourished, need a wheelchair and help with simple tasks like washing and moving around.

Humanity However, by showing these children in their moments of happiness, Catherine has captured their humanity. Their daily lives, similar to ours in many ways, show them as

people; not objects of curiosity. “I didn’t want to make these photos about me,” Catherine says. “Making clever artsy photos or showing how utterly deformed they are in a shocking and sensational way doesn’t make the right impact.” The impact Catherine has made has already gone a long way. She’s raised thousands of dollars in donations and brought massive awareness to the families she has met, listened to and photographed. The biggest impact, perhaps, is one less seen. “Photography makes these people feel like somebody is paying more attention to them,” Catherine says. “It affirms their existence, and makes them feel like they matter.”

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Food and Drink



The Fat Pig Renowned for its Thanh Oai smoked pork ribs, this smokehouse is said to be a meat lovers’ dream. Our Mystery Diner investigates. Photos by Sasha Arefieva


he Fat Pig lives towards the northern end of Quang An Street in Tay Ho and overlooks the waters of West Lake. We went on a Wednesday evening for ‘Crafty Wednesdays’ — live music, a rib special (VND30,000 per rib) and craft beer draught specials but to our disappointment, the special was not running that day. The restaurant is on the second floor and has an outside area with a bar, and an inside section which allows customers to see into the kitchen. With good music and views, the outside area is where it’s at. We had not booked a table (we were eight people) so we had to sit around a small table inside while we

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waited for an outside table. Our waiter handled everything with plenty of composure; he was patient when we could not decide what to drink, he organised an outside table for us as soon as he could and he tried his absolute best to tend to our every need. In other words, the service was great.

Retro The bar stocks wine, spirits, a wide range of top-notch whiskys and three craft beers: Pasteur Street, Platinum and Barret. I tried the Jasmine IPA draught from Pasteur Street (VND95,000). It was light, carried subtle flavours and made me forget about the rib special disappointment.

Once seated outside, we really started to enjoy ourselves. The Fat Pig has a retro feel to it with exposed brick walls painted in white, blackboards displaying parts of the menu in white chalk and loads of greenery that add life to the décor. In the background, Kings of Leon and Red Hot Chilli Peppers interspersed with some rhythm and blues created a festive feel. For starters we tried the Fat Pig nachos (VND155,000) which had an interesting BBQ flavour. I prefer traditional nachos flavours but others may enjoy this spinoff. We also tried the cornbread (VND55,000) and it was a hit at our table — sweet, slightly crispy on the outside and soft and warm on the inside. We






couldn’t get enough and ordered three more sides of cornbread after the first dish was done. We decided to share mains because we were such a big group. Myself and three others had the BBQ Plate for four (VND1,100,000) which comes with Hoa Binh pulled pork shoulder, Soc Son organic chicken, Cao Bang sausage and Thanh Oai smoked pork ribs (a serving of each of the available meats on the menu). This platter also comes with a choice of four sides. We chose the spicy potato and kimchi salad (VND45,000), smoked mac n’ cheese, spring onion and Parmesan (VND60,000), dirty fries with wild boar, cheddar and spring onion (VND85,000) and

Fat Pig fried rice with wild boar (VND75,000). Even when shared among four people, this was a lot of food.

Shredded Meat The ribs were disappointing; dry and lacking in both flavour and meat. It might only have been our serving though because the other four at our table ordered ribs too and they loved theirs. The chicken was perfectly cooked, moist and tender, and crisped on the outside. The sausage, like the nachos, had an unfamiliar BBQ flavour which I didn’t enjoy. Of all the dishes on the BBQ Plate, the pulled pork shoulder was the highlight. It was full of flavour, delicately shredded and

complemented each of the sides. I dreamt about the pork that night. The sides were okay. I enjoyed the smoked mac ‘n cheese the most — it also contained untraditional BBQ flavours which this time I enjoyed and the large shavings of Parmesan were a real treat. When it comes to meat, I tend to be critical because I come from a country where meat is a substantial part of the diet. I’d still recommend The Fat Pig, especially to meat lovers. The meat is organic, locally sourced and the best I’ve had in Hanoi so far. Add to that the combination of great service, fresh craft beer, good music and, of course, corn bread and you’re in for a meaty experience.

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

Food and Drink

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Bun Thai Hai San Thai-style rice noodle soup with seafood. Is this the noodle soup of all noodle soups? Edward Dalton thinks it is. Photos by Teigue John Blokpoel


urists and patriots look away now. There are fewer soups blander than pho. Without the addition of kumquat, chilli sauce, nuoc mam, vinegar or heaps of MSG, Vietnam’s national dish just doesn’t tickle my taste buds any more. However, the cooler months of spring are the ideal time to enjoy a steaming hot bowl of nutritious noodle soup. Enter bun thai hai san, saviour of the noodle soup concept, and surely one of the greatest fusion dishes found in the capital.

Fusion at its Best The name of this dish translates into English as Thai noodle soup with seafood. Combining legendary Vietnamese street food aptitude with famous aromatic Thai flavours, this dish has everything. One of the best places to sample it is at Long Thuy Hai San (24 Ngu Xa, Ba Dinh, Hanoi). Starting life offering nothing but bun thai hai san, the eatery now offers a variety of dishes including hotpot and pho cuon. However, the majority of customers still only come for their speciality dish, meaning the quality is consistent and the service is swift. Owner Pham Thi Than opened the place

three years ago, and it’s been packed for lunch and dinner every day since then. “The idea came from trying to make Thai hotpot match Vietnamese tastes,” explains Than. “Thai flavours are usually more complicated and spicy than Vietnamese flavours, so we had to adjust the soup to reflect that.” The popular bowls of soup are just VND35,000, and service is non-stop during lunch hours. “Thai hotpot is so popular here,” says Than, “but the portion is too big. That’s why people love our soup so much. It’s a similar flavour but in a manageable portion.”

Flavour Sensation The broth which forms the base upon which this amazing soup is made attacks the mouth on multiple levels. Without adding any additional condiments, it is in equal parts sweet, sour and spicy. The bun noodles are elevated beyond compulsory carbohydrates, as they absorb the rich, red broth and become a taste sensation on their own. Fibre and vitamins are delivered courtesy of a generous mound of leafy green vegetables, cooked only in the heat of the

broth when served. The more al dente leaf stems provide a welcome crunch when paired with a spoonful of soft rice noodles. Arranged on top of the dish like colourful feudal regiments are various sources of fishy protein. Thick, pink prawns sit alongside thin slices of deep fried tilapia fish. Tender rings of squid bob about on the surface, flanked by heaps of crispy fried tofu. Finally, sitting across the top of the dish demanding attention are several plump mantis shrimp. Even the side dish of this soup towers above all its peers. Crispy pieces of quay, served unceremoniously in an old plastic basket, seem to have been specifically designed with this soup in mind. After a few brief moments of being submerged in the broth, the batter-based quay take on the flavoursome liquid like a delicious, greedy sponge. Fusion cuisine can sometimes be a bit hit-and-miss, but magical things can happen when a country famous for its street food has a go at making a dish using flavours from a country famous for its complex, aromatic components. Try it at Long Thuy Hai San, 24 Ngu Xa, Ba Dinh, Hanoi. Open from 8.30am to 10.30pm

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Food and Drink



Koh Thai Nguyen Hue The contemporary Thai food chain is expanding. So our mystery diner headed down to their latest outlet on Nguyen Hue. Photos by Mike Palumbo


’m no stranger to Koh Thai Bistro. I’ve eaten the lunch special at Koh Thai’s Vivo City mall location in District 7 on many occasions and it’s always met my expectations. It’s consistent in taste, service and price — prerequisites for happiness with any dining experience. Now, Koh Thai has a new instalment in District 1 on Nguyen Hue — well, almost on Nguyen Hue. It’s located on the ground floor inside Saigon Garden Centre, a newish courtyard hidden away from the walking street, accessible by a wooden gangway at 99 Nguyen Hue. Look for Starbucks and Coffee Bean cafés. Go in between them, proceed to the end and turn right. On this night, a helpful staff

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member dressed in traditional Thai garb greeted me with a wai and a sawasdee ka before ushering me inside. A nice touch.

Friendly Staff Koh Thai has taken over some space once occupied by The Society Bar & Grill. The decor hasn’t changed except for perhaps a splash of purple here and there — something often associated with many things Thailand. I wondered if I was in the right place, but the friendly staff assured me I was. No framed portraits of the king, flaking gold Buddhas or carved wooden elephants collecting dust here. As a result, Koh Thai fits in nicely with the rest of the tenants occupying the courtyard. The atmosphere inside is welcoming despite the mismatch

of the decor and the type of food I was about to eat. The hip-hop playing over the speakers — an odd selection — was kept down to a level loud enough to discern the tune, but quiet enough to chat without interference. The mirrors on the ceiling are a tad off-putting, but they don’t detract from the space’s pleasant ambience overall.

Large Menu I tried to order a Singha, then Beer Chang, while I looked at the menu, and was puzzled that Koh Thai didn’t have either. I was informed that the bar hadn’t been fully stocked yet owing to the restaurant’s recent opening, but as a concession, I would receive 20 percent off my bill as an opening promotion. I couldn’t complain about that.







I settled on a Stella Artois draught (VND90,000), probably the best option on the beer list. For nondrinkers there’s a choice of teas (all VND60,000) among other options, but drinks aren’t what you go to Koh Thai for — it’s the food. The menu is extensive. There are five soups, 11 salads, eight appetisers, eight rice dishes, 16 noodle options, 12 vegetarian choices, 11 house specials, 13 dishes with vegetables, five curries, and five desserts. Quite a dilemma for someone as indecisive as me at the dinner table.

My Order For starters I chose the fish cakes with plum sauce (VND188,000). One serve equals four large medallionsize cakes enough for two or three people as an appetiser. They smell

great and are cooked with fresh ingredients judging by their flavour, although they were on the rubbery side and threatened to bounce off my plate into a neighbouring diner’s lap at any moment. If they had, I would’ve ordered more anyway. The tartness of the plum sauce lifts the flavours of this starter to an even higher level. Next up was the tom yum sweet-and-sour soup with king prawns (VND188,000). It’s soupy, moderately spicy and with plenty of prawns — although calling them king-size might be a stretch. Still, Koh Thai’s tom yum is always in my order, because it doesn’t disappoint. Then came the massaman curry with Australian beef (VND238,000) and plain steamed rice (VND20,000). The sauce is rich, peppery and spicy.

Marvellous. You’ll find small pieces of potato and onion in there too. If there was a letdown, it would be that the beef could be slightly more tender — detracting from an otherwise tasty dish. Finally, for dessert I ordered the sticky rice with mango and coconut ice-cream (VND88,000). It was fresh and cleansing, something I recommend to round off what proved to be yet another tasty food experience at Koh Thai — as expected. Give this new outlet in the chain time to iron out any teething problems, and it will get even better. Koh Thai is located at 99 Nguyen Hue on the ground floor of the Saigon Garden Centre, Q1, HCMC. Open for lunch 11am to 2pm and dinner 5.30pm to 11pm daily. For bookings phone (08) 3914 1111

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

Food and Drink

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Hot Vit Lon One of Saigon’s most famed street cuisines is also one of the most gruesome. Yes, it’s boiled duck embryo. Words by Vi Pham. Photos by Zoe Osborne


esides comfort food such as pho or com tam, there is one iconic street snack which can tickle your curiosity and terrify you at the same time: hot vit lon (balut). Remaining one of the world’s most bizarre foods, hot vit lon — duck egg embryo boiled and eaten in the shell — has long been a distinctive feature of this ubiquitous sidewalk dish. Besides being good for pregnant women and nutritious for babies as it helps to cool down body temperature, there are other reasons why the consumption of this food is vibrant.

Lucky Duckies The name hot vit lon literally means a duck that has turned its body upside down (to get ready for hatching). Because of this name, many people believe eating hot vit lon can reverse their fortune. But for this to work, the number of eggs eaten must be an odd number — one, three, five etc. Some people even crush the shells after finishing to ensure the bad luck cannot get back inside. I am not superstitious, but I must admit there have been several times when I was in need of a change, and something unexpected would take place after eating hot vit lon. This aside, the food is a bonus for students’ pockets too. There is a reason why hot vit lon is most popular near university and college campuses in Vietnam. Most students who pursue higher

education in cities like Saigon are from rural provinces, with limited financial support. Many have to rely for sustenance on instant noodles. For them, hot vit lon is an affordable and healthier replacement, with VND20,000 being enough for three eggs to fill the stomach. The hot vit lon business has long been a choice for street sellers who want to start their own food stall with a modest budget. As it does not require complicated amenities to set up a hot vit lon street stall, anyone can start the business, as long as they know the recipes — boiled, fried with tamarind sauce or butter-dipped. "I work as a cleaner in the hospital during the day, and then run this stall from 6pm,” says Mrs. Hong, a hot vit lon seller on Quoc Huong Street in District 2. “This allows me to use my time and gives me a second source of income.”

A ‘How To’ Guide to Eating Hot Vit Lon As simple as the cooking is, eating hot vit lon is not easy. Besides the duck inside the shell, hot vit lon has the ability to cool down your temperature, so it is recommended to eat it with rau ram (Vietnamese coriander) or ginger, which can warm you up and is usually served with the dish, to balance the taste and the heat. The correct way to start is to put the

smaller part of the egg into the cup and the bigger part facing up. This rounder and larger part is where the broth remains, which you can sip from after peeling off the shell flakes. The more recent the egg, the smaller the duck and less horror for you to enjoy. There are many ways to find out if the egg is new, or is about to hatch, but the best way is to shake it. If the egg is fresh, you will barely hear anything at all since both the duck and the rest are still sticking closely to one another. However, if it’s an old one and not far from hatching, it will make a small clattering sound.

Getting Your Fix Here are some places you can try out for clean and new eggs:


107 Xuan Thuy, Q2, HCMC VND9,000 per egg


Opposite 38 Quoc Huong, Q2, HCMC VND6,000 per egg


43 Cong Quynh, Q1, HCMC VND3,000 to VND12,000 per egg

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London, Anyone? / El Nido Photo by Nick Ross

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London, Anyone?

When’s the best time to visit the capital of the UK? Now, says Nick Ross, and with good reason


ake one of the world’s few true international cities and then add in an enigma called Brexit. The result is a metropolis that maintains its pre-Jun. 23, 2016 vibrancy and yet due to a fall in the currency is 20 percent cheaper than it once was. It’s an interesting combination as Londoners, used to the international nature of their home, voted 60% in favour of the EU. They like to travel, like being multicultural, and revel in the mix of peoples and backgrounds that make this melting pot metropolis into what it is. And yet now they find everything just that little bit more expensive on the other side of the sea. This bodes well for people coming in from elsewhere as this once overpriced capital that is the second largest city in Europe is now relatively affordable. Only relatively, though. The average price for a two-star hotel in London is £72 (VND2.1 million), with five-star options weighing in at £232 (VND6.7 million) a night. Vietnam this is not. If you have the cash, and many people based in East and Southeast Asia do these days, now is the best time to visit this oncegreat city. Once, we say, because 100 years ago London was the most important and largest metropolis in the world. Yet despite this lost largesse, London has a little bit of everything. It’s the kind of place where you can do almost anything you want, if you’ve got the money.

Wear and Standard Fare Any first-timer trip to London means taking in the sights and sounds. A few are standouts: Buckingham Palace The London Eye The Tower of London Westminster Abbey Tower Bridge Big Ben Hyde Park The British Museum The Greenwich Observatory Madame Tussaud’s The Tate Modern The Globe Theatre The Natural History Museum The Science Museum The Shard Camden Market

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Then there’s the shopping — much cheaper now than it once was. The typical sheep pen for shoppers not in the know is Oxford Street in the city’s West End. Those who are a bit more savvy head to the London Designer Outlet next to Wembley Stadium. Expect to pay 25% to 50% less for everything you buy. But for the real clothes shopping bargains they head to Bicester Village, an hour by train from the capital. Here the brand-toting shops sell last season’s stock at cut-down prices. There’s a reason why coachloads of Chinese tourists end up here — they know they’re in for a bargain.

The Real London? These are the standard attractions, great in their own right. But if you really want to get a feel for this city, you need to look elsewhere. It’s what the AirBnB brigade have done — there is a reason why the most popular in-house room rentals are in Shoreditch, just to the east of the city centre. The place in one short word is ‘cool’. But it’s not just an area home to some of the most eye-catching graffiti, Sunday markets and nightlife you’ll come across in the capital that is worth visiting. It’s other enclaves, too, that make this city tick. Take the Stroud Green, Finsbury Park area of North London, home to the parliamentary constituency of the leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn. At night

the place lights up with cheap yet excellent restaurants, bars and pubs, and a certain vibe that says modern, trendy, metrosexual and generally just ‘cool’. It’s also the location of the Emirates Stadium, the home of Arsenal FC. The stadium offers regular tours and is an eye-opener into the money-rich, TV-friendly Premier League. Of course, if Arsenal and its long-serving manager, Arsene Wenger, are not your cup of English tea, then you could visit West Ham, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Watford and even Tottenham Hotspur. So obsessed are some tourists that I often see them waiting in groups close to the Tottenham Hotspur training ground in Enfield, cameras at the ready, as they hope to catch a glimpse of the players. Although it doesn’t have a football club on its doorstep, and was often associated with riots, violence and deprivation, Brixton in South London has also embraced the upwardly mobile, nightlife friendly vibe. As have other areas like Dalston, Hackney, Islington and in fact anywhere that was once seen as being run down but has changed. Then there is the need to explore. With its tiny streets and architecture often dating back hundreds of years, London is a treasure trove. Tourists tend to use the South Bank as their starting point for getting lost. Located to the east and west of London Bridge

“[The fall in the British currency] bodes well for people coming in from elsewhere as this once overpriced capital that is the second largest city in Europe is now relatively affordable. Only relatively, though�

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“Whatever you come to London for, whether it’s the great restaurants, the pubs old and new, the nightlife, comedy, theatre, musicals, museums, history or the shopping, there’s something for everyone”

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Station, along the riverfront you will find alleyways and cobblestone roads as well as attractions like Borough Market, The Globe, The Tate Modern, The Shard, Tower Bridge and a view over the river to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. Others will head to Hampstead or Highgate to the north, or closer in to Clerkenwell and Farringdon and wander around the northern edge of the City of London, or perhaps take a bicycle down the Lea Valley Canal from Tottenham Hale all the way down to Canary Wharf, the modern business district on the banks of the River Thames. Passing through Clapton, Hackney, Stratford and Limehouse, the canal offers a snapshot of the city as seen from the river, with architecture new and old, riverboats, pubs, cafés, rowing clubs, wildlife and an escape from the city’s traffic. Then there are discoveries like the under-utilised Emirates Air Line on the far side of Docklands. A cable car

operated by Transport for London (TfL), that runs five minutes walk from North Greenwich Station on the south side of the River Thames through to Emirates Royal Docks on the opposite bank, the views are spectacular. Yet both locals and tourists just don’t know about this service, and only costing £3.40 (VND98,000) for the ride, this one’s a must for anyone who wants to see the city from above. Whatever you come to London for, whether it’s the great restaurants (food in this city has received some top accolades over the past 15 years), the pubs old and new, the nightlife, comedy, theatre, musicals, museums, history or the shopping, there’s something for everyone. And with a favourable exchange rate for tourists between pound sterling and just about every other currency, now might be the time to bite that Brexit bullet and book a flight. You never know, you might even like what you find.

Information Vietnam Airlines fly direct to London Heathrow from Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Alternatively, flights with good connections are operated by the likes of Air France, Emirates, Qatar Airways, Thai Airways and Cathay Pacific. To get the really cheap flights, download the app Fareness. A return trip can cost as little as US$541 (VND12.4 million) with the likes of China Eastern. For hotel and apartment bookings, avoid booking.com — we’ve heard a few nightmare stories. Instead try agoda.com. And of course, AirBnb is a great option. Expect to find a decent room close to the London Underground for £30 (VND870,000) to £40 (VND1.2 millon) a night.

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El Nido

With Vietnam closed down for Tet, Vu Ha Kim Vy headed to El Nido in the Philippines for a brief respite 132 | Word March 2017 | wordvietnam.com

“The first morning greeted me with blue skies. Silky golden sunlight pierced the clouds. El Nido looks like Halong Bay but with fewer islands scattered in the sea�

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l Nido is located on Palawan Island in the Philippines and there are two ways to get there. You have to fly out from Vietnam to Manila, then get on board a domestic flight from Manila to Puerto Princesa. Even though I booked three months in advance, it cost around US$400 (VND9 million) for the round trip. From Puerto Princesa, you either take a minivan (US$28 per person) or a bus to go 250km in five hours to get to El Nido. Another way is to fly direct to El Nido from Manila. There is a private airport in El Nido but it is mostly used by politicians, celebrities and the rich. Whatever route you choose to take, it’s a long journey. To make it there in one day, I left Saigon on a plane at 1am. After travelling for 15 hours, and awake for 35 hours without sleep, I was drained, passing out on my hotel bed. El Nido has all range of hotels and resorts. I stayed at La Casa Teresa (VND1 million for a night for a standard room) located south of the town centre, close to Marimegmeg beach. To go to the centre, you can either rent a motorbike (US$12

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per day) or hop into a tricycle (US$1 from the outskirts to the centre). It’s better to have a motorbike.

Sun, Beaches and Seafood The first morning greeted me with blue skies. Silky golden sunlight pierced the clouds. El Nido looks like Halong Bay but with fewer islands scattered in the sea. It stretches for several kilometres from the edge of a mountain range to the sea. There are many beaches. However, only two or three sections are wide enough for sunbathing with food and beverages served on the spot. Other smaller beaches are used as wharves, in particular the beaches in the centre of town. Due to the rocky shoreline and the abundance of coral, boats called outriggers, which have a steel balancing system on either side, are regularly seen. If you want to get out of El Nido, you can drive 25km to the north to where Nacpan Beach is located. Here, two thick, white strips of sand draw curves into the coastline, meeting at a mound jutting out into the sea. When I visited there were few tourists, giving me more privacy

and a sense of self-indulgence. I placed my towel on the sand and lay on it to get a tan. For those who love surfing, Duli beach, located next to Nacpan, is the local Mecca. People in El Nido eat rice at every meal. Even street food including charcoal grilled chicken or pork intestine is served with rice. Don’t worry. There is also pork, chicken wings, fish and crab. Prices vary from place to place, but a cold San Miguel typically costs around US$1 and a cocktail US$1.50. If you crave seafood, you can find it at international restaurants in the town centre or drop off at the local market, located opposite the two main gas stations of El Nido (US$3 for a full tank). Seafood here is abundant and affordable (US$2.50 for a 500-gram snapper or US$3 for a 700gram crab). Nothing beats a seafood BBQ on the beach at sunset.

The Centre The centre is a small tourist town and unlike elsewhere in the Philippines, the majority of tourists here are westerners. Hotels, international restaurants, cafés,

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souvenir shops and tour agencies take up every inch of the streets. During the day, parking is free and you can leave your motorbike anywhere you wish. However, the area is pedestrianised after 5pm. I didn’t exchange enough money at the airport and had to look for an ATM. According to Google Maps, there are four ATMs in El Nido. I parked my motorbike at the front of the El Nido Municipal Hall and headed straight up to the ATM.

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“Ma’am, you have to go to the First Consolidated Bank to withdraw money,” a staff member sitting next to the ATM said. “I don’t know what happened to it.” I heard that some other tourists could not withdraw their money at other ATMs. So, I decided to have a simple dinner at the hotel. El Nido is still developing. Although it has electricity, it has no street lights. If you stay in a hotel in the centre, it’s okay, with lights from shops guiding the way. But

driving from the outskirts to the centre is dangerous after dark due to the winding mountain roads. Yet at night, El Nido is full of tourists searching out nightlife. Electricity used to be cut off from 10pm until 6am, and all activities closed down. Some bars and restaurants still follow those hours, but Sava — a beach bar suggested by tricycle drivers for a late night out — is open until 3am.

Internet is also a problem in El Nido. In order to have a few minutes on Facebook to let family and friends know I was still fine, I had to leave my hotel and stop at La Salangane — a French restaurant-cum-hotel located on Serena Street to have a few bottles of San Miguel and access the Internet. It was a bit better here.

Other Activities Two Scottish guys I met admitted that they could go scuba diving every day with different

agencies providing trips to different dive sites. Depending on how many dives you want to do in a day, the price starts from US$40 per person. And if you haven’t got any diving certificates, snorkeling is another great way to view the corals and marine life. Island hopping is also popular and travel agencies offer three tour options designed for different groups of islands. Snorkeling and kayaking are included as part of the deal. Depending on your choice of islands, the

price starts from US$24 per person. Another trip is to the local waterfalls, called Nagkalit-Kalit. Located on the way to Nacpan Beach, according to the man working in the parking lot, you may need a guide as it’s hard to find the falls. It’s also dangerous walking through the jungle. The cost for a guide is US$20. Visit elnidopalawan.com for more info about flights, buses, hotels, restaurants and activities in El Nido

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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.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 well- appointed rooms and suites, of which 138 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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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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NHA TRANG COSTA NHA TRANG HOTEL & RESIDENCES 32 – 34 Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Tel: (058) 3737 222 thecostanhatrang.com Located in the heart of the city, The Costa Nha Trang Hotel & Residences is a symbol of modern living thanks to its luxury oceanfront residences. From a beautiful day on the beach to the great nightlife of Tran Phu Street, this is the perfect place to experience the best of Nha Trang. EVASON ANA MANDARA AND SIX SENSES SPA $$$$ Beachside Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (058) 352 2222 sixsenses.com/evasonresorts/ana-mandara/destination 2.6 hectares of private beachside gardens and villa–style accommodation furnished in traditional native woods, this resort offers verandah dining, a pool bar and the signature Six Senses Spa. JUNGLE BEACH RESORT $ Ninh Phuoc, Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (058) 362 2384 junglebeachvietnam.com On a secluded promontory north of Nha Trang, this budget place is all about hammocks, the sea, the jungle and nature. MIA RESORT NHA TRANG $$$$ Bai Dong, Cam Hai Dong, Cam Lam, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (058) 398 9666 mianhatrang.com NOVOTEL NHA TRANG $$$ 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 $$$$ Ninh Van Bay, Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa, Tel: (058) 372 8222 sixsenses.com/resorts/ninhvan-bay/destination The upmarket Tatler magazine voted top hotel of 2006. The location is stunning, on a bay accessible only by boat. SHERATON NHA TRANG HOTEL AND SPA $$$$ 26 – 28 Tran Phu, Tel: (058) 388 0000 sheraton.com/nhatrang

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 con-

tinues 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.

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 wellappointed travellers’ joint has a great bar and restaurant area, a swimming pool out back and views overlooking paddy fields and mountains. Rooms start at VND600,000 for a twin or double, with a family room for five costing VND1.4 million a night.

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

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.

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.

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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Day Tripper: The Bamboo Craft Village / The Alchemist / The Therapist / Bar Stool / Coffee Cup / Top Eats / Book Buff / Starting a Family / Medical Buff Photo by Julie Vola

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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

DAY TRIPPER Diane Lee and Julie Vola head to the village where all those bamboo hand-crafted goods come from


e should have known better. Day tripping during Tet is risky business; almost everything shuts down. Phu Vinh was no exception, but because of the way things often pan out in Vietnam, it was still an adventure, although not quite the one we expected. An easy 45-minute journey from Hanoi by motorcycle, and you arrive in the village of Phu Vinh. Renowned for handwoven bamboo and rattan handicrafts, visitors can wander around a charming village, browse shops and buy products direct from friendly locals. Or so we were told.

The Trouble With Tet Riding into the village, we stopped at Chua Phu Vinh temple. Strolling through the gates, we were greeted by a paved plaza,

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swept clean and lined with kumquat and peach trees in large pots. There was a hum in the air and I tracked the noise to a pergola on the right. Women of all ages were talking and drinking tea, and taking their turn to enter the temple to pray and make offerings. One of the women explained they were a women’s group who met to enjoy Tet. The village itself was deserted, and eager for signs of life (and commerce), we peered into yards containing well-tended vegetable gardens and walked empty alleys. We followed the promising trail of bamboo hoops stacked high under bright tarpaulins to a villa. The owner invited us in and explained, through mime, that she made hula hoops. Not quite what we had in mind, but we did meet the matriarch of the house, her blackened teeth a reminder of beauty standards from a time past.

The Bamboo Craft Village

With assurances of bamboo shops, we were directed towards the high school. Children on bicycles and motorbikes indicated we were close, but we were distracted by a ghost housing development in the distance, drawn to streets full of houses that had never been finished. It was a photographer’s dream; all urban decay and overgrown vegetation. The overcast sky and cool humidity contributed to the eerie feel. The development could have been used as the set for a zombie apocalypse movie and I was on high alert for signs of the undead.

The Kindness of Strangers Heading back towards the high school, we drove slowly through the streets, finding long bamboo poles stacked in tepee formations or in rows, but little activity. We

were about to give up, when we glanced up an alley to see three women sorting bamboo strips into neat piles. After watching them, we were ushered into a large workroom and were given a demonstration of bamboo blind making by the women. This demonstration was a festive affair, and a small group of men and women, young and old, gathered, keen to impart the techniques of blind-making. I was reminded of weaving, as twine on heavy stones was flicked over and under strips of bamboo, hands a flurry of action. The group chatted and cheered as we watched on. By this time, it was lunch, and looking for somewhere to eat before heading back to Hanoi, we were invited into the home of one of the men in the group. Of course, we couldn’t say no, and the family was happy

to feed a couple of wandering, curious westerners — even with my fussy “no meat” request. We exchanged pleasantries, and promised to return after Tet. And that’s the thing about Vietnam; it surprises and delights you in ways you could never imagine. Phu Vinh, despite being closed for the New Year, was open in other ways.

Getting There Get to Dai Lo Thang Long Highway and drive west for around 10km. Turn past Splendora Housing estate onto Cau Vuot An Khanh Road. Drive a short distance, and you will find Phu Vinh Village on the right.

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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.


0915 066096



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

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

AGS FOUR WINDS 41A Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3938 8762 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 LANLINH PROPERTY RENTALS

38 Hang Hom, Hoan Kiem, Tel: Tel: 0933 534999 houseinhanoi.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 environment on the lotus ponds of West Lake, away from the confusion of Hanoi’s busy streets. Provides treatments including oriental ritual, massage, facial and waxing.

51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6281 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 THE FITNESS VILLAGE 68, Alley 50, Lane 310 Nghi Tam, Tay Ho, Tel: 01627 333078 thefitnessvillage.vn Set in a tranquil garden, The Fitness Village is Hanoi’s most unique gym. Offers fitness, dance, yoga, and Pilates classes along with a fitness room and a swimming pool a few minutes from West Lake. VIETCLIMB CLIMBING CENTRE

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


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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recently watched an interview between a human rights activist and a woman speaking on behalf of mothers. The topic discussed was the controversial recommendation by the British Medical Association for doctors to refer to pregnant women not as “expectant mothers” but as “pregnant people.” The decision is an attempt to recognize the rights of transgender individuals. The spokesperson for mothers felt that she and all pregnant women were being denied the right to be recognized as mothers, that a part of their identity was being stripped from them. The more I listened to the woman’s argument the more I realized that she was allowing her sense of identity to be threatened by a decision imposed by an external entity.

Trance State Society is constantly trying to shape us. From the moment we are born we are given labels — boy/girl; mother/

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father; fat/thin, etc. The media and our cultures in general are relentless in the social programming of the members of its society. Many conform to this programming and fall into what psychologist and researcher, Charles Tart, calls a cultural trance. In the trance state we easily conform to roles imposed upon us by society. A person’s identity, however, cannot be taken from them if they have a strong self-definition. If one’s sense of validation comes from an internal perspective of their own knowing and self-confidence, then they are less affected by external perceptions.

Maintenance Work Maintaining a strong sense of self will help one overcome perceived threats to their self-worth. The following suggestions can help one to manage any such threats. Assess your emotional health. Are we able to regulate our emotions without too strong a need for others? Without a


balanced sense of self, we can become uncertain of ourselves and seek approval and validation from others. Spend time alone. Research studies show that spending time alone can be good for self-discovery as well as freedom from concern about what others think. Venture into the realm of quantum physics. Explore how consciousness affects reality and how language is inherently limited. Through this exploration one may find that words cannot define us and that within our consciousness lays the truth of our limitlessness. In this realization we recognize that our identity cannot be defined by something outside of us nor can it be put into words, you simply ARE. Karen Gay, A-Roaming Bodyworker, is a holistic health practitioner practicing in Hanoi. For information on the types of services provided, visit a-roamingbodyworker. com

Hanoi Essentials

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



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


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

22-23 Le Thai To, Hoan Kiem

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


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, Today is Valentine’s Day and I am feeling miserable. My love life is a complete failure and I am fearful that I will live a life of loneliness. Around me I see happy couples and babies, while I sit at home and try to find things to do to distract me from my loneliness. I feel pathetic even writing these things. I don’t know what is wrong with me or if it is me. I am not a bad person and see no obvious reason why no one seems to want a long-lasting relationship with me. I date occasionally, but nothing seems to last. I am trying not to lose faith in men, but sometimes they seem so shallow and only interested in passing flings. I am 35 years old and past the point where that will work for me. What can I do? I hope it is not too late. — Blue Valentine Dear Blue Valentine, I hear a lot of feelings in what you are saying. You are sad, discouraged, fearful, lonely, confused, frustrated, mistrustful, feeling more desperate, less hopeful — all of it a kind of misery. Those feelings are your challenge because they create the lens through which we see life. I am not saying that you are to blame for feeling the way you do, but rather, that we each bear the responsibility for our feelings and the impact they have on our lives. Right now your feelings are getting in the way of living life fully. Let’s step back to understand where our assumptions may also influence how

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we feel. It is a difficult truth to accept that not everyone finds a love life that is in line with what they imagine for themselves. We are fed romantic notions that we will fall in love and live happily ever after from the time we are quite young. We have days like Valentine’s Day to celebrate love between couples and to perpetuate this as a mythological ideal. Reality tells us a different story. Many people, inside and outside of relationships feel less than satisfied with the relationship status they have. Some estimate that only about 15 percent of couples are happy in the romantic sense, after their initial infatuation. Divorce rates also suggest that sustainable compatibility is not an easy thing to accomplish over the long run. Many couples stay together for the sake of the kids, or because it is socially unacceptable to go on with separate lives. What I am saying is that it is not a good idea to assume that life will promise you a happily sustainable love life. It is when we accept this and live our life without the assumption that happiness is a given, we can find ourselves embracing the reality that is ours. So, it means when we are single, we find ways to live with the advantages that come with it. We cultivate our interests, our curiosities, our opportunities, some of which do not exist when we are coupled or with family responsibilities. Solitude and independence can be gifts to those who know how to receive them, and are more available to those who are not sharing decisions and


responsibilities with others. Of course there are parts of life that might be missing, as there are when one is coupled or deeply in love. Empowerment is the idea that a person can accept and able to embrace what is, which leads to a very different set of feelings than the ones you are feeling. Yes, I know that it means we have to look differently at life because when we focus on what we want, we don’t always get it. What we “want” is a construct of a hypothetical reality. It can serve to guide our choices, but hinders us if we believe that we are entitled to it. When we accept what is and regulate our feelings we become more positive in our approach to life and, actually, are more likely to get what we want. When we live a life of fear and feel disappointed and discouraged when life doesn’t give us what we want, we undermine the energy that attracts good things to us. Valentine’s Day brings up these feelings for a lot of people — it holds up a mythological ideal that makes many people feel like they are failing in a part of life. It might be important to grieve your aloneness since it is not what you want or hope for. But it is important as well to overcome the intensity of those feelings and to embrace the life that you have. I wish you well, 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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t the foot of Hanoi Creative City, Bia-Khu 9 is a ramped up, bia hoi style restaurant and bar, with a huge Vietnamese food menu, and lots of beer. The bar sits comfortably next to the skate park in this massive space — Hanoi’s premier spot for youth culture and entertainment. To begin with, they only serve beer, so if you’re looking for a cocktail menu, go elsewhere; they have a bottle of vodka in the fridge, but that’s about it.

Beer, Glorious Beer The beer is certainly a hallmark feature of the décor too — entire walls seem to be built entirely of empty beer bottles, and the bar is definitely not running low on the stuff. A glass of bia hoi costs VND10,000, but the atmosphere here is more upmarket than your average blue plastic chair watering hole.

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The space is made up of a main bar area downstairs, with slate floors, wooden tables and chairs, bare red brick walls, and a giant propaganda-esque mural of a soldier and a farmer sporting outstretched arms, imploring a busy barman to refill their pints. There’s also a TV for screening football, and an outside seating area and upstairs is an open-top area full of seating, begging for a sunny day. There’s a good selection of bottled beers to choose from including Heineken, Tiger Crystal, Truc Bach and Hanoi; the prices average around VND30,000.

Godzilla’s own Menu The menu is too big — totally overwhelming. There are hundreds of food options to choose from. All of the food is Vietnamese, and the prices range between VND50,000 and VND100,000 per dish. The quality is good, and the portions are generous. Think meat, rice, fried

noodles, seafood, soups, salads and just about anything else you’re liable to find in Vietnam. While relatively quiet on weeknights, Friday brings the crowd, and also the live music, with bands playing anything from rock and blues to Vietnamese classics. This is certainly a place to come with a group of friends, the long wooden tables want you to fill them with food to share around, the atmosphere demands that you leave your hassle at the door, and the staff come across as the kind of people you know you can crack a joke with. The bar is close to Rec Room, and of course, the many events put on at Hanoi Creative City are on its doorstep. If you’ve never been before, then come on a Friday night, when the place really gets interesting, or on an afternoon when the sun’s out. — Billy Gray Bia-Khu9 is located at Hanoi Creative City, 1 Luong Yen, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi

Bia-Khu 9

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ne of the best things about Hanoi is the hidden cafés. Better yet is the surprise you get when you come across a café you’ve never seen before on a street you go down every day. Coffee & Chill Station (12 Cau Go, Hoan Kiem) is one of these cafés, located in the Old Quarter, right by shoe street. The large café opened in July last year, and is growing each day. With something for tourists, expats and locals, Coffee and Chill Station is a walk away from Hoan Kiem Lake, and with parking out front, it’s easy to drive to if you’re coming from outside the Old Quarter. The building used to be a hotel. A “very old, dirty hotel” according to owner Hien.

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The 26-year-old entrepreneur has turned the dusty, run-down, hotel into a bright, modern café. But it doesn’t stop there; the six-storey building includes an abundance of old hotel rooms, which he is turning into his own business playground. The second floor, which used to hold a restaurant, is used as a second space for the café, suitable for group meetings. This room is also popular in the evenings for groups of locals to get together and play card games and chess. Accompanying the large room on the second floor are two smaller rooms that used to be hotel rooms. One is being used as a vape shop, which is frequented by both locals and foreigners. The other, a clothes shop, has not yet

Coffee and Chill Station


opened but keep your eyes out if you visit the café. And ask about what else is going on, as in the future Hien has plans to open up the higher floors for other businesses.

Well Balanced The café has a selection of fruit teas, fresh juices, and coffee, both Italian-style and Vietnamese, all between VND25,000 and VND50,000. The coffee is made from Arabica coffee beans grown in Dalat, and they serve all of the typical Italian-style coffees. The teas are made using a blend of Ahmad tea with added raw ingredients to finish off not only the presentation, but also to compliment the flavours of each tea. Their speciality teas include orange and

lemongrass, orange and cinnamon, and rose and aloe vera. According to one customer : “[They serve] really good ca phe sua da, which although is a staple in Hanoi, it's often not the perfect balance, so that’s definitely a thumbs up. And the flat whites are arguably the best I’ve had in Vietnam.” The orange and cinnamon tea gave a welcome warmth to the mouth with the cinnamon a subtle additive, rather than an overpowering flavour. You can also buy small Mr. Chef’s cheesecakes to eat there or take home for VND40,000. As well as distributing delicious drinks to the public, Coffee and Chill Station also stocks a range of small notebooks with

Vietnamese-style artwork adorning the covers, designed by Tuyen Pham. You can buy these for VND20,000 to VND60,000, as well as some postcards for VND20,000. Coffee and Chill Station, a modern feel café with ample space and street parking, is a great place to meet friends for a drink close to Hoan Kiem Lake. Power outlets at each table and a decent Wi-Fi connection make for a great place for those coffee shop laptop workers to show off. The staff is friendly and the music relaxing and quiet. — Amelia Burns Coffee and Chill Station is at 12 Cau Go, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi and is open every day from 7am to 11pm

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Hanoi On the Town

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

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

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

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


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

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

5 Dinh Tien Hoang, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3936 3228; Opera House, 1 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem; Hanoi Towers, 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem 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

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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. MOC CAFE CAFE / INTERNATIONAL

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


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

Nha 15, 76 To Ngoc Van, TayHo 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. THE HANOI SOCIAL CLUB CAFÉ / CONTEMPORARY EATERY

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.


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.


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 CAFÉ 129 MEXICAN/COMFORT FOOD

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





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


32C Cao Ba Quat, Ba Dinh 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.


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, French-

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

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

33 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 5831 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. EMM CAFE URBAN CAFÉ & BRASSERIE

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

11 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3824 7280; 99 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: (04) 3718 6991 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. FOODSHOP 45 INTERNATIONAL INDIAN

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 TOP-END GRILL

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.


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.

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


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

10B Quang An, Tay Ho Tel: 01247 668668 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. J.A.F.A. INTERNATIONAL

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.

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

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 expat communities who come back again and again. The comprehensive menu is a fusion of western and Asian cooking. The cocktails come large and the wine is mainly New World. KOTO ON VAN MIEU RESTAURANT / CAFÉ / BAR

59 Van Mieu, Dong Da, Tel: (04) 3747 0337 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

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. LA VERTICALE CONTEMPORARY FRENCH

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

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

Fortuna Hotel, 6B Lang Ha, Ba Dinh, Tel: (04) 3831 3333 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.



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

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

11 Hang Hanh, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3828 7207 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.

Sofitel Metropole Legend, 15 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem,

TWO GREAT CHOICES FROM OUR EXTENSIVE MENUS USDA SDA Prime Dry Aged Beef Steak or our twice Ground USDA Prime Beef Berger, both never frozen, and Wood Fire Grilled to your specification and perfection ( your choice of sides and sauces included) International nternational Modern & Comfort Cuisine - Live Music Now Thursday thru Saturday 166 Quang An - Tay Ho - Hanoi | Tel: (84-4) 3 719 2828 | 3 719 3719 www.dons-bistro.com | donchef@donviet.vn

*** ** Free Tuborg Beer with any Berger till March 31, 2017



ushi, sashimi, gyouza, sake and some mean cocktails. Japanese food started becoming popular in Hanoi around 10 years ago, and a succession of restaurants has since opened to cash in on the trend, but few possess the discipline and quality that makes for a real sushi experience. Kisu Sushi was opened nine months ago by Master Dinh, a Vietnamese-born sushi master with 26 years of experience, who learnt the art of sushi making in West Berlin from the acclaimed Japanese sushi master Yoya Matsumoto. The philosophy at Kisu is to serve the

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real sushi experience in its traditional form. All of the fish used here is imported daily from the famous Tsukiji market in Tokyo. The rice is grown especially in Japan for sushi preparation, and the wasabi is not the usual power mixed with water concoction, but real, fresh wasabi. To put it in black and white, this may be the closest you’ll get to Tokyo without leaving Hanoi. The design of the restaurant is an elegant Japanese style, simple and bold with dominant reds and blacks over dark wood flooring and tables. Upstairs is a private area with tables in separate booths able to serve between four and 14 diners, the privacy

making it an inviting setting for a corporate party or a reunion with close friends. The first floor offers a more casual setting.

Balance For starters, I try the gyouza (VND89,000), dumplings made of wheat and egg filled with minced pork and a light onion. This is a traditional Japanese dish and is cooked to perfection; the balance of flavour is spot on. The first main on the table is the sashimi deluxe. At VND2.49 million, it’s certainly not the cheapest option on the menu, but the evident quality of each sashimi piece quickly makes up for it. The dish includes the highly

Kisu Sushi


prized blue fin tuna stomach, shrimp, sea urchin, salmon and flying fish caviar. Most of the pieces melt on the tongue, while the tuna belly takes a little more work from the jaw. Alongside this dish I have a Name of the Samurai cocktail (VND130,000) — a mix of Japanese whisky, amaretto, lime and pineapple, topped off with a chilli kick. The cocktail menu is divided into two sections, for men and for women, each with five Japanese-inspired drinks to choose from.

Enter, Sushi Contrary to popular belief, sushi originated in China during the 2nd century, not Japan. It

was introduced in Japan at the end of the 18th century and has since been evolving as sushi masters create their own interpretations of the art. Master Dinh is no exception to this, and his own invention, Kisu ura-maki is included in the second dish that I try. The sushi (Set 3) is a mix of nigiri, maki and roe — caviar — and costs VND559,000. Each bite of the sushi sends you into a light daze of euphoria, exaggerated afterwards by a glass of imported sake. A light dip of soy sauce on the fish, and a small dab of wasabi midway through eating it will unlock a combination of flavours that you won’t soon forget. After refreshing my palate with some fresh

ginger, and accepting an invite to another glass of sake, I order the matcha ice cream for dessert, it’s the perfect finish to the experience, and is complimented by the waiting staff’s attentiveness throughout the meal.

Overall Kisu ticks all the boxes for a great sushi restaurant. The fish is fresh from Japan, the preparation is exactly what you’d expect to find in a quality establishment, and the service leaves you feeling a lot like royalty. — Billy Gray Kisu Sushi is located at 65C Tran Quoc Toan, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi

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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.

On the Town


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

46 Tho Nhuom, Hanoi, Tel: (04) 3935 2400 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. NAN N KABAB 49 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: 0922 087799 Specialising in Pakistani cuisine and of course nan bread and kebabs, this semioutdoor, bamboo tabled, laid back eatery also sells fare from Afganistan and India. In a sentence? Curry, but not as you know it.


The Opera House, 1 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: (04) 3933 4801 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. PANE E VINO PAN-ITALIAN

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.

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


57 Bui Thi Xuan, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: (04) 3944 0204 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

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.



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



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

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



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

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

WRAP & ROLL 5th Floor, Trang Tien Plaza, 24 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem Tel: (04) 3824 3718 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

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

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


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

10 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem



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



13 Lo Duc, Hai Ba Trung PHO TRON MIXED PHO

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

23 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem





18 Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho

44 Hang Hom, Hoan Kiem



ne of these is Look by Iranian born American poet, Solmaz Sharif. Sharif uses military terminology from the U.S. Department of Defence Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms in her texts, in upper case letters, appropriating them a sense of humanity, even using them in intimate scenarios between lovers. She fashions her poems into grieving requiems about the collateral damage inflicted on innocent civilians in modern warfare. She uses her own family’s traumatic experiences to illustrate how war mongers use bland euphemisms to desensitise us into acceptance of horrendous violence and carnage. Look references the military meaning of the word: a period during which a mine circuit is receptive of influence. One of the book’s most quoted verses attacks the personalization of warfare: Daily I sit with the language they’ve made of our language to NEUTRALIZE the CAPABILITY OF LOW DOLLAR VALUE ITEMS like you.

constant threat and attack, and it’s not just me that’s happening to. Somehow, I want the work to show that every time you’re washing the dishes, every shower, every grocery trip — that’s all informed by this violence, whether we’re seeing it or not.” BuzzFeed news highlighted the poem Social Skills Training, below: “Studies suggest How may I help you officer? is the single most disarming thing to say and not What’s the problem? Studies suggest it’s best to reply My pleasure and not No problem. Studies suggest it’s best not to mention problem in front of power even to say there is none. Gloria Steinem says women lose power as they age and yet the loudest voice in my head is my mother. Studies show the mother we have in mind isn’t the mother that exists. Mine says: What the fuck are you crying for? Studies show the baby monkey will pick the fake monkey with fake fur over the furless wire monkey with milk, without contest. Studies show to negate something is to think it anyway. I’m not sad. I’m not sad. Studies recommend regular expressions of gratitude and internal check-ins. Enough, the wire mother says. History is a kind of study. History says we forgave the executioner. Before we mopped the blood we asked: Lord Judge, have I executed well? Studies suggest yes. What the fuck are you crying for, officer? the wire mother teaches me to say, while studies suggest Solmaz, have you thanked your executioner today?”

Satire and Sanity

Look is an important feminist book and was influenced by Audre Lorde’s essays on the erotic. But underlying Sharif’s writing, as she puts it, is a feeling that “as a person and especially as a woman, I am under

Sharif studied poetry writing under June Jordan at Berkeley. Jordan was a believer in multicultural values and many students from her programmes became radical poets. One of her quotes was: “The task of a poet of colour, a black poet, as a people hated and despised, is to rally the spirit of your folks… I have to get myself together and figure out an angle, a perspective, that is an offering, that other folks can use to pick themselves up, to rally and to continue or, even better, to jump higher, to reach more extensively in solidarity with even more varieties of people to accomplish something.” This suits the author, Paul Beatty, who won last year’s Man Booker Prize with The Sellout. In today’s politically topsy-turvy world where fake news is gospelized as real news and where alternative facts pound real facts out of existence, there is a huge need for brilliant satirists to proudly make a stand. Beatty, a black man who uses his

talents to lacerate modern America, is a standout. Beatty’s narrator was born in fictional Dickens near Los Angeles which has been literally erased from the map to save California a lot of embarrassment. He sets out to right this wrong by using outlandish and unconstitutional actions such as reinstating slavery and segregating the local high school. As a result, he is hauled before the Supreme Court, which is where we first meet him, stoned out of his mind. Here are two review quotes that I agree with 100 percent: “The first 100 pages are the most caustic and badass first 100 pages of any American novel I’ve read in a decade. I gave up underlining the killer bits because my arm began to hurt.” — New York Times “As Mark Twain so ably showed us, America is rich with material worthy of ridicule. But where is today’s Twain? The answer is Paul Beatty… A book that is uproariously funny, deliciously profane and a ferociously intelligent send up of so much of our culture.” — San Francisco Chronicle Like one reviewer, I had to read this insane book alone with no-one watching because I folded up too often in hysterics and oohed in flat-out awe. 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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hether you are a stayat-home parent or both working, leaving your child and entrusting its life to the hands of a complete stranger is one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to do. I don’t know how many times I’ve been with new mothers in Hanoi and heard them complain that: “You just can’t get good help these days!”


Also, check verifiable references. I’ve heard several stories of mothers who called the reference and discovered it to be a friend of the candidate or the candidate themselves using a different number. It’s perhaps safer to be able to speak face-to-face with a previous employer or find someone through word of mouth from a trusted source or another mother. Or else be very thorough with your background check.

Your Requirements vs Your Nanny Your Nanny’s Requirements While expat families want a super nanny, they must understand that they come with a hefty price. A good nanny can cost anywhere from US$250 (VND5.6 million) to US$500 (VND11.2 million) a month. You have to be very clear about what you want from your nanny and make sure you have it in writing and that you both sign it. You can find someone who is willing to look after the children, fo the shopping, laundry, cooking and cleaning. Would you like your nanny to speak a certain language, have they taken a CPR course, are you sure they can manage in the event of a crisis? A very common trend now is for university-educated woman who speak English well to take on the role of a nanny because they will earn more as your help than taking on a job in their studied profession.

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Again, this will all depend on your nanny and her experience. But with Tet now over, they expect a one month bonus, which is the equivalent of the year-end bonus for westerners. But then there is also a 13th -month bonus which is also the equivalent of one month, but for the entire year’s work, or at the end of a yearly contract. Plus a yearly salary increase of 5% to 10% and all the Vietnamese vacations off to spend with their family. If your nanny is working full-time, she may expect full payment even when you are not in Vietnam (which isn’t her fault, and she is a full-time employee), during the weeks or months when you return home for the holidays. Some nannies are also not willing to do laundry or cleaning, and consider themselves as child carers not housekeepers.


Mother vs Nanny There is also a risk you take with allowing someone else, namely your nanny, to raise your children. Your child could see the nanny as the help, have no respect for her and treat her terribly, as well as learn to manipulate her in every way possible. This means that your child grows up without the essential lessons of becoming a well-rounded individual. With no responsibility and not having to be accountable for their actions, your child could end up a spoilt brat. On the opposite side, you could come home to a multilingual child, who now prefers to speak in Vietnamese at the dinner table, and only answers to the nanny. You risk losing those important years when your child is most susceptible to manners and etiquette and will mirror the person they spend most of their time with, the woman raising them, the woman they may consider to be their mother and may even call her that, the nanny. You could come home to a child who cries and will only be soothed by the nanny, the woman who has now become your full-time stand-in. Finding the perfect fit for your family is not easy, so I wish you good luck. There are plenty of good and hardworking nannies out there. Just take your time to find her. If you have any comments or queries, please email me at lee@wordvietnam.com




ne of the most devastating experiences a physician faces is to see a patient with a condition that is completely preventable and treatable — but because the patient presented it too late in the course of the disease, that condition is no longer curable, or can only be partially treated even with the most invasive and aggressive techniques. Cervical cancer is exactly that kind of condition. Cervical cancer is the result of an infection by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) — anyone who is sexually active (including vaginal, anal or oral sex) is at risk. Even having sex just once can put someone at risk, although repeated contact at a young age with different partners does pose a much higher risk. There are many types of this virus, including about 40 that cause the majority of infections leading to cervical cancer in women and penile warts or cancer in men. Two of the types that are especially harmful (causing the most cancers) are HPV type 16 and 18. Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in Vietnamese women after breast cancer.

canal. Second, even where early malignant changes do occur, it is still not visible to the naked eye. Third, this infection does not cause any symptoms until the cancer has progressed. Once that happens, symptoms such as irregular menstrual bleeding, bleeding after sex, and pain can occur, depending on the size and location of the cancer. So what can be done to prevent or treat cervical cancer/penile warts in the early stages so that it doesn’t progress to a point that is harder to treat or incurable?


Exposure HPV infection has two stages: (1) a person is exposed to it; and (2) the body responds to it. If the body can fight it off, the person will not develop cancer; otherwise the HPV will overcome the person’s immune system and cause cancerous changes in the person’s normal cells, causing malignant transformation of those cells. It can take many years between exposure and the development of cancer. “Wait a minute,” you might ask, “wouldn’t I know if someone I’m having sex with has a raging HPV infection”? Unfortunately, no—most people who have an HPV infection do not show any outward signs until it’s too late. First of all, the cervix where the infection/cancer initially occurs is not visible to the naked eye, being well-hidden inside the vaginal

There are two methods — receiving the HPV vaccine, and detecting the onset of cancer at an early stage when it is completely curable (compared to cancer that has progressed to the later stages, becoming bigger in size and infiltrating the surrounding organs). At this time, there are three vaccines that are FDA approved — all three of them targeting types 16 and 18, the most virulent strains of the HPV virus. Receiving one of these vaccines is recommended in the US for girls and boys starting from 11 to 26 years old to help your body make antibodies that fight against HPV virus when your body is exposed to them, which is why it’s better to get it before someone becomes sexually active. “So if I’m 21 years old and already have had sex, can I still benefit from this vaccine?” Absolutely. Just because you’ve had sex already does not mean that you’ve been exposed to the strains of HPV that are virulent, such as types 16 and 18 — and if you do get the vaccine, your body still has a chance to make antibodies that can fight

against the virus if you’re exposed to it in future. The vaccine is also recommended for gay and bisexual men up to the age of 26 years old, as well as anyone who has a condition that makes their immunity low (such as HIV). “Now that I’m 28 years old, have not received the HPV vaccine and am sexually active, what can I do to prevent cervical cancer?” Early detection is key — if you’re a woman, make sure you get your Pap smears regularly. The Pap smear is a test that looks for suspicious changes in the cells lining the cervix indicating the potential to transform into cervical cancer. As soon as this is discovered, measures are taken to treat and monitor this to prevent fulminant malignant transformation.

High Risk HPV tests are now available to look for the presence of high-risk strains of HPV. Some studies now indicate that HPV tests may be more effective than the traditional Pap smear test in identifying early cervical cancer, which is why many institutions are considering making the transition to replace routine Pap testing with HPV tests. Condom use can be beneficial in preventing the spread of HPV, but are not enough to protect against all HPV infections — as any skin-to-skin contact can spread the virus. The HPV vaccine, Pap smear testing and HPV testing are all available in Vietnam. There is a lot of information available on this topic, and we’re not able to include it all in one sitting. Just remember. Cervical cancer is preventable. Dr. Jane Shadwell-Li is an internist at Family Medical Practice. You can contact her on dr.jane@vietnammedicalpractice.com

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Day Tripper: Chau Pha / Body & Temple / Know Your City / Terence Taylor’s Saigon Stories / Bar Stool / Coffee Cup / Top Eats Photo by Vu Ha Kim Vy 166 | Word March 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

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

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

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DAY TRIPPER On the way to Vung Tau you’ll come across a mountain range called Chau Pha. Zoe Osborne goes out there to explore


f you want fresh air and lofty mountain views, get on your bike and head towards Vung Tau. Just over two hours from Ho Chi Minh City, the mountains of Chau Pha are not inland, as you might expect, but sit in an otherwise flat plain close to Vietnam’s southeastern coastline. A day’s visit to these lush oases amounts to a pretty significant road trip, but many people still make the journey for work, faith or simply for a chance to adventure. About halfway through your journey, take a slight detour from Highway 51 and loop through the town of Long Thanh. You will soon pass Cong Vien Cong 3A on your right. This eerie park was empty of life on the Monday we passed through. There is an abandoned playground as you enter and the rest of the park sits around an oddly peaceful lake.

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Resourceful Chau Pha is a resource-heavy area, home to one of the country’s most significant power plants, countless industrial parks and local mining operations. There aren’t many options for food, but if you head down the main road you will eventually pass by Quan An Huong Dong Quan, a streetside com joint. It is run by a group of aunties, populated by a few placidly indifferent dogs and hung with hammocks. We paid a mere VND60,000 for a generous meal and tasty iced tea and asked for directions to the mountain road. Nui Bao Quan and Nui Suong Mu sit side by side, with one track ascending between the two peaks. The road is about 10km from the highway to the very top, and you can drive the whole way. The mountains are home to a number of temples, and most visitors to the

mountain come to pray for family and friends. The first of these temples sits 4km from the highway, and a kilometre above that is a collection of roadside coffee shops and bike parking areas, capitalising on a creek that lies just off the road. There are no designated parking areas for people who want to climb the mountain, but if you have time and are itching for some exercise then leave your bike at this spot and join the many young couples strolling around Suoi Tien. About 1.6km up from this is one of the strangest Buddhist temples we had ever seen. Chua Dieu Linh is home to one Buddhist monk, Thanh, a collection of bedraggled canines and a host of gaudy statues flecked among the trees like plastic priests. Thanh lives off temple donations, spending his days alone in robes of orange to tend to the complex,

Chau Pha


make offerings to the deities and add more bizarre statues to the temple ranks.

Isolation A man named Phu and his wife were visiting the complex when we pulled up. He had driven to Nui Bao Quan from his home in Ho Chi Minh City, to pray for good health and prosperity. According to him, the mountains at Chau Pha are mostly Buddhist with a wide variety of temples on and around their slopes. Chua Dieu Linh is one of the most isolated, but many people come all year round to offer money and prayer in exchange for blessings. “First you say your name, your age, and then you ask Buddha to bless your parents, your family, your friends and finally you,” he explained. “Most people ask for health,

for food to eat, for money, success and for happiness.” Phu took me to the largest shrine at the complex behind three sticks of elaborately inlaid incense. He prayed first, bowing his head to the carpet on the temple floor and then putting a note into the donations box beneath the shrine. “You can give whatever you have,” he said. “Two thousand or 500,000 — it doesn’t matter. Give what you can give, and ask with respect.” Driving down the mountainside again, we passed countless groups of local people in exercise gear, mostly 50 years and older, walking up the slopes with inspiring ferocity. We took petrol from an ancient roadside pump vendor and waved goodbye to flocks of school kids on bicycles around the fields below, then turned right and hit the road home.

With its mines, mountains and monks, Chau Pha is a strange place. But if you have the time for a day of exploration or a fascinating stopoff on the way to the sea then it is well worth the visit.

Getting There Drive up the Hanoi Highway and continue onto Highway 52. Take a right onto the Highway 51 at Bien Hoa and follow it to My Xuan. Turn right onto My Xuan — Toc Tien, then right again onto Hac Dich — Toc Tien and a final right onto Ba Ria — Chau Pha. To return, loop under the mountains and back onto Highway 51, retracing your drive back to Saigon.

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re you trying to improve your fitness, lose body fat and get your body to function better? Generally, people turn to running, swimming, cycling, or maybe a team sport like football, etc. Science and the latest fitness trends are proving that these are not the best options. The main reason is that these activities do not require the body to travel through a full range of movement at every joint. For example, when you jog, your hip isn’t even moving through 50 percent of its full range. A revolution in fitness has been happening for the past five to six years. Everyone is talking about High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), but most are missing the actual important components. Yes, HIIT is very good but HIIT workouts can’t just be about high intensity if you want to get amazing results. To get the best results… and I do mean you can achieve all three goals of losing fat, improving both function and fitness in the one workout! New exercise formats like ZUU, MetaFit and F45 are rapidly spreading across the globe. The reason for this is because they work. All of these workouts are high intensity but more importantly they focus on having participants move through a full range of motion at all joints, they select whole body movements that challenge coordination and stability while working in short time periods at maximum effort. There are pros and cons of correct HIIT training. Some cons related to full-rangeof-motion HIIT are that it’s not a workout for lazy people. If you’re going to do it, then you can’t half-ass it. If you’re told to bear crawl for 30 seconds, then you better perform an all-out bear crawl for 30 seconds. It might help to imagine yourself being chased by a cheetah. HIIT can definitely impair recovery. It’s generally not a workout that you can do every day. If you do HIIT every day, then you could

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be looking at some serious overtraining problems. With these cons in mind there are amazing benefits to full range of motion HIIT. Time-efficient. You no longer have to slave away on the treadmill for 60 minutes at a time. Just 15 to 20 minutes is long enough. It mimics real life situations where you actually perform short intense bursts of activity. Because seriously, in what real-life situation would you have to run 5km? Reduces risk of injury due to the limited impact while performing the exercise and because joints are being conditioning through a full range of motion Increased aerobic capacity. The amount of oxygen your body can use (oxygen uptake) is increased, so your overall aerobic capacity


can increase faster than with low intensity endurance exercise. Improved insulin sensitivity. Your muscles more readily suck in glucose, instead of the glucose going to your fat stores. Anabolic effect. Some studies show that interval training combined with consuming slightly more calories than you burn creates an anabolic effect, which helps you put on muscle and create a great toned body shape. The opposite occurs with steady state cardio, which for long durations is catabolic. Afterburn. Full range of motion HIIT is demanding on the body, making it a tough workout, but the upside of this means the body’s metabolism is raised for 24 hours postworkout. Put simply, the afterburn effect, also known as EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption), means that the body burns calories at a higher rate than normal after exercise. The more intense the exercise, the greater the afterburn effect. Healthy insides. These types of workouts are especially effective at shifting visceral fat, which is the fat surrounding the vital organs deep inside the abdomen (belly fat). High levels of visceral fat have been reported to be associated with high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure and even types of cancer, so doing all we can to shift it and keep these levels of fat as low as possible is extremely beneficial to overall health. Now is the time to break from the old and learn the new way of fitness. If you want to get as lean as possible, be as fit as possible and be as functionally strong as possible, then you must incorporate full range of motion HIIT training into your schedule. Plodding the pavements is not going to change your body shape nor make you function better. Try the new, better way of exercising. 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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ast month I discussed curtainwall buildings and their effect on the image of the city, and how by their design they heated the city — their air-conditioning systems, while working hard to keep their occupants cool, simultaneously throw out heat into the outside air. This month I will discuss apartment buildings and their contribution to the texture of the city. A city’s planning structure sets the scene for its character. For Ho Chi Minh City, the character was set 140 years ago when the city was established — narrow laneways, treelined connector streets and wide boulevards. A central business area. But importantly the French didn’t separate residential uses from retail or commercial uses, thus the city’s streets became alive with a rich mixture of uses. The texture and thus the character of any city is established by its buildings in three ways; shaping the city skyline with their form and shape; shaping their local community with the way they interact with it at ground level, and shaping the lives of their occupants by the way they deal with the physiology of their inhabitants. In my ideal city, all buildings should give benefit equally on these three criteria. Now we have the arrival of the multistorey apartment building. How do they fit with this character?

1) Shape and Form Apartment buildings give designers more

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choice in how they express their form, however designers are constrained because each apartment must be individually sold (as opposed to a commercial building that has one owner) and selling agents do not like too many variations in apartment types. While buildings have more design scope than the high-rise commercial towers, most are built to a formula and many of these buildings, especially the newer ones end up being bland. (A saving grace for many apartment buildings is the expectation of an external clothes drying area and these spaces make for deep recesses in the building facade, giving the building form a decent start). Some of the blandness is to do with the uniform colour they are painted (often white). But much is to do with the way these buildings carry their weight on external walls. Oddly this is the exact reverse of modern commercial buildings that have lightweight construction at their edges. For apartment buildings, in addition to the lacklustre window placement, and the lack of balconies, is the lack of attention paid to the roof level; the buildings often finish as if someone ran a trowel across their top. There is little contribution to the skyline.

2) Relationship to the Street Many apartment buildings ignore the street by turning away from it, creating exclusive


zones for their inhabitants, guarded by security guards. At ground level, fourstorey podiums are set back from the street and entry is only navigable through stairs and across large vehicle crossings. The intimate connection with the bike or the pedestrian is lost and thus the original street character of the city is lost.

3) Relationship to their Inhabitants The functionality inside the building is often compromised, as high-rise buildings tend to isolate rather than bring people together, completely contrary to traditional Vietnamese culture. In the city’s quest to become another Singapore it must be understood that Singapore has started from a completely different base and culture. The present Ho Chi Minh City pattern of dense three to five-storey buildings is its defining characteristic; it is one of the densest cities in the world. In coping with rapid expansion, of course more residential stock must be built, but that new stock should complement, not ignore the existing city pattern. Ho Chi Minh City is a profoundly more vibrant and interesting city because of its character, and that must be celebrated and enhanced rather than imported from elsewhere. 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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BBGV Members: 2.9 m VND Non-members: 3.5 m VND

RSVP to Anh at anh.ho@bbgv.org or +84 8329 8430 - ext: 107

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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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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.

serves local and foreign students from Kindergarten to grade 12. Talented, certified teachers implement the internationally recognised Ontario curriculum to create a student-centred learning environment promoting academic excellence. Has a newly built campus.

INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL HO CHI MINH CITY — AMERICAN ACADEMY 16 Vo Truong Toan, Q2, Tel: (08) 3898 9100 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 the first semester of 2017/18, featuring Vietnam’s first Innovation Centre, a 350-seat professional theatre, NBA-sized basketball courts and a 25m competitive swimming pool.

CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL 7 Road 23, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (08) 5412 3456 cis.edu.vn The first Canadian international school in Vietnam

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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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 struck by the scale of the place as soon as you walk up the small staircase into East West. It’s a grand arena, and the lofty ceilings match its impressive ambition. The trick is to make the large space inviting without being intimidating, and East West have pulled it off. Lovers of craft beer have recently been spoilt in Ho Chi Minh City, as a new wave of brewers hope to wean drinkers off massproduced lagers towards a more diverse range of tastes and flavours. East West is a brewery first and foremost, and the tanks where the beer is made dominate the eye at the back of the building as soon as you walk

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in. This is intentional. They are proud of the beer they make here and want to show it off. In terms of décor, they had a clear image of what they wanted to achieve with East West from the outset.

At the Bar “We want to raise the bar in terms of design,” says general manager Loc. “We wanted to stay true to the factory style. We’ve left the ceiling untouched and we want to expose as much as the building as possible to get an industrial feel for the place.” The place is beautifully lit, proving industrial doesn’t have to mean cold and

unwelcoming. The wooden beams that adorn the walls give a flavour of what a brewery might have been like in the Europe of yesteryear. The tap room of East West is the drinking bar, and Loc says they wanted to make it feel special. “We wanted to design a very premium bar — not just a bar counter and here’s your drinks.” It complements the grandness of the main room nicely, and is a sociable space to meet friends for a drink after work. You can’t expect to change a drinking culture overnight, so East West has started by introducing their foundation beers to their menu which are designed to introduce

East West Brewing Co.


craft beer to this new marketplace. They have only been open since January, and the team has been pleased with the reaction from the local Vietnamese population. “We can’t just come here, bulldoze in, and say — this is craft beer — drink it. We have to be responsible,” says head brewer Sean. First up is the Far East I.P.A. It offers a local twist on the traditional favourite, and is smooth and soft on the palate with a hint of Asian fruity flavours. It serves its purpose of not being too extreme or hoppy to the craft beer newbie well and sells at VND85,000 for a 330ml glass, or VND110,000 for 500ml. The 12% Independence Stout really

impresses. Often the gut instinct when faced with a beer of that strength is the fear that it will overwhelm the taste buds with sheer alcohol content. I had visions of thick, impenetrable treacle, but this was refreshingly light for a beer that packs such a punch. Its flavours are subtle, but with enough hints of chocolate and coffee to remind you that you’re drinking a stout. It’s a big success and could yet become the signature of East West’s menu. If you don’t know what to choose there is a tasting option, where for VND175,000 you are served four 160ml glasses of beers from the menu. The menu also contains other firm favourites such as the pale ale as

well as blonde and dark Belgian beers, so it would be a fun way of gently dipping your toe into the world of craft ales for someone who is new to it. The beauty of East West is that by having their own on-site brewery, they are able to adjust and tweak flavours until their customers are satisfied. “Every beer is made on a personal level,” says Sean. Here everything is in place to ensure that East West’s craft beer will become a great success, one beer at a time. — Thomas Barrett East West Brewing Co. is located at 181-185 Ly Tu Trong, 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. CHAMPION SPORTS BAR SPORTS BAR

45-47 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3920 4202 A recent addition to the sports-and-watering-hole drinking scene, Champion is located in the Backpackers’ area and shows all the major televised sports. Also has a pool table, darts, tasty Western and Vietnamese food, great cocktails and ice cold beer. Western managed, wonderful local staff. #BeAChampion. CHILL SKYBAR TOP-END BAR & TERRACE

Rooftop, AB Tower, 76A Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2372 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

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. EAST WEST BREWING CO. VENUE & BREWERY

181-185 Ly Tu Trong, Q1 eastwestbrewing.vn If you love craft beer and want to catch a glimpse of the brewing process in a contemporary yet vast and thoughtfully constructed environment, head to East West. A tasty range of on-site brewed craft beer mixes with an excellent food menu and an impressive vibe. ENVY NIGHTCLUB

76 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q1, Tel: (08) 3913 8168 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 LOUNGE BAR

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 SPORTS BAR

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.


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


Tel: 0906 912730

www. vietnammm.com/ restaurants-ben-style


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.


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. INDIKA



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. LA FENETRE SOLEIL


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


44 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 5994 A seductive watering whole in a great corner location thanks to its old Saigon glamour, Japanese-Vietnamese fusion cuisine, imported beer, classic cocktails, and entertaining music events / DJ sets. LAYLA BAR & EATERY 63 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2279

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

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

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 maybe an artisanal cocktail on your way back from wherever, Last Call is your stop — and fast becoming that of the similarly inclined. Great happy hour deals for early evening starters. LE PUB INTERNATIONAL / RESTOBAR

175/22 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 7679 Warm colors, artsy décor and a friendly ambiance combine to create a perfect setting for enjoying tasty international and Vietnamese cuisine. Gets busy at weekends with a clientele made up of hip, young Vietnamese and the occasional foreigner. LONG PHI FRENCH / RESTOBAR

207 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 2704 French-run but universally appealing, Long Phi has been serving the backpacker area with excellent cuisine and occasional live music since 1990. Excellent late-night bistro cuisine. MALT GAMES & CRAFT BEER BAR

46-48 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1 Malt is a non-smoking bar in downtown Saigon offering shuffleboard, darts, craft beers on tap, signature cocktails and delicious tapas and pub grub. Its unpretentious vibe and casual atmosphere will have you feeling at home.

fel Tower, a jungle-like atmosphere and views over central Saigon. O’BRIEN’S IRISH BAR / INTERNATIONAL

74/A3 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 3198 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 pizzas. And for a real treat, check out their zesty rolls. PHATTY’S AUSTRALIAN / SPORTS

46-48 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 0796 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 Eif-


New World Saigon Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1 saigonsoul.com The ultimate in poolside entertain-

ment, Saigon Soul is defined by its great party atmosphere. Booming house music, cold drinks and beautiful people. What better way to spend a Saturday? Runs every Saturday from late November until mid May. SAIGON OUTCAST EVENTS / MAKESHIFT CAFÉ BAR

188/1 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 0122 4283198 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. SAIGON SAIGON BAR LIVE MUSIC / ROOFTOP 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.

the home of Saigon’s Scandinavian community thanks to its laid-back atmosphere and excellent food menu. A good place to watch the live sports. THE OBSERVATORY BAR, ART & DJ SPACE

5 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, (Opposite Elisa Boat) Known for its late night parties and focus on international artists, Observatory is now at a bigger space in District 4. Complete with a new balcony overlooking the Saigon River and an even larger sound system, The Observatory is a key node in the Asian underground music circuit. THE SOCIETY GRILL AND LOUNGE BAR

99 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 3999 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

R2-24 Hung Gia 3, Bui Bang Doan, Q7, Tel: (08) 5410 3900 The first bar established in Saigon South, great food, great music and loads of laughs. Has regular live music nights, theme nights and a variety of live sports events to please everybody. Big screens and outdoor seating add to the mix, with BBQs available for parties and events.


61 Ton Thap Thiep, Q1 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. SEVENTEEN SALOON THEMED MUSIC BAR

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

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hat started out as a couch conversation is now a completed family project. Owner Tam Nguyen collaborated with his sister Phuong and brother-in-law Bruce to come up with an establishment where they can share their love for quality coffee, and a cosy, fun space. The planning and execution took them about three months, but the interest in coffee and serving the people is rooted way back. Indeed, Vietcetera Café is what they have envisioned. “We were just joking about opening a café, but one thing led to another and here we are,” says Tam.

The Vision The name Vietcetera is from a website

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created by a team dedicated to introducing the new Vietnam to local and international readers. When asked about the meaning behind it, Tam gave the equation Vietnam + etcetera = Vietcetera. “It started as a website, and now it’s a café,” he says. “The idea is to elevate Vietnam’s global brand. We want to show the different stories and projects happening here in Vietnam. There have been many changes, so we want to show what the new Vietnam is like.” The café has a very clean and comfortable feel to it. The atmosphere is also welcoming, much like the team behind it. Bruce, the lead barista, shares how proud he is of his team. “Their passion for coffee goes way beyond the preparation. They willingly learnt

Vietcetera Café


everything about the coffee, from the bean, the processing, to the mixing of the drink.” The café offers drinks, some pastries from a local supplier, and desserts like cheese tarts, marble bread, and flan which are baked fresh by Phuong, the baker and head roaster. Their busiest time of the day is in the morning when customers — both locals and foreigners —grab a cup of hot Americano at VND40,000 or a latte at VND58,000. They also have their own version of the Vietnamese-style coffee, which they call Saigon Siblings for VND40,000 and VND59,000 for the ice-blended one. The Saigon Siblings has a nice blend of bitterness from the Arabica beans and sweetness from the milk. Teas from local and international suppliers are also served, with prices ranging from VND45,000 to VND55,000

for both hot and iced. They carry 1872 Clipper Tea and make their own kaya toast, which is inspired from one of the owner’s travels and is his personal favourite.

The Atmosphere The bare yet polished look of their sign along Nguyen Thi Minh Khai draws attention to this café. It is situated along a busy intersection separating District 1 and 3. The wide glass door with wooden accents welcomes you to the café surrounded with neutral colours of white, black, and grey. The café is quite small, but it has two floors. The ground floor is where the open slow bar is. This is where customers can see how their drink is prepared and chat to the team to know more about the coffee, the food or

the website. Artworks and products of both local and foreign artists are also showcased; some are for sale, staying true to Vietcetera’s vision of sharing the stories of people in and about Vietnam. The first floor has more seating and is suitable for getting some work done. You can also get a bird's eye view of the bar there. If you’re looking for a place to rest after going around the city centre or several other districts, Vietcetera Café is a cosy new place to relax and take your mind off things. Business meetings, workshops and meet-ups with family and friends are equally suited to this family project. — JB Jance Vietcetera Café is located at 290 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3, HCMC. It’s open daily from 8am to 10pm

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HCMC On The Town


Landmark Building, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9698 facebook.com/vespersaigon A sophisticated yet downto-earth cocktail bar and restaurant with subtle lighting and one of the best spirit selections in town. Serves creative, Japanese and German-influenced cuisine to supplement the drinks. VINYL BAR MUSIC & SPORTS BAR

70 Pasteur, Q1 Tel: 0907 890623 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. WINE BAR 38 CONTEMPORARY WINE BAR

38 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 3968 With a huge selection of self-imported wines from Bordeaux, this classy but contemporary venue is a wine bar downstairs, and a lounge on the first floor. Has a French-Asian menu paired to all the wines, with a huge selection of the good stuff sold by the glass. XU CAFÉ / LOUNGE BAR

71-75 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 8468 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.

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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 yourself plunging straight into lush greenery. Cafe Thoai Vien serves up a spacious and airy setting to enjoy a quiet sip. From small eats to big bites and everything to drink, it’s a great place to unwind from all that buzz. COFFEE BEAN & TEA LEAF INTERNATIONAL

157-159 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Q1; Metropolitan Building, 235 Dong Khoi, Q1 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

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.


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 window and get snuggly with the comfy upholstery in this second-floor cafe. With a cup of well-brewed coffee, accompanied by some background jazz, it is an afternoon well-spent. THE OTHER PERSON CAFE 2nd Floor, 14 Ton That Dam, Q1, Tel: 0909 670272 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

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.


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


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.


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. CIAO BELLA NEW YORK-ITALIAN

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

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. EL GAUCHO ARGENTINIAN STEAKHOUSE

74 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2090; Unit CR1-12, The Crescent, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (08) 5413 6909 elgaucho.com.vn A themed eatery mixing an Argentinian steakhouse theme with pork, chicken, lamb, homemade spicy sausage, skewers, burger dishes and everything that can come off a grill. Slick service, a good wine menu, and caramel vodka teasers at the end of the meal. Probably serves up the best steak in town. EON51 FINE DINING TOP-END EUROPEAN / ASIAN

Level 51, Bitexco Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 8750 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 CONTEMPORARY VIETNAMESE

The Square, 74/7 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 1676 Highly rated restaurant with stunning outdoor terrace. Specialities include pink pomelo squid and crab salad, mustard leaf prawn rolls, fishcake wraps and barbecue chicken in ginger, onions and a lime leaf marinade.


7 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 1101; The Crescent, 103 Ton Dat Tien, Q7, Tel: (08) 2210 2304 If you’re looking for midrange, aircon Vietnamese restaurants that just seem to do every dish perfectly, then Hoang Yen really is the place to go. The atmosphere may be a bit sterile, but its amply made up for by the efficient service and excellent cuisine. Now with a number of restaurants around town.

striking décor and the bonus of views over the Saigon River. Dishes range from VND80,000 to VND900,000. KOH THAI CONTEMPORARY THAI FUSION

Level 1, Kumho Link, 39 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4423 Modern Thai fusion restaurant serving Thai classics alongside tom yam cappuccinos and more. Koh Thai’s creative cocktails merge Thai flavours with local seasonal fruits and herbs.





Ground Floor, Bitexco Financial Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3915 6066 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

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 din-

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he Pullman Saigon Centre has come up with a novel way to keep abreast of evolving food trends in Vietnam — a pop-up style burger bar. The brainchild of general manager Tony Chisholm, the concept came about in recognition of the need for high-end hotels to move on from “the old historical cliche” of offering just club sandwiches. “The burger is the modern club sandwich,” says Tony. “People are ordering burgers over club sandwiches these days. Once upon a time it was the club sandwich, high tea, and a buffet lunch or dinner, but what I’ve noticed is that hotels are starting to change tack and are trying new things.” It’s another example of the disruption to business-as-usual in the hotel industry at the moment, and is as much about changing

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ways of thinking than just simply throwing money at an idea and hoping it works. Instead of undertaking a wholesale renovation of the hotel’s ground-floor lobby bar, Tony and his team have simply added striking ‘burger boards’ above its triangular bar on each of its three sides to showcase their offerings. The typeface and styling they’ve used give it an Americana feel without going too far so as to be kitsch. From the outside, the eye-catching burger decals on the windows add to the burger joint feel. “I thought with the visibility that we have on the street on both sides, we would try to connect more with potential clientele who aren’t guests staying at the hotel,” says Tony. “We aimed for something a little more lifestyle orientated, breezy and fun, and thus, we settled on this concept.”

Striking concept Indeed, when you walk into the bar, you don’t experience the initial sensation of walking into yet another hotel bar in a lobby. For want of a better word, it’s cool. The staff are vibrant and genuinely look happy to be working here. It looks fun, which has an energising effect on customers, and no doubt on businesspeople who have to while away much of their lives in hotel bars staring into the bottom of a whisky tumbler. But probably the most striking thing about this concept is precisely the question Tony himself had to answer many times during the conceptual stages of his idea: “Who would want to go to a hotel for a burger?” He knew if he could answer this

The Burger Bar


question, then he might be onto something. While confident he had the right answer, he had to convince key stakeholders at Accor Hotels, the group that owns the Pullman brand, that having an Americanised burger joint in the middle of a five-star hotel would work. As it turns out, he did it. For Tony, the answer to the burning question had always been simple: “Who doesn’t like a good burger? So, why not do it?” Now, there’s a burger bar at the Pullman Saigon Centre which serves up top-quality burgers at reasonable prices, and according to Tony, it’s been a hit. “We didn’t go with typical five-star hotel pricing. We went for a stand-alone restaurant concept and as a result 50% of our customers are walk-ins which indicates

to me that they recognise the value in getting a burger here.”

Burger urge? The wagyu burger with the charcoal black bun has proven to be the most popular, making up approximately 60% of sales. Apart from tasting great, much of its success has been off the back of diners being able to personalise their burger by choosing the bun, meat (or not), top-ups and sauces. With ‘free-flow chips’ (a great thing) and depending on whether you order for lunch or dinner, a soft drink or draught beer, it will set you back VND305,000 all inclusive. There are six other burgers to choose from — tuna, pulled pork, chicken, tofu, Italian, soft-shell crab — and each month there’s a special. Last month was a pho

flavoured wagyu burger, and earlier there was a ‘detox burger’ incorporating a salmon steak — with luck it will grace the burger board again soon. While Tony concedes that the burger urge may soon be taken over by a different trend, the beauty of the pop-up concept is that the Pullman Saigon Centre will be able to change with culinary trends in Saigon and maybe even become a culinary influencer itself. “The way I see it, the burger trend will be around for a while,” says Tony. “But if bagels suddenly become trendy, then we’ll pop up a new sign and become a bagel stand tomorrow.” — Matt Cowan Got a burger urge? Drop into the Pullman Saigon Centre at 148 Tran Hung Dao, Q1, Ho Chi Minh City or call (08) 3838 8686 to satisfy it

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HCMC On The Town

ner, this beautifully designed restaurant and bar seamlessly mixes contemporary and with classic. With a menu cooked up by reputed chef Sakal Phoeung, and with a contemporary twist to traditional French fare, this is a place to enjoy the luxuries of fine cuisine and even finer wine. LE JARDIN CLASSIC FRENCH

31 Thai Van Lung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 8465 Unpretentious but tasty French fare in a relaxed garden setting within the French cultural centre. The robust, bistro-style cuisine is very well-priced, and excellent, cheap house wine is served by the carafe. LION CITY SINGAPOREAN

45 Le Anh Xuan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 8371 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.

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. 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






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



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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.


18 Thai Van Lung, Q1; SD04,


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.

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. PROPAGANDA CLASSIC VIETNAMESE / BISTRO

21 Han Thuyen, Q1 Part of the group that includes Au Parc and Refinery, Propaganda serves up classic Vietnamese cuisine in an atmosphere of barebrick walls interposed with Propaganda Art murals and prints. QUAN BUI TRADITIONAL VIETNAMESE

8 Nguyen Van Nguyen, Q1, Tel: (08) 3602 2241; 17A Ngo Van Nam, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 1515 Make sure to try the sautéed shrimps with cashew nuts and crispy fried tofu with lime wedge, at this popular, high-quality, chicly designed eatery where all food is served in traditional crockery. One of the best Vietnamese restaurants in town. QUAN UT UT US-STYLE BARBECUE

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

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



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.

it is, which is why Quan Ut Ut is constantly packed with grill-obsessed diners going for the burgers, meats off the barbecue and Platinum pale ale served on tap.


19 – 21 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 3686 may.restaurant19@gmail. com Casual yet stylish, May places international-style wining and dining in the heart of historic Saigon. Subtle lighting, comfortable seating, an extensive wine and cocktail list, and beautifully crafted comfort food from Europe, the Antipodes and Asia all make up the mix at this multi-floored restaurant and bar. Check out their set lunches and happy hour.

Ground floor, Caravelle Hotel, 19 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4999 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.

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

Lo H29-2, KP My Phat, Phu My Hung, Q7 If you fancy dosing out on ramen and soba noodles, then Osaka Ramen is noodle soup heaven. A typically Japanese aircon environment mixes bar-style seating with booths and private dining. Open late.

RACHA ROOM CONTEMPORARY THAI RESTOBAR 12-14 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel (08) 6253 7711 theracharoom.com The Racha Room delivers Thai accented Pan-Asian cuisine with a focus on high quality ingredients. Racha features a large selection of spirits at a seated bar and high table to ensure drinking along with eating remains central to the experience. The current and future of Asian-inspired drinking and dining is right here at the Racha Room.


The Square, 74 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 0509 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.

RELISH & SONS GOURMET BURGER BAR 44 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: 01207 214294; 105-107 Xuan Thuy, Q2, Tel: 0909 004294 relishandsons.com Relish & Sons burgers are lovingly made with a healthy food philosophy in mind and fresh high quality ingredients. The beef patties are 100% Australian grass-fed; the buns are made with a reduced sugar and salt content. Burger relishes such as chutneys are all made inhouse from scratch.


Renaissance Riverside, 8–15 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 0033 Offers versatile all–day dining of international quality, with the bonus of being able to watch the action on the river sidewalk. Features western, Asian and Vietnamese buffets. SAIGON CAFÉ INTERNATIONAL / BUFFET

Level 1, Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers, 88 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 2828

Ground Floor, AB Building, 76A Le Lai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 9513 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

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.

STOKER CONTEMPORARY STEAKHOUSE 44 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel (08) 3826 8691 stokerwoodfiredgrill.com One of the world’s oldest culinary techniques — grilling over a wood fire. Stoker kitchen uses different woods to infuse foods with different smoky flavours. These techniques revolutionize live fire cooking by providing precise heat control through the use of a grilling surface that can be adjusted to different cooking heights above the hot coals.


29-31 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 9244 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

164 Cong Quynh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 3248 The service is often slow, and the staff are often surprisingly lazy, yet the food here is so good and so unique to this city, that no-one seems to mind. The perfect place to feast out on gyros and all things off a skewer. Cheap, too. ZOOM CAFÉ


84 Dang Van Ngu, Phu Nhuan BA NAM BO KHO

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


195 Co Giang, Q1


55 Tu Xuong, Q3


40A Quoc Huong, Q2

70 Vo Van Tan, Q3



38 Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1



11A Cao Thang, Q3



189 Bis Bui Vien, Q1



102 Cao Thang, Q3



288/M1 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3



62 Nguyen Van Trang, Q1



260C Pasteur, Q3




413-415 Nguyen Trai, Q5



146E Ly Chinh Thang, Q3


107 Truong Dinh, Q3



339 Le Van Sy, Tan Binh


271 Nguyen Trai, Q1


169A Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3920 3897 vietnamvespaadventures. com/cafe_zoom This corner-located Vespainfatuated venue is a café and restaurant by day and a sidewalk drinking joint by night. Friendly staff and American deli-style and Cajun fare makes it a regular expat haunt.




122/37/15 Vinh Khanh, Q4


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

26/1A Le Thanh Ton, Q1


23 Hoang Sa, Q1


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

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DISTRICT 5 Ng u y e






University of Natural Sciences



STATIONERY Nguyen Dinh Chieu B3




Ch uo i


SPORTSWEAR Huyen Tran Cong Chua C3

Binh Tay Market 3km






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Tra n


Tho ng

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194 | Word March 2017 | wordvietnam.com


Than h


h Ma H uyn

GUITARS Nguyen Thien Thuat D1, D2

Ng u yen


FLOWERS Le Thanh Ton C4

Minh Quye n



FABRICS Hai Ba Trung A3




EVERYTHING Ben Thanh Market C4

nh Van


Lan Anh Sports & Leisure Club


SHOES Nguyen Dinh Chieu C1, C2 Luu Van Lang C4






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Saigon Train Station

Minh Quye n

Tan Binh 0.5km


SEAFOOD Vinh Khanh D4, D5



Truo ng


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Ba H

han To

SAFES Vo Van Tan C3


Ky D

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Tran Van Dang

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CAR COMPONENTS Tran Quang Khai A3 Ky Con C4, D4







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anh Th




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in Ch

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A2 A4 A5 C4, D4 B3, B4 C2, C3 D4, E4 A3 B5 B5, C5 C4 D5, E5 B5, C5 C4, C5 C4 C2, C3 D1, E1, E2 D2 B4 D2, D3 D3, E1, E2 A1, B1 A3 A2 B1, C1 D1 A3 D1 A2, A3 B1, B2, B3 A2, B2 B1 B2, B3, C3 B3 A4, A5 B2 E3, E4, E5 D4, D5 A3, B2, B3 B3, C2 C2 A5 E5 C4, D4


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Tran N

3 Thang 2 C1 Alexandre de Rhodes B4 An Duong Vuong D1 Ba Huyen Thanh Quan B2, C3 Ban Co C1 Ben Chuong Duong D3, D4, E2, E3 Ben Van Don D4, D5, E3 Bui Thi Xuan C3 Bui Vien D3 Cach Mang Thang Tam B1, C2, C3 Calmette C4 Calmette D4 Cao Ba Nha D3 Cao Thang C1, C2, D2 Chu Manh Trinh B4, B5 Co Bac D3 Co Giang D3, D4 Cong Quynh D3 De Tham C3, D3 Dien Bien Phu A4, B3, C1, C2 Dinh Cong Trang A3 Dinh Tien Hoang A4, B4 Do Quang Dau D3 Do Thanh C1 Doan Nhu Hai D5 Doan Van Bo D5 Dong Du C5 Dong Khoi B4, C4, C5 Hai Ba Trung A2, A3, B3, B5, C5 Hai Trieu C5 Ham Nghi C4 Han Thuyen B4 Ho Hao Hon D3 Ho Tung Mau C4, C5 Ho Xuan Huong C2 Hoa Hung B1 Hoang Dieu D4, D5, E3 Hoang Sa A4, A5 Huyen Tran Cong Chua C3 Huynh Man Dat Binh Thanh A5 Huynh Man Dat Dist. 5 E1 Huynh Thuc Khang C4 Huynh TinH Cua Binh Thanh A5 Huynh Tinh Cua Dist. 3 A2 Huynh Van Banh A1, A2 Khanh Hoi D4, E4 Ky Con C4, D4 Ky Dong B2 Le Cong Kieu C4 Le Duan B4, B5 Le Hong Phong D1 Le Lai C3 Le Loi C4 Le Quoc Hung D4, D5 Le Quy Don B3 Le Thanh Ton B4, B5, C3, C4 Le Thi Hong Gam C4, D4 Le Thi Rieng C3 Le Van Sy A1 Luong Huu Khanh C2 Luu Van Lang C4 Ly Chinh Thang B2 Ly Thai To D1 Ly Tu Trong B4, B5, C3, C4 Mac Dinh Chi B4 Mac Thi Buoi C5 Mai Thi Luu A4 Me Linh A5 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia A2, B3, C4 Ngo Duc Ke C5 Ngo Thoi Nhiem B2, B3, C2

Ngo Van Nam B5 Nguyen Bieu E2 Nguyen Binh Khiem A4, B5 Nguyen Cong Tru C4, C5, D4 Nguyen Cu Trinh D2, D3 Nguyen Dinh Chieu A4, B4, C2, C3, D1 Nguyen Dinh Chinh A1 Nguyen Du B4, C3 Nguyen Gia Thieu B3 Nguyen Hue C4, C5 Nguyen Huu Canh B5 Nguyen Huu Cau A3 Nguyen Huy Tu A4 Nguyen Khac Nhu D3 Nguyen Khoai E3 Nguyen Ngoc Phuong A5 Nguyen Phi Khanh A3 Nguyen Sieu B5, C4, C5 Nguyen Son Ha C2 Nguyen Tat Thanh D5 Nguyen Thai Binh C4, D4 Nguyen Thai Hoc C3, D3 Nguyen Thi Dieu C2, C3 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai A5, B3, B4, C2, C3, D2 Nguyen Thien Thuat C1 Nguyen Thong B1, B2 Nguyen Thuong Hien C2 Nguyen Trai C3, D2, E1 Nguyen Trung Truc C4 Nguyen Truong To D5 Nguyen Van Cu D2, E2 Nguyen Van Lac A5 Nguyen Van Mai A2 Nguyen Van Nguyen A2 Nguyen Van Thu A4, B3, B4 Nguyen Van Troi A1 Pasteur B3, B4 Pasteur C4 Pham Hong Thai C3 Pham Ngoc Thach B3 Pham Ngu Lao C3, D3 Pham Viet Chanh D2



yen Ngu

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Airport 3km h Chin Dinh


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Saigon South 4km

wordvietnam.com | March 2017 Word | 195

Ch ieu


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Xo m



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Tran Quang Khai Nguyen Phi Khanh

Tran Quang Khai Tan Dinh Market




uy en

Ng uy en H


Tran Nhat




Ng uy en V

Du Tran Khannhh


Gia Dinh Hospital 1.5km

The Final Say



Xe Om for a Day “Xe om tay! Xe om tay!” Edward Dalton gets onto his backside and becomes a motorbike taxi driver. Just for a day, of course. Although in retrospect this could be a good career move. Photos by Sasha Arefieva

196 | Word March 2017 | wordvietnam.com


n emergency ride to work. A blood pressure-raising city tour. Sofadelivery service. The infallible xe om (literally: motorbike hug) is one of the great enduring symbols of Vietnamese city transport. Ferrying families back from supermarkets, taking businesswomen side-saddle to meetings, or more often than not, just sleeping by the side of the road. Xe om motorbike taxis can be found on almost every major street of every major Vietnamese city. They make the job look so easy, especially when they’re reclined on their bike seat after an hour of smoking thuoc lao and drinking tea. However, with the face of transport changing so quickly, expedited by the arrival of Uber, Grab and the BRT, the xe om drivers can’t afford to continue with such complacency. In order to find out what a xe om working day would entail if all the naps and smoking breaks were removed, I decided to spend a day working as a xe om driver.

Bright and Early Most xe oms get started at the crack of dawn. This is an alien and hostile time of day for me, but I made the effort for this one-time experience. Not expecting most tourists to rise for a while, I decided to test the bravery of some locals.

198 | Word March 2017 | wordvietnam.com

“Em muon xe om Tay khong?” I called out to a young guy who had just finished at a street-side café. Looking perplexed, he shook his head and waved his hands in apology, before speeding away from the fat foreigner who may or may not have just accidentally propositioned him with poor Vietnamese language skills. The pattern continued in a similar way for the next hour. Even hanging a rather fetching cardboard “xe om Tay” sign on the front of my motorbike didn’t help; although it did increase the rate of photographs being taken by bemused locals.

A Little Momentum I advertised my service on Facebook in advance, to ensure a few bookings would punctuate my hours of cruising around shouting at strangers. At 10am, I arrived to pick up my first fare of the day; a brave soul called Jean who needed a ride to the airport. Around 20 dusty kilometres and VND200,000 later, I was back in the city, reinvigorated by the success of my first customer. I drove to the Vietnam Military History Museum, and immediately found luck with a solo British traveller who paid me the handsome fee of VND50,000 for a trip to the Water Puppet Theatre. I stopped for a quick bowl of bun cha, before heading back out to slowly stalk

around Hoan Kiem Lake in search of lost or tired tourists. I avoided loitering, as I heard infringing on the territorial local xe oms might result in a slight case of hospitalisation. “Hello, excuse me,” I called out to an elderly Western woman browsing a guide book. “Are you looking for anywhere in particular?” She looked surprised to see a chubby white face join the queue of Vietnamese book sellers, cyclo drivers and candyfloss hawkers trying to get her attention. After a bit of back-and-forth, I got VND20,000 from her for a quick ride over to Hoa Lu prison, where I struck gold again and immediately found a Welsh backpacker trying to hail a taxi. He needed a ride back to his hotel near Truc Bach Lake, which I provided for VND60,000.

Job Well Done A tiring afternoon, which I will remember more for the pain in my backside than anything else, saw me pick up four more booked customers, with enough time to take two more tourists before dinner. With just one break for lunch and a very slow start, I still made VND520,000. Not bad for a beginner. However, unless I adopted the more typical xe om approach (wait for the customer to come to you), it’s not a job I could do on a daily basis without hiring a full-time physiotherapist.

The Final Say


When it comes to the hotel industry in this region, Accor Area GM of Southern Vietnam and GM of Pullman Saigon Centre Hotel, Tony Chisholm, has seen it all You’ve been in the hotel industry for over 20 years, and have managed various properties in the Asia-Pacific region. What keeps you focused? Focus for me comes from passion and the motivation to succeed. I believe that this industry is about enjoying what you do because it is a lifestyle in terms of the commitments that you have to make. It’s an exciting industry and I get to travel and meet interesting people week-in week-out.

terms of the contrast to my home town of Auckland in New Zealand. That fascination with Vietnam is still there for me — it’s buzzing, vibrant and intense. I think the industry has already come a long way and we have some world-class hotels in the country ranging from Ibis to Sofitel — so travellers have plenty of choice for quality accommodation and or food and beverage experiences. The industry must continue to benchmark itself against other great tourism-led countries and make commitments to the people in their organisations in terms of training and talent and culture.

You’ve maintained a strong connection with Vietnam for many years, going back to when you What’s been the most important were the F&B Director at the Duxton Saigon in 2003. What’s one lesson you’ve learned over the years about customer service? thing that has remained constant It’s a very difficult industry and getting in that time in Vietnam? What’s customer service right every single day, needed to raise standards in the every day is not always easy, so the lesson industry here? I would describe it as intoxicating in

I live by is to be the best you can be day-in day-out and if you put your hand on your heart and say that’s the best we can do, then you can sleep at night not worrying. Being consistent is the key to this industry — it’s rather unforgiving, so we can’t afford to have a bad day.

What golden rules do you continue to stand by after all these years when dealing with customers? The customer is always right. I know it sounds a little clichéd, but it’s true because they drive the success of the future for our industry. We have to be guest-centric and ensure that in anything and everything that we do, we have the guest in mind. That is the only rule.

What’s makes a great manager? Can the roles of leader and manager be separated? A great manager is someone that has empathy for his or her colleagues and shows

true respect towards the people they work with. They demonstrate consistency in their style 365 days a year — this is the key. Leaders lead tomorrow. Leaders have a vision for where they want to take the business, or the outcome of a guest experience, or the idea for a new concept.

In the workplace, we’re judged on our commitment to “continuous improvement”. What example stands out of an employee who strove to better themselves? I see many examples of this all around me every day, not just in my hotel, but in my region where we have many employees that are striving to be the next-generation leader. There’s a huge amount of energy and passion and pride coming from our Vietnamese employees.

The hotel industry has faced significant disruption over the past decade or so; what’s the next disruption looming over the horizon? I think we’re just starting to understand the importance of the digital age and how it affects bookings and referrals in our industry. Companies like AirBnB are just the start in my mind. There will be more and more coming onto the market. The one-stop digital-stop that customers manage from their phones is the future. The more mobile and digital-friendly the industry becomes, the greater chance of survival and success they’ll have.

What’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened in one of your hotels? The list is rather long and being a hotelier, I can’t tell you as it’s confidential. I guess being an emergency evacuation and medical facility during the floods at Sofitel Brisbane back in January 2011. It was something I won’t forget in a hurry. We had the Australian Prime Minister and emergency forces based out of the hotel for the duration of the event, which was an honour as well as a huge responsibility.

Name the one hotel that everyone must to stay at before they die. Can I give you 10? I would say either Raffles Singapore or the Sofitel Legend Cataract Aswan. It’s a 19th-century Victorian palace on the banks of the river Nile.

200 | Word March 2017 | wordvietnam.com


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Word Vietnam March 2017  

Everything you need to know about Vietnam and a little bit more. This month: Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

Word Vietnam March 2017  

Everything you need to know about Vietnam and a little bit more. This month: Planes, Trains and Automobiles.