Page 1










006 l The Prelude

026 Q


009 l The Big Five 010 l Just In 012 l The Exhibitionist 014 l The Buzz 016 l Our Man 018 l In the Papers 020 l Calendar

028 l Many Faces

030 THE 034 HANOI

056 ARE


Fair trade in the garment industry



Buying used clothes in the capital

062 THE


A bar with a sound system to die for



Theatre is still seeking its place in modern Vietnam

066 WOMAN Contraception and birth control See p115 for the original puzzle

2 | Word October 2012


On safari

Trivia Buff Answers

Xoi Com



068 l Mystery Diner 069 l Street Snacker


Take a trip out to My Dinh, Hanoi’s very own 2.0

The Alternative Film Man Pots ‘n Pans


Duong Lam is a relic of old Vietnam

022 l Overscene INSIDER

070 City Guide


The Sommelier

008 l Still Uploading


1) Macedonia 2) Ukraine 3) The Battle of Dien Bien Phu 4) Keangnam Landmark Tower 5) 72 6) 40,192 7) 11km 8) 2.5 per woman 9) 0.8 per woman 10) 7 11) 80 percent 12) Five 13) 35 14) 3 15) Alexander Pato 16) Yes, a prehensile one 17) O2 Cafe 18) 50,000 19) VND240,000 20) Far, far too many

073 l Business Buff 080 l Destination Zero 088 l Food Buff 090 l Cinema Buff 096 l Book Buff 101 l Medical Buff

TIENG VIET HO CHI MINH CITY 108 l The Great Debate FINAL SAY 110 l Mat Surfing Forget couchsurfing, this is the real deal 116 l Last Call Artist Christine Baumgartner October 2012 Word | 3

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Crossword Answers See p114 for the original puzzle. Pluzzle by Frank A. Longo Edited by Will Shortz

4 | Word October 2012



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

Thực hiện liên kết xuất bản: Công Ty CP TM–DV–QC–Truyền Thông Dương Huỳnh 87/21/6 Đường Số 4 Cư Xá Đô Thành, Phường 4, Quận 3, TP. HCM. ĐT: + 84 8 3838 6908 Fax: + 84 8 3838 6971 Email: Website:

In tại Công Ty In Trần Phú 71–73–75 Hai Bà Trưng, Q. 1, TP. HCM. Giấy XNĐKKHXB của Cục XB số: 161/CXB-QLXB ngày 18/01/2012 Quyết định xuất bản số 328 QĐCN/LĐ Nhà xuất bản Lao Động cấp ngày 11/09/2012 In xong và nộp lưu chiểu năm 2012.

October 2012 Word | 5

The Prelude


y Dinh is an easy place to criticise. Sprouting so boldly out of land formerly devoted to agriculture, this decade-long addition to the Hanoi skyline invites negativity. The buildings have a generic look, typical of anaesthetised Singapore. The planning appears to be a mess. And there seems to be a sterility here, a lack of the typical vibrancy you associate with a Vietnamese town, village or city. But read between the lines and you discover a new ‘urban area’ that contains the hope and belief in Vietnam’s more fruitful future. Here we are offered a different interpretation of Hanoi, a 2.0 so to speak.

It is with that in mind that we headed west this month past Cau Giay and out to the new city. With so much construction it’s often difficult to see past all the debris, but what we found was a place with a surprising amount of soul, a place with communities who are happy with their choice of residence, and a suburb to aspire to. To provide some contrast, we also travelled out to Duong Lam in Son Tay. Now a part of Greater Hanoi despite its Ha Tay location, this 1,000-yearold village is anything but the easily scoffed at Hanoi Hai. With houses over 400 years old, and an ambience unaffected by time, it provides a perfect tonic to the lightning speed development of the capital.

Also in this issue we meet one of the organisers behind music documentary curators, The Onion Cellar. Our day tripper makes it out to Vietnam’s first national park, Cuc Phuong, while James Pham goes on savannah in Africa. Vietnamese theatre gets the spotlight as does the growing trend in buying second-hand clothing. We meet a Vietnamese sommelier, go mat surfing and speak to German artist Christine Baumgartner. As always, we would like to thank you for all your support and for helping us produce this publication. If it wasn’t for you, we wouldn’t be here. Please send us your comments and your thoughts, no matter how negative. Simply email




THIS MONTH'S COVER Photo: Aaron Joel Santos Design: DH Advertising

- Authentic Indian Cuisine Serving both North & South Indian dishes - Cozy & Ambient setting - Halal Food - Free Home Delivery - Indoor Party facilities & Outdoor catering services - For details contact Gopi 0903 266 997 Or Ms Dung 093 657 2277 Add: 47 Lo Su Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi Tel: (84 4) 3935 2400/01 Email: Fax: (84 8) 3935 2402 Website:



PHORENSICS I thought an issue dedicated to pho (Fundamentally Food, September 2012) would be tedious. But big plaudits. You made a Vietnamese cliché into an interesting piece of work. I don't think I'll ever eat banh quay again after reading that. — AB 6 | Word October 2012


OOD undamentally

Decades of prosperity have removed us from the everyday pressure of producing our own food; we’re so used to seeing the final product arrive on our plates and in our bowls, that we often forget where food actually comes from and the effort required to produce it. So, in an attempt to look at food production in Vietnam, we have stripped away the fertiliser, ploughed through the fields and gone back to the bare bones. We have dissected a bowl of pho, tracking the ingredients back to their sources, talked to a Dalat-based farmer and charted the rise of organic food in the north. But all that’s for nothing if you forget the finished article, so to leave us with an aftertaste, we hit some of the city’s best pho restaurants. Going back to the fundamentals has been both trying and rewarding. We hope the journey we take you through over the next few pages will be as interesting as our one.




While every visitor to Hanoi has had their fair share of pho dishes, how many of us actually know where the main ingredients come from? With a mantra of “you are what you eat” ringing in his ears, Douglas Pyper sets out to find himself PHOTOS BY AARON JOEL SANTOS

40 | Word September 2012


Just arrived in Hanoi and Word has become like a bible for me. Great mag. I don't know how I'd survive without it. Thank you! — Anon

September 2012 Word | 41


I like what you're trying to do at Word, but you publish too many puff articles. Is that really necessary? You should try being more independent. — NN October 2012 Word | 7

The Talk






A slow connection is frustrating. No connection could mean devastation



It’s a Monday afternoon and we’re posted up at a coffee shop putting the final touches to this issue of Word. But our patience has run dry. In the office, despite having a supposed superfast internet connection, we’re stuck waiting for websites and emails to load up. Here, at least, there seems to be some normality. The cause of our grief, indeed the cause of the grief encountered by millions, goes back to an incident that happened just over a month ago. In mid-August, the Asian-America Gateway sub-sea cable, running between Ba Ria-Vung Tau in southern Vietnam to Hong Kong, was cut. Either from an anchored vessel or a seabed landslide, we don’t really know. Regardless, with many service providers like FPT, Viettel and VNPT relying on the connection, the results were felt throughout Vietnam. Suddenly everything went slow. And even a month later after repairs, the connection still seems to be intermittent. This is not the first time we’ve had such an outage. Early March saw a similar severance from which it took the country 20 days to fully recover Internet connection. And then there is the constant change in connection speeds. Sometimes the internet is inexorably slow, sometimes it is lightning

8 | Word October 2012

fast. There seems to be no regularity.

Bad for Business That so many oft-heard complaints revolve around the speed of the internet shows just how important this communications avenue has become. Not only does it act as our connection to the bigger, brighter outside world, no matter how digitized or lacking in reality, but it is the mode through which we do business. In recent years the internet has become indispensable. Let’s take email, for example. A phenomenon of the last 20 years, its existence has destroyed postal services. Fax machines have fallen by the wayside and even the accepted format of writing letters has changed beyond recognition. Now almost all business communications, invitation after invitation, and flier after unwanted flier arrives directly into our mailboxes in digital form with no need for a paper version. With the internet connection getting slow, our ability to answer and send emails reduces drastically. But just imagine if all our email went down. How would we cope? We wouldn’t. A crisis would ensue. Search engines such as Google are another example. Our avenue to access all things information, imagine if they were hacked and destroyed. Suddenly we would

no longer be able to Google everything our heart so desires — the free publicity and advertising given to websites and URLs that makes the World Wide Web accessible would disappear. It would be like being back in the dark ages again, the time when we were told that there was all this amazing information available online, but we just didn’t know how to find it.

Austin Powers It may all sound like a storyline out of a 007 or Austin Powers movie, but having seen the disruption caused by just one cable being cut in the East Sea, this should be a very real concern. Were we to truly lose our access to the internet or even just parts of it, we would suffer. That this has happened before, if not in a slightly different form, should be a warning. In 1998 the central area of New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, suffered a five-weeklong power outage due to the failure of two key electricity cables. Essential to the daily activities of businesses in the Queen Street area of the city, without power the businesses stopped operating and there was chaos. People took to the streets, tempers rose. The outage cost millions. Imagine if the same thing happened today. It just doesn’t bear thinking about.


A percussion music and performance art event will pass through Hanoi for a third edition of the successful international festival entitled Cracking Bamboo. 31 artists from around Europe and Asia, including three from Hanoi, will perform together in a meeting of eastern and western sounds. The musicians will be fresh from a week’s worth of workshops and performances in Bangkok when they visit Hanoi on Oct. 6. For two nights, they will perform a combination of solo performances, improvisation sessions and short composed pieces. Contact the Goethe Institut for more details.



Frank Gossner has built one of the most unique collections of African vinyl in the world. Over the last seven years his record digging road trip adventures have made his blog a cult classic and a treasure trove for vinyl and funk enthusiasts. Tales of fleeing civil uprisings, being robbed at machete-point and fishing records out of insect nests brought him to the attention of documentary film maker Leigh Iacobucci who filmed his adventures to create the documentary Take Me Away Fast, an exploration of passion, loving music, meeting people and finding something. CAMA will be screening the documentary on Oct. 17 and hosting Frank in ATK on Oct. 20. Voodoo Funk will be playing danceable African cuts you are guaranteed to have never heard before. You can’t buy it in a shop and you won’t find it online. But obscurity doesn’t get in the way of fun, with 15 years’ experience selecting tracks for dancing crowds in New York and Berlin, Frank knows the ultimate measure of any night’s success is



It’s the most wonderful time of the year again and that means an excuse to wear those fishnets, masks and furry hats that you preciously keep in the back of your closet. Though there are sure to be plenty of costume parties with haunted or ridiculous themes, two of note are the HITS Haunted Circus Caravan and Southgate’s annual Halloween party. HITS will set up a haunted array at 21 North on Saturday Oct. 27, complete with a flash mob dance, mock séance healings and fortune telling. Southgate will host its party at, erm, Southgate on Wednesday Oct. 31, costumes highly encouraged. Expect a range of drink specials. HITS Haunted Circus kicks off at 7pm on Oct. 21 at 21 North (49 Lang Yen Phu) with a happy hour from 5pm to 7pm. Entrance is VND100,000 at the door. Southgate fun will start around 8pm at 28 Ton Duy Tong, Hoan Kiem.



The Onion Cellar may be gaining a reputation for avant-garde film screenings but their interest extends to all things sonic, visual and cultural. Musick to Play in the Dark is an evening dedicated to forward-thinking experimental music. Headlining are Singapore-based duo Black Zenith whose analog modular synthesizers and live visuals generated by audio signals promise an exceptional experience. The line-up is completed by local noise pioneer, Vu Nhat Tan, and a rare performance from young female soundscape artist Luong Hue Trinh. DJ duty will be handled by Sebastien Gesell bringing you all sorts of electronic sounds. Musick to Play in the Dark will be taking dancing feet. CAMA will be screening Take Me Away Fast on Wednesday Oct. 17. Tickets are VND50,000 with all proceeds going to help fund Frank’s CAMA-organised South East Asia tour. Tickets for Frank’s set on Saturday Oct. 20 are VND100,000 or free before 8pm. Both events are at CAMA ATK, 73A Mai Hac De, Hai Ba Trung.

place at Hanoi Rock City, 27/52 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho on Oct. 26. Ticket prices are yet to be confirmed, see facebook. com/theonioncellar for updates and more information.

JAPAN ON FILM Fresh from the exceptional series of music documentaries that The Onion Cellar curated in September, The Japan Foundation continue the cinematic theme with another series. The Japanese Film Festival: Comedy 2012 will run from Oct. 25 to Dec. 1 with screenings in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Phan Thiet. The festival has been curated to run the entire gamut of comedy from witty and slap-stick to tragic and heart-warming. The eight films will be screened with both English and Vietnamese subtitles. Admission is free, but claiming your tickets in advance is advised. For more information, contact 3944 7419 or check out


October 2012 Word | 9

Just In



This month sees the first of the fast food big boys, Burger King, open in Hanoi (sorry KFC!) Already with outlets at Danang and Tan Son Nhat airports, and with a store about to open in Ho Chi Minh City, expect the same mix of Whopper burgers, combo meals, tender chicken grills, onion rings and hash browns. All washed down by a coke or two. Burger King will open at the Indochina Plaza Hanoi, 241 Xuan Thuy, Cau Giay sometime this month


TADIOTO GETS CULINARY To add to the setting of one of Hanoi’s most unique bars, Tadioto now has a growing contemporary food menu to tempt its clientele. Put together by French-Turkish chef, James Dugan, the tapas-style dishes are served as light bites, perfect to share with friends over a glass of wine. Included on the menu are eggplant rolls with cerano and Roquefort sauce, beef carpaccio with wasabi sauce and shallots, chicken skewers with lemongrass and paprika and much more. Prices are reasonable, too, with each dish going for around VND100,000 to VND140,000. Tadioto, 12 Truong Han Sieu, Hai Ba Trung

ENTER THE HUNGRY PANDA New food delivery website, Hungry Panda, is open and ready for business, with scores of restaurants to choose from. The Singaporean-based portal has already successfully provided online food services for Thailand, Malaysia, India, Indonesia and Singapore residents. Only a few months old, the site is working to increase the range of accessible international restaurants as well as a long list of local Vietnamese restaurants for hungry users to choose from. For more info, go to

You can't do that much damage to a car if you're only wearing flip-flops

SEAFOOD BAR Both a winebar and a top-end restaurant, Seafood Bar is the latest classy and elegant addition to the Hanoi dining scene. Mixing the culinary heritage of Vietnam with fresh seafood from all over the world, the menu here includes mussels from the US, geoduck from Canada, Alaskan snow crab, Atlantic lobster, New Zealand salmon and much more, all combined with wine from Chile, France, Argentina and Australia. Running a buy-one-get-one free happy hour from 5.30pm to 7.30pm as well as 20 percent off all appetizers, the venue offers the opportunity to enjoy a European culinary experience in the heart of Hanoi. Seafood Bar is at 41 Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem

If Vietnam News can do it, then so can we

How long did you say he was locked in there for?

THE RELAUNCH OF SATINE Hotel de l’Opera Hanoi has relaunched its signature restaurant, Satine, to now feature authentic Vietnamese cuisine and Hanoi specialities, all in a unique setting. A sleek and contemporary conversion that artfully integrates the classic design features of one of Hanoi’s most attractive properties, Satine provides a dramatic setting with its location at the heart of Hotel de l’Opera’s eight-storey central atrium. Palates will be tantalised with traditional dishes from around the country: a range of Vietnamese specialties from North to South. Added to this will be a selection of Vietnamese and international teas and hard-to-find desserts. Satine, Hotel de l’Opera Hanoi, 29 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem

Why are you growing a beard? Are you trying to be an English teacher or something? All the doctors and lawyers have already come out With Hanoians, you don't talk about lunch or dinner. You talk about breakfast Why is it only men eating here. Don't women eat or something? Try not to think in language, just measurements

INDOCHINA PLAZA SHOPPING CENTRE The IPH mall finally opened for business on the holiday weekend at the beginning of last month. Located in Cau Giay but on the edge of My Dinh, according to the owners they have the “most unique shopping and entertainment centre” in town. Designed to the latest international standards, IPH’s curves and shapes generate a unique and interesting visual effect complemented by bright glass external windows, tall trees, open walkways and artificial water pathways, all constructed to feng shui principles. At the heart of the development, which also includes office space and a residential tower, is a unique 2,000sqm open-air plaza, the ideal space for events such as catwalks, exhibitions, fairs and other outdoor activities. The shopping centre itself includes brands such as Nike Town, Levi’s, Sembonia, Carlorino, The Body Shop, Yves Rocher, Apple Store, Samsonite, Pierre Cardin, John Henry, Pizza Hut, KFC, Tous les Jours and Highlands Coffee, with a Burger King also on its way. The fashion factory outlet centre sells popular brands such as Gap, Old Navy, Espirit and H&M. Indochina Plaza Hanoi is at 241 Xuan Thuy, Cau Giay

10 | Word October 2012

Androgeny is in Gangnam, what?

ROOFTOP RENOVATIONS In case you haven’t noticed, Rooftop has been busy behind closed doors giving its swanky face an even swankier makeover. The elevator mirrors are now polished beyond squeaky, the lighting adjusted to perfect bedroom eye level, and who can even imagine what has been done to spruce up the pool. Time to revisit in your Saturday night best. The Rooftop Bar and Restaurant is located on the 19th floor of Pacific Place at 83B Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem. Visit their Facebook page to have a peep at the renovations or go to

When a man sees a beautiful woman, his IQ immediately drops by 50 points Xoi kem? Surely that's something only pregnant people eat October 2012 Word | 11

the talk

The Exhibitionist

PAPER CUTS Kirigami, the second cousin to Origami, is the Japanese traditional art of cutting paper to form symmetrical patterns of orchid blossoms and pentagrams. The mathematically beautiful paper shapes are often used in Buddhist and Shinto festivals in Japan. Kirigami master, Kanako Yaguchi, visualizes the “shape of pleasure” in diverse ways, infusing a contemporary edge into the traditional style of kirgami. In the ongoing exhibit at the Japan Foundation, Yaguchi displays recent creations as well as some of her former masterpieces. The World of KIRIGAMI: A Hundred Flowers & Words will run until Oct. 21 at the Japan Foundation Center for Cultural Exchange, 27 Quang Trung, Hoan Kiem. Admission is free.

I AM WONDERFUL "Io sono bellissima" (I am Wonderful) was created to promote an intercultural dialogue between Vietnamese and Italian women, part of the Italian Embassy’s Y-Viet 2012 programme in Hanoi. The event, launched in March, will have a closing ceremony at the Women’s Museum on Oct. 19 where the works of Loredana De Vitis will be showcased alongside the contributions from Vietnamese women surrounding the issues of beauty and overcoming the barriers of stereotypes of what it means to be a ‘proper’ woman. Texts and images are published on Loredana's website and are available in multiple languages. The final ceremony for I am Wonderful will take place at 5pm on Oct. 19 at the Women’s Museum on 36 Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem

BOOKWORM TOO EXHIBITS ARTFUL BUMS To celebrate the recent opening of Bookworm Too in Nghi Tam Village, one of Vietnam’s best known artists will create a gallery over two levels. Thao’s new work returns to the days before the Singapore Art Museum purchased his complete 64 piece fossil collection entitled ‘Old Quarter’ series for their collection. Thao’s ‘bum’ paintings are in important private collections and his new canvasses are an art collector’s and connoisseur's delight. Thao also continues his fossil series featuring illuminated sculptures in resin blocks that illustrate words left unsaid or promises forgotten Bookworm Too is in lane 1/28 on Nghi Tam Village. The opening of Thao’s exhibit is Friday, Oct. 12 from 6pm to 9pm. Complimentary wine and nibbles available.

OPERA OR BUST The Hanoi Opera House has a loaded line up of the masters this month. The Vietnam National Opera and Ballet (VNOB) will perform Mozart’s famous Cosi Fan Tutte. Though written in 1790, the work grapples with the timeless questions of love, sex, fidelity and their often-ambiguous interplay. The abbreviated opera will be under the conduction of Graham Sutcliffe and performed, in Italian, by the VNOB. The two performances on Oct. 5 and Oct. 6 of the opera are then followed by two nights of Mahler, with the Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra coupling with conductor Honna Tetsjui to bring Symphony No.7 on Oct. 12 and Oct. 13. Both Cosi Fan Tutte (Oct. 5 and Oct. 6) and the Mahler Cycle (Oct. 12 and Oct. 13) start at 8pm. Tickets range from VND200,000 to VND500,000 and are available at the Hanoi Opera House at 1 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, online at or through email at

NOT THE SAME SAME YOU KNOW The phrase overly uttered in the marketplace and while bargaining takes on a new life with the hip-hop dance performance of the Stylistik team. At the end of this month, the French-Lao duo enacts the struggles of relationships, where despite the differences between people, there is a running universal thread connecting us all. Tickets can be purchased at L’espace for VND120,000 with discounts available for students. The performance begins at 8pm at 24 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem on Oct. 30.

12 | Word October 2012

SWINGING IN L’ESPACE Hanoi’s Swing Quartet will accompany the youthful accordion player Thibault Dille to deliver tunes of French composers such as Gus Viseur, Marcel Azzola, and Richard Galliano this month. Established in 2010, this is the Swing Quartet’s opening act in the Youth Theatre. Tickets are VND120,000 and VND60,000 for students, and are available at L’espace on 24 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem. The performance on Saturday, Oct. 13 begins at 8pm at the Youth Theatre, 11 Ngo Thi Nham, Hai Ba Trung.

INTRODUCING ITALIAN LITERATURE Italian novelist Gianrico Carofliglio has been a protagonist of the international contemporary literature scene since his debut novel in 2002, Involuntary Witness. His more recent work, The Past is a Foreign Country, received global acclaim and will be the focus of a talk on Oct. 15 when Carofliglio passes through Hanoi. Gianrico Carofliglio will talk at Trung Nguyen Café, 52 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem at 5pm on Oct. 15.

GO GROUP GETS DOWN Percussion meets Vietnamese traditional opera in the Go Group’s production at L’espace on Oct. 25. Formed in 2010, Go Group has been bringing creative and bold combinations of art to the city. With a quartet of guitar, flute, percussion and voice, the group offers a fresh take on traditional sounds. Doors open at 8pm and the performance is at L’espace on 24 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem. Tickets cost VND120,000. Discounts are also available.

VENUS IN VIETNAM Featuring the installation and sculptural work by Vu Dan Tan and recent pieces by Nguyen Nghia Cuong, opening on Oct. 3 Venus in Vietnam focuses on female iconography and sexuality. Setting the works of these two Hanoi artists a generation apart alongside one another, the show features pieces from the late Vu Dan Tan that have never before been shown in Vietnam: cardboard suits and miniature installations of female figures in glass-lidded cigarette boxes. At the same time, Nguyen Nghia Cuong (b. 1973), known for his ironic approach to contemporary reality dominated by consumerism and brand-culture, continues to investigate the intersection of popular culture, advertising and consumerism in his recent series Beauty High Quality. An art conversation will follow the opening with Nguyen Nghia Cuong speaking with the curator, critic, and lecturers Natalia Kraevskaia and Iola Lenzi on sexuality and woman in Vietnamese and Southeast Asian contemporary art. The panel will open the discussion to the attending public at the end of the art conversation. Venus in Vietnam opens on Oct. 3 at 6pm and will run daily at the Goethe Institut from 9am to 7pm until Oct. 14. The Art Conversation will be held on Friday, Oct. 5 at 6.30pm. The Goethe Institut is at 56-58 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Ba Dinh.

WIRED THE NEXUS TABLET WHEN THE IPAD WAS FIRST LAUNCHED in April 2010, it was greeted with some ridicule. A tablet? Surely that’s the stuff of science fiction movies. And what would we use it for, anyway? It can be no better than an oversized iPhone. Right? Apple’s faith in their product nevertheless proved to be well founded. So far ahead of the market was it that it is only now, towards the end of 2012, that their rival, Google, has launched the Nexus tablet ( But don’t expect outrageous app or technological revolution that will significantly change the race to the future — there are no Star Wars-like hologram phone calls available on this touchscreen player. Instead, what the Google Nexus 7 offers is a cheaper yet still viable option, entering the market at around VND7 million to VND8 million for the 16GB version. Google, we guess, is hoping to reach the masses rather than restricting its usage to the financially better heeled. With cheap prices usually come cut corners. And it’s in this regard that despite chopping away at the odd bit of functionality, Google really has produced a worthy-of-note product, with corners intact. First is the size — a seven-inch screen as compared to the larger 9.5 inch screen of the iPad. Easy to hold, store and carry around, the small size quite simply cuts production costs. Rumour has it that the Nexus has so irked Apple that an iPad Mini may be on the horizon. Though the Nexus tablet is more than sufficient in terms of speed, if we are going to talk about limitations, the first issue is memory size. There is no additional SD card that fits inside the Nexus 7. So, you’re stuck with the 16GB or 8GB versions. Fine for most but an irritation for some. Then there are the cameras. Whereas the iPad has two, the Nexus has only one, the front-facing camera, making it perfect for video calls but not for snapping shots. But then, who uses a tablet for photography anyway? The key limitation is really the lack of 3G. In a country like Vietnam, where Wi-Fi radio waves seem to bend their way round every corner, it is not such a deficiency. But elsewhere it may be a letdown. Still, with the Nexus 7 being sold in Vietnam for close to half the price of the iPad, is the trade-off of price versus functionality worth it? We think so.

October 2012 Word | 13

The Buzz

ARABIAN NIGHTS Think magic carpets, harems, whirling dervishes and exotic tastes. That’s right, it’s Amcham’s annual ball and this time the theme is Arabian Nights. Sponsored this year by ANZ, the ballroom of the InterContinental Hanoi Westlake promises to be transformed into a spectacular oasis of decoration and entertainment, presumably featuring vast tracts of sand. Expect a free flow of drinks and a special Arabian styled four-course meal as well as lots of themed fancy dress. Auscham’s Arabian Night’s Ball will be taking place on Nov. 17 at the InterContinental Hanoi Westlake, 1 Nghi Tam, Yen Phu, Tay Ho. For more information contact or call 3832 9912.


THE HANOI BICYCLE COLLECTIVE We already suspected that THBC would not be your average bike shop and this month the café/repair store proves its unique role in Hanoi by hosting a range of events you can’t find anywhere else. Every Sunday, the Mali musician Musbaba will perform from 12pm in the shop while customers nibble away on Spain’s favourite small sandwich: the montadito. The final Friday of every month will see a ‘positive mass’ event similar to the critical mass rides all over the world. Starting at 8pm at St. Joseph’s Cathedral on Nha Chung and Nha Tho, riders will travel in a pack through the city streets. We’re sorry to everyone else on motorbikes at that time. Actually no, we’re not sorry, share the road! Less contentious social bike rides will be held every Tuesday and Thursday morning from 6pm at THBC for a loop around West Lake with a slightly more arduous ride on Saturdays at the same time. And finally, Guim and his wife will lead a cycling yoga excursion from their shop to Chula every Wednesday and Friday morning at 5.30 am for a relaxing lakeside ride followed by a 30-minute yoga session and breakfast. Serenity, health, beauty, bikes, BAM. THBC is at 44 Ngo 31 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho

BREAKFAST WITH THE CANDIDATES Daluva is interested in getting you to eat, drink and be merry, of course, but the plan for the month of October is also aimed at getting you to think. A weekly series called Breakfast with the Candidates will live-stream (internet willing) the United States presidential and vice-presidential debates. Starting Thursday on Oct. 4 at 8am and also running on Oct. 12, Oct. 17 and Oct. 23, you can catch what is going on in American politics, having your eggs with a side of healthcare reform and retirement funds. On a different note, Daluva’s famed Halloween party will provide a nice relief from politics on Oct. 31; costumes highly encouraged. Daluva is located at 33 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho. Visit for a menu and a schedule of events.

14 | Word October 2012

With Don's graduating from the terrible twos to the turbulent threes on Oct. 18 (yes, where has the time gone!), for the month of October this Tay Ho favourite will be running a range of promotions to celebrate their birthday. In the dining rooms, order the gourmet set menu and Don’s will pair wines with your cuisine, free of charge. Downstairs in the Lakeside Bar, the two-for-one happy hour is extended from 5pm until 9pm. While on the roof terrace in the Oyster Bar, order any dinner item and get a complimentary dessert. Don’s Tay Ho, 16 Lane 27 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho



Sep. 9 saw the Hanoi Red River Runners’ first event in Sapa — The Sapa 21 KM Challenge 2012 raised funds for the local learning and education centre, Sapa O’Chau. 40 runners completed the challenging run in the Muong Hoa valley, traversing hilly terrain to reach the finish line at Topas Ecolodge. As a prelude to the big day, runners hiked to a nearby village and were introduced to yoga with an afternoon session. Sunday recovery involved everyone’s favourite competition of massage, beers and the satisfaction of having overcome difficulty in order to raise money for charity.

Going golfing in Dalat just got more attractive with the launch of Ana Mandara Villas’ Great Golf Getaway package. For bookings from Sep. 3 to Dec. 20, golfers can enjoy two nights stay and nine holes of golf in the cool surroundings of Dalat for just VND2,450,000. During your stay you can also enjoy 30 minutes in the spa and free transfers from Tan Khuong Airport. Suddenly Dalat’s temperate climate doesn’t seem so far away. For reservations, please call 04 3935 2501 or email More info about Ana Mandara Villas can be found on their website,

FLIGHTS OF FANCY As of mid-October, VietJetAir will kick off flights with increased frequency between Hanoi and Danang, with two round trip flights per day. In conjunction with the upped frequency, the More Flights, Less Cost promotion will get underway, with 10,000 tickets up for grabs at VND99,000. It’s less than your dinner! For further information about VietJetAir’s new services, flight schedules and further promotions, check out, or contact a VietJetAir ticket office or HDBank transactional branch at 1900 1886 from 8am until 10pm daily.



Starting this month, Highway4 is willing to meet you more than half-way — they will come directly to your home. The new delivery service from 11am until 9.30pm will be free for orders over VND150,000, with a buy-one-get-one-free spring roll dish every Monday. You can also throw in some ice cream and Son Tinh liquor to your dinner needs, if you so need. Delivery menus are available at all restaurants or by calling the hotline at 0989 455755. In other news, Son Tinh Lounge Bar on Saturday and Sunday nights will also be giving screen time to the English Premier League.

The Vietnam Swans Australian rules football club are gearing up to host the sixth Indochina Cup next month. The event will bring together teams from Cambodia, Thailand and Laos for a day of sport, friendship and fun in a carnival like atmosphere. All are welcome, entry is free and food and drink will be available on the day inside My Dinh Stadium. For those who’ve never seen Australian Rules Football in action, the Indochina Cup represents a great chance to catch a high quality competition, without all the Victoria Bitters. The Indochina Cup will be taking place on Saturday Nov. 10. For more information, including sponsorship opportunities, contact or see

VILLA MARIA WINE DINNER On Oct. 11, to celebrate 50 years of winemaking, Celliers d'Asie and Red Apron will be holding a Gala dinner at the Intercontinental for the New Zealand winery, Villa Maria. The most awarded winery of New Zealand, and named one of the world’s 50 great wine producers by American magazine Wine Spectator, the dinner will be specially prepared to match a select list of wines. On the list there will be everything from a private bin Riesling through to the famous sauvignon blanc and the winery’s cellar selection pinot noir. To add some flair to the night there will also be belly dancing, live music and promotion girls. Tickets cost approximately VND1,680,000 per person and are available from all Red Apron retail outlets in Hanoi. For a list of their locations, please see the Home section in this issue of Word.


ATK BETA COCKTAIL UNION (ABCU) ATK, the home of tasty beverages, has formed Hanoi’s first cocktail club. While tasting sessions and drinks clubs are usually synonymous with all things snotty, snobby or snooty, CAMA seem convinced that they can take the cock out of cocktails. The group intend to hold events every six to eight weeks as and when unusual and hard to find ingredients have been found. The inaugural event involves a tasting session of five cocktails with participants choosing which drinks will make it onto ATK’s Special Cocktails menu until the rare grog runs out. Bookings are a must. For more information on ABCU and their first event, You Make the Menu, see To RSVP the first event, email






fell in love with this picture that a friend posted on Facebook. I blogged it but it didn’t seem enough, so I asked the good people of Word if I could make it the subject of this column and they gave me the thumbs up. Now I just have to explain the love. So here goes. I know one person in the picture — a young colleague at the British Council, my former employer. I know nothing of the rest of the team. Beyond that I know that the picture is on the top of Fansipan, Vietnam’s highest mountain. You could say it’s easy to be cynical about this generation. But it’s also become too easy to be cynical about Vietnam as a whole. As I’ve written before, I can’t recall a positive story that has come out of the country in a very, very long time. So let me recount my own. I recently found myself spending the day in the nearby countryside and as part of that experience I interviewed a teacher. I asked her about the kids she taught. Not so long ago they would all have left school as young as possible and ended up

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working in the fields. Now, an increasing number aspire to university. They would have been married as soon as it was legally allowed, but now 25 to 30 is the norm. They want to travel. The nearby airport was in the same province and must have had an effect on the young girl who told me that while her father wanted her to be a doctor, she wanted to be a stewardess and see the world. Her father grew rice. Life was getting better. Not just financially but also in terms of the freedom they had to choose their own paths. I'd become used to the doom and gloom coverage of Vietnam but this was uniformly positive. How can this not be reflected, even in some tiny way, in the news?

Identity So then, some days later, I saw this picture of 16 young Vietnamese people. Each one essentially wrapped in their flag. They had the means to get themselves independently to Sapa and the desire to climb Fansipan and to spend a few days in the countryside away from the shops, bars, cafes

and restaurants of Hanoi. Their pride in their achievements, themselves, their team and their flag are virtually indistinguishable. This is what you work for in every sense. They’re being young. They’ve found the gap between school and expected domesticity and they’re making sure they enjoy it. Something else? Eight boys, eight girls and I don’t think they’re all couples. The girls weren’t expected to stay behind, shop and wait for their men. The boys didn’t go on a lads drinking holiday. This was the first pic I saw and then later countless others were posted, but this captures a moment. A challenge met. If the doomers and gloomers are right, then Vietnam faces a few more challenges in the months and years to come. And there’s a chance that these young people will look back at this picture as a peak of a very different kind. But whatever is coming, Vietnam has seen far worse scenarios. It’s this generation’s turn to step up. I think they’ll do us proud.

To celebrate the quite remarkable feat of turning 12, Old Quarter stalwart Tamarind Café are offering 12 percent off all bills for the entire month of October. Tamarind have been selling vegetarian dishes in the heart of Hanoi since 2000, so they must be doing something right. The landmark also comes with developments as the second floor has now been turned into an Indian restaurant. Spice will have its grand opening on Oct. 12 with the two chefs from Calcutta serving up the likes of dhal tarka, chicken masala and freshly baked naan. Tamarind and Spice are both located at 80 Ma May, Hoan Kiem. They open for lunch from 11am to 2.30pm and again for dinner from 5.30pm to 10.30pm. Check out the website at

Metiseko have turned Hanoi fashion upside down since the Hoi An-based company opened its first store in the capital earlier this year. Stylish, feminine and eco-friendly, the brand seems to be doing everything right and attracting a lot of media attention for their efforts. October marks the arrival point of their latest collection and it promises to be chic. Featuring a mix of the latest up-and-coming French fashion designers and the best talent from overseas, Metiseko promise the new collection will be a rhapsody of prints, style and nature. In Hanoi, Metiseko is based at 40-42 Luong Ngoc Quyen, Hoan Kiem. To make way for the new stock there’ll be plenty of discounts for those on a budget.


ZOMBIE CRAWLING On Oct. 27, Summit Lounge will host what they are dubbing the “ultimate” Halloween special, the Zombie Crawl Party. With a competition for the best fancy costume, the one and only red-back spider cocktail made by their talented bartenders, professional dancers and famous guest DJs with the hottest mixes of the year, expect a night of scary antics and top-shelf spirits with amazing views over the city to match. The event starts from 8.30pm and goes on until 1am. Entry is free. Summit Lounge, Sofitel Plaza Hanoi, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh

It doesn’t get much more romantic than discovering Indochina by floating up the majestic Mekong. That’s exactly what Exotissimo are offering with their three-day cruises from Houay Xay on the Thai border to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Luang Prabang. Trips are via a 34-meter traditional style riverboat punctuated with land excursions to rural villages and caves with overnight stays in serene towns and beautiful lodges. Exotissimo’s river cruises are available at the discounted price of VND10,847,000 per person until 31 Oct. To find more about this and other Exotissimo offers in the region, email or pop into the office at 9 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho.

In the Papers

the talk


BREAST ENLARGING CAKE ALL GUM SEXUAL h i gum, made d iin F i advertised d ti d as an aphrodisiac h di i ffor women. A new chewing France, iis b being Several listed ingredients include epimedium herb extract, which contains nitric oxide that can arouse sexual desire in both men and women. “But that needs a large amount of the extract,” says one local doctor. “Advertisements only say the gum has the extract, not how much there is actually in it.” People should be careful or they will have spent money for nothing, continues the doctor. A box of 20 sticks cost VND309,000.

VIETNAM’S FIRST SPACE CENTRE The centre will be built on a nine-hectare site in the Hoa Lac Hi-Tech Zone for a total cost of nearly US$700 million. Of the investment, more than US$587 million has been funded by the Japanese government’s ODA source and the rest has come from the Vietnamese government. Once fully operational, the centre will be able to design, produce, install, test and control smaller satellites and ensure they are operational in all weather conditions. It will help with early warnings of natural and environmental disasters, forecast agricultural output and marine resources, and update electronic maps for land management, as well as serve as a research base for global climate change. The centre will also be able to train 350 scientists and specialist technicians in space technologies.

Breast enlarging cakes for women are being sold in Vietnam, but doctors are skeptical about their efficacy. The cakes are advertised as being capable of enlarging breasts and making them firmer, keeping hair and skin healthy, slowing down the ageing process, and reducing stress. A box costs VND599,000 and advertisements claim users can see the effect after using seven boxes in two months. But Dr Hoang Thi Diem Tuyet, deputy director of Tu Du, a leading Ho Chi Minh City hospital, said, “Scientifically, the cake can hardly have the advertised effects.” Its most potent ingredient is pueraria mirifica, which has a high content of plant-derived estrogen, the main female sex hormone, she explained. “A large amount of the estrogen can increase breast size, but it is hard to process it since it easily dissolves at high temperatures. That is not even to mention cases where the cake making process can alter elements [and turn them] into something else.”


JOE JACKSON DENIES EQUITY INVESTMENT IN HAPPYLAND Michael Jackson’s father has stated that he is not an investor in a US$2 billion theme park project in Vietnam. He has decided not to proceed with any further investment or involvement in the project Happyland Vietnam, he continued. Happyland Vietnam, backed by the Khang Thong Group, is projected to be the largest theme park in Southeast Asia. It was to be inspired by the late Michael Jackson’s Neverland Valley Ranch. The Khang Thong Group had said Jackson is an investor in the 1,000-room hotel planned in Happyland, which will be located in the Mekong Delta province of Long An.

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The Ministry of Construction has asked for VND11.277 trillion from the government to build the country’s biggest history museum in Hanoi. If approved, the work will start in November on a 10-hectare site in the Western Sword Lake new urban area in Tu Liem District, news website VnExpress reported. Besides the exhibition area, the museum will also have a storage area, a restoration centre, a hall for conferences and film screenings, and an area for commemorating people of the past. There will be indoor and outdoor exhibition areas, the latter for large relics and for use when a complex is needed to explain certain historical or cultural eras. If approved, the museum is expected to be completed by May 2016.

FIRST PROFESSIONAL PAINTBALL COMPETITION HELD Last month, The Vietnam Open Paintball Tournament was held at Tri Long Club in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 12 with the participation of 16 teams. This was the first official competition to be held in Vietnam, for professional and amateur teams, with 16 teams from Hanoi, Da Nang, Ho Chi Minh City and a guest team from Cambodia taking part. Each team consisted of five gunners, with four teams playing in the round-robin format. The two teams with the highest points reached the final round. Each match lasted up to five minutes. In addition to promoting this new sport in Vietnam, the tournament selected the best team to represent Vietnam at the World Paintball Championships, held in Langkawi, Malaysia in mid-November this year.

October 2012 Word | 19


MON 01


BOXING. 6pm every Mon., Wed. & Fri. @ House of Laughter Dojo


CA TRU THANG LONG. 8pm every Tue., Thu. & Sat. @ 87 Ma May, Hoan Kiem

09 HANOI PUB QUIZ @ R&R Tavern every Tuesday, 9.30pm to 11.30pm GAMES ON TUESDAYS. 6.30pm every Tue. at Hanoi Ois Netball Club




FITNESS THURSDAYS. 6pm every Thu. at the Aussie Embassy


ELECTRONIC MUSIC NIGHT at ATK. 9pm every first Thu. of the month

SPEED TRAINING WITH RRR. 8pm every Wed. at Sedona Suites Hanoi

LIVE FLAMENCO GUITAR TRIO. 8.30pm every Thu. at Don’s Bistro


FREE VIETNAMESE CLASSES @ Puku every Wednesday, 7pm



SCREENING OF “TAKE ME AWAY FAST”. 8.30pm at ATK. Visit www. for info

BECOMING A MAN. Until Nov. 11 @ Vietnam Museum of Ethnology



ULTIMATE FRISBEE PICKUP. 8pm to 10pm every Tue. at Van Phuc Sports Center


MIKE’S ACOUSTICS & FRIENDS. 8.30pm every Mon. @ Don’s Bistro

ARGENTINE TANGO CLASS. 8pm to 10pm every Tue. at Quang Trung Secondary School

LIVE MUSIC AT TAY TAP. 8pm every Wed. at Tay Tap Bar and Grill

TOASTMASTERS. 6.30pm to 8.30pm every Tue. @ KOTO on Van Mieu

GAMES NITE. 7pm every Wed. at Tea Talk


JAPANESE FILM FESTIVAL: COMEDY 2012. From Oct. 25 to Dec. 1, visit www.jpf. for info

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VILLA MARIA WINE DINNER. 6.30pm at the InterContinental

SPOTLIGHT! @ Hanoi Rock City, 8pm every Thu.

DON’S TURNS THREE. Happy hour from 5pm to 9pm, buy one get one free drink at Don’s. For the whole of October

EXPERIMENTAL MUSIC NIGHT AT ATK. 9pm every last Thu. of the month





DJ NIGHT @ Summit Lounge, 9pm every Fri. & Sat.

KINDERCOOK – KID’S COOKING CLASS. 4pm every Fri at Pegasus International UniCentre LIVE ACOUSTIC MUSIC @ Z Coffee Bar. 8.30pm every Fri. SCREENING OF “MOTHER’S SOUL”. 8pm at L’espace


OPERA “COSI FAN TUTTE” BY W.MOZART. 8pm Oct. 5 & 6 at Hanoi Opera House. Visit for tickets




SUN WEEKEND MARKET @ Asian Veterinary & Livestock Services, 9.30am to 12.30pm every Sat. & Sun

VIETNAMESE LANGUAGE CLUB. 7pm every Fri. at Tea Talk

LIVE PIANIST @ Panacea Cafe, 8.30pm every Thu. & Sat.

SAT 06



NOMIHODAI. 4pm to 8pm from Mon. to Thu. at Hot Rock Bar

HAPPY HOUR. Buy one get one free drink & complimentary snacks. 5pm to 9pm every day at Lakeside Bar

MUSIC NITE. 7pm every Thu. at Tea Talk

BEASTIE BOYS NIGHT at FatCat Bar LIVE ROCK ‘N’ ROLL. 9pm every Wed. at Polygon Musik Cafe

FRI 05


JU JITSU. 6.30 every Tue. & Thu., 10.30am every Sat. & Sun. at House of Laughter Dojo


THU 04


WOMEN’S GAELIC FOOTBALL TRAINING @ Dang Thai Mai football field every Tuesday

DRAGONS IN THE CLOUDS. From Sep. 6 to Oct. 9 at L’Espace


To have your event included in our calendar, please email by no later than Oct. 18 with a description of the event and a high-res photo

MUSICK TO PLAY IN THE DARK. 8pm at Hanoi Rock City

LET THE MUSIC TAKE OVER CONTROL! @ Summit Lounge, 9pm every Fri. FRIDAY MILONGA - ARGENTINE TANGO @ Xichlo Cafe, 8pm every Fri. SCREENING OF “DE VRAIS MENSONGES”. 8pm at L’espace


BABYLON BURNING @ Panacea Cafe, 2pm every Sun. LIVE TRADITION VIETNAMESE. 8.30pm every Sun. at Don’s Bistro


SUNDAY MARKET. 10am to 3pm every second Sun. of each month @ Hanoi Cooking Centre

SUBSCRIPTION CONCERT VOL.56 “MAHLER CYCLE”. 8pm Oct. 12 & 13 at Hanoi Opera House. Visit www.ticketvn. com for tickets




SPEED DATING. 9pm every Sat. at R&R Tavern JAZZ QUARTER, FUNKY, FUSION. 8.30pm every Sat. at Don’s Bistro VIETNAMESE WOMEN’S DAY 2012. Oct. 19 & 20 at Highway4. 50 percent discount on meals

27 BLV'S VIETNAMESE CLUB. 2pm to 4pm every Sat. @ Star Office, 53 Quang Trung HAUNTED CIRCUS CARAVAN - A HALLOWED EVE AFFEAR. 7pm to 11pm at 21 North Club (49 Lang Yen Phu, Tay Ho)

THE WORLD OF KIRIGAMI: A HUNDRED FLOWERS & WORDS. From Sep. 22 to Oct. 21 at the Japan Foundation Exhibition Hall

28 PIKNIC ELECTRONIK @ Keangnam Landmark Garden, 4pm to 10pm every Sun.

POOLSIDE BBQ DINNER. 6.30pm every Sat. at Novotel Ha Long


KING LEAR. 8pm Oct. 0 & 31 at Hanoi Opera House. Call 0904 138 495 for info

October Oc O cttoobeer 2012 20 012 2 Word Word Wo d | 21 1


FOODSHOP 45 After 10 years of a serving a tasty chicken tikka masala and much, much more, the Indian restaurant on Truc Bach wined, dined and dragon-danced a full house of revelers for their anniversary party.




HENNESSY ARTISTRY NIGHT Monica, Phuong Vy and The Okamotos brought a diverse sound, as well as a lively crowd, to the stage of National Convention Centre.

TIARA SALON OPENING Wedding shop Tiara finally opened to the public, just in time for the season of goodwill and lots of nuptials


CAMPUS CITY HANOI This month, 15 students from the RMIT School of Architecture got a hands on feel of how booming Hanoi can be redefined through bus loops, rail lines and waterways.

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That famous bar on the boat may have a new name and a fresh new feel, but it still has the same, slightly shaky bridge. This month they hosted the first anniversary of young rockers 18+ with the support of Go Lim.

MUSHROOM BUTTONS AND SUB ELEMENTS Miix Lounge hosted SUB ELEMENTS’ rumbling bass party with Malaysian guests Mushroom Buttons laying down the latest in trap music.

REACH CENTRE The REACH centre hosted a Rua Nha party to help young women take their first steps towards careers in web and graphic design, nail art, hair dressing, hospitality, retail sales and housekeeping.




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The Sommelier The face and brains behind French restobar Le Paul Conti, from starting as a young trainee at Hoa Sua Training Restaurant, Hai Ha has become one of the first French-trained sommeliers to ply his trade in Vietnam. Interview by Nick Ross

You come from an educated background. So, why did you decide to become a trainee at Hoa Sua when you left high school rather than going onto university? In high school, I learned French. I was in a special French class. After high school, my father sent me to Hoa Sua for two reasons; to develop my French language skills because Hoa Sua had a lot of contacts with French people and French culture. Secondly, for me to be more independent. At the time, my mother was furious with my father’s decision. After my training period, I won a scholarship to study in France. Here I had the chance to do internships in major hotels in Paris. It was there that I first experienced true French cuisine. After leaving Hoa Sua you spent a number of years living in France studying to become a sommelier and then working in your chosen career. Why France and why a sommelier? I’ve always liked wine. My father worked in education and he was in charge of taking care of all of the French teachers in Vietnam. He had a lot of projects with France, so every time he went there on business, he brought us back a lot of wine. However, it was at Hoa Sua that I met Christophe Roublin, a French sommelier who at the time was a volunteer there. It was Christophe who inspired me to want to know more about wine. When I arrived in France, Christophe advised me that if I want to understand wine, I must first know French cuisine. So I decided to start my studies in a training kitchen. Then I learnt about alcohol and how to serve it through training as a bartender. In the end I became a sommelier. It's really easy to tell but not easy to do. Being a sommelier is not only about serving wine. It’s about having the capacity to advise clients about food, about what they should eat when drinking any wine. It’s also about individual people and their psychology. Why did you decide to return to Vietnam

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in 2010? Returning to Vietnam wasn’t a decision. It was something I was always going to do when I left the country eight years earlier. I wanted to share my passion. I wanted people in Vietnam to be more aware about how to serve, drink and store wine properly, and to associate it with Vietnamese food and culinary traditions, too. What I do every day is not a job, it is my passion and I enjoy it. I make my dream come true every day; talking about wine and tasting wine. I hope one day Vietnamese people will drink and enjoy wine properly. How have you seen wine appreciation develop in Vietnam? What are you doing to help wine drinkers? The wine market is developing strongly in Asia, and Vietnam is part of this. Unfortunately we don’t have enough professionals working in this field to meet the needs of the wine drinker. This is natural and is partly an educational issue. There is a lack of official hospitality schools in Vietnam. Also, a lot of wine master classes take place in Vietnam but there are some real difficulties here. The language is one they are usually in English and there is also the difference between the flavours that each culture has and is used to. When you have a prestigious sommelier from overseas coming to train you in English, it’s tough for the Vietnamese trainees to absorb 100 percent of the knowledge they are being given. Explaining wine flavours like ‘raspberry’ or ‘the smell of a French apricot’ can make the trainees really confused as it’s not something they know naturally. As a result I’ve set up my own wine appreciation classes. We only use Vietnamese flavours and smells when describing the wine. We also want to organise some classes to teach people how to serve, drink and store the wine properly. Many have tried to create a modern interpretation of Vietnamese cuisine. How do you see the gastronomy of this country

developing over the next few years? I love modern cuisine. I love the creative part of cooking good food. And creating a modern interpretation of Vietnamese cuisine is simply part of this country’s development. It’s like in all fields you need to keep developing. Food is the same. But there are also constraints. If we move too fast, we forget the basics. Flavours become almost extinct. I think it is now better eating on the streets of Hanoi than in many of the restaurants. It is only here that you can find the real smells, flavours and memories associated with Vietnamese cuisine. I think that in a few years we will start returning to our roots, but will continue to maintain modern cooking styles. It is natural we look for what we miss. Your restaurant is called Le Paul Conti. Why did you choose that name? Do people ever get confused and think you are Paul Conti? I've answered this question a lot. It is a word game. Paul Conti is the name of my godson. Conti is taken from this famous vineyard of Romanée-Conti, which produces some of the most sought after and expensive wine in the world. Conti also brings the idea of something ‘continental’ meaning travel and being open minded. People do not think that my name is Paul Conti because I am Vietnamese. But there are many customers who tell me about Paolo Conte, an Italian singer who wrote a song for a film. The film tells a story about a restaurant. Life is full of coincidences. What advice would you give to anyone looking to follow a career in this industry? First it’s not an easy job. It’s physical and psychologically demanding, sharing time with clients, understanding them and trying to meet their needs. The secret is having passion for the job. This way it’s possible to follow the career or trade that you love. But it’s not easy.

October 2012 Word | 27


The Alternative Film Man Douglas Pyper meets a man whose loose handshake and hesitant gaze mask confidence, passion and drive: three reasons why Tran Duy Hung — the face behind The Onion Cellar — is curating some of Vietnam’s most innovative film screenings before he’s even finished university. Photo by Francis Roux


he Onion Cellar are on a mission. They want to make you cry. Not alone, but collectively — together and in public. They’ve only been organising film screenings for less than a year, but in that short time the little collective have had a big influence on the cinema scene in Hanoi. With a reputation for screening challenging music documentaries on lesser known genres or underground artists, their efforts have seen them work with some of the most influential cultural groups in the city, collaborating with Hanoi Soundstuff, CAMA and The Japan Foundation. “In the beginning, I was The Onion Cellar and The Onion Cellar was me,” says Hung, the 22-year-old student who started it all. Now he’s got some help from Khuong in Ho Chi Minh City and Trang who looks after the Hanoi operation when Hung is studying in England. “To be honest, I’m not sure how to describe The Onion Cellar exactly,” he continues. “To me it’s a bit like a film club, but not like a traditional film club. I think we definitely have a more rock ‘n’ roll approach to the whole event organisation thing [in] the content and the approach. I’d say we are a film club, but with the approach of music promoters.”

Sounds and Images For Hung, the films he shows have to provide an alternative experience to those available elsewhere in the more established cultural institutions of Hanoi. For this reason, The Onion Cellar choose alternative spaces that match the content of the film. At the Hanoi Soundstuff electronic music festival, they silently screened a selection of short films in the courtyard of the iconic Chu Van An High School. Viewers listened on headphones in a cinematic version of the silent disco concept, while their screening of Tokyo noise documentary We Don’t Care about Music Anyway was screened at CAMA

28 | Word October 2012

ATK with performances from some of Hanoi’s premier experimental musicians, Vu Nhat Tan and Tri Minh. “I don’t want to put a film about noise music in an academic setting,” says Hung. “I definitely wanted to do that at ATK and not in the Goethe-Institut or Cinemateque. I think the venue fit the content and the spirit of the film.” What makes The Onion Cellar stand out is that they don’t take their cues from what exists in the Hanoi cinema scene already, but rather what’s lacking from it. “When I started I felt like there was a gap in the whole scene, there was still something that I could add,” says Hung. What he found lacking is exactly what he found prevalent in the cultural scene of the UK. Events, like those organised by the promoters of All Tomorrow’s Parties, that challenge audiences and blur the lines between gigs and film screenings, have proven the foundation for The Onion Cellar. Those events have directly influenced Hung “in terms of approach and what I want the audience to feel and get from the screenings”.

Layer by Layer The very name of the group implies the kind of communal experience that Hung wants his events to have on an audience. Taken from Gunter Grass novel, The Tin Drum, the Onion Cellar is a bar in post-war Dusseldorf where customers are given onions to stimulate collective crying. “Of course I don’t want to make people cry,” explains Hung, “[but] we provide something for people that they normally wouldn’t care or think about — it’s like a new, collective experience for them.” It’s no coincidence then that many of The Onion Cellar’s films have prompted fevered discussion, such as Noise and Resistance, on DIY culture in music and alternative lifestyles, KanZeOn, which explored the inter-relationship between music, spirituality and nature, or We Don’t

Care about Music Anyway, which challenged fundamental notions of what music is considered to be. September of this year was one of The Onion Cellar’s busiest yet. They curated a series of Japanese music documentaries for the Japan Foundation as well as a series of short films from cult director Vincent Moon. Curating film festivals or mini series seems to be the direction Hung wants to explore in the future. “It allows us to do something more than just take a film and show it,” he says. The result is something much larger than the sum of its parts. The next festival that Hung has in mind is a series of films concentrating on Britain. Tentatively titled Lost Landscapes of Britain, Hung hopes to have content covering small Welsh villages, mining communities in Northern England, and an existential journey round the British Isle. When pushed on what makes a film or a subject appeal to him, Hung struggles to articulate his answer and instead resorts to what turns him off: “Film, music and literature that is unimaginative, unadventurous, safe, predictable and made by people who are satisfied with repeating themselves.” On the table between us is a leaflet detailing the British Council’s latest British film festival. It contains Love, Actually, the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine and The Queen. For a country full of challenging film makers like Ken Loach, Andrea Arnold and Michael Winterbottom — who once suggested a retrospective on himself be called Struggle, Actually — the British Council’s effort is insultingly bland. It suggests either that Vietnamese audiences can’t handle more complex films or that the British Council want to project a certain, inaccurate image of the UK. Hung’s opinion is a question. “What’s the point?” he asks. Perhaps that’s The Onion Cellars’ great strength. They have one.

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Duong Lam Physically only a short drive from Hanoi, Duong Lam seems a world apart — a relic of a long lost Vietnam. Words by Nick Ross. Photos by Francis Roux. Additional reporting by Hoa Le


he turbulence of the last 150 years has meant that much of Vietnam’s architectural heritage has been erased. Take, for example, the labyrinthine alleyways of Hanoi's Old Quarter. Few of the shop houses in this maze of 36 streets are original. Villages such as Co Nhue, Yen Phu and An Duong that have been absorbed into the wider area of Hanoi have shared the same fate. The traditional brick-built, wooden-framed houses erected around a central courtyard have been knocked down. The land has been divided into smaller blocks, and over time newer, multi-storey edifices have emerged built from concrete and cheap brick. Which all helps to magnify the impact of walking into Duong Lam. Only 50km from Hanoi, this commune is a remnant of what the country’s villages and towns looked like 100 years ago.

Stepping Back in Time Arriving at lunchtime, we are greeted by a citadel-style gate, a lake populated with dying lotus and a boy shepherding a buffalo. It’s an image out of the oils sold on Hang Gai, except that the lotus would be in full bloom. Everything is from a different age. Walking through the gate the entrancement continues. The walls here are constructed out of limestone from the nearby karsts, roofing is laid with 100-year-old tiles, old Han Viet lettering sits above doorways, alleyways are surfaced with brick and mortar, and houses come replete with wooden, antique-like doorways. Feature after eyecatching feature emerges as we enter the central square of Mong Phu, one of the commune’s villages. In the square, slightly bemused — is

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this really Vietnam? — we get a surprise. Tourist areas often attract individuals looking to make a quick, not-so-honest buck. But with little attention from the media overseas, tourism here remains local and in small measure — the people we encounter are friendly and eager to please. Hungry, we are quickly ushered away into an alleyway sporting the sign Com Que. The rice restaurant is in fact the house of Phan Van Hai. “We can cook for you,” says Hai’s wife, promising a feast of home cooking, “but it will take half an hour. Is that okay?” Happy to soak up the space and the atmosphere, we agree.

A Colourful Past Appearing in historical records as early as the 10th century, the original inhabitants of what was then called Cam Gia were known for cultivating sugar cane. These days sugar cane has largely been replaced with crops such as rice, peanuts and a range of vegetables, but the agricultural backbone remains. Even the moniker is still there — the main market and the pagoda are called Cho Mia, Sugarcane Market, and Chua Mia, Sugarcane Pagoda. Many historical figures come from Duong Lam. King Phung Hung is believed to have been born in the area — today there is a shrine dedicated to his name. Another famous name, Ngo Quyen, the king who liberated the Vietnamese from Chinese domination in 939, was born of one of the tribes from Duong Lam as was the more recent figure, Giang Van Minh. It’s a history that the inhabitants of this commune are acutely aware of. And proud of, too. As we wait for lunch, Hai adds some colour.

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“This house was built in 1886,” he explains as we sip tea. He speaks slow, clear and unexpectedly well-enunciated Vietnamese. This is not language you would expect of the area. “It originally belonged to a French officer who fell in love with a Vietnamese woman from Duong Lam. He built the house. My father bought the house off the woman.” We are enthralled. “The bricks and roof of the house are all original,” he continues, pointing to the three outhouses surrounding the courtyard. “So is the wooden frame. On one roof there is the original French tiling. On the other two the tiles are all Vietnamese. They’re older than the house.” According to Hai, tourism only came to Duong Lam in 2008. Prior to that there were only a few Japanese visitors. To get a sense of the airflow and the coolness of the property, he says, one measured the temperature inside and outside his house. Outdoors it was 39°C. Indoors it was only 32.

Fee, Fie, Foe, Fum After lunch with the midday sun starting to wane we go for a wander. First we look for the real ‘ancient’ houses — there are three buildings here that are over 400 years old. An Australian tour group is sat in one tasting homebrewed rice wine. Hearing the conversation move onto pho (pronounced foe) and how pho ga is actually foe made with chicken instead of beef, we quickly move on. In reality, besides the magnificence of the flora, having already spent time in Hai’s house, the only real difference here is the building’s age. The rest of the features — the design of the roof, the high ceilings, the pots fermenting a peanut-based sauce called tuong and the animals carved into the wooden awning — remain similar, if not the same. At another house, however, noticing images of Jesus and Mary Magdalene we discover a surprising fact. 30 percent of the villagers are Catholic. Has this caused aggravation, we ask ourselves? No-one seems to have an answer. Perhaps in the past. But while the commune’s church is closed from prying eyes and outside business, the communal house of Mong Phu is very much open for visitors as is the multi-coloured, wooden-panelled pagoda, Chua Mia. As we leave, some fleeting thoughts pass through our minds. A couple of restaurants here, a cultural show there, some activities, cooking classes and more. Duong Lam could become a real hub for visitors. But does anyone really want this place to be exploited? And what do the residents think? In its present form this commune is like Hoi An would have been in the early 1990s. Get there now before it starts to change. But don't touch anything.

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INFORMATION Duong Lam is 4km from Son Tay City on Highway 21. The most direct route from Hanoi is out of Cau Giay. Follow Ho Tung Mau out of Cau Giay and past My Dinh to Duong Lam. Alternatively you can take the Thang Long Highway to Hoa Lac and then turn right up Highway 21. For more information on Duong Lam call Duong Lam Tourist on 3326 0918 / 3383 1818 or go to As well as providing meals for hungry travellers, Phan Van Hai has rooms to rent for anyone wishing to stay in the village. Call 01685 111136.

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HANOI GOES WEST 34 | Word October 2012


epending on traffic and your competitive spirit, it takes roughly 45 minutes to travel from downtown Hanoi to Vietnam’s tallest building in My Dinh. Though a categorically unpleasant xe om ride in the rush hour, or an equally frustrating journey by car, these minutes are negligible compared to the leap in time completed over the course of the journey. Entering Hanoi West from the aged constructions and colonial designs of Hoan Kiem can trigger science fiction fantasies; the blocky, high-rise buildings at first seem incongruous with the architecture we traditionally associate with this city With such a focus on the new and the generic, it makes it easy to dismiss My Dinh as soulless, as no more than a dustbowl and a construction site. It is a mistake. The following pages illuminate how this ‘urban area’ with less then a decade’s history, in fact has soul. There are dreams, too. This is a vision of modern Vietnam, Hanoi’s very own Shangri La or Arcadia. It’s a place that ordinary people can aspire to, an area that offers the hope of a new way of life, an end to the struggle and hardship that have characterised much of modern Vietnam. So, leaving the comfort of central Hanoi behind, this month we headed west. We spent a night out in My Dinh, met its residents, or trawled round its shopping malls, high-rises and landmarks, and talked to those helping to construct this new city. As we discovered, My Dinh is a place worth talking about.

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My Dinh is far more than an area of transformer-like, interplanetary high-rises sprouting out of fields of cement. Kaitlin Rees speaks to some of the people who spend their time there. Photos by Aaron Joel Santos


f My Dinh is the new face of Hanoi, 40-year-old Truong is one its plastic surgeons. For the last two years he has been paving the grounds for a new parking lot off of a still unnamed street leading into the lurching development behind. Though his family live back in Nam Dinh, he’s been in My Dinh since it was “a forest of morning glory”. He currently works from 6.30am until finishing his second job as a security guard well into the night. With the money he makes working construction, he is putting his eldest daughter through nursing school. Then there’s 22-year-old Vinh, one of the new guys. A month ago, Vinh got a funky asymmetrical haircut and moved from Nghe An to My Dinh with a friend who talked up all the work available. Since then he has installed electricity in Keangnam Towers, sometimes for 15 hours a day. The VND5 million a month he makes gets divided between rent for a room he shares with three other people and for drinking tea outside of My Dinh Stadium. Or perhaps we can look at Hoan, 47, who sweeps streets for an environmental company. Two years ago, before she started her work, My Dinh modernisation was well under way, but according to her it was hard to tell because of all the rubbish left over from construction. “No one was taking care of it,” she says. “Now because of my company, people can see that My Dinh is developed.” We tend to see My Dinh as an inhuman concrete construction, a latter day Singapore that has sprouted up from the ground as if put there by aliens. But look beyond the building sites, fenced off land, rubble and high-rises, and there are human beings, with lives and stories. The people who built it — the likes of Truong, Vinh

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and Hoan — and the people who inhabit it. They are the true force behind this new city and it is they who are shaping its future.

REACH FOR THE SKIES One of the first businesses to profit from Keangnam Towers was that of 48-year-old banh cuon vendor, Anh. Five years ago, he heard the construction of a giant building was about to start and moved his wet rice paper rolls from the Hai Ba Trung area to directly across the street from the construction site. Today, his food shop is one of many plastic tarp establishments serving lunch. Anh’s customers, at one point exclusively construction workers, are now a mix of the hard-hat wearing men and the ironed-shirt-wearing office workers in the area. Though the banh cuon business is clearly successful, it’s unlikely that someone living in the towers ventures over for lunch. For instance, Mr Can, one resident recently transplanted from Ba Dinh District, mostly stays in his 35th floor apartment to eat lunch. And with a view like his, it would be understandable if he never wanted to leave home at all. From a starkly clean couch, one can observe the ribbons of highway, speckles of people, and blue grey mountains that you may not even realise existed right outside of Hanoi. “It’s even better in the evening,” he comments, highlighting the points of interest that light up like twinkling eyes at night. There is no one kind of person who has moved into Keangnam Towers, and there are of course many reasons for each wanting to do so. For Mr Can, 74, the noise and crowdedness of his former home on Giang Van Minh in Ba Dinh were not ideal. It was just about tolerable. But when his daughter’s workplace relocated out to My

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“If you want to have growth, you really have to do something drastic to the infrastructure”

Dinh, the commute was too long for her to stay where she was, and he didn’t want to be separated from his family — they were all living on the same street. Mr Can’s daughter now lives on the 37th floor of the tower with her family and eats breakfast and dinner at his home. Mr Can tells of his old neighbour on Giang Van Minh, only seven meters away, and the wall right outside of his window that spat hot wastage air, from an air conditioner, into his home. Yet it is hard to picture Mr Can in any environment besides his spacious and cooled apartment. He doesn’t go to much length to complete the picture of his past homes. “Small, dirty and cramped,” could be used to describe all of his former living spaces, starting with his childhood home in Yen Bai. For him, where he is now is better, and that occupies the focus of his conversation. Downstairs is a hospital, a pool, a gym. There is a shopping centre. There are coffee shops. It is clear that comfort and convenience are at a premium. As well as safety. “The building can withstand an earthquake of 7.2 magnitude, though I don’t expect one in the near future,” he adds. What more could you ask for?

LOOKING BACK Well, good ol’ fashioned pho maybe. Van has lived in the Manor in the Frenchinspired quarter of My Dinh for five years now, and still wakes up thinking, “Wow, what am I going to eat for breakfast?” As a ‘real Hanoian’ who grew up listening to the chimes of St. Joseph’s cathedral and the steady flow of motorbikes down Quan Su, there is no replacement for the cuisine served in the 36 streets that make up the Old Quarter. It’s so irreplaceable, in fact, that the 34-year-old mother of two will drive three days a week nearly one hour from her current home to get breakfast at her old pho shop, where the same vendors still ask about her parents and banter while she eats. Though the Manor lacks this precious meal, for Van, “it’s not about the taste of pho. It’s about the taste of memory, the taste

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of childhood”. And because where she lives now is in a world away from her 18sqm childhood home, it makes sense that inside a bowl of noodle soup is a nostalgia that has no other name besides breakfast. Van moved from her parents’ house in the Old Quarter to a more modern and beautifully decorated apartment in My Dinh right after she got married. For her husband, the move was easier. Though he grew up in Hanoi too, his home was further from the centre of the city and his idea of comfort is different than hers from all his travel in western countries. Van explains. “My husband says, ‘how could you live around all that dirt? The food is not clean.’ He just wants to have something clean and to sit in cool air conditioning. If the food is not good, he can forget about it.” When asked about worries that her own children will not have the special Hanoi feeling that she was fortunate to have, Van disregards the concern. Even this staunch Old Quarter woman embraces the development of her changing city. “Every generation has to accept the fact that their lifestyle will change,” she says. “Lifestyle should change. It cannot keep.”

LOOKING FORWARD That lifestyle change is precisely what seems to attract people to My Dinh, even if they are not living on the 35th floor of a new building. And even if they are not living in any building at all. Mr Tem, 44, sleeps on a mat in an unfinished villa around the corner from the Manor. He’s been supervising the construction of this villa for the past five months, which is set to be completed next spring. Prior to this project in My Dinh, Mr Tem worked for six years in an industrial park in Ha Dong about 7km away. His wife and children are 180km away in Thanh Hoa province. Though he goes back to visit once a month, he thinks about them much more often. “I usually go to the Fivimart and look at the things I could get my children,” he says. “I don’t buy anything though, just look.” Le Van Thinh, 44, shares a house for VND2 million a month with five other

people and also goes home monthly to Thanh Hoa Province. Three years ago he left his hometown after he got ‘called to work’ in My Dinh and now he’s finishing the walls of Keangnam Towers. In his trips back to the countryside, he used to bring the money he saved while working. In a Tom Waitslike rumble of a voice, Thinh explains that since his son is now in his first year at Hanoi University, all his savings go to him. Though clearly tired, as he walks away from lunch back to his towering work, his stride is that of a self-possessed man.

SEPARATE SPACES Over in the Crowne Plaza, Michel also walks to work with some satisfaction. As a resident of the apartment complex and general manager of the enterprise, he successfully avoids all traffic by living where he works. Michel is another person who has the benefit of a breathtaking view. Before moving to Hanoi 14 months ago, Michel spent the previous 10 years living in Rio de Janeiro. What he sees from his window now has nothing at all in common with his last view. Yet he doesn’t expect there to be. “I cannot go and look for Rio in Hanoi.” He has a similar attitude to the contrasts between Hoan Kiem and My Dinh. They are completely different places and rightly should be. To preserve the past and at the same time move into the future, it is necessary to have distinct spaces for each. “If you want to have growth, you really have to do something drastic to the infrastructure,” he explains. “If you start to touch the history of the Old Quarter and its legacy, the best way is to go around it. You need to move out of it.” In Rio, Michel gravitated more to the nature and outdoor activity that escape from the city afforded. Here in Hanoi he is attracted to the bustling urban setting of the downtown area because he now lives in a quiet environment away from it. And so, between these distinct places Michel travels, every weekend, going to Hoan Kiem for leisure, to walk around the narrow streets, sit by the lake with his family, take in the old coffee shop culture and “essence of Hanoi” that he hopes will always stay.

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A NIGHT OUT IN MY DINH Tasked with spending a dusty night out on the town in My Dinh, Douglas Pyper casts off his downtown shackles and gets a taste of the high life. Photos by Aaron Joel Santos

suppose you know nothing at all,” says the editor, “about the new centre of Hanoi out in My Dinh?” “Not a damn thing, boss,” says I, “save they’ve a tidy stadium out there.” “Here’s for your education, then.” A few minutes later a couple of files appear in my inbox: All Roads Lead to My Dinh, Office Moves Offer Rare Chance to Entrench Downtown Hanoi, My Dinh: The Next Frontier. “Head office wants 900 words on the new centre of Hanoi in the next 48 hours. Here, take this.” She passes me a worn dust mask. “You’re going to need it.” Browsing the drab news articles makes me dread going to My Dinh. Unwanted words and phrases pop out: modern, developed, high-rise, new administrative hub, highest building in Vietnam, city’s size tripled, reduce population density, urbanisation process… My Dinh is starting to seem like a hub of buzzwords and catchphrases. If the boss reckons I’m going to trawl through dry texts on city planning to pen a hack-piece on grade A office space and international schools, she’s got another thing coming. I pick up the phone and dial head office.

THE HIGH LIFE “Nick, it’s about the My Dinh piece. The editor thinks we should change focus.” “I’m pretty busy right now, can I call you back?” I hear the sound of women’s laughter and clinking glasses in the background. “Just a quick one. How about we ignore the development aspect and focus on entertainment? You know, what can you do for fun in My Dinh, where can you eat, drink, shop, sing, get laid — that sort of thing. The editor has her heart set on this. All we need are expenses and the go ahead from you to make it happen.” “Ok, ok, I’ve got to go, just keep it clean.” The last thing I hear is a loud guffaw, cut off by the sound of champagne popping as the line goes dead.

BEYOND EDEN The pamphlets fail at the first hurdle. All roads do not lead to My Dinh. From the original centre of Hanoi, there are 11km of highways, sky trains, roadworks, overpasses, underpasses and bridges to get lost in before you even get there. Following the high-rises and passing under the massive raised highway known as Duong Tren Cao (The High Road) symbolically marks your transition into My Dinh. Biblically, you are brought out by The Garden, the area’s most famous mall. In The Garden, all entertainment is electronic. On the first floor your feet, back and bum can all receive absent-minded care and attention from massage machines. Upstairs in HeroZone, a massive arcade, games like Tekken 6 and Street Fighter Alpha 3 — combined with company funds — will keep you entertained for a few minutes.

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In HeroZone you can electronically throw basketballs into hoops, punch your friends, smash rats with hammers and drive motorbikes with a blissful disregard for traffic regulations. So much for the Old Quarter. To its great credit, though, The Garden does have shops where you can buy plain cotton underwear and T-shirts. No dragons, no nylon, no sequins and at reasonable prices — a real shopping Mecca. My new underwear is making me feel hungry so we head back into the night in search of food. The area around The Garden is architecturally modelled on Europe. Blocks are uniform and akin to tenements, with wide pavements and corner cafes that put out iron seating and Parisian tablecloths. The cuisine on offer is also international, with Korean, Japanese and Italian snuggling up with the usual pho houses. Korean seems to be most common and Nha Hang Han Quoc Han Cook seems too good to say no to. Cheap, decent food is served in a clean, air-con environment, and four hungry funseekers get well fed plus a bottle of soju for VND320,000.

THE FUN OF THE FAIR With soju in its veins, our gang of four heads back out into the night. If this is to be the new centre of Hanoi then it must have entertainment, otherwise it will remain a dust bowl of stalled construction projects, a useless extravagance like a cocktail without garnish. Thankfully, My Dinh has a sprig of mint in its mojito. For those seeking fun, weirdness and a night out, that sprig is the area around the stadium. It’s a perfect synergy of Vietnamese sensibilities and a developed world space. The grassy embankments separating the sides of four-lane roads are packed with people picnicking among the trees. On a Wednesday night at 9.30, the area is buzzing like a European park in summer as people put the only real public grass in the city to good use. The enormous section of road by the stadium is taken over as a space to fly kites and eat candyfloss. It’s like a massive ad hoc kite festival; did I mention it’s in the middle of the road? There’s also a funfair. Inside is a selection of rides for kids, a roller skating rink, and a Flying Motorbike ride. Known as the ‘Wall of Death’ in other parts of the world, it’s that fantastic show where a daredevil rides a motorbike around the vertical walls of a massive barrel. It’s not running tonight but is supposed to be in action every weekend. The only question is whether they do it on a Honda Wave, a Minsk or a Honda Dream. Back out on the street, most pavement spaces have been taken over by mobile karaoke joints. Here you can sit down, order a drink and sing the occasional song. We sing Hey Jude. The group of university students after us sing I Feel So Good When I Ride in My Tank. The screen for visuals

is propped up on the back of a cart with the neon sign of the Keangnam Landmark Tower floating ominously over the top. As the authorities drive by, the music ceases and the screen disappears — suddenly we’re just any other café half on the pavement half on the street. Two minutes later we’re ready for another song.

LATE AND LIVE As the clock creeps towards midnight, now seems like a good time to up the ante. In the stadium a new live music venue called 02 has recently appeared. Affiliated to Khong Gian Am Nhac, a music space famous for slick advertising and sick ticket prices, this new venue seems to enjoy equally large amounts of investment. The sound system is good enough for a small outdoor festival and more than capable of making you unable to hear the person next to you. The lights, too, are of international quality, while the screen behind the performers is a cinema size LED screen, the kind of equipment you’d find at a Bob Dylan or a Radiohead concert for 60,000-plus people. There’s something of a divide between the equipment and the performance. A guy, his shirt unbuttoned to reveal his impeccably smooth chest, is singing to a backing track — his silky, shiny shirt didn’t come from The Garden. When he leaves, three girls take to the stage. Immediately the customers are more animated. The male customers stand and pump their fists in the air while their dates smile on. When they look over, I too pump my fist in the air, eager to bridge the cultural divide. They look away quickly. When the dance routine is over the men drop back down like HeroZone machines that’ve run out of coins. Perhaps they knew what was coming. The MC announces the “DJ Programme”. But there is a massive twist: there is no DJ. Instead we watch an Avril Lavigne music video on the big screen. Then we watch two more. It really is a lovely screen, but the avant garde concept has gone over my head. Unable to relate to the programme I turn my attention to the waitresses. In a nice touch they’re all wearing black rimmed glasses. Perhaps it’s to imply intelligence or sophistication befitting a club for live music shows like those we’ve just seen? Or maybe they’re just big Joe Ruelle fans? I try telling them that I’m a famous journalist, then resort to lying that I edited Joe’s latest best-seller. The weird grins that come back make me realise it’s time to leave. On the way out, some of the more desperate door staff want to take their picture with me. They’re very excited, but not as much as me as I insist on some inappropriate photo hugs. It seems then that a Tiger infused fog descended for next thing I knew I was in my room. It was morning. A camera full of vaguely rock star poses and a wallet of receipts – the notes for A Night Out in My Dinh.

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The largest foreign population of Hanoi, newly constructed residential areas such as My Dinh have become home to growing communities of Koreans. Words by Hoa Le. Photos by Francis Roux


he 17th floor of Keangnam Tower has been home for Mrs Sun and her husband for just about a year. They call Hanoi their home because of Mrs Sun’s husband’s job. He works as the general director of a garment factory in Hai Duong Province while Mrs Sun is a psychiatric nurse at an international hospital in town, with a focus on Korean clients. “My life has been so much more [interesting] since I came to Vietnam,” she says. “In Korea for 10 years I just worked. Worked and went home to take care of my kid while my husband was overseas. He came home only once or twice a year, so there were times when I couldn’t see our family bond. But now we are together and I can enjoy life here more.”

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Five years ago, Mrs Sun quit her job and moved to Ho Chi Minh City where her husband was working and settled down with him. When he had to relocate to Hanoi, she came with him, and things turned out just right when she found employment in the hospital. They have sent their son to study in Singapore. Inside Mrs Sun’s large, brand-new apartment the furnishings and interior design make it hard to believe that you are not in Korea. Mrs Sun has looked at a few different places including the Ciputra area. But, she says gazing out the window through My Dinh, she decided to take this apartment because “it feels safe, clean and there are many shops and services in the area”. Although she doesn’t go to the Old

Quarter area or other parts in town very often, she seems to be happy with what My Dinh offers. “There is a saying in the Korean community in Vietnam that your life will be happy and complete if you have three things taken care of well,” she explains. “They are a good landlord, a good housekeeper and a good driver.” She adds that she has got the first two things taken care of and is now very lucky as she’s just found a trustworthy taxi driver. He takes her to any part of town she needs to go to. That is the way that Mrs Sun gets around in Hanoi when her husband is not around. He only comes home on the weekends, spending all the weekdays working in Hai Duong. According to the Korean Embassy

in Hanoi, there is a steady growth in the Korean population in Hanoi. At the moment there are about 8,000 Koreans here, most of whom are like Mrs Sun’s family. The husband works in investment or is a Korean company representative, and the family come along to settle down in Vietnam.

MAKING HANOI HOME The economic cooperation between Korea and Vietnam continues to expand. According to the Korean Embassy, the aggregate of Korea's investment in this country between 1968 and 2011 was 14.4 billion dollars, making Vietnam Korea’s sixth largest investment destination. Korea is the second largest source of foreign investment in Vietnam this year and the number of Koreans living in this country is reported to have reached 80,000. In tandem with this growth restaurants, services and entertainment have appeared to cater for the Korean community. There are also over 100 flights a week going between various destinations in Vietnam and Korea. In the early 2000s there were only a handful of Korean restaurants in Hanoi. Now there are over 100, mostly in the My Dinh or Trung Hoa areas. According to Koreans themselves, the quality of the cuisine is just as good as in Korea. Primary services for the Koreans in

Hanoi have proliferated, too. Mrs Sun found her apartment and even her college student housekeeper through a Korean real estate agent in Hanoi, of which there are now plenty. You only need to look through one of the seven regular Korean publications including Live Plaza, Smile or Hanoi Korean News to find others. To seek survival tips for living in Vietnam, Koreans can go to a forum called Vemammo, the Korean Mothers in Vietnam Club. Here people exchange information on everything from which school is good for their kids to recipes to make Korean cookies using Vietnamese ingredients as replacements. There is also the Korean-Hanoi church, which has regular services for the large Korean Christian community. The HanoiKorean International School in Vietnam, a project of the embassy, now has 450 students. It offers an identical education system to that available in Korea. Korean medical centres with Korean doctors and nurses are also available including the Newlife Clinic in Trung Hoa, several wards at the Family Medical Centre and the Koica hospital.

A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE Lee Hye-un moved to Hanoi a year ago with her husband. Both of them are in their early 30s, professional and working on a two-year contract in Vietnam. “Most Koreans living abroad have a more open-minded attitude and are more

adventurous,” says Hye-un, adding that living and working overseas has always been her dream. “My parents and friends back home are worried for me as they still hold the image of Vietnam in the past as a poor and less developed country. But in fact, I’ve had one of the best years of my life here. I’m thinking of extending the contract.” Earning a higher salary than local Vietnamese, Mrs Sun and her husband also seem to have good reasons for staying in Vietnam. However, it’s not so clear-cut. “With our son going to school in Singapore, and the rent and other expenses that we wouldn’t have if we lived in Korea, we actually don’t save much money,” says Mrs Sun. “But the experience of living in a new country where you are free to try new things is our most valuable treasure.” With the Lotte residence and entertainment complex soon to be completed, and with continued collaboration between Vietnam and Korea, the Korean community in Hanoi looks set to expand. Many Koreans come and return home, the experience a one-time memory in their lives. For others, living in Vietnam changes their lives. That was the case with Mr Han who was sent to work for two years in Vietnam by his company in Korea. “I’ve found my sweetheart here and we’ve just got engaged,” he says. “We both want to live here after we get married.”

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If you have a penchant for food courts, My Dinh might just be culinary heaven. Lauren Quinn visits the offerings available in Hanoi West and sees how they measure up to their international counterparts. Photos by Francis Roux


s Hanoi blazes into a brave new fluorescent future, western-style malls are popping up everywhere, especially in My Dinh. With the importance of food courts to the hardy shopping centre, it’s imperative that the designers of My Dinh get it right. There’s nothing worse for the comfort of a healthy digestive system than a food court conceived in haste. Fortunately, the International Charter of Culinary Consumerism (ICCC) helps provide some clarity. In accordance with their stipulations, food courts must abide by the following rules. 1) Be located on the top or bottom floor of a multi-levelled complex dedicated to commerce, commonly referred to as a ‘shopping mall’. 2) Line the perimeter of a large space, with an open-air eating area in the centre. 3) Reflect a gesture towards internationalism, with cuisines from a variety of continents represented. Flags and ethnic fonts ought to be employed to highlight the diversity of food offerings. 4) All pictorial menus must be prominently displayed. In extreme cases, no food shall be sold without photographic representation. According to the ICCC, adherence to these rules creates the defining food court experience; diners select and enjoy their meals individually, but in a communal setting. So, with so many food courts now enriching the daily lives of the average Hanoian, the obvious question arises — how do the food courts of these malls hold up to the international charter? More importantly, how do the diners adhere to these rules? Can they be trusted to be true international consumers? I decided to find out.

PARKSON CENTRE Keangnam Landmark Tower, Lo E6, Me Tri, Tu Liem Tucked one floor beneath the most impressive array of facial care and perfume counters in Hanoi is Family Food. “Family Food, future of food, uses fresh and quality food,” goes the slogan. On this Sunday afternoon, there are no

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families in evidence at Family Food. Groups of young people dot the space; pop music thumps mutedly and neon signs blink. Singaporean, Korean, Thai and Japanese cuisines are all represented, as is western frozen yoghurt and ice-cream desserts. But despite the diverse culinary offerings, the diners exclusively engage in one type of fare; they cluster around boiling cauldrons known as ‘hot pot’. I, on the other hand, cannot resist a stall that touts Malaysian/Singaporean food. I order a vaguely named Singaporean seafood noodle dish. A pile of noodles and carrot shreds, garnished with exactly three prawns, arrives five minutes later, accompanied with a ramekin of soy sauce and chilli. I eye the giggling groups surrounding me. I should have gotten the hot pot.

THE GARDEN FOOD COURT (TOP FLOOR) The Garden, The Manor, Me Tri, Tu Liem The top floor of The Garden is a sleek, rectangular space lined on one side with food stalls and on the other with half-obstructed views of the mall’s interior. A butter-popcorn aroma from the adjacent cinema wafts through the space. The set up of The Garden is a step further along the westernisation scale, with the use of prepaid food cards instead of cash at the stalls. Here, offerings include the typical Thai, Chinese, Malaysian, Korean and Vietnamese. Yet again all stalls are empty of customers, save for one. Two modestly sized groups of young Vietnamese stand at the counter of a Hue stall, pointing to the displayed photographs of dishes. A sucker for a good fried jackfruit salad, I belly up to the counter. The salad is surprisingly fresh for mall food and by far the best dish I consume on my tour.

THE GARDEN FOOD COURT (BOTTOM FLOOR) Big C, The Garden, The Manor, Me Tri, Tu Liem At the bottom of the chugging escalators, in front of the entrance to Big C, is a smaller food court. Perhaps you can’t even call it a food court: the design is inverted, with the stalls at the centre, and two pockets of tables and chairs tucked into opposing corners of the space. The offerings include shrinkwrapped Styrofoam trays of ambiguous

pan-Asian fare, western-style fast food, a doughnut and coffee stall that simultaneously rips off both Dunkin’ Donut and Krispy Kreme logos, and a bakery serving various pizzas, sandwiches and bread goods. One item in particular piques my interest; a burger with buns made of sticky rice. Upon ordering the VND22,000 delight, I discover an internal composition of lettuce, tomato, cucumber and a mystery meat patty, which upon hesitant nibbles reveals itself to be tuna. A healthy smear of mayo holds the ingredients together, while also serving as a lubricant that sends them sliding out the backside when I attempt a bite. The result is a com-dia-cum-burger, a strange but not altogether unpleasing fusion. I tell myself I will only consume half, as I have more research ahead of me. I eat the whole thing, and blame it on the mayonnaise. Across from me, two girls gingerly peel the paper off steamed buns.

INDOCHINA PLAZA HANOI 241 Xuan Thuy, Cau Giay I follow the ‘Food Court’ signs through the circular complex of the newly opened Indochina Plaza, only to be met with a floorto-ceiling wooden wall. The wall is adorned, however, with photographic approximations of the culinary wonders soon to exist; further, it is emblazoned with an encouraging ‘Opening Soon’. Stock photographs lead one to infer the type of food court this will be: hot pot, hot pot and more hot pot.

FOOD FOR FINAL THOUGHT All the places visited bespeak of a trend; the food courts of new Hanoi malls adhere to all elements of the unspoken international charter. But it’s the diners that aren’t conforming. They aren’t ordering individually. They aren’t sampling the diverse culinary offerings and they aren’t eating individually. They’re eating family-style, ordering family-style. They’re leaning over bubbling hot pots, putting in their own ingredients and ladling out their own portions into small plastic bowls. They’re doing it, in short, the Vietnamese way.

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Want to know where you should head to in My Dinh? Hoa Le gives you the low down. Photos by Tim McMahon



Officially opened in 2003, the nation’s most modern stadium is not just the icon of My Dinh, it’s also a venue hosting massive national and international events. The 2003 Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) were held here, Brazil’s Olympic football team (Ronaldinho et al) knocked two goals passed Vietnam on this turf, Simple Plan played here recently as have a number of Korean pop singers. It’s also expected to be the main venue for events if Vietnam win the race to host the 2019 Asian Games — the results will be officially announced early next month. The ‘multi-functional’ stadium also acts as the area’s major attraction. At night, with a funfair, street food and one of the area’s few gas stations, it’s a place to shoot the breeze. You can check out the brand new 02 nightclub or try your hand at some bowling — both entertainment options are located within the stadium itself. Or, if you fancy some outdoor activities, you can bring your kites out or test out your vocal chords at any of the street karaoke stands right outside the stadium.

The tallest building in Indochina, the 72nd floor of Keangnam Tower provides visitors with more than just striking views of the city. The newly furnished space now houses a range of activities, but the most interesting must be Alive Museum, with dozens of funky, three-dimensional paintings. There is also a 5D theatre, an Artlink Gallery that sells locally produced oil and lacquer paintings, and a range of 3D game stations. Despite the VND240,000 entrance fee, each weekend the viewing deck welcomes over 1,000 visitors. So if you want to avoid the crowds, and yet enjoy the panoramic views of the city, come during the week. It’s cheaper, too.


Clockwise from top: My Dinh Stadium, Garden Shopping Mall, Landmark 72

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If My Dinh was a fast-growing, hormonal teenager, The Garden, with its European and Korean patterns, would be his T-shirt. Even though shops in the mall are fairly generic, the building’s high ceilings and elegance give it a European feel. If you want to shop but without the crowds of shoppers this is where you should go — even on a normal Friday night. It is quiet. Very quiet. The mall is also home to the Platinum Movie Theatre on the top floor, a games centre on the fourth floor as well as a food court that is normally the busiest part of the building. Big C in the basement can help meet all your supermarket shopping needs.

PARKSON SHOPPING MALL AND LOTTE CINEMA Another 21st-century shopping option, this Malaysian-owned department store located in Keangnam Tower boasts a wide variety of concessions and is often busy. Cinemagoers should check out Lotte Cinema on the top floor. Special ticket prices are offered on Wednesdays and the movies are as varied as at MegaStar.

NATIONAL CONVENTION CENTRE This white, wavy-roofed megalith inspired by the Halong Bay landscape stands out despite the endless construction work around its perimeter. Since its inauguration in 2006, the building has become the venue for some of the country’s most important events including the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum and other official conventions. Occasionally it’s also rented out for weddings or musical productions, including the recent performance by American R ‘n’ B singer Monica. The German-designed interior is spacious and centred around what seems to be huge

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From top: National Convention Center, Hanoi Museum

stairwells and escalators, all decorated by over 60 paintings, most with thematic connections to Halong Bay.

HANOI MUSEUM This freestanding museum easily catches the eye thanks to its Louvre-like, upside-down pyramid and the ubiquitous bonsai banyan trees in its garden out front. The museum, formerly on Ham Long, showcases over 50,000 artifacts and retells the history of the capital from its establishment 1,000 years ago to today. Stone, copper and ceramic artifacts are displayed thematically in related exhibition zones, including the flora and fauna of Hanoi, Hanoi during the Ly, Tran, Le and Nguyen dynasties, as well as modern Hanoi. The museum is now open to the public, but expect a larger variety in the collections and displays once it’s fully completed in 2015.

MY DINH AQUATIC CENTRE Across the street from My Dinh Stadium, this sports centre (Cung The Thao Duoi Nuoc) is the only place in Hanoi boasting Olympicsized swimming pools that are open for public use. First used for the SEA Games 2003, expect to pay VND50,000 to swim for an hour-and-a-half slot in the two-metre deep outdoor pool, or double the price to go indoors. Families with children can also enjoy the facilities here as there is a children’s indoor pool. However, the centre is often booked up for non-public use. So, call 3785 0012 in advance to book a time slot before making your way there.

MY DINH PAINTBALL CLUB Just a few metres from the aquatic centre, follow the signs and you will come out on a decent-sized paintball field. Opened in July, the venue has quickly become a favourite stress-release destination for the city’s residents — on a busy weekend, the club’s director, Mr Cong, says they are already welcoming about 500 players. There are two wooded areas and one specialising in speed ball. The place is not large but, considering its relatively close location to the city, is worth checking out if you are a fan of this game. Go to or call 8589 8416 for information.

MINI AMUSEMENT PARK Hosting the once popular flying motorbike shows, if you get there on the weekend you may just see artists doing tricks on

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From top: My Dinh Paintball Club, Crowne Plaze West Hanoi, Grand Plaza Hotel

a high-speed vintage motorbike while travelling at breakneck speed around the inside of a giant wooden barrel. If riding with no hands and relying on centrifugal force to keep you alive are not your cup of green tea, then the amusement park also has a children’s merry-go-round, an outdoor pottery vendor where you can be creative and paint your own vases, and a roller skating rink. The park is a few hundred metres away from the My Dinh Aquatic Centre.

CROWNE PLAZA WEST HANOI HOTEL A destination for business travellers to the area, Crowne Plaza West Hanoi Hotel has all the five-star hotel amenities you’d expect together with great business and conference facilities, a well-equipped fitness centre and the requisite spa. The downstairs restaurant has also garnered a reputation for its excellent Asian-influenced buffet — we’ve tried it a few times and can pay testament to that — and has the benefit of large, pondfilled gardens and greenery out back. A welcome oasis of calm in the middle of all the concrete.

GRAND PLAZA HOTEL In May, Grand Plaza Hotel made its name into Vietnam’s Guinness Book of Records as the largest, gold-coated hotel in the country. While gold is used as the theme of every detail at this seven-star hotel (yes, seven stars), its Executive Suite of Presidents, the lobby and the coffee corner, as well as other parts of the complex have their ceilings actually coated with 24-carat gold. Necessary (or unnecessary) extravagances aside, the architecture is an elegant take on a mixture of both European and Asian influences, and while this 30-storey, super luxury property on Tran Duy Hung isn’t officially in My Dinh, it’s not far off.

BIG C HYPERMARKET COMPLEX The Big C on Tran Duy Hung is the biggest of this chain of 17 hypermarkets in Vietnam. The first one to open in Hanoi, it has since become a favourite shopping option. From low to mid-range, small vendors to large, a supermarket, a large food court, a games centre and a 5D theatre, all bases seem to be covered here. But be careful to avoid the early evening and weekends, unless you don’t mind rumbustious queuing at the check out counters.

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Dune 45 at sunrise

millions in Kenya and Tanzania, to the mother of all African safaris, a massive sixteen plus weeks of travelling the entire length of the continent from Cairo to Cape Town.



AFRICA For those who’ve had their fill of the culture of Asia and the bright lights of Europe, an African safari seductively beckons. James Pham explores the world of overlanding. Photos by James Pham 50 | Word October 2012


n African safari inevitably figures on almost every adventure traveller’s bucket list, sandwiched somewhere between Antarctica and the Galapagos Islands. After all, who hasn’t dreamed of following the footsteps of intrepid explorer, David Livingstone, one of the first westerners to overcome deadly diseases and wary natives to cross the continent in the mid 1800s? Or Scottish journalist Henry Stanley who, with the help of 200 porters, forged through 1,100km of African jungle to finally meet up with Livingstone and utter the now famous greeting, “Dr Livingstone, I presume?” For those who can afford to travel like ‘the One Percent’, the long distances between major centres and private game reserves are eaten up by flying in and out by way of a small aircraft. Some of the most exclusive lodges even feature gourmet dining, butler service and plunge pools while viewing animals right from the deck of your private chalet, sundowner in hand. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s

DIY travel where families and groups can rent their own vehicles and stay in selfcatering rest camps. South Africa’s Kruger National Park alone has nearly 20,000km2 to explore, ensuring endless days of neck-craning, eye-crossing game viewing. Somewhere in between lies overlanding. Simply put, overlanding involves travelling with a guide and fellow passengers on a custom designed truck, and more often than not pitching tents in the evenings, eating over a campfire and going to places otherwise inaccessible by public transportation or prohibitively expensive to get to on your own. Think of it as a poor but fabulous cousin to the allinclusive holiday.

Overlanding 101 Destination Overlanding destinations can be anything from two weeks of gorilla trekking in Uganda, to a month of taking in the ungulate migration numbering into the

Vehicle Outside of the major city centres, roads in Africa are notoriously bad necessitating serious power to forge through flooded passes, sandy bogs and barely-there paths. The earliest incarnations of vehicles were simply second-hand army trucks with seats bolted down, a couple of spare tyres, food and some tents. While most modern overland trucks remain relatively Spartan with little more than a stereo, slightly more comfortable seats, lighting and the occasional card table; higher-end trucks come equipped with everything from lockers, a fridge, safes, battery chargers, and even the rare luxury of airconditioning. Whatever the truck though, count on huge windows for game viewing and to enjoy the long days of monotonously gorgeous scenery. Accommodation To keep costs down, most overland trips involve camping. Sites range from bush camps literally in the middle of nowhere to ultra basic ones with long drop toilets and pumped well water to surprisingly posh grounds, complete with swimming pools, bars and Wi-Fi. Approximately 50 percent of overlanders are single, meaning passengers share tents with someone of the same sex, thereby avoiding single supplements common to most other forms of travel. At some sites, there may even be the option to upgrade to a bedded tent, chalet or hotel room for a fee.

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Clockwise from top: Sparring impalas in Botswana, Mokoro sunset, Hinba boy, Polers

Participation The biggest difference between overlanding and other types of group tours is the participatory aspect. While most crews will include a driver and a guide (and even a cook, for the more upscale tours), passengers are expected to help out with daily chores, including food preparation, truck cleaning and other small tasks, in addition to setting up their own tent. For this reason, overlanding is normally limited to those 18 or over, with no upper limit as long as passengers are reasonably fit. Cost Overland trips are usually paid in two parts — the cost of the tour to the operator and a local payment in cash (also known as a ‘kitty’) to the tour guide at the start of the tour. The kitty is used to pay for fresh food for the trip (usually purchased at supermarkets along the way), camping fees and incidentals. In return, almost everything is included: park fees, all meals and most activities. Travellers, however, still need to budget extra cash for snacks, visas and optional activities. Fellow passengers While overlanders tend to be more adventurous — travellers rather than tourists — you could literally be sharing a hands-on group tour in tight quarters with just about anyone, from any country, any background, any age, with or without a language in common. Because you’ll be spending lots of time on the road with a group of 12 to 30 others, carefully researching your overland company is a must, as some cater to rowdy gap year students, some are family-friendly and others tend to skew towards higher-end (read, more mature) clients.

A Photographic Safari: Nairobi to Cape Town in 55 days Section 1 Nairobi, Kenya to Serengeti National Park, Tanzania (368km) After a quick cold breakfast, our overland truck leaves the smog of Nairobi behind (colloquially known as “Nairobbery” due to the high crime rate) and heads for Serengeti

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National Park, just beyond the border with Tanzania. We pass banana fields and local children, who alternately call out “Jambo!” and “Give me money!” After a long driving day, the magician of a cook conjures up a magnificent campfire feast of grilled lamb, Spanish rice, buttered carrots and roasted potatoes. In the night, we are giddily awoken by the plaintive whooping of a solitary hyena and the distant sound of lions. Maasai for “Endless Plains”, the veldt of the Serengeti stretches as far as the eye can see, interspersed with bizarrely contorted trees. Shy giraffes in groups of more than 20 crane their necks to stare as our truck rumbles past on the uneven red earth. We come upon a solitary male lion hovering over a fresh wildebeest kill, watching in morbid fascination as he disembowels the luckless calf with bloody teeth. We quickly learn that game drives are an exercise in endless patience and sheer luck. Arrive three minutes before or after and you may have missed all the action. Passing pools filled with hippos, only their ears visible, we suddenly find ourselves in the middle of a dense grouping of wildebeests, zebras and antelope, as far as the horizon in every direction, part of the annual migration between the Serengeti in Tanzania and the Maasai Mara in Kenya. Hundreds of thousands of animals graze, shocking in their sheer number. Our necks ache from the constant panoramic swivelling of trying to take it all in. Section 2 Serengeti National Park to Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania (161km) In the morning mist, we transfer into jeeps to descend into the crater, an extinct volcano which long ago collapsed upon itself, leaving a caldera 22km wide, rimmed by mountains. The steep walls form a natural barrier keeping most animals in year-round. The pan-flat bottom makes finding the animals a gleeful task. In the rainy season there’s a lake filled with thousands of bright pink flamingos (owing their colour to the algae and shrimp they eat). Groups of zebra graze only a short distance from where two cheetahs are sunning themselves and a pride of 14

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Zebra's and Flamingoes at Ngorongoro Crater sleepy lions lie, simply a photographer’s dream. I have to remind myself to breathe. Section 3 Ngorongoro Crater to Zanzibar, Tanzania (822km) The truck rambles past snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro on the way to Dar Es Salaam, the jumping off point for the semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar in the Indian Ocean. Known as the Spice Island (and the birthplace of Queen’s Freddy Mercury), Zanzibar is the leading exporter of cloves worldwide, in addition to producing nutmeg, cinnamon and pepper. But the main reason to come to Zanzibar is the beaches. Routinely rated among the top 10 beaches in the world, Nungwi, on Zanzibar’s northern coast, is simply perfection with its impossibly clear water and powdery white sand. One of four multi-day stops on the route, the group breaks up to go off on dives, watch the local women gather seaweed, visit the local fish auction, snorkel in the waters around one of the nearby atolls or simply lounge on

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Victoria Falls the beach. We end our stay navigating the labyrinthine alleyways of Stone Town, an old trading centre for cloves and slaves, in search of a cold beer that is impossible to find because the island has been without power for days. Section 4 Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania to Kande Beach, Lake Malawi (1,279km) Forgettable long driving days past lush tea plantations take us to Kande Beach on Lake Malawi, reportedly home to more species of fish than those of any other body of fresh water anywhere. The group decides to scour the local market for outrageous costumes pieced together from secondhand clothing in honour of the slow-roasted goat dinner the cook will put together that evening. Along the way, we buy bilharzia tablets (doled out according to body weight) to prevent the debilitating disease carried by freshwater snails endemic to the lake and fleetingly consider what we’re willing to risk for a respite from the muggy weather.

The 1.7km long Victoria Falls (locally called Mosi Oa Tunya, ‘The Smoke that Thunders’) marks the halfway point of the trip. The narrow gorge at the bottom of the falls sends up a spray of mist over 400m high. At certain times during the year thrill seekers brave vertigo, and the chance of plunging 90m onto the rocks below, for a chance to swim in Devil’s Pool, a natural infinity pool literally on the edge of the falls. Other adventure activities in Livingstone, Zambia include bungee jumping off the bridge that connects Zambia to Zimbabwe, whitewater rafting down the Class 5 Zambezi River, walking with lions, and flying over the falls via microlight or helicopter. Needless to say, budgets are blown as we try to cram as many activities as possible into our short stay.

Delta, one of the world’s largest inland deltas, where we bush camp for three nights. A speedboat takes us the first leg of the journey, where we’re met by local polers with their mokoros (dugout canoes traditionally made from 100-year-old ebony or sausage trees, since replaced with environmentallyfriendly fiberglass). For the next few hours, we slowly make our way through narrow waterways lined with papyrus reeds higher than a man, the only sounds to break the silence are the flapping wings of a surprised heron or the thwack thwack of the reeds snapping back into place, erasing any evidence that we were ever there. The ebb and flow of the seasonal rains create temporary islands where we set up camp as a base for long game walks, mokoro rides past hippo pools or dips in a nearby swimming hole, ever vigilant for the stray hippo or crocodile.

Section 6 Victoria Falls, Zambia to Okavango Delta, Botswana (678km)

Section 7 Okavango Delta, Botswana to Opuwo, Namibia (1,063km)

We pack light as we head into the Okavango

The verdant landscape of Botswana

Section 5 Lake Malawi to Victoria Falls, Zambia (1,463 km)

gives way to the dry, pale, almost postapocalyptic sandscape of Namibia. Our days are spent silently huddled around the waterholes of Etosha National Park or frolicking with captive-born cheetahs at a sanctuary for animals injured or poisoned by farmers. We make our way to a Himba village where we’re greeted by tribeswomen wearing leather skirts and not much else. The menfolk of this semi-nomadic people are nowhere to be seen, likely off tending to their cattle and goats. The women and children smell of leather and smoke and glow a reddish brown, thanks to a paste of butter fat and ochre liberally applied to their skin. We overnight just outside the village, enjoying every minute of interaction with these open and curious people. Section 8 Opuwo, Namibia to Cape Town, South Africa (2,189km) On the last leg of our journey, we make our way down the African coast, past towering sand dunes, rugged beaches and a colony of Cape fur seals — 250,000 strong. Immediately

upon crossing the border to South Africa, the roads become better. Concrete houses replace ramshackle shacks, and there are wellstocked supermarkets in every town. Too soon we pull up to almost-European Cape Town with its celebrated vineyards and scenic beaches — an abrupt end to our epic journey through vast, unknowable, indefinable Africa. The muggy, breezeless nights, ungodly early morning starts, interminably long days on the road and the relentless wrestling with tents in the dark are all but forgotten and before we know it, we’re uttering oaths to someday return to this beautiful continent full of frustrating paradoxes, smiling children, majestic wildlife and endlessly big sky. Africa has a strange way of seeping into your bones and becoming a part of you. Once is never enough. To re-create this exact itinerary, see www., a small, upscale company that integrates photographic workshops and tutorials with small-group safaris. A member of the One Percent? Check out for a fully customised trip visiting the world-class beaches and magnificent game parks of Tanzania and Zanzibar.

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Are You Sustainable? The garment industry in Vietnam brings jobs and revenue into the country. But at what cost? Words by Nick Ross. Image by Claire Driscoll


t's a Thursday morning and the car rolls into a province somewhere close to Hanoi. The day before there was a strike, the first at the recently inaugurated garment factory. In a protest of an issue over working hours, 10 workers boycotted work. Tempers rose, production was slowed and after a standoff, a solution was sought. Early in the week the factory was notified that there would be a power cut on the Saturday. They asked their production team if they could work the Sunday instead. Aware of the injustices many other compatriots have had to suffer at the hands of factory owners, a small group of workers decided to take action. That this particular factory should be affected by industrial action was ironic. Part of the new breed of textile industry players in Vietnam, this factory is one of a number of producers aiming to bring fairness to an industry riddled with exploitation. Workers in this country often get a raw deal and it was the mistaken perception of mistreatment that caused the strike.

To Sustain not Suppress Creating sustainability in the garment industry starts directly in Vietnam. It's desirable, too. There is a growing, commercially viable consumer market for products that can prove organic, eco-friendly origins. According to Alex Falter of Dutch-run Vert, this country is usually only used for processing — the cutting and making. Meaning that the majority monetary value goes to middle men outside of Vietnam. “90 to 95 percent of production in Vietnam’s garment industry is simply cutting and making,” explains Alex. “This is the hardest part of the process, but the most undervalued. So, rather than getting the finished price for making the whole shirt, [factories in Vietnam] pass the garment on to the next stage. This means they only receive a portion of the overall value — the profits go to the vendor. For me it's modern slavery.” He adds: “If you can cut out the middle man, you’re capacity building, knowledge building. You give the industry the chance to survive on its own. That is our goal. From product development to delivery, we’re trying to do the whole thing here.” One garment producer that controls every step of the process is Metiseko. From the product development, sampling and materials

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sourcing through to the production, packaging and delivery, everything is done in Vietnam. They also tackle the sustainability process head on. Rather than utilising the standard factory-style production line, which makes the work mind-numbing, according to co-founder Erwan Perzo, “Every woman sews one garment from start to the finish. [This way] everyone can improve their skills and be fully trained to realize high quality sewing.” He adds: “By having our own workshop, we can make sure that every worker has a fair wage and good working conditions.”

The Test of Time Although Alex recognises that the word 'sustainability' has been “thrown about everywhere and misused”, he believes that it is the concept that best reflects the notion of fair trade as we know it today. “It’s about adding value at the place where you’re making the product,” he explains. Accordingly, Alex breaks the notion down into a number of parts: social, environmental, economic and technological. For him, "social" is the idea of applying strong management systems, encouraging workers to openly discuss problems, instilling principles of fairness such as fair working hours, a minimum hiring age and trying to support the local community. On the environmental side, it’s all about not polluting the environment and following the latest environmental standards. This means trying to go one better than the Vietnamese laws. “Unfortunately with garments, there’s not all that much you can do,” he says. “A dyeing factory is going to have waste water problems. Quite a few Taiwanese and Korean factories have been pulled up on this recently.” On the economic front, every business has the same need: without economic sustainability they can't survive. “Making a profit is something that people have to understand and accept,” says Alex. “So we cannot move forward without an economic benefit. This then turns itself into giving out responsible dividends and making responsible investment decisions, and ensuring that there is openness and transparency about it all.” The final sustainability factor is technological. This means employing the latest machinery for production and using the latest computer-aided design and manufacturing systems. In addition to this, and in a crossover with environmental sustainability, is the use of

sustainable materials such as organic cotton, silk and hemp. “It’s about avoiding using polluting materials just because they’re cheap. It’s about looking at other options.” Says Alex One area where Metiseko excels is in its use of materials. All its fabrics are organic or ecofriendly. However, achieving this, even with finding a printer in Vietnam who uses low impact environmental dyes, has been tough. “We finally found, after intensive research, one modern and serious printer,” recalls Erwan. “They use Azo-free dyestuffs which are not harmful for even the most sensitive skin. And they respect our requirements.” This is one of the problems, the time factor. Being truly environmentally sustainable is a slow process. “It takes us two months to produce ‘greige’ cotton fabric in India, two months to receive it, four months to work on the print and solids strike offs, six weeks to engrave our screens and to print and dye… Being a brand that produces from A to Z requires a lot more time, energy and effort than a brand that only takes care about the manufacturing process. Credibility has a cost.”

Benefits for All From talking to both Alex and Erwan and hearing their passion, it is clear the garment industry fulfills all ends of present-day market economics. At one extreme sit the abusers, those who care about profit above all. They run or buy from the sweatshops of Asia, or they are the middlemen acting as go-betweens, bringing garments from poor countries to the big-brand powerhouses elsewhere. On the other extreme you get the producers and operators believing in sustainability, spreading benefits and ensuring that everyone reaps rewards. They protect the environment and care for the people who work for them — with almost zero global regulation. They are vital to bringing market-driven fairness to the industry. Which brings us back to that early morning strike at the factory close to Hanoi. If only the workers had realised what kind of company they were working for. Maybe then they would have thought twice. But such is worker abuse at the hands of the textile industry, even in Vietnam where worker protection is strong, it is no surprise that their judgement erred.

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Second-Hand Hanoi Overseas, second-hand clothes and vintage fashion is a big deal. So is there a place for ‘used’ fashion in Hanoi? And if so, where can you find it? Words by Rose Arnold. Photos by Francis Roux


it Singapore, Bangkok, Melbourne, London or New York, wearing vintage and second-hand clothing has long been a fashion statement. Regularly featured in fashion magazines and worn by celebrities, there are buckets of ways to get your ‘pre-loved’ fix: charity shops, clothes swaps, eBay, Etsy, posh boutiques and more. But what about here in Hanoi? Apart from a few shops dotted around, there doesn’t on first showing seem to be much of a vintage scene. But second-hand clothes are fast gaining a dedicated following with young, independent-minded Hanoians. A number of popular, ad hoc flea markets have sprung up and a number of young entrepreneurs have been using Facebook to sell vintage clothes. Zinnia Boutique is

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one example. Stocking a range of romantic outfits — with soft flowing skirts, pretty patterns and cute details conjuring up an innocence of days gone by — their Facebook page has clocked up 16,547 ‘likes’. Not bad in a country which is supposed to be into all things glitzy, shiny and new. There are also two decent markets, one underground at Hang Da, the other in the south of the city off Chua Boc, some small clusters of fairly basic shops scattered around, plus some cute boutique-y style shops.

Individual Nguyen Minh Ngoc and Bui Thu Trang, two 23-year-olds working in marketing, spotted the growing interest in secondhand clothing and put on the Chic & Cheap

Flea Market. They say it’s a trend that only really begun in the last year but is growing fast. “The young community now likes to express strong personalities, strong styles and stay sensitive to new trends.” The uniqueness of second-hand clothes is a definite part of the appeal. Buying secondhand can help you have a more individual style — by dipping into the different eras and being open to different influences you’re a lot less likely to look like everyone else. And for many young Vietnamese, the idea of expressing individuality through style and ‘looking different’ is starting to catch on. The obsession with all things K-Pop is starting to wane. Nguyen Ha Dang, a 24-year-old fashion design student and model, was part of the group that put on the Hanoi Flea Markets

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held earlier this year. She says that above all, second-hand shopping has gained popularity with young Vietnamese because it’s a just a fun way to shop. There is definitely something a lot more laid back about shopping for second-hand clothes, especially compared to the average Hanoi shopping trip. In second-hand shops you’re free to browse in peace. Occasionally pieces in your size might be pointed out, but the overall experience is very low key, with a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude. The recently held flea markets added entertainment, music and food to make the experience more fun and less stress.

Waste Not, Want Not There’s also the added ‘green’ bonus. Buying second-hand clothes is much less harmful for the environment than buying new. The textile industry is incredibly resource intensive. Commercial cotton crops, for example, use huge amounts of water and pesticides. Plus, the low cost of clothing means we buy more, throw it away and replace it with yet more, rather than mending items. This is adding to the problem of global warming as worldwide huge amounts of clothing ends up in landfill, producing methane emissions. Trang thinks that people, especially younger Hanoians, are starting to become aware of these issues and that this will help the popularity of second-hand clothes continue here. Organisers of events such as hers try and help build on the environmentally friendly message by insisting that all stall holders use biodegradable rather than plastic bags.

SECOND-HAND STYLING TIPS From Joelle Firzli of Velvet Vintage — Be adventurous. Even if you go shopping with a certain idea in mind, be open and try on different things. You might find a whole new look. — Aim for the sky. Don’t forget your stilettoes, it's all about the silhouette. — Mix and match. Be creative with eras, texture and prints. — Play with the classics. Re-invent a classic little black dress or a white man's shirt and reinvent them with a second-hand belt and some black pumps. — Accessorize. Spice up your look by wearing a strong statement piece.

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Ha Dang says that she loves old things “because they are unique, beautiful, and moreover, each thing has its own story, brings along the image of another time”. She started collecting vintage fashion and accessories as a hobby before getting involved in selling them. “I love the feeling of knowing that they have different stories and sometimes are even older than me, and knowing that it helps prolong the life of these clothes... just like making them live again!” There is a joy in shopping for secondhand and vintage clothing. It’s like delving into dressing up boxes from childhood, filled with cast offs and odd bits, sequins, interesting patterns and the occasional treasure. You might have to work a bit harder to find what you’re looking for, but when you do, it means more because you’ve earned it. And like Hanoi, there’s the thrill of unexpected finds.

WHERE TO SHOP UNDERGROUND HANG DA MARKET Entrance opposite 12 Nguyen Van To, Hoan Kiem An extensive range of stalls selling clothes, shoes and handbags. (Men’s and children’s clothes and shoes also, although the majority is women’s.) CHUA BOC AREA The streets off Pham Ngoc Thach, Dong Da There are streets and streets of shops in this part of town. There are shops with carefully chosen and displayed items, shops that are literally a mountain of clothing that you have to climb on and rummage through, and shop after shop that seem to stock mostly woollens. CHAP VA BOUTIQUE 14 Duong Thanh, Hoan Kiem ZINNIA BOUTIQUE 61 Nguyen Truong To, Ba Dinh 91 CHIC 49D Alley 49 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem VELVET VINTAGE CHIC & CHEAP FLEA MARKET see Facebook for events HANOI FLEA MARKET see Facebook for events

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ot Rock Bar’s name does not refer to the ‘hot’ that people use when they want something to sound fashionable, as in ‘snakeskin is so hot right now’. Nor does Hot Rock Bar refer to the music played there, as in ‘rock’ music. Instead the bar and restaurant at the intersection of Le Van Luong and Hoang Dao Thuy in Cau Giay takes its name from the traditional steak served on a slab of piping hot stone. That’s the ‘hot rock’ we want. A minor glitch is that they don’t serve the steaming stone steak here, but their pizza could be its more modern cousin. It’s a rare find of a cheesy feast that comes still bubbling over flatbread at any hour of the night. Hot Rock Bar is a bit far away. Actually, that’s not true. That is just what everyone says when you utter the address of where you’re going while at a party downtown. “That’s at least two hours away.” “Xa qua, nhi.” (Excessively remote, innit?) Yet, when you get into a cab and ask the driver how long will it take, “10 minutes” and a wily smile are the response. And barring any major jams or construction on the air highway the estimate is not too far off. Still, it is not your easy hop and skip from the Old Quarter — it is a decision that takes you there, and not the result of passive meandering. For this reason, the vibe of Hot Rock is a bit different from those places you accidently wind up on a Saturday night.

Sound for Sore Ears TRENDSPOTTER



Located in a more unlikely area of town, Hot Rock Bar is making a few sound waves right now. And we’re not just talking about their pizza. Words by Kaitlin Rees. Photos by Francis Roux

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So what does this new place out in western Hanoi have, besides being new? One reason is the well thought out sound system. Good speakers and their purposeful placement throughout the entire bar is a little like their aforementioned pizza, a rare occurrence in Hanoi. With a DJ booth in the centre, flanked by a bar area to the left and a pool table lounge to the right, music is set up to be your first encounter upon entering. And it’s the music of Hot Rock that seems to be its distinguishing factor. Sub Elements, the bass heavy Hanoi DJ collective, is currently setting up shop there every Saturday night. The select group of spinners who play a healthy range of low notes, from drum and bass to minimalist funk, are a few months into their long-term residency, using the venue’s equipment to deliver their sound. As one DJ puts it, “here, they have money to invest in good [speakers, sub woofers and a monitor] and the sound engineers know how to set it all up”. That wasn’t always the case, though. A few months ago, bar manager James Kendall explains that the sound was

scattered and inconsistent. Thus an upgrade was in order: a stereo system that keeps the sound uniform in every corner of the bar, enabling it to be heard without turning it to maximum volume. “We wanted a cleaner, crisper sound, and not something that was going to blow your ears out. In some places it’s like instant damage. You walk away with ringing in your ears from loud music that wasn’t even really that good.”

Drawing in the Crowds In addition to the Sub Element Saturdays, the bar also hosts mid-week parties, live music events, and openmic nights. “I’m excited about bringing different types of music here that you don’t get everywhere else,” James says. The acts that come to Hot Rock vary from blues and acoustic music to salsa dancing, beat boxing and didgeridoo.” As for the distance issue, James is hoping to set up a free shuttle bus circuit that will have weekend pick-ups from Hoan Kiem at the top of every hour and with a free beer for the ride. Considering the closing time of many city bars, this could be a great way of getting a late night crowd, as the bar stays open until 2.30 am or whenever people leave. That Hot Rock Bar is picking up steam reveals a significant step in Hanoi’s maturing music scene. If you were desperate to hear music, any kind of music at all, then the quality of the sound wouldn’t be of importance to you. Hot Rock, however, is one example of a venue rising to meet Hanoi’s growing musical needs. As one patron puts it, “It’s like caring about the frames for a piece of art. You don’t know to care about it until you realize what a difference it makes in the art.”

“Here, they have money to invest in good [speakers, sub woofers and a monitor] and the sound engineers know how to set it all up”

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Stage Fright? With TV booming, now is not the golden age of theatre in Vietnam. But is it really all that bad? Words by Rose Arnold. Photos by Dominic Blewett


s with elsewhere, theatre in Vietnam has been hard hit by competition from newer types of entertainment. Cinema, TV, internet, clubbing, restaurants and bars; all vie for people’s attention, free time and money. In some countries, faced with this competition theatre has adapted, wised up, fought for its space. Here, the competition seems to have stopped theatre dead in its tracks. In the early 1990s over half the theatres in Vietnam, lacking audiences, were closed or became dance floors, bars or karaoke venues. Audience numbers across Vietnam today are very low. In July a two-day 2012 National Drama Festival was held in Hue. Ticket sales were reportedly so low they had to give away

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2,200 tickets so that the 1,000 actors would not be playing to empty auditoriums. Some of the better-known leading actors had to go out into the street to entice people into the festival. So, what’s happened to theatre’s mojo?

A Sense of Place Compared to most other countries, over the past 20 years Vietnam has experienced huge levels of social change. It has moved to an open market and let the ‘outside world’ in, with all the positives and negatives that entails. In the early 1990s there were only two channels on TV, now there are over 70, plus endless options online. Internet gaming now ranks as one of the top hobbies for teenage boys. The cultural background here is also

significantly different to many countries where theatre is flourishing. The ‘role of art’ in Vietnam, a country which throughout its history has had substantial periods of war or occupation, has in part been to preserve Vietnamese culture against change and outside influence. Post 1955, art — particularly theatre — was used to help re-establish a Vietnamese way of life. The aim as stated at the time, included fighting against ‘enslaving culture and eradicating vestiges of the enemy’s culture’. This might have been a specific reference to the recently departed French, but the traditional Vietnamese way of life has at many times come under heavy attack. Vietnam Inc, the outstanding 1971 collection of images from photojournalist Philip Jones Griffiths, shows startling images from the

war of attempts to assimilate Vietnamese in the south into the western way of life. Methods included breaking up traditional village structures, enforced urbanisation as well as exposure to media and advertising. One image shows the route into what is now Ho Chi Minh City. A giant, outsized tube of toothpaste and a huge battery tower over the road, part of the proliferation of advertisements encouraging people to consume American goods. Another shows — not a tactical move so much as casual insensitivity — small children with Playboy magazines, given to them by the GIs. The difficulties of today are different, but there are still measures in place to protect Vietnamese culture from ‘inappropriate’ outside influences. The increasingly risqué outfits and partial nudity of singers and dancers regularly leads to fines. For plays to be shown they need to be approved as suitable for the public — everything from content to costume and music. And with the final approval being given only at dress rehearsal, there is much risk involved. Theatres understandably often err on the side of caution, not necessarily a winning strategy for audiences accustomed to seeing cutting edge entertainment beamed into their own homes. Graham Sutcliffe, a senior manager at British Council Vietnam, noted in a report on arts in Asia that “Vietnamese audiences have seen very little contemporary world drama, even by the most highly acclaimed

writers — and instead are limited to viewing the classics.”

The Leap Forward There are, however, small signs that Vietnamese theatre is starting to get a little more experimental. The ill-attended National Drama Festival in Hue had a focus on contemporary issues, albeit with a traditional message. The Phu Nhuan Small Stage theatre group, which put on two plays addressing the topic of prostitution, is one of a small number of independent companies in Ho Chi Minh City. They stage regular contemporary dramas and comedies and have managed to gain a following and an audience. Truong Nhuan, vice director at the Hanoi Youth Theatre, says he feels positive about theatre in Vietnam, but stresses that there are a number of areas that needed to be built upon, including education and marketing. “Education has a hole, children are not taught about theatre so they don’t appreciate it.” The Youth Theatre has a contract with schools in Hanoi and puts on shows for children from the age of five to help develop their understanding. Theatres also struggle with promotion. They used to have all costs covered so didn’t need to worry about attracting audiences. But as funding has fallen, many theatres have found themselves in urgent need of a paying public but with little idea about how to get one. Nhuan, who studied at the prestigious arts college, Goldsmith

College in London and spent time at the National Theatre, believes it is important not just to promote one play but to build up relationships with people over time. Theatre director Bui Nhu Lai, also based at the Youth Theatre, feels strongly that new ideas and energy are needed to compete with the popularity of film and television. Many of his plays utilise experimental disciplines and techniques, including dance, audience participation and improvisation. He says that there are some positive things happening in theatre, especially in the south of the country (his recent show in Ho Chi Minh City had almost 10,000 people attend over the six night run), but that it might take many years for theatre to reach the level of popularity or vibrancy that he dreams of. Lai’s recent plays have attracted audiences maybe because they are about subject matters which interest the modern theatregoer —he has addressed controversial topics such as relationships, domestic violence and people living with HIV. “Theatre could be such a good example to Vietnamese people,” he says. “It is much more than just entertainment, theatre can get people to think in a different way, and to open their minds”. With the film and TV industry dominated so heavily by content from other countries, theatre could have a hugely important role here — an opportunity for Vietnamese people to tell their own stories rather than absorbing those from elsewhere.

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Ask a Doctor The question of safety of the daily contraceptive pill and the emergency contraceptive pill are ones worth answering. Gynaecologist Dr Giao, from Bac Mai, breaks it down.



What we know, education and experiences with contraception. Words by Kaitlin Rees. Photo by Francis Roux

Attitudes From the private mechanics of how stuff works to the web of tender and complicated feelings in which it is enmeshed, sex is not simple. There is great potential for confusion in any culture. Given the quiet nature of conversations about sex, it is no wonder that talk about how to prevent pregnancy and protect ourselves from sexually transmitted infections is equally muffled. The testimonials of five young Vietnamese women and one man that follow give a snapshot of evolving education and attitudes around contraception. Born in 1992 In grade five, we had some lessons about gender… All of us were so shy. I think it was the natural reflex of not only the children but also many of the adults. Most of us, including me, had to learn [about contraception] by ourselves…or from friends. Of course, in the era of information technology, I can Google it. I first learned some other methods, such as daily pills and safe planning days, through movies. Once or twice I heard my mother talk with her friends about IUD, but I actually don’t know how to do it. Born in 1991 My grandmother trusted safe planning days a lot; she told me a small story about it when she and my grandfather broke the plan then gave birth to my mother. And my mum also told me that leaning on this method can decide the sex of the baby. So according to what the elder generations said, I come to my own conclusion that it is relatively effective. Plus I think while pills are not good for health and condoms are inconvenient, it is the perfect method for those who have got married. My mum says the first night of marriage will be the most meaningful moment ever; if

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a couple waits to have sex for the first time. The two things I feel funny about sex education are that boys are hardly given sex education, only girl things are focused on. Also they never told us about what having sex is about, but kept teaching about how to protect ourselves from getting pregnant. Born in 1989 I use condoms mostly. I tried to count the days, but I was too stupid and couldn’t count right. So I got nervous and took the emergency pill. But I don’t want to take that medicine often, no one wants to have to do that. Born in 1986 Sex before marriage; it's normal. I don't see any fixed connection between sex and marriage (and, actually, I am not interested in so-called ‘marriage’ at all). My parents’ thoughts, like most Vietnamese parents of course, are that they always want their daughters to still be ‘virgins’ before getting married. But I think most of them don't really know (and understand) how their daughters are. Born in 1985 I first took the pill when I was 17. I felt a little ashamed and shy because I looked really young for my age. But I had no problem from the doctor. I didn’t tell my parents. After I got married and had a baby, I started using condoms. Born in 1984 Not many people talk about sex in Vietnam, especially parents, even teachers like me are not very knowledgeable about this subject. I have a former student who is now in grade nine. He told me about the first time he had sex with his girlfriend. He already knows about how to prevent pregnancy and

sexually transmitted diseases. He told me but not his parents so when I talk to them, they say, “oh my boy, he’s very innocent, he doesn’t know anything”. Born in 1982 I once went to the doctor to ask about the emergency pill. I had taken one, and two days later I had sex again and I wasn’t sure if the first one was still working or not. The doctor gave me a very funny look when I asked about if I should take a second pill or not. She seemed annoyed and said, “nobody can tell how effective the emergency pills are. There is always a chance you can get pregnant.” I asked about the side effects if I take it two times in three days and she asked me why I was having sex so often. In the end she never told me what would happen and I took a second pill after researching on the internet. I didn’t even learn that such pills existed until last year. I just used condoms. From a boy’s perspective. Born in 1985 Maybe girls are very embarrassed [to know about condoms] because if they listen [to educational talks], the boys will think they really care about it, and maybe they can go further. They don’t recognise that to protect yourself, you need to get this information. I think that not many guys actually do research about this kind of stuff. Their thinking is based on their beliefs. I believe this is safe. I believe this is okay. They do like they believe. It’s not research, it’s not education. The kind of information that young people look for on the internet is not how to use a condom, or what is the effectiveness and use for a condom. They don’t search for that. They search for how to protect the girl from getting pregnant without using condoms. If we don’t want to use a condom, what are the alternatives?

Emergency Contraceptive Pill — Should not be taken more than two times per month. — The ingredients of all the different brands are the same, the name depends on where it’s being imported from, which varies each year. Daily Contraceptive Pill — 99 percent effective when taken every day at a consistent time. — Serious side effects are very rare, if you have a headache or dizziness that persists for a month, change the pill to better fit your body’s hormonal needs. — There are a list of health issues that may prohibit you from taking the pill. — After 15 years of taking the pill, women should consider other contraceptive methods. — There is no need to take a break from the pill. — There is no connection with infertility or getting cancer. — The most unsafe time to miss a pill is at the beginning or end of the pack.

What Women Use Facts and Figures — In 1988, 53 percent of women used some form of contraception. — In 2011, nearly 80 percent of women did. — In 2008, 10.7 percent of couples were using traditional methods (withdrawal, safe days / rhythm / calendar method or herbs). — 68.6 percent of couples are using modern methods (pill, IUD, injectables, condom, diaphragm, spermicidal cream, male and female sterilisation, emergency contraceptive pills and the vaginal ring). Abortion Rates 1996 = 2.5 abortions per woman 1998 = 1.5 abortions per woman 2010 = 0.8 abortions per woman Ratio of Girls to Boys In 2000, 105 boys for every 100 girls In 2008, 112 boys for every 100 girls Important Dates 1963: first moves made to increase the availability of contraceptives. Couples were advised to have between two and three children with five to six years in between. 1984: National Council for Population and Family Planning established. IUD method favoured. Health workers visited villages were expected to meet targets for IUD insertions. 1988: family planning strategy called for one or two children per family. Free provision of contraceptives and abortive services available. 1989: abortions free for married women registered with local family planning promoters. Number of Children per Woman 1979: fertility rate = 5.7 2011: fertility rate = 1.99

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he square of duck terrine says it all. Topped with a sliver of mango, the tiny hors d’oeuvre looks more like a modernist piece of art than anything you would find to eat in Southeast Asia. This is not Vietnamese cuisine as you know it. And yet. Isn’t that the familiar taste of pate? A meal at Pots ‘n Pans offers many such dizzying moments. The menu brings together local ingredients with western flair; you’ll find wonton crisps sharing a plate with salmon tartare and poached quail eggs served atop a salad of crisp butter lettuce. All this may well leave you wondering why fusion cuisine doesn’t have a better reputation.


western concept of a dish, rather than an organic part of it. A slice of poached daikon is unrecognizable; lemongrass duck sausage makes a brief cameo to little effect. Some dishes fail to cohere entirely, like seared salmon and clams in light nuoc mam caramel (VND350,000). The plating is bizarre; a melange of salmon cubes and tiny morsels of clam, still in their splayed-open shells. On the night we visited, the caramel sauce seemed especially light, with only a bit on the clams and none at all on the bland salmon. The glutinous rice served with the fish, however, was a winner. Steamed in a lotus leaf, the rice is pleasantly sticky and redolent with lemongrass. If it was available as a side dish, our table would have ordered several bowls. The desserts are also superb, although there are a few missteps. Creme brulee infused with lime leaf, lotus seed and coconut (VND70,000) is executed perfectly; rich and creamy, with a brittle rim and hints of orange. Whisky pave with orange chocolate mousse and rum chocolate ganache (VND120,000) is more uneven, its cake base more soggy than fluffy, although the rich ganache, topped with a sprig of fresh mint, partially atones for this blunder. These are bold visions. And when they succeed, they can be eye-opening. But too often the kitchen treads too cautiously, as if holding back on the flavour for fear it might offend. For a restaurant with this much promise, it wouldn’t hurt to take a few more risks. Pots ‘n Pans, 57 Bui Thi Xuan, Hai Ba Trung

Pots ‘n Pans

Our mystery diner enters the dicey world of Vietnamese cuisine paired with global tastes and cooking styles. How will this KOTO-sponsored restaurant fare? Photos by Francis Roux

A Feast for Sore Eyes Like the food, the setting is a sleek mix of modern and traditional. Exposed brick walls and wide glass windows feel comfortably at ease with rattan stools and a turn-of-thecentury winding staircase. Surrounded by bamboo cases, the lights fill the room with a soft, warm glow. Climbing those stairs, you’ll wind up in the dining room, which is outfitted with all the trappings of a modern restaurant: grey tablecloths, straight-backed chairs, an elegant glass wine case. If your companions are delayed, the long velvet banquettes by the bar downstairs offer a pleasant spot to savor a passion fruit mojito (VND135,000). During happy hour, the delicately blended cocktails are two for one, as are beer and wine. By the time you stumble upstairs, content, you will almost have forgotten that you came for the food. Pots ‘n Pans was created as a side project of KOTO, a non-profit that aims to empower disadvantaged youth through teaching English and vocational skills such as cooking. Successful KOTO graduates often end up here; the current team is led by KOTO graduate Nguyen Thi Thao, a 10-year veteran of the restaurant industry. The range of ingredients reflects an undeniable Vietnamese influence. Rau ren leaf frittata accompanies a starter of grilled tiger

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prawns; a coconut and lemongrass bechamel is drizzled with abandon over vegetarian cannelloni. But the chef — Joel Manton, a veteran of the Sydney food scene — also draws on a plethora of non-traditional flavours and classical western techniques to create an intriguing vision. When these flavours come together the result can be extraordinary, as in an appetizer of walnut and mung bean la lot (VND150,000), a paste made from walnuts and mung beans and wrapped in betel leaves. Earthy and slightly sweet, with a hint of musky tamarind, it’s the kind of substantial appetizer a vegetarian dreams about. But other dishes are timid renditions of bold concepts. An appetizer of seared scallop (VND225,000) promised a volatile mix of BBQ chilli and Thai basil remoulade, but what arrived was only two scallops mounted on thin slices of brioche, with tiny dabs of garnish that barely suggested the emphatic flavours the menu promised.

A Veritable Melange But Pots ‘n Pans’ real strength is the main courses. In one of the most successful dishes, shreds of tender pork wrapped in a betel leaf crepinette tumble over a bed of black lentils inflected with red wine and garam masala (VND310,000). Paired with a side of Vietnamese coleslaw (VND 80,000), the dish feels like a deconstructed pulled pork sandwich. The chef’s technical flair also shines through in the braised duck leg (VND390,000). Simmered in a spiced shiitake jus with hints of caramel, the meat is so tender it practically melts off the bone. The garnishes, however, feel like afterthoughts — a concession to the

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


11 12 14 FOOD




Xoi Com With autumn on its way, Huyen Tran follows the aroma of one the season’s best-known dishes, xoi com. Photos by Nguyen Bao Ngoc


à Nội mùa thu; Mùa thu Hà Nội Mùa hoa sữa về; Thơm từng cơn gió Mùa cốm xanh về; Thơm bàn tay nhỏ Cốm sữa vỉa hè; Thơm bước chân qua

Written by the legendary Trinh Cong Son, often described as the Bob Dylan of Vietnam, these lines from the song Nho Mua Thu Ha Noi resonate strongly with Hanoians and Vietnamese further afield. Describing Hanoi’s autumn as the season of of hoa sua (milk flower), he also calls it the season of com xanh, the green rice flakes that are harvested around this time. Time passes by. Hanoi grows rapidly. But such songs are still a spiritual part of this city. Hoa sua will forever be the colour and scent of Hanoi. And com is a symbol of this city in autumn. Associated with Hanoi’s streets, com is just one of those street dishes not sold in shops. Instead it seems to appear randomly, sold by street peddlers along Hanoi’s streets in autumn. As people can only get com by chance, they wait longingly for autumn to come. Together with the rice flakes themselves, a number of other dishes appear. These include xoi com or sticky green rice, che com, sweetened green rice paste, banh com

or green rice cake and com xao, which is translated as stir-fried green rice. Among these dishes, xoi com is regarded as the perfect combination of Hanoi autumn tastes and scents. Yet, often served on a lotus leaf, even xoi com is difficult to find.

The Promised Land The one place where you always seem to be able to buy xoi com is at Xoi Ba Quy, a small food stand at Cho Hom (Hom market) that has been selling traditional sticky rice dishes for two generations. It is not the varied selection of sticky rice dishes that amazes customers most. It’s the fact that the shop owner is a man. “My mother started selling xoi at this market 40 years ago when I was only a toddler,” says the owner, Tuan. “At that time, Hom market was a slum. And my mother was the first peddler selling xoi in this area. She started by making xoi khuc, then banh com. We’ve been selling xoi com since the 1990s. During Vietnam’s subsidy era, our family business was particularly well-known among Hanoians.” Tuan has nine siblings, who also own food stands at Hom market. Some of them also sell xoi. Together they make up a family business chain at the market.

“Since we were kids, we helped our mother make xoi,” explains Tuan. “Sadly, my mother passed away some years ago. We inherited her recipe and have expanded the business. Making xoi has become our family tradition. The most favoured variation is xoi com.” Making and selling xoi has become part of Tuan’s family’s daily routine. “As autumn is the season of fresh com, we have to stay up overnight to make xoi com for hundreds of orders per day,” explains Tuan. “To [do this] we have to be accurate in every single step and the perfect xoi com can only be made from the best com and the fullest rice grains that are found at Vong village.” Just from spending a few minutes with Tuan I can feel the true Hanoi soul in him. When asked what makes him proud of this city, he tells me that his mother used to sing the Trinh Cong Son song when selling xoi com. Hà Nội mùa thu; Mùa thu Hà Nội Mùa hoa sữa về; Thơm từng cơn gió Mùa cốm xanh về; Thơm bàn tay nhỏ Cốm sữa vỉa hè; Thơm bước chân qua Tuan’s shop at Hom Market also sells xoi gac, xoi vo, banh com, com xao and banh chung. Prices for xoi are around VND20,000 per dish or 100g. The shop is open from 6am to 6pm.

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ADVERTISING & MARKETING CRUNCHY FROG 8 Xom Chua, Tay Ho, Tel: 01283 443579 Crunchy Frog is a personable and experienced western design and branding agency. They offer high quality creative and strategic solutions to both local and global clients. Services include research, brand and marketing strategy, and design of communications materials, brand identity, packaging and websites.

GREY GROUP 10 Ho Ham Long Alley, Lane 1 Au Co, Tay Ho Tel: 3719 1459 Founded in 1917 in New York, Grey is a full spectrum global communications company offering branding, advertising, marketing, digital, and PR, with offices in 100 countries. Grey is the only agency with a specialised HoReCa team. In Vietnam, the client roster includes Nike, Vinaphone, Levis, TNT, ESPN, Bayer, Samsung Mobile, BaoViet, P&G, BAT, and 35 other top local and international brands.

LEONITO 10 Ho Ham Long Alley, Lane 1 Au Co, Tay Ho Tel: 3719 1459 In addition to their own clients, Leonito works in partnership with the Grey Group, a major full-spectrum marketing and communications company with offices in nearly 100 countries. Services include research, branding, activations, events and public relations.

LEONITO MARKETING CONSULTING 10 Ho Ham Long Alley, Lane 1 Au Co Street, Tay Ho, Tel: 3719 1459 Leonito develops marketing campaigns & behaviour change communications strategies for commercial brands and nongovernment organizations. Services: brand development; design & printing; gifts & premiums; marketing; public relations & events. Clients include multi-national brands and NGOs.

OGILVY & MATHER 8/F Tien Phong Newspaper Building, 15 Ho Xuan Huong, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: 3822 3914 International marketing communications company that leverages the brands of

Level 8, 142 Le Duan, Dong Da Working from Vietnam to Australia, the Red team creates and shapes unique brand personalities to international and local brands. The team specialises in brand consultancy and marketing, regularly sharing industry trends, news and views at their blogsite, 3rd Floor, BIDV Tower,194 Tran Quang Khai, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 2220 6008 T&A is a marketing services company set up in Hanoi in 1995. Since then, they’ve offered their marketing services to several large overseas companies. They also work in co-operation with WPP, a world-wide brand communications firm.

BUSINESS CONSULTING BOOZ ALLEN HAMILTON, INC. Room 703, 7th Floor, MOF Project Building, No. 4, Lane 1, Hang Chuoi, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 3971 9662 A US-based private consulting firm, Booz Allen Hamilton is one of the most notable names in the business. This firm has a long track record of assisting governments and multi-nationals in risk assessment and mission development.

DELOITTE 8 Pham Ngoc Thach, Dong Da, Tel: 3852 4123 One of the Big Four, this firm offers a broad range of audit, tax, consulting, risk, and financial advice to businesses. Over 182,000 employees in more than 150 countries, Deloitte serve more than 80 percent of the world's largest companies, Vietnam now being one of them.

DICKERSON KNIGHT GROUP 33A Pham Ngu Lao, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3933 2692 Established in 1991, this international firm has extensive experience in emerging markets. Their speciality is in providing advisory and training products to private sector enterprises and NGOs.

ERNST & YOUNG Daeha Business Centre, 15th Floor, 360 Kim Ma Street, Ba Dinh, Tel: 4831 5100 Provides a broad spectrum of services to help businesses capitalize on opportunities for growth, improve financial performance and manage risk. Works with a range of firms including private, stateowned and foreign.

T&C INVESTMENT HOLDING L3-14 Thuy Khue. Ba Dinh, Tel: 3728 0776 A well-known Vietnamese conglomerate of companies operating since 1994, T&C’s focus is on providing internationalstandard consultation to engineering and

business infrastructure projects. They also provide market research consulting.

BUSINESS GROUPS AMCHAM M Floor, Business Center, Hilton Hanoi Opera, 1 Le Thanh Tong. Tel: 3934 2790 An independent association of American and international businesses, the objective of the American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam is to promote trade and investment between the United States and Vietnam.

AUSCHAM Room 2707, 1010 Lang Ha, Dong Da Tel: 3562 5786 ext. 107 An organisation bringing together Australian companies and individuals doing business in Vietnam, the Australian Chamber of Commerce offers advice on doing business. Also offers networking opportunities and social events.

BRITISH BUSINESS GROUP OF VIETNAM 193B Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung. Tel: 0906 240159 The first foreign business group to set up in Vietnam, BBGV’s goal is to both promote the interests of its members as well as the more general interests of British business. Organises business luncheons and seminars as well as regular social and networking events.

ICHAM Sofitel Plaza, Ground floor, 1 Thanh nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: 3715 2393 The Chamber has the main purpose of undertaking activities to support com-


The place to go for all things related to the arts in a city that is developing its own, vibrant contemporary arts scene. Has event calendars, event postings, blogs, addresses and contact details, and covers anything from classical music through to installations, rock concerts and more.


Provides the expat community with essential information for living and working in Hanoi including comprehensive and up-to-date events listings as well as address lists of galleries, cinemas, theatres, hotels, housing agencies, embassies and much more. Subscribe to receive their weekly newsletter.


Event photos, a what’s on calendar, restaurant and bar listings and in fact, pretty much everything you want to know about nightlife in Hanoi can be found on this popular website. Also organize regular events and parties.


The city’s best known website, The New Hanoian provides user-generated listings, reviews and event information on pretty much anything and everything in the capital. Register, create your profile, write a review and receive frequent newsletters.


The online extension of The Word, contains both content from the print edition as well as blogs, events, news, a what’s on calendar, party photos and much more. Also has downloadable PDF versions of the whole publication.

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business mercial exchanges with Italy and to assist economic agents, as well as to foster the development of economic relations and cooperation among entrepreneurs of the various countries. The Chamber will not engage in commercial activities with the aim of producing profits.

LAC VIET COMPUTING CORP Hanico Building 110 Thai Thinh, Dong Da Tel: 3512 1846 Since its founding in 1994, professional services and innovative solutions has led LAC VIET to a recognized position of leadership in Vietnam. LAC VIET employs more than 400 professionals in IT services and product development. LAC VIET is a certified MicrosoftTM Gold Partner; CiscoTM Premier Reseller; Dell Distributor and Authorised Service Provider(DASP).


meet your various demands in Hanoi is made simple thanks to CBRE’s residential leasing team. Our services are inclusive of site finding, travelling fees, contract negotiation and resolving any other issues which arise during the term of the lease, all of which are free of charge for the tenant.

COLLIERS INTERNATIONAL VIETNAM 9th floor, Vinaplast, Tai Tam Building, 39A Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 2220 5888 Represent property investors, developers and occupiers in all matters related to commercial and residential property. Services include leasing and sales, valuation and research, property management and support services. Attempt to accelerate the success of their clients by making their knowledge your property.

Sofitel Plaza, No 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh Tel: 3715 2229. A business group with over 240 members that supports the French business community in Vietnam by listening to their members’ needs and expectations. Also promotes Vietnam to French companies and helps them in developing their businesses here.




G/F, Sofitel Plaza Hanoi, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh Tel: 3715 2228. A confederate organisation with strong ties to national business associations in its member countries, Eurocham looks after and provides advice and support for the business interests of European Union members in Vietnam.

NORDCHAM Suite 504, Thanh Ha Building, Linh Dam Tel: 3641 6864. Provides support to Nordic companies and individuals operating in Vietnam. A business and social network, members have the opportunity to meet, discuss, interact and share expertise and experience.

SINGAPORE BUSINESS ASSOCIATION VIETNAM Business Center, Ground Floor, Fortuna Hotel, 6B Lang Ha, Dong Da, Tel: 4772 0833 An association that actively fosters business relations with other business communities while promoting social, cultural, recreational, educational and charitable activities.

COMMERCIAL PHOTOGRAPHY NOI PICTURES 25/158 Ngoc Ha, Ba Dinh, Tel: 3747 8611 Photography and film agency specialising in commercial assignments, stock photography and production services in Vietnam. Has a number of mainly overseas photographers in their books both in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.


REGAL PREMIUMS 33 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: 0685 7167 Regal Premiums produces trendy corporate gifts, premiums gifts, promotional gifts and branded mass giveaway items. Professional team helps with design to fit your brand and production and logistics to fit your budget.

HOUSING & REAL ESTATE CB RICHARD ELLIS (VIETNAM) CO., LTD 6 Floor, BIDV Tower,194 Tran Quang Khai, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 2220 0220 Finding the perfect accommodation to

Room 802, Building 101, 101 Lang Ha, Dong Da Tel: 2246 2232 A real estate company that provides both private and commercial properties for sale, lease and rent. Also offers free brokerage and many other support services. 33 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho Thoughtfully appointed and decorated, Daluva Home features a cosy bedroom for true rest, plus open living, dining, and work areas. Extras include two LCD TVs, iPod dock, and outdoor patio. Housekeeping, and daily breakfast from the Daluva Breakfast Menu are also included. Private car and tour booking service available.


can help to fill residential or commercial needs.

THREE TEMPLES 73B Ly Nam De, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3747 3366 Three Temples is a full-service, design-led property development and marketing company that specialises in creating residential addresses by providing high quality architecture, residential design, interior design, commercial consultancy, marketing and branding solutions. A onestop-shop to finance, design, brand and build for the finest residential products.

VIETNAM LAND 38 Phan Boi Chau Street, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3787 0188 Vietnam Land was incorporated in Vietnam in 2002 as a commercial and residential real estate services, real estate property management and real estate development company. Since that time Vietnam Land has successfully developed two residential towers at the Chelsea Park project in Hanoi and a residential land sales project in Hung Yen province called Villa Park.

INSURANCE AIG Suite 5-01, Hanoi Towers, 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3936 1455 Offers a range of insurance products and services including property, casualty and marine exposure insurance. Also has comprehensive travel and accident coverage, as well as healthcare packages for expats residing in Vietnam.


Quang Trung Building, Room 203, 39 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0983 336336 This company can assist you in finding an apartment that meets your living and budget requirements. Though they specialise in high-end, high-rise apartments, they do have a range of options. The website contains most listings.

CCIFV/Eurocham, Sofitel Plaza, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Tel: 3936 5370 Emergency: 0903 732365 Specialises in medical, employee benefits and personal lines insurance advice to expatriates. The company has been operational in Vietnam since 1994 and offers free advice and comparative quotes.



40 Phan Boi Chau, Hoan Kiem UK real estate agent providing a wide range of services including property sale, lease, management, price appraisal, counselling and market research.

16th Floor, Hoa Binh International Towers, 106 Hoang Quoc Viet, Cau Giay Tel: 3755 7111 Provides a quality range of insurance services to both commercial enterprises and individuals. Coverage includes property, liability, business interruption, marine cargo, automobile, home and travel, as well as expat healthcare packages. Toll free hotline in Vietnam: 1 800 599 998.

MEGALAND 2nd Floor, 43 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3936 5556 Specialising in meeting housing needs of expatriates and overseas Vietnamese, Megaland offers a wide range of serviced apartments, villas and commercial spaces.

SAVILLS VIETNAM 6th floor, Sentinel Place, 41A Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3946 1300 A leading global real estate service provider listed on the London Stock Exchange with over 200 offices worldwide. Provides consultancy services, property management, space planning, facilities management, corporate real estate services, leasing, valuation and sales to the key segments of commercial, industrial, retail, residential and investment property.

TAN LONG HOUSING Moongate Building, 5th & 6th Floor, 107 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho , Tel: 3719 9864 Tan Long has been concentrating on assisting individuals in the process of buying, selling and renting property in Hanoi since 1999. They also have several branch offices, and a useful website that

PRUDENTIAL 24 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3934 5999 Operating in Vietnam since 1995, has over 70 customer care centers throughout the country.

INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS CONCORDIA INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL HANOI CMC Tower, Duy Tan, Cau Giay, Tel: 3795 8878 International brand, 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 Boulevard, Ba Dinh With schooling available for students studying at the elementary through to

secondary levels of education, HIS is one of the few private, international education options in the capital. The institution offers Cambridge IGCSE and IB Diploma for students at the secondary level. Located near the Japanese Embassy.

KINDERWORLD INTERNATIONAL KINDERGARTEN Unit 9 – 10, Shophouse CT17, Ciputra Tel: 3743 0306 3rd Floor, 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3934 7243 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.

QSI INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF HANOI #17 Lane, 67 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho Tel: 3718 6418, With nearly four decades of experience in international education, QSI International School of Hanoi is next in the long line of ‘quality schools’ that have been established by the Quality Schools International. The institution specialises in instructing pre-school and lower elementary age students.

SINGAPORE INTERNATIONAL SSCHOOL 2D Van Phuc Diplomatic Compound, 46 Van Bao, 726 1601, Block C3, Ciputra, Tel: 3758 2664 An international school with an excellent record in a host of countries around the world, now available to those in Hanoi within its salubrious surrounds in Ciputra.

UNITED NATIONS INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (UNIS) Ciputra International Village, Tay Ho Tel: 3758 1551 With more than 800 students from 50 different countries, UNIS is a non-profit IB World School that instructs students from as young as three years old through to grade 12. Established in 1988 by agencies representing the United Nations, the pristine campus has a broad range of facilities and is located in the gated community of Ciputra.

INVESTMENT & FINANCE DRAGON CAPITAL 11th Floor, Hanoi Lake View Bldg, 28 Thanh Nien, Tay Ho, Tel: 3936 0203 An integrated financial services provider with an exclusive focus on Vietnam’s capital markets. Established in 1994, the group is one of the largest and most experienced asset managers in Vietnam with total group assets in excess of US$2 billion. Has offices in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and the UK.

INDOCHINA CAPITAL Floors 9-9A, 60 Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3930 6399 A leading investment firm operating in the ASEAN region with a particular focus on Vietnam. Assists partners, co-investors and clients to achieve financial objectives while focusing on four core areas: corporate finance and advisory services, investment management and real estate development.


12th Floor, HAREC Building, 4A Lang Ha, Ba Dinh Tel: 3772 4888 A private equity firm which focuses on the growth equity of companies in the developing Vietnamese economy.

SG VIETFRANCE VIT Tower, 18th Floor, 519 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh Tel: 2220 8979 The Vietnamese subsidiary of France’s

Societe Generale, the company recently opened a Hanoi. This was the first financial company in Vietnam to focus entirely on consumer credit.

TOTAL WEALTH MANAGEMENT 66/11 Pham Ngoc Thach, Q3, Ho Chi Minh City Tel: 3820 0623. TWM provides information related to inter-country personal financial planning. They will walk you through the solutions and products available and will constantly monitor and manage your portfolio through opportunity and instability in global financial markets.

VIET TIN FINANCIAL CO. 1st & 2nd Floor, 40 Pho Boi Chau, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3941 1566. A locally based securities and stock brokerage firm whose stated mission is to provide valued returns to partners and shareholders.

VINACAPITAL 5th Floor, Sun City Building, 13 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3936 4630 A leading investment fund management company with extensive experience in the emerging Vietnam market. Manages the Vietnam Opportunity Fund (VOF), which is a an investment fund currently listed on the London Stock Exchange.

LANGUAGE SCHOOLS APOLLO 67 Le Van Huu, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: 3943 2051 Established in 1994, Apollo offers highquality and cost-effective English language classes including general English, English for teens, English for business communication and a pronunciation clinic. One of the country’s leading language centres.

BRITISH COUNCIL 20 Thuy Khue, Tay Ho, Tel: 3728 1922 The cultural arm of the British government’s presence in Vietnam, the BC offers a variety of English language courses – business writing, corporate training and general English – in a large learning centre close to West Lake.

CLEVERLEARN Building 3, 2C Diplomatic Compound, Van Bao, Ba Dinh, Tel: 3726 1698 With two main schools in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Cleverlearn offers mainly conversational and business English courses. An authorised in iBT test site by the ETS.

LANGUAGE LINK VIETNAM 62 Yen Phu, Tay Ho, Tel: 3733 8402 With four schools around Hanoi, Language Link runs international English language courses endorsed by Cambridge University. One of the top language centres in the capital.

LEGAL SERVICES ALLENS Suite 401, Hanoi Towers, 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3936 0990 Australian law firm working in Asia for over 30 years. Besides providing the standard legal services to corporate clients, has an excellent website containing the Vietnam Laws Online Database English translations of over 3,000 Vietnamese laws. Also publishes a monthly Vietnam Legal Update.

BAKER & MCKENZIE 13th Floor, Vietcombank Tower, 198 Tran Quang Khai, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3825 1428 One of the first international law firms to establish representative offices in




IT SEEMS THAT THE BENEFITS OF BEING beautiful are never ending (or so I am told by my beautiful friends). Better service, no lining up to get into the best nightspots plus being the object of desire in all situations. And now to add insult to injury, a 2011 US report has shown there is also a real monetary benefit too. Over an average lifetime, a US$230,000 (VND4.8 billion) monetary benefit. It’s pause to be full of loathing. The study conducted by Dr. Hamermesh, an economist from the University of Texas, Austin, has proven that being beautiful means earning more money, finding higher paying jobs and better looking spouses. It even helps you get better mortgage deals. But before you run out to get a quote from the plastic surgeon, justified as an investment with great returns, let’s look at the findings in more detail.

were paid on average $US300,000 (VND6.3 billion) more than their playing statistics alone would suggest. All adding up to a boom for beauty that, in America, is worth US$33 billion (VND693 trillion) a year. Another interesting finding was that more people were rated as good rather than bad looking, and that there is more dispersion in perception of women’s beauty than in men’s. Overall the earnings advantage of good-looking workers — as compared to the roughly 50 percent of workers whose looks were rated as average — was eight percent for women and four percent for men, while the disadvantages of being bad-looking in comparison were four percent for women and 13 percent for men. The negative effects are bigger for men than for women, a finding that has been observed elsewhere.

SKIN DEEP? The good news is that it’s not just all about beauty. Skinny men, for example, earn less than their more rotund equals, while just the opposite is true for women. Men 30kg over the average weight earned nearly 30 percent more, while women 30kg under the average weight earned 56 percent more. Being tall also helps — tall men take home significantly higher salaries then their shorter colleagues, with men over 1.83m earning US$5,500 (VND115 million) more a year than those at 1.65m. Women who wear a ‘glamorous’ amount of makeup are perceived as more competent, likeable and trustworthy than those who go for a ‘natural’ or ‘no makeup’ style. Sports stars are not immune either — NFL quarterbacks with good looks

SELF-ESTEEM The most interesting discovery was how this is related to self-esteem. Males who were tall at the age of 15 earned significantly more than those who grew to the same height but later in life, suggesting much of the difference is linked to the development of confidence in the teenage years. Another study showed that teachers saw unattractive students as less intelligent, and aggressive acts less naughty if done by attractive children. In the words of the author of the report: “It would be a fairer world if beauty were not rewarded. But it is.” — By Shane Dillon Shane works in Vietnam in financial services industries and studies economics in his spare time. He can be contacted at

October 2012 Word | 73

business Vietnam, Baker & McKenzie provide onthe-ground liaison and support services to clients interested in investigating, negotiating and implementing projects in the country.

on management services and consulting with in-house programs to meet the particular requirements of its clients. Offers teambuilding and academic-based business and management programmes.



Unit 1205, Pacific Place, 83B Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3946 1203 As the first legal firm licensed as a foreign law company in Vietnam, Frasers provides legal advice on all areas of business and commerce within the country. They provide international legal advice in a Vietnamese context, and are ranked in the top tier of international law firms practising in this jurisdiction.

FRESHFIELDS BRUCKHAUS DERINGER #05-01 International Centre, 17 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3824 7422 This law firm works in 19 countries and is one of the world’s largest. They regularly advise large clients on international investment, banking and finance.

GIDE LOYRETTE NOUEL A.A.R.P.I. Pacific Place, Suite 505 – 507, 83B Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3946 2350 A leading international law firm with 24 offices worldwide including Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The Vietnam offices offer their clients (companies and international institutions) high quality services which combine legal expertise and a highly commercial approach to clients’ needs, across all sectors of business law.

J&P LAW LLC Room 1204B, Floor 12, Tower B, Handi Resco Tower, 521 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh, Tel: 3724 5201 This Korean law firm offers international legal services and has additional branches in Ho Chi Minh City, Beijing and Ulaanbaatar. The Vietnam offices provide high-quality legal services in English, Korean, and Vietnamese across all sectors of business law.

LAWYERS ASSOCIATION OF THE CITY OF HANOI 35 Nguyen Chi Thanh, Dong Da, Tel: 3835 3548 The Lawyer’s Association is a collective of Vietnamese lawyers speicialising in many fields. They can provide legal and representation services.

ROUSE LEGAL (HANOI BRANCH) 7th Floor, VIT Building, 519 Kim Ma, Dong Da Tel: 3577 0479 Rouse is an international intellectual property law firm. From HCMC and Hanoi we advise on protection and enforcement of trade marks, patents, copyright and domain names; commercial IP, IP management/strategy.

RUSSIN & VECCHI 11/F, Hanoi Central Office Bldg., Suite 1104, 44B Ly Thuong Kiet, Tel: 3825 1700 A financial law firm which focuses on commercial and investment matters for corporate clients. In some cases they can provide assistance to individual clients.

MANAGEMENT TRAINING BRITISH UNIVERSITY VIETNAM 193 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: 3974 7596 The first university offering prestigious UK degrees in Vietnam. Courses offered in 2010 include International Business Administration, Banking & Finance, Accounting & Finance, Marketing Management, Accounting & Business. Pre-university courses are also available.

G&H MANAGEMENT SERVICES HKC Building, Suite 701, 285 Doi Can, Ba Dinh Tel: 3762 3805, A 100% foreign-invested company focusing

74 | Word October 2012

Hanoi Resco Building, 521 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh Tel: 3726 1460. A leading international provider of skills training and professional staff development, RMIT offers both short and longterm courses, customised courses, and can provide for either on or off-campus clients. Known for its Business MBA which is open to both Vietnamese and overseas students.

MARKET RESEARCH CIMIGO 142 Le Duan, Dong Da. Tel: 3518 6696 Independent marketing and brand research specialist operating in Hanoi and the Asia Pacific region in general. Services include auditing and optimising research programs, knowledge management, developing marketing plans and business models, and assessing market opportunities.

INDOCHINA RESEARCH 7th Floor, 73 Ly Nam De, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3747 4661. Provides a regional perspective on consumer, retail and social research to a range of multinational organisations operating in Indochina. Focus is on developing partnerships that leverage their market knowledge and on enhancing their client’s competitive position in the region.

THE NIELSEN COMPANY 3rd floor, 85 Nguyen Du, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 3933 1161 . Media company offering integrated marketing and media measurement information and analytics. Offers full service capability across qualitative, quantitative, media and retail measurement for FMCGs, consumer products, finance, telecoms and more.

VINALINK 11th Floor, Lang Ha Building, 14 Lang Ha, Dong Da, Tel: 3772 4234 Specialising in online survey-based market research, Vinalink is a subcontractor for a few global market research firms, including CALEB Global and Pulse Group.

PUBLIC RELATIONS MEDIA ONE Rm 207, 40A Hang Bai, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3939 3966. PR company with offices both in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Focuses mainly on the Telecom and IT industries, providing a range of services including events, product activation, consulting, marketing and advertising.

PIONEER COMMUNICATIONS Floor 6, 58 Trieu Viet Vuong, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 3945 4398. Pioneer Communications is one of the leading agencies in providing integrated marketing and public relations solutions for businesses and organiastions in Vietnam.

TQPR Room 109, House K, 7, 2ha, Vinh Phuc Ward, Ba Dinh., Tel: 32474 028 One in a group of companies from Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, the company offers international standard consultancy services and value-added

results to local, regional and global clients.

VENUS COMMUNICATIONS 4 Da Tuong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3944 7066 Well-known PR and communications company with offices in both Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Offers the full range of PR, advertising and consultancy services.

RECRUITMENT & HR AON VIETNAM LIMITED 14th Floor, Vietcombank Tower, 198 Tran Quang Khai, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3826 0832 Founded in Vietnam in 1994, among other things, Aon now concentrates on human capital consulting, assisting their clients with compensation, benefit analyses and outsourcing.

HR2B Suite A6, 3rd Floor, Horison Office Center, 40 Cat Linh, Dong Da , Tel: 3736 6843 The forte of this company is placing highly talented Vietnamese and expat candidates into executive positions at medium to large companies. Rapidly growing, in the past years they’ve added Coca Cola, DHL and Prudential to their client list.

MANPOWER VIETNAM 12th Floor, Vincom City Tower B, 191 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung , Tel: 3974 4574 Established in Vietnam at the beginning of 2008, Manpower is the first global recruitment company to set up locally. Offers a range of services for the entire employment and business cycle.

NAVIGOS GROUP Suite 1401, Vincom City Tower B, 191 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung , Tel: 3974 3033 Adept at solving human resource challenges through excellence in matching and management talent. Has offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.


long term as well as car rentals. They also have an extension showroom for furniture rental and custom furniture, making your transition as easy as possible.

JVK INDOCHINA MOVERS 6 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: 3826 0334 Focused primarily on the international and local movement of household goods, JVK is currently a leader in the field. Has offices in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

RESIDENT VIETNAM 3A Alley, 49 Huynh Thuc Khang, Tel: 3773 7191 Established in 2000, Resident Vietnam was the first dedicated Expatriate Service Provider in Vietnam. Resident Vietnam provides full relocation and immigration management services to several multinational companies in Vietnam and ser vices the Global Mobility industry.

SANTA FE RELOCATION SERVICES Suite 821, Vietnam Trade Union Hotel, 14 Tran Binh Trong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0908 096222 Santa Fe Relocation Services offers moving, home search, pet transport, orientation and immigration services. We are proud to be the only moving company with both ISO 9001 – 14001 certification in Vietnam.

SERVICED APARTMENTS ATLANTA RESIDENCES 49 Hang Chuoi, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: 0912 239085 Atlanta Residences fully serviced apartments have been created to provide a space where you can ‘feel at home’. Within walking distance from Hanoi’s Opera House and Hoan Kiem Lake, this building offers a panel of 51 spacious apartments for you to choose from. The serviced apartments here offer the luxury of a hotel mixed with the peaceful comfort and privacy of your home, under one roof of course.

DALUVA HOME 33 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: 3718 5831 Whether traveling or on a temporary stay, Daluva can provide space & comfort. Thoughtfully appointed Daluva Homes feature a cozy bedroom for true rest, and an open living area that opens up to a terrace with plants.

8 Cat Linh, Dong Da, Tel: 6275 2824 The international home moving company helps make the burden of moving a lot easier. As the largest home moving company in the world, Allied Pickfords moves over 1,000 families in over 175 countries every day. Available with a full range of services — domestic moves, office moves and storage — whether you are moving within Vietnam or across the world.

51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: 3719 8877 Great location in Syrena Tower on West Lake, Fraser Suites offer a tranquil repose from the busy city. Has several apartments with excellent views and provides gold-standard service.



Inland Customs Depot Area (ICD), Pham Hung, My Dinh, Tu Liem Tel: 3768 5882 Asian Tigers Group is committed to its mission of moving households without disruption to family life. They also offer pre-move advice regarding customs and shipping.

CROWN RELOCATION SERVICES 95E Ly Nam De, Ba Dinh , Tel: 3936 6741 Offering both family and corporate relocation services locally and internationally, Crown prides themselves on being a kidfriendly company.

IMAGE GROUP HOUSING No 17 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho. Tel: 3719 4375 A one-stop housing service that specialises in relocation, trained professionals can take care of housing rentals, short and





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


$ 151 Phan Dinh Phung, Dalat, Tel: 063 383 3748 The excellent value at this small private place has made it justifiably popular. You get a large room with cable TV, free breakfast and Internet access, starting from $10 per night. The staff are friendly, too. Just round the corner are bike rentals (watch those hills) and other tour facilities.


SEDONA SUITES No. 96 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: 3718 0888 175 well-designed, furnished apartments and villas combining the comforts of home with the conveniences of a fine hotel.

SOMERSET GRAND HANOI 49, Hai Ba Trung, Ba Dinh, Tel: 3934 2342 Internationally-managed accommodation with personalised services and extensive facilities. 185 fully furnished apartments, car park, 24-hour reception and central location.


$ 4A Bui Thi Xuan, Dalat , Tel: 063 382 2663 You get door-to-door service from Saigon at this budget hotel – it has links with the Sinh Cafe people and this is where their



34B Tran Phu, Ba Dinh, Tel: 3733 0030 A building with a great location, and some of the largest apartments you’ll find. The Mayfair is popular among the diplomatic and international business communities.



BELOW VND630,000


VND651,000 TO VND1,680,000


VND1,701,000 TO VND3,171,000

$$$$ ABOVE VND3,171,000



providing cruise services for travelers with a mid-range budget.

visit for a comprehensive list of our listings NHA TRANG 079 NORTH-EAST 082 NORTH-WEST 082 PHAN THIET / MUI NE 082 PHU QUOC 082 SAPA 082 TAM DAO 082 TRAVEL SERVICES 082



$$$ 10 Halong Road, Halong , Tel: 0333 849 009 Close to the pier and the new bridge, what this hotel lacks in character is made up for in cleanliness and comfort. There are 184 rooms priced between VND2 million and VND6 million. Other facilities include indoor pool, health club and sauna.



$$$ 8 Halong Road, Bai Chay, Halong Tel: 0333 845810, One of the many large tower-type hotels in Halong City, Halong Plaza has pretty much everything you’d expect from a 4-star hotel. 200 rooms, a bar and a restaurant that touts its seafood and barbecue.




$$$ Son Tra, Dien Ngoc Coastal Street Hoa Hai Ward, Ngu Hanh Son, Tel: 0511 396 1800 With six different styles of villa units that offer views of the ocean, the mountains and a green of a golf course, the Danang Beach Resort is one of the most luxurious places to stay in this much overlooked city. The property also offers 33-storey twin towers housing a five-star hotel and golf courses adding up to 36 holes. CREDIT

HALONG & CAT BA BAI TU LONG ECOTOURISM RESORT $ Halong Commune, Van Don , Tel: 0333 793156 Stay in a beachside bungalow or a traditional resort-style hotel on the shores of Van Don Island. Bai Tu Long Bay is situated just up the coast from Halong City. The staff here can help you arrange tours that will offer scenery a bit different than the standard tours of Halong Bay.


$$$ 47 Phan Chu Trinh Street, Hoan Kiem Tel: 04 3944 6777 (Sales Office) Bhaya combines oriental style with contemporary luxury, offering tours of beautiful Halong Bay aboard reproduction wooden junks. Two or three-night tours are available and customers have a wide range of cabin styles to choose from: standard, deluxe or royal. CREDIT


$$$$ Tel: 04 3934 0888 This reproduction of a 19th-century paddle steamer trawls around Halong Bay in colonial style, with onboard overnight accommodation in impeccably maintained cabins. The great food and service adds to the already beautiful setting. They also offer transfers directly from Hanoi. CREDIT

HAI LONG JUNKS, HALONG BAY 32 Anh Dao, Bai Chay, Quang Ninh Tel: 0333 846099 Hai Long Junks is one of the three largest cruise operators in Halong Bay. The company boasts 11 overnight cruise vessels with a total of 160 cabins and 15 traditional junks with capacities from 25-48 passengers each for day trippers,

$$$ Ha Long Road, Bai Chay Ward, Ha Long City, Quang Ninh. Tel: 0333 848108 Located three hours from Hanoi, the beachfront Novotel Ha Long Bay is in close proximity to major attractions such as bay cruises and local markets. Featuring 214 rooms, one restaurant, two bars and one professional spa with seven treatment rooms, Novotel Ha Long Bay enjoys impressive panoramic vistas, including a pool with swim-up bar overlooking the limestone bay. Ideal for business travel or family holidays.



$$$ This resort is on a private island just off of Cat Ba Island. Around VND600,000 will get you a comfortable room in a bungalow close to the beach. Fee also includes the boat ride from Cat Ba. For more information check on the web.


$ 39 Vuon Dao, Bai Chay, Quang Ninh Tel: 0333 846009 Found just outside Halong City on Bai Chay beach, this is clean, honest accommodation for a reasonable price. Located on “Hotel Alley”, there are a lot of options here. The rooms are fairly well looked after and clean. You can usually get one for under VND400,000, but prices vary depending on the season.


$ Nui Ngoc, Cat Ba Island, Tel: 0313 888899 This is one of the better hotels on Cat Ba Island. Large, clean rooms with all the modern conveniences, as well as a restaurant and a popular bar. The front desk can also arrange tailor-made tours around the bay.



$$$$ 66 Pho Ha Long, Bai Chay, Quang Ninh Tel: 0333 848999. The four-star Royal Hotel boasts villas, well-landscaped gardens and a pool, all overlooking Halong Bay. Just two minutes walk from Bai Chay, the property has a resort feel and the rooms are housed in several buildings. If you’re feeling lucky, there’s also a ‘Gaming Club’.



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



bus stops. Apart from that convenience, it is a fairly basic hotel, but it’s right in the middle of town.

come in all shapes and sizes and have satellite TV, a fridge and a mini bar. The front-desk staff speaks English and can help sort out any travel arrangements. Rates from around VND250,000 per night.

$$ 42 Dien Bien Phu, Hai Phong, Tel: 031 384 2444 One of the best of the town’s best budget hotels, the aircon old but clean rooms


$$$ 4 Tran Phu, Hai Phong Tel: 031 382 7827 Hai Phong’s most prestigious address, this cool, retro French-colonial style property is the only international standard hotel in town. Designed with panache without being pretentious, room rates at this 122-unit property start at around VND2.5 million.



$$$ 60A Pho Dien Bien Phu, Hai Phong Tel: 031 384 2706 One of the larger hotels in town, Huu Nghi offers some of the comforts you might miss at the other places. In addition to the clean up-to-standard rooms, the hotel also has a swimming pool and tennis courts.


$$ 3K Ly Tu Trong, Hai Phong, Tel: 031 374 6540 New and tidy, with cable TV and airconditioning, Maxim is one of the best mini hotels in town. Rooms are small but have good modern conveniences like satellite TV and new, clean bathrooms done in designer tiles. Room rates around VND250,000 to VND300,000 a night.

MONACO HOTEL 103 Pho Dien Bien Phu, Hai Phong Tel: 031 374 6468 One of the more modern hotels on Dien Bien Phu Street, the prices here are competitive and it’s possible to request a room with a kitchen. Standards with aircon and a TV start at VND350,000 per night.


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



$$$ 360 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh, Tel: 3831 5555 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.

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$$$ 6B Lang Ha, Ba Dinh, Tel: 3831 3333 This 350-room four-star set up in the heart of Hanoi’s financial district has a variety of rooms on offer, a “capital lounge” and three restaurants that serve Japanese, Chinese and international cuisine. And like you’d expect, there’s a fitness centre, night club and swimming pool, too, and even a separate spa and treatment facility for men and women. Set to the west of town, Fortuna often offers business deals on rooms and spaces to hold meetings, presentations and celebrations. CREDIT



$$$$ 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: 3719 8877 A good alternative to staying at a five-star hotel while you’re in the capital, Fraser Suites offers short-term stays for as little as VND2.5 million a night when they’re having a promotion. In the West Lake area, you can expect the gold-standard service with a quiet atmosphere and excellent views.


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



$$$$ 1 Le Thanh Tong, Hoan Kiem , Tel: 3933 0500 Located next to the Opera House, this fivestar is not to be confused with the famed “Hanoi Hilton” that housed American POWs. Reproduction colonial architecture is matched by an elegant and spacious inside area. Has all the standard facilities of a top-end hotel as well as an attractive, courtyard pool area.



$$$ 40 Cat Linh, Ba Dinh, Tel: 3733 0808 This 250-room hotel no longer boasts the sparkle of a few years ago, but nonetheless has good quality rooms with all the mod-cons and a cavernous lobby. Decent but slightly old gym area and a good outdoor pool.



$$$$ 29 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 6282 5555 Resting just a step away from the Opera House, the hotel mixes colonial architectural accents and theatrical interior design to create a contemporary space. The first boutique five star in the heart of Hanoi, the lavish, uniquely designed 107 rooms and suites contain all the mod cons and are complimented by two restaurants, a bar and complimentary Wi-Fi.


$$$$ 1A Nghi Tam, Tay Ho Tel: 6270 8888 This stunning property built over West Lake falls in between a hotel and a resort. Beautiful views, great balcony areas, comfortable, top-end 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.



$$$ 17A Phan Dinh Phung, Ba Dinh, Tel: 3734 9988 A contemporary boutique hotel a stone’s throw from Hang Cot in the Old Quarter. Colonial era accents throughout and an oriental themes lobby. 32 upmarket rooms and an intimate top class restaurant make this a strong contender in an area with plenty of competition.



$$$$ 44B Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3934 3343 Excellently located in central Hanoi, Melia Hanoi draws plenty of business travellers and is also a popular venue for conferences and wedding receptions. State-ofthe-art rooms, elegant restaurants, stylish bars, fully equipped fitness centre with sophisticated service always make inhouse guests satisfied.


6 ON SIXTEEN 16 Bao Khanh, Hoan Kiem Another boutique hotel to grace Hanoi’s Old Quarter, the six rooms here mix contemporary 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.


$$$ 38 & 23 Lo Su, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3926 2222 Two mid-range hotels situated in the heart of Hanoi,just 150 meters from Hoan Kiem Lake. Built using a blend of western and oriental architecture, the properties have 28 and 35 rooms respectively, all with mod-cons. For a bit more luxury stay at the Giabao Grand. CREDIT



$$$ 94 Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3944 7766 When your train arrives from Sapa at 5am, you will be overjoyed if your bed is just across the street from the station in one of the 102 spacious rooms at this smart hotel. A stone’s throw from both the Old Quarter and the Temple of Literature, Mercure Hanoi boasts a French brasserie, an internal courtyard, a fitness centre and a retail outlet of wine importer and distributor Da Loc.

$$ 32 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3928 8583 The interesting arty decor of this place is a bonus, as is its value for money – it’s not often you pay under VND1 million for a modern hotel room slap bang in the middle of town. Try to get a front room (with balcony) to look out over the bustling Old Quarter. They’ve also opened a second Golden Lotus just down the street at number 39.





$$$$ 83A Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3822 2800 With its distinctive French architecture and top end service, Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi is aimed squarely at corporate travellers. An all-day 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, 93 are non-smoking.

$$ 38 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3826 8500 One of the only hotels in the Old Quarter to have a balcony with each room, this new boutique is middle of the range but feels higher. Run by Australian expats and partners with a wealth of experience in the hotel industry, expect great service. Awesome western breakfasts and Vietnamese lunch and dinners. The top floor honeymoon suite has perfect views of St Josephs Cathedral.


$$ 5 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3938 1048, Just to the side of St. Joseph’s Cathedral, this is a well-appointed, comfortable boutique hotel. Brightly decorated, the property’s 10 rooms have Wi-Fi, flatscreen TV and a mini bar. Prices start at VND650,000 a night. No smoking except for on the upstairs balconies.



$$$$ K5 Nghi Tam, 11 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3719 9000, Surrounded by lush gardens, sweeping lawns and tranquil courtyards, this peaceful property features picturesque views of West Lake and is less than 10 minutes from downtown. In addition to the luxurious rooms, the hotel offers an outdoor swimming pool and great relaxation and fitness facilities, including a tennis court and spa. There are well equipped conference rooms and a newly refurbished Executive Club Lounge.


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


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$$$$ 1 Thanh Nien Road, Ba Dinh Tel: 3823 8888 Boasting Hanoi’s best views of West Lake, Truc Bach Lake and the Red River, Sofitel Plaza Hanoi soars 20 storeys above the city skyline. The 5-star hotel features 317 luxurious, comfortable guestrooms with spectacular lake view or river view ranking in 7 types from Classic Room to Imperial Suite. CREDIT




$$$$ 35-37 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 04 3938 0999 Just a short walk from Hoan Kiem Lake, this boutique hotel is fitted with 33 comfortable guest rooms, 18 deluxe, and four luxurious suites. All rooms have wi-fi access, and the cozy lobby has both a gallery and a piano bar. Prices range from VND2.5 million for a guest room to VND4.5 million for a suite. CREDIT



$$$ 24 Han Thuyen, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: 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.


$$$ 1C Tong Dan Street, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3824 4775 This hotel houses 71 spacious, comfortable rooms all equipped with high speed CREDIT

internet, bath tub and room service. They have a meeting room, which can accommodate up to 60 people, as well as a restaurant and bar downstairs.



$$$ 4 Ba Trieu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3934 1256 A mid-size boutique hotel with a prime location, Zephyr offers a range of packages and special offers on rooms that are clean and stylish. The lobby boasts a coffee house and restaurant with both Asian and Western Cuisine.



$$ 44 Hang Giay, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3824 3667 Basic rooms and friendly service at this well-known hotel. One of six properties of the same name in Hanoi, internet terminals are located in the lobby, and the property also offers a host of tour itineraries. Rooms vary in price from VND500,000 to VND700,000. Some of their other locations are more budget-friendly.


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


$$$ 34 Hang Manh, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3828 5053 With four locations right in the Old Quarter, this is a good option close to Hoan Kiem Lake. Friendly staff can help you with any detail like renting a car, motorbike, or bicycle. Rooms are compact, with small but clean bathrooms, and all have the quality amenities of a proper hotel. Either ADSL or Wi-Fi connections available. Some of the locations include sauna, steam bath and fitness facilities






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

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


$$$ 242 Tran Binh Trong, Q5 Tel: 3839 7777 Big and businesslike, with seven dining and entertainment outlets, a business centre, meeting and function rooms and a comprehensive fitness centre and spa. Also boasts the biggest banquet facilities in the city.

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





$ 171A Co Bac, Q1, Tel: 3837 8885 A place for exchanging views as well as sleeping, with its communal kitchen and TV room, this venue ticks all the right boxes when it comes to comfort, cleanliness and amenities. A stay here will make you appreciate the pleasure of being a guest rather than just a customer.


$$$$ 39 Le Duan, Q1. Tel: 3520 9999 Luxury accommodation with a stylish club Lounge boasting panoramic views, as well as the finest meeting and banquet facilities in town – all designed with the savvy traveller in mind. The 21-floor tower includes 305 elegantly appointed rooms, including 18 suites and a Presidential Suite. CREDIT




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



$$$ 323 Le Van Sy, Q3. Tel: 3843 9999 A 4-star business class hotel, The Ramana Hotel boasts 293 guestrooms and suites and offers a complete range of service facilities including a Business Centre, a well-equipped Fitness Room, an outdoor swimming pool and the Sawasdee Health


$ 58 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3928 8648 Spacious rooms with ADSL broadband connections starting at around VND600,000 a night. The rooms at the front are more expensive, and breakfast is included. The staff speak good English and are very helpful. Has a number of sister hotels in town, two of which are located next to the cathedral. The third is on Tue Tinh, close to Lenin Park. Check the website for details.



$$$$ 19 Lam Son Square, Q1 , Tel: 3823 4999 The only hotel in Vietnam to make the Robb Report’s 2006 list of the world’s top 100 luxury hotels. Facilities include the popular ninth-floor Saigon Saigon bar, Nineteen and Reflections restaurants, Club Vegas for a flutter, a swimming pool seven floors up and Qi salon and spa.



$$$ 132-134 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: 3829 9201 Fêted in literature and film, this huge old hotel with huge old rooms stands at the absolute centre of town and is the best of the Saigon Tourist chain. Hard to beat on charm, and a favourite with tour groups, this would be one of your first choices if you wanted to impress a newcomer to the city.

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Club, The hotel is situated in District 3 – an area of Ho Chi Minh City only 2 km from the city centre and 3 km from the airport.



25 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem Tel: 2220 5351

AIR FRANCE First Floor, 1 Ba Trieu, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3825 3484

AIR MEKONG 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 37186 399

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



G/F, Hanoi Tower, 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3826 7298

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



AMERICAN AIRLINES 99 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 3933 0330


4th Floor, Opera Business Center, 6B Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3936 6364

EVA AIR 2nd Floor,17 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3936 1600

JAPAN AIRLINES 5th Floor, 63 Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3826 6693

$$$$ 17 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: 3824 1555 True class on an attractive (and historic) street, offering a mix of rooms and suites, top-notch facilities, and restaurant cuisine which can match anything in the city. Without a doubt one of the nicest places to stay in the city. CREDIT



KOREAN AIR 2nd Floor, VIT, 519 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh Tel: 3934 7247

LAO AIRLINES 40 Quang Trung, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3942 5362

LOT AIRLINES R402, 4th floor, Dao Duy Anh Tower, 9 Dao Duy Anh, Dong Da Tel: 3577 2202

MALAYSIA AIRLINES Somerset Grand Hanoi, 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3826 8820

SINGAPORE AIRLINES International Centre, 17 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3826 8888

THAI AIRWAYS 44B Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3826 7921


VIETNAM AIRLINES 25 Trang Thi, Hoan Kiem Tel: 6270 0200

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


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


$$$$ Bai Bac, Son Tra Peninsula, Danang Tel: 0511 393 8888, With its own private bay on the Son Tra Peninsula, the Bill Bensley-designed InterContinental Danang is nestled within one of the region’s most exquisite locations. All 197 of the resort’s rooms, suites and beachfront villas are designed to take full advantage of their location and panoramic South China Sea views. Large terraces and shuttered windows elevate private living spaces that draw in the surrounding jungle and crystal bay, and add depth to the already large rooms that start from 70sqm.


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


MR CAO MOTORBIKE RENTAL 106 Hang Bac, Hoan Kiem Tel: 0912 094464

PHUNG MOTORBIKE RENTAL & SALES 4 Luong Ngoc Quyen, Hoan Kiem Tel: 0904 253491 Well-maintained motorbikes for hire at reasonable rates, plus servicing and repairs for modern and vintage bikes.

QUAN’S MOTORBIKE & BICYCLE RENTALS 70 Hang Bac, Hoan Kiem Tel: 0904 244941 Standard rental shop doing hire by the day and by the month.

VIETNAM MOTORCYCLE ADVENTURES 36 Nguyen Huu Huan, Hoan Kiem (down alley in between No. 34 & No. 36) Tel: 3904 5049 Bespoke motorbike tours, rental of automatic and manual bikes plus repairs.

VIP BIKE RENTALS 64, Alley 71 Tan Ap, Tay Ho (off Tan Ap Street, close to Sofitel Plaza) Tel: 0914 931390 Bike rentals and repairs. Good reputation. Formerly part of the Blue Dragon Foundation.


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



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


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



$$$$ Thuan An Town, Phu Vang District, Thua Thien Hue, Vietnam, Tel: 08 6291 3030 Located on Thuan An Beach, a 20-minute drive from central Hue, the five-star Ana Mandara is the only beach resort with pool villas in the area. The property has a total of 78 rooms and villas, including beach pool villas, beach villas, duplex rooms and deluxe rooms in a wide range of styles and decor designed with modern facilities. Offers private rice paddy dinners, beach BBQs and cruises through the local fish farms.

and is the only luxury accommodation in Quang Binh, about 150 miles from Hue. An ideal base for trips to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Phong Nha caves.


$$$ Poom Village, Mai Chau, Tel: 0912 320990 One of the larger stilt houses in Poom Village, the bamboo floor you can expect to sleep on is more comfortable than you might expect, and this house has a pleasant view of a lotus pond. Like at all the other stilt houses here, drink and dance can be arranged.



$ 10 Pham Ngu Lao, Hue, Tel: 054 382 6561 An excellent option for those on a tight budget, with a comfortable room plus balcony and satellite TV coming in at around VND200,000. An additional bonus is the pleasantness of the staff.

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





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



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


$$$ Tel: 0510 354 5105, If you’re looking for something a bit different, the secluded sand island of Tam Hai, with just a dozen traditional-looking (but modern) villas with private gardens and true tropical ambience may be the answer. There is endless beach, a swimming pool, and a restaurant to take advantage of the fresh seafood. CREDIT


$ 48/3 Le Loi, Hue, Tel: 054 382 6736 A budget option which offers a reliable and acceptable level of comfort for the sub-VND400,000 price with the additional benefit of being near the Perfume River and having attentive service.


$$$$ 130 Minh Mang, Hue. Tel: 054 388 5461 A collection of rustic villas located in the countryside close to Hue and its historical landmarks. Villas range from the traditional Vietnamese pool house to the family bungalow. The boutique, imperial-era Vietnam styled resort also holds cooking classes, makes tour arrangements and has an on-site spa.



$$ My Canh, Bao Ninh, Dong Hoi, Quang Binh Tel: 052 384 2999, This top-end resort offers elegant, comfortable pool villas and bungalows,

At the farthest end of town, Mai Chau Tel: 0218 386 7262 This hotel seems to offer bare-bones amenities, but if you don’t fancy sleeping on the rattan floor of a stilt house, this is a couple good steps above, and the rooms are quite inexpensive. Be prepared for the noise from the karaoke bars which surround the place.



$$$ Tel: 0218 386 8959, If real comfort is what you want, this is surely the best bet in Mai Chau. The rooms are modern and classy, with room service, sauna and internet connections. The newly built Water Lily Cottage offers a luxury version of the house on stilts. Give a call for exact directions, or you can check their website.

MAI CHAU NATURE PLACE House 38, Ban Lac Village, Tel: 3938 1443 A perfect mix between a home-stay experience and comfortable hotel. The private rooms are beautifully quaint while the communal sleeping option is more typical of rural lodges. Both options come with modern and clean bathrooms, traditional home-cooked meals, free bicycles and friendly, in-the-know, staff.


$$$$ House 100, Quarter 2, Mai Chau, Tel: 0218 386 7340 If a sturdy bed is what you crave, this might be your answer. The rooms are large and clean, with a working television and shower with hot water. Might not be the Hilton, but for an aching back it’s a step above a bamboo floor and a mat.


$$$$ 396 Quoc Lo 14, Dong Xoai, Binh Phuoc Tel: 0651 387 9764 Accommodation here is quite basic, but this place offers a good deal in relation to the other places around, if you want a place to sleep before a long day of park touring.


$ Cuc Phuong, Nho Quan, Ninh Binh Tel: 030 384 8006 Park accommodation, in modern rooms, stilt houses and detached bungalows, includes basic amenities and comforts in proportion to prices, which range from VND100,000 to VND500,000 per night. Rooms available at park hq, the park centre, and on the road linking the two.


$ 128 Le Hong Phong, Ninh Binh, Tel: 030 387 1811 Refurbished in 2004, this has big, clean rooms that are great value for the money. There is an in-house restaurant that will make it redundant to eat elsewhere. Prices range from VND100,000 to VND400,000 for a double deluxe room. The staff speak very good English.


$$ 55A Truong Han Sieu, Ninh Binh. Tel: 030 387 1602 This hotel is slightly more expensive than its neighbors, but the reason is apparent once you walk in. The rooms in the newer building are especially nice and, together with the better than decent restaurant downstairs, this one can make for a good stop over.


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


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


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


$$$ 50 Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Tel: 058 625 6900 This stylish four-star hotel is centrally located on the main street of the resort city of Nha Trang. Along with 154 modern rooms, each with terrace and a stunning sea view, Novotel Nha Trang offers a pool, spa, restaurant, bar and meeting room catering for up to 200 delegates. CREDIT

SAO MAI HOTEL 99 Nguyen Thien Thuat, Nha Trang Tel: 058 382 7412 Try to get a seaview room with private balcony at this friendly and very cheap hotel, which also has a rooftop terrace. Rooms have basic but adequate facilities and it is well located.


$$$ 12-14 Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Tel: 058 382 0999 Luxury boutique hotel in the city centre and right across from the beach is well geared up for the family and business trade, with kids’ room, beach recreation, CREDIT

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Lang Son


Located on the Chinese border, Lang Son is often relegated to the somewhere-in-between status. Through his lens and in his own words, Irish-Vietnamese photographer Quang Nong tells us an alternative story of his hometown

What is your background? I was born in the northeast of the country but we moved to Dublin, Ireland when I was three years old. After I left Vietnam, most of the relatives from my mother’s side moved to Lang Son. My first time back to Vietnam was in 2010.

Why did you move to Lang Son? After living in Ireland for 25 years, the scenery got pretty dull. Being a photographer, moving to Lang Son was a great opportunity. I have much more freedom here and the people are so different — their superstitions, their logic to life and how they all get by day in day out with so little. For me, even photographing something like a pile of rubbish here is different to shooting a pile of rubbish back home. All my photos here have a longer story to tell.

What makes this an unusual town? Lang Son is surrounded by mountains and is a gateway for the tribes’ people from all corners of the north. Even minority peoples from the mountains come here to make a living. It would be impossible for them to do this in the hustle and bustle

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of Hanoi as their way of trading and bartering would seem primitive in the eyes of a Hanoian. But the most unusual aspect of the place lies about 15km from the city centre. It’s a place called Mau Son. Once you've reached the foot of Mau Son Mountain it's around another 35-minute drive to the peak where you will literally be above the clouds. Here you will find old French colonial buildings and ruins, a running hotel as well as ethnic minorities from the mountain trading hand-made clothes. On occasion, in winter snow falls. Together with Cao Bang it's the only place in Vietnam that gets such weather and people from as far as Hanoi flock to Mau Son to view the sight.

What do you enjoy about living somewhere so far away from the big city? What are the drawbacks? The great thing about living here is that it’s laid-back — the sense of freedom you get is priceless compared to any big city. You can get on your motorbike and go anywhere you want with no traffic and zero air pollution. You’re also surrounded by amazing looking mountains and lush

green fields of sugar cane and paddy. The only drawback is that the town is very dependent on China for commodities, whether it’s clothes, fruit or electrical products. Fortunately the new highway means that Hanoi is now only three hours away.

Why should anyone visit Lang Son? Is it more than just a border town? The inhabitants here are friendly and easygoing, so visitors who want to experience a true Vietnamese town should check it out — it’s only 168km from the capital. There are no tourist information desks, no western fast-food restaurants and virtually nobody speaks English. A refreshing change. And yet it’s like the northern version of Dalat. The climate is much more bearable in the summer than elsewhere. It also has a lot of history. Numerous battles have been fought here and Lang Son has had a role in moulding Vietnam into the country it is today. Then there is the cuisine. Lang Son boasts its own versions of pho and bun, steamed rolls, roast duck and roast pig.

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out & about

restaurants offering Japanese, Vietnamese and European cuisine, pool bar, beach bar, sky bar and a Qi spa.

good prices. Cleanliness and comfort are acceptable and about average for this type of establishment.

and, of course, sailing.





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


$$ 25 Pho 1, Muong Thanh, Dien Bien Phu Tel: 0230 381 0043 This Soviet-era hotel has a unique style that makes it one of the most visited. So, despite its size, it may be a good idea to book in advance. There’s a charge for the swimming pool, even if you’re staying there. But, hey, there’s a pool. The rooms are better than average and have satellite TV. CREDIT


$$ 4 Duong, 26-8 Rd, Son La, Tel: 022 385 5313 The explanation of the name is a mystery, but with 100 rooms it could probably house a mid-size union. Not the cheapest place in town, but the rooms are extra large and fairly well-kept. If you want to spend some time with satellite television, this is your place. Price range is VND500,000 to VND600,000, breakfast included. CREDIT


$ 1 Kim Dong, Cao Bang. Tel: 026 385 3431 A large, government-run hotel popular with tour groups. Rooms are super-sized, with big windows and some even have views. They also take credit cards, which might not be expected here. Room rates are around VND400,000.


$ 84 Pho Tran Dang Ninh, Lang Son, Tel: 025 387 0349 This place offers basic accommodation at a good price. Don’t expect too much, but as an en route stop-over, Hoang Nguyen will definitely do.

HOANG SON HAI 57D Thanh Tam, Lang Son. Tel: 025 371 0479 Although it may be a bit hard to communicate with the staff if you’re Vietnamese isn’t up to snuff, they are eager to help. The rooms are exceptionally nice for the area.



$ 53 Duong 26 – 8, Son La Tel: 022 385 8798 Sunrise makes for a decent stay for those travelling between Hanoi and Dien Bien Phu. In relation to the other hotels on the road, the rooms are very clean and the staff helpful. A night here will run around VND400,000.


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


$ 14 Nguyen Trai, Ha Giang, Tel: 0219 386 1288 The large, comfortable sleeping quarters here may come as a surprise in these parts. But these are the things that have made Huy Hoan so popular. Several tour groups use the place as a stopover, and the staff is adept at fulfilling their needs.


$ Nguyen Trai, Ha Giang. Tel: 0219 386 3019 One of the first guesthouses you see as you arrive in town, location has made this guesthouse a popular stop off point. The sleeping accommodations are clean and comfortable, enough to enjoy a good night’s sleep and shower.


$ V159 Vuon Cam, Cao Bang, Tel: 026 385 7026 Thanh Loan is a smaller hotel with more attention paid to the details. Still, expect basic accommodation, but, all said, a good bargain.

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




2 Hoang Van Thu, Thai Nguyen, Tel: 0280 385 2803 Your standard two-star establishment, Thai Nguyen is one of the best (and one of the only) choices in the vicinity. It’s quite a large hotel considering its location, so booking shouldn’t be a problem.


$$$ 2 Hoang Van Thu, Lai Chau. Tel: 0231 387 5829 Offers reasonable guesthouse-style rooms with air conditioning, some of them with balconies. Take a look at the rooms before you rent as the quality may vary.


$$ 849 Duong 7-5, Muong Thanh, Dien Bien Phu Tel: 0230 382 5103 Pretty much what it sounds like: a Dien Bien Phu guest house. Rooms are made for sleeping and not much else, but at CREDIT

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$$$ Tel: 062 743 237 Top quality resort offering a small selection of luxury and attractively designed apartments and studios right on the beach, with fully equipped and modern units. Entertainment options include windsurfing, kitesurfing, antique sidecars, bike tours and dune buggy rides. Has a decent pool and dining options. CREDIT



$$$ 24 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet Tel: 062 384 7440 Much more than its name suggests, with beautiful landscaped tropical gardens leading onto a stretch of pristine beach and an outdoor bar, well-positioned to make the best of the scenery. Has a mix of comfortable rooms and bungalows, and has recently done some refurbishment. Offers quad-biking, kitesurfing, paragliding

PHU QUOC $$$$ Bai Xep, Ong Lang, Cua Duong, Phu Quoc, Kien Giang, Tel: 0773 995895 Open since Nov. 2008, this 37-bungalow resort provides a serene atmosphere along with first-class spa treatment and a mediterranean-themed restaurant. CREDIT



$$$$ Ward 1, Duong Dong Beach, Phu Quoc Tel: 0773 982888 / 3823 7645 (Sales office) Boutique luxury among exotic greenery and a white sand beach, La Veranda has beautifully-designed rooms with cool tiles in traditional designs and dark woods, a stunning swimming pool, an all-natural spa, a beach grill and a fine fusion restaurant overlooking the beach.



$$ Ong Lang Beach, Phu Quoc. Tel: 090 338 2207 A getaway in the true sense, combining an eco-friendly approach with a gorgeous beachside location. Wildlife abounds on land and in the sea, the bungalows are made of rammed earth, and there are no TVs and telephones around. Excellent sunsets from the beach bar, which also serves up excellent food in the restaurant on the edge of the sea.


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


team are all local and will help you enjoy the surroundings of the Muong Hoa Valley.


$$ 18 Phang Xi Pan, Sapa. Tel: 020 6505 228 Located in the heart of Sapa town this simple but comfortable boutique hotel occupies an unprecedented corner location overlooking the terraced valleys of Sapa and not far from the energy of the local market. Rooms are decorated with antique hardwood furniture and contemporary artwork from local artists with touches of ethnic minority culture.



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



$$$ Tel: 020 387 1522, Topping the list of Sapa resorts, the Victoria is not priced for the backpacker (rooms range from $135 to $250 per night). The many amenities include satellite TV, in-room coffeemakers and safes, and a hilltop health club, tennis court and pool. The entire resort is tastefully decorated with panoramic views of the town below.


$ Khu Nhi Mat, Tam Dao. Tel: 0211 382 4315 A big new hotel, Green World has 100 rooms ranging in price from VND400,000 to VND600,000 a night. Because of its height, the top rooms have nice views of the town and surroundings. There is a restaurant and bar with billiards, and internet in the lobby.

$ 7 Muong Hoa, Sapa. Tel: 020 387 1243 Despite being in the centre of town, some of the back rooms offer nice views. There is also a good French-style restaurant downstairs, which is what you might expect considering the décor and name. Prices vary, but a room should generally cost around VND400,000.




$$ 18 Muong Hoa, Sapa. Tel: 020 387 1075 One of the best things about the Bamboo Hotel is the view, so make sure you check out the room first – some are better than others. There is aircon if needed, but you might want to ask for extra blankets in winter, in spite of electric heaters. Rooms here are between VND700,000 and VND1 million a night. The premium here is on the views.


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


$ Km 6 Sapa, Ban Ho Road Sapa, Lao Cai Tel: 020 3872 130, A large stilt house, five clay-clad bungalows and one 70-year-old Hmong House is what waits for you amid the rolling hills of Lao Cai, 6km outside of Sapa. The eco-resort’s

$ Khu 1 Thi, Tam Dao, Tel: 0211 382 4208 Another one of the newer hotels in Tam Dao, Hang Khong caters mainly to Vietnamese tourists. But the price is right, hovering around VND500,000. Many of the rooms have balconies, but all have comfortable beds and hot showers. $ Khu I Thi, Tam Dao, Tel: 0211 382 4282 Just your basic hotel, but if what you want is a bed and satellite television, this is your place. Can’t beat the price at around VND200,000. Beware, though, prices are subject to change.


$$ Thi Tran, Tam Dao. Tel: 0211 382 4321 Probably the prime place to stay in Tam Dao, the Mela has a swimming pool that might come in handy if you’re in the mountains to escape the heat of Hanoi summer. Rooms are comfortable and clean, with two double beds and balcony. The staff can assist if you want to explore the natural surroundings. Prices between VND800,000 and VND1.6 million.

TRAVEL SERVICES AIR MEKONG 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho. Tel: 37186 399 With presence in eight different cities including Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Con Dao, Phu Quoc and Pleiku, Air Mekong is the ideal way to see more of Vietnam.

It offers 30 daily flights and is a realistic alternative to the time-consuming train and bus combo.

ASIA WINGS TRAVEL COMPANY Ground Floor, Hanoi Towers 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 9343 0888 Founded in 1998, the travel company caters to both corporate and international travel. Services include ticketing, hotel reservation, travel insurance, transfer and visa arrangement. Outbound tours and packages throughout the world are also available.

ASIAN TRAVEL MATE 7 Dinh Tien Hoang, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3825 0615; 21 Luong Ngoc Quyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3926 3449; Crowne Plaza, 36 Le Duc Tho, Tu Liem Tel: 6265 4558 An active supporter of the Loreto Program, AsianaTravel is a tourist information company that offers a wide range of customised itineraries, and reservations throughout Indochina. Have daily departure tours available in Saigon, Hue and Hanoi.

BUFFALO TOURS AGENCY (BTA) 94 Ma May, Hoan Kiem Dist., Ha Noi Tel: (84-4) 3 828 0702 A boutique Travel Agency at the service of all Vietnamese and expatriate residents in Vietnam offering easy, hassle-free travel around the world and in Vietnam, with the highest standards of customer care. This premium Travel Agency has been created to help travelers select their destinations and organize their trips, take care of the time-consuming procedures and ensure that all journeys are enjoyable and successful. BTA customizes leisure and corporate travel plans while offering a selected range of small group tours.

EXOTISSIMO 26, Tran Nhat Duat, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3828 2150 9 XuanDieu, Tay Ho. Tel: 3718 5555 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.

FREEWHEELIN TOURS 2nd floor, 2A Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3926 2743 Responsible travel tourism company offering intimate, bespoke tours that give customers a more “authentic” taste of Vietnam. Motorbike journeys, homestays, visits to ethnic minority villages, national parks, waterfalls and spectacular scenery are all part of the mix, with part of the proceeds going to a number of responsible tourism initiatives.

HANDSPAN TRAVEL 80 Ma May, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3926 2828 Established in 1997, Handspan provides customers with safe, high quality, diverse, small-group adventure tours to both popular and isolated locations in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Has a focus on off-the-beaten-track sustainable and responsible tourism initiatives. Also provides to excursions to more well-worn destinations.

HG TRAVEL 47 Phan Chu Trinh, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3944 8844 Travel company specialising in small-group tours around Vietnam and further afield in Indochina. Is also the sole representative agent for Kenya Airways (for 40 cities in Africa —, American Airlines ( and Turkish Airlines (

INDOCHINA LAND 61 Cua Bac, Ba Dinh. Tel: 3715 2852 Indochina Land is a French local travel agency for expatriates and tourists who want to see northern Vietnam in a personal and tailored way. Think small knowledgeable teams of Vietnamese and French who share their passion for discovery during varied itineraries, usually focused on freedom, family, health trips and classic home stays. They will show you around Ha Giang, too.

INTREPID TRAVEL VIETNAM 57A Nguyen Khac Hieu, Ba Dinh Tel: 0904 193308 Intrepid Travel Vietnam is an international travel company operating in Vietnam since 1992, offering innovative day tours, short breaks and small group adventures. With expert guides and guaranteed departures, Intrepid focuses on real life experiences in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Mekong Delta, Halong Bay, Sapa and beyond to get you up close to Vietnam's people, cuisine, history and culture.

JEWEL OF THE DELTA Tel: 01282 471716, A cruise boat on the Red River offering cocktail and party cruises every week with free snacks, a free cocktail and free shisha in one of the VIP rooms. Private cruises are available for parties, meetings, receptions, and dinners for groups or organisations. A unique place to chill out.

LOT AIRLINES R402, 4th floor, Dao Duy Anh Tower, 9 Dao Duy Anh, Dong Da, Tel: 3577 2202 LOT serves Poland and back three times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. The flight arrives in Warsaw in the early morning, and because of the city’s location in the middle of Europe, it’s an ideal airport for transit to and from other European hubs.

LUXURY TRAVEL CO., LTD 5 Nguyen Truong To, Ba Dinh. Tel: 3927 4120 Vietnam’s First Luxury Tour Company, offers you carefree luxury travel so you and your family can focus on the fun, not the details. Challenge your skills at the country’s most spectacular golf courses. Soak up the sun while being soothed by the sound of breaking surf. Hunt for high-fashion couture in the most elegant cities of Vietnam. Envision any vacation experience you want; name it, we deliver

SYRENA CRUISES 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho. Tel: 3719 7214 If you’re thirsty for a Halong Bay experience while enjoying luxury comfort, Syrena Cruises could be the quencher you’re looking for. Forget drinking games and backpackers by relaxing on one of the two wooden boats from the fleet. Alone, as a couple or with a group, 34 luxurious cabins and suites are all ready for action. All you have to do is decide on how long you want to holiday for.



BARS & NIGHTCLUBS 17 COWBOYS MUSIC HALL/LONG BAR 98B Tran Hung Dao, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3942 6822 5pm to 12am Cowgirls, lasers, belly dancing and Filipino bands who never shy away from a good Guns N' Roses cover. Drinks are a little pricey, but part of the money is going to the show. Expect a lively atmosphere and the band will take requests, but 1980s rock tunes are favoured.


BAMBOO BAR CLASSIC FRENCH Sofitel Metopole Legend Hotel, 15 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3826 6919 7am to 10pm Set up like a traditional colonial-era bar space with dark wooden plank flooring, bamboo roofing, wicker chairs and handheld fan crafted ceiling fans, both during the day and at night there is a relaxed, timeless ambience here. The drinks focus here is on Martini-based and classic cocktails with a huge wine list and aged spirits also making an appearance. Also a great place for a morning or afternoon coffee.




Tel: 01282 273717, The best trekking guides in Sapa showing you the key spots with the guarantee of an unforgettable experience. Sapa Sisters aims to empower young H’Mong women and give them fair pay for their skilled services. Read their reviews on Trip Advisor.

XIN CHAO HANOI Forget the inaccuracy of Google Maps, for a real quality plan of the capital, the meticulous versions created by Xin Chao Hanoi are the presently the best available. Providing tourists with access to the city's hidden charms, secret lanes, gardens and pagodas, check their website for a list of vendors.


TOURIST BAR/CLUB 32 Luong Ngoc Quyen, Hoan Kiem This newcomer to Ta Hien’s Bia Hoi Junction is an Aztec-themed three story drinking hole and dance space. Balcony on the second floor, which provides a great view over the beer drinkers below, and dance space on the third floor. CDJs and a promise of dubstep and drink specials on the board outside are bound to go down well among the area’s party massive.




visit for a comprehensive list of our listings


BAR BETTA RETRO CAFÉ BAR 34C Cao Ba Quat, Ba Dinh, Tel: 3734 9134 8am to midnight This bar is every bit as quirky as the Czech moped it’s named after. Inside every surface is festooned with a medley of objects ranging from gramaphones to retro TVs. The rooftop terrace is an awesome place for a sundowner or a morning coffee. Eclectic and like nothing else in Hanoi.

CAFÉ BLUE NOTE LOUNGE BAR 61A Luong Ngoc Quyen, Hoan Kiem Located on the upstairs portion of Mix III lounge and café, Blue Note features dimly lit, blue lighting and a balcony area that overlooks the streets of the Old Quarter. The interior is decorated with elegant red, velvet chairs and photographs of vintage jazz artists along the walls—giving the place a vintage, musical feel to accompany your conversations. The bar is a promising small venue, equipped with a small stage and piano.

CAMA ATK MUSIC & ARTS BAR 73A Mai Hac De, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 01262 054970 Wednesday to Saturday, 6pm to midnight With well-poured drinks, a foosball table, no smoking and a midnight closing time, CAMA ATK knows exactly what it wants to be — and that’s refreshing. The space is a part time venue for smaller acts and DJs. The venue is hip, comfortable and will likely provide the serious drinker with a reliable place to pull up a stool and take pulls in a relaxed haven.

CHEEKY QUARTER LATE NIGHT LOCAL 1 Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0904 032829 8pm to late Last building on the right before Hang Buom, this popular with the French (and everyone else) watering hole is a classic. Has the same Old Quarter vibe; small, cosy and personal with funky twists – and an awesome logo. Spread over two floors with good tunes, drinks specials and a foosball table, Cheeky is open till late. Also does tasty paninis into the early hours.



DANCEHALL LOUNGE 15 Hang Buom, Hoan Kiem 93 Phung Hung, Hoan Kiem Tel: 4926 2177 11am — late One of the better venues in the Old Quarter for dancing on the weekends. Although crammed into a small space, cheap drinks and a mix of chart chits makes Dragonfly the regular go-to for younger Vietnamese crowds, tourists and the foreign resident looking to get up on the dance floor. If you don’t feel like dancing, relax upstairs with shisha and friends with one of the

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out & about two lounges on the second floor. The sister venue on Phung Hung has a bigger menu and an earlier opening hour (11am instead of 6pm) but still keeps with the shisha, pool table and dance floor combo so popular on Hang Buom.



POOL HALL / LIVE MUSIC / CLUB 55 Ma May, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3935 1788 8am to midnight A potential gem in the heart of the Old Quarter. While it’s themed to the Easy Rider vibe out front, this huge two-storey venue is a jack of all trades – it has a bar, live music stage, pool tables, hookahs, a VIP room and a night club with a decent sound set up. Ideal for private functions and party promoters. Club stays open till late.



DJ / LATE NIGHT JOINT 25 Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem Tel: 5333 6087 4pm to late Straddling Bia Hoi Corner and the cobblestoned end of Ta Hien, FatCat Bar is 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. Nightly cocktail specials, reasonable bottles deals starting at VND500,000 and a DJ on the decks make up the mix.



DANCEHALL/BAR 61 Luong Ngoc Quyen, Hoan Kiem 5pm to late Previously known as Dracula Bar, this watering hole tucked upstairs behind a hotel is around the corner from Ta Hien. A double-sided bar splits up a pool table space, lounge area and dance floor. The smoke machine can be a bit much, but the music is a decent mix of pop and house. Never crowded and open late, free shots are given out every hour on the hour.



ELECTRO LOUNGE 2 Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem 8pm to late Owned by the people behind Face Club, the low, LED-lit venue has the feel of a VIP room situated in a larger club, only it's not. While techno and trance are the genre's of choice spun in the establishment by live DJs, patrons treat the space more like a lounge than a dancehall and typically order bottle service and cocktails. One of the Ta Hien mainstays.



LATE NIGHT LOCAL / LOUNGE 32 Ma May, Hoan Kiem 10am to late In the same building as the old Bucket Bar, Hair of the Dog, the first floor offers a large drinking space, graphic artwork, sidewalk seating and a dance floor. Up the spiral staircase, there’s the late-night bar and shisha lounge complete with beanbags. Drawing in a mix of expats, backpackers and locals, when the bars across the street shut down, the mayhem continues in ‘The Dog’.



LATE DIVE BAR 62 Dao Duy Tu, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3926 1943 3pm to late Often a bit dark and somewhat gloomy, “The Noodle” is still a hit with long term residents. With its all-hour eating options — ranging from cheese toasties and pizzas to grilled cod and bun cha — and its popular happy hour, this Old Quarter old-timer is still up there with the options. Between 11pm and 12.30am, local beers go for VND15,000 and mixers go for VND30,000. Friendly staff and talkative patrons included.

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HANOI ROCK CITY LIVE MUSIC VENUE 27/52 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho Tel: 01887 487 426 5pm to midnight With a downstairs, English-style pub garden area and an upstairs space dedicated to live music and live production, Hanoi Rock City is the only venue in the capital of its kind. Has weekly live events featuring bands both from Vietnam and overseas — established and up and coming. Email for more information or check out their page on Facebook.

HO GUOM XANH CLUB STAGE AND TABLE CLUB 32 Le Thai To, Tel: 3828 8806 8pm to 11.45pm Just a few yards from the banks of Hoan Kiem Lake, this giant pantheon of a nightclub seems more at home in Bangkok than in the capital. With DJs, go-go dancers and an ear splitting sound system, Ho Guom Xanh is a great place to ‘dance’ around a table, if you’re willing, while enjoying expensive top shelf bottle service in the heart of the city.

HOUSE OF SON TINH LIQUOR LOUNGE 31 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3718 6377 8am to 11.30pm As part of the Highway 4 group, which now has its offices in the establishment’s upstairs areas, this bar-cum-restaurant outfitted with comfortable, stylish furnishings is famed for its luxurious rice wine liquors and newly created cocktail class. Does regular events on the first floor and also has a creative Vietnamese food menu based on cuisine sold at other restaurants in the chain.



“sell and swap” book shelves, Jenga and some tasty toasted sandwiches, and it can be hours of fun. The dried buffalo “nosh” from Tay Bac in the north is a must.

MAO’S RED LOUNGE LOUNGE AND BAR 7 Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3926 3104 5am to 2am One of the few staple bars in the city that hosts an equal number of ex-pats, locals and tourists. With cheap drinks, funky, slightly ethnic decor and one of the most amiable owners in town, Mao's is always a great place to start off or finish the night. Sing-a-longs and dancing welcome at one of the most popular drinking spots on Ta Hien.


LAID-BACK FIX 2 Nam Ngu, Hoan Kiem Tel: 0917 897630 A curving neon sign marks the small entrance to May Pub, which stands on the corner of Nam Ngu and Phan Boi Chau. The pub hosts a laid-back bar atmosphere with old Hollywood photographs, free billiards and darts and low-key live music. The menu combines traditional cocktails with offerings like Russian string cheese — a late-night brew and dairy fix. Wednesday and Friday nights are Buy One Get One Free for ladies.

MODEL CLUB CATWALK BAR 45 Hang Bai, Hoan Kiem 8pm to late Lasers, pulsating trance, bottle service and nightly model shows. This venue is largely filled with flashy Vietnamese youngsters or older business types flashing their wads. Bottle service is a must, which is a little pricey, so if you ain't got enough money then you probably won't be sticking around to see the honeys.

IRISH PUB 4 Luong Ngoc Quyen, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 2212 6821 8am to 2am The open-air watering hole with seating on the pavement is a great spot to enjoy a tall dark stout or light pilsner at anytime, day or night. What it lacks in gaudy decorations, it makes up for with a constant stream of regulars, occasional live Irish music and billiards on the third floor. Has a decent food menu and even better pizzas.




FRENCH-STYLE CONTEMPORARY Hotel de l’Opera, 29 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem Tel: 6282 5555 7am to 2am Meaning the green fairy — an allusion to the hallucinatory effects of absinthe which was drunk extensively in colonial Vietnam — understated lighting, a laid-back lounge atmosphere, a good music selection and ultra-contemporary interior design make up the mix at this downstairs bar in Hotel de l’Opera. Expect a good selection of creative cocktails and an extensive wine list. Opens late with a DJ taking to the decks on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

LONG PLAY CAFÉ LATE NIGHT LOCAL 9B Bao Khanh, Hoan Kiem Tel: 0914 339439 9am to late This quirky bar and living room gets busiest in the later hours. Down in the bar, plasma screens and an iPod station mix with a dance floor and comically named cocktails. Upstairs, there’s a cushioned living room — a pleasant space with a low ceiling and shisha. Throw in a dartboard,


ELECTRO GRUNGE CLUB 51 / 4A Phuc Tan, Hoan Kiem 6pm to late Hanoi's favourite after hours dancehall/ trance den. Throw shapes on either of the two floors that have regular DJs while dancing to rapacious electronic beats or enjoy the Red River's breeze and snack on a kebab as you catch up with all of the city's regular night owls. The terrace out back has great views of Long Bien Bridge at night. +

GAMING LOUNGE 104 Bach Dang, Hoan Kiem Tel: 0621 0212 9am to midnight If you’re looking for a more active night out, this gaming lounge has it all. White leather sofas, and plasma screens hooked up to Xbox 360 Kinect, Playstation 3 Move etc and more. Challenge your friends to games while enjoying a western-style food menu and a decent selection of beverages. When you get a little too competitive, you can cool down in the lounge area and gear up for your next big win.



EUROPEAN BREW HALL 10 Nguyen Bieu, Ba Dinh. Tel: 3734 2288 Modeled after a brewery, bar and bowling alley in the Czech Republic, Pilsner Urquell has an old Europe feel — particularly in the private rooms lined with glass beer mugs, thick cuts of dark wood furniture and semi-circular booths. With the UNmeeting-of-a-menu, customers can choose from goose dishes, noodles, fried apples, an assortment of cheeses and several other options. Perfect location for big gatherings.



LONG BAR 5 Bao Khanh, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3825 0959 5pm to 2am A bit musty and jaded, despite being one of the oldest pubs in the city, this staple watering hole on Bao Khanh continues to be a hit. 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 conversations at the long bar, billiards and live football matches.



BOTTLE BASED DANCE CLUB 61 Luong Ngoc Quyen, Hoan Kiem Tel: 0915 381180. A glitzy, spacious basement club tucked away in the corner where Luong Ngoc Quyen meets Hang Giay. It’s a laser, mirrors and disco ball affair with high tables, hostesses, bottles of whiskey and a DJ — usually playing a mixture of trance and house. Runs a number of spirits offers on different days of the week. Ask for details.

RED RIVER TEA ROOM LAKESIDE WATERING HOLE 25 Duong Ven Ho Tay, Tay Ho Monday to Friday, 2pm to 11.30pm. Weekends open from 11am Located on the lakeside road just below Xuan Dieu and close to the entrance to The Sheraton, this quiet, casual pub offers up a variety of beer, wine and mixed drinks, juice, tea, Nespresso coffee and espresso and milkshakes, all with a nice view of West Lake. Non-smoking indoors, Red River Tea Room is a welcome addition to the area.



REGGAE CHILLOUT BAR 2 Luong Ngoc Quyen, Hoan Kiem 5pm to late With a reggae theme, the French-run Roots stays open late playing African and Caribbean music with some salsa thrown in for good measure. Laid back vibes. A good, late-night, Old Quarter option set on a first floor. The entrance is next to the Irish Wolfhound.

SPY BAR HOLE IN THE WALL / IRISH 12A Nguyen Huu Huan, Hoan Kiem Tel: 2269 1107 Fronted by the affable Sean, and with Guinness, Jameson’s and a surprising amount of draught beer flowing from the taps, since its inauguration the tiny Spy Bar has managed to create a dedicated following despite its tiny size. With pictures of spies dotting the wall (both Vietnamese and international) and food delivery available from three restaurants, this is a great place to chill and shoot some well-deserved, Chuong Duong Bridge breeze.

SUMMIT LOUNGE ROOFTOP LOUNGE BAR 20th Floor, Sofitel Plaza, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh Tel: 3823 8888 ext. 5314 4pm to Midnight Sunday to Wednesday, 4pm to 2am Thursday to Saturday While there are a few ‘rooftop bars’ in the capital, few hold a candle to the view on offer at the Summit Lounge. With a chilled but lively ambience, top shelf cocktails, and a Southeast Asian fusion bar menu, the Summit Lounge is a great place to pitch yourself above the madness and peer down at the chaos below in peace. Sunsets are particularly special.

TADIOTO 12 Truong Han Sieu, Ba Trieu Leftfield, Indochine, contemporary and artsy, all thrown into one, the latest incarnation of Tadioto rolls together café, bar and gallery. Always with an attractive ambience and friendly service, a garden

out back adds a nice touch to the space inside.



DANCEFLOOR / LONG BAR 8 Hang Buom, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 6675 7908 7pm to 2am A relative newcomer and an instant favourite, located in party mile, Temple Bar is a good choice for late night fun. The long, thin establishment is a bar out front with decks and some tiles out back – usually hosting electro pop DJs or sets from the likes of Link Hanoi. Has drinks specials most days and is guaranteed to be crammed at the weekend. Popular among locals, expats and tourists.



MEET-UP SPOT 100 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3718 6917 4pm to late Filled with wooden furnishings and a downstairs bar with two beers on tap — as well as wine, cocktails and spirits on the shelves — this newcomer venue has a grill menu catering to the tastes of both East and West. For those in search of a good old-fashioned Sloppy Joe or grilled cheese, you’ll be glad to know the kitchen is stocked to the ceiling with comfort foods.




INTERNATIONAL / FRENCH 11B Bao Khanh, Hoan Kiem Tel: 0936 063303 4pm to late Slim but stylish two-storey bar located just at the bend on Bao Khanh. The friendly staff can make a range of well-made and colourful cocktails. Frequent DJ nights and parties are commonplace at this watering hole that caters to both foreign and Vietnamese. Does an excellent happy hour with specials on Ricard.

RESTO LOUNGE 2 Hang Bai, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3934 1494 7am to 11pm A stone’s throw from the shores of Hoan Kiem Lake, this Saigonese franchise tries it’s hand with a variety of different western dishes at reasonable prices, especially considering the location. 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. Oh, and they also do coffee, too.


INTERNATIONAL COFFEE HOUSE 28 Thanh Nien, Tay Ho Tel: 3715 4240 7am to 10pm Finally the newest addition to the Hanoi coffee scene has opened a little closer to town than the first outlet in Pico Mall. Famous for the exceptional quality of the coffee and tea, the latest Coffee Bean 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 Westlake.

COFFEE/BAKERY 22 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3747 33 88 54 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho. Tel: 3718 6071 7am to 9pm With two branches, Joma has brought a little slice of “home” to Hanoi for expatriates 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 2010 and is looking to open in Ho Chi Minh City in 2011. Has a play area for kids up in the West Lake café and bakery.

WINE AND CIGAR LOUNGE 2 Le Phung Hieu, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3939 3477 9am to 1am The ambience at the relaxed wine bar near the Metropole screams red wine — the walls are painted a warm yellow, the exposed brick adds a touch of cool and the wine barrels-turned-tables are tasteful. Too bad it’s often awkwardly empty. Features fine wines, cigars and Vietnamese and international snacks.


LATE NIGHT LOCAL 2A Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3926 3050 6pm to 5am This small and personal one-and-a-half floor bar starts to get busy at around 11pm and is popular with expats of all nationalities, despite having a French flavour. Run by the indomitable Thanh and once called Le Maquis, the Tet Bar these days has a slightly cluttered feel to it, but nonetheless continues to pull in the punters. Open very, very late.

POPULAR VIETNAMESE 1 Ma May, Hoan Kiem; 10A Khuc Hao, Ba Dinh 7am to 11pm Popular with young Vietnamese, the Align cafes are always busy. The younger venue on Khuc Hao is hidden down a bamboo alley and has three outdoor seating areas, one of which makes you feel like you’re sat under a waterfall. The other two are on the roof, and from the middle of this embassy-type street, the sound of motorbikes is replaced with tweeting birds. 3D pictures on the walls of each floor take you back to the old city, before KFC and Parkson. Even to times before the French.




LAKESIDE WATERING HOLE 25 Duong Ven Ho Tay, Tay Ho Monday to Friday, 12pm to 11.30pm. Weekends from 11am. Located on the lakeside road just below Xuan Dieu and close to the entrance to The Sheraton, this quiet, casual pub offers a variety of beer, wine and mixed drinks, juice, tea, Nespresso coffee, espresso, milkshakes, meat pies, pizza and pastries, all with a nice view of West Lake. Nonsmoking indoors, Red River Tea Room is a welcome addition to the area.

THE SPOT LOUNGE BAR / TERRACE 47 Hang Be, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3935 1874 8am to midnight A stone's throw from Ta Hien, this barcum-lounge-cum-restaurant has all of the atmosphere present in bars scattered throughout the Old Quarter without being a dive. Enjoy a mixed drink, tacos or a Vietnamese staple starter with the occasional live DJ breaking out classic funk, soul and hip hop in the comfortable furnishings or on the back patio.

TRACY’S PUB AND GRILL SPORTS BAR/GRILL 40 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 6675 9838 11am to 12am This Canadian-run, miniscule sports bar on the main drag of Xuan Dieu is perpetually crowded with regulars drinking out front on plastic stools. Notorious for its mouth-watering burgers, cooked fresh to order, Tracy’s is most famous for their draft beers, claiming to serve the coldest draft beer in Hanoi, and always in a frosted mug. For those missing their dose of North American sports, they play all day via satellite on two plasmas.

LAKE VIEW LOUNGE 73 Cau Go; 9 Dinh Tien Hoang, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3926 0801 7am to 11.30pm Popular for its views of Hoan Kiem Lake, this lounge and bar is always busy. With comfy seating and balconies, the lounge and sky garden offer a pleasant escape from city-centre chaos. The smoothies are creamy and renditions of popular street dishes are spot on. Elsewhere in the eclectic menu, pizzas and pastas cost around VND100,000 and steak in red wine sauce goes for VND179,000. Classic pop instrumentals play by day, and come night, the chilled vibe is tainted slightly with electro pop.

CAFÉ LAM 91 Nguyen Huu Huan Tel: 3824 5940 Always busy, the café has traditional charm in old quarter. Lining the walls, old world drawings line the walls floor to ceiling. They serve a variety of teas and coffee, as well as many jars of pickled looking vegetables and less identifiable things. Grab a seat on the low wooden tables and take advantage of their strong Wi-fi.

CHILL OUT CAFE TEEN SCENE CAFÉ 89A Ly Nam De, Ba Dinh Tel: 3223 3246 9am to 10pm This hangout spot is styled for locals in their teeny-bop years and early twenties. The décor is kitschy and cozy, there is even a piano, used occasionally in live music shows. They serve sweet drinks at a reasonable price along with lots of treats like brownies in a variety of newwave flavors.


CONG CAPHE LEFTIST ARTSY CAFE 152D Trieu Viet Vuong, Hai Ba Trung 8am to 10pm With a kitsch, communist-driven 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 cafes on 'cafe street'. If you like pre-doi moi nostalgia, here is the place to go.

ESPRESSAMENTE ILLY ITALIAN COFFEE 75 Cau Go, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3935 2065 8am to 11pm International standard, Italian-style espresso drinks are the name of the game at this undeniably chic chain coffee shop. Boasting a wide range of drinks, including spirit coffees with tequila, and a small selection of pastries and panini sandwiches, the café’s clientele is a mix of tourists and Vietnamese who are tired of ca phe nau da. It is connected to a tour agency and in the central hub of the Old Quarter.

HAPRO CAFÉ CAFÉ / RESTAURANT 6th floor, 38-40 Le Thai To, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3826 7984 7.30am to 11pm Take the dilapidated elevator to the 6th floor and emerge onto a balcony with one of the best views of Hoan Kiem. The big draw to this café is the vantage point — the drinks are a secondary concern, though there is about every coffee and juice concoction known to mankind on the menu and plenty of yoghurt and smoothie options too. Graze on French fries, sandwiches, salads and typical Vietnamese rice plates. Perfect for watching the city wake up or catching a sunset.

HIGHLANDS COFFEE CONTEMPORARY / COFFEE CHAIN 6 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3938 0444 7am to 11pm As with any chain that attempts selfreplication, there is a tried and tested formula. At Highlands it is comfortable seating, good Wi-Fi, unobtrusive music and a mid-range, generic atmosphere. It works, too. The Starbucks of Vietnam, a French-influenced, international and pan-Asian food menu sits alongside the teas, coffee and cakes. Has other locations at 49 Hai Ba Trung, The Opera House, The Syrena Centre, Pacific Place and more.

KINH DO PATISSERIE / SIMPLE CAFE 252 Hang Bong, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3825 0216 7am – 8pm A must-go-to place on a lazy day, Mr Chi’s long-standing patisserie is somewhat famous for its honest, home-cooked food, no frills-but-relaxing environment and sour yoghurt fit for celebrities — Catherine Deneuve ate here daily during her time shooting Indochine. Hot fresh milk, exclusive coffee, awesome croque madames and local dishes, too. Replace WiFi with a book and aircon with ceiling fans; eat in, take away, the pastries are great and the price is always right.

LA PLACE CONTEMPORARY / VIETNAMESE 6 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3928 5859 7.30am to 10pm This tall, narrow lounge café with rooftop seating is a quintessential Hanoi spot. The decoration is bright and casual and the all-day menu has food from both the east and the west. Draw with crayons on brown paper covering the tables as you while away the hours over coffee or cocktails, and take in the view of St. Joseph’s Cathedral. Has some interesting food options including spinach fried rice along with old standbys like tuna salad sandwiches and coconut chicken curry. No MSG is used here.

LOVE CHOCOLATE CAFE QUIRKY CAFE 26 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: 3243 2120 10am to 10pm, Closed Sundays Bathed in pink and decorated to mimic a French salon, Love Chocolate Cafe carries decadent chocolate desserts like mocha lava cake, espresso pepper brownies and tons of cookies. It doesn’t end there, hot chocolates, shakes and even coffee blends like minty java are on the menu. The sign out front reads, “All you chocoholics, We are open!”. A rare but terrific find in Hanoi.

MOCA CAFE CAFE / INTERNATIONAL 14-16 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3825 6334 8am to 10pm Set in a deliciously attractive slightly run down colonial villa, the tourist friendly location gives Moca a large amount of guidebook-driven clientele. But don't let this put you off. The faded but charmingly run down French-styled 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.

MARILYN CAFE ROOFTOP CAFE 4 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3938 1949 Considering the amount of flat rooftops in

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out & about this city, it’s a crime that most go under utilized. However, the top floor of Chim Yen boutique and Marilyn Cafe is home to one of the more pleasant spaces in the Old Quarter. With a great, stone’s-throwview of St Joseph’s cathedral, food and beverages, this spot can turn a temperate afternoon into something a bit more special.

OCHAO TEAHOUSE TRADITIONAL TEA ROOM 25 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 01887 785977 8am to 10pm A stylish, two-storey traditional but contemporary tea house with great views of West Lake. Specialises in “precious” Vietnamese tea from the northern hills, handpicked by ethnic minority tribes and presented to the public by a passionate French owner. Well worth your time hanging out here on a lazy day.

PANACEA CAFE MUSIC CAFE 25 Quang Trung, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 0909 061982 8am to late Slightly rough around the edges and with an artsy vibe, this is nonetheless a place that welcomes all comers. There’s live music four nights a week (Mon, Wed, Fri and Sat), but it’s not uncommon to find someone strumming away at the piano here at any time of the day. Friendly staff, good coffee, juices and cold beers.

PARIS DELI CAFÉ / BOULANGERIE 6 Phan Chu Trinh, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3934 5269 7.30am to 11pm Time has been good to this airy, bistro-style café and patisserie opposite the Opera House. One of the original international-style establishments to hit the capital, despite its prime location prices remain reasonable — espresso-style coffees cost around VND40,000 — and the cakes and croissants are moreish. Also does filled baguettes and a larger café-cum-restaurant menu. Has a second establishment at 13 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem.

SAINT HONORE CAFE / BOULANGERIE 5 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3933 2355 7am to 10pm Decked out in maroon, dark browns and cream, this cafe and French-style boulangerie 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. Serving all day long, the downstairs space is split into the bakery on one side with a small non-smoking dining space on the other. The homely upstairs lounge area has standard tables as well as sofa seating. Simple but tasty French and international fare is served at meal times.

SEGAFREDO ITALIAN CAFE 36 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3719 1476 7am to 11pm Names of some of the world's greatest cities cover the front wall of Segafredo, an Italian cafe and eatery serving up some of the best espresso-based coffee in town. Red and white decor, lifestyle black and white coffee drinking images and an open plan space make up the mix. Besides the caffeine-based drinks, also does granita, teas, shakes and modern Italian fare ranging from panini and focaccia through to pizza, pasta, salads and desserts.

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out & about STOP CAFÉ FRENCH DELI 11B Ngo Bao Khanh, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3928 9433 8am to 11pm Situated on Hanoi’s not-so-serene ‘Pub Street’, Stop sponges up the surrounding atmosphere, which gives the French delicatessen a relaxed vibe that avoids pretension. The spot specializes in serving a mixture of western, French and Vietnamese fare, along with coffee, shakes and juice. The venue is more affordable then it’s sister location upstairs, Café de Arts, and is prime real estate to nibble on some quiche and quaff a juice on a sunny day.

THAI CAFÉ PAVEMENT / VIETNAMESE 27 Trieu Viet Vuong, Hai Ba Trung Walk by this old café and you’ll see why it’s favoured by the locals. Grab a stool on the sidewalk to enjoy the lemon-y tea and sunflower seeds, or a strong drip coffee and people watching.

THE CART SANDWICH SHOP/CAFÉ 18 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem (entrance on street behind Au Trieu) 8B, Lane 1, Au Co, Nghi Tam Village, Tay Ho Tel: 3928 7715 7:30am – 5pm Small a cozy café hidden on the quietest of Hanoian streets, with a new outlet on Nghi Tam, which is more like the big-windowed coffee shops you expect to see in Europe. The Cart serves and delivers tasty baguettes, homemade juices, quiches, pies, muffins and cakes. The delivery service is quick and reliable, which makes this lunchtime favourite ideal for when you need to eat at the desk.

THE COFFEE BEAN AND TEA LEAF Picomall, 229 Tay Son, Dong Da Tel: 6276 1004 8.30am to 9.30pm Known for the quality of its coffee and tea, The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf has landed in Hanoi — in the form of an air-con, western-style drinking space in Hanoi’s newest shopping mall. The five first coffee shops in Vietnam started in Ho Chi Minh City, and this the first one in the capital. Hanoians are finally able to taste the beverages already quenching the thirst in 20 countries across the planet. New stores to open on West Lake soon.

THE DOLL HOUSE 26 Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3935 2539 8am – 10am This new café, which fills a coffee-shopshaped gap in the market for this area, has the feel of half green house, half design-conscious doll house, and is a welcome alternative for when your favourite hang out begins to get samey. Focusing on fresh ingredients to suit the fresh design, the Doll House also has a garden terrace, and is open for party bookings and private events. Enter through the shop out front.

THE HANOI SOCIAL CLUB 6 Hoi Vu, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3938 2117 8am to 11pm Situated on one of the quieter Old Quarter streets just off Hang Bong, The Hanoi Social Club is a cozy midsize café/restaurant where you can forget the heat and bustle of Hanoi. The atmosphere is relaxed and you can imagine, for a second, that you’re sitting in a European café. The food is fresh and internationally inspired, and the design is complimented by the work of Tadioto’s Nguyen Qui Duc. To top it off, the coffee here is said to be up there with the best in the country.





FRENCH BISTRO 10 Luong Ngoc Quyen, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3926 1327 8am to 11pm Thanks to its original tiled floor, cast iron backed chairs and wall-hung black and white photography, there is something decidedly charming about this tiny Parisianstyled bistro and bar. Serving up a simple menu of snacks such as quiche Lorraine, Paris beurre and croque monsieur, there is also a selection of classic but unpretentious French mains. Has a daily specials board and a decent range of pizzas.

INTERNATIONAL INDIAN 59 Truc Bach, Ba Dinh. Tel: 3716 2959 10am to 10.30pm Lakeside location, low bamboo seating and a history that screams empathy make this eatery 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. Also has a good range of breads and tandoor-cooked kebabs.




78 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho. Tel: 3719 5995 11am to 2pm, 6pm to 10pm India Palace is the fourth member of owner Ravi Kumar’s family of restaurants which includes Tandoor. The menu takes the cuisine of North India and combines it with a South Indian-inspired menu, to create a pan-Indian menu appealing to all. Occupying a large four-storey villa with unobstructed views of West Lake at the front, the décor here is traditional yet contemporary Indian. The fourth floor with sweeping views over West Lake is given up to Dakshin, a vegetarian restaurant selling mainly South Indian fare.

48 Hang Be, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3825 1286 10am to 11pm daily A leafy, cobblestone courtyard with dark green cast-iron backed chairs greets you as you walk into this French era-built villa that houses the main section of this Indochinastyled 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.

TOP-END LA BADIANE 10 Nam Ngu, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3942 4509 11.30am to 2pm and 6pm to 10pm. Closed Sunday night. A white-washed, colonial era villa replete with period wooden shutters greets you as you enter this contemporary French restaurant. Guests can either dine indoors in aircon comfort or take to the leafy covered terrace out back with its walls lined with art and photography from 21st century Hanoi. The menu here mixes modern Gallic cuisine with a touch of Mediterranean and Vietnam thrown in, all creating an innovative and evocative selection of fare. Has an extensive wine list and an excellent, well-priced three-course lunch menu.

LA VERTICALE 19 Ngo Van So, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 3944 6317 11.30am to 2pm, 6pm to 9.15pm Situated in an art-deco villa that was once owned by a Vietnamese mandarin, this establishment is now owned and run by perhaps the most famous French chef in the country. With modestly priced set lunches and subtle Vietnamese touches on the dishes, which primarily come from carefully selected domestic spices, the up market establishment lures in its high class customers with quality VietnameseFrench fusion cuisine.

LE BEAULIEU Sofitel Metropole Legend, 15 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3826 6919 6am to 10am, 11.30am to 2.30pm and 6.30pm to 10.30pm Classic French Indochine décor and subtle lighting give the Sofitel Metropole Legend’s signature restaurant an elegance rarely found in Vietnam’s capital. The a la carte menu pits classic French cuisine against contemporary Vietnamese cooking with dishes like Nha Trang lobster with saffron pot au feu, the pan fried veal tenderloin on a lemongrass skewer and the calisson parfait marinated with orange, pomelo and lemon balm. Has an extensive wine list.

NAMASTE HANOI 47 Lo Su, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3935 2400 11am to 2.30pm, 6pm to 10.30pm The latest newcomer to the Indian restaurants family, Namaste specializes in dishes from both northern and southern India — using Halal meat throughout. A meal will cost you between VND150,000 and VND300,000 and everything is there, from curries and breads to soups and desserts. Available to dine in or out with a free delivery

SPICE CONTEMPORARY INDIAN RESTAURANT First Floor, 80 Ma May, Hoan Kiem Tel : 3926 0580 Located in the upstairs portion of its sister restaurant, Tamarind, Spice is an impressive extension to the Indian food choices in the city, providing quality non-vegetarian dishes and a comfortable seating area. Includes lounge seating and a colourful dining area with thoughtful artwork and photographs along its walls. Spice is a tropical, artistic, cultural, and attractive addition to the Old Quarter’s dining options. Specializes in seafood and classic Indian dishes.

TANDOOR 24 Hang Be, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3824 5359 11am to 10.30pm A long-popular, Indian-food enclave specialising in Northern Indian cuisine. Has an indoor and upstairs, white tablecloth aircon area with a more casual dining and bar space out front. Does excellent kebabs served from an authentic tandoor oven as well as the full range of mainly North Indian curries. Also has a branch in Saigon and does excellent set lunches.


BUDGET CAFÉ 129 MEXICAN/COMFORT FOOD 129 Mai Hac De, Hai Ba Trung. Tel: 3821 5342 7.30am to 9.30pm Service at this “slow food café” is seriously snail paced, but that is part of the charm of this modest eatery with only a few tables and small stools. Popular as a week-

end hangover mainstay for the greasy eggs with cheese, the café is best known for its not-quite Mexican food. But hey, when there’s guacamole, salsa fresca, beans and cheese, what can go wrong? Be sure to try the fresh juices, like the super-booster with beetroot, and the coffee with whipped egg.

coriander, refried beans, tacos and tomato. Sit in the upstairs loft for Asian-style seating, or out on the sidewalk for people watching. The open-style kitchen ensures your food is cooked to order and fast, and doubles as a bar. Their margaritas are strong and the salsa is spicy.



OLD TOWN CHIP JOINT 24 Hang Buom, Hoan Kiem A quality food stop with a clean, smart, modern feel in the heart of Old Quarter that specializes in serving their signature Belgian fries to accompany their tasty, slider-sized burgers. Choose from an array of preparations ranging from beerbattered to garlic-fried with a variety of 12 different dipping sauces. If you’re craving a savoury lunch place, stop by FRY to get your fix.

OPEN AIR EATING 41, Ngo 76, An Duong, Tay Ho Tel: 0915 085305 Though it’s a bit far from the centre, the expansive wooded area, chilled out atmosphere and good food makes it worth a visit. The menu is well equipped to satisfy cravings for fish and hearty meat dishes. If you’re in a DIY mood, you can Grill Yourself a plate of meat and seafood or choose from the gourmet selection of strip loin, ostrich or salmon to throw on the tabletop grills. Regularly holds live music events.

THE KEBAB HOUSE STREETSIDE FOOD STOP AND RESTAURANT 12 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem Tel: 6659 8598 Tasty Turkish Vietnamese dining with Nha Tho’s chiming bells accompanying your meal. Its outdoor blackboard menu advertises Kebab possibilities such as lamb, chicken, pork, and even ostrich. Choose from eating in the street or take a few steps inside, through the bustling kitchen, and into the comfortable upstairs lounge seating area. Scrumptious and affordable food, with Kebab’s starting at VND 30,000.

TRIEU PHUONG HONG KONG CANTONESE/DIM SUM 317 Kim Ma, Dong Da. Tel: 3846 1327 9am to 2pm, 5pm to 9pm One of the most underrated Chinese restaurants in the city, the place itself is not much to look at, but they serve above average dim sum. A variety of other Cantonese style dishes including noodle soup and rice dishes are on offer here, all at very affordable prices.

WESTLAKE CUPCAKE CUPCAKE SERVICE Tel: 01219 499523 The cupcake obsession has caught on. A new baking project by Westlake’s infamous Anna and Mia brings custom cupcakes cooked to order to your front door. Offering a variety of cupcakes and butter cream frostings, check out their speciality flavours like New York cheesecake, brown eyed girl and creative monthly specials. Are you drooling yet? Although a delivery only outlet, the cupcakes are available for purchase at Daluva and Oasis.

MID-RANGE AL FRESCO’S AUSTRALIAN / INTERNATIONAL 19A Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3938 1155 98 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho. Tel: 3719 5322 8.30am to 11pm With a real ‘diner’ kind of feel, Al Fresco’s serves up munchies-busting Aussie inspired food from a number of locations across the city including their original restaurant at 23L Hai Ba Trung. Topping the menu are the jumbo ribs at VND395,000, with generous helpings of pizzas, pastas, burgers, Tex-Mex, soups and salads going for less. The set business lunch is three courses for VND155,000. See the website for delivery numbers and don’t forget to ask for delivery deals. Have an efficient delivery service, but make sure you ask for knives and forks.


MEXICAN / TEX-MEX 48 Hang Buom, Hoan Kiem Tel: 7300 0206 11am to 12am Smack in the middle of the Old Quarter and close to Ta Hien, this is probably Hanoi’s the best place to get your fix of chilli, lime,

HOA SUA TRAINING RESTAURANT – SONG THU VIETNAMESE / INTERNATIONAL 34 Chau Long, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3942 4448 Open from 7am to 10pm This restaurant, which schools and employs disadvantaged youths, has been popular for 11 years — as a grand villa and courtyard setting tucked away in the corner of Ha Hoi. Popular with business types, tourists and expats alike, who enjoy good food while supporting a good cause, mains like cha ca and steaks go for VND99,000 and VND289,000 respectively, and there are six set menus available which take in Vietnamese, French and Italian cuisine.

KITCHEN INTERNATIONAL CAFE FARE Ngo 40, Nha 7A Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3719 2679 7am to 9pm Despite a two-storey indoor dining space, Kitchen is all about its leafy, terracottatiled terrace out front, a great space for eating the decent breakfasts (check out the breakfast burrito), the creatively titled sandwiches and the selection of international salads. Also does a range of Mexican dishes (available after 5pm) and an innovative smattering of healthy, smoothiestyle drinks. Has amiable know-your-name staff and a good delivery service.

KOTO ON VAN MIEU RESTAURANT / CAFÉ / BAR 59 Van Mieu, Dong Da. Tel: 3747 0337 Monday: 7.00am to 4pm; Tuesday to Sunday: 7am to 9.30pm All profit is invested back into the cause at Koto, which is a school and workplace for disadvantaged students opposite the Temple of Literature. Authentic Asian and European cuisine comes out of a visible and frenetic kitchen and 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.

LA RESTAURANT VIETNAMESE / INTERNATIONAL 25 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3928 8933 8am to 10pm The complimentary warm bread with rosemary is reason enough to visit this homely spot featuring hearty lentil and black bean soups, along with a range of international and Vietnamese options like New Zealand beef tenderloin or tofu with chilli and mushrooms. We aren’t quite sure why the Miele Guide nominated it as one of Asia’s finest restaurants as service is lackadaisical and tables could use candles to improve the lackluster ambience, but the immaculately tasty dishes more than make up for any quips.

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out & about

out & about LA SALSA IBERIAN / MEDITERANEAN 25 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3828 9052 8am to 11pm A small but eternally popular Spanishthemed 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 fantastic first-floor terrace area with views over the cathedral. Western staff speak English and French.

LE MARRAKECH MOROCCAN 88 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho Tel: 3710 0389 10am to 11pm. Closed Monday Family-run Moroccan restaurant in a charming terrace-fronted house close to the start of Xuan Dieu. Focus of cuisine is on authentic couscous, tagines and kebab dishes made with a mixture of local and imported ingredients, all cooked up by a Moroccan chef. Uses Halal meat.

LITTLE HANOI VIETNAMESE / INTERNATIONAL 21 – 23 Hang Gai Street, Hoan Kiem Dist Tel: 38285 333 7:30am — 11:00pm A tourist hotspot and one for locals, too, Little Hanoi near Hoan Kiem Lake has been going sturdy since 1994 — mainly for its central location, range of sandwiches, pastas and Vietnamese cuisine. Baguettes go from VND95,000 and mango salads VND99,000, not to mention the coffee at around VND50,000, wines and fresh fruit juices. With Indochina-inspired art on the walls and jazz in the background, Little Hanoi is a little escape from the chaos of the central lake.


TADIOTO KNOWN FOR ITS BOHEMIAN vibe, alternative ambience and artistic décor, last month Tadioto added a food menu to its already growing mix of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. “The idea,” says owner Nguyen Qui Duc, “is to provide people with light items to enjoy with their wines. Putting together these small dishes can make up a full meal.” With Parisian chef James Dogan at the helm, the focus of the cuisine is French, but with Middle Eastern touches and Vietnamese spices making up the mix. Here is a simple recipe that blends these three contrasting but well-matching influences.

SALMON ROLLS IN LA LOT One tapas serving Ingredients — 40g black olives — 2 small thin fillets of smoked salmon

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MATCHBOX — — — — — —

1 kumquat 1 spoon of olive oil 3 leaves of la lot Chives Red bell pepper Bread

Cook the la lot leaves in boiling water for 15 seconds then cool directly under cold water. Chop up the black olives then add olive oil, squeeze a few drops of kumquat, add salt and pepper. Add the fillets of smoked salmon. Lay out plastic cling film, then place the three la lot leaves on it. Place the salmon, the olives, and a few slices of red bell pepper on the leaves. Then add a long stem of chive. Sprinkle on two drops of soy sauce, or add a little wasabi as preferred, and then roll the whole ensemble together, like a sushi roll. Once rolled, remove the cling film and place the roll on a slice of bread. Serve at room temperature.

INTERNATIONAL / VIETNAMESE 40 Cao Ba Quat, Ba Dinh Tel: 3734 3098 11am to 11pm Located in the grounds of the Fine Arts Museum, this classy restaurant and wine bar mixes attractive décor with western cuisine, all cooked up by a New Zealand-trained Vietnamese chef. Famed for its salads, good cuts of steak, lamb shank and its various pasta fare, the menu here also incorporates a number of well-known Vietnamese dishes.

PROVECHO TEX-MEX / BURGERS / INTERNATIONAL 18 Hang Be, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 0912 223966 The successor of My Burger My, this American-run, self-styled burger bar and restaurant fits a lot into a tiny, multi-storey space. Specializing in tasty, American-style, chargrilled burgers from around VND50,000 with a range of additional toppings including jalapeno peppers, smoked bacon, mushrooms, cheddar cheese and avocado, the creative menu also has a good range of Tex-Mex fare, a number of pan-Asian dishes and a decent delivery service.

SPOON ASIAN FUSION 15-17 Ngoc Khanh, Ba Dinh. Tel: 3823 5636 6.30am to 10pm An extension of Soul furniture and lifestyle store, the restaurant and lounge bar at Spoon serves up a fusion menu in a setting that screams homeliness and style. Asian dishes, seafood and steaks are among the go-to menu choices. Attentive and competent staff top it all off in this chic restolounge.

TAMARIND CONTEMPORARY VEGETARIAN 80 Ma May, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3926 0580 5.30am to 10.30pm Perhaps the only restaurant in Hanoi to cater

to vegetarians that doesn’t focus on faux meat, Tamarind features a wide range of juices and shakes in a crunchy granola backpacker atmosphere. Breakfast is served all day and with Asian favourites, like vegetarian pho, Ma-Po tofu and Thai glass noodle salad, along with some falafel and western influences, vegetarians and carnivores alike will find something to try on this menu.



FRENCH FLAIR 2/2c Van Phuc, Ba Dinh. Tel: 3726 4782 7.30am to 9pm A modern eatery offering western cuisine with shades of French influence in a comfortable setting. Think gardens in a courtyard, drink and food deals and a warm indoor atmosphere — you know, just how the French do it.

THE HOUSE FUSION FARE / WINE 10 Truong Han Sieu. Tel: 6270 2611 The House, once Annie’s Corner, is one of the latest restaurants to occupy an old French building in the quiet streets nestled between Ba Trieu and Quang Trung. It serves Vietnamese food but with international twists. The affordable and eclectic menu ranges from local tenderloin steak to lemongrass tuna salads with a decent wine list and an ideal bring-yourown VND100,000 corkage fee per bottle of wine.



WESTERN / VIETNAMESE 18 Hang Quat, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3928 9916 7.30am to 11.30pm Sophisticated restaurant set inside an Old Quarter boutique hotel. Formerly a school, and now also on Cat Ba Island, Green Mango serves Vietnamese and western food, ranging from sandwiches and pasta to lamb chops and VND700,000 Angus rib-eyes. Buy-one-get-one-free deals on cocktails and beers every day from 4pm to 6pm and Lavazza coffee at all hours. With comfy seats and a soft setting, the function room at the back often hosts charity events and semi-formal get-togethers.

JASPA’S INTERNATIONAL / AUSTRALIAN Hanoi Towers, 49 Hai Ba Trung (4th Floor), Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3934 8325 6.30am to midnight With attentive service, tasty food and large portions, this place has something for everyone and has proved itself to be 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. Also has a large and spacious bar and lounge area that stays open late for all the live sport.

LA CANTINE INTERNATIONAL / CONTEMPORARY VIETNAMESE 61 Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3936 9897 6am to 11.30pm Converted from a wing of an old church, this upscale restaurant with extensive Vietnamese and international offerings is just a stone’s throw from the Opera House. Sophisticated but cozy, the salon is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and tea. Expect about VND1 million for a set topend six-course meal and VND600,000 for the more downscale five-course offering.

LE PETITE BRUXELLES BELGIAN / EUROPEAN 1 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3938 1769 10 Alley 27 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: 3719 5853 10am to 10pm An airy and spacious long-running

Belgian-themed eatery with a location by the cathedral and a second out in West Lake. Although this is not the place to wash down your Chimay, Leffe or Duval with moules frites on a daily basis — the mussels are only available seasonally — a number of other traditional Belgian dishes fill the menu including carbonade, jambonneau and boulettes sauce tomate as well as the more Swiss-sounding beef and cheese fondue. Hearty fare in a nice environment.

LUALA CAFE CONTEMPORARY CAFÉ / RESTAURANT 61 Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3926 2886 8 am to 10 pm If you can't afford the labels at Luala you can still enjoy the cuisine in this small cafe run in conjunction with the high-end fashion concept store, Luala and The Press Club. Offering a large menu specialising in creative but chic cafe fare as well as the prerequisite quality coffee, the outdoor terrace seating offers great views of the downtown area.



6A Cao Ba Quat, Ba Dinh Tel: 3845 5224 11am to 2pm, 5pm to midnight A nicely themed Brazilian churrascaria steakhouse offering all you can eat grilled meat and seafood on the skewer, Au Lac do Brazil is not for the feint of stomach. In typical Brazilian rodízio fashion, waiters bring cuts of meat to the table for patrons to pick and choose, all for a set price. They also offer wine pairings, a salad bar and an a la carte menu, with a creative selection of fruit caipirinhas on hand to wash it all down. The prices aren’t for anyone on a budget, but the amount and quality of meat is more than worth cost.

CAFÉ LAUTREC MEDITERRANEAN / INTERNATIONAL Hotel de l’Opera, 29 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem Tel: 6282 5555 6am to 10pm Featuring both à-la-carte and buffet dining as well as an innovative Sunday brunch, this namesake of the French artist Toulouse-Lautrec provides an exotic ambience for diners to enjoy a mixture of international and Mediterranean-style fare. Has an extensive wine list to match the cuisine, which is all served up in a contemporary yet colonial-inspired environment.

DON’S TAY HO CONTEMPORARY NORTH AMERICAN 16/27 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3719 3719 Monday to Friday, 10am to late. Weekends 8am to late A bakery, bistro, restaurant, wine retailer, oyster bar and top floor lounge bar all in one, this lake-facing venue 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 such as the likes of Iberian pata negra ham egg pasta served with crushed roasted garlic and manchego. Does an excellent range of imported oysters and has an extensive wine list.

EL GAUCHO STEAKHOUSE 99 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3718 6991 4pm to late This welcomed eatery combines traditional

Argentinian recipes and preparation with great service in a contemporary and thoughtfully designed space over three floors. Already with two venues in Saigon — one near the Opera House and the other in Saigon South — the essence of this popular chain is quality top grade meats off the grill. Steak is the mainstay, but everything from chicken, pork and seafood is also up for grabs. Add to this a backdrop of low Latin music, low, subtle lighting and an extensive wine list and that’s another reason to head to El Gaucho.

HALIA HANOI SINGAPOREAN / CONTEMPORARY INTERNATIONAL Pacific Place, 83B Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3946 0121, Monday – Saturday 11am to 11pm Closed on Sundays A secluded courtyard in the heart of Pacific Place plays host to one of the capital’s best restaurants. A two-floored venue split into a downstairs tapas and bar area,with a refined dining space located on the level above, the menu includes Singaporean specialities such as the shrimp satay salad and the chilli crab spaghetti. A pan-European classical menu mixed in with light Asian flavours is also on offer, with dishes such as pan-braised Alaskan cod with sea winkle crust and the braised pork belly in shoyu and sweet mirin making an appearance. Has an extensive wine list.

HEMISPHERES STEAK & SEAFOOD GRILL Sheraton Hotel, K5 Nghi Tam, 11 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: 3719 9000 11.30am to 2.30pm, 6.30pm to 10pm The newest Steak & Seafood dining experience in Hanoi. Hemispheres Steak & Seafood Grill offers a wonderful menu covering both the Northern and Southern hemispheres. Choose from Black Angus, US Prime Sirloin, Rib Eye, Rump and Tenderloin grilled to perfection. Prefer Seafood – no problem, Lobster, Oysters, Prawns, Fresh Fish, Clams and Crabs are all available for your dining pleasure, as well as an impressive array of wines by the glass & bottle from our “Wines of the World” selection.

JACKSON’S STEAKHOUSE 23J Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3938 8388 9.30am to midnight Then newest venture from the team behind Jaspa’s and Pepperoni’s is an all-day eating and drinking lounge fit for all occasions. It has three floors for different vibes – lounge bar, restaurant and “boardroom” – but fine imported steads can be found on each, as well as seafood and a huge wine list. A popular venue.

MILLENIUM PAN-FRENCH / INTERNATIONAL 11B Ngo Bao Khanh, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3828 7207 10.30am to 2.30pm, 6pm to 10pm Clean and fresh with a fine-dining vibe, the Millennium restaurant is the minimal and chic result of a Café Des Arts makeover. The street’s new go-to for a high standard of eating and drinking goes over two floors and has a welcome and inviting three-level outdoor terrace high up amid the concrete and cables of the Old Quarter.

MING PALACE PAN-CHINESE Sofitel Plaza, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh Tel: 3823 8888 11am to 2pm, 5.30pm to 10pm A fine dining destination at the Sofitel

Plaza serving Cantonese and pan-Chinese cuisine 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.

NINETEEN 11 INTERNATIONAL / ASIAN The Opera House, 1 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3933 4801 11am to 2pm, 6pm to 10pm Named after the completion date of the Opera House under which it is located, walk inside and a labyrinthine-like, barebrick wall hallway leads you through to the main dining area. With dark browns, deep yellow tablecloths and a refined ambience aided by background classical music, the menu takes in western, pan-Asian and seafood fare and even has its own section dedicated entirely to foie gras. Has a 100-strong old and new world wine list that includes Bordeaux vintages and also boasts a cheaper, outdoor garden space next to Highlands Coffee.

PRESS CLUB CONTEMPORARY INTERNATIONAL 3rd Floor, 59A Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3934 0888 11.30am to 2pm and 6pm to 10.30pm. Closed Sunday lunch Wooden flooring, paneling and bold but subtle colours pervade this traditional but contemporary, fine-dining 70-seater venue close to the Opera House. Serving up quality cuisine for over a decade, Press Club boasts a bar area, two private dining rooms, including a wine room, a library and a vast selection of cigars, all in an elegant atmosphere. Does four excellent wine pairing menus, put together through the aid of the Press Club’s extensive new and old world wine list. Also hosts a popular first-Friday-ofthe-month party.

RESTAURANTS — ITALIAN MID-RANGE CIELO CASUAL ITALIAN DINING 172 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3718 0680 9am to 10.30pm An Italian eatery in West Lake with a large selection of authentic, pan-Italian cuisine, Cielo is a place which goes back to basic, using homemade Bufala mozzarella on their pizzas. The word Cielo means sky, which is reflected in the fresh airy dining room. And while their takeaway service is prompt, eating in ensures a much better experience. Prices are very reasonable.

DA PAOLO CLASSIC ITALIAN 18 Lane 50/59/17 Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho Tel: 8585 1443 11am to 11pm 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 wood-fired oven pizzas from VND120,000 and other Italian delicacies. Open every day for lunch and dinner, delivery is also available.

has been going for 10 years. It uses traditional wood ovens to prepare some of the city’s finest pizzas, which range from VND60,000 to build-your-own-skiesthe-limit. Set inside a large, thoughtful space with over 35 covers and an outside courtyard, seasoned chefs also make fresh pastas, soups and cheeses — the latter often bought by other restaurants. Monthly photo exhibitions and opera nights make it well worth a visit, as does the large wine list and choice of desserts.

MEDITERRANEO PAN-ITALIAN 23 Nha To, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3826 6288 10am to 11pm 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. Throw in an extensive wine list, a traditional wood fire oven and a balcony spot looking over Hanoi’s trendy café scene and you’re onto a winner.



PAN-ITALIAN 3 Nguyen Khac Can, Hoan Kiem Tel: 38269 080 8am to 10.30pm Just a stroll away from the Hanoi Opera House and Hoan Kiem Lake in the heart of Hanoi, 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.

ZPIZZA Floor 1, Syrena Tower, 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3719 5959 10.30am to 10.30pm Californian pizza chain in the now open in West Lake. — currently the only place to eat from this American pizza brand in Hanoi. The new pizzeria prides itself on its 100 percent certified organic wheat dough and different dishes found nowhere else, like the strawberry and goat’s cheese salad. Also serves up curry chicken sandwiches and meatball penne pasta.



CONTEMPORARY ITALIAN Sofitel Metopole Legend Hotel, 15 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3826 6919 11.30am to 2.30pm and 6.30am to late (restaurant) 11am to 2am (bar) There are only two truly top-end, contemporary Italians in Vietnam and Angelina claims pride of place in this elite group. This doesn't mean that prices here are off limits — take a similar eatery in Europe and here you are paying a third, which all makes a meal here a special affair. The carpaccios are to die for, the pastas are all home made, the pizzas are wood-fired and the steaks are chargrilled. Does a great three-course set lunch for VND520,000++. Nick Ross




CLASSIC ITALIAN 78 Tho Nhuom, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3823 73338 11am to 11pm This old-favourite Italian restaurant

KOREAN CHICKEN B40 Nguyen Thi Dinh, Thanh Xuan Tel: 6680 1423 Visit 11am – 10pm In typical Vietnamese fashion, Bong-Chu

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out & about Jjim Dak restaurant only serves one dish it knows best: chicken. A light kimchi soup is served alongside the steamed bird mixed with cellophane noodles packed in a mildly peppery but sweet combination. It’s simple — ordering options include half chicken, whole chicken, chicken and a half, or all of the above. Select the answer that best fits your appetite and escape from the ubiquitous boiled chicken on streets.

GIM BAB KOREAN 50A Ngoc Khanh, Ba Dinh Tel: 3201 2989 One of the longest running Koreans in town, this down-to-earth eatery just off Kim Ma specialises in the Korean nation’s version of sushi rolls. These can be ordered either plain or deep-fried. Other Korean fare includes bibimbab and a range of barbecue dishes. The cuisine is brought to your low tables with floor seating and in typical Korean fashion, all meals are served with free side dishes (banchan) of kim chi, pickles and eggplant.

out & about walk past without noticing, but venture inside and you will find a small but neat interior. The food ranges from traditional Japanese to dishes that lean towards fusion. Very reasonable prices, compared with other Japanese establishments.

RESTAURANTS — SINGAPOREAN MID-RANGE THE LION CITY SINGAPOREAN RESTAURANT 92 Le Duan, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3941 1208 AC WIFI Probably Hanoi’s best Singaporean dining is located steps away from the Hanoi train station, so close that a clear view of the tracks can be seen through a window from your table. As part of the lavish Cosiana Hotel, excellent hospitality comes hand in hand with tasty cuisine. Choose from a variety of typical Lion City dishes and speciality drinks.


KY Y JAPANESE RICE EATERY 166 Trieu Viet Vuong, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 3978 1386 11.30am to 1.30pm, 5pm to 10.30pm, closed Sunday Sushi, soba, sake. Buy a big bottle of sake and the staff will put your name on it and keep it until next time. Dine at the downstairs bar or in one of the private rooms with sliding doors for an authentic Japanese experience. Although Ky Y specialises in rice-style working man’s fare, it’s hard to go wrong with anything on the menu, but the Japanese omelets, tempura and saucy eggplant dishes are perennial crowd pleasers.

IZAKAYA YANCHA JAPANESE BBQ 121 Trieu Viet Vuong, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 3974 8437 11am to 2pm, 5pm to 11pm Just a stone’s throw from Ky Y, this Osakabased chain does the same cuisine, but entirely differently. The small plates on the large menu are best shared among a group and with bottles of beer or sake. The tofu in amber sauce will leave you licking the plate and the chicken with udon and vegetables is off-the-charts delicious. The tidbit barbeque sticks of okra or bacon are also great, but more as a snack than anything else.

SAIGON SAKURA TRADITIONAL JAPANESE 34 Hang Bai, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3825 7565 10am to 2pm, 5pm to 10pm This Japanese eatery might be easy to




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BUDGET NISA MALAYSIAN / HALAL 32 Hang Tre, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3926 1859 10am to 2.30pm, 5pm to 10pm A two-storey fresh looking Malaysian restaurant with affable staff and authentic cuisine. Difficulty in obtaining ingredients means that these days the menu is limited, but a nasi campur buffet-style counter in the downstairs space and photos on the wall of other classic Malaysian fare allows customers to choose what to eat. Think nasi lemak, mee goreng, roti canai, beef rendang and more. It tastes good, too.

MID-RANGE BAAN THAI NORTHEASTERN THAI / LOUNGE BAR 3B Cha Ca, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3828 8588 10am to 10pm This venue serves arguably the best Thai food in the city. With Thai owners and staff from the country’s Isaan region in the kitchen, the place specializes in spicy staples that come from the northeastern provinces in the country. After a meal in the more traditional ground floor space, relax in the comfortable furnishings of the venue’s chic first-floor lounge.

THAI ELEPHANT INTERNATIONAL THAI 73 Bui Thi Xuan, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 8586 7090 11am to 11pm For those with sensitive taste buds, this small restaurant serves up authentic Thai food that is lighter on the spice. Owned by a Bangkok native, the space itself is a small two-level restaurant with traditional Thai décor. At a convenient location near Hoan Kiem and Vincom Towers, Thai Elephant covers all the delicious bases with efficient, fast service and delivery.

RESTAURANTS — VIETNAMESE BUDGET BANH CUON PHU LY BANH CUON 39 Dao Duy Tu, Hoan Kiem 6am to 3pm Put the warm fish sauce in the small bowl with squeezed lime, chilli and fresh herbs and then dip. This is the Ha Nam version of banh cuon (rolled wet rice paper) with

the gio lua (pork cake) substituted for barbecued pork and bacon. The street side, flaking paint wall location may be off putting for some, but the fare tastes great.

seating. Everything on the menu is vegetarian, from standard tofu with tomato sauce to more obscure fake meat dishes. The walls are moldy but the food is fresh.

with red plastic tables on the street and foot-high stools. The soup comes with an accompanying basket of slightly stale but buttery banh quay.




BANH XEO / BUN BO 32 Hang Buom, Hoan Kiem Tel: 01296 290015 12pm to 11pm A recently opened slither of an eatery selling — wait for it — a Hanoi version of a Saigon version of a Hue dish. It's a bit of a mouthful but worth it — for all its augmentations the banh xeo (beef, beansprout and egg pancakes) served up for self rolling with rice paper and fresh herbs are pretty tasty. Also does a sweet and spicy to-die-for bun bo Nam Bo.

HOI AN CUISINE 1 Cua Dong, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3923 3856 7am to 11pm A four-storey restaurant and café specialising in food from the centre of Vietnam — or, as the name suggests, the ancient town of Hoi An. It serves everything from the famous cao lau noodles and my quang tom, to bun bo nuong and com ga Hoi An. Also sells Thai and Chinese cuisine, cakes and ice cream. A spiral staircase, a second floor terrace and pictures of the ancient town top it all off.



PHO GA / BUN BO NAM BO 49 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho 6am to 4pm A stilt-hutted street food eatery and cafe in the shadow of Elite Fitness doing a tasty version of the sweet and sour bun bo Nam Bo (southern-style beef noodles). Ladle in the chilli and mix up with the beansprouts, fresh herbs, peanuts and sauteed beef, and you have a spiced-up, filling meal. Also does decent pho ga (chicken noodle soup) and pho xao (fried noodles). Has a semi-mezannine cafestyle space out back.

BUN BO HUE 36c Mai Hac De, Hai Ba Trung 7am to 4pm This is the second branch of the ninemonth-old restaurant on Food Street. Like the Tong Duy Tan favourite, which is more restaurant than street-side affair, the new location serves up the same staples from further south including bun bo Hue, bun thit nuong and nem lui. Authentic, tasty and cheap

BUN BO NAM BO BUN BO 67 Hang Dieu, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3923 0701 7am to 11pm Dressed up like an indoor version of a streetside eatery, this megalith of a skinny bun bo restaurant is famed not only for its northern interpretation of a southern dish that you can't buy in the south, but also for its ga tan (stewed marinated chicken). The bun bo itself, a concoction of sauteed beef, peanuts, beansprouts, white noodles and sweet and sour sauce, is one of the better versions available in the city. And the beef is excellent.

BUN CHA DAC KIM BUN CHA 1 Hang Manh, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3828 5022 10am to 7pm With the help of over 40 years of customer loyalty and repeated mentions in overseas press, Dac Kim has become the powerhouse of eateries serving up bun cha (white rice noodles with barbecued pork and herbs). The formula is simple. The mini pork patties are perfectly rounded, the bacon is perfectly grilled and then the portions are humongous. If you're feeling ravenous, the servings here will fill that merry gap, but if you want quality over quantity, look elsewhere. Has a second eatery at 67 Duong Thanh, Hoan Kiem.


CAFÉ / RESTAURANT 37 Nam Tran, Truc Bach, Ba Dinh Mau Dich is a blast from Vietnam’s subsidy era past with diners ordering from a blackboard and paying in vouchers. Traditional dishes like thit kho tau are written up daily and washed down with cool bia hoi. Hanoi’s most interesting themed restaurant.

DAC SAN HUE HUE CUISINE 150 Nguyen Khuyen, Dong Da. Tel: 6674 7917 6.30am to 10pm A no frills, ten-table restaurant easy to miss at the end of Nguyen Khuyen, just opposite the Temple of Literature. Specialises in dishes from Hue, like banh beo and banh khoai, all at local prices. The staff is friendly and helpful and the bun bo Hue is spot on.

DUONG SOM CHAO CA FISH PORRIDGE / CHAO CA 213 Hang Bong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3829 5281 Serves perhaps some of the best chao ca in the city. This rice porridge with fish is garnished with a healthy amount of fresh herbs and, if you choose, strips of banh quay – the Chinese style fried bread. The fish is boneless, which helps set this place apart from others selling the same dish. One bowl is VND30,000.

MAI ANH PHO GA 32 Le Van Huu, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: 3943 8492 5am to 4pm Ignore the doubters, this infamous eatery serves up some seriously wholesome pho ga (chicken noodle soup) in a hygienic, shared table indoor environment. The secret? The broth, a perfectly rounded chicken stock consomme. Portions are big, too, and diners can order chicken on the bone or off and can even get an extra egg added to the soup for good measure.


BBQ STAPLES Ly Van Phuc, Ba Dinh Perhaps the most well known street food Mecca in all of Hanoi, the lane is flanked with BBQ chicken joints from north to south. At the Nguyen Thai Hoc entrance, the food stalls boast proper chairs, while the venues at the opposite end offer stools and host much larger crowds. No trip to Hanoi or tenure in the capital is complete without a trip to Chicken Street. Honey grilled banh my and potatoes provide vegetarians with savory alternatives.

PHO CUON / PAN-VIETNAMESE 71-77 Truc Bach, Ba Dinh 9am to midnight For a dish purported to be invented by French chef Didier Corlou, it is phenomenal how this wet rice paper filled with beef and herbs affair has so quickly been absorbed into the street food fold. Dipped into sweet fish sauce with a touch of chilli, it tastes good, too. The biggest proponents of this dish are on Truc Bach — a row of five street-side eateries that also sell standard, quan nhau meat and seafood fare. There is also another strip of joints just round the corner on Ngu Xa.



VEGAN 79A Tran Hung Dao, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3942 4140 9am to 9pm The set meals for one person or a group of six people make this a popular lunchtime eatery. Signs clearly demarcate the way through the alley on Tran Hung Dao to this casual restaurant with indoor and outdoor

PHO GA / PHO BO / PHO XAO 32 Bat Dan, Hoan Kiem 5.30am to 11pm A hearty, slightly salty broth accompanies the pho ga at this well-known, 40-year-old street corner eatery also lauded for its tasty pho xao and pho bo. It's a simple, typically Hanoian streetside affair here

TRUC LAM TROI VEGAN 39 Le Ngoc Han, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: 6278 1848 7am to 9pm Vegetarians delight in being able to order anything off this more-creativethan-normal traditional Vietnamese Buddhist restaurant situated on a quiet street. Corn juice is the drink of choice here, as everyone around sips the tepid yellow stuff, and the array of fried tofu vegetable dishes makes you reconsider vegan cuisine as “health food.” Order an office lunch plate or dine in during the weekend surrounded by families and walls adorned with traditional Buddhist imagery.

WHITE CLOUD VEGAN Nha 2, Ngo 12 Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho Tel: 6258 1622 11am to 2pm, 5pm to 9pm Simplicity is the key at this small but airy, zen-like bamboo-table eatery located behind the Syrena Centre. A rarity in Vietnam — the cuisine here doesn’t only focus on faux meat imitation — the menu mixes canh (broth) with a range of light dishes, Vietnamese-style salads and a selection of tofu and gluten-inspired mains. Worth a try for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.

MID-RANGE CHA CA LA VONG CHA CA 14 Cha Ca, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3825 3929 11am to 2pm, 5pm to 9pm A funky wooden-floored two storey, one-dish-only eatery on a street devoted to one of Hanoi's best known dishes, cha ca. Claiming to be the oldest restaurant in Vietnam (established 1873) the deal is straightforward. The butter-coated, premarinated fish is sauteed with dill and spring onions on the table and served up with sides of peanuts, bun noodles and fresh herbs. It's not street food prices cheap by any means, but it's darned tasty. Popular with tourists and locals.

CHIM SAO TRADITIONAL VIETNAMESE 65 Ngo Hue, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: 3976 0633 10am to 2pm, 5pm to 11pm Situated in a turn-of-the-century French townhouse in a tucked away alley, the ‘whistling bird’ continues to offer some of the best ‘traditional’ Vietnamese food in the capital. Sit on the floor upstairs or enjoy seating downstairs, regardless this eatery serves up simple Vietnamese staples that are well executed and presented in a setting that makes one feel like a regal Hanoian.

CHOI LOUNGE CAFE 15A Au Co, Tay Ho, Tel: 0913 221971 Step downstairs through Choi’s imposing wooden doors, and into their cellar-like lair. Intricate jazz tunes float through the

spacious interior, adorned with artwork that pays tribute to greats like D. Ellington and Bo Diddley. Enjoy a smart, cozy setting with selections of wines, soups, salads and other Vietnamese comfort foods to enjoy.

HIGHWAY 4 VIETNAMESE / ETHNIC 5 Hang Tre, hoan Kiem, Tel: 3926 4200 575 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh, Tel: 3771 6372 54 Mai Hac De, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: 3796 2647 25 Bat Su, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3926 0639 31 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Tel: 3718 6377 10am to midnight Always busy, often hectic, this multifloored restaurant is for diners who don’t mind loud noises and sitting on the floor. It’s best for groups so you can order an array of dishes ranging from the more exotic frog legs, buffalo and ostrich, to the trusted standbys; catfish spring rolls, papaya salad and fried tofu. But it’s the exclusive Highway 4 flavoured rice wines that can be taken as shots or mixed into cocktails that keep this place crowded.

KITI RESTAURANT VIETNAMESE / WESTERN 38 Hang Hom. Tel: 3928 7241 An unassuming establishment that rarely fills up, which means that customers often benefit from better service and the servers utmost attention. What the restaurant lacks in atmosphere, it makes up for with a large menu that is chalked full of reasonably priced Vietnamese fare and some western staples.

NGOC HIEU STEAK / CHINESE NOODLES 52 Le Ngoc Han, Hai Ba Trung. Tel: 3978 2251 7am to 10.30pm Located on the corner of Hoa Ma, this steak served sizzling-on-the-griddle eatery packs no punches when it comes to getting your beef. Get the standard banh my affair and the imported US steak is doled up with meatballs, fried egg, chips and lots of fat. It's a cholesterol mess of a meal but really tasty. Also does bun bo Hue, Phuc Kien noodles and the Khmer Chinese hu tieu Nam Vang. Has restaurants at 349 Doi Can and 71 Tran Duy Hung.

NHA HANG NGON CONTEMPORARY STREET FOOD 26 A-B Tran Hung Dao, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3933 6133. 7am to 10pm Large and always busy restaurant set in two colonial buildings. The courtyard is filled with tables and fairy light covered trees, which are circled by 18 cooking stoves. Here the chefs serve Vietnamese classics from all over the country a la carte style. Good for street side classics done well in the comfort of an airy restaurant. Of the 14 dining spaces, one room holds 30 guests. Open for breakfast lunch and dinner.

OLD HANOI GOURMET VIETNAMESE 4 Ton That Thiep, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 1355 9096 10am-2pm, 5pm-10pm 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, in a casually elegant setting that make this spot near the train tracks standout. Be sure to try the rollyour-own cha ca spring rolls and check the schedule for live traditional music.

QUAN AN NGON CONTEMPORARY STREET FOOD 18 Phan Boi Chau, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3942 8162 7am to 9.30pm Long-time favourite serving up Vietnamese classics in a large French villa and

courtyard. Menu is huge, made up of street-food options and higher end dishes from Hanoi, Hue and Ho Chi Minh City. Quick service makes it ideal for lunch and the array of options makes it perfect for newcomers to Vietnamese cuisine. Order loads and share, of course.

restaurant. The cuisine and drinks don’t come cheap, but then establishments such as Softwater are a rarity. Has both an international and a Vietnamese menu and is located by the river in An Duong at the end of Road 9, close to the Sofitel Plaza.




VIETNAMESE SEAFOOD 55 Cua Dong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 6270 0787 10am to 10pm There are two of these restaurants in Vietnam and the other is in Phu Quoc, the location of probably the best seafood in the country. Every type of ocean-breathing animal is available here in addition to an array of tofu and vegetables. From crab to Russian sturgeon and grouper, most of this seafood harks from down south or Halong Bay. The restaurant is set up so that every day is a banquet and you can pick your poisons from the tank.

INDOCHINE / VIETNAMESE 13 Tran Hung Dao, Tel: 3933 3533 Set in converted colonial villas and frequented primarily by travelers that unload in front of the establishment on massive tour buses, this venue is imbued with the nostalgia of Indochine, replete with chess boards, stylish fans and waitresses outfitted in ao dais. Boasts a large menu filled with Vietnamese favourites and much more.

CLUB OPERA NOVEL PAN-VIETNAMESE 17 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3972 8001 10am to 2pm, 6pm to 10.30pm Indochine elegance mixes with top-end culinary flair to create one of the best Vietnamese restaurants in town. Fine dining it isn't — this country's cuisine doesn't really lend itself to that type of cooking. But quality ingredients and a twist of creativity makes the fare here well worth the higher price tag — think creative spring rolls and lobster cooked up with a passion-fruit sauce. This is just the start. Also has a great downstairs lounge bar.

COM VIET IMPERIAL / CONTEMPORARY 63 Pham Hong Thai, Ba Dinh, Tel: 3927 5920 11am to 2pm, 6pm to 10pm After shutting the doors at its former location, Com Viet is nestled in the tranquil neighbourhood near Truc Bach Lake. The ‘imperial’ staple, with its pristine décor and antiques, traditional bites and regal atmosphere, specialises in serving up traditional treats with contemporary fusion — think cheese wrapped in beef with a side of pickled cucumbers and a glass of red. Go on the right night and catch live traditional music in the courtyard and feel like a king.

WILD LOTUS CONTEMPORARY VIETNAMESE 55A Nguyen Du, Tel: 3943 9342 10.30am to 10.30pm One of the city’s most popular Vietnamese restaurants is a delight from the entrance inwards. Walk over water features and 100 roses and up the spiral staircase into subdued lighting, warm colours and a menu that mixes subtle, well-executed Asian flavours. Not for those who love the sharpness of some street foods, but definitely for those who have guests in town or business clients to schmooze. Quite an experience. Nick Ross




CLASSY FUSION 33 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: 3718 5831 8am until late 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 twist, as well as wine, tapas, events and attractive décor. Additional services include catering, BBQ rentals, playroom, kids menu, takeaway and local delivery.


57 Bui Thi Xuan Street, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 3944 0204, 11.30am to late 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.

FRENCH LOUNGE 95 Giang Van Minh, Ba Dinh, Tel: 0976 751331 10am to midnight A favourite among those who roam further west of the city centre, this multi-storey 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.




29 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem Tel: 6282 5555 ext. 6414 Situated in the heart of Hotel de l’Opera’s 8 storey central atrium, Satine offers a high class dining experience. Signature Vietnamese dishes from around the country will be presented to guests including some of the country’s best kept culinary secrets passed down by generations.

SOFTWATER VIETNAMESE / INTERNATIONAL 42 Duong 9, F361, An Duong, Yen Phu, Tay Ho, Tel: 2260 8968 10am-10pm Imperial-era architecture, a rock garden with trees almost 300 years old, a beautiful lawn area and contemporary Asian-influenced international fare make up the mix at this quite unique top-end

LOUNGE CAFÉ 9 Au Co, Tay Ho, Tel: 3710 1566 Nestled along bustling Au Co, seconds away from West Lake, Grain and Grape provides a comfortable, elegant setting to enjoy a glass of wine alongside an appetizing meal. Outdoor seating, dining room, and an upstairs seating area adorned with stacks of wine bottles along the walls only give testament to its extensive, diverse menu.



INTERNATIONAL The Clubhouse, Ciputra, Tel: 3758 2400 7am to 11pm 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.

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

JACKSONS STEAKHOUSE 23J Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3938 8388 9.30am to midnight This new addition to the city from the Alfresco’s Group is definitely the meatiest yet. In the shape of a four floor, chic restobar — which has a bar lounge on the ground, a restaurant vibe on the second and third, and a “boardroom” on the fourth — Jacksons Steakhouse serves of well presented plates of imported Oz and New Zealand steaks as well as seafood. Of course, the large restaurant wouldn’t be complete without a large wine list to match.

town with a regular stream of clientele. A long list of imported beer, Tiger draft, a decent international cum Vietnamese food menu, happy hour specials and live sport make up the comfortable mix. The venue also gets involved in the local community through regular events. Has a second Le Pub at Third Floor, 9 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho.

The pub still lives up to its old name, providing an array of drinks, buzzing chatter, and of course, some quality live rock music. Its upstairs area is equipped with a sound system and stage setup for weekly shows and events while the downstairs area houses a classic bar that gives a finishing touch to the friendly community environment.




SKYLINE LOUNGE 19th Floor, Pacific Place, 83B Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3946 1901 8am to midnight If location counts for anything, then here it is spectacular. With a 270-degree view over the whole of the city, the up-on-high theme of the Rooftop is used to its full. The bar is pretty cool, too, with bare brick, sofa-style seating, glass fronted wine displays and a private room out back for more intimate drinking. Also does day-time office lunches, coffee and decent bar food.

SPANISH 26 Lan Ong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 8585 2563 9am to 11pm Nestled just off the main Old Quarter drag, this bar and restaurant daubed in the colours of the Spanish flag is the first genuine Iberian tapas bar in town. Sells a range of fare from paella through to tapas, a selection of tortilla and Spanish mains, and also serves lethal but tasty sangria. Spanish tempanillos and reds make up the enigmatic mix.

LA PETIT TONKINOISE ART DECO / INTERNATIONAL 58A Tran Quoc Toan, Hai Ba Trung 8am to 10pm Located on the corner of Quang Trung, this large new cafe, restaurant and bar is housed in a restored colonial building. The beautiful courtyard is liberally decorated with plants, fans, blowlight jets of water, and shade is provided by tasteful cream parasols. Inside, a non-smoking, airconditioned room is the perfect place to escape the heat. Western and Vietnamese fare is on offer, they have a huge range of wine, beer and coffee and they serve excellent fries too.

PUKU INTERNATIONAL / CAFE 16-18 Tong Duy Tan, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3938 1745 Open 24 hours 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, catering both to ravenous backpackers who’ve just arrived off the night train from Sapa and locals looking to meet up.



BRITISH / INTERNATIONAL 25 Hang Be, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3926 2104 7am to midnight Dark red walls and even darker brown seating run through the homely and casual Le Pub, one of the few bars in

BAR, CAFÉ AND MUSIC VENUE 256 Nghi Tam, Tay Ho Come grab a drink at the newly revamped R &R to enjoy a taste of American style brew and their comforting Western dishes.

SANDBOX INTERNATIONAL / WINE AND JAZZ 12 Phan Huy Ich, Ba Dinh Tel: 3927 5708 5.30pm to midnight Tucked into a quiet street close to Truc Bach, this romantic, Parisian-styled lounge exhibits art from up-and-coming Hanoi artists and is best experienced on the nights with live music. The menu offerings are rich and robust, from chicken curry to spaghetti and roast duck, all created to pair well with wine. Come for dinner and stay for the live jazz and well-curated wine selection.

SOUTHGATE CONTEMPORARY INTERNATIONAL 28 Tong Duy Tan, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3398 1979 Sunday to Wednesday 11.30am to

midnight. Thursday to Saturday 11.30am to 2am An American-run casual yet sophisticated restobar on Food Street with a great outdoor terrace area, a shared indoor bar space, a chef’s table and upstairs seating. Matched by contemporary décor, the creative food menu focuses on doing comfort food well, while a decent new and old world wine list and innovative cocktails make up the mix. Popular with the media and artsy set.

LOUNGE BAR AND CAFE 12 Truong Han Sieu, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 6680 9124 8.30am to Midnight Alternative and nostalgic restaurant bar with a dim lit conversational ambience. This French-style villa is adorned with old-world architectural styles and hints of engaging contemporary artwork along its walls. Enjoy a glass of wine to complement a variety of succulent light dishes in this combination café, bar, and gallery. Includes lounge seating, two bars, an outdoor patio, and two multi-purpose rooms for small gatherings. Tadioto is an exciting, intimate venue for live music, literary readings, and art showcases.



OLD SKOOL 1 Nguyen Khac Can, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3939 2888 9am to 11.30pm This ‘Chill Lounge’ is not too far from the Opera House and is ideal for drinks against a bright backdrop. Its large bar serves up test tube shooters and the Party Animal Bucket offers a range of shots. Of course, it’s a café/restaurant, too and be sure to check out the owner’s collection of boom boxes next to the DJ Booth. Live music on Wednesdays and a DJ at the weekend.


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The Cart


L’s Place


St. Honore; Vine


Oasis; Red Apron


Segafredo; Tracy’s; Kitchen


Vine Cellar Door


Mandarin; India Palace




Al Fresco’s; Tay Tap


Kitchen Art


House of Son Tinh


Santal Spa; Bamboo Village


Don’s Tay Ho


City Zoo; Better Day


Da Paolo; Coconut Cafes


Collective Concepts


La Salsa


Binh’s Salon


White Cloud






Pure Heaven


Bobby Chinn


International SOS


Le Marrakech


Ham Long Mini Market




Module 17




George’s Fashion


Hanoi Rock City




Love Chocolate Cafe


Zenith Yoga


El Gaucho





visit for a comprehensive list of our listings

KIDS 095 LEISURE GENERAL 095 NAILS 095 PERFORMING ARTS 095 SPAS 096 SPORTS CLASSES 096 TENNIS 097 VIETNAMESE CLASSES 097 ARTS CLASSES 097 COLUMN CINEMA BUFF 094 BOOK BUFF 096 Their biggest section is composed of ESL materials, but you will also find fiction.

COSMOS 168 Ngoc Khanh, Dong Da This bowling alley may be small, but if you’re hankering for a night at the lanes, this one has instant replay cameras that will show your strike again in slow motion.

HANOI STAR BOWL 2B Pham Ngoc Trach, Dong Da Tel: 3574 1614 Plenty of lanes, and the zany colours add to the festive feel. A game will cost VND27,000, plus a little extra for the shoe rental. All in all it makes for a night of good fun.

QUAN TOM 89 Bui Thi Xuan. Tel: 3294 47844 The staff at this karaoke bar is quite friendly. Large, comfortable rooms, and – their claim to fame – a vast English language track list, makes for a good night.

ANTIQUES 54 TRADITIONS GALLERY 30 Hang Bun, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3715 0194 The only gallery in Vietnam focusing on the antiques, artifacts and art of Vietnam’s 53 minority groups and the Kinh majority people. Has over 1,000 items on display and objects in the collection have been exhibited in museums both in Hanoi and abroad.

BOOK SHOPS BOOKWORM 44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh. Tel: 3715 3711 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.

HIEU SACH THANG LONG 55 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3825 7043 A large bookstore with mostly Vietnamese material, but there is also a selection of French and English books and even some literature.

XUNHASABA 32 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3825 4068 Often referred to just as ‘The Foreign Language Bookstore’, you’ll find a decent selection of both books and magazines.

CINEMAS CINEMATHEQUE 22A Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3936 2648 Not a movie theater 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 from all over the world.

MEGASTAR Vincom Towers, 191 Ba Trieu, 6th floor, Hai Ba Trung, Tel: 3974 3333 Inside Vincom towers, this big, westernstyle multiplex shows some of the latest English language and Asian foreign films. The experience includes fairly wellstocked concession stands, comfortable seats, air conditioning and a booming sound system.

MEGASTAR PICO MALL 299 Tay Son, Dong Da The second Megastar outlet in the city in the newly renovated Pico Mall. Generally less crowed than the theatre at Vincom Towers, but the same concept. For real Hollywood and American fast food fans, has a Pizza Hut and Swensen’s within the same cinema complex.

NATIONAL CINEMA CENTRE 87 Lang Ha, Dong Da. Tel: 3514 2278 Cineplex with several smaller theaters and an arcade. Movies are quite cheap, especially matinees. Be sure to ask if the movie is subtitled in Vietnamese or dubbed.

CLUBS & SOCIETIES DEMOCRATS ABROAD – VIETNAM Affiliated with the American Democratic Party, like-minded and politically active individuals can stay in touch and continue to affect the political winds that are blowing Stateside. Hosts regular events for every major election cycle.

AMERICAN CLUB 21 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3824 1850 A bit worn around the edges, but the facilities are still useful and the grounds pleasant. They host frequent events that are open to the public. Wide lawn, volleyball and basketball courts may make the place worth a visit.

leisure & arts HANOI CLUB 76 Yen Phu, Tay Ho. Tel: 3823 8115 The exclusive social and fitness club is located on the banks of West Lake. Golfers hit balls into the lake from the driving range and swimmers enjoy a lovely view from the pool. The gym is small and classes are not included as part of the steep yearly membership fees.

L’ESPACE 24 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem The cultural arm of the French Embassy is very active in the cultural life of the city. They both organise and host many functions – music, performing arts, film. Large French language library as well as classes and workshops.

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

HIDDEN HANOI 137 Nghi Tam, Tay Ho. Tel: 0912 254045 A wide range of Vietnamese culinary classes are offered in these well-appointed and clean facilities. The knowledgeable staff will guide you through the secrets of Vietnamese cooking in an open air courtyard.

HIGHWAY4 COOKING CLASS 31 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho. Tel: 3715 0577 The well-known restaurant also offers one-off cooking courses in the kitchens at their Truc Bach location. Don’t worry if you forget some of the tricks, as the class includes a recipe booklet.

KITCHEN ART STORE AND STUDIO Lane 38/27 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho. Tel: 6680 2770 Well stocked and modern cooking store offering cooking classes with one of Vietnam's popular food personalities. Kitchen Art Basic Baking Classes also open to non-Vietnamese speaking students. The friendly staff ensures that everyone is able to follow the instructor.

KOTO Lane 52/28, House 9, To Ngoc Van Tel: 3747 0377, This charitable organisation, which helps street kids gain the skills to succeed in the hospitality industry, also offers cooking classes to the public on Tuesdays at their training centre. Learn how to make some of the items on their menu at home. Pick up is also available at their Van Mieu location.

DANCING ASPARA DANCE STUDIO Level 3, 141 Nghi Tam, Tay Ho, Tel: 3718 6869 Gate 3, Hanoi Academy, Ciputra, Tel: 3743 0455 Cosy, friendly and well equipped dance studios offering dance and fitness classes for adults and children. Classes include ballet, folk dance, jazz, hip-hop, contemporary, belly dance, salsa, zumba and yoga for family. Instructors are qualified and certified from Vietnam Dance College or overseas.

FITNESS ELITE FITNESS 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho. Tel: 3718 6281 The luxury gym features top-of-the-line

fitness equipment, separate cardio and spinning areas and an indoor swimming pool with a retractable roof. The spacious studios and natural light make it a welcoming place to squeeze in a work out, but be prepared to pay. This place is top of the range.

FOUR SEASONS SWIMMING POOL 14 Dang Tien Dong, Dong Da. Tel: 3537 6250 This beautiful hotel has a swimming pool for VND40,000 per day, and another VND10,000 for a locker to keep your pantaloons. It might be a good idea to go during the off hours, as it’s a well used pool. But if laps are what you want, the pool is large and, at times, quiet.

HANOI BOOTCAMP BEEACTIVE To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho The successor to the weekly bootcamp famously run by fitness professional Helen Kindness, BeeActive continues the community spirit by bringing together both the fit and unfit to work out on the streets. To take part, drop them an email. Sessions are all held around the To Ngoc Van area, unless stated otherwise: Mon — 6am to 7am (Ciputra) Mon, Tues, Fri — 9.15am to 10.15am Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs — 6.30pm to 7.30pm Sat — 7am to 8am

NSHAPE FITNESS 71 Nguyen Chi Thanh, Dong Da Tel: 6266 0495 This gym with American Life Fitness cardio and weight machines, provides a clean, uncrowded environment and expertly staffed facilities with a selection of fitness classes for its members. Classes include boxing, yoga and groupX with both Vietnamese and foreign fitness trainers on hand to give exercisers advice. Membership starts from VND1.5 million per month with no joining fee.

STAR FITNESS 4th Floor, The Garden, Me Tri, Tu Liem Tel: 3787 5353 This lifestyle, top-end gym in My Dinh offers massage rooms, steam rooms, saunas, Jacuzzis, cold plunge baths, gym areas, exercise studios, locker rooms, and a swimming pool. It is a great option for residents living on the outskirts of the city.

SUNWAY HEALTH CLUB 19 Pham Dinh Ho, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 3971 3888 Very good equipment in this small gym, housed in a little hotel. None of the extra frills that you might expect at a larger place, but all the machines are running and well maintained. Monthly price of membership for non-guests is about VND1.4 million.

VIETCLIMB So 40 Ngo 76 An Duong, Tay Ho Tel: 5321 9235 Although a little hard to find, VietClimb is a French-owned, 200-meter climbing gym with state-of-the-art courses. There are 100 different climbing routes within the gym that are changed every few months. They offer clinics, classes and children’s events. Membership and group rates are available, but be sure to check out the three-month pass.

VINCHARM SPA AND GYM 6th & 7th floor Vincom Centre, 191 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung. Tel: 3974 8686 Far more Zen then your average gym, work out to toned-down music while toning up on state of the art equipment,

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leisure & arts

cinema buff

Hoa Le takes a look at what’s on in the cinemas this month

and have a post workout drink at the juice bar. There is even a separate swimming pool for tots, and a full service spa. Top-end equipment and services come with top-end monthly fees — not for the feint-hearted.


TAKEN 2 Directors: Olivier Megaton Stars: Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen and Maggie Grace Genre: Action, crime, drama

Bryan Mills, a retired CIA agent, attempts to reassemble his old life after years of overseas employment have left him estranged from his teenage daughter. But during his family vacation in Istanbul, they become the target of a revenge and kidnapping plan. Hit the screens on Oct. 5 at MegaStar cinema complexes in Vincom Tower (191 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung) and in Pico Mall (229 Tay Son, Dong Da). The movie is also being shown at the Platinum Cineplex (The Garden Shopping Mall, My Dinh)

After his beloved dog Sparky is hit by a car and dies, Victor decides to bring him back to life through some scientific techniques that only he knows. He tries to hide his home-sewn creation, but when Sparky gets out, Victor's fellow students, teachers and the entire town all learn that getting a new "leash on life" can be monstrous. Victor has to convince them that despite his appearance, Sparky's still the good loyal friend he's always been. Hits the screens on Oct. 12 at MegaStar cinema complexes

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THE FRENCH KISSERS (2009) Director: Riad Sattouf Stars: Vincent Lacoste, Anthony Sonigo and Alice Trémolière Genre: Comedy

HANOI YOUTH FOOTBALL LEAGUE The biggest youth football league in the capital. Youths aged 8 to 16 years old come together to play regular tournaments.

VIET CELTS The first and only Gaelic Football league in Hanoi has recently added a women’s team. The teams play in the Southeast Asia Gaelic League as well as in tournaments all over the region. Bring a sporting spirit as a spectator or a player. Call Gareth for more information: 0904 228629. In true Aussie style, the Vietnam Swans footballers hold not only weekly matches and training sessions, but social and drinking affairs as well. Concerned just as much with fun as with winning, this club is welcoming to anyone who is willing to have a good time.

Director: Zoya Akhtar Stars: Katrina Kaif, Hrithik Roshan and Naseeruddin Shah Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Drama

Kabir has just met Natasha. Six months later they are engaged. He wants to go on an extended bachelor party, a three-week road trip with Imraan and Arjun, his two best friends since school. It is a journey they were meant to take after college but it never happened — a road trip where each one gets to do the ultimate sport of his choice and the other two just have to do it with them, whether they want to or not! Kabir, Imraan and Arjun meet up in Barcelona and set off on an adventure that will not only make them iron out their differences but also face their fears, alter their perception, unravel their fabric, force them to break out of the box and Hanoi Capitals don’t play. This football club is serious about their sport. The uniforms and attitudes alone tell you they’re no Bad News Bears. If you want to let your skills shine get in contact with Ricky at 0903 413339.



FRANKENWEENIE Directors: Tim Burton Stars: Winona Ryder, Catherine O'Hara and Martin Landau Genre: Comedy, Animation, Horror

teach them to seize the day. In other words, a holiday that will change their lives forever. This Bollywood movie hits screen on Oct. 19 at MegaStar and the Platinum Cineplex



Fourteen-year-old Hervé has always struggled with confidence, social awkwardness, a moderate appearance and intelligence. To make it worse he suffers rejection after rejection from girls. But one day without, without really understanding how, he finds himself drawing some attention from attractive and popular classmate Aurore. Suddenly, with Aurore at his side, Hervé lands in the middle of the most exclusive social circles, but finds himself surrounded by a series of wild and unruly characters. Meanwhile, he struggles to contend with the emotional ups and down of a young adolescent. This movie will be shown in French with Vietnamese subtitles at the French Culture Centre (L’espace) at 8pm on Oct. 12

feature both Vietnamese and international artists. Mlle. Nga, who runs the space, also involves herself in several other cultural projects around Hanoi.



2A Cua Bac, Ba Dinh. Tel: 09877 18899 A small but popular hair salon that serves both expats and locals. The many repeat customers go back because of Dinh’s willingness to both follow instructions, or to be creative when asked. Services include scalp massage, shampooing, colouring and styling.

35A Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem Don’t be fooled by the signs hawking café sua da. Hidden within the coffee shop interior is a small gallery showing some of Vietnam’s newest talent.

VIET FINE ARTS GALLERY 96 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3928 6667 If you’re looking for a well-known name, and a high price tag to match, Viet Fine Arts sells work by some of Hanoi’s more famous artists.

GOLF COURSES HANOI CLUB DRIVING RANGE 76 Yen Phu, Tay Ho. Tel: 3623 8115 A fitness club that also boasts a two-level driving range where the balls are hit into the water. No net means you can gauge your driving. The price for a bucket of golf balls depends on whether or not you’re a member.

TAM DAO GOLF AND RESORT Relatively new golf club near the base of the mountains at Tam Dao. It is about


FOUR SEASONS 14 Dang Tien Dong, Dong Da Tel: 3537 6250

36-38 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3934 7192 This art space is home to a large collection of your standard tourist fare along with a smatter of more unique pieces.

MAI GALLERY 113 Hang Bong, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3938 0568 Several floors of paintings, regularly changed, by some of the best known contemporary artists in the country, some of whom they’ve helped in gaining international recognition. Mai specialises is finding the perfect décor for both homes and offices.

MAISON DES ARTS 31 Van Mieu, Dong Da. Tel: 3747 8096 A gallery near the Temple of Literature with several floors bills itself not only as an art gallery, but a multi-purpose social and cultural space. Frequent exhibitions






7 Hang Khay, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3934 9071 This small gallery has focused on building a collection of traditional Hanoi images with a modern twist since it opened in 1990. The gallery actively seeks out talented young contemporary artists.

40B Hang Bong, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3828 8965 This centrally located space houses art by some of Vietnam’s best-known contemporary artists, such as Hoang Hai Anh and Dinh Quan, as well as up and coming artists. Ngo 66 So Nha 2, Pho Yen Lac, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 3862 3184 Now operating from the private residence of owner Suzanne Lecht, Art Vietnam is one of Hanoi's most respected galleries, featuring contemporary art in all its forms: painting, lacquer, photography and video, from both up-and-coming and established artists. To see the full list of artworks available, go to the website. Gallery viewing is by appointment only

two hours from the city, but does provide an 18-hole course with a clubhouse and a spectacular view, surrounded by green

ARMY HOTEL 33C Pham Ngu Lao, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3825 2896

HANOI CLUB 76 Yen Phu, Tay Ho Tel: 3823 8115 HORISON FITNESS CENTER 40 Cat Linh, Ba Dinh Tel: 3733 0808 MELIA HOTEL 44B Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3934 3343 OLYMPIA 4 Tran Hung Dao, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3933 1049 SAO MAI 10 Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho Tel: 3718 3161 SOFITEL PLAZA FITNESS CENTER 1 Thanh Nien, Tay Ho Tel: 3823 8888 THAN NHAN Vo Thi Sau, Hai Ba Trung, (Inside the park) THANG LOI HOTEL 200 Yen Phu, Tay Ho

3 Lane 31/10 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3719 2656 A salon and spa offering a variety of cosmetic services, and specialising in western cuts and colour.


FRANGIPANI SPA 405 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh. Tel: 6329 2915 New garden-themed day spa named after the frangipani flower, known in Vietnam for its healing properties. Services include hair salon, nail care and massages. Details to amenities like bathrobes, slippers and towels provide a comfortable atmosphere.

TA SALON Hanoi Club, 76 Yen Phu, Tay Ho Tel: 3716 1754 / 3758 2940 (Ciputra). Hotline: 0912 267613 Multi-functional hair and body salon with a range of treatments running from haircut, highlights, shampoo, straightening and perm to hot stone foot and body massages, a range of facials, waxing, bikini lines and body scrub. With a first salon in Ciputra, TA number two is at the Hanoi club. Popular with both western and Asian expats as well as A-class Vietnamese.

THE HAIR WORKSHOP 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3934 5980 Located in Hanoi Towers, The Hair Workshop has a number of hairdressers used to cutting and styling all types of hair. The prices are significantly higher than they would be on the street, or at a smaller shop, but there are many people who refuse to go anywhere else. A full service salon that also offers such services as waxing.

HAIR SPACE 137 Nghi Tam, Tay Ho Tel: 0912 127554 Run by an Australian expat named Cat, this is a small but comfortable and well-run hair studio located in the Hidden Hanoi building. There is only Cat and her one assistant, so be sure to make an appointment.

TRAN HUNG HAIR CREATION 5 Ho Xuan Huong, Hai Ba Trung. Tel: 3943 4946 Located near Reunification Park, Hung has a long list of satisfied clients, both western and Vietnamese. Be prepared to allot one to two hours for a cut and more for colour as Hung is a perfectionist.

KIDS HANOI ZOO Off Kim Ma, opposite Daewoo Hotel Tel: 3834 7395 Really as much a park as it is a zoo, you can find Vietnamese families on picnics here on any given day. Strewn throughout, sometimes in curiously small cages, you’ll also find a number of animals large and small, all indigenous to the country. Also, there are other attractions for children such as a fun house, and big, floating plastic balls they can climb into. The One Man Cinema operates out of here at weekends.

KINDERPARK 614 Lac Long Quan, Tay Ho, Tel: 3710 1666 A huge international indoor playground for children of all ages founded by three likeminded mums. The indoor playground covers an impressive 2,000 sqm, and offers activities, birthday parties and a welltrained staff. There is a café for parents to sit in while their children run amok.

THANG LONG WATER PUPPET THEATRE Dinh Tien Hoang, Hoan Kiem Daily shows of traditional rustic Vietnamese carved puppets, animate folkloric tales accompanied by music. This can be fun for adults as well as children.

THE LITTLE GYM OF HANOI 4th Floor, 402A Vincom Center, Long Bien Tel: 3515 8555, The newest addition to the Hanoi family entertainment scene, this globally-known brand has more than 300 locations across the world. Has a range of programmes for kids aged four months to 12 years old including gymnastics, karate, dance classes, sports skills and more, with the activities focusing on developing both cerebral and physical capacity. Also hosts birthday parties, organises camps and arranges parents nights.

TINIWORLD 51 Xuan Dieu, Syrena Towers; 229 Tay Son, Pico Mall An indoor play-haven for children inside the safety of a shopping centre. Pay an entry fee of VND50,000 and let your kids loose on the jungle gym and video arcade-style games. Small and with enough staff on hand so you can let your kids play, and head out to do a little shopping next door.

VINCOM TOWERS 191 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung There are a bunch of toy stores and shops for children in the mall area of the second tower. Also, near the food court, you’ll find an arcade with video games and tiny rides for very small kids.

LEISURE GENERAL FRIENDS OF VIETNAMESE HERITAGE A non-profit organization devoted to the culture of Vietnam. People from all over the world join together to educate themselves and others on Vietnam and preserve its heritage. The organization holds events such as lectures, city walks and excursions available to the public.

HANOI HASH HOUSE HARRIERS This big, assorted “family” gets together every week to go on out of town excursions, for hour-long runs along paths marked by flour spots, and with no lack of beer stops along the way. Drink and get into shape at the same time, and add some sight-seeing into the picture. Emphasis here is on fun. Bus leaves on Saturdays from the American Club on Hai Ba Trung at 2pm in summer and 1:30pm in winter.

HANOI LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL If you’re looking for a little league baseball team in Hanoi, this is the website to check out. One of the first, if not still the only, such club in town, their mission is to teach young people about the game, teamwork and to have a great time. Practice every Saturday at Xuan Dinh Field from 6.15 to 8.30 am

MASSAGE JUST MASSAGE 237 Au Co, Tay Ho. Tel: 6671 2249 Aromatherapy, Swedish, shiatsu and

pregnancy massages all given by the hands and touch of nine visually impaired therapists. The massages here are professional and, of course, in aid of a great cause. Check their website for their range of promotions.

HANOI AESTHETIC INSTITUTE 14 Yen Phu, Ba Dinh. Tel: 3945 4548 Trained at the Tue Tinh Traditional Hospital, the therapists at this no frills, traditional Vietnamese massage centre use a variety of techniques including tuina, aromatherapy, ayurvedic and shiatsu. Also offer a range of healing treatments as well as not-so-traditional laser and plastic surgery.

THANH GIA 18 Trieu Viet Vuong, Hai Ba Trung 38 Le Thai To, Hoan Kiem One of a number of foot massage parlours in town that has treatments focusing as much on the pressure points of your feet at they do on the rest of your body. Strong hands, unbranded oils and, if you ask, tiger balm oil.

NAILS FANCY SPA 26 Dinh Ngang, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3824 4183 A small Vietnamese spa and salon. Prices are quite high, but the shop offers a wide range of services in addition to manicure/ pedicure.

LINKQ 271 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh, Tel: 3725 2359 One of a chain of all-purpose beauty salons that specialises in manicures and pedicures. This place has a lot of business from word of mouth, so it’s best to call ahead and make an appointment.

THU CUC EXOTICAL SPA 57 Nguyen Khac Hien, Ba Dinh. Tel: 3715 0316 This all-purpose beauty salon offers spa pedicures in a Zen-like atmosphere where your manicurist won’t be chatting on her mobile phone.

TOP SPOT 52 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3828 8344 They offer a long-lasting, professional manicure and pedicure service for barely more than you would pay to get your nails cut on the street. The staff doesn’t speak much English, but they have an extensive menu to choose from.

PERFORMING ARTS HANOI CIRCUS 67 Tran Nhan Tong, Hai Ba Trung For VND50,000, see an array of live performances, both human and animal. Bears ride motorbikes, monkeys do tricks. The acrobatic performances are particularly amazing.

HANOI INTERNATIONAL THEATRE SOCIETY (HITS) Hanoi’s premiere community theatre group has been entertaining audiences around the city since 2001. The amateur acting society both draws from and gives back to the local community. All profits from the bi-yearly performances are donated to charities in Vietnam.

HANOI OPERA HOUSE 1 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3933 0113 This French colonial building hosts a packed schedule of cultural events throughout the year, everything from the New York Philharmonic to cutting edge Vietnamese performance art has graced its stage.

THANG LONG CA TRU THEATRE 25 Tong dan, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3665 54608 Head to this theatre, lodged on the cam-

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leisure & arts



pus of the Vietnam Revolution Museum, for a taste of one of Vietnam’s most traditional musical forms.


YOUTH THEATRE 11 Ngo Thi Nham, Hoan Kiem A few blocks south of Hoan Kiem Lake, this community theatre space hosts both music events and theatre productions.

SPAS KIM DUNG 38 Nguyen Cong Hoan, Ba Dinh. Tel: 3483 50079 Face massage, hair care, manicure, pedicure, this is a one-stop shop for all sorts of comfort services and products. Facilities are clean and modern. Hairstyling also available.

LANCY SPA 35 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Tel: 3719 9461 This all-purpose spa offers the full menu: massage, nails, skincare at reasonable prices. Discounts offered to regular customers.

This month Bookworm’s Truong takes up the theme of birds I’M DISCUSSING BIRDS THIS MONTH as some ornithologists and bird watchers have asked me about books that will help them recognise the species that fly around the northern parts of Vietnam. Of course, our birds have been radically reduced in numbers. Some species are extinct and all due to the destruction of habitats and hunting during times of famine when they were a valuable source of protein and revenue. I was born at the tail end of the last famine and my village still has a dearth of edible birds (even the seagulls were almost wiped out because they competed for fish). This hunting was of birds both large and small and it makes my blood boil when I see people still at it today. Most recently I saw a mob of older teenage males, from pretty rich families, killing song birds in the grounds of the Sheraton. Just for fun! I don’t know many scientific names of our birds but the The Photographic Guide to Birds of South East Asia — including The Philippines and Borneo by Morten Strange has helped me out. There is also a coffee table type book about birds that may have been native to Hanoi, particularly as Tam Dao is only about 60 km away. Called Birds of Tam Dao and written by Mekki Salah, the photographs are superb. THE CAGEBIRD SINGS One of my major hates is seeing

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birds that are captured and put in cages. It’s synonymous with imprisoning innocent humans for life. Around our neighborhood, which still manages to retain a few trees, the red whiskered bulbul is a free flying morning songster. This mountain species is now fairly common in urban areas because of fortuitous escapes from cages and then breeding with other escapees in remnants of high trees that cats can’t negotiate. We used to have a lot around but only a couple remain due to green fly lines being chopped down or separated by higher and higher buildings. The very opportunistic Eurasian tree sparrows and house sparrows are also on the wane. One of my morning treats for a couple of years were the family of small birds that used to return every spring and cavort in a rampant vine by my house. The parent birds were in the habit of perching on my window sill and trilling the sun awake. Last year a juvenile used to soar in and loop the loop around the room before swooping out the window. The vine was removed, perhaps because the occasional rat used it as an aerial highway, and alas these birds are no longer with us. BIRDS IN LITERATURE Which brings me to short stories by O. Henry and Oscar Wilde. Once exposed to the sting in

the tail of stories in O. Henry’s 100 Short Stories it’s hard not to become hooked, as are many Vietnamese readers. If you’ve read the one called The Last Leaf you’ll know why I’ve pressed a few leaves amongst its pages in memory of a rambunctious, shady friend and the birds (and occasional rat) it sheltered. Then there’s The Collected Works of Oscar Wilde. When the birds stopped calling by, I re-read The Nightingale and the Rose, a very poignant and sad tale about a nightingale that impaled its breast on a thorn of a rambling rose so that its blood would spill into the sap and turn a white bloom crimson. The sacrifice was in vain as recipients of the flower were both callous and selfish. But the most amazing bird from literature comes in another Oscar Wilde story. For me it’s the little swallow which froze to death one winter’s night because it refused to leave the statue of the Happy Prince after he gave his last sapphire eye to a poverty stricken match girl. At that moment as the bird died, a curious crack sounded inside the statue as if something had broken. The fact is that the Prince’s leaden heart had snapped right in two. It certainly was a dreadfully hard frost. For more information on Bookworm go to www.

LE SPA DU METROPOLE Sofitel Metropole Legend, 15A Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3826 6919 A five-star spa for a five-star hotel, this colonial-style centre of relaxation is pure luxury. Choose the genre of music you want to hear in your treatment room from a menu, select anything from themenamed facials through to traditional, Vietnamese-style massages, and indulge. It comes at price, but when you’ve just got to treat yourself…

ORCHIDS SPA 34 Luong Ngoc Quyen, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3926 4862 Just a few steps away from bia hoi corner, the unisex Orchids spa recently one a VTV award for being one of the top spas in Hanoi. Treatments range from facials through to waxing, saunas and slimming treatments.

SANTAL SPA 112 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho. Tel: 3718 4686 Private rooms with showers, a beautifully designed interior, well-trained and professional staff. The place to go if you want to forget a busy work week, or the busy streets.

THU CUC EXOTICAL SPA 57 Nguyen Khac Hien, Ba Dinh. Tel: 3715 0316 Near Truc Bac, Thu Cuc is an all-purpose spa where you can get a full-body massage, a facial, manicure or pedicure in a relaxing environment. Both prices and service are comparable to the West.

ZEN SPA 100 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho. Tel: 3719 9889 Brushing up against the banks of the Red River, this Indochine-styled day spa hideaway comes replete with an oasis-like bonsai garden and peace and quiet, a perfect tonic to the chaos of the city. Has a range of five-element spa packages as well as just one-off facials and waxings and other treatments. Has a second outlet at 100 Xuan Dieu as well as spas in Hoi An.

SPORTS CLASSES HOANG CAU SPORTS CENTRE 59 Hoang Cau, Dong Da. Tel: 3511 8030 The distinction of this fitness centre is that they have a large space, filled with a “number of different fields of different sizes”. Includes areas for aerobics, football and rugby. Classes depend, according to the season.

RED RIVER RUNNERS The Red River Runners meet every

Saturday to run through the fields and suburbs skirting the Red River in Hanoi. The group organises races, such as the annual Hanoi Triathlon and the Song Hong Half Marathon, which are community events that help to add a different, more social dimension to fitness and sport in the capital.

UNIS COMMUNITY EDUCATION UN International School, Tay Ho. Tel: 3758 1551 The UN International School is located between West Lake and the highway heading to Noi Bai Airport. They have great facilities and offer a number of different classes throughout the year.

TENNIS THUY LOI SPORTS COMPLEX 95 Chua Boc, Dong Da A wide sports pitch that also offers a swimming pool and a football field – if you get tired of tennis. Football fields are almost always crowded, but even for tennis it might be good to go during the off hours.

VAN TUE THANG LONG 136 Ho Tung Mau, Tu Liem A little bit hard to find, but Van Tue Thang Long offers quite a bit of room, with a sit-down restaurant and a few tennis courts. Facilities are a bit run down, but a place to go if you want to play tennis on concrete courts.

VIETNAMESE CLASSES VIETNAMESE TEACHING GROUP 164 Le Thanh Nghi, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 7236 9842 Offers not only Vietnamese classes, but also a variety of excursions and events that will help foreigners and expats to better understand Vietnamese culture. Organised and professional, classes are usually sold in blocks, which you pay for in advance.

VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY B7 Bis, Bach Khoa, Dong Da, Tel: 3869 4323 This national university also offers some language and culture classes to foreigners. Teaching standards are high, and prices are not unreasonable, at around VND150,000 for a one-on-one lesson.


A western-style yoga studio with three practice rooms offering different types of yoga, pilates, tai chi, meditation and dance. Certified professional teachers provide up to seven classes a day, with private classes also available. Workshops and retreats are also held, both at the studio and further afield.


3B Dang Thai Than, Ba Dinh, Tel: 3913 5497 One of the only yoga studios in town exclusively devoted to the practice. Professional instruction with well-trained teachers, and a very low monthly fee.


3rd floor, 111 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 0904 356561 A premier studio offering some of the best yoga, pilates and tai chi in town. Kids’ yoga, prenatal yoga and meditation are also available. Professional instruction along with a peaceful atmosphere creates one of the most zen places in Hanoi. Drop in classes are available for VND200,000 and a month unlimited class pass costs VND1.8 million.




ACCESSORIES & FOOTWEAR BOO SKATESHOP 84 Hang Dieu, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3923 1147 This skateshop offers a variety of clothes, shoes and skateboarding equipment. Most of the T-shirts are made and designed in Vietnam, while the shoes and other equipment are made for export, often rejected due to minor defects. Staff is knowledgeable about Hanoi’s best skateboarding spots.

EURO FASHION SHOES 26, 84/16 Ngoc Khanh Tel: 0904153041 While you may have to dig through piles of mismatched or orthopaedic-looking shoes, this shop is full of hidden gems in larger sizes, a rare find in Hanoi.

EURO SHOES 320 Ba Trieu, Hoan Kiem If you’re looking for a diamond in the rough, head for Euro shoes, which has a wide selection of options, many of which you’ll want to give a pass. Often carries larger sizes than most Vietnamese retailers.

HANDMADE SHOES 18 Hang Bong, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3828 5357 This cobbler’s shop repairs shoes and makes shoes to order. The staff speaks limited English, so it’s best to bring along your favourite pair to get copied.

HUONG’S JEWELLERY SHOP 62 Hang Ngan, Hoan Kiem. Tel: 3828 1046 A small store specialising in silver necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings and pendants. While Huong’s merchandise is mostly silver or pearl, the staff will also make jewellery to order.

IPA-NIMA 73 Trang Thi, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3933 4000 Started by Hong Kong born designer Christina Yu, Ipa-Nima’s stores are filled with their one-of-a-kind purses and accessories. Their use of colour, a unique design philosophy and hand done embellishments appeals to jetsetters and fashionistas from Los Angeles to Paris. Always eye-catching and trendy, Ipa-Nima accessories are tangibly timeless and sophisticated.


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LOUIS VUITTON Sofitel Metropole, 15 Ngo Quyen. Tel: 3824 4977 This boutique offers an exclusive collection of the French designer handbags and accessories.

THREE TREES 15 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3928 8725 The jewellery on offer, designed by a Belgian expat, often features chunkier gold shapes with small, well-placed diamonds. Hidden in the back of the store there is also a display case featuring less-expensive costume jewelry.

TINA SPARKLE 17 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3928 7616 An eclectic assortment of costume jewelry and Chula dresses are scattered among a wide collection of bags by one of Vietnam’s most popular designers, Ipa-Nima. Check out the seasonal sales for heavy discounts.

VIETNAM OPTICAL 138B Giang Vo, Ba Dinh Tel: 3736 5505 This all-purpose eyewear shop offers free eye exams and a wide selection of frames. Usually there is at least one English-speaking staff present. The quick and easy service means you will be out of the store, lenses in hand, in an hour.

CLOTHING BEO BOUTIQUE 54 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3928 8997 The answer for women who struggle with the Hanoi heat. A locally owned boutique selling simple, unfussy clothing in light and easy to wear styles, perfect for when the humidity rises. Most clothing is made from cotton or silk, but they also have felted jackets for the colder weather. As well as off the rack, do custom orders.

CALVIN KLEIN 19-21 Dinh Tien Hoang ; 61-63 Cau Go, Hoan Kiem If it’s all in a name then Calvin Klein’s lakeside store has got it pretty much sewn up. Underwear sits next to jeans going for around VND2.5 million and a range of quality CK shirts, belts and more. By Hanoi standards, prices are high, but think relative. VND5 million for an original, welltailored pigskin jacket is pretty good going.



2 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Ba Dinh Tel: 3928 6556 Large selection of lenses as well as biomedic contact lenses imported from the US. But buyer beware, lenses in Vietnam usually aren’t scratch-resistant.

37A Van Mieu, Dong Da Tel: 3747 1535 High-end silk clothing retailer located near the Temple of Literature carries contemporary looks based on traditional Vietnamese styles.



21 Nguyen Huy Tu, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 4972 6327 Home to the world’s finest gemstones, master craftsmen and jewellery experts, London Diamond Gallery is among the most established jewellery houses in the world, with an international presence that spans across England, Japan, Hong Kong and South-East Asia.

23 Nha Chung, Hoan Kiem Tel: 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.

45 Phan Dinh Phuong, Ba Dinh Tel: 3629 78574 The limited stock in this clothing store is made up for by the unique design of the pieces, which are refreshed by the designer every month.

GEORGE’S FASHION BOUTIQUE 36 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, el: 3718 6233 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-to-measure service are available at no extra cost.

GINKGO T-SHIRTS 44 Hang Be, Hoan Kiem; 79 Hang Be, Hoan Kiem An environmentally conscious and fairtrade company that offers unique designs and a quality product, Ginkgo t-shirts sport ethnic and modern graphics in a rainbow of colors. The company began in Ho Chi Minh City and now has five outlets around Vietnam. These shirts make great gifts or souvenirs, perfect for proving to disbelievers overseas that you’ve visited the home of the conical hat.

HANOI SILK Sofitel Plaza, 1 Thanh Nien, Tay Ho Tel: 3716 3062 Located on the ground floor of the Sofitel Plaza Hotel, this silk shop offers a highquality selection of ready-made items. The most popular sellers include robes, linensilk blend shirts, ties and jackets.

ISALYNA 1 Trang Thi, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3762 4405 The retail outlet for local designer Teddie Tran, who believes that fashion is all about “attitude”. Accordingly, the store’s pieces are mostly basics that can be combined with a range of high-quality leather accessories and jewellery for a unique fashion statement.

KANA 41 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3928 6208 Reasonably priced handmade silk clothing and accessories in a wide range of patterns sized to fit western bodies.

KEN SHOP 108 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem Tel: 6270 0256 A popular stop for silk lovers, this store is all about soft and light fabrics. Silk, cotton and silk cotton mixes in creamy summer colours or eclectic prints. Ken has a wide range on offer, from casual summer skirts to fancy dresses. A cute collection of toys made of cotton and imported jewellry and accessories are also for sale.

KENLY SILK 108 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3826 7236 Instantly recognizable with its two-pillared shop front, Kenly prides itself on professional guidance and high-quality materials from a design’s conception to finish. The shop caters to everything from fashion shows to personal designs.

KHAI SILK 133 Hang Ga, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3825 4237 One of the better established silk shops in Hanoi, this store also has a satellite shop in the Sofitel Metropole. With outlets throughout the country, this household name is a great place to go for ready-made silk items. You may find better deals at other shops, but with the highest quality

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fashion silk, at Khai you pay for what you get.

L’ATELIER No 33 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3668 5509 Designer store where Le Duyen Huong features her creations and matching accessories and shoes. The trendy shop exudes a pleasant and warm atmosphere and collections change often. Offers tailoring for local and export markets.

LUALA BOUTIQUE 61 Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3936 9899 Close to the Opera House, this “concept store” dressed up as a spacious boutique and café is aimed at the luxury, lifestylefocused end of the local market. Has clothing and accessories for men and women and stocks the likes of Vera Wang, Nina Ricci, Elie Saab, Paul & Joe and much more. Also slated to show contemporary Vietnamese art. Check out their website for latest arrivals and their full range of brands.

MAGOON 19 Ma May, Hoan Kiem; 9 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem A small fashion house with many outlets around the city, Magoon offers one-of-akind lady like fashions. They have a bit of everything from jackets and dresses to knitwear. The prices are affordable and the merchandise changes often. The main studio is on Au Trieu.

MARIE-LINH COUTURE 11 Nha To, Hoan Kiem 74 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem Parisian-style clothing combined with

SUPERMARKETS BIG C SUPERMARKET 222 Tran Duy Hung, Cau Giay CITIMART HANOI TOWERS 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem CITIMART VINCOM TOWERS 191 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung FIVIMART 210 Tran Quang Khai, Hoan Kiem 10 Tran Vu, Ba Dinh 671 Hoàng Hoa Tham, Ba Dinh 71 Nguyen Chi Thanh, Dong Da 51 Xuân Dieu, Tay Ho 93 Lo Duc, Hai Ba Trung Online shopping: HANOI STAR SUPERMARKET 36 Cat Linh, Dong Da INTIMEX 22 & 23 Le Thai To, Hoan Kiem 131-135 Hao Nam, Dong Da 17 Lac Trung, Hai Ba Trung 27 Huynh Thuc Khang, Dong Da METRO 126 Tam Trinh, Yen So, Hoang Mai Pham Van Dong, Co Nhue, Tu Liem

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quality Vietnamese dressmaking skills. The beautiful clothes are available in silk, organza and linen. Also available for online orders. With the accompanying home décor and accessories shop on 38 Hang Trong, it is possible to live an entire life of couture.

METISEKO 40-42 Luong Ngoc Quyen, Hoan Kiem A lifestyle brand that started out life in Hoi An, Metiseko’s move to the capital will see them bring us their creative, poetic prints designed for an eco-chic lifestyle. The products — clothing, accessories and furniture — are made from natural silk and organic cotton certified to global organic standards. Metiseko is also certified by the fair-trade, Textile Exchange.

MOON 111 Ma May, Hoan Kiem This small shop carries handmade embroidered linen and silk clothes that are usually less expensive than those found at the larger stores. The shop owners make most of the clothes themselves, so they will adjust designs to fit personal tastes.

NAGU 20 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem Walk past the rows of teddy bears and head for the small rack of clothing, which offers unique Japanese-designed dresses and shirts. The second floor has a selection of home goods. There is a loyalty program for frequent customers.

NUNA NUNONG 100 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Racks of flowery frocks line the walls, and handmade fabric garlands hang from the ceiling. You will also find a wide selection of handmade goods, such as hand-painted mugs, totes and baskets of increasingly popular animal pillows.

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.

RUNWAY 13 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3938 6260 The second branch of the flagship store located in Ho Chi Minh City, Runway sells only authentic designer collections from all over the world. The large store located in the Sun City Building mimics what a designer boutique should look like, with an all white interior. If you are in need of a designer fix, Runway is your answer, but be warned, the prices match the labels.

SOLE 21 21 Nha Chung, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3938 1968 A distinctly designed boutique around the corner from the cathedral, bringing the latest from European and American Designers. Think Jimmy Choo, Kate Spade and Top Shop. Mark-up seems high on some pieces, but all designers are authentic. No fakes here.

VINATEX 25 Ba Trieu, Hoan Kiem In-town factory outlet for the Vinatex clothing corp. Carries items for men, women and children at low prices.

LINGERIE ANA MAI 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho This small boutique stocks lingerie similar to Parisian designers Agent Provocateur and Cosabella.



55 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3718 6290 If the classic storefront doesn’t draw you in, the clothing will. The Scandinavian showroom is clean and streamlined, emulating the modern but simple clothing contained within. Cottons and knitwear are the main focus in the European designed clothing for women and children. Prices are affordable and the quality is great.

52 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh Tel: 3822 9051 Pretty, lacy underwear imported from France. Carries mostly small sizes, up to a western sized medium.

SONG 5 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3828 6965 This boutique, whose name comes from the Vietnamese word for “life”, stocks high-end linen and silk clothes in a serene store awash with the fresh scent of mint. Located just across the street from the cathedral, prices are on par with its higher-end neighbours.

TAN MY 66 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3825 1579 Located in the heart of the old quarter, on “silk street”, Tan My claims to be Hanoi’s oldest silk and embroidery shop and boasts customers like Hillary Clinton. The three-storey shop offers everything from clothes and hand-embroidered baby pillows to sumptuous silk bedding.

TAN MY DESIGN 61 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3938 1154 800sqm of elegant, modern space that offers one-of-a-kind pieces to add to your home furnishings or wardrobe. Located across the street from the other Tan My, one of the oldest silk and embroidery stores in Hanoi.

THINGS OF SUBSTANCE 5 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 3828 6965 This shop’s motto “Western sizes,

MINOSHE 59 Hang Bong, Hoan Kiem This popular store carries a wide range of bras and underwear. Additional locations in Hanoi Towers and Vincom Towers.

SHOPPING MALLS HANG DA GALLERIA Cua Dong, Hoan Kiem Tel: 2220 9999 This small shopping mall is conveniently located in the centre of the Old Quarter, with all the standard small stores as well as a range of boutiques selling the wares of Vietnamese designers. The Highlands outdoor café is a perfect place to sit and watch the Old Quarter ebb and flow.

HANOI TOWERS 49 Ba Trieu, Hoan Kiem The retail space on the first floor of this complex includes everything from a golf shop to a hair salon. After shopping you can enjoy a cup of coffee at the Highlands Café or a sandwich at Papa Joe’s.

OCEAN PARK LUXURY MALL 36 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3936 0737 Shopping mall includes international designers such as Versace collection, Dolce and Gabbana, and Roberto Botticelli.

PARKSON Cnr. Thai Ha & Tay Son, Dong Da This Malaysian-owned department store prides itself on making the shopping experience one that is “more exciting and

fun”. Unlike many of Hanoi’s retailers, this megastore is also appealing to those who just want to browse. Departments include men’s, women’s and children’s clothing as well as home furnishings.

from Italy and England. The go-to place for top-of-the-range suits and shirts for all occasions. The shop is new and the service spot on.


18 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3828 9925 Though this tailor offers both men’s and women’s clothing, the well made dresses displayed in the window and the range of bright colours and patterns caters mostly to female tastes. Located in the shadow of the cathedral, it’s a little pricier, but you pay for the view.

299 Tay Son, Dong Da Newly renovated mall housing international stores like French Connection, Nike, and Adidas. A touch far from the centre, but distance brings lower levels of noise and customers, making it a nice option for shopping spree. Also has a movie theatre, a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and a food court.

TRANG TIEN PLAZA 24 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem This large shopping centre located at the southern tip of Hoan Kiem Lake includes shopping options for every price range. Bargain bins full of locally-produced clothing stand beside a Nike retail outlet. Offerings also include a cosmetics department and multiple electronics retailers.

VINCOM TOWERS 191 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 3974 9999 A shopping plaza offering a range of international brands such as Levi’s, United Colours of Benetton, Nike, Adidas and Geox.

SPORTSWEAR ADIDAS 83 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem Tel:3828 7190 The capital city’s flagship store of the international retailer of sport clothing and equipment.

B.BALL 65A Quoc Tu Giam, Dong Da Tel:3224 10780 This hoops-themed store sells balls, basketball shoes and jerseys of the madein-China variety.

HANOI CLUB GOLF SHOP 76 Yen Phu, Tay Ho Tel: 3823 8115 A small shop on the first floor of the Hanoi Club sells a range of equipment to fulfill your golfing needs, including clubs, balls and clothes.

NIKE Trang Tien Plaza, 24 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem; Vincom Towers, 191 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung With multiple locations open, and more to come, Nike retails high-end sports clothing and accessories, including yoga mats and water bottles.

TOLIA Hanoi Towers, 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem Also known as the “Russian shop”, Tolia retails overstock outdoor wear made for export. Brands include Jack Wolfskin, The North Face and Patagonia.

ZONE GOLF Hanoi Towers, 49 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 3936 3233 This centrally-located shop carries all the equipment and gear you need for a day at the course.

TAILORS CAO MINH TAILORS 250 Hang Bong, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3939 3594 Located near Cua Nam street at the western-most end of Hang Bong, this established tailor with over 50 years of experience specialises in quality materials




home UV-resistant and moisture-resistant, all the paper is made in Sweden and shipped free within Hanoi.

visit for a comprehensive list of our listings LIQUOR & WINE 100 MARKETS 101 PETS 101 COLUMN MEDICAL BUFF 101

NGOC SHOP 64 Tran Xuan Soan, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 3943 4747 This English-speaking tailor located near the fabric market off Pho Hue offers a seasonal collection of ready-made designs. The owner will also copy clothing or sew from your own designs. Fabric can be picked out in the shop or you can bring your own.

MS TAM Tel: 0989 098903 With a long list of foreign clientele, Ms Tam works from her home not too far outside of central Hanoi. She will pay a visit to where you live to take measurements and then bring the final clothes back a few days later. She also carries a book of fabric swatches for those who truly want to skip the shopping experience.

PHUONG LINH TAILOR 99 Son Tay, Ba Dinh Tel: 0904 083674 Exceptional quality at very reasonable prices, Phuong Linh may not speak English but her and her team make every effort to understand the task at hand. From copying your favourite garments to creating something new or from a magazine, Phuong and her girls succeed in getting it right time and time again.

THANH HA 114 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem Located in the heart of the old quarter, this tailor caters mostly to tourists, but a large collection of Vogue pattern books makes communication very easy.

OPTICIANS & GLASSES SUNGLASSES STREET Luong Van Can, Hoan Kiem If it’s all in a name, well here its all in a number — two of them in fact, 51 & 58. Not exactly conventional opticians — the rows of shops here do sell frames with lenses and have basic eye-testing services — but if its sunglasses with brand names super-glued on top, here is the place.

THU HA KINH THUOC 134 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 3943 4570 Free eye testing in this well-known, German-trained opticians that also doubles up as a medical clinic and pharmacy specialising in eye problems. Sells a range of branded and no n-branded spectacles and sunglasses. Located opposite the National Hospital of Ophthalmology.


48 Hai Ba Trung, Hai Ba Trung & 231 Nguyen Trai, Thanh Xuan Tel: 3736 5505 Chain of opticians, glasses and sunglasses stores selling a range of branded and Chinese-imported frames starting at VND100,000 a go and rising to over VND2 million. The in-store optometrist gives free eye tests. Helpful, English-speaking staff.


tion, which helps disabled and underprivileged children in Hanoi and northern provinces.

8 Nguyen Hoang Ton, Tay Ho Founded as a donut shop, it now also offers a wide range of German-inspired breads for those who favour nutrition over sugar. A loaf of rye bread rings in at VND40,000. Donuts, breads, cookies and sandwiches can be ordered online and delivered to your home or office. The bakery employs mostly disabled persons and is dedicated to providing them with high-quality training and care.



58 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem; 9 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 0473063682 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 income and care for their families.

252 Hang Bong, Hoan Kiem One of the oldest and most wellestablished bakeries in the city, maybe best known as Catherine Deneuve’s former haunt, Kinh Do has been around much longer than any expat. But their breads, pastries and quiches keep foreigners and Vietnamese coming back. Extensive Western and Vietnamese menu as well.

38 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3938 0436 This newly-opened shop sells specially designed decorative objects in traditional Vietnamese lacquer and pottery in unique styles. It also retails small accessories that are easy to pack in your suitcase. Items are sold in the shop and online.



LE CROISSANT 21 Ha Hoi, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3943 6707 A well established and well respected Hanoi institution. Le Croissant not only makes excellent baked goods of all kinds, but is also part of the NGO Hoa Sua, a school for disadvantaged children that teaches them life changing skills.

PARIS DELI 6 Phan Chu Trinh, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3928 6697 With two locations, one by the Opera House and the other by St. Joseph’s Cathedral, the Paris Deli makes a good job of their breads, tarts and pastries. Both are sit-down restaurants, but are happy to sell you their baked goods over the counter, to go.

THU HUONG BAKERY 35C Phan Dinh Phung, Ba Dinh Tel: 3734 3868 A small but popular Vietnamese-style bakery selling all types of sweets and cakes, luxuriously decorated. They also sell baguettes and sliced breads. They also deliver.

CRAFTS CRAFTLINK 43 Van Mieu, Dong Da Tel: 3843 7710 This non-profit organisation helps traditional artisans seek new markets. for sale in the retail space include handmade textiles from the northern provinces.

INDIGENOUS 36 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem Tel: 0977 799911 A crafts and home furnishings shop stocked by the Hold The Future organisa-

BAMBOO FURNITURE CORNER Cnr. Quang Trung & Tran Nhan Trong, Hai Ba Trung This cluster of furniture shops offer lowpriced bamboo products from baskets and desks to drawers.

BELLIZENO 130D Thuy Khue, Ba Dinh Tel: 3825 1343 The factory location of the Bellizeno bedding company includes a retail space for their high thread count sheets and bedding.

DOME 10 Yen The, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3843 6036 Internationally run furniture store with three large outlets in Hanoi. They offer ‘affordable luxury’ goods such as pillows, bed linens and other home wears, in addition to making custom furniture.

EUROPEAN IKEA SHOP 35 Ngo Thanh Mie, Dong Da This tiny shop carries a small collection of IKEA brand furniture, but can order more from the catalogue.

GRAND BOIS Hanoi Towers, 49 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem This high-end wooden furniture store located on the first floor of Hanoi Towers has offered best-selling designs for a decade. The classic pieces are mostly constructed out of dark wood and are complemented with cream-coloured linen lampshades and cushions.

HANOI MOMENT 101 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3928 7170 This shop makes sifting through lacquer kitchenware and accessories easy. While its stock may not differ from the stores next door, the display is less overwhelming.

LA CASA Syrena Tower, 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3718 4084 A shop whose speciality is designing furniture and other household objects, this spot has everything from beds and bookshelves, to tableware and silverware. The items are all locally made by skilled artisans from Hanoi and the surrounding regions.

MAI LONG 71 Tran Xuan Soan, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 3822 5393 This shop sells material for curtains and window blinds. They make house calls to measure and install.


There are a number of made-to-order carpet and rug stores along Kim Ma from roughly number 239 to 299.

156 Hang Bong, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3928 7264 Nestled in the heart of the old quarter, Maroon sells accent pieces to brighten up any household: lacquer picture frames, lamps, and silk bedding.




63 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3936 0601 Located near the lake, this store offers a wide range of embroidered bedding and tablecloths. Items can be purchased in the store or hand-embroidered to order.

COTYLEDON 1A Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3928 7887 This shop stocks high-end duvet and cushion covers, quilts and tableware like runners and placemats.

DARLING HANOI Tel: 01282 273717 Photowalls and Wallpaper of the highest quality. Create a photowall from your own image or choose an image from their large online catalogue. Inspiring and unique wall décor for private homes, offices and reception areas, hotel rooms and foyers, restaurants and bars. PVC-free,

40-42 Luong Ngoc Quyen, Hoan Kiem A lifestyle brand that started out life in Hoi An, Metiseko’s move to the capital will see them bring us their creative, poetic prints designed for an eco-chic lifestyle. The products — clothing, accessories and furniture — are made from natural silk and organic cotton certified to global organic standards. Metiseko is also certified by the fairtrade, Textile Exchange.

MODULE 7 83 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3719 7247 Open since 2002, this interior design firm and home store creates modern and simple collections. They use local materials and traditional craftsmanship for a cool mix of contemporary Vietnamese living spaces. Their showroom showcases floor to ceiling windows, which allows for a bright open

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design centre.


Hoan Kiem Cramped and crammed to the bursting point with imported food products, making your way around the maze that is L’s Place can often be a tight affair, but it’s worth it. The canned and packaged goods together with fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy products and more can provide the dietary solution for anyone craving for a change from pho ga or bun cha.

CAMERAS A DONG PHOTO CO 128 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3826 0732 This camera shop retails a wide range of cameras, including both analogue and DSLR models, as well as film and accessories like flashes and lenses.

22 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3928 6181 Hard to miss, this bright green boutique blends Vietnamese traditionalism with modern flair. The result is a shop selling intricate lamps, lacquers and fun home wears. Handmade jewellery and crafts are also scattered around the store.

ALPHA LAPTOP 95D Ly Nam De, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3747 4418 This laptop retail and repair shop also carries camera accessories and cases.

CT 6 My Dinh, Tu Liem; 147 Doi Can, Ba Dinh; 210 Lo Duc, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 3972 7412 Designers and retailers within the interior industry, each branch sells trendy furniture for modern living as well as interior design for all types Vietnamese houses.

62 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho Tel: 6258 3510 Punto Italia is an authentic Italian supplier importing the finest espresso coffee as well as Italian coffee machines for professional, home and office use. Real Italian granita, ice-cream and much more is now available in Vietnam with the support of a professional and friendly service.



FUONG MAY ANH 5 Trang Thi, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3213 1568 This small store has a wide selection of Viet Nam-produced Pentax cameras. Also has a selection of imported lenses. NGUYEN CAU 1 Ba Trieu, Hoan Kiem This camera shop overlooking the lake develops both digital and film prints. Services include photo mounting and passport photos. COMPUTERS AND ELECTRONICS DK COMPUTER 29 Ngoc Kha, Ba Dinh Tel: 3772 4772 This large electronics retailer deals in computers, printers, as well as external storage devices.


87 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3828 6758 This store is an impressive mix of fusionwestern furniture and home accessories. All furniture is hand crafted by artisans meaning top-end quality, but with price tags to match.

VELVET UNDERGROUND Tel: 3716 0400 This shop offers a range of ready made items, from bedding to hot water bottle covers as well as the option of designing your own item from a choice of fabrics. The friendly and helpful English-speaking staff make shopping a pleasure instead of a chore.


HI-TECH USA 23 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3938 6261 A small, but good all-around electronics store, selling all kinds of electronics. Speakers, I-Pods, headphones, cables and phone accessories. Many name-brands.

3 The Giao, Ha Ba Trung Tel: 3972 0584 A European style deli and grocery store with all sorts of imported products for your dinner parties or a homesick night in. Their claim is to have the best selection of cheeses in Hanoi.

PICO PLAZA 35 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem This is a super-sized electronics shop with each floor devoted to a specific kind of electronics. You’ll be able to find pretty much anything you’re looking for here, from a phone to a computer to a washing machine.

100 A Xuan Dieu Tel: 4258 3511 Hanoi’s speciality organic shop has a small stock of locally grown products including coffee, tea, cashews, a range of spices and beauty products produced in Sapa. Better Day Organics products are also available at the following stores: L’s Place, Oasis and Donkey Donuts

PROFESSIONAL COMPUTER CARE AND IT SERVICES No 3, Alley 8, Hoa Lu, Hai Ba Trung Tel: 0983 011081 This service company can help with a just about any computerrelated task. Computer repairs, set up, Wi-Fi, design, networking and development. On-site and off-site service, and free quotes.


VIETSAD 34B Ly Nam De, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3747 8771 Located on bustling “computer street”, this shop offers a range of computer accessories including keyboards and USB drives. They also do computer and laptop repair.


19/298 Ngoc Lam, Gia Lam Tel: 3873 6079 The place to go for imported foods such as foie gras, high-quality meats, pastas and dairy products. Although they specialise in the wholesale market, they occasionally do retail sales.

HUNG LONG MINIMART 71B Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3719 6220 This little store around Westlake has the feeling of one of those small ethnic markets you find in London or New York, but the ethnicity is Western. Reasonably priced canned foods, potato chips, cookies and other snacks that may be difficult to find elsewhere in the city.


3 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho; 34 A Phan Boi Chau,

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28 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem Tel: 6492 9597 If you have a sweet tooth this store was made for you. Near the corner of Ly Quoc Su, Rock Candy specializes in the obvious, traditional rock candy. You can sample before you buy, and Rock Candy is available for weddings, private and corporate functions.

VEGGIE’S 99 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 4719 4630 International grocer at the end of Xuan Dieu, Veggie’s remains one of the best suppliers of western foods in the city. Stock includes organic granola bars, frozen corn dogs and shelves full of cereal. When searching for baking supplies, this store is your best bet. Also, due to having their own farm in Dalat, sell some of the best locally grown non-standard vegetables in town.

VINE CELLAR DOOR 7 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3719 2922 With a huge wine cellar, a tasting bar, a new array of gourmet foods and a deli case with imported meats, cheeses and olives, Vine Cellar Door Wine & Gourmet Market is a good spot to find the perfect bottle and the foods that go well with it. Also offers glassware, wine & cigar accessories, espresso, gourmet tea and a small café menu from the kitchen of Vine Restaurant.

THE OASIS 24 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3719 1196 A great place to get all kinds of imported groceries and home-made foods. All of the breads and pastas are made in the in-house kitchen. A great variety of fresh sauces, a limited, but well-chosen selection of wines and a fantastic deli and cheese case. Free delivery.

YUKI’S 54 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3718 6192 New on the scene, this grocer on Xuan Dieu has a large selection of fruits and seafood downstairs. Upstairs is reserved for a grocery store carrying western goods.

KITCHEN PRODUCTS KITCHEN ART 38/27 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 6680 2770 Kitchen Art is a little haven for all foodies, cooks and bakers to grow their love and

passion for cooking and baking. Come to Kitchen Art Store to buy restaurant-grade tools and ingredients to cook like a chef, take part in regular demonstrations and workshops at the Studio, or simply read and relax at the cookbook cafe corner while enjoying the peaceful West Lake view.

PUNTO ITALIA 62 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho Tel: 6258 3510 Trendy, reliable and stylish coffee machines for the workplace or home, specialising in authentic Italian coffee. Also sells their own brand coffee in capsules, ready ground or as the original roasted mix of beans.

LIQUOR & WINE BACCHUS CORNER 1C Tong Dan, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3935 1393 Part of the Tan Khoa chain, the largest liquor and wine distributor in the country, the walls here are lined with a decent selection of wines, pleasantly arrayed and back lit. Besides their selection of new and old world wines Helpful staff and free delivery.

DA LOC 96 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem; 94 Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3934 1325 This wine importer and distributor has over 250 different types of wine in its portfolio and is doing its part to bring a culture of fine wine to Hanoi. The main office and showroom is on Hai Ba Trung and an upscale outlet is located within the grounds of the Mercure Hanoi hotel on Ly Thoung Kiet.

HANOI GOURMET 1B Ham Long, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3943 1009 Not just a wine shop, the long-running Hanoi Gourmet specialises in imported cheeses, meats and artisan breads. After browsing the mainly French selection of wines, you can take a look at the deli and sit down for a light snack.

PANE E VINO WINE SHOP 3 Nguyen Khac Can, Hoan Kiem Tel: 3826 9080 This Italian favourite with a huge food menu also has a huge for-retail wine list that is 100 percent focused on fine wines and liquors from Italy. Owner Hoang has great knowledge of Italian wine and a passion to match, which is sure to land you with the best wine for any occasion.

RED APRON 18 Yen The Tel: 3747 4889 15a Ngo Van So Tel: 3943 7226 28 Xuan Dieu Tel: 3719 8337 #6, Lane 1, Au Co Tel: 3718 6271 Hanoi Club, 76 Yen Phu Tel: 3823 8749 The retail face of wine distributor Celliers d’Asia, this small wine shop is in the French Quarter, adjacent to the Metropole. The focus here is on quality and the portfolio ranges from French to Chilean to the barrage of wines coming from Down Under. Delivery service available.

THE WAREHOUSE 59 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem Tel: 0439 287666 The Warehouse is Vietnam's ultimate premium wine importer, distributor, and retailer, representing many of the greatest wines from the best wine-growing regions on the planet. The portfolio mixes the best of both old and new world wines.

medical buff


VINE CELLAR DOOR 7 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3719 2922 With a huge wine cellar, a tasting bar, a new array of gourmet foods and a deli case with imported meats, cheeses and olives, Vine Cellar Door Wine & Gourmet Market is a good spot to find the perfect bottle and the foods that go well with it. Also offers glassware, wine & cigar accessories, espresso, gourmet tea and a small café menu from the kitchen of Vine Restaurant.

MARKETS CHO HOM Corner of Pho Hue and Tran Xuan Soan, Hai Ba Trung One of the best places in the city to buy fabrics. Found a tailor, want to make clothes? Here you’ll find everything you need, stuff imported and domestic, silk, cotton, linen. Also any sewing materials you might need can be found here.

CHO SINH VIEN Xuan Thuy and Pham Hung, Cau Giay The Student Market, across from Hanoi National University, caters to students. Mostly durable goods, clothing and accessories here. As far as style and size of clothes, selection is a bit limited, but if you take your time you may find something worth the trouble. The market, as well as the food stalls surrounding it, are open quite late. Prices are also tailored for the student budget.


Dong Xuan, Hoan Kiem The biggest market of it’s kind in Hanoi, Dong Xuan is filled with pretty much any durable good you can think of: from jeans to jewelry, from leaf tea to livestock. The indoor market spills out onto the streets, which can also serve a good place to get a meal pretty much any time.


Au Co, East Side of Street The name can be a little deceptive, since it’s more of a distribution point, where flowers come in to vendors all over the city. Of course you can buy directly from sellers here at a good price, provided you’re up late enoug`h. The other reason to come is for the pho stands. The market begins late at night and continues well past dawn.

PETS CITY ZOO 114A Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 6660 7749 Hanoi pet lovers take notice. A real pet store selling all your pet needs exists. City Zoo caters to dogs, cats, birds and fish. Dog beds line the walls at this small shop which also offers a range of imported pet food, accessories like collars and pet toys. You can even pick up a hamster while you’re here. Delivery is available on pet food.

With Mental Health Day coming up on Oct. 10, this month we look at some of the stresses and strains faced by people living in Hanoi MOST OF US HAVE UPS AND DOWNS in life. We enjoy the pleasures of good company or interesting experiences, and struggle with stress when things become too demanding. Often we can look within ourselves to monitor and maintain an even keel of emotions or to build in activities that help us keep our emotional balance. Sometimes it feels like it is all too much…the stress, our mood, the circumstances and the decisions. This is when it makes sense to turn to a professional in the field for help and support. Douglas Holwerda is a psychotherapist who answers questions about how to deal with the questions and stresses of life. Here are some of the emails he has received over recent months. MOOD SWINGS Dear Douglas, I suffered a depression several years ago, one I thought I couldn’t get out of. Since then I have had some ups and downs in my moods, but nothing too bad. Lately, I have had some days where when I wake up, I dread the day and don’t even want to get out of bed. I know some things I can do that help me feel better, like running, writing, and cooking, but I wonder if there is something I am missing. Why do I continue to have depressed feelings? Is there something else I can do? — Low in Hanoi Dear LIH, Mood is everything. Okay, not everything, but… It is both the way you feel and the lens through which you see the world. So you are wise to pay attention and to do what you can to manage your moods. There are two ways to go about it. One is to try to understand why

you are feeling depressed. Insight is how we make sense of the world and our place in it. Although, the only answers to the question “why?” are hypothetical guesses. Sometimes they help us to shift the underpinnings that unconsciously shape our perspective — insight helps to resolve aspects of our life that might be holding us in place or causing unnecessary limitations. But be sure to answer the questions in pencil so they can be easily modified as need be. Don’t always believe what you think. The other approach is to change your behaviour through force of will. Yes, do the things that you remember have given you pleasure in the past. Exercise and activities that are fully engaging are the antidote to depression or low mood. You have to overcome inertia and make yourself do it, even when you don’t feel like it. Depression can be like living in a cloud and the longer you are inside the cloud the harder it is to remember the sun. Sometimes a psychotherapist can help you to discover insights, and to hold you to task doing the things that can give you the positive feelings that are often missing. They can also remind you that there is a sun, even when you can’t see it. LEARNING TO ADAPT Dear Douglas, I moved to Vietnam with my husband and two sons one year ago when his company offered this position abroad. While my husband and the boys seem to love their job and the school and the different life we have here, I feel like it is all driving me a little crazy. I can’t understand what is going on half the time in this culture

and the language is too hard. Both of the friends I had made when I came have since left. I can’t stand the humidity and the mosquitoes. I miss my friends and the life we lived in Darwin. My husband has said that he wants to take a two-year renewal of his contract, but I can only see it as a nightmare. I want to go back home but I don’t want to go alone. What should I do? — My Husband or My Life Dear MHML, You sound like you are really miserable. You have a lot of pain and no one who understands your feelings. And you’re facing that fork in the road, “should I stay or should I go?” So let’s rewind a little to the original decision to come to Vietnam that you made mutually with your husband, and maybe even with input from your boys. What did you agree to? What talk was there of addressing different opinions as they came up? Was there an understanding of risk involved in the size of this decision and what it might look like if things didn’t turn out the way everyone expected? Often decisions are made with a rosy picture in mind, and without anticipating scenarios like the one you are in. And while going back to relaying the groundwork now is more difficult, it is necessary to find a way to talk about this topic so that everyone is heard and respected. Don’t jump ahead to ‘the decision’. Go back to fill in the conversation that didn’t happen that prioritises the way the family will function when everyone is not doing so well. You might want a counsellor. Douglas Holwerda, M.A., M.Ed. is a practicing psychotherapist at Family Medical Practice in Hanoi.

October 2012 Word | 101


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enjoy the dental experience. Has an attentive and experienced mixed foreign and Vietnamese dental team who are there at all times to assist with any questions or concerns.

PEACE DENTAL CLINIC 51a Nguyen Khac Hieu, Ba Dinh Tel: 3715 2286 Established in 2001, it is run by an American dentist named Frederick. The clinic has a number of dentists trained in such places as Japan, Denmark and the Czech Republic – so the doctors are also fluent in many languages.






80 Ngo Nui Truc, Ba Dinh Tel: 0913 540907 Dr. Tran Huong is well-known in Hanoi thanks to his long experience as both a practitioner of traditional Chinese and Western medicine. The clinic treats severe and chronic pain with a variety of drug-free methods, including acupuncture, acupressure, cupping and moxibustion.

Cnr. Thai Ha & Tay Son, Dong Da One of the newer malls in the city, Malaysian-owned Parkson offers international name brand cosmetics. For those days when you feel like treating yourself, do your shopping in a real mall atmosphere.

YAKUSHI CENTER Lane 28, No 6, Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3719 1971 The centre offers such services as acupuncture, massage and traditional Chinese medicine. One of their specialties is the hot rock massage. Run by Dr. Thuy, a qualified practitioner, the Yakushi Center has a clean and relaxing environment and takes a holistic approach to health, designed to take care of both body and mind.

TRANG TIEN PLAZA 24 Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem Stop here for everything from moisturizer to lipstick before heading upstairs to continue the shopping trip. Keep in mind, imported cosmetics don’t come cheap.

COUNSELLING INTERNATIONAL SOS VIETNAM, LTD. 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3934 0666 In addition to emergency healthcare, the clinic also offers consultations by in-house specialists, full counselling and psychotherapy services. Call to make an appointment.

FAMILY MEDICAL PRACTICE Van Phuc Compound, 298 I Kim Ma Road, Ba Dinh Tel: 3843 0748 (24 hours) Family Medical Practice provides psychotherapy and nutrition counselling services by in-house specialists. For more information or to book an appointment, please call the clinic.

COSMETIC SURGERY NEW LIFE CLINIC 6 Nguyen Thi Thap, Khu do thi moi Trung Hoa, Nhan Chinh Tel: 6261 6166 www.newlifevietnam.comA small clinic that offers cosmetic dental work, skin treatments and minor cosmetic surgery. The on site doctor, Ms. Ha, was trained at the University of Southern California.

DENTAL AUSTRALIAN DENTAL CLINIC 3 Nguyen Du, Dong Da Tel: 3944 5216 A clinic with modern facilities and internationally trained dentists. The prices here are more than competitive than the other international dental clinics in town.

HONG NGOC HOSPITAL 95 Nguyen Truong To, Ba Dinh Tel: 3716 3972 The dental practice is located on the first floor of this well-organised health clinic. The waiting time is short and the doctors competent.

ONE DENTAL No 8, Lane 27, Xuan Dieu,Tay Ho Tel: 3718 6168 Providing quality dentistry in a calm, relaxing environment where patients can

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1 Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho Tel: 3934 0666 24-hour emergency service with pricey, but international quality emergency and routine dental services. This is the place to go when your wisdom tooth needs pulling in the middle of the night, or you fall down and break a tooth. Competent doctors and fast service.

ONE DENTAL CLINIC No 8, Alley 27, Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Tel: 3718 6168 Providing clients with the best in dentistry, the international standard One Dental but also creates a calm, relaxing environment where customers can enjoy their dental experience. Using the latest technology, the attentive and experienced One Dental team is there all the time to assist customers with any questions or concerns they may have.

WESTCOAST INTERNATIONAL DENTAL CLINIC 2nd Fl, Syrena Center, 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho District, Hanoi Tel: 3710 0555 www.westcoastinternational The Westcoast International Dental Clinic is composed of dental professionals who share a vision to deliver modern, highlevel dental services throughout Vietnam. From the waiting room to the chair, the clinic is designed to provide the highest quality technology, comfort and afterservice care to patients.

MEDICAL FAMILY MEDICAL PRACTICE 298 I Kim Ma, Ba Dinh Tel: 3843 0748 On the little street directly below Kim Ma, with all sorts of specialists including OB/ GYN, Pediatricians and ENT. A Mediumsized practice with both Vietnamese and international doctors, but they are used to treating expats. Also a 24-hour emergency service.

FMP PEDIATRIC UNIT Van Phuc Compound, 298 D Kim Ma Road, Ba Dinh. Tel: 3726 5222 At the new Pediatric Unit of the Family Medical Practice Hanoi, services include routine newborn and well-child check-ups, updated immunizations and vaccinations, out-patient treatment and follow-up. FMP’s pediatric specialists provide professional consultancy for every milestone in your child’s life, from infancy to adolescence.

FRENCH HOSPITAL 1 Phuong Mai, Dong Da Tel: 3577 1100 This was the first international hospital created in Hanoi, and still viewed by some as the gold standard for medical treatment. Offers everything from standard medical and preventative care to surgical procedures. Full-service hospital that has both doctors and staff that speak good French and English.

INTERNATIONAL SOS 24-HOUR CLINIC 1 Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho Tel: 3934 0666 Well-known medical clinic also known for its quality emergency services. Doctors and consultants also provide a range of services from standard GP-style check-ups through to vaccinations, paediatrics and specialist care.

PHARMACIES H CLINIC 24T 1 Hoang Dao Thuy, Cau Giay Tel: 6251 2835 A clinic with a very large pharmacy that can fill pretty much any prescription you get in Hanoi. They also offer minor medical consultations.

NHA THUA VINH PHUC 625 Hoang Hoa Tham, Ba Dinh While it appears to be your basic street pharmacy, this small shop front stocks some hard-to-find medicine.

SUPPLEMENTS AMEVITA SUPPLEMENTS Tel: 3759 2515 Sells high quality vitamins and supplements imported from the USA including multivitamins, probiotics, joint care, herbals, fitness and anti-aging products. Free delivery in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Available online and at select retailers.

ULTIMATE NUTRITION Hotline: 0917 295091 Protein supplements, high quality vitamins, testosterone, muscle gain and fat loss supplements for those looking for professional sports nutrition to help their exercise or training regime. Call the hotline for free delivery to your home or office.

VETS ANIMAL CARE 16 ngo 424 Thuy Khue, Tay Ho Tel: 2246 1946 / 0978 776099 Locally-run clinic specialising in treating cats and dogs as well as providing a range of pet-care accessories, from animal food to clothing, toys and much more.

ASIAN VETERINARY & LIVESTOCK SERVICES (ASVELIS) 98 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho Tel: 3178 2779 English, French and Vietnamese-speaking veterinarian providing a range of medical services as well as grooming, boarding and certification for pet import and export. Also sells a range of pets toys as well as other products.

DR. BAO, MOBILE VETERINARIAN Tel: 0903 223217 On-call, English-speaking veterinarian who does the rounds in Hanoi. Wellrespected, knowledgeable and, according to the feedback, very funny.

INTERNATIONAL LABORATORY & VETERINARY SERVICES 31 Nghi Tam, Tay Ho District Tel: 3719 9994 A Vietnamese-owned small-animal veterinary clinic with English-speaking vets. Offers a range of healthcare and laboratory services as well as a selection of products for all animal needs. Products can be ordered online via their website.


LÀNG CỔ ĐƯỜNG LÂM Chỉ cách Hà Nội một đoạn đường ngắn, Đường Lâm gần như mang trong mình một không khí hoàn toàn khác hẳn sự náo nhiệt của thủ đô, là một di tích sống tồn tại lâu đời của Việt Nam. Viết bởi Nick Ross. Ảnh bởi Francis Roux. Với sự trợ giúp của Hoa Lê


ûå höîn loaån vaâ aãnh hûúãng cuãa chiïën tranh trong khoaãng 150 nùm lõch sûã khiïën cho nhiïìu di tñch kiïën truác úã Viïåt Nam àaä bõ phai múâ. Möåt dêîn chûáng àiïín hònh cho sûå thay àöíi theo thúâi gian laâ khu phöë cöí úã Haâ Nöåi coá àûúâng ài chöìng cheáo lïn nhau nhû khiïën ta coá caãm giaác bûúác laåc vaâo mï cung phöë trêån, coân àûúåc biïët túái vúái tïn goåi laâ Haâ Nöåi 36 phöë phûúâng. Tuy tïn goåi laâ thïë nhûng thûåc tïë túái nay, chó coân möåt vaâi shop baán haâng, nhaâ cûãa coân giûä nguyïn àûúåc neát àeåp cöí kñnh tûâ thúâi xa xûa. Nhûäng ngöi laâng nhû Cöí Nhuïë, Yïn Phuå hay An Dûúng sau khi saát nhêåp vaâo Haâ Nöåi cuäng chung möåt söë phêån ngaây caâng mang xu hûúáng hiïån àaåi hoáa. Nhûäng bûác tûúâng gaåch, cöåt nhaâ bùçng göî nùçm giûäa möåt khoaãng sên vúái cêy cöëi àïìu bõ dúä boã. Maãnh àêët àûúåc chia thaânh nhiïìu miïëng nhoã, vaâ àûúåc truâng tu laåi mang neát àeåp hiïån àaåi hún, nhûäng nhaâ cao têìng vaâ àïìn thúâ thò àûúåc xêy lïn möåt caách vöåi vaâng tûâ nhûäng bï töng hay nguyïn liïåu reã tiïìn. Caách Haâ Nöåi khoaãng 50 cêy söë nhûng Laâng cöí Ðûúâng Lêm gêìn nhû mang trong mònh möåt veã àeåp khaác hùèn Haâ Nöåi. Ngöi laâng naây vêîn coân giûä àûúåc cho mònh möåt neát àeåp, khöng khñ vaâ nïëp söëng têåp tuåc vùn hoáa nhû 100 trûúác àêy

Quay Ngược Thời Gian Chuáng töi túái núi laâ vaâo khoaãng giûäa trûa, tûâ bïn ngoaâi nhòn vaâo cöíng laâng coá caãm giaác nhû bûúác chên vaâo cöíng möåt khu thaânh cöí, möåt cêåu beá àang chùn trêu vaâ bïn caånh àoá coân coá ao sen, tiïëc rùçng vaâo muâa naây sen àang bûúác vaâo giai àoaån uáa taân nïn khöng böåc löå àûúc hïët veã àeåp cuãa noá. Têët caã gúåi nhúá lïn hònh aãnh Haâng Gai ngaây xûa, ngoaåi trûâ caãnh höì sen hoa núã tuyïåt àeåp. Moåi thûá nhû khiïën ta coá caãm giaác bûúác chên laåc vaâo möåt khoaãng thúâi gian xa xûa, nhû quay ngûúåc thúâi gian trúã vïì vúái quaá khûá. Bûúác qua cöíng laâng, möåt con àûúâng nhoã

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keáo daâi xuyïn qua nhûäng ngöi nhaâ san saát nhau. Nhûäng bûác tûúâng àûúåc xêy dûång tûâ àaá vöi, coá leä àûúåc khai thaác tûâ quùång àaá vöi gêìn àêëy, maái nhaâ àûúåc laát búãi nhûäng viïn ngoái hún 100 nùm tuöíi, nhûäng kyá tûå haán viïåt cöí àûúåc khùæc lïn caánh cûãa, nhûäng vóa heâ thò àûúåc laát bùçng vöi vaâ gaåch, nhûäng haâng raâo vaâ caánh cöíng àûúåc laâm tûâ göî mang kiïën truác cöí xûa raâo quanh. Caãnh àeåp cûá thïë maâ nöëi tiïëp xuyïn qua tûâng bûúác ài cuãa àoaân chuáng töi trïn àûúâng túái sên àònh cuãa laâng Möng Phuå, möåt trong nhûäng ngöi laâng cöí úã xaä Ðûúâng Lêm. Ðûáng ngay giûäa sên àònh, chuáng töi khöng hïët ngaåc nhiïn maâ tûå àùåt cêu hoãi vúái nhau "Ðêy thêåt sûå laâ Viïåt Nam sao?" Thöng thûúâng, nhûäng àõa àiïím du lõch thûúâng xuyïn thu huát nhûäng caá nhên muöën tòm chuát ñt tiïìn baåc bùçng nhûäng caách cheâo keáo khaách du lõch bùçng àuã moåi caách. Nhûng àiïìu àoá khöng hiïån hûäu úã àêy. Nhêån àûúåc ñt chuá yá cuãa giúái truyïìn thöng nûúác ngoaâi, núi dûâng chên cho khaách du lõch naây vêîn giûä khöng khñ nhoã beá vaâ tñnh chêët àõa phûúng àêåm neát - hoå rêët thên thiïån vaâ vui veã. Caãm thêëy àoái buång, chuáng töi nhanh choáng ài vaâo ngoä heãm tòm nhaâ haâng Cúm Quï, thûåc chêët laâ nhaâ cuãa öng Phan Vùn Haãi. "Chuáng töi coá thïí nêëu cho caác anh chõ", vúå öng Haãi cûúâi noái vaâ giúái thiïåu vaâ nhûäng moán ùn do nhaâ tûå laâm "nhûng seä mêët khoaãng 30 phuát àïí nêëu xong. Vêåy coá àûúåc khöng?" Caãm thêëy haâi loâng vò tòm àûúåc quaán ùn vaâ cuäng vò khöng khñ vui veã thên thiïån, chuáng töi àöìng yá.

Một quá khứ đầy màu sắc Ðûúâng Lêm àûúåc biïët àïën trong nhûäng taâi liïåu lõch sûã tûâ rêët súám, vaâo khoaãng thïë kyã thûá 10 vúái caái tïn Cam Giaá, nöíi tiïëng vúái nghïì tröìng mña. Nhûng ngaây nay mña àaä dêìn thay thïë búãi nghïì tröìng luáa, laåc vaâ caác

loaåi rau khaác, nhûng cùn baãn vùn hoáa nöng nghiïåp vêîn àûúåc giûä nguyïn. Kïí caã tïn goåi vêîn àûúåc duy trò - phiïn chúå úã giûäa àònh laâng àûúåc goåi laâ Chúå Mña, vaâ chuâa coá tïn laâ Chuâa Mña. Rêët nhiïìu dêëu êën lõch sûã bùæt nguöìn tûâ Ðûúâng Lêm. Truyïìn rùçng Vua Phuâng Hûng àaä àûúåc sinh ra taåi àêy vaâ ngöi àïìn thúâ öng àûúåc àùåt ngay trong laâng. Möåt nhên vêåt nöíi tiïëng khaác àoá chñnh laâ Ngö Quyïìn, võ vua àaå giaãi phoáng Viïåt Nam khoãi aách thöëng trõ cuãa Trung Quöëc nùm 939, vaâ möåt nhên vêåt khaác nöíi tiïëng cuäng sinh ra úã àêy nûäa laâ Giang Vùn Minh. Ðêy laâ nhûäng nhên vêåt àaä goáp phêìn lúán taåo ra nûúác Viïåt Nam, laâ möåt phêìn lõch sûã maâ ngûúâi dên Ðûúâng Lêm luön luön tûå haâo vï laâng xaä cuãa hoå. Trong thúâi gian chuáng töi chúâ cúm trûa, öng Haãi àaä kïí thïm cho chuáng töi nhiïìu àiïìu thuá võ khaác. "Ngöi nhaâ naây àûúåc xêy dûång nùm 1886", öng vûâa giaãi thñch vûâa nhêm nhi möåt nguåm traâ. Gioång noái chêåm raäi, roä raâng vaâ thuêìn chêët Viïåt "Ngöi nhaâ naây thuöåc vïì möåt sô quan ngûúâi Phaáp àaä yïu say àùæm möåt ngûúâi phuå nûä Viïåt Nam úã Ðûúâng Lêm. Öng êëy àaä xêy ngöi nhaâ naây tùång cö, vaâ böë töi àaä àïì nghõ mua laåi cùn nhaâ naây tûâ ngûúâi con gaái êëy" Chuáng töi nhû bõ mï hoùåc vaâo cêu chuyïån. "Nhûäng viïn gaåch laát vaâ maái ngoái cuãa ngöi nhaâ naây àïìu giûä àûúåc nguyïn veån". Öng êëy kïí vaâ chó vaâo ba gian nhaâ nhoã bïn ngoaâi sên "Chuáng àûúåc laâm tûâ göî, möåt trong ba gian nhaâ àoá vêîn coân lûu laåi nhûäng miïëng ngoái laát tûâ thúâi Phaáp thuöåc, hai caái coân laåi àïìu tûâ ngoái viïåt nam, àöå tuöíi cuãa noá coân lêu àúâi hún caã ngöi nhaâ naây" Ngöi laâng trúã thaânh àiïím àïën du lõch tûâ nùm 2008, trûúác àoá chó coá möåt söë khaách ngûúâi Nhêåt Baãn. Ðïí caãm nhêån àûúåc caách lûu thoaát khöng khñ trong nhaâ vaâ àöå maát trong nhaâ do maái nhaâ laát ngoái mang laåi, hoå àaä xin pheáp tiïën haânh möåt cuöåc ào nhiïåt àöå ngoaâi vaâ trong ngöi nhaâ cuãa öng. Kïët quaã, bïn ngoaâi 39 àöå nhûng trong nhaâ chó 32 àöå.

Một Bài Thơ Cổ Sau bûäa ùn trûa, chuáng töi bùæt àêìu ài möåt

voâng quanh caác ngöi laâng úã Ðûúâng Lêm. Ðêìu tiïn chuáng töi ài tòm "nhûäng ngöi nhaâ cöí" – coá têët caã 3 ngöi nhaâ cöí hún 400 nùm tuöíi. Möåt nhoám khaách du lõch ngûúâi UÁc àang ngöìi nghó trong möåt ngöi nhaâ vaâ thûúãng thûác rûúåu gaåo àûúåc saãn xuêët taåi gia. Tònh cúâ nghe àûúåc cuöåc àöëi thoaåi cuãa hoå chuyïín sûå khaác biïåt giûäa caác loaåi phúã (hoå phaát êm laâ phö) vaâ baân luêån rùçng phúã gaâ àûúåc laâm vúái thõt gaâ thay vò vúái thõt boâ, chuáng töi lêåp tûác nhanh choáng rúâi ài. Thûåc tïë, ngoaâi giaân cêy ruã àùåc biïåt phña ngoaâi cûãa, ngöi nhaâ naây chó khaác nhaâ öng Haãi chó laâ sûå chïnh lïåch vïì àöå tuöíi cuãa ngöi nhaâ cöí. Nhûäng àiïím coân laåi trong ngöi laâng – tûâ sûå thiïët kïë maái nhaâ, àöå cao cuãa trêìn nhaâ túái nhûäng chiïëc chum àêët duâng àïí uã àêåu tûúng vaâ tûúång àiïu khùæc 12 con giaáp bùçng göî - têët caã àïìu coá àiïím tûúng tûå nïëu khöng muöën noái laâ giöëng nhau hoaân toaân. Taåi möåt ngöi nhaâ khaác, tuy nhiïn chuáng töi chuá yá túái bûác aãnh chuáa Jesus vaâ Mary Magdalenge, chuáng töi àaä khaám phaá möåt àiïìu khaá ngaåc nhiïn laâ 30 phêìn trùm dên söëng úã Ðûúâng Lêm theo cöng giaáo. Chuáng töi thùæc mùæc liïåu àiïìu naây coá gêy aãnh hûúãng nghiïm troång naâo khöng? Khöng möåt ai coá veã coá cêu traã lúâi, coá leä àiïìu naây coá thïí àaä xaãy ra trong quaá khûá. Nhûng trong khi nhaâ thúâ lúán àoáng cûãa khoãi nhûäng cùåp mùæt toâ moâ vaâ raãnh röîi, thò nhûäng ngöi nhaâ úã Möng Phuå laåi àoán tiïëp nöìng hêåu caác võ khaách du lõch, khöng phên biïåt ai vúái ai. Trïn con àûúãng rúâi khoãi Ðûúâng Lêm, coá rêët nhiïìu suy nghô lûúát qua àêìu töi. Chöî naây coá möåt vaâi nhaâ haâng, chöî kia coá buöíi biïíu diïîn vùn hoáa, möåt vaâi hoaåt àöång phuåc vuå khaách du lõch, nhûäng lúáp daåy nêëu ùn, Ðûúâng Lêm coá thïí seä trúã thaânh möåt àiïím noáng du lich. Nhûng liïåu moåi ngûúâi coá muöën núi naây thûåc sûå bõ khai thaác khöng? Ngûúâi dên seä nghô thïë naâo vïì vêën àïì naây? Ðûúâng Lêm nhû mang trong mònh möåt khöng khñ giöëng nhû Phöë Cöí Höåi An vaâo nhûäng nùm 1990s. Töët nhêët baån nïn túái àêy bêy giúâ trûúác khi nïìn vùn hoáa hiïån àaåi bùæt àêìu traân vïì vuâng àêët cöí kñnh naây.

MỘT SỐ THÔNG TIN Đường Lâm cách thị xã Sơn Tây 4 km, dọc theo Quốc Lộ 21. Con đường ngắn nhất để tới đây từ Hà Nội là đi thẳng từ Cầu Giấy, qua Hồ Tùng Mậu, Mỹ Đình và tới thẳng Đường Lâm. Hoặc bạn có thể đi Đại Lộ Thăng Long rồi hướng sang quốc lộ 21. Để biết thêm thông tin, truy cập website hay gọi số 3326 0918/3383 1818. Ngoài phục vụ cơm cho khách, nhà ông Phan Văn Hải cũng có phòng để bạn có thể nghỉ ngơi. Gọi số 01685 11136 để gặp ông.

Người Mang Tới Những Bộ Phim Đặc Biệt Tại chỗ hẹn, Douglas Pyper bắt tay với một chàng trai trẻ có ánh mắt tuy có phần do dự ngập ngừng nhưng vẫn không che giấu được sự tự tin, đam mê và mạnh mẽ toát lên từ con người ấy. Đó là ba điểm đặc biệt giải thích vì sao Trần Duy Hưng – người đứng sau The Onion Cellar – được đánh giá là một trong những người lưu giữ những thước phim sáng tạo từ khi anh ấy chưa học xong đại học.


nion Cellar àang trïn möåt nhiïåm vuå quan troång cêìn phaãi hoaân thaânh. Hoå muöën laâm baån khoác, nhûng khöng phaãi riïng biïåt tûâng caá nhên, maâ laâ cuâng vúái nhau caã möåt têåp thïí, cöång àöìng. Thúâi gian hoaåt àöång cuãa Onion Cellar chûa túái 1 nùm nhûng caách hoå töí chûác, choån loåc caác nhûäng thûúác phim chûa àûúåc cöng böë cuãa caác taác phêím taâi liïåu êm nhaåc, tuy chó múái hoaåt àöång möåt khoaãng thúâi gian ngùæn nhûng hoå àaä coá möåt sûác aãnh hûúãng lúán túái caác cuåm raåp chiïëu phim úã Haâ Nöåi. Vúái cöng sûác xêy dûång hònh tûúång chó cöng chiïëu nhûäng thûúác phim tûâ caác böå phim taâi liïåu êm nhaåc àêìy tñnh thûã thaách vïì nhûäng duång cuå êm nhaåc ñt àûúåc biïët àïën hay nhûäng nghïå sô àûúâng phöë khöng tïn tuöíi, sûå nöî lûåc cuãa nhoám àaä àûúåc àïìn àaáp, hoå coá cú höåi húåp taác vúái nhûäng töí chûác coá sûác aãnh hûúãng vùn hoáa lúán trong thaânh phöë, húåp taác vúái daân êm thanh Haâ Nöåi, CAMA vaâ quyä taâi trúå Nhêåt Baãn. "Luác bùæt àêìu, töi laâ Onion Cellar vaâ Onion Cellar laâ töi" àoá laâ cêu noái cuãa chaâng sinh viïn 22 tuöíi khi bùæt àêìu bûúác nhûäng bûúác ài àêìu tiïn cho Onion Cellar. Hiïån taåi, anh êëy àaä coá sûå giuáp àúä tûâ Khûúng trong thaânh phöë Höì Chñ Minh vaâ Trang, ngûúâi quaãn lyá chùm soác töí chûác úã Haâ Nöåi khi Hûng ài du hoåc úã Anh. "Noái thêåt, töi khöng biïët nïn diïîn taã Onion Cellar chñnh xaác laâ nhû thïë naâo", anh êëy tiïëp tuåc noái " Vúái töi, noá coá neát giöëng nhû möåt cêu laåc böå phim aãnh, nhûng khöng ài theo phong caách truyïìn thöëng nhû caác cêu laåc böå phim khaác. Töi chùæc chùæn möåt àiïìu rùçng caách tiïëp cêån, trònh chiïëu cuãa chuáng töi úã caác töí chûác, caác sûå kiïån mang húi hûúáng rock n roll hún, kïí caã vïì nöåi dung lêîn phûúng phaáp. Töi nghô caách noái chñnh xaác nhêët coá leä laâ chuáng töi laâ cêu laåc böå phim nhûng tiïëp cêån bùçng phöëi taåo êm nhaåc"

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Âm thanh và hình ảnh Vúái Hûng, nhûäng böå thûúác phim thay thïë anh êëy cöng chiïëu àaä taåo ra möåt kinh nghiïåm hoaân toaân khaác so vúái nhûäng böå phim göëc àang àûúåc lûu trûä úã möåt chöî naâo àoá trong nhûäng töí chûác vùn hoáa uy tñn úã Haâ Nöåi. Cuäng vò lyá do naây. Onion Cellar cuäng àaä choån nhûäng àõa àiïím khaác nhau sao cho phuâ húåp vúái nöåi dung phim maâ hoå dûå tñnh seä chiïëu. Taåi lïî höåi êm nhaåc àiïån tûã úã Haâ Nöåi, hoå àaä trònh chiïëu möåt chuöîi caác àoaån phim ngùæn úã sên trûúác cuãa trûúâng THPT Chu Vùn An. Khaán giaã seä thûúãng thûác böå phim giöëng nhû àang ngöìi trong cuåm raåp theo phong caách Silent Disco, hoå seä lùæng nghe nhûäng baãn nhaåc söi àöång thöng qua böå tai nghe vúái sûå trònh diïîn cuãa caác nhaåc sô àêìy taâi nùng trong àoá coá Vuä Nhêåt Tên vaâ Trñ Minh trong khi maân hònh seä chiïëu nhûäng thûúác phim taâi liïåu vïì sûå öìn aâo cuãa Tokyo, phim taâi liïåu vúái caái tïn "We dont care about Music Anyway". Böå phim taâi liïåu göëc naây àaä àûúåc cöng chiïëu taåi CAMA ATK. Hûng chia seã: "Töi khöng muöën chiïëu möåt böå phim vïì sûå öìn aâo cuãa êm nhaåc trong khuön viïn trûúâng hoåc. Töi nhêët àõnh muöën àûúåc laâm àiïìu àoá taåi ATK, khöng phaãi úã nhûäng núi chuyïn chiïëu nhûäng böå phim nghïå thuêåt. Töi nghô nhûäng núi chuyïn töí chûác gùåp mùåt seä phuâ húåp hún vúái nöåi dung vaâ tinh thêìn cuãa böå phim." Ðiïìu àaä laâm cho Onion Cellar nöíi bêåt laâ hoå khöng lêëy nhûäng böå phim vöën àaä coá sùén trong kho cuãa caác cuåm raåp chiïëu phim úã Haâ Nöåi, hoå têåp trung vaâo caác böå phim maâ caác cuåm raåp boã qua noá. "Khi vûâa múái bùæt àêìu töi caãm thêëy coá möåt khoaãng tröëng trong toaân böå caác caãnh, noá vêîn coân thiïëu möåt caái gò àoá maâ töi vêîn coá thïí böí sung vaâo". Vaâ àiïìu thiïëu soát maâ anh êëy àaä tòm thêëy chñnh laâ thûá vö cuâng phöí biïën trong vùn hoáa phim aãnh. Vñ duå nhû nhûäng sûå kiïån àûúåc

töí chûác búãi nhaâ saãn xuêët,phöëi nhaåc cuãa All Tomorrows Parties, àaä thaách thûác ngûúâi xem àöìng thúâi laâm múâ ài caái vaách ngùn caách giûäa biïíu diïîn êm nhaåc vaâ buöíi chiïëu phim, àaä taåo nïn nïìn taãng cho Onion Cellar. Nhûäng sûå kiïån êëy àaä taác àöång trûåc tiïëp túái Hûng "trong viïåc tiïëp cêån vaâ caái maâ töi muöën khaán giaã coá thïí thêëy vaâ caãm nhêån tûâ maân aãnh"

Lớp tới lớp Tïn goåi ban àêìu cuãa nhoám chó möåt daång traãi nghiïåm chung maâ Hûng muöën khaán giaã coá thïí caãm nhêån àûúåc taåi nhûäng sûå kiïån cuãa anh. Bùæt nguöìn tûâ cuöën tiïíu thuyïët cuãa Gunter Grass, The Tin Drum, Onion Cellar laâ möåt quaán bar trong thúâi kyâ hêåu chiïën Deseldorf, núi maâ khaách haâng àûúåc àûa cho nhûäng cuã haânh àïí tûå eáp baãn thên mònh phaãi chaãy nûúác mùæt. "Dô nhiïn töi khöng muöën laâm ngûúâi ta khoác" Hûng noái, "nhûng maâ chuáng töi muöën àûa cho khaách haâng thûá gò àoá maâ hoå khöng nghô túái, hay khöng quan têm túái – noá giöëng nhû möåt thûá gò múái, möåt kinh nghiïåm chung cho hoå." Ðoá khöng phaãi laâ möåt àiïìu truâng húåp khi maâ rêët nhiïìu böå phim êm nhaåc thay thïë cuãa Onion Cellar àïìu dêëy lïn thaão luêån söi nöíi, vñ duå nhû böå phim"Êm thanh vaâ sûå khaáng cûå" noái vïì vùn hoáa êm nhaåc cuãa DIY vaâ möåt phong caách söëng thay thïë laâ KanZeOn, noá maâ àaä khai thaác ra àûúåc möëi quan hïå bñ êín giûäa êm nhaåc, têm linh vaâ tûå nhiïn. Hay ta coá thïí kïí túái taác phêím "We dont care about Music Anyway", böå phim thaách thûác nhûäng luêåt lïå chung cuãa möåt böå phim êm nhaåc cêìn phaãi coá. Thaáng chñn nùm nay laâ thaáng Onion Cellar bêån röån nhêët. Hoå seä trònh chiïëu loaåt phim taâi liïåu êm nhaåc Nhêåt cho quyä taâi trúå Nhêåt Baãn cuäng nhû loaåt sï-ri nhûäng àoaån phim ngùæn àûúåc thïí hiïån búãi àaåo diïîn Vincent Moon.

Nhûäng lïî höåi liïn hoan phim hay nhûäng sûå kiïån nho nhoã coá veã seä laâ hûúáng maâ Hûng muöën thûã thaách, khaám phaá trong tûúng lai. "Noá cho pheáp chuáng töi laâm àiïìu gò àoá hún laâ chó lêëy möåt böå phim vaâ chiïëu noá”. Kïët quaã laâ möåt thûá gò àoá lúán hún rêët nhiïìu so vúái nhûäng àiïìu coá sùén göåp laåi. Lïî höåi tiïëp theo maâ Hûng hûúáng túái laâ möåt loaåt caác buöíi cöng chiïëu phim têåp trung cuãa nûúác Anh. Vúái tûåa àïì dûå tñnh laâ "Nhûäng vuâng àêët bõ mêët" (Lost landscapes of Britain), Hûng hy voång seä coá nöåi dung xoay quanh vïì nhûäng ngöi laâng nhoã Welsh, nhûäng nhoám ngûúãi khai thaác quùång moã phña Bùæc nûúác Anh vaâ cuöåc haânh trònh voâng quanh nhûäng hoân àaão nhoã úã Anh. Khi suy nghô vïì àiïìu gò seä laâm nïn böå phim hay möåt chuã àïì naâo àoá, Hûng seä àêëu tranh àïí tòm àûúåc cêu traã lúâi cuãa mònh möåt caách lûu loaát trûúác nhûäng phûúng aán khaác coá thïí laâm anh êëy lay àöång "Phim, êm nhaåc vaâ vùn hoåc laâ nhûäng thûá khöng thïí tûúãng tûúång àûúåc, khöng maåo hiïím, an toaân, coá thïí dûå àoaán trûúác vaâ laâm con ngûúâi caãm thêëy thoãa maän vaâ muöën caãm nhêån laåi nhiïìu lêìn" ÚÃ chñnh giûäa baân cuãa chuáng töi laâ laá thû chi tiïët thöng baáo vïì buöíi liïn hoan phim Anh múái nhêët. Noá bao göìm "Love, Actually", Yellow Submarine cuãa nhoám Beatles vaâ The Queen. Vúái möåt àêët nûúác àêìy nhûäng caånh tranh giûäa caác nhaâ laâm phim nöíi tiïëng vaâ taâi nùng nhû Ken Loach, Andrea Arnold hay Michael Winterbottom – ngûúâi àaä möåt lêìn àïì cûã möåt taâi liïåu höìi tûúãng vïì chñnh baãn thên anh trong quaá khûá vúái tïn goåi Struggle, Actually – nöî lûåc cuãa Höåi Ðöìng Anh laâ sûå dõu daâng nhûng coá tñnh xuác phaåm. Noá coá êín yá hoùåc laâ khaán giaã Viïåt Nam khöng biïët thûúãng thûác nhûäng thûúác phim phûác taåp hoùåc laâ Höåi Ðöìng Anh muöën hûúáng khaán giaã möåt hònh aãnh khöng thêåt, khöng chñnh xaác vïì Vûúng Quöëc Anh. YÁ kiïën cuãa Hûng àún giaãn chó laâ möåt cêu hoãi "Viïåc chiïëu nhûäng phim nhû vêåy coá yá nghôa gò khöng?" Coá leä àoá laâ möåt lúåi thïë maånh cuãa Onion Cellar. Hoå coá quan àiïím roä raâng cuãa mònh.

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The Great Debate A Vietnamese environmental studies student believes that animal species going extinct is part of the theory behind Darwin’s ‘survival of the fittest’, while an Australian wildlife conservationist disagrees. He blames extinction on manmade greed. Follow their heated debate THE ARGUMENT For a few decades there’s been a permeating sense that with ‘x’ number of species approaching extinction and ‘y’ number of species already extinct, it is the moral responsibility of humans to ‘make amends’ or prevent what may well be the ‘inevitable’. With such unique biodiversity, when it comes to conservation and saving anything that may go extinct, Vietnam comes under the spotlight. A friend of mine recently sent me an article claiming that there are only approximately 30 tigers left in Vietnam. Surely, the extinction of the Asian tiger would be a tremendous loss for the ecosystem and the spirit of Vietnamese people both here and overseas. I can practically feel their palpable distress and the permeating, crying tears that some say gives Vietnam its humid weather. I’m sure Charlie Sheen, son of Apocalypse Now lead Martin, would worry about the loss of all that ‘tiger blood’, something which he claims to flow through his veins. Poachers and their customers will be mourning too, but over the impending depletion of money and ‘medicine’. ‘Natural selection’, or another misleading term, ‘survival of the fittest’, coined by Herbert Spencer, was Charles Darwin’s theory that describes the

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process in nature in which organisms inherit favourable traits that make them survive better in the wild. In other words, if an ‘x’ animal has a ‘y’ trait that helps it get more food, it will be able to produce more offspring and therefore there will be a bigger population of that animal. Natural selection is a crucial concept in evolution, and humans are products of evolution. While we are certainly at fault, we are not the only reason why tigers are approaching extinction. According to Darwin’s theory, if the tigers inherited favourable traits that help them survive in an environment where poachers and natural disasters are their threats, then they would not be in the position they are now. The tigers are endangered because they cannot adapt to their changing environment, or in terms of natural selection, they fail to inherit the traits that keep them alive longer. However, there is another puzzling question that needs to be answered in order to definitively justify whether poachers should or should not be slaughtering tigers. Do humans exist as predators of tigers or as coexisting species? One can make an argument that humans have the right traits to survive and outlive tigers, but what if we exist to prevent tigers from approaching extinction? We have the skills to do both,

and we do the latter to ourselves all the time when we go to the doctors. The moral decision would be to protect tigers, but is that up to us to decide? Should we be the ones responsible for the lives of endangered species? I say, do it the laissez-faire way, and let nature handle the bulk of it. We are part of nature, which means that all poachers and animal lovers are, too. Let them hash it out to see if the tigers will end up extinct or endangered. There is nothing wrong with trying to save tigers, but not trying to save them or even kill them is not egregiously inappropriate either. It’s always good to maintain biodiversity, but trying to preserve species that will be extinct is defying nature, or God [doesn’t] forbid, Darwin himself. The reason why this argument is controversial is humans, I believe, are the first species to be able to defy it. We are intelligent enough to create medicine and perform surgeries to prolong our otherwise short lives. Now that humans exist, the concept of ‘nature’ falls into an increasingly grey area. For us, living ‘naturally’ in the way that other species have lived and are living would be avoiding the doctors and medicines that treat innate or developed diseases. But since we never do this, we are defying nature. We may be responsible for the deaths of many endangered animals, but no one

should be criticising us because living as we do is our way of surviving, of dealing with the pressures imposed on us by nature. We are at once poachers and animal lovers. We are also a nonchalant species who in so many ways are superior to other life forms on this planet. That is why there are so many of us! — Thao Bach is a native Vietnamese, recent high school graduate in Massachusetts and will be entering college this year, double majoring in philosophy and environmental studies.

THE REBUTTAL Dinosaurs became extinct due to a natural phenomenon, not due to human arrogance thinking that every living creature is for our taking; that creatures should either evolve quicker to due human pressure or become extinct. Humans are THE most evolved and complex species on earth in terms of thinking, problem solving and social structure, and with these increased skill sets comes responsibility, sometimes at very high costs. Anybody with half a brain should understand that all living creatures play a vital role in maintaining a healthy working ecosystem. Removing an apex predator will have detrimental consequences for humans in terms of increased disease transmission, let alone a profound lingering sadness over the loss of the world’s most charismatic

visually stunning creatures. There are still many people living around the world who live in harmony or in co-existence with the world’s wildlife (some of which sees us a potential food source). It is down to pure arrogance and some nations’ drive for ‘exotic’ meats and the illegal wildlife trade that Vietnam’s wildlife is under serious threat. Evolution of the world’s species (both flora and fauna) is a process that takes thousands of years under somewhat controlled conditions (a slight change in air temperature for instance). People heading to South Africa with AK47s and shooting dead up to two rhinos a day for pure greed because some people believe that rhino horn can cure cancer or cures alcoholic hangovers is pure stupidity. This is not natural evolution or an “unfavourable trait”. Greed was once again highlighted in May 2010, when poachers shot dead Vietnam’s last remaining Javan Rhino in Cat Tien National Park for its precious horn. Now that it is not to say, that due to such a small sub-population of the above species, it would have become extinct in the future anyway, but surely that decision was not ours, it certainly shouldn’t have been left to some greedy poacher. Many of the world’s medicines have come directly from our forests and

ecosystems, having their raw chemical elements altered to help treat diseases. We must also accept that traditional medicines play a vital role to many people worldwide and have been used over thousands of years to heal aliments. But thinking that a dried tiger penis can help a man’s libido is simply quite mystifying if not downright strange. Personally I have no problem with forest-living communities living off the land as such. Namibian bushmen and women, the Aboriginals and so on have a connection to their land that only they understand. They respect the living animals they share their lives with and hunt only when needed, to feed their families and themselves. From what I have learnt since being in Vietnam, this precious and valued trait was lost a long time ago and now it is simply for greed. Vietnam has already lost its rhinos. Its wild elephant populations and the Tonkin snub-nosed monkey (one of the rarest creatures on earth) are on the brink of collapsing and Vietnam’s large cats are rarely seen. What will traders and poachers do when there is no more wildlife left in Vietnam? Maybe become conservationist? That will be the day. —Simon Faithfull is an Enlgish wildlife conservationist who currently lives in Ho Chi Minh City managing an animal rescue centre in Cu Chi. Whose side are you on? Let us know at

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MAT SURFING Anyone who’s really travelled will have met with providence, people putting you up or helping you out in the unlikeliest of places. In northern Vietnam it has its own form — mat surfing. Words by Douglas Pyper. Photo by Aaron Joel Santos


ouch surfing, wwoofing, homestays and Airbnb, are all world trends for alternative holidaying as people become ever more adventurous, ever keener for a ‘real’ experience. You can do these activities anywhere in the world. Search for hosts in Hanoi and 1,256 options come up. Search in New York City and you’ll discover there are 17,517 people willing to let you stay in their house; even Doha – where the hell is that anyway? — contains 435 persons actively seeking to offer you free accommodation. The fact that there are so many people around the globe willing to host visitors says much for worldwide hospitality. There are literally millions of people who want to meet people from other cultures. They want to show them round their neighbourhood, city or hometown. They want to have a chat with the kind of people who they’ve only ever seen on TV programmes and films. It’s a worldwide phenomenon, not one restricted to stereotypically hospitable peoples, but a shared trait from Manhattan to Mogadishu. Those who take in random travellers are having a holiday almost as much as the traveller is. They are having a novel experience; they are discovering

110 | Word October 2012

another culture and even re-discovering their own by seeing through the alternative lens of the traveller’s point of view. Yet for many, homestays aren’t really an ‘authentic experience’. The hosts are set up to receive guests. They do it often. Homestays in the north of Vietnam know to give people their privacy. They know to offer eggs to Tay in the morning. They know foreigners will wake unnaturally late, often as late as 9am. And in the next few days they are going to do it all over again.

A Mat for Every Back For those seeking to really connect, northern Vietnam specialises in a fascinating alternative that could tentatively be called 'mat surfing'. Call it providence, call it what you may, mat surfing can’t be booked. You can’t find it on the net. There are no advertisements or signs or English translations. Mat surfing has no bus stops, train stations or terminals. You probably won’t ever find yourself on the same mat twice, no matter how much you might wish to. It starts when you’re at the top of a mountain pass and the sun is just dipping behind the peaks as a large storm begins. You’ve no idea how far the next homestay

or hotel is, so you ask the nearest villager where you can stay. He beams with excitement and brings you to Mr Long’s house. You’ll stay here ‘cause he’ll let you. The family have only the food that they were going to eat themselves, so you’ll just have to share whatever is being shared. Dinner may be a large plate of pork fat, some raw leaves dipped in salt and chilli, or a massive pile of boiled bamboo — it will definitely come with rice. Your hosts will endlessly invite you to eat up. You were full long ago but everyone is being so ridiculously polite that not to stuff more into your mouth would be an insult. It’s all washed down with ruou. Before dinner you were received with tea. The whole time you are a mat surfing guest there will be no water. If you are so bold — or downright impolite — as to ask for some H2O, you’ll be embarrassingly told they don’t have any.

At Destiny’s Door Mat surfing is one of those things that happens by accident. As you slump in the mud at the bottom of a hill, your bike refusing to go on as the sun sneaks behind the nearest karst. A passing couple leading their buffalo home will invite you back

to their raised hut without a moment’s hesitation. Men from the surrounding houses will invite you to the tea and thuoc lao corner. After thoroughly discussing the weather, the size of your family, commonly grown vegetables in your home country or the number of rice harvests in this part of Vietnam, you may start to wonder where all the women are. During dinner, depending on the ethnicity of your hosts, you may notice that the women aren’t present at all except when delivering food. They won’t drink tea, smoke thuoc lao or shoot ruou. Once dinner is done with and all the men are sitting together getting increasingly inebriated on the local liquor, you may start to realise that the women sit separately from the men. Noticing these cultural differences or

gender divides may instinctively make you want to criticise your hosts. Where is the gender equality? Why can’t the women join in this fun social occasion? Shouldn’t the men be helping with the household chores? Surely it’s an affront to universal suffrage that the women have eaten dinner completely separately, as if they should be seen and not heard? Yet after a few more shots of milky corn liquor, you might start to wonder how your hosts are viewing you. Perhaps you should lie and say that you and your partner are married rather than ‘living in sin’. Did you just commit a cultural faux pas in the way you touched each other’s feet? When your female partner takes a hit of the thuoc lao everybody is laughing — but are they laughing with you, or at your culture’s blurred gender roles? And why should the women want to

talk about rice harvests and laugh drunkenly at bawdy jokes? Their jokes are probably dirtier anyway. Why should they want to smoke thuoc lao? Perhaps, they are glad that cultural norms save them from forcing foul tasting, crudely distilled rice wine into their stomachs. Perhaps they are relieved that it allows them to have close and meaningful relationships with their children. The next morning, you’ll cram a couple of notes into the hands of your host, thank them profusely and head off early. You’ll be driving faster than normal, desperate to buy a bottle of La Vie and anything vaguely resembling a pizza. You’ll never end up on that mat again, but you’ll probably remember the experience for the rest of your life. Or at least, certainly longer than you’ll remember all the hotels and homestays you’ve ever stayed at.

October 2012 Word | 111

D. Th ai



Khac Can





Pham Su






Hien Ta

To Thai



19/2 Ho i Ha

Dinh Liet



H. Thiec

Hang Da



Hoa Lo

Da T uong


Hang Cot

H. Ruoi

H. Dong

Ga Hang

Bat Su



Phung Hung Ho i


Qua n

Tran Binh Tron g



Phung Hu


Ly Ta n



Boi Phan


Cap Quy

Ngo Si Li Ngo Si Lie n

Van Mie u


De Nam

HOANG Khuc H ao






P. P hu Tie n

h an Kh


n Pha nH uy Ich

ng Ha



Doc Lap





Dung Chau Long


Dang Tat an

Dang Tat

Ng. Can h Chan



Hung V uong


Ong Ich Khiem

Hoa i D uc




Vong Duc


Opera House





h Than


Thanh L. Dao



Phu ng





Dinh Le


Dan g Tra n Co n



Van Chu Ho



Le Thach


ng Da ch Ba

Tran Ng. Han


i Vo




Hoan Kiem Lake




h Din

Nh uo m

H. T

Ph uc Ta n

g hun



re gT Han


Huan Huu Hang Be


Hang Mam


g Tron

ng Chu Nha

Bich Cau


o Ba

Tho Nha


Q uyen



ng Ha


hinh H. C


ao g D Han Van

Thanh B ao


a Tu



n c Ta Phu



g Luon


r AT DU AT NH uy


g Luon Hang Giay

Buom Hang

g gan H. N n g Ca Han



uat Th

n Xua



en Thi

Ly V an P huc






Th o



Su uoc Ly Q



Tran Quo c


An a Ch


ng uo


ng Do



ao C. G ieu S n e Nguy

ai gG n Ha Hanh




uat gQ Han

en Huy Ngo ong u Trie T ho





o Ph

Huo n



am nC Cha


Va n

oc Lu


ng Bo


Nam Ngu

Hanoi Train Station

Hang N on

P hu

Dong Da


Hang C

Hang Bo

m Ho ng Ha anh gM Han

Gia m

m Na Cu a HAI

Marke t

hieu Hang C


nh Tha


Ngo Qua nT ho 1



Nguy en K huyen


m uo Nh

P. Va n




Tho 1 N


Quo c Tu Ng o Ta t To QuGi am

ng Ha

gD Ton


Doa n

Han g B ot

Ba Qu at

Ngo rung Ha T



Ha n g

Ca o


ng ha oT a C


Hoan Kiem

ai Kho

g Don anh Ha Cau D o n gTh X u an

Thai Yen

Ng. Van To m Tra


g Han

Lo Re n

Bat Dan

Lenin Park






Hang Ma Hang Vai





y G ia




e Ho





ai Nh

ng Duo







hao gC Han

g an Gi

Ngu yen Tru ong To QU A

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Ng Duc uye C n K hin h a Hon g T c Nhu hai

Pha m

ng Ha

Ha Ngoc

Ba D i n h S q uare



H. Van









n Vu



Ba Dinh

Bach Th ao P ar k






Q uan

Nguyen Huu Huan - C6, D6 Nguyen Khac Can - F7 Nguyen Khac Nhu - A4, A5 Nguyen Khuyen - E2, E3 Nguyen Sieu - C6 Nguyen Thai Hoc - D1, D2, D3, E4 Nguyen Thien Thuat - B5, B6 Nguyen Tri Phuong - A4, B3, C3, D3 Nguyen Truong To - A4, A5 Nguyen Van To - D4, D5 Nha Chung - E5, E6 Nha Tho - D5 Ong Ich Khiem - C2, D2 Pham Hong Thai - A4, A5 Pham Ngu Lao - F7 Pham Su Manh - F7 Phan Boi Chau - E4, F4 Phan Chu Trinh - F7 Phan Dinh Phung - A2, A3, B3, B4 Phan Huy Ich - A4, B4 Phan Phu Tien - D2, E2 Pho An Xa - A5, A6 Pho Duc Chinh - A4, A5 Phuc Tan - B6, C7, D7 Phu Doan - D5, E5 Phung Hung - B4, C4, D4 Quang Trung - E5, F5 Quan Su - D5, E4, E5, F4 Quan Thanh - A2, A3, A4, B4, B5 Quoc Tu Giam - E2, E3 Son Tay - D1 Ta Hien - C6 Thanh Ha - B6 Thanh Nien - A2 Tho Nhuom - E4, F5 Tho Xuong - D5, E5 Thuoc Bac - C5 Thuy Khue - A1, A2 Ton Duc Thang - D2, E2, F1 Tong Dan - D6, E7 Tong Duy Tan - D4 Tran Binh Trong - F4 Trang Thi - E4, E5, E6 Trang Tien - E6, F7 Tran Hung Dao - F4, F5, F6 Tran Quy Cap - E3, F3 Tran Nguyen Han - E6, E7 Tran Nhat Duat - B6, C6 Tran Phu - D2, D3, D4 Tran Quang Khai - C6, D7, E7 Tran Quoc Toan - F4 Tran Vu - A2, A3 Trinh Hoai Duc - D1, D2 Van Mieu - D2, E2 Vong Duc - F6 Yen Phu - A4, A5, A6 Yen Thai - D5 Yet Kieu - F4

Truc Bach Lake



112 | Word October 2012

Hang Giay - C6 Hang Giay - B5 Hang Hanh - D5, D6 Hang Hom - D5 Hang Khay - E6 Hang Khoai - B5, B6 Hang Luoc - B5, C5 Hang Ma - C5 Hang Mam - C6, C7 Hang Manh - D5 Hang Ngang - C5, C6 Hang Non - D5 Hang Quat - D5 Hang Ruoi - B5, C5 Hang Than - A5, B5 Hang Thiec - C5, D5 Hang Thung - D7 Hang Tre - C7, D7 Hang Trong - D5, D6, E6 Hang Vai - C5 Hang Voi - D6 Ha Trung - D4, D5 Hoa Lo - E5 Hoang Dieu - B3, C3, D3 Hoang Hoa Tham - A1, A2, B1 Hoang Van Thu - B2, B3 Hoe Nhai - A5, B4, B5 Hoi Vu - D5, E4 Ho Van Chuong - F2 Hung Vuong - A2, B2, C2, D2 Khuc Hao - C3, D2, D3 Lan Ong - C5 Le Dao Thanh - E7 Le Duan - D3, E3, F3 Le Hong Phong - C2, C3 Le Lai - E6, E7 Le Phung Hieu - E7 Le Thach - E6, E7 Le Thai To - E6, D6 Le Thanh Tong - F7 Lo Ren - C5 Lo Su - D6, D7 Luong Ngoc Quyen - C6 Luong Van Can - C5, D6 Ly Nam De - B4, C4, D4 Ly Quoc Su - D5 Ly Thai To - D7, E7 Ly Thuong Kiet - E4, F4, F5, F6, F7 Ly Van Phuc - D1 Ma May - C6 Nam Ngu - E4 Ngoc Ha - B1, C1 Ngo Huyen - D5 Ngo Quan Tho 1 - E1, F1 Ngo Quyen - E7, F6, F7 Ngo Si Lien - E3 Ngo Tat To - E2, E3 Ngo Tram - D4, D5 Ngo Van Chuong - F1, F2, F3 Ngo Van Huong - F1 Nguyen Bieu - A3 Nguyen Canh Chan - B3



19/2 - E4 Au Trieu - D4, E4 Bach Dang - E7 Bao Khanh - D5, D6 Bat Dan - C4 Ba Trieu - E6, F5, F6 Bat Su - C5 Bich Cau - E1 Cao Ba Quat - D2, D3 Cao Thang - B6 Cat Linh - D1, E1, E2 Cau Chuong Duong - C7 Cau Dong - B5 Cau Go - D6 Cau Long Bien - A6, A7, B6 Cha Ca - C5 Chan Cam - D5 Chau Long - A4 Cho Gao - C6 Chu Van An - C2, D2 Cua Bac - A4, B4 Cua Dong - C4, C5 Cua Nam - E4 Dang Dung - A3, B3 Dang Tat - A3 Dang Thai Than - F7 Dao Duy Tu - C6 Da Tuong - F5 Dien Bien Phu - C3, D3, D4, E4 Dinh Le - E6 Dinh Liet - C6, D6 Dinh Tien Hoang - D6, E6 Doc Lap - B2, C2 Dong Thai - C6 Dong Xuan - B5, C5 Duong Thanh - C5, D5 Gam Cau - B5 Gia Ngu - D6 Giang Vo - D1 Ha Hoi - F5 Hai Ba Trung - E4, E5, F6, F7 Hang Bac - C6 Hang Bai - E6, F6 Hang Be - D6, C6 Hang Bo - C5 Hang Bong - D4, D5, E4 Hang Bot - D2 Hang Bun - A4, B4 Hang Buom - C6 Hang Ca - C5, C6 Hang Can - C5 Hang Chao - D2 Hang Chieu - C5, C6 Hang Chinh - C6 Hang Cot - B5, C5 Hang Da - D5 Hang Dao - C6, D6 Hang Day - D1, D2 Hang Dieu - C5, D5 Hang Dong - C5 Hang Ga - C5 Hang Gai - D5, D6

We s t L ake

4 h


3 T

Street Index


Nguyen Bieu



Photo of the Month

Answers on page 3













21 26











47 51














114 | Word October 2012




ACROSS 1. Any pop music icon, for example 5. Music’s Arista, Atlantic and Apple 11. Pothole-patching stuff 14. Tiny bit 15. Singer Newton-John who has won four 58-Acrosses 16. Scarfed down 17. Digital format for much pop music: 2 wds. 19. Nonstick cookung sray 20. Device such as a BlackBerry or Palm Pilot, for short 21. ____ Vegas 22. Quarterback Manning 23. Hall & ____ (Pop duo that had six #1 hits) 26. Kind of guitar in a rock band 28. Highest point 29. Apple’s porable music player 30. Individual song on an album 31. 1998-2008 MTV show that


28 31





















56 59


featured popular music videos, for short 32. Cut off, as branches 33. Main singing parts in bands: 2 wds. 38. Response to a punch in the gut 39. ____ Francisco 40. Suffix with velvet or Hallow 41. Supportive vote 42. Female who sings 33-Across in a band 45. Fish that may be “electric” 46. Sugar ____ (band with the 1997 #1 hit “Fly”) 47. Album ____ (designs on a record’s cover) 48. Boats like Noan’s 49. The best of ____ worlds 51. “The ____ the limit!” 53. “I Don’t Want to ____ Thing” (1998 Aerosmith hit): 2 wds. 54. When said three times, a 1983 #1 hit for Paul McCartney


and Michael Jackson 55. French holy woman: Abbr. 56. “Tell ____ About It” (Billy Joel hit) 57. Suffix meaning “somewhat” 58. Annual honor in categories such as Best New Artist and Record of the Year: 2 wds. 64. 502, in Roman numerals 65. Bring to the same pitch, as instruments in a band: 2 wds. 66. Rock band with the 1980s hits “Heat of the Moment” and “Don’t Cry” 67. Approximate amount: Abbr. 68. Place to record an album 69. Barks sharly DOWN 1. “Attrack, Splot!” 2. “I’m ____ Sexy” (1992 #1 hit) 3. 240hr. banking convenience 4. Performed like Eminem or 50 Cent

5. “Livin” La Vida ____” (Ricky Martin hit) 6. ____-rock (music genre) 7. Auction offer 8. Wicked deeds 9. Signers Stansfield and Loeb 10. Bodily pouches 11. These were commonly used to listen to music before 17-Acrosses became popular: 2 wds. 12. Charles Dickens’s “____ of Two Cities”: 2 wds. 13. Club version of a pop song, for example 18. Product plugs 23. ____ Olay (former name for a face cream brand): 2 wds. 24. “I’m just ____ boy. I need no sympathy” (“Bohemain Rhapsody” lyric): 2 wds. 25. Song on a popular Billboard chart: 3 wds. 26. Spainish for “good” 27. ____ loss for words: 2 wds. 28. Circle segment 30. Cat’s weapon 31. 2000 pounds 34. Dartings 35. Opening o let out air 36. Onion relatives 37. Music genre of Marc Anthony or Celia Cruz 39. Pig’s home 43. Slangy refusal 44. Might 48. Windpipe, for one 49. Half of a pop signle regarded as the less important one: Hyph. 50. Band with the 1996 hit “Wonderwall” 51. Walk like a peacock (or a 1984 Sheena Easton hit) 52. Actor Reeves who played 26-Across in the band Dogstar 53. “Somebody Get ____ Docor” (Van Halen Song): 2 wds. 55. Mil. officers 56. Syringe, for short 59. Dr.’s field 60. Hong Kong pop music 61. The Beatles’ “Free ____ Bird”: 2 wds. 62. Copy, as music from a 17-Across to a hard drive 63. Karl Marx’s “_____ Kapital”

Do you ow na photograp h that would look good here? Ema il it to editor@wo rdhanoi. com

By Jan Papendieck

Dreaming of a good harvest

{trivia buff} Answers on page 2

1) Name the landlocked country which has borders with Kosovo, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece and Albania? 2) In which country did the Orange Revolution take place in 2004 to 2005? 3) Which great battle sealed the fate of the French in Indochina? 4) What is the tallest building in Indochina?

8) What was abortion rate of Vietnam in 1996? 9) What was it in 2010?

10) My Dinh’s Grand Hotel Plaza has how many stars? 11) What percentage of Vietnamese women use contraception?

player of the year? 15) Which present Brazilian AC Milan player scored against Vietnam at My Dinh stadium? 16) Does a dolphin have a penis? 17) What is the name of the live music venue in My Dinh stadium? 18) How many artefacts are in the Hanoi Museum?

5) How many floors does it have?

12) In October 2012, Hanoi Grapevine will have been running for how long?

6) What is the capacity of My Dinh Stadium?

13) How many studio albums has Bob Dylan released?

19) How much is the entrance fee for the Keangnam Tower observation deck on the weekend?

7) According to this month's Word, how far is My Dinh from central Hanoi?

14) How many times has Brazilian sensation Ronaldinho been named world

20) How many times has the word “dusty” been used in this month's Word?

October 2012 Word | 115


On a three-month residency in Hanoi, German artist Christiane Baumgartner has achieved international renown for her large stills of woodcuts and video footage. We speak to her about the GDR, art, change and Hanoi WHEN I WAS A CHILD, I DREAMED I WOULD BECOME A… graphic artist — really. GROWING UP IN LEIPZIG BEFORE THE REUNIFICATION OF GERMANY MEANT… quite a foreordained life with no opportunity to travel abroad or visit other countries.

A HANOIAN ARTWORK INFUSED WITH GERMAN FLAVOUR LOOKS LIKE… tropical fruits sorted by size, shape and colour.


PLANES, TRAINS AND HIGH-SPEED MACHINES MAKE ME FEEL… a bit scared. I worry about how machines can take over our lives and how our globe is not endless.

WHEN DRIVING IN A CAR, LOOKING OUT THE WINDOW AND SEEING A RUSH OF PEOPLE, THINGS AND NATURE, I FOCUS ON… the landscape passing by like a movie without sound. I love watching other people, although in my artwork there are no people at all. I show the absence of the person through using man-made surroundings.



the lines as a sample for the material. The construction and the base would be something I would give to the world. But what is in between the lines can be seen as a sample for our own thoughts — it’s the space the viewer can add to the work to create their own perception of it. That‘s why I can‘t make a decision. I need both.

THE FEELING RIGHT AFTER FINISHING A MAJOR CARVING IS… just great. Although it still needs to be printed; only after that will I know if it is a good piece of art or not.

116 | Word October 2012

Word Ha Noi October 2012  

The what's on guide to life in Hanoi and beyond

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