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Chuyên đề du lịch, ẩm thực HO CHI MINH CITY EDITION

MARCH 2013

Nhà Xuất Bản Lao Động







006 | The Prelude

columns 080 | Business Buff

THE TALK 009 | The Big Five


010 | Just In 016 | The Buzz



024 | Overscene INSIDER 028 | The Director Shooting the

giving peace a chance

The Gift Experience


Love and Marriage


030 | 33 Revolutions per Minute

060 | House of Luck Maison Chance is


Vouchers come to Vietnam

When east meets west, kisses ensue

Christina Noble story

The first primate to have eye surgery lives in Vung Tau


The new capital of Southeast Asian cuisine?

022 | Calendar

032 | Mika the Marvel


Our grim cousin shows that they’re maybe not so grim after all

020 | In the Papers

That ‘ole loveable format refuses to die


A League of its Own

The V-League is trying to trap the ball


Wish They All Could Be California Girls These summer babes say ‘westside ‘til I die’


The Phu Quoc Dog

A ridgebacked renaissance

088 | Top Eats 097 | Top Shelf 092 | Night Watchman 098 | The Coffee Cup 101 | In The Frame 102 | For the Record 104 | Road Rules 106 | Body and Temple 126 | Travel Notes TIENG VIET HANOI 132 | The Teacher Co Nhan has 80 years

The British school in District 7- Ho Chi Minh City IB Scholarship on offer up to 100% for high academic achievers Places are available in Early Years-Primary- Secondary classes

experience to draw on

132 | ¡Chula, Que Bueno! A focus on Hanoi’s DIY living room

FINAL SAY 142 | Dead Heat

The killer makes a salad

For detail go to: 74 Nguyen Thi Thap Street, Binh Thuan Ward District 7, Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam Telephone: (+84-8) 3773 3171 - ext 121 Website: Email:

144 | Last Call ‘Stakes is high’ in Kevin

Pham’s new career

2 | Word March 2013

March 2013 Word | 3

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

EDITORIAL MADs monsen Art Director

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kyle phanroy Staff Photographer

derek milroy Features Editor

nick ross Chief Editor


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Le Dang Phuong Trang Chief Accountant

ADVERTISING Duong Thi Thanh Xuan Sales Manager

mark allan Graphic Designer



For advertising enquiries please call Xuan on +84 1227 055122 or Bao on +84 938 609 689 Special thanks to Rob Marsh, Shane Dillon, Mark Bowyer, Phil Kelly, Jasper Waale, Dierdre Appel, Tess Somerville, Tara Oldfield, David Robinson, Douglas Pyper, Claire Driscoll, Aaron Joel Santos, Kaitlin Rees, Rose Arnold, Fabiola Buchele, Elisabeth Rosen, Adam Astley, Pat Joynt, Mark Bowyer, Phil Bonnin, Jessica Shea, Harry Dixon and the in-house DJ for their contribution to this issue. Word is a registered trademark. No content may be reproduced in any form without prior authorisation of the owners. © Word - Duong Huynh Advertising JSC

© Tất cả hình ảnh và nội dung trong Ấn phẩm này thuộc bản quyền của Ấn phẩm Word (Ho Chi Minh city và HaNoi) của C.Ty CP TM–DV–QC–Truyền Thông Dương Huỳnh. Mọi sự sao chép không được phép sẽ bị xem là vi phạm luật Sở Hữu Trí Tuệ hiện hành của nhà nước Cộng Hòa Xã Hội Chủ Nghĩa Việt Nam.

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

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In tại Công Ty In Trần Phú 71–73–75 Hai Bà Trưng, Q. 1, TP. HCM. Giấy XNĐKKHXB của Cục XB số: 92-2012/CXB/161-02/LĐ ngày 28/12/2012 Quyết định xuất bản số 542/QĐCN-LĐ Nhà xuất bản Lao Động cấp ngày 28/12/2012 In xong và nộp lưu chiểu năm 2013.

March 2013 Word | 5

The Prelude P

ressure is a good thing. It gets the adrenalin running and allows you to achieve more than you would under normal, morerelaxed circumstances. But with a short, 28-day month sliced in half by a week’s break for Tet, pressure can mount to levels beyond acceptability. It is for this reason that we took an unusual step and together with our compadres in Hanoi, swapped cover stories. We’ve both got so much material and content on our respected cities, that we felt maybe it was about the right time to show the respective populations that the big-city rival down south (or up north

as the case may be), has got a lot more going for it than it is often given credit for. With this in mind, our Hanoi issue is designed to give you an insight into the vagaries and pleasures of that metropolis up north. So many Saigon residents fly into the capital and come away disappointed. Hanoi is simply not Saigon, and lacks many of the comforts we have become accustomed to in the tropical south. It’s also the kind of place that requires insider’s knowledge. It is this knowledge that can give you a sense of what makes the city tick. While a selection of articles and photos is hardly going to fill in the gaps for those not in

INBOX Keep it Up

I watch your reports and I like the stories about Crescent Mall (Where Have all the People Gone, December 2012) and Vung Tau (Vung Tau, February 2013) that you ran recently. Great business viewpoint. Agreed with the silly arrangement of Phu My Hung, and happy to see the change in Vung Tau, the bad service place I hated before. Stayed at Captain Jack last week, I saw the changed details in your report. Keep going! — DH

A Short History of…

We all enjoyed reading A Short History of Saigon (February, 2013), which prompted much discussion amongst our Saigonese staff. I would like to comment about your opening statement: “Saigon is still determined to keep its charm of the old.” During my 10 years residency I have never seen much determination, only wanton destruction / desecration of classical buildings, and the construction of the most dreadful structures imaginable. Anyway, such is life! — JN

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the know, we hope they will go some way to giving you a different perspective of the capital. And if that doesn’t put that almighty feather in your proverbial cap, then we’ve got a whole host of other stories to keep you going this month. Once again, thanks for all your support. It makes the hours of sometimes nonstop work we put into Word worthwhile. And we welcome all your comments, too. The feedback on last month’s offering was beyond our wildest dreams. So, a big thanks! And if there’s anything else you want to say, tell us. Email editor@ and we’ll give you a shout back.

ChuyêN Đề du LịCh, ẩm thựC ho ChI mINh CIty EdItIoN

maRCh 2013

Nhà Xuất BảN Lao ĐộNg

THIS MONTH'S COVER Design by Claire Driscoll

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

ity his c lise t history a e r ’t Didn so much m going had nding. A e places ’s It ta th left s eck out e article. of e h h t s c a in o t le d new tione men etting a MP like g life. —

Excellent story. Together with the one on Quang Tri, the best you’ve done in ages. Where did you find that writer? — JG

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The Talk


thE big 5 / Just in / the buzz / calendar / overscene

Time and Place


watch out out for for this this month month Things to watch

Is now the right time to invest?

Photo by: ePi.Longo


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be the moment to up roots and head to the West. Or, the most topical choice at the moment, switch your energies to the smash and grab market in Myanmar.

To Invest or Not to Invest With so many losers and so much wasted investment, is the Vietnam of 2013 really the right place to look for a future and part with your cash? The answer is yes, but if you’re going about your business using the build-it-and-they-will-come attitude, a trap so many fall into, then this country will no longer be your field of dreams. There are many advantages to taking the plunge here. Rents are low at the moment — this writer was recently offered office space close to downtown for a mere VND300,000 a square metre. This represents quite a substantial reduction on the rental demands of the past. There is an increasingly skilled and worldly-wise labour force in this country, although talk to business owners and they are likely to unleash a torrent of frustration over the staffing issues they have to endure. However, the traditional 13-month salary, the extra month to be paid immediately before Tet, is no longer standard. And play the worker-favoured labour laws to your

Dancenter, in their continued commitment to spread pure dance joy throughout the city, presents JAZZ! at the Youth Culture House between Mar. 15 and Mar. 17. Choreographed by John Huy Tran and performed by Urban Dance Group, the show tells the real story of jazz from its Afro-American roots to street jazz in Vietnam today. Drawing inspiration from Charleston, swing and tap, this captivating tale travels through the ages of dance uniquely incorporating the rhythms of these musical times. The show will take place on Mar. 15 and Mar. 16 at 7.30pm and on Mar. 17 at 3pm. The Youth Culture House is at 4 Pham Ngoc Thach, Ben Nghe, Q1. For reservations, contact reservation@dancenter. Tickets cost between VND150,000 and VND350,000

Cricket Legends on Display

Art in Unbordered Waters

olumes of copy have been written about the country’s present economic woes. The nature of this vitriol has been so negative that it begs the question: Is it time to hang up those well-worn boots and seek fame and fortune elsewhere? The answer I’ve come to is no. Recent conversations with three friends have revealed some food for thought. All have moved on from a job based in Vietnam, and with the hope of seeking more fruitful climes have searched for employment overseas. One found work almost immediately upon return to the UK. But it was a regional managerial position with a well-known international fast food chain. Within days he was complaining about the ‘muppets’ he had to train over in England. The grass is always greener. He missed working with Vietnamese colleagues who he found to have a more positive energy and a greater appetite for advancement than their compatriots overseas. The other two went on the job hunt in their home countries only to end up searching out better and more personally rewarding employment in Vietnam. All suggesting that now may not necessarily

All That Jazz

advantage, build clever bonus systems into salary structures, and you can protect yourself from unforeseen staffing issues. Interest rates on bank loans are relatively low, at least by local standards, and there are more guarantees against rate hikes than there were in the past. And with the housing market at a lull, it is easier to secure long-term leases under more favourable terms than a few years ago. However, to expand or launch a new business you do need to take care. Your product must be strong and requires constant improvement. You can never rest on your laurels. And you need a strong marketing campaign to back up your business. Failure to do this may quite literally mean failure, no matter how strong your vision or unique your concept. But most importantly when you finally open your doors for business, you need to hit the ground running. There is of course time for improvement, but with little ready cash floating around, that time is short. If you can create something a little unique, fill in a previously unfilled gap and have the full package in place, then 2013 is a good time to invest. There’s no gold rush out there any more, but there could always be that pot of gold. — Nick Ross

Vol de Nuit (Night Flight) is a novel of Antoine de St-Exupéry — who Tom Wolfe claimed as “a saint in short, true to his name, flying up here at the right hand of God.” The international artists participating in Vol de Nuit’s borderless, interdisciplinary three-week art festival aspire to such levels, or else are rooting about in the cellar of the human condition (one of the organisers is iLL — the institute of Lower Learning). Performers such as Koji Asano (JP), One Man Nation (SG), Tad Ermitano (PH), Foniks (US) and Vietnam’s own Jase Nguyen and Crazy Monkey will be taking the mixer at venues as diverse as The Fine Arts Museum and I’m Yours Café, from Mar. 15 to Apr. 4. For more information and the full line-up, go to nightflight2013.

The Loud Minority If you frequent certain pubs around football match times, you might be tricked into taking this festival’s name literally. But Q4’s upcoming Loud Minority Festival isn’t about regionalistic boasts — it’s about uniting traditions, drawing attention to some local children’s shelters while they’re at it. On Mar. 24, Q4 will unite peripatetic UK folk-punker

Frank Turner — who’s shared bills with acts like Green Day, Offspring and everyone on the Glastonbury and Reading lineups — with three Vietnamese bands, including rock phenoms White Noize, in hopes of kick-starting a cultural exchange. In a sea of Pop Idol wannabes, these rockers are gonna kick out the jams proper. For more information, click on

Might want to put this one on your calendar early. Australian cricket legends Greg Chappell, Jeff Thompson and Doug Walters will be playing a straight bat with the crowd at Q4’s Apr. 20 gala buffet dinner and memorabilia auction. Costing $US85 (VND1.7 million) per person including a free flow of beer and wine, through the MCing of Tim Gossage, these Australian hall-offamers will tell you how the south was won. Although don’t expect too many mentions of recent England victories in the Ashes. There will also be an auction of signed cricket balls and a range of other notable cricketing memorabilia. To book your seats contact Glenn on 0907 378523 or Rob on 0907 539239

Bellyache Saigon Comedy Nights returns for its fourth installment on Tuesday Mar. 19 at Hard Rock Café. Headlined by Puerto Rican-American standup Joey Medina, who has been described by Latin Style Magazine as “one of the few comedians that can bridge together urban with mainstream comedy to make his style a hit throughout the country,” also spilling the gags will be Australianborn, UK-based comic Marcus Ryan. Described as “effortlessly funny, unpretentious and informal bellylaughs-a-minute standup,” this will be his second visit to Vietnam. And to give the show some local flavour, two acts based in Saigon will also be in the house — well-known local comic, Chris Baker, and new-tothe-big-stage Andi Davies. Doors open at 8pm, and entrance is VND250,000 including a free beer. Hard Rock Café is in Kumho Link, cnr. Le Duan and Hai Ba Trung, Q1. For table reservations, email Saigon Comedy Nights is presented by Comedy Club Asia

Just In The Central Brand The owners of Central Vietnam hotels looking out on sandy beaches and UNESCO World Heritage sites, golf courses designed by legends like Nick Faldo and Greg Norman and one restaurant helmed by food genius Michel Roux are joining forces to support Central Vietnam’s emergence on the Southeast Asian luxury market. The Central Coast Vietnam Destination Marketing Organisation (DMO) aims to promote the region as a competitor to established market leaders such as Bali, Phuket and Koh Samui, and coincides with new direct flights between Hong Kong and Danang, the regional capital, which Dragonair will commence on Mar. 13. For more information on the Central Coast’s attractions, visit

It’s in the Bag When you’re hitting the tailor shops in Hoi An, considering stopping by newlyopened Friendly Bags, a tailor-made bag store that sells handbags, travel bags and briefcases, all in real leather. Consistent with the shop name, the proprietors guarantee all bags for 30 days, and have a “satisfaction guaranteed” policy. It’s the only custom bag shop in Hoi An, and luckily it appears to be a good one. For more information, visit

Mapping the Z-Axis The minds behind Switched On Saigon’s 3D Ho Chi Minh City map recognise that navigating the city streets on those VND30,000 maps you get down on Bui Vien can get a bit trying. So they flipped the perspective, popping District 1 and 3’s landmarks out of the flatness, and dropped the price to nothing. To pick one up, hang a left at that big hotel hanging over Tao Dan Park and stop by Chi’s Café, Subway or one of the new distribution points the map is going out to more and more. For more information, click on

Zoom Zoom VinaRacing has brought the need for speed to Suoi Tien with their outdoor go-kart track. The 1570m2 track is filled with long straights and varied curves creating a thrilling circuit to get your adrenalin fix. Choose from 25 powerful karts (9 HP) on stock for your ride. The trained staff and tested equipment ensure quality and safety. As VinaRacing puts it, the go-kart track is “a place where racing drivers feel at home!” Suoi Tien Theme Park is at 120 Highway 1, Tan Phu, Q9

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{t ech Tips} ** Online Shopping Outside Vietnam * *



key aspect of any successful trade is trust. Trust that the buyer pays the agreed amount, trust that the seller provides the agreed item in the agreed quality and volume. Shopping online is much harder than physically going into a shop, looking at what you’re going to purchase and making decisions based on what you see and feel. So why take the risk? The answer is simple. Online shopping gives you access to items not available in Vietnam — books, DVDs, toys and much more. There are also hotel bookings, the purchase of cheaper air tickets and a host of other possible savings. So is it worth the risk to buy items online? I say yes. Amazon has built a unique network of online shops and has managed to create a high level of trust with its customers. I deal with 20 to 25 different online shops that I trust, all via Amazon.

Shipping and Payment One issue you might find is that websites overseas just can't ship to Vietnam. Most of the time it’s related to not having the right costing or international agreements set up. I purchased a pair of Sebago shoes directly from their website, only to discover that they couldn’t be shipped to Vietnam. It took several calls and emails for the issue to be resolved. In many cases I have had to have items sent to friends in the US, UK or Denmark. They have then sent

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them to me directly in Vietnam. Payment is another problem. With so many online scams, make sure to use a high-quality website when you make that purchase — low-res photos, spelling errors and ultra-low prices are warnings that you may be falling for a scam. Unless you have a guarantee from your bank in Vietnam that you’re covered against fraud — international banks like ANZ, Standard Chartered and HSBC have one — make your overseas payment with a credit card issued outside of Vietnam. This way, if anything goes wrong with payment, you are able to reclaim missing funds. A good option is Paypal, which works as a clearinghouse, taking payment from you and passing on payment for a small fee. The final thing to bear in mind is tax in Vietnam. It’s a bit hit and miss and you might have to pay anything from nothing to 30 percent to get your item out of the post office. Generally I pay 10 to 15 percent for DVDs or shoes when I pick up the package — the post office sends a note to your home or office address informing you that there is a package waiting. Just remember to bring your passport to get that coveted good. And I can confirm that so far, I have yet to report one missing shipment. Jasper Waale is a computer and online specialist. You can contact him by emailing jasper.o.waale@

The latest lounge bar and restaurant to grace the streets of downtown Saigon, Mask’s waterfront location next to the Legend Hotel affords it an outdoor ambience rarely found in this city. With a lightbox-lit bar flecked with amber-style fossil shapes (the co-owner here is also involved in ZanZBar), and tree-hung fairy lights to match, the leafy terrace area is quite sensational. And anyone who fancies a touch of DJ and top-shelf spirits can head indoors to the lounge-like dance-space area, decorated with cartoon-style animations from overseas. Mask is located at 3B Ton Duc Thang, Q1

New Award-Winning Chef at Shri Building on the reputation that has already turned Shri into one of the top restaurants in the city, the 23rd-floor venue has brought in a new executive chef from Australia. Conferred the antipodes’ highly coveted award Young Chef of the Year 2009, and described by The Age as one of Melbourne’s 100 most influential people, Chris Donnellan was opening chef at the highly rated Gingerboy in Melbourne, having also plied his trade at Bibendum and Nobu Park Lane in London. According to restaurant manager, Ashley Nichols, the reason for flying in Chris was to “bring some international experience to the restaurant, something very important for staff training and helping them to grow.” He adds: “We’re also trying to move forward with the menu and up the quality levels. There will be more regional and local flavours [in the cuisine] and a slightly different tone. We’re going to stop being all things to all people.” Shri is on the 23rd Floor of the Centec Tower, 72-74 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3

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Overheard in the Big City

Alaska is an island, right? Really? It's always in that floating box on the map, how should I know? As the Russians say, you always throw out the first pancake Can I borrow your rubber? I just need it for a minute, I'll give it right back! [said by a British woman]

Bibi @ Alibi If you've heard of Bibi then you've heard of one of Saigon's best-known restaurateurs. Famed for his long-running restaurant on Thai Van Lung which closed its doors in 2007 after 10 years, his latest venture teams up with Alibi to bring his take on Gallic fare back to Saigon. Born to a Vietnamese mother and French father in Vung Tau, Bibi earned his stripes in the restaurant trade from the age of 14 in Aix-en-Provence, his career including a stint at a two-star Michelinrated establishment in his hometown. Returning to Vietnam initially to work at the

I had a Colombian fiancée when I was younger...

Planting the SEED of Vision SEED, Japan’s first contact lens manufacturer, is expanding into Vietnam in a big way, now being sold at Family Medical Practice and many other hospitals and shops. The full line of SEED lenses will be available in-country, running the gamut from one-day disposables with UV protection to two-week ‘Pures’, which combine the strengths of nonionic, low-water content lenses with the hydrated feeling of ionic, high-water content lenses. For vanity seekers, the SEED Eye Coffret-UV has another perk — its ultra-slim profile makes your pupil stand out so your eye looks bigger, and it comes in three subtly highlighting shades. Learn more about SEED’s lenses at, or pick up a pair at FMP’s clinics at Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, Q1 or 95 Thao Dien, Q2

You should become a zoo executive! — Nah, f*** that s***, too many politics I wouldn't take life advice from a Suicide Girl If bellies could flop, then I would be in my element. Oh! Mine does flop! In Vietnamese, this song's chorus means 'minty prostitute' Apparently snakes are fortuitous. Try telling that to victims of snakebites Those queues were staged, you know. What, you mean people actually paid to stand in line? What comes around goes around. A bit like a boomerang, right?

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city’s first French restaurant, Augustin, he specialises in French-influenced Mediterranean cuisine. Using freshly-sourced market produce, the menu at his new venue mixes anything from duck confit to his famed, prepared-at-the-table steak tartare through to fisherman’s soup and classic grilled fare such as the rack of lamb and the rib of beef for two, which with a flourish from the old master is carved at the table. Bibi@Alibi is at 5A Nguyen Sieu, Q1, and is open for lunch and dinner

The Gao Gao

Air France Charity Gala

Japanese restaurant Yamaneko is continuing its unique promotion this month with diners once again getting a chance to win a free-flow of Tiger beer for the duration of their meal. Play a game with the staff — click the teeth of the Gao Gao. If the Gao Gao doesn't wake up, you win your freeflow. Yamaneko is at 13/1 Le Thanh Ton, Q1

It's not part of the Franco-Vietnamese festivities this year that kick off in April to celebrate 40 years of diplomatic relations, but the timing is certainly good. Mar. 23 sees the arrival of the Air France Charity Gala at the Caravelle Hotel, with all proceeds raised from the black-tie dinner and auction going to charity — in this instance Mai Nha and the Consular Club. For more information, see our mini feature on both the event and the charities on page 26.

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The Buzz

Bobby Chinn comes to Central Vietnam For one night only, celebrity chef Bobby Chinn — you know him as the quick-talking, wannabe standup comedian host of World Café Asia — is departing his big city enclave to guest-chef at Laguna Angsana Lang Co resort near Danang. This is the deal: book a two-night package for two for Apr. 5 and Apr. 6, get a seat at the gala dinner Chinn and his team are organising on the 6th. The package costs VND11.5 million++ and is available until Mar. 28. For more information, contact Angsana Lang Co at 0543 695800, email or visit

Handle With Care

The Cellar of Dreaming

Craig Thomas Gallery is preparing the presentation of a solo exhibition of new works by Hanoi-based artist Nguyen The Hung. Titled Please, Handle With Care!, the opening of the exhibition will be on Mar. 21 from 6pm to 8pm at the gallery space. Please, Handle With Care! features the artist's latest series of paintings done in acrylic, on Do paper and canvas. Sensual figures of modernday women are juxtaposed with traditional Vietnamese and Buddhist patterns taken from temples and classical architecture, presented in vivid and colourful compositions. Craig Thomas Gallery is at 27i Tran Nhat Duat, Q1. For more info please contact

Danish indie band Efterklang are known for their with aural and visual investigations of weirdness, a phenomenon which colours their studio albums and film projects. In deciBel’s upcoming double-bill presented by Hanoi-based mind expanders The Onion Cellar, Efterklang’s eight-piece cabal invade the deserted shores of Piramida, a Russian mining town on the Norwegian island of Svalbard which gives Andreas Koefoed’s 2012 film and Efterklang’s latest critically acclaimed album their names. Following is Vincent Moon’s 2010 film An Island, where the band goes to the Danish island of their origin and encourages its occupants to ROCK. DJ Dastardly breaks up the melancholia with his pumping-and-jumping brand of 1960s and 1970s old-school. deciBel is at 79/2/5 Phan Ke Binh, Q1. The films start at 8pm on Mar. 3

The Opulence Olympics Phuket’s had their turn. Now it’s Central Vietnam. When Laguna started the Laguna Phuket Triathlon in 1994, they pulled beach bodies out of hammocks and into a 1.8 km swim, 55km bike ride and 12km run across the sprawling 1,000 acres of the Laguna Phuket Resort. On Apr. 14, a similarly gruelling competition will be held on the 280-hectare grounds of Laguna Lang Co resort in between Danang and Hue. Entry fees — with available discount rates to enjoy the resort you’ve just sweated upon — start at VND3.1 million, including a five-star pasta party on the eve of the race and massages afterwards. For more information, visit



As the only bar in Vietnam to serve Guinness on draught (the city’s other vintages are non-kegged), McSorley’s has a lot of irie already on offer. On St. Paddy’s eve (Saturday, Mar. 16), Jameson’s will be guesthosting a kicking celebration of all things Irish, with Irish-led folksters Freckled Gypsies and another TBA band. There will be Irish-themed games for the chancers out there and Jameson’s cocktails, shot-tails and drinks to get the whole hooley up to ninety. As Jameson’s spokesman, Finian Sedgwick, says, “We are trying to have just a really good night with an unforgettable Irish twist.” Tickets for the Mar. 16 event will be advertised on finjamesonvietnam, with price and time still TBA. McSorley’s is at 4 Thao Dien, Q2

If you’re in need of an informal Mar. 17, Sheridan’s is doing a Sunday Roast, complemented with various pop-up drink specials, like free flows on draught beer throughout the night. If you can wait that long, happy hour goes from 4pm to 7pm. However, Sheridan’s has you covered from 11am on. Sheridan’s is at 24 Ngo Van Vam, Q1

Bernie’s Bernie’s is keeping it Irish all weekend, with a Friday-Saturday-Sunday celebration planned around St. Patrick’s Day. An Irish menu and buffet will be available for all three days, as will Guinness and Jameson’s promotions and specials. The Pho Fighters will keep it craicin’ with a live set on Sunday night. Bernie's is at 19 Thai Van Lung, Q1

O’Brien’s O’Brien’s is on the rip all weekend with an atmosphere that will go well with a pint of plain (aka Guinness, which they have stocked). There’s no entry and plenty of good craic and food to match, so get your luck of the Irish on starting at noon, weekend-through. O’Brien’s is at 74/A3 Hai Ba Trung, Q1

St. Paddy’s All around the world, St. Patrick’s Day on Mar. 17 is seen as a day for getting ‘toe up’ — wrecked, rattled and rickroll’d. But there’s another way to celebrate St. Paddy’s, while still keeping the green beer on lock. Falling on a Sunday, this year some of the Irish venues are moving their celebrations to the Saturday, while others are staying traditional. Here’s the lowdown.

Biking on the Horizon The Thriving nineties Who says youth is wasted on the young? Even if your 1990s youth was misspent toying with Tamagotchis and making mix-tapes of the Gin Blossoms and East 17, deciBel is giving you a second chance at breaking out the funky moves you wish you had back then to Nirvana, Spacehog, Blind Melon and those now-middle aged heartbreakers, the Backstreet Boys. Join the monthly jam Mar. 23. deciBel is at 79/2/5 Phan Ke Binh, Q1

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MBike, an international cycling magazine network first established in Greece, is getting its tires dirty on the Vietnamese track with MBike Vietnam, to be released later this year. MBike Vietnam will be the first magazine dedicated to cycling in Vietnam, focusing on both the Vietnamese and Englishspeaking markets. Check out their Facebook page at

March 2013 Word | 17

Vietnamese Consumer Outlook Improving

The Wines of Israel

Consumer confidence in Vietnam rose one point to a grade of 88 in the fourth quarter of 2012, as measured by Nielsen, a leading global provider of consumer information. Globally, consumer confidence stands at 91, still eight points lower than where it naïvely stood in-country in the fourth quarter of 2011. Across the 58 countries measured, confidence declined in 33 countries, remained flat in six countries and increased in 19 countries compared with the prior quarter.

Taste and discover Israel’s best kept secret at an exclusive wine event held at Park Hyatt Saigon on Mar. 4. From the Golan Heights and Galil Mountain Wineries, expect wine and a great gastronomic experience. Elevating the night will be the attendance of Michal Ansky and Ruthie Russo from Israel to explain and educate on this new generation of wines and cutting-edge cuisine. Both will

be on hand to share their love of wine and food throughout the evening and showcase why Israel is considered one of the up-and-coming wine regions in the world. To book your place at this unique event, call (08) 3824 1234 or email The cost per person is VND1,050,000++ and the event takes place at Opera on the ground floor of the Park Hyatt Saigon, 2 Lam Son Square, Q1

Bangkok Night in Saigon Danish Royality in Vietnam In a year where many nations are celebrating their 40th years of diplomatic relations, Denmark — whose 1971 diplomatic beginnings started the rush — is again on the vanguard, with Henrik, Prince Consort of Denmark having paid a private visit to Vietnam from Jan. 30 to Feb. 5. The Prince Consort has a unique relationship with Vietnam, having spent his early childhood and schooling in Hanoi before traveling to France to study at the Sorbonne, and marry royalty.

Club Darts is bringing rave culture to Ho Chi Minh City, with a little help from their Bangkok friends. Bash Bangkok resident DJ Toby White is on the decks for the prime hours at Heart Beat #02, delivering a mix of techno, minimal, deep and techhouse alongside local closers Konka, B.A.X. and Chris Wolter, with Crazy Monkey on the visuals. Take an afternoon nap and get ready to stay up late dancing to Heart Beat’s “bassalicious underground sound”. Heart Beat #02 is on from 8pm to ?? Mar. 9 at Club Darts, 224A Pasteur, Q3. Free entry

InterCon Awards InterContinental Hotels & Resorts rocked the recent World Travel Awards in New Delhi, India, winning World’s Leading Hotel Brand for the fourth year running and World’s Leading Business Hotel for the second straight. InterContinental’s Ho Chi Minh City branch also took time to shine, winning its third consecutive Vietnam’s Leading Hotel award and Vietnam’s Leading Business Hotel 2012. For restrained gloating, visit

Movies at IDECAF Continuing their cinematic tradition, the Institute for Cultural Exchanges with France brings a new lineup of movies

for March and April. On Mar. 3 watch the animated film Mia and the Migoo, enjoy a laugh with the comedy The Names of Love on Mar. 9, or endure the drama of Little White Lies on Mar. 16 and Tomboy on Mar. 23. Animated film Rabbi’s Cat will be shown Mar. 30, The Big Picture is on Apr. 4 and a selection of short films will screen Apr. 13. Showtimes are at 3pm. Idecaf’s indoor projection hall is at 28 Le Thanh Ton, Q1. All movies are presented in their original versions and are subtitled in Vietnamese and French

Wigging Out Singapore’s absurd spoiled-for-choiceness continues with the Big Wig Music Festival on Apr. 6, a funky jamboree of hip-hop greats such as Pharoahe Monche and The Bizarre Ride with PHARCYDE, turntablism courtesy of the likes of Jazzy Jay and world champ DJ Vajra, local jams from Wicked Aura and the Pushin’On Crew and assorted festival antics in the breakdancing and graffiti realms. This motley assortment will do their thang in Fort Canning Park, the 60-metre altitude pushing the funky vibe up another notch. For more information, click on

Biking the Light Fantastic For all those who only go to Saigon Outcast’s parties, you might not be aware: Outcast is a public service. Latest in their mission to give Saigon a big cultural hug is a series of workshops dedicated to teaching manual motorbiking to the masses. Learning to gear-shift is essential for completing the licensing course for getting official in Vietnam, and a nice way to get around besides. Drop in on Mar. 10 for the first of three or four Sunday workshops, after which a nonbeaten track moto tour idea is being tossed around. For more information, click on The workshop is on Mar. 10, time TBA

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In the Papers In the Papers

The Best of the VietnameSe Press

New Japanese Hotel Chain Japanese hotel chain, Toyoko Inn, introduced its ambitious plan to build 100 starred hotels in Vietnam at a seminar in Hanoi last month. Nishida Norimasa, President and also founder of Toyoko Inn, said he believes that the project would be successful as in the long-term Vietnam’s economy will improve from its present low ebb. Vice President of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry Doan Duy Khuong expressed hopes that the project, once completed, will contribute to boosting the two countries’ tourism and investment cooperation, promoting Vietnam’s image overseas. Japan now ranks third among 84 countries and territories investing in Vietnam in terms of registered capital and first in terms of the amount of disbursed capital.

iPhone Stunner The Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam (CAAV) has ordered all local airport authorities to stop iPhone stun guns from being brought onto flights to ensure passenger and staff safety. Stun guns, which are electrical self-defense devices that use high amounts of voltage to stop an attacker, have recently been designed in the shape of an iPhone, making them difficult to detect, CAAV said. For safety reasons, it has requested airport security units to strengthen the examination of passenger luggage in an effort to detect iPhone stun guns and prevent them from being brought onto planes and into the country. If such devices, costing VND2.9 million ($US140) are brought onto planes, they could pose a danger to passengers and threaten flight safety, the agency warns. The device was recently launched on the international market and is now offered for sale online by US-based Yellow Jacket, which manufactures the product, the agency said. As its name implies, the Yellow Jacket iPhone Stun Gun case protects your iPhone and has a built in stun gun feature. According to The Guardian in the UK, the stun gun case can take down an adult male.

Google Challenges Apple with High-End Laptop Google unveiled a touchscreen notebook computer designed for high-end users, throwing down the gauntlet to Apple and its MacBooks. Google said its Chromebook Pixel computers, which blend tablet and laptop technology, boast heavyweight Intel chips and screens tailored for rich graphics. They were released

Hanoi Mum Uncovers French Goat Milk scam

Teak Leaves Boom in Dong Nai A large number of people living in the southern province of Dong Nai have rushed to collect dry teak leaves in the forest between Dinh Quan and Tan Phu districts to sell to traders, a district official confirmed. The number of “collectors” has been increasing rapidly and they have even divided themselves into groups of up to 30 people, he added. “We are paid VND110,000 (US$5.26) a day if we manage to collect 50 kilograms of leaves,” said Le Quang Thoai, one of the collectors. Most of the leaf hunters have flocked to the 150-hectare teak forest managed by the La Nga Agriculture Seed Center. The leaves were then brought to a secret facility in the district for packaging. Locals said they only collected the leaves and sold them to traders. They do not know who the buyers are and what they plan to do with the leaves. However, it was later revealed that the leaves are being collected for a company in Ho Chi Minh City, which will use them to produce fertiliser.

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A Hanoi mother from Tay Ho District bought 12 cans of Danlait goat milk from the Manh Cam Co Ltd, based in Thanh Xuan District. After using seven she began to realise something was wrong with the product which costs VND400,000 for a 400g can. Cao Ngan Ha posted on, an online forum for local parents, providing proof that the product is not authentic goat milk, and not even French, as advertised. The post caused a storm as other mothers also claimed that their kids also lost weight and had slow growth while using Danlait. The importer, Manh Cam Co, eventually joined the forum discussion by creating a post full of scanned photos of what it said are necessary papers to prove the product’s validity. Danlait goat milk is said to be imported in full cans from France, and is manufactured by FIT, “one of the leading goat milk producers in the EU,” according to Manh Cam’s website ( The company also includes a link to what it claims is FIT’s website, However, the website’s admin session has a

last month in the US and the UK priced from VND27 million (US$1,299). “People will give up a MacBook Air for this,” Google Chrome senior vice president Sundar Pichai said. The newly unveiled version can connect online with wireless hot-spot technology or cables.

Air Mekong in Shutdown Vietnamese interface and several photos displayed there have a file name in Vietnamese, suggesting that this was not the official website. Following intensive research, it was discovered that FIT is in fact a small company that cooperates with a small group in France to produce goat milk, rather than a “European group”.

Air Mekong offered its last service on Feb. 28 before suspension of operations for a restructuring, the private carrier announced. The airliner currently operates a fleet of four, 90-seat Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft made in Canada, and will return them to US-based Sky West after the last flight, Air Mekong said. Sky West had leased the planes to Air Mekong. Air Mekong, which launched in October 2010, is the third

privately-owned carrier in Vietnam, after VietjetAir and Indochina Airlines, whose license was cancelled in late 2010. The suspension was fully expected, as Air Mekong has registered no flights with the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam after Feb. 28, said CAAV deputy head Vo Huy Cuong. The airliner, funded by the BIM Group, is on the verge of following Indochina Airlines in becoming the country’s second private carrier to shut down due to constant steep losses.

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To have your event included in our calendar, please email by no later than Mar. 20 with a description of the event and a high-res photo





Taste of Israel Wine. 7pm @ Opera, Park Hyatt Saigon. See The Buzz on page 19



Ladies Night. Every Wed. @ Wine Bar (38 Dong Khoi). Discount on wine for all ladies



Blind test. Test your music skills at 8.30pm @ La Fenetre Soleil. See listing on page 102


Free Cocktail. Until Mar. 20, 5pm to 11pm @ La Creperie Saigon. Free cocktail for anyone wearing a white & blue striped shirt


PASSOVER SEDER. 6pm @ Chabad House (5A Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q1 — jewishvietnam. com)


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canvas and wine: Dances of Matisse. 6.30pm @ Vin Space. See listing on page 109




chris baker’s comedy night. 8pm @ McSorley’s (4 Thao Dien, Q2)


INTERNATIONAL Women’s day. Catch dinner @ Riverside Café, Renaissance Riverside Hotel. See Food Promos on page 96



Please, Handle With Care! Exhibition opening. 6pm @ Craig Thomas Gallery. See The Buzz on page 16



SUN Art Festival – The Melting pot. Mar. 2 to 3, 10am to 9pm @ Saigon Outcast (


Saigon Cyclo Challenge. 8am @ The Crescent (

bangkok night. 8pm @ Club Darts. See The Buzz on page 19

Vol de Nuit Opening party. @ Saigon Outcast. See Big 5 on page 9



Saigon comedy night. 8pm @ Hard Rock Café. See Big 5 on page 9


hard rock rising. Saigon’s Battle of the Bands @ Hard Rock Café. See listing on page 102




Urban Dance Group Jazz Show. 7.30pm @ the Youth Cultural House. See Big 5 on page 9


St Patrick's day. See The Buzz on page 17 for tips on celebrating

Air france charity gala @ Caravelle. See page 26 for details

24 pham anh khoa concert. With guests Mai Khoi, Wowy and Cindy Harris, 7pm @ Hard Rock Café. See listing on page 102

free oysters tuesday. 5.30pm @ Barcode (102 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1)

music night with jesers. 8pm @ IDECAF (


27 something on a stick day



easter Sunday. Catch brunch @ Restaurant Nineteen. See Food Promos on page 96

vol de nuit closing: Exhibit of multimedia installations @ HCMC Fine Arts Museum. See Big 5 on ­page 9

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photos by francis xavier

OVER SCENE OVER 48h film festival awards

brett newski farewell Brett Newski plays his last show in Saigon at decIBel, with Tess Somerville opening

photos provided by 48h film festival

Young filmmakers celebrate their accomplisments at this purple-themed awards ceremony

photos by kyle phanroy

photos by kyle phanroy

DJ sebastian gamboa DJ Sebastian Gamboa brings the sounds of Pacha to Blanchy's Tash

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and kyle phanroy

DJ wally lopez DJ Wally Lopez gets down and dutty at Blanchy's

photos by alexandre garel

Going viral Saigon takes on the Harlem Shake at Saigon Outcast

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Mini Feature

the director / mika the marvel / hanoi


n a year where the French are raising their profile in Vietnam — 2013 marks the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries — Air France is moving in a humanitarian direction by hosting the first edition of their Charity Gala, at the Caravelle Hotel on Mar. 23. Although the connection is coincidental, it remains significant. This year the French consulate and embassy has lofty and well thought-out plans to celebrate their modern-day relationship with Vietnam. With the gala, Air France is looking to support the local charitable organisations Consular Club Ho Chi Minh City and Mai Nha Children Foundation Vietnam, both of which have already made an in-country impact. Consular Club’s mission, in a vague nutshell, is to help: this is a rollinginvolvement, rolling-mission charitable organisation, whose enrollment is only limited to expats hailing from countries diplomatically engaged with Vietnam. Operating since 1994, they’ve done some good work here, from buying houses for the poor to granting scholarships, providing medical care, improving rainwater purification and giving flood relief. They have some benefactors in high places, at times acting as the de facto charitable arm of the diplomatic missions they work with. Last year’s charity bazaar attracted 2,000 people and raised nearly VND2.6 billion, which went towards supporting their various endeavours. Mai Nha — ‘roof’ or ‘home’ in Vietnamese — is focused more on providing super-local level help, with all its efforts

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The Friendly Skies Air France’s charity gala this month coincides with the start of a range events to increase France’s profile in Vietnam. Photos provided by Mai Nha Orphanage concentrated on a single rural community in Thien Nghiep, 220km northeast of Ho Chi Minh City, where the average income is less than VND40,000 a day. Working in cooperation with the Department of Social Affairs in Binh Thuan Province, they’ve given out 80 scholarships

in their five years of existence — covering tuition, uniforms, healthcare and dental treatments. Focusing on orphans, as cofounder Marie Witlox’s eldest daughter was when the two first met on Marie’s visit to Vietnam 15 years ago, Mai Nha is also working on full-time housing

and care for 20 of their charges, having housed 10 already in an airy, Thao Dien-calibre sixbedroom house. Their mission is a hands-on one, as reflected in this press kit statement: “We believe that helping 100 kids in the village will move the whole community forward.” Mai Nha’s version of help extends to ensuring each child feels “loved and protected”, through the help of psychologists and “much time and tenderness”. This more holistic approach is being increasingly embraced by more forward-thinking orphanages and foster homes. Not simply delivering the material needs so many of these children are lacking, they are also providing for the emotional and spiritual needs that it’s all for naught without. It’s hard in this city — indeed any city — to confront the elemental injustices you see on your stroll to buy a cupcake. Perhaps this four-course dinner will put your mind more at ease, as you and 250 other guests enjoy the soaring live performances, prize raffle, auction and dance party Air France has cooked up. VND2,750,000 buys you a seat at a table with other self-conscious cupcake buyers. Put your money where your mouth is at Air France’s Charity Gala, and you may even get a choice cut of steak to boot. Anyone interested in attending the gala can contact Air France by phone on 3829 3770, by email at or by popping into their ticketing office at 130 Dong Khoi, Q1. The gala is on Mar. 23 and is taking place at the Caravelle Hotel, 19-23 Lam Son Square, Q1. For more information on Mai Nha, click on

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The Many Faces of Saigon

The Director Stephen Bradley has tackled a number of film projects during his time, but none has quite gripped him like the movie about Christina Noble. Last month he was in Saigon shooting the story of one woman’s struggle to make a difference when he caught up with Derek Milroy. Photo by Francis Xavier


tephen Bradley admitted he didn’t cut it as an actor early on. Instead of letting it get him down it only released an inner desire to succeed. So he started producing and finally found his goal in life — to direct. The talented Irishman’s first feature Sweety Barrett (1998) earned rave reviews, starring Brendan Gleeson in the title role, with Cillian Murphy making his screen debut. Fast forward to 2013 and he is in Saigon on a six-week shoot with Noble — the story of Christina Noble, a remarkable woman who has touched the lives of millions of children and adults alike through her foundation, which helps street kids have a real chance at life. Stephen’s wife Deirdre O’Kane, a famed comedienne and actress, stars in the lead as the Irish ‘Mother Theresa with balls’. The movie was actually his better half’s brainwave. “Deirdre had the idea to do the movie,” says Stephen. “She did some charity comedy gigs for the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation (CNCF). She had also read her books and I had been to the gigs Deirdre did some standup at. They were called The Toothfairy Ball in Dublin. I met Christina at those gigs and learned a little about her story, although I hadn’t read the books. I did that later when we became hooked on the idea. We decided we were going to do the movie in 2008. Five years from the idea to production is short in the feature industry.”

From Dream to Reality In case you have been living on the moon in your time in Vietnam, you may not know that Noble formed the CNCF from scratch after arriving in Saigon with 10 dollars to

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her name. She had a dream in 1971 when she lived in London, of Vietnamese street children crying out, which was to recur in her mind for almost two decades before she finally made it to the country in 1989. One scene in the movie features O’Kane singing in a club to expatriates, as she tries to highlight the plight of the starving homeless children of Vietnam. Now there are 700,000 children in Vietnam and Mongolia being taken care of thanks to one woman. She has built a foundation that has committees in Australia, France, Germany, England, Vietnam, Ireland and the US. Taking the best part of two years to get to know Noble, Stephen is now a close friend and has been amazed at how she has opened up to him and let him see the woman behind the myth. In the flesh, he’s realised, she is almost too good to be true. “The decision to make the movie was easy in the sense that Christina is such a fascinating character,” says Stephen. “Most people only know about her ‘good deeds’, although she would hate you to say that. She just sees it as something she wants to do, so she does it. “What fascinated me was how funny and musical she is. Christina always has hope and that is why her story is so interesting. She is so courageous and if you tie in the humour and music, it allows you to have the rollercoaster. If she wasn’t that person I wouldn’t have been interested. The thing about Christina’s story is you don’t stop admiring that story; you don’t stop loving that story and don’t stop getting a buzz out of other people being affected by it.” He adds: “We were recently in London at the gallery opening that her daughter had organized with works of a Vietnamese artist for the CNCF. She did five minutes

of standup comedy and it was great. She was also given the President’s Medal of Friendship from the Vietnamese President in London a few years back. I went to that, it was very formal and diplomatic, but she just got up and sung a song and everyone relaxed. She takes all situations into a good place.”

The Irish of Asia But why did Noble, now in her 60s, instantly connect with the Vietnamese people? She had the dream maybe due to the coverage and feelings of injustice of the American War, which broke hearts around the world. At the time, many cried for the people of Vietnam. Bradley believes that the reason Noble fit in so well and became one with this country is because the Vietnamese are the Irish of Southeast Asia. “My thoughts on Vietnam are strangely that the people in Vietnam are similar to people from Ireland,” Bradley explains. “They have a very similar sense of humour behind the façade, a lot of madness and chaos, and that’s very Irish. That is why Christina connected with them, they have great spirit. “She has a phrase, ‘A Vietnamese gutter is the same as an Irish gutter’. I think she has always had a real sense of hope and destiny. I think that’s why it works for her in Vietnam — because they believe in that kind of pre-destined idea. She says that ‘it only takes one person’. When she was homeless it would have only taken one kind soul to take her in, take care of her and take her off the streets.” For more information on the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation go to

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s n o i t u l v e e t R u 33 er Min p Extended


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“As well as providing a window through which to interpret the past, the iconic vinyl format is also changing the present. By all rights, it should be long dead. But what hasn’t killed it, has made it stronger”

ou know those old cartoons where the character goes fishing and catches nothing but car tyres and welly boots? Digging for vinyl in Hanoi is a bit like that. In between fin de siècle gramophones and fighter pilot helmets, you might find a Chemical Brothers album with a bite taken out of it, or releases by Russian and Cuban classical ensembles that look like they’ve been used as chopping boards. In the latter half of Asia’s 20th century, the phrase “33 revolutions per minute” was more aptly used by nation-states than audiophiles, and the reasons for Hanoi’s dearth of vintage vinyl are all too selfexplanatory. In the south of the country, however, the situation is a little different. Saigon was the epicentre of a bustling music scene before and during the war. Often the most interesting sounds were being made by those under the influence of the music from overseas. Tracks like Hung Cuong’s Mot Tram Van Tram combined the energy of rhythm and blues with the melodies and concerns of 1960s Saigon. In the case of Cuong’s most famous track, those concerns were getting time off from the conflict to spend with your lover.

Play it Again, Van With the arrival of CDs in the late 1980s and then MP3s, few in this country still possess vinyl. But that is changing and suppliers of vintage Vietnamese vinyl are beginning to appear. With his portable turntable hung over his shoulder and trademark hat and shades in place, Thai vinyl junkie Maft Sai is digging through a couple of hundred pre-1975 45s in Saigon’s District 1. He goes through the records one by one, flicking the needle forward every second or so to get a feel for the track. As the long process draws on, his friends start to drift away to other shops and cafés. Maft continues on alone, laboriously going through each record the shop’s owner brings to him. A few hours and a few hundred records later, he buys 50 classic records to include in his world renowned Isan Dancehall roots music DJ sets. Calling herself Ba Tuan, the shopkeeper won’t say exactly where the records have come from. Suffice to say that they are the old belongings of people who don’t listen to them any more and can find no-one in the family willing to take them. Despite saying Hung Cuong’s Mot Tram Van Tram was “a great track”, singing a few bars and swaying her hips energetically as soon as it’s mentioned, she never listens to the records she sells. Likewise, her kids have no interest, preferring “modern pop music”. As a major collector of Thai roots music like Molam and Luk Thung, Maft Sai has found himself at the centre of world roots music via his Bangkok based label, Zudrangma Records. Every holiday is a digging expedition to resurrect long forgotten sounds from the Middle East to

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Mr Quang, owner of Quang's Reords, in his shop.

Africa and Southeast Asia. For Maft Sai, the purpose isn’t just for a deeper understanding of a certain country’s musical heritage, but to see the overall connections inherent in the world’s roots music. “I found a couple of tracks from Vietnam the other day that sound really similar to Thai Luk Thung,” he says. “A certain track also sounds a bit Ethiopian as well. It’s quite intriguing the way all this different culture in countries so far from each other can still have this connection.” When he plays the Vietnamese tracks for young audiences of partygoers in Bangkok clubs, it has the same effect on them as it did on Ba Tuan. “The people are up for dancing, they think this is Thai music, but we just don’t understand the language.” As Maft Sai leaves, Ba Tuan tells him that she can get her hands on 5,000 more records for the next time he visits. That’s an incredible store of culture unavailable on any other format and in danger of being lost forever. Having spent years resurrecting Thailand’s roots music, Maft Sai reckons the hours of research and digging is worth it. “It takes time,” he says. “But people start to realise the value of the culture [in old records].” As well as saving a musical

era from being consigned to the cultural wastebasket, Maft Sai’s persistence has also afforded him a living and a lifetime of pleasure, so much so that he refers to himself mockingly as a “selfish historian”.

Black Roots While vinyl is becoming a way for people like Maft Sai to explore Vietnamese culture, it is also starting to provide a way for Vietnamese to discover foreign musical cultures. As the little domestic music pressed to vinyl is forgotten or hard to obtain, many of Vietnam’s vinyl enthusiasts are finding out about the history of music from the west through black plastic. As this small community grows it is also starting to become more visible. Hanoi became home to the country’s first dedicated record shop in 2007. It’s a shop in that it sells things — it’s not in that it has no advertising, not even a sign or a website. If you want to go, someone is going to have to tell you the address via an online message board, a text message or even with their mouth. It’s a small operation so prices aren’t cheap at around VND1 million per record, but it’s all worth it to owner Quang. Dressed

in a lounge-style smoking jacket, listening to French reggae and with cigarette holder in hand, Quang recounts the appeal of the black plastic. “It’s all a process,” he explains. “Some people feel it is like a religion. Before you go to the church or the temple, you should clean your body; think only good things — that’s vinyl.” Through vinyl, Quang has discovered a totally foreign culture of classical and jazz that he often doesn’t understand, but still respects. “Many jazz artists are very famous and important in American jazz history but me, or other Vietnamese listeners can’t listen to them cause we don’t belong to that culture, we cannot understand the culture.” It may not be fashionable to say it, but Quang prefers vocal jazz to Charles Mingus or Duke Ellington. For him, vinyl isn’t a fad with which to wave his pretensions, but a much richer way to appreciate music and world culture.

Green Shoots In the last few months, the trend has spread to Ho Chi Minh City, where Ngo Quoc Dung has set up the city’s first dedicated record shop. Like Quang’s place in Hanoi, it doesn’t

have a sign but at least it’s got a website. Its owner has also got very big ideas. In his small but tidy showroom, Frank Sinatra rubs up against Eminem, Thelonious Monk meets the Sex Pistols and Stravinsky sits next to Mylo, Taylor Swift and Alicia Keys. As the Clash’s London Calling fires out of the speakers, Dung explains his plans for developing an appreciation of vinyl in the country. The variety of genres and low prices in his shop are revolutionary in themselves. Averaging about VND700,000 for an LP, Dung says that he could actually get that price down to the kind of money people pay in other countries, but that doing this now, with the vinyl scene so fragile, would kill off all the other dealers. Even more ambitious are Dung’s intentions to drastically reduce the price of record players and to start pressing Vietnamese records, both reissues and new releases. Clearly Dung wants to take vinyl from a niche pursuit into the mainstream, but why should anyone care about the inconveniently large, fragile and costly format that he so loves? Logically, MP3s should have been the death knell of the vinyl world, but Dung sees increased compression and falling bit rates as an advantage.

“That is when records can be resurrected,” he says. “If you listen to an MP3 and then you compare it to the vinyl, it’s like listening to a new song. That will interest young people.” And amazingly it does. As well as the elder gentlemen frequenting Dung’s shop, there are also plenty of twenty-somethings coming in to buy Adele and Lana Del Ray albums.

Richer Sounds Vinyl’s status as a store of world culture and as the most high fidelity listening experience are helping it survive long after it should have become extinct. For the last decade vinyl sales the world over have been rising and now it looks like Vietnam will start contributing to those numbers. As well as providing a window through which to interpret the past, the iconic vinyl format is also changing the present. By all rights, it should be long dead. But what hasn’t killed it has made it stronger and ironically, the MP3 is fuelling vinyl’s resurgence. One of the main differences with vinyl is the way it affects listening habits. The ultraportability of the iPod and the availability of MP3s online has cheapened music. With thousands of songs available on massive databases, most listeners find themselves shuffling from one track to another in an effort to surprise themselves. The result is that very few people have the patience to listen to an album in its entirety. Vinyl doesn’t allow you to do this. As both Quang and Dung point out, vinyl is a process, it takes time and requires you to pay some attention to the work of art that you’re about to experience. From admiring the cover, to reading the liner notes, to setting the player’s arm over the spinning disc and dropping the needle on the outer rim, the listener is a participant in the process of vinyl. As Quang says, “When you listen to vinyl, it’s how the musician intended you to listen. Listening to one track by Pink Floyd doesn’t make sense. When you listen to [a vinyl LP], you really, actually listen. You understand the narrative of the album. With MP3s, people will never understand that.”

Get Digging Diathan 4th Floor, Riverview Building, 7A Thai Van Lung, Q1, Ho Chi Minh City Quang’s Records 2nd Floor, 131 Bui Thi Xuan, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi Ba Tuan’s Vintage Records You didn’t really think it’d be this easy, did you?

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The House of Luck 34 | Word March 2013

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“She walked on until she came to a young boy of 12 lying on the floor, his belly swollen and distended, not moving except for the occasional cough. She leaned down beside him and asked his name. He said he didn’t know” Ed Weinberg observes how Maison Chance turns a mystical quantity into a way of life for its beneficiaries. Photos by Alexandre Garel


line Rebeaud found herself in an overpopulated psychiatric hospital in southern Vietnam. She saw patients chained to beds with rusty handcuffs, moaning from scabies and depression. She’d been all through Asia that year, a world away from her native Switzerland, but this was the worst place she’d seen. More than a thousand people lined the halls and overflowed the rooms, and many begged for her help. She walked on until she came to a young boy of 12 lying on the floor, his belly swollen and distended, not moving except for the occasional cough. She leaned down beside him and asked his name. He said he didn’t know. According to the hospital folder, his name was Thanh. Everyone at the hospital was convinced that he was about to die. His lungs, heart and liver were all failing, and he needed urgent care that he wasn’t set to

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receive. Aline talked with the hospital director and persuaded him to entrust the boy to her. He shrugged; the boy was a lost cause. She took him to a hospital in Ho Chi Minh City and placed him in the intensive care wing of the cardiology department. She could not accept his fate. The hospital was understaffed and expected relatives to attend to patients, so Aline stayed with him through his recovery. Through the three-and-a-half months it took, she was always by his bedside, watching over him, attending to his needs, showing him the love and attention he’d never received. When Thanh was finally discharged, the other patients christened her ‘Tim’. One showed her what it meant by pointing to the hospital’s sign — “Benh Vien Tim Mach”. In Vietnamese, tim means ‘heart’. Tim became her name, and Maison Chance was born.

which believes in the “community model” of care, not the client-centred one. The street kids she took in needed a family, and the disabled adults she helped needed permanent physical assistance. Together they formed a community. She was 21 at the time. The basics of Maison Chance are simple: “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, teach him how to fish and he’ll eat forever.” The organisation believes in education and independence, and delivers one through workshop spaces and a school, while the other is possible because of the position those helped are put in, and the cooperation of all involved. As my host for the day, communications manager Grégory Pesce, tells me, “Maison Chance means not ‘House of Luck’” — as the French chance can sometimes translate to — “but ‘House of Opportunity’. We give them the same opportunities as other people to be successful.”

The House of Opportunity

Taking Wing

It was just a small house that she rented with Thanh in 1993. She started inviting in street children and the disabled, teaching them respect for others and themselves, teaching them about the arts. She had a unique concept — similar to that embraced in other aid organisations like L’Arche,

Over the years since it started from that small house, Maison Chance has expanded its operations to include fundraising bases in seven countries, housing for about 50 street children and disabled adults at the Maison Chance Shelter, vocational workshops for painting, sewing, IT and

bamboo crafts at the Take Wing Center, and a school, rehabilitation pool and 40 onefamily apartments at the newly-constructed Village Chance, all in a poor ward of Binh Tan. There are English and French classes, music and football. There is a restaurant and a bakery, which train recruits in real-world skills that they can make use of when they “take wing”. The sewing workshop creates stuffed animals and bags, wallets and cute little key chains. There were six people still working when I came in, but about 15 mostly disabled Maison Chancers make use of the space in all. They come up with their own patterns or follow pre-existing ones. Their work is then bought directly by Maison Chance at a fixed price, and sold online at and other outlets internationally. The painting workshop was first an expressive outlet for Chancers who’d never had the opportunity to communicate their feelings and vision, but it’s since become something more, spread over two studios, finished products arranged three-high along the hallways. It was there I met Y Nam, a 14-year-old girl who wants to grow up to be a doctor. She was painting a country scene, perhaps from her memories of Kon Tum. She came from a poor family who sent her to live in an orphanage when she was seven.

A year-and-a-half ago, she fell through the top bunk of her bed. At the time she thought she was okay but before long she started to experience numbness in her extremities. As her legs got weaker, she had to crawl to get anywhere. By the time she was moved to a hospital in January 2012, she was unable to speak and could hardly breathe. Things have changed for this bright young girl, who now has the use of her hands and is definitely able to speak, if our conversation was any indication. The future looks just as bright for Maison Chance as the organisation enters its 20th year in 2013, with the festivities starting this month. But the real celebration is slated for 2015, when they’re projecting to take the Maison Chance model to the poor countryside of Central Vietnam’s Krong No District, 350 kilometres from Ho Chi Minh City. This ambitious project aims to include medical facilities, a kindergarten and several farming projects, and hopes to eventually lead to some sustained investment and development in the region. But the real mission will stay the same, as it has for the past two decades: to show people how to help themselves, in the hopes that one day they will be able to help others. For more information, visit

Voluntourism With the growing worldwide interest shown in voluntourism, one Saigon-based travel company has teamed up with Maison Chance to provide tourists an opportunity to have meaningful interaction with disadvantaged communities in the city. Organised by Vietnam Vespa Adventures, the initial tour is a half-day visit on the back of a vintage Vespa to Maison Chance in Saigon. Tourists will visit the NGO centres, learn about the work they do to support the local disadvantaged and disabled community, meet and get to know some of the centre residents, visit workshops that the centre residents attend, as well as go to the NGO school for local disadvantaged kids. Helping to raise awareness of the plight of the needy, the tours will generate vital loan revenue for business start-ups as part of a micro-finance project. These tours run once per week, with a maximum of five participants on each visit. For further information go to or the volunteer group, Vietnam Vespa Adventures is based out of Zoom Café at 169A De Tham, Q1.

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hen scaffolding company owner Bob Taylor first met Mika, a yellow-cheeked gibbon, she was holed up in a tiny cage in a small and dingy pet shop in Ho Chi Minh City. Taken at a young age from the wild, years of confinement had had devastating physical effects. With little muscle to support movement, her legs were deformed and she was unable to walk, only able to shuffle about on her behind. Having already transformed part of his home in Vung Tau into a primate care centre, Bob took her out of the shop and into his own care. It was the start of a long and unique relationship. After a short time Mika began to make progress. Under Bob’s personal care she learnt to walk, swing and climb. Home to 23 primates, including three species of macaque and three other yellow-cheeked gibbons, life in the centre was good for Mika and she was beginning to thrive. But then Bob noticed another problem. Mika had developed cataracts and was starting to lose her sight. He was devastated. “It broke my heart,” he recalls. “So I ended up putting ropes in her cage so she could move around.” It was then that he had the idea. “With a will and a way you can do anything,” he continues. “I had my cataracts taken out. So, I contacted people around the world and asked, ‘Can we do it for Mika?' But everyone I spoke to said no, it was impossible.” The problem with such an operation, says Marina Kenyon of the Endangered Asian Species Trust (EAST), was the risk of infection. “Many veterinarians said it was far too dangerous — if Mika rubbed her eyes it would cause serious problems.” Established by Monkey World UK to support conservation work in Southeast Asia, while the role of EAST in what was to follow proved vital, it was local surgeons in Vietnam who were able to provide the breakthough. “Having spoken to doctors in America and all over the world, we eventually contacted some Vietnamese surgeons in Ho Chi Minh City,” continues Bob. “‘Could they do the operation?’ They told me they had never done it before but they said they could try.” Adds Marina: “The final decision to proceed was based on the fact that Mika would lose all vision soon without the surgery — she really had nothing to lose. It was the Vietnamese that came through in the end.”

Local Expertise, Foreign Supervision The Community Eye Department in Ho Chi Minh City performed the surgery; the team

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was headed up by Doctors Tien Phi Duy and Tran Huy Hoang. However, in the run up to the operation, Bob and his team had to overcome a range of difficulties. With so many physical issues, there was huge concern about Mika’s general health. So she underwent a series of tests to rule out diabetes and any other disease that may have had negative connotations for her wellbeing. Fortunately, for once she came out with a clean bill of health. Then there was the reoccurring problem of no previous cataract removal operation on a primate — the surgeons and everyone involved were quite literally in the dark. And operating on a primate rather than a human being meant the purchase of special drugs and equipment. While EAST provided the anaesthesia equipment, Bob eventually sourced all the other supplies from the UK. All set and with just two days to go before the operation, there was one final hiccup. Worried about the spread of disease, the hospital assigned for the operation pulled out. So, after much bargaining and discussion, the procedure was moved to a local training centre and, under the supervision of specialists from Monkey World UK and EAST, doctors Tien Phi Duy and Tran Huy Hoang took Mika into the operating theatre. The procedure was a success. Seeing Mika every few days during her rehabilitation, Marina says that there was almost an instant difference. “After just a few days she’d reach out to objects — she could clearly see so much better.” But post-operation, there remained concerns. How could they stop Mika from rubbing her eyes. After much debate, pain relief was administrated and eye drops were given to avoid infection and inflammation — due to the nature of Mika’s surgery it was vital that her eyes did not cause discomfort; the measures taken achieved their goal. According to Bob, Mika now has 99 percent vision. There have been other accomplishments, too. Constantly monitored throughout her recovery, to the delight of Marina and her team Mika is now able to feed herself and maintain a social position within her group. It was also discovered that the gibbon eye is very similar to that of an infant human. Therefore, this surgery can be easily performed elsewhere, meaning that a positive step in animal welfare and medicine in Vietnam is now being recognised and respected by the world. Naturally, Bob is overjoyed. “Mika has adapted to life with sight perfectly,” he smiles. “The Americans said no. So did everyone else. In the end it was the Vietnamese who came through, against the odds.”


Mika the Marvel Against the odds, Mika the gibbon was the first primate in the world to have eye surgery. She now lives in Vung Tau. Here’s her story. Words by Tara Oldfield. Photo by Nick Ross

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I O N A H How many times have you heard Saigonese, both local and from overseas, waxing negative about the capital? The probability is many. Like so many pairs of great cities, there is a rivalry between Saigon and Hanoi that is difficult to define. Yet to relegate Hanoi to the fourth division of desirable places to visit is to make a mistake. For all its foibles — Saigon has many, too — among its crumbling colonial facades and plethora of over-polluted lakes it has much to commend itself on. So, in an attempt to change your mind and relieve you of your prejudice towards this 1,000-year-old metropolis, this month we have dedicated ourselves to all things Hanoi. With the help of our editorial team based in the grim, dark, dark, north we have put together our city picks, the places to go, the things to do and see, what to look out for and what to avoid. We also introduce you to some of the city’s more alternative slickers and take you on a tour of the Old Quarter. It’s by no means comprehensive, but we hope the following pages will help you see Hanoi in a different light. And if they don’t? Well, at least we tried. 40 | Word March 2013

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: i o n a H

w e i V s ’ r e d i s n I An What makes Hanoi tick? We asked our editorial team in the capital to give us some insight. Photos by Aaron Joel Santos Why I Live in Hanoi

Free ‘n Easy

Aaron Joel Santos, Photo Editor

Nick Ross, Chief Editor

I’ve always had a hard time describing what I love about Hanoi. It’s something that defies sense and logic in a lot of ways, something that exists maybe just below the surface, this energy or vibration or something else that can’t be readily named or felt. It’s something secret that reveals itself slowly, under layers and layers of noise and chaos and incomprehensible chatter. But it’s there, and for me, it’s what makes Hanoi one of the more unique cities in Asia, if not the world. Since I’m a photographer, I guess it makes most sense to talk about Hanoi from a photographer’s perspective. And since right now it’s winter, cold, grey and depressing, it makes most sense to talk about Hanoi in this light. Or lack thereof. I think the trick is to stop seeing it as cold and grey and dark and not beautiful, and to start seeing it as this cloaked magical realm that mists over at dusk and lights up with vapour lamps and

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motorbike high beams and neon karaoke lights. Have you ever seen the mausoleum on a bleak winter’s night? It’s gorgeous and haunting. Or what about the Old Quarter in the rain? When the sky just opens up and lets loose with fury and the streets start to immediately flood and people are dashing through traffic with cardboard boxes and plastic bags over their heads? There’s magic there. And insanity. The capital becomes this symphony of sound and images and every street corner is a tableau, every stock pot steaming from a doorway frames a portrait of a pho vendor lit by halogen and fluorescence. So my advice: If you want to see and feel this city, get away from Hoan Kiem Lake. Get lost. Walk around at night. Go to the market under Long Bien Bridge. Find the rice paddies that still exist in My Dinh, the Phu My Hung of Hanoi. Find that hidden whatever. Wherever.

I live in Saigon, but I spend much of my time in the capital. Forget the crumbling, colonial era buildings and the madness of the Old Quarter, for me what elevates this metropolis above the dizzy heights of its at-odds neighbour down south are the public spaces. Here you can find paddy fields, lakeside walking spaces, immense parks, lily ponds and even a riverside beach, all within walking distance of the centre. The most accessible space is West Lake. Take Lane 27 off Xuan Dieu (now renamed Quang An) and walk down the slope. The meandering lakeside road takes you past restaurants, convenience stores and down to a corner with lakeside coconut juice cafés, pagodas (Phu Tay Ho is the best known) and the lily ponds. Traverse the whole length and you end up at the Hanoi Water Park (614 Lac Long Quan, Tay Ho). Stop off close to the beginning and take lunch at one of the city’s best Italians, Da Paolo (No. 18, Lane 50/59/17, Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho). Not too far from West Lake is Song Hong Beach (end of Ngo 200, Au Co). An expanse of

sand overlooked by corn, banana and paddy fields, this riverside emptiness is frequented by runners, walkers, couples looking for romance and dog lovers with their trusty canines in tow. Saigon has nothing like this. And back towards town, overlooking West Lake, is Lang Yen Phu, an island transformed into a village with a pagoda, cafés, bars and some of the best lakeside seating around this expanse of water. The parks, too, satisfy that need for solitude and peace. Bach Thao (start of Hoang Hoa Tham, Ba Dinh), is one of the best, with undulating mini hills, a lake, colonial era-planted trees and shade to ward off the summer sun. Then there is Lenin Park (Dien Bien Phu/Tran Phu, Ba Dinh); the expanse of green opposite the flag tower is a favourite with parkour lovers and skateboarders alike. And next to the circus, Thong Nhat Park (Tran Nhan Tong, Hai Ba Trung). Hanoi is as much about its open spaces as it is about its cramped Old Quarter roads and chaos-theory traffic. If you’re heading there, take advantage of it.

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Hardened Coffee Drinker

Cycle of Life

Kaitlin Rees, Features Editor

Fabiola Buchele, Freelance Writer

The commitment and muscularity required to drink Hanoi coffee used to make me feel insufficient. I once sat for coffee with a man who ordered it hot, black and without sugar and found myself swooning over this cool display of brawn. After composing myself, I started refusing milk and sugar and even ice to assert my own mental and physical fortitude. I realized I couldn’t go back once I saw the twinkle of admiration in the eyes of the waiter. My relationship to coffee was really solidified during the month of June 2011. As a means of strength and endurance training, I spent the whole month going to the same café at the same time of day for at least an hour. I became a regular among those of the Birdcage Café on the corner of Tran Binh Trong and Nguyen Du streets. It is one among hundreds in Hanoi, but it came to represent something of the city’s

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essence for me. That essential thing, though difficult to pin down, has something to do with a slower pace, a disproportionate number of beret-wearing men with free time in the late morning, the birdsongs that resound through impatient road noises, and the feeling of combined distress and glee coming from within the cages themselves. It’s a local’s spot and the coffee is aggressive, but it’s next to a lake and it’s very possible to secretly pour in extra hot water to dilute your drink while maintaining your hard earned reputation. My commitment to the Birdcage Café is genuine, but with fidelity still not really my thing, I also occasionally drift to Cong Caphe II (32 Dien Bien Phu, Ba Dinh), the street coffee at 6 Ly Thuong Kiet and the third floor of the Exchange Café (2B Ngo Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem) and the west-facing windows of La Place (6 Nha Chung, Hoan Kiem).

Perhaps the most cost-effective, touristically inconspicuous, unexplored-yet-conveniently practical Hanoian thrill is cycling around town. There are multiple points on the pro side of pedaling yourself from A to B. There is the seeing-stuff-of-interest factor, there is experiencing the unique traffic flow, there are others. This mode of transport poses no risk of taxi-scams, sitting in traffic jams or the neck-breaking speeds of a hired xe om driver. My favourite time to get on the saddle is just after midnight, when the capital is ready to tuck in and its streets are mine. It is when the chaotic and manic daytime Old Quarter becomes a place of calm, wide, tree-lined avenues. It seems like a different city altogether. At this time, it is possible to notice the famed French facades, previously hidden by the tarpaulin covering of ladies selling nem, Gucci belts and sewing

equipment. There is no need to concentrate on colliding with a shopper, scooter or flower lady. The difference is like, well, night and day. Cycling is certainly my favoured way of getting places. Being on a bicycle in the midst of scooters, buses and the odd Porsche or Bentley makes me feel like a rolling fish in a big school of eclectic sea creatures shimmering on a metal reef. Meandering like this at a leisurely pace makes a simple pleasure out of my daily joy ride. To rent a bicycle venture to Don’s Tay Ho (16/27 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho), Mr. Trung (10 Ngo 175 Hong Ha, Ba Dinh) or Quan’s Rentals (70 Hang Bac, Hoan Kiem). For information on bigger tours in and around the city, and to rent bicycles, The Hanoi Bicycle Collective (44 Ngo 31 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho) is your friend.

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No-go Area Douglas Pyper, Staff Writer

A few of my Favourite Things Hoa Le, Staff Writer

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The Cathedral Lemon Tea Corner

The Red River Area

For around ten years, Tra Tranh Corner in front of St. Joseph’s Cathedral on Nha Tho has been a distinctive, must-go-to-place in Hanoi. For many it showcases the energy of the city — vibrant yet at times romantic. Dozens of tea stalls surround the hundredyear-old cathedral, operating at all times, whether it’s throughout lunch in the hot and sweaty summer, or late on a cold winter’s night. Customers here are local youths and middle-aged officials, foreign expats and musicians, photographers and artists of national renown. Sit alone on a plastic stool, taking a sip of lemon tea while gazing at the cathedral or chatting with a group of friends over a plate of sun flower seeds — this is a city where people like the sound of silence as much as the ring of conversation. The occasional chiming of the cathedral bells adds to the vibe. And if you like the feeling of the crowd but don’t necessarily want to be part of it, go up to the second floor of Little Hanoi Café (4 Ly Quoc Su, Hoan Kiem) or several other cafes in the area sporting a balcony.

Two years ago when I moved to Gia Lam, separated from the rest of Hanoi by the Red River, many of my friends said it was a bad idea. “Never live far from a market nor across a river,” states a Vietnamese proverb. But with the Hanoi population and the volume of traffic expanding daily, that idiom no longer applies. Living in Gia Lam now means that you can take a break from the craziness and aggression of the city and enjoy the peace and solitude of a leafy suburb without having to travel too far. If you’re visiting Hanoi for a few days, it’s worth riding a bicycle over the Red River and along the riverfront road on the other side, or taking a walk across Long Bien Bridge, a French-built structure. Here you can enjoy the breeze of the river while resting your eyes on the green trees and corn fields of Middle Warp — the little island under the bridge. On a summer’s night, the bridge is busy with romantic couple or those simply hanging out to get away from the heat. On winter nights, roasted corn stoves add a cozy feeling to the place. And if you’re looking for a late-night dancehall and trance den after a few stops elsewhere, Phuc Tan Bar (51/4A Phuc Tan, Hoan Kiem) has a great view of the bridge with river breezes to match.

Hanoi’s got to be the worst place in the whole world: too humid in summer, too cold in winter and too polluted all year round. You can’t even enjoy a relaxing street-side coffee for all the hawkers, traffic fumes and discarded foodstuffs. It’s full of lakes you can’t swim in, or even sit near because the locals — the damn locals — consider large bodies of water to be waste disposal sites. Imagine a city where birds chirp only in cages, where nobody gives way, where old couples ballroom dance in the parks at night. A city composed of elegantly bedraggled buildings, walls crumbling and paint peeling, structures whose rotted wooden beams and early 20th century fittings still make do among karaoke signs

and extensions, buildings still standing two centuries too late — a cross between a museum and a faded portrait — preserved by neglect and surrounded by ill-fitting new cultures like only half the city got the telegram to stop the clocks. Imagine a city where everything has to close at midnight, on stiff coffee and weak beer. Prepare to be woken up by a jackhammer at 6am, then be told to “ssssssssssshh!” at 10pm. Get ready for a full-on screaming match every time you pop to the market. Want something done? You’ll have to wait ‘cause there are two coffee breaks to go before the lunch-time siesta. My advice? Don’t come here, you won’t like it.

The Time I Played Tour Guide Rose Arnold, Staff Editor We started at the Temple of Literature, with its quiet courtyard, altars of gaudy reds and gold, air thick with incense. We crossed the stream of motorbikes to a tea shop on Ngo Tat To after for sweet tea and candied fruit cross-legged on bright floor cushions. Then onto an exhibition opening at Manzi Art Space (14 Phan Huy Ich, Ba Dinh), and Madake (81 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho) out in West Lake for Thai food and beers. Morning, a bowl of pho on my street. Afternoon, the Museum of Ethnology (Nguyen Van Huyen, Nghia Do, Cau Giay). Nighttime, dancing. That means The Hanoi Bicycle Collective (44 Ngo 31, Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho) for a Mali band and bocatas, red wine and drums. Then across town to Angelina (Sofitel Metropole, 15 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem) for the end of the Chula fashion show, cocktails, and a Balkan-esque DJ set. Day two, a late start. With heads too cloudy to handle street food, we go for brunch at the Hanoi Cooking Centre (44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh), for middle-eastern

style eggs in a quiet, yellow courtyard by the bookshop. We walk down to West Lake, the spot where Thanh Nien meets Thuy Khue. I point out birdcages, bunting, trees wrapped in ribbons, the pedal swan-boats. I don’t point out the rats or the dead fish in the lake. I want my friend to love this adopted city of mine. That night in a packed courtyard at the Goethe Institut (56-58 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Ba Dinh), a live experimental soundtrack is played for short films about Hanoi. A quick bia hoi stop, then on to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum (Hung Vuong, Ba Dinh) to see the putting-the-flag-to-bed evening ceremony. The immaculately uniformed guards step in time to State music and we walk to Barbetta (34C Cao Ba Quat, Ba Dinh). Slow, slow service but forgivable because the place is beautiful: antique gramophones, album covers of greats, black and white photos and film posters cover absinthe-green walls. Whisky sours, order a second as soon as the first arrives.

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t r a p A s t e e r t S


espite being known as the 36 streets of the Old Quarter, there are in-fact more than 70 streets that snake together to form this densely populated area. First taking shape after Vietnam gained its independence from China in the 11th century, what began as a sprinkling of tiny market stalls turned into a fully bustling commercial area by the end of the 13th century. Populated by close-knit communities of labourers and craftsmen, who worked and lived together, guilds were formed to safeguard their

techniques and temples were constructed to honour their art. Each guild had its individual temples and worshipped a separate patron saint. Because of this, each guild was separated into blocks and thus each street was named according to the goods it produced and sold. For many of the streets today, the names are all that is left to remind us of their history. Rarely do the names correlate with what is actually sold there. So in the following list we give you a breakdown of, and an occasional new name for, some of the streets to make shopping and wandering a bit more accessible.

The Streets Hang Bac Translated as ‘Silver Street’, Hang Bac is one of the oldest and most popular streets in the area. Once housing the silversmith guild, it is now home to jewellery shops trading in gold, silver and various gemstones.

Hang Bo Hang Bo starts at the intersection of Hang Dao and Hang Bac. It is lined with haberdashery merchants selling beads, buttons and zippers. By nightfall it undergoes a metamorphosis; storefronts are cleared and bamboo mats are strewn on the pavement. It is then that ‘Dried Squid Street’ emerges for you to sit on the sidewalk and enjoy some grilled cuttlefish (muc nuong) and Bia Hanoi.

The commercial and historic centre of Hanoi, The Old Quarter remains the city’s most visited and yet least understood area. Drop it from your itinerary at your peril. Words by Hai Vu. Photos by Aaron Joel Santos 48 | Word March 2013

Hang Dao For centuries the Vietnamese have been renowned for silk. And this tradition culminates on this patch, which now specializes in ready-made clothes. One of the

very first streets in the Old Quarter, Hang Dao, which translates as ‘Peach Street’, serves as a main artery running from north to south.

life. Be sure to bargain the best deal and be prepared to walk away, because someone further down the market will likely be selling the same thing for cheaper.

Hang Duong

Hang Dau

Famous for selling Vietnamese dried prune candies called o mai, ‘Sugar Street’ maintains its original purpose in vending sweets. It leads to Hanoi’s largest indoor market, Cho Dong Xuan. On the weekends the entire street closes to traffic and changes into a night market spanning four blocks. Be warned, though, even though roads are closed, there always seems to be a motorbike or two that manages to sneak by.

A street that once housed oil merchants, it is now a one-stop destination for all your footwear needs. ‘Shoe Street’ is a great place to visit before embarking on a long trek through Sapa’s rolling countryside — or perhaps a visit is in order afterwards to repair the damage caused.

Cho Dong Xuan At 600sqm, this is the oldest and largest indoor market in Hanoi. Selling everything from textiles and linens to household goods and souvenirs, this is a good destination for tourists looking to enjoy the frenzied market

Hang Mam Nuoc mam (fish sauce) may be a staple part of any Vietnamese diet, but this street no longer sells the fragrant sauce. Hang Mam now specialises in the manufacturing of tombstones and coffins. ‘Coffin Street’ may be a sombre sight, but it’s also picturesque in the way these memorial etchings are displayed.

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Nha Chung

Dinh Liet

Literally translates to ‘Together House’, so what better place to locate Hanoi’s largest church, Nha Tho Lon? With its neo-gothic architecture, walking inside the cathedral is like teleporting back to 1886 France, while outside the church may be the only safe haven for breathing room in all of the Old Quarter. Lining the sides of the church are several cafes and lemon-tea shops.

During the winter months Hanoi gets cold yet remains humid. And no matter what you do, the wet air manages to penetrate your bones. That is why this street is a saviour. ‘All Things Woven and Knitted Street’ is the place to go for your sweaters, scarves, hats and gloves.

Hang Be/Gia Ngu After the Hang Be ‘Raft Street’ market closed in 2010, the duty of selling fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and various dried goods fell upon these two intersecting streets. Shopkeepers sell their choice cuts of meat while they lay strewn, blistering in the hot Vietnam sun. Sanitary or not, it is best to come early to see the street at its busiest, as well being the best time to vie for the freshest produce.

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Hang Thiec Historically named ‘Tin Street’, Hang Thiec is also affectionately called ‘Small and Medium Sized Metal Objects Street’. It makes the sensory experience of other nearby streets feel like a snooze fest. Near its south end, you can find screws, screwdrivers, locks, nails, hammers, keys, nuts, bolts, doorknobs and all the accompanying banging and clanking.

Thuoc Bac As you walk north, the metal objects of Hang Thiec start to turn into safes, pots

and mirrors, and eventually transition into the street called ‘Northern Medicine Street’ — though assuredly it is still the place to find small and medium-sized metal objects.

Lan Ong ‘Traditional Medicine Street’ is good for the body and a favourite for the nose. Earthy aromas fill the area that offers teas, roots, herbs and dried fruits as cures for everything that could possibly be wrong with you. Here you can also find a plethora of towels and bathrobes.

Hang Ma Though its official name translates to ‘Joss Paper Street’, more descriptive modern day names might be ‘Showy Appearances Street’ or ‘Marriage Invitations and Paper Lanterns Street’ or ‘Perhaps the Only Street Where You Can Buy Large Styrofoam Boxes Street’. You get the idea.

Cha Ca

Hang Quat

Once famous for its signature fish dish, Cha Ca now might be more accurately called ‘Large Rolls of Paper Street’. With only one or two remaining food spots where you can find cha ca, it is now a great place to purchase paper for all purposes. Stuffed animals and Power Rangers toys are also prevalent.

Historically this was a place where fan vendors tried to keep Hanoi cool in the summer. Today, for those looking for some sparkle and shine, a walk down ‘Glowing Street’ will not disappoint. As a place for families to maintain beautiful ancestral shrines, the street boasts golden Buddhas, jewels, candles and other attractive offerings.

Ha Trung ‘Pimp My Ride Street’ offers upholstery services for you to jazz up your motorbike seat and also find purses, belts and a fantastic pair of denim cut offs that have been hanging from a wire for at least two years. Ha Trung also hosts a strip of jewellery shops and is a convenient stop when the banks are closed.

Luong Van Can

Pho Yen Thai

A perfect, if slightly crowded street to visit before any dinner party where you are responsible for bringing dessert or drinks or both, this is ‘Candy and Alcohol Street’. Towards the end of the road are some oldtime coffee houses. The name translates

Sat in the shadow of Hang Da Market, it is easy to miss ‘Enigmatic Alleyway’. But the modesty and mystery of the street makes it a favourite.

As ‘All Day Play Street’, Luong Van Can sells an assortment of games, toys and stuffed animals that will satisfy your little kid cravings. At night the street hosts several bia hoi, all offering a slightly different kind of play.

Hang Buom

as ‘Sail Street’, which you could stretch to interpret the feeling of a sugar or caffeineinduced high or perhaps some unsteadiness created by imbibing too much alcohol.

Hang Vai / Hang Ga Where ‘Fabric Street’ and ‘Chicken Street’ meet is on ‘Bamboo Corner’, and this intersection is truly one of a kind. A nostalgic trip into the past, it is reminiscent of a quieter, simpler and more peaceful Vietnam where everything was built out of bamboo.

Gia Ngu ‘Leggings Street’ is the adorable and so very practical alleyway that is also the place to find your pants and brassieres. A walk through lights the imagination as a source of creative fashion inspiration.

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e r e H t s u J t o N r e e B for A bar is no longer a bar, and a cafe is no longer just a cafe. Hanoi is home to a myriad of spaces that provide more than just one function. Words by Rose Arnold. Photos by Aaron Joel Santos


definite part of the Hanoi experience is the hybrid hangout space. Places you can go to have a drink, sure, but while you’re at it maybe attend a talk, watch a film, make something, hear poetry, create... What’s the difference, you might ask? Pubs and bars have always been popular venues for small bands to play in; it’s nothing new to put up paintings and photos. Art galleries have cafes.

The difference is a matter of degree and intent. These hybrid spaces are created and managed with much more in mind than just getting the punters pissed. They might be the sum of all these things but — as the phrase goes — the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. These venues provide the chance to try out new things. Learning new stuff and making things isn’t just for the classroom; it needn’t stop just because you’re all grown up.


Hanoi Social Club


The birth of the hybrid hangout phenomenon began in 2008, with Nguyen Qui Duc’s Tadioto. A venue which, in the words of artist Frank Zeller, was “Hanoi's one and only fabulous cross-cultural, cafearts-space-poetry-room-party-joint-whiskybar.” Tadioto was so much more than just a bar; its forced closure in 2011 to make room for another karaoke bar left a gaping hole in Hanoi. Tadioto has since found a new home in the south of the city, again offering Duc’s unique blend of hospitality, art, soul and intellect. There’s art all around, including the furniture, much of it one-offs made by Duc with some available to buy. There is also a dedicated gallery space upstairs with regularly updated exhibitions. Films are shown on Wednesday evenings, and there are frequent art talks. Good, tapas-style food, a range of drinks available plus oneoff special chef events are held. It’s a great space to hang out, even if there isn’t an event on there are always interesting people and conversation.

Popular with both expats and young Vietnamese, Hanoi Social Club is a café buzzing with life, its mural-covered walls sport paintings by local artists. “Promoting art and culture and offering a diverse range of events is an integral part of what the venue is about,“ says co-owner John Sylvan. Since opening they have hosted musician meet ups, put on art classes, old clothes swaps, craft markets and meditation classes. In 2013 you can add blues, yoga, a debate competition and pirate radio broadcasts to the mix. Foodwise, they offer a selection of wholesome cuisine including a good range of vegetarian and vegan options. Drinks include smoothies, coffee, teas, beers, spirits and wine plus some decent British Thwaites Ales. There is also a beautiful leafy rooftop garden terrace to hang out on, and often an open fire and an open mic session to be found.

A venue with a speakeasy vibe, along with serving some of the best cocktails in the city this bar hosts an eclectic mix of music, film and comedy. Set up by the CAMA crew, who first brought big parties and international music acts to Hanoi, there was no way this venue was going to be one-dimensional. Douglas Pyper, who manages ATK’s events, says the dynamic that exists in Hanoi makes for a more exciting, homegrown scene. “In Ho Chi Minh City the relationship between venues and bars is a bit more arms-length; promoters have to approach a bar with an idea, a business proposition. In Hanoi there are a number of venues, ATK included, that put on their own events, plus are really open to the space being used in lots of different ways.” This fluidity makes for a fertile breeding ground which allows new events and nights a chance to flourish, something ATK makes the most of.

12 Truong Han Sieu, Hai Ba Trung Open 9am to late

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6 Hoi Vu, Hoan Kiem Open 9am to midnight Find them on Facebook

73 Mai Hac De, Hai Ba Trung Open Wednesday to Saturday, 6pm to midnight

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The Hanoi Bicycle Collective (THBC) A love of bicycles was the jumping-off point — they sell and repair all things pedal powered — but with a café, gin bar, cycling events, poetry, music and film screenings, THBC has gone well beyond this initial starting point and created an exciting space in the city. Music is of the acoustic sort with a world music slant; they hold regular ukulele gigs and World Music Sundays. They have a full bar with wines, beers and spirits available. Food served is a decent selection of Spanish snacks; bocadillos with fillings such as jamon serrano, tortilla, queso manchego. Plus they do a trade in the most amazingly rich and thick Spanish-style hot chocolate. THBC is located in a nice spot from which to explore the West Lake area of Hanoi. Hire a bike and set off round the small, quieter lakeside roads. They also organise other cycling events including a Critical Mass — getting together a big group of cyclists to hit the roads together. Together with other activities, this helps raise awareness of the bicycle as a viable alternative to the polluting motorbike. 44, Ngo 31, Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Open 9am to 9pm Find them on Facebook

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Manzi Art Space and Bar



Manzi is an exciting new space in an area of Hanoi previously short on socialising / drinking options beyond that of traditional bia hoi and tea stalls, or at the other end of the spectrum, hotel bars. Manzi has a well-stocked bar, serves tasty light lunches, cakes, coffees, teas and juices. Housed in a typical French colonial building with a bright white interior, it also has an arts shop and gallery space. Manzi is the brainchild of an artist and two cultural activists, and is a popular hangout for the artistic community. “We wanted to create a local art space that wasn’t financially reliant on donors,” says co-owner Giang Dang. “Where artists and those interested in art could meet.” Manzi has only been open a few months but Hanoi seems hungry for what they have to offer; workshops have been well-attended — talks on art have boasted packed-out rooms. Events planned for 2013 encompass art, literature, music and film, so check out what is on if you’re in town. On a less cerebral note, go on a Thursday evening for the ‘Angels get Drunk’ special drinks offers.

Located on the west bank of West Lake this bar has a great terrace with a good view of the water. Commune started with the idea of providing shared working space for creative and social enterprises. The café and bar were a natural progression from this. As co-owner Jeremy Wellard says, “Good food, drinks and especially good coffee are crucial to fuelling creativity.” They have a top breakfast menu served until late, interesting sandwiches, salads, shared boards and snacks. The weekend Recovery Breakfast has been tried and tested; a big fried breakfast, a Bloody Mary and a coffee help take the pain of a big night away. Commune holds regular events such as creative networking and this year they're putting on workshops in subjects such as design, fashion, photography and filmmaking.

Not a bar, but well worth a mention. Chula is a fashion house, kind of. They certainly make stunning dresses, although the one-offs could also be described as quirky, individual, wearable art pieces. The venue, a striking series of buildings organised around a fantastic outdoor space, is where they design, make and sell their clothes, and is also the home of owners Laura, Diego and their young family. They use the space to exhibit the work of artist friends and Diego’s furniture, and hold regular music, art and fashion events.

Hanoi Cooking Centre/ Bookworm This partnership brings together a restaurant, cooking courses and the best English bookshop in town, around a peaceful courtyard. They host regular events, from cultural events, music and talks to flea markets. 44 Chau Long, Ba Dinh Open 9am to 7pm

Madake West Lake newcomer Madake is one to watch; look out for exciting things from this. Since opening on New Year’s Eve events held here have been packed out. Thai food served. Open late. 81 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho Open 11am to late Find them on Facebook

472 Lac Long Quan, Tay Ho Open 9am to 5pm

20A Duong Ven Ho, Tay Ho (Close to Vong Thi Pagoda) Open 7.30am to midnight, except Monday when it closes at 5pm

14 Phan Huy Ich, Ba Dinh Open 9am to midnight Find them on Facebook

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t n a W u o Y If . . . . t h g i R t I o D o

Tired of the norm, growing numbers of city residents have got off their backsides and are creating magic under their own steam. From live music to outdoor exercise classes, to contemporary dance and poetry, this is DIY Hanoi.


Brutalised Nostalgia Born in Hue in 1977, Le Quy Tong has made a name for himself in the capital’s art world since graduating from the Hanoi University of Fine Arts. His work is regarded as a ‘messy’ aesthetic applying the paint with obvious violence and allowing it to drip down the canvas at certain points. The effect is one of speed, change, industry, insecurity, violence and anxiety. Some critics have highlighted nostalgia in Tong’s work owing to the subject matter of antiques, steam trains and Long Bien Bridge, claiming that he seeks to hold onto the

past through his works. Yet nostalgia suggests a longing for the past that his brutalised portraits or non-idyllic renderings don’t reflect. Since one of his biggest exhibitions in 2008 titled Rose Coloured Days, which one critic points out, could easily have been called Grey Days, Tong’s work has been able to command prices of up to VND400 million. Many of his pieces can be seen and purchased at the Apricot Gallery (40B Hang Bong, Hoan Kiem). A just reward for providing a zeitgeist of today’s Vietnam. — Douglas Pyper

Pimping your Ride For those of you obsessed by two-wheeled vehicles with petrol-powered engines, the opportunities for pimping up your beloved vehicles in a country fixated by motorbikes are endless. The more you work away at it — from stripping down the engine and giving the bike a re-spray through to gradually swapping up all those hard-to-comeby parts — the more of an obsession it becomes. For those who don’t have the garage space or the technical know-how, one such workshop that is always doing some sort of restoration is VIP Bikes (#64 Ngo 71 Tan Ap, Ba Dinh). “We’ve pimped many Cubs, a Honda Chaly and some Honda Bentleys,” says man at the helm, Andrew Souto. “Normally we do the project in two stages. First we do a

total overhaul of the mechanics, riding [the bike] until we can get all the little bugs right. Then we strip it down to nothing, do a total re-spray and reassemble.” Although presently working on an East German, out of production MZ, a workhorse similar to the Belarusian Minsk, VIP has got its own personal venture on the go. “We’ve already done a couple of bikes for our in-house projects,” says Souto. “They’re for training purposes, but they’re fun, too. Our present project is an old Honda 67. Projects that we do in-house give us a chance for the guys to express their bike ‘flare’ and for them to build confidence. It also helps us strengthen our team work.” — Nick Ross

Where the Art is It can be difficult for unknown artists to secure funding or to get the support to exhibit their work. NAME Art Space ( was dreamt up to fill that gap and to work with young artists who otherwise would be going it alone. Artists who have just graduated “don’t have links, big networks, they are quite isolated in their work,” explains Vuong Bich Ngoc, who set up NAME. Ngoc, along with Susmita Paul and other volunteers and collaborators, is working on a wide range of projects.

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One is a bilingual multi-media poetry project; another is a photography project called Roots, about the importance of trees; another, Sketch, a collaboration and exhibition which is planned to lead onto workshops and classes. One more, an as yet unnamed photography project, will aim to raise awareness of breast cancer as well as to bring a smile to patients and their families. A key aim of the DIY group is to bring together Vietnamese and international artists and to create a ‘common community through diverse perspectives and new ideas’. — Rose Arnold

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Belt it Out Word features editor Kaitlin Rees was keen to be part of a poetry community that brought together both Vietnamese and English language poets. She failed to find one ready-made, so decided to create it herself and set up Noi Ha Noi (noihanoi. com), with regular events held around the city. The group combines open mic sets, readings from more established

artists as well as crowd-generated poetry. “The idea,” says Kaitlin, “is to bring quality writing to the public through the performances while also working to develop the writing community through open mics.” — Rose Arnold

Bee Active Bootcamp Some people come and go from the city and are quickly forgotten. Others leave a legacy such as Australian Helen Kindness, the creator of the Hanoi bootcamp community. Her successor, Joakim “Kim” Esaiasson, says when people knew Helen was leaving town, “they were devastated.” “They were freaking out,” he recalls. “‘What the hell are we going to do now?’ they were saying.” Fortunately Kim was able to step into her shoes. A hardy Swede who has cycled round the world — twice if the stories are true — it took a bit of time for him to fit into the role, “but everyone was really supportive and it ended up being business as usual.” But what exactly is bootcamp? In its basic form it’s “highintensity” outdoor circuit training and cross training, but with only minimal apparatus and “all done within a strong, communal framework.” Each section of the circuit is set up on a makeshift public space, in this case the badminton court opposite Quang Ba Temple in To Ngoc Van. From short fivemetre runs through to above-the-head tyre lifting, squats, thrusts, push-ups and more, the exercisers alternate with quick transitions between activities. Its true attraction, though, is that to take part you don’t have to be fit. “Your fitness level has nothing do with [getting

involved],” says Kim. “So, someone who can do 120 pushups will be exercising next to someone who can only do five, but they are still working together. You’re working within your own personal limits and within the bounds of what and who you are.” Then there is the lifestyle, the community ethos of getting in shape with friends. “If you don’t come to class,” says Kim, “you feel bad about it because you know that your friends are doing it, struggling through the training. And you know you should be there, doing it too, and supporting them through all the hard work.” Now with almost 70 people attending daily sessions — from early morning through to early evening — it’s a legacy that Helen Kindness would be proud of. Kim, too, takes pride in how the community has developed. “As a trainer I love to see people’s progress,” he says, “especially when you start off with someone who can’t even do a push-up and then months later you can see them doing 25. You can really see the improvement… When people inspire others to start out, then I know I have done something right.” — Nick Ross To get involved email

Dreaming of Greener Days Vo Trong Nghia is living the green dream. He wants to see a cleaner world and is determined to do his bit. Through architecture and design he believes he can make the most fervent environmentalist proud. His projects focus on nature-friendly, energy-saving residential and office constructions as well as restaurants and public spaces. To achieve his goals he tries to make use of natural materials, mostly bamboo. Lightweight and fast growing, it is also great for its unique strength. And with the use of such materials he can transform a skinny, 40sqm four-storey house into a living space full of natural light, greenery and airflow, with only a small increase in cost. It’s not just houses that have benefitted from his deft touch. One of his most notable constructions is a giant restaurant with a rounded waterfront bar in Binh Duong Province, built entirely from bamboo, cane and other

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sustainable materials. All put together without a nail in sight. “My philosophy is to create unique, simple, yet energysaving structures,” he explains. “It’s not easy and not always appreciated — local people are used to the idea of complex and sophisticated structures as a symbol of beautiful design.” Yet, as the multi-award winning architect is discovering to his surprise, his ideas are catching on. “At the moment I’m making dozens of green, residential houses, but I believe that soon the number will reach hundreds and even thousands.” He even believes that one day, every single house in Hanoi will have a roof garden, and why not? The benefits of going green are not only self-evident; they’re becoming fashionable, too. — Hoa Le

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Dance yourself Dizzy In his simple white outfit under the sparkling stage lights of the Opera House, Cao Duc Toan has won the hearts and minds of the audience. His performance embodies the spirit of dance and his movement, both delicate yet strong, is laced with silk. At 29, Toan is at the cutting edge of contemporary dancers and choreographers in Vietnam. In 2008 he received the top National Young Dancer award for his performance, Bamboo Soul, which he staged with his brother Cao Chi Thanh. And in June his work with students at the National Dance Contest in Danang won him

first prize for contemporary dance choreography. “It’s the feeling of the music, the feeling of the characters,” says Toan. “This is what you need to catch, which is difficult. Once you have got that part, everything else is easy.” He adds: “My work tells a story. It’s part of my own experiences, or experiences that others have gone through. I want my work to be familiar and easy to understand, so that every audience member may see a part of their life in that performance. That’s the way I communicate with them.” — Hoa Le

What About the Music? Much of the music in Hanoi today is thanks to DIY — people starting events because they didn't exist, filling a gap, making their own music. Steve Stander is one such person who has put huge amounts of energy into the city’s music scene, running Synergy (, which manages bands and puts on regular events. Starting off as a bedroom DJ he progressed to playing with expat band The Props, but to very small audiences. Now Synergy’s artists, DJs, live bands and regular events form a major part of what is happening in Hanoi. They have even been involved in trying to help put

together new bands. “There is so much talent,” says Steve, “but people don’t always have the confidence. They need to be nurtured.” Synergy has grown so much but Steve is still thinking of ways to create something original in the city. “Hanoi is on the cusp of either going more commercial or else becoming really interesting,” he says. “Next I want to try and spark an underground scene, create something like the squat parties back home. How it is [in Hanoi] is the perfect condition for an amazing underground scene.” — Rose Arnold

Revvin it Up with Red River Runners Catching up with the Red River Runners ( on the Song Hong beach at the end of Ngo 200 Au Co, and you get a sense of the community spirit of this casual group of running enthusiasts. As co-organiser Mel Hamada explains, “It is so good to be able to run with others and share ideas, routes, and to engage with others who are really focused on being runners, or to chat about the previous week over a 5 km jog.” She adds: “The running community also brings out those who have never run, and it fosters a new life for them within a very easy-going group.” Starting back in 2004 as an informal cross country run along the banks of the river by a British Embassy man who became known as ‘Fast’ Phil, by 2005 a 5 km time trail had been developed between the gates of the Sedona Suites and Ciputra, with the group ending up with a beer at Jafa. “The following year the first Red River Runners event took place,” recalls one of the group’s early members, Richard Leech. “A 10 km race from UNIS to Thang Long Bridge and back, [it was] run mainly by expats including ambassadors and teachers from UNIS. The group has always consisted of a mixed bunch of running enthusiasts and those looking to

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share a weekly jog off the beaten track with like-minded individuals.” Almost a decade later and the group maintains its original spirit. There’s no formal membership, making RRR accessible to anyone, and the group meets twice a week in the Tay Ho area — for their traditional Saturday afternoon run and for Wednesday night speed training sessions. But for this assembly of like-minded individuals, the event of the year, the run that really releases the endorphins and gets the adrenalin going, is the December half-marathon. “[It] continues to grow in popularity,” says co-organiser Jody O’Dea. “Last year we had entrants flying in from across the region as well as plenty of Hanoians and expats. It's such a fun event, partly because there is something for everyone — we also offer a 10 km race, a 5 km race and even a kids fun run.” As Mel explains, running is not only “incredibly therapeutic”, but it’s also about mental toughness. “When you have pushed out a 25K and it is hot and you still have another 1K or even 10K to go, you have to dig deep. That brings about such a satisfaction knowing you have that mind-over-matter mentality.” — Nick Ross

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Singaporeans like to talk of the Lion City as the capital of Southeast Asian cuisine. But for price, taste and pure quality, the region’s best street food destination is Penang. Elisabeth Rosen takes a trip to this former British colony lying to the northwest of mainland Malaysia


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he sun has long since set, but for the food vendors on Lebuh Chulia, business is just beginning. Along the crowded sidewalk, local people queue up for steaming, fragrant bowls of wonton soup and heaps of fresh noodles, wok-seared in a dark sauce. Outside a shuttered shop, a vendor pours the water from coconuts into plastic bags filled with shredded fruit. The Malaysian island of Penang is less than an hour’s flight from Kuala Lumpur and boasts eclectic cuisine influenced by Chinese and Indian merchants as well as native Malays. In the past, hawkers paced the streets, banging on sticks of wood to make their presence known. Today, you’ll find them cooking at stalls outside coffee shops and in markets, but the wide array of dishes they offer shows that the island is still a culinary melting pot. Start the day as locals do, at Toh Soon Cafe (Jalan Campbell, off Jalan Penang), a coffee shop tucked into a back alley of historic George Town, where colonialera shophouses still outnumber newer developments. For decades this tiny shop has served the traditional breakfast of toast and kopi, strong black coffee brewed in a metal pot and filtered through a muslin cloth. The beans are roasted with sugar and butter, giving the resulting brew a dense richness. Order your drink ‘O’ style (RM1.30, VND9,000), without condensed milk, for a stronger sip.

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“The shop looks like it hasn’t changed since the stall opened, with chipped blue walls and shelves stacked with ancestral clutter” “The business was founded 80 years ago by the current owner’s father, Choy; as all hawkers did in those days, he wandered the streets knocking on a bamboo stick to advertise his wares. It’s not hard to imagine people queuing up at the sound” The toast, too, is still made the oldfashioned way. In the tiny kitchen, a charcoal fire burns inside an oil drum, toasting bread to a golden crisp and heating water for coffee at the same time. Once toasted, the bread gets a thick layer of butter or kaya, a sweet, eggy spread flavoured with coconut milk (RM1.50, VND10,000). Ask for both: the golden, mouthwatering result makes a light yet satisfying breakfast. For an introduction to Penang’s hawker food, walk down a block to Chowrasta Street Market (Jalan Kuala Kangsar, off Jalan Campbell). Filled with fruit and

Getting There AirAsia and Malaysia Airlines run flights from Vietnam to Penang via Kuala Lumpur (KL). Doing the trip with AirAsia costs from US$140 (VND2.9 million) return, depending on when you depart and how far in advance you book your trip. Malaysia Airlines do the roundtrip starting at US$400 (VND8.4 million) including taxes and additional fees.

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vegetable sellers and butchers hacking up racks of meat, the bustling wet market also has its share of hawkers selling classic Malay dishes like hokkien mee (spicy egg noodle soup) and chee cheong fun (steamed rice crepes). If you find a roti stall, ask for a roti canai: for about RM1 (VND7,000), you get a warm, round flatbread, edges crisp from the iron skillet. Like the Indian paratha that inspired it, the bread comes with a rich cumin-scented curry for dipping.

Starfish with Coffee As lunchtime nears, make your way to Lam Heng Coffee Shop (185 Jalan Macalister), home of the famous Sister’s char kway teow stall. Rumoured to serve the best fried rice noodles in Penang, the stall has been run for decades by two sisters and their family. The shop itself looks like it hasn’t changed since the stall opened, with chipped blue walls and shelves stacked with ancestral clutter. Order your noodles from the woman at the wok, then take a seat on the wooden stools with an iced kopi, swirled with sweetened condensed milk. Char kway teow was originally sold by

Malay fishermen and farmers who needed extra income. At night, they stir-fried leftover shellfish with rice noodles and lard, which they sold to labourers as a cheap and filling meal. Today, the noodles are known as one of the region’s signature dishes. Although contemporary health concerns dictate less pork fat and more bean sprouts, the best noodles are still fried in lard, which combines with the searing heat of the wok (wok hei, which literally means “wok breath”) to lend the noodles a rich, smoky flavour. At Sister’s, each plate (RM5, VND34,000 for a large) has a distinctive garnish of fresh crab meat. Charred in the wok, tangles of flat rice noodles absorb the dark sweet sauce and freshly ground chilli paste. Bean sprouts and egg go in for textural contrast, joined by tender shrimp and a handful of Chinese chives.

Dancing Porridge For a midday respite head to Batu Ferringhi, the beach along the northern coast of Penang Island. Although new developments are rapidly cropping up, it’s still possible

to find a calm stretch of sand. Skip the strip of resorts and restaurants and look for hand-painted wooden signs pointing the way to the beach. Adventurous travelers can partake in water activities like parasailing and jet skis, but the most thrilling diversion might be spotting a group of monkeys in the leafy trees overhead. On the way back, stop by the Mount Erskine Hawker Centre (Jalan Mount Erskine). It looks like a ramshackle collection of stalls on the side of the road, but insiders know that some of the best food in Penang can be found here. This is the place to try the island’s signature dish, nyonya laksa (RM4, VND27,000 for a large), a pungent, fiery noodle soup that merges Chinese and Malay flavours. Hunched over an enormous pot, the cook ladles the tangy red broth over thick, slippery noodles and tops it with steamed and flaked mackerel, pineapple chunks and mint leaves. The flavours are explosive: a mouth-puckering dose of tamarind juice, infused with heat from rings of red chilli and hints of gentle mint. Cool off with a bowl of bubur cha cha (RM3.50, VND24,000) from the neighboring

stall. The name, which means “dancing porridge” in Malay, perfectly captures the euphoric experience of eating this dessert. Stewed in coconut milk, a rainbow medley of glutinous bites (sweet potatoes, taro, banana, tapioca) is topped with a mountain of shaved ice and a scoop of creamy mango ice cream. Back in George Town, stop for a final kopi at Sai Lam Coffee Shop (307 Lebuh Chulia). The street is crowded with wan tan mee stalls, but the soup here (RM4, VND27,000 for a large) might be the best in town. Loaded with knots of fresh, hand-cut noodles, the amber broth comes topped

with silken dumplings and strips of char siew pork. According to local rumour, the business was founded 80 years ago by the current owner’s father, Choy; as all hawkers did in those days, he wandered the streets knocking on a bamboo stick to advertise his wares. It’s not hard to imagine people queuing up at the sound. Across the street, an apom vendor beckons with rows of crisp golden crepes (RM0.50, VND3,500). Wandering through George Town in the cool dusk air, pancakes in hand, you can understand why so many merchants of yesteryear chose to settle here instead of returning home.

Accommodation and Information There are a number of excellent budget options for travellers staying in George Town, Penang. Go to for further information. Prices start at under RM60 (VND400,000) per night for a room with aircon — the best locations for anyone wanting to get into the cuisine are in the Chinatown area. For the mid to high-end market, check out websites like Some excellent websites provide information on Penang including, which includes a free, downloadable guide to Penang, and Both portals provide information on the local cuisine and the various attractions on the island.

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A League

of its Own

photo by: adam astley

After months of intrigue and turmoil, the V-League is kicking off two months late. Football fans are hoping that there will be no more disruptions and that the 12-team league will be as exciting as last season. Derek Milroy reports on what the future holds for the Beautiful Game in Vietnam. Photos by Alexandre Garel and Adam Astley


ast season’s title race could not have been scripted better and, although not in the same ballpark as the two Manchester clubs going head-tohead in England, it was arguably just as exciting. The nation’s three biggest cities of Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Danang all went into the final day knowing they could win the championship. Hanoi was top and only needed a draw against the Ho Chi Minh City team, Saigon, who had to win and have Danang lose — but if the central side did win and there was a stalemate in Saigon, they would be crowned winners.

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The latter happened, and Danang won their second title in four years. Turn the clock forward six months, and the never-ending economic slowdown resulted in local officials deciding to postpone the nation’s championship until Mar. 2 — with the number of teams going from 14 to 12 due to clubs suffering from financial uncertainty. This season’s line-up consists of Danang, Kien Giang, Long An, Thanh Hoa, Song Lam Nghe An, Hai Phong (who have taken the franchise of Khataco Khanh Hoa from Nha Trang), Hanoi T&T, Hoang Anh Gia Lai, Saigon XT, Binh Duong, Dong Nai and

Ninh Binh. With one team being relegated and three being promoted from the First Division, there will be a 14-team league in 2014. In 2015, the league is expected to expand to 16. Word tracked down local sports reporter, Thanh Nguyen, to clarify the goings-on over the last few months. “The V-League has been through uncertain times for a number of months now and instead of kicking off in January, the league has been delayed,” he says of the recent turbulence. “Two football teams (ACB Hanoi and Hanoi FC) owned by disgraced mogul Nguyen Duc Kien, have

officially withdrawn from the V-League and First Division Tournament 2013, meaning a lot of players will have to find new teams. Navibank Saigon has also folded.” Officials from Vietnam Professional Football Company (VPF), the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF), football donors and local officials have been frantically trying to help local teams out. There are also new regulations on the number of foreign players and the age limit of domestic players with regards to transfers. With 30 players in a team on average, the V-League and First Division Tournament have more than 200 players who are now jobless.

A Great Migration This cull of players in nothing new to football, but this time it has not only affected the little-known and young players. Stars who are members of the national team who are currently unemployed include top striker

Le Cong Vinh of Hanoi T&T and Doan Viet Cuong of Saigon Xuan Thanh. Song Lam Nghe An FC was close to dissolving but has survived, a relief to their huge and loyal fan base. After some haggling, national midfielders Nguyen Trong Hoang, Nguyen Dinh Dong and Au Van Hoan reached an agreement with the team. This turmoil has been bad for the players, but good for sports reporters. “The most outstanding story is the case of national striker Le Cong Vinh, who is the glamour boy of Vietnamese football,” Thanh says. “He admits his chances of playing in the V-League this season are very slim. No club will be able to afford a transfer fee of hundreds of thousands of US dollars to buy him, despite being without a club. He will almost certainly go to a sports college while trying to maintain his form to look for opportunities in the next season.”

But Thanh also describes with some sadness the absurdity of another case. “The most tragic story is of national striker Quang Hai who has a real dilemma because his team, Navibank Saigon, was disbanded. If he wants to join a new team, he or his new club will have to pay VND3.5 billion in compensation as he is in debt to the team. Quang Hai said he has had to sell his motorbike to pay debts and support his family.” Saigon XT have also had enough with national defender Viet Cuong, who has been put up for sale after suffering from the ‘Primadona disease’, an affliction we associate with the likes of Carlos Tevez. In this case, the lazy star used an alleged illness as an excuse for not training with the city side. Saigon has only been in existence for two years but it’s been a terrific 24 months for the city club. They ran away with the

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First Division title last season and only lost out on the league title on the last day. But they unexpectedly won the National Cup — beating Hanoi T&T, one of the country’s most successful sides in recent years, 4-1 in the final at Thong Nhat Stadium a week later. However, they might suffer this season, as they have lost some of their highly-paid foreign stars. Striker Van Quyen has been let go from Song Lam Nghe An due to a dip in form, but minnows Ninh Binh FC seem keen to give him a helping hand. That would result in a huge drop in club and wages for the former Vietnam star. Thanh Luong, another player from Vietnam’s national squad, is fortunate in that Hanoi T&T paid VND3 billion (about US$144,000) to take him from the recently disbanded Hanoi FC.

The Long Road Back Hanoi T&T striker Thach Bao Khanh, 33, insists Vietnam’s top clubs need to get their houses in order to ensure the survival of the V-League. But providing the VFF can

improve quality and professionalism both on and off the pitch, he remains optimistic about the future of the game. “Reform is needed in our game but I think it will be gradual,” he says. “It’s the Vietnamese way. The individual teams have to put in a great effort to ensure the finance is there to continue for the long-term. Since we introduced the V-League ten years [ago] it has definitely helped improve the quality of [football in Vietnam].” Khanh is convinced the reduction in the number of teams this season will mean it will be more competitive, with every game becoming a mini ‘cup final’. He is hoping Hanoi T&T can add to their only title win in 2010, as one of the newest clubs in the V-League. They have also been runners-up in the last two seasons. “The number of teams being reduced is not necessarily synonymous with reducing quality and after being runners-up with the last two years, we are hoping to go one better this season,” he says. VFF has made a bold decision to invite Kazuyoshi Tanabe to be their deputy director

in the 2013 season. The Japanese official will take responsibility for the organisation of the national football leagues, and is expected to heighten the quality and competitiveness of tournaments and matches, attracting spectators back to stadiums. Meanwhile, this season Vietnam Export Import Commercial Joint Stock Bank (Eximbank) will sponsor the National Football Championship, V-League, the First Division football and National Football Cup, after the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) and Eximbank signed an agreement in Ho Chi Minh City. Under the contract, Eximbank becomes the first-ever sponsor of the three big tournaments and this is the third consecutive year of V-League sponsorship by the firm.

Building the Future Based in Pleiku in the Central Highlands, Hoang Anh Gia Lai-Arsenal JMG Academy is the only operational football academy in Vietnam at this moment. The academy is a cooperation between Premiership giants Arsenal and privately-owned Vietnamese

corporation Hoang Anh Gia Lai, and it will hopefully help produce Vietnamese stars of the future. To help bring through young players, a new V-League regulation states that each team must have at least three Vietnamese players aged 23 and under registered in matchday squads of 20 for every league game. Under new rules of the Vietnam Professional Football JSC (VPF), the 2013 season will restrict the number of foreign players in the V-League to three per team squad. Thanh sees the current uncertainty as a good thing for these future stars. “One thing which will also help the young players come through is the fact that due to a cut in wages this season, a lot of foreign players have left Vietnam to seek opportunities elsewhere,” he says. “Those who stay have to accept a significant reduction of salary. Over the years wage cuts have led to foreign players moving to other countries in the region such as Thailand and Malaysia.”

“Last season’s title race could not have been scripted better and, although not in the same ballpark as the two Manchester clubs going head-to-head in England, it was arguably just as exciting”

Stat Attack The Leagues Vietnamese football has two divisions, the V-League and the First Division. The current V-League deal is worth VND100 billion (US$4.8 million) from 2011 to 2013. Sponsor Eximbank plans to spend some VND47.3 billion this season. V-League 2013 begins on Mar. 2 and concludes on Aug. 25. Teams will play each other home and away for 22 matches in total.

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The Cup The National Football Cup qualifying round will begin on Mar. 16 and the final will be played on Aug. 31. The winners will receive VND1 billion. VPF will award VND4 billion to the winners, with second and third receiving VND2 billion and VND1 billion. The First Division tournament starts on Mar. 9 and concludes on Jul. 6. The VPF said only eight teams will compete this season for a championship bounty of VND1 billion. First Division teams will also play each other home-and-away over 14 rounds.

The STADIUMS Sai Gon FC plays at Thong Nhat Stadium (138 Dao Duy Tu, Q10), while Hanoi T & T plats at Hang Day Stadium (Trinh Hoai Duc, Dong Da). Both have a capacity of over 20,000.

The Fans The V-League in 2009 attracted a record 1.8 million fans, an average of 11,143 fans per game, according to VFF. However, the V-League attracted just 697,500 fans — an average of 7,837 fans at each game — in the 2012 season.

The Salaries Despite the economic crisis, 14 V-League teams spent a total of VND300 billion in 2009 on players. Vietnamese footballers were being paid on average between VND10 million and VND20 million a month. The minimal salary for players in the V-League 2013 is set at VND10 million per month. It is VND6 million for First Division stars.

photos by: alexandre garel

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and Marriage When east meets west can happy couples overcome various cultural differences, family and language problems to become the perfect match? Derek Milroy finds out why so many western men are bowled over by Vietnamese women and discovers what the attraction is on both sides

aaron joel santos


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ustralian expat David Mark, 55, was on his first business trip to Vietnam when he spotted an interesting young lady out of the corner of his eye at Tan Son Nhat Airport five years ago. He knew he needed to grasp the opportunity. He made contact with Hue, now his wife and mother of 21-month-old twin daughters, but that was just the beginning of a courtship lasting a few years. As the company director of Industry Travel Asia, based in Tan Binh, admits, “I had to knock off a few competitors” before he finally had Nam Dinh Province-born Hue under his spell. “It took a long time for Hue to realise how lucky she was,” he jokes. “The first thing I said was, ‘Do you speak Vietnamese?’ I thought she was Chinese and I know a little, so I suppose I was trying to show off. We exchanged contact details and promised not to say goodbye. I came back to see her a month later for her birthday. I came to Saigon 20 times in 20 months to try and woo Hue. It took me two years to convince her. She almost upped sticks to England to marry a rich oil guy, but she finally came around.” However, David was a little worried when he couldn’t get in touch with Hue just a few months after their first meeting. He was frantic by the time he found out she had been in a motorbike accident. This was in the days before helmets were mandatory and most motorcyclists took huge risks. “Fortunately the injury was to her knee

and she was lucky she wasn’t killed,” he recalls. “I was upset because I hadn’t heard from her, but then felt guilty when I found out why and because I wasn’t there and wondered that maybe it wouldn’t have happened if I had come to see her.” Vietnamese women are a superstitious breed and Hue admits she took advice from a fortune-teller about the numerous men chasing her. “I went to a fortune-teller and she said I must marry David because we were married before in a previous life,” she says. “David is a western man but is very eastern in everything he does and his outlook. He is more family-orientated than most western people. I think in his past life he was Asian.”

Not Just Cultural Many young Vietnamese men look on in fury at what they feel is the cream of the crop hooking up with Western men. One such city worker Thanh, 22, remarks, “Why do all the Western men steal the most beautiful Vietnamese girls? I think it is for money as most Vietnamese men don’t earn a lot of money. How can we compete with the offer of a better life?” Hue has encountered a lot of jealousy from her single and married friends when they meet her husband David. Some even lick their lips and bat their eyelashes as they believe they can prise him from under her grasp. “On our first date I took David for dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant on Pasteur,” Hue says. “It was very busy and there was only

David and me at a table for four. Two pretty girls asked if they could sit at the table — well they asked him and ignored me. David asked, ‘Why do they want sit here?’ I said, ‘Because they want to steal you’.” Hue admits David being teetotal and the fact that he doesn’t smoke is also a huge plus as she has a friend who is pretty miserable because of her local husband’s snoring and terrible habits. “My friend has to cover her face with a towel because of the noise and her husband’s terrible breath from alcohol and cigarettes,” Hue adds in some horror. “I ask her, ‘How can you survive with your sexual life?’ She says she just pretends to be dead for a few minutes.” David adds trust, loyalty and the fact that Vietnamese ladies look long-term to the equation. When they marry it is for life and their future family, whereas western people think of the moment and the day. Hygiene is a real positive in the situation. He says: “Vietnamese, in general, have a much better diet than any other race on the planet. They are physically attractive, their skin is so beautiful and they rarely eat food that is not good for them, which explains why they are very slim.” The couple resides in Tan Binh District with both their mothers, and David accepts the fact that he will be surrounded by ‘his women’ until his dying day. “My mother Faith just turned 90 and Hue’s mother also lives with us,” he says. “There is a never a dull moment in our home, that’s for sure.”

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photos by kyle phanroy

photos this page of david and yi

Lightning Strikes Twice

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Kien Giang native Yi interjects: “He’s a good man. My boss said David was a good man who goes out drinking beer a lot but he comes home alone. She was right.”

Connections Elsewhere David has a daughter from a previous marriage in Brisbane, Suki, who is now four years old, and his family still lives in Queensland. Yi has a sister in Melbourne, and both her and David have talked about a trip down under. His home town was actually the unlikely starting point of his Vietnam adventure. “I actually came to Vietnam because I lived in a Vietnamese neighborhood in Brisbane, and a friend of mine asked me if I had a passport,” he says. “I said yes. He said, ‘Want to go to Vietnam?’ I said, ‘When are you going?’ He said, ‘Two days’ time’. He didn’t even tell me how long I was coming for and I had a quick turnaround for a visa. His son booked the ticket and he didn’t tell me, but the return flight was six weeks later and I thought we were only going ten days. Six weeks turned into six months and I am still here.” A first trip not only to the Mekong Delta but to ask for the family’s ‘okay’ to marry Yi

was a nerve-wracking occasion — meeting the parents is never easy, especially for a foreigner, a stranger who has only known the parents’ daughter a short time. Yi says: “I warned David that my family live a very simple life, we have outside toilets and eat simple, Vietnamese food. I suggested David take some food with him just in case.” David laughs. “She brought out crabs and said, ‘Have you eaten them before?’ I said, ‘Come on, I have caught them before in Australia’. She is surprised I can eat local food and simple food.” He adds: “Yi’s sister actually asked me if I had eaten rice before, oh my god.” Robinson is a teacher and prolific writer, while Yi works in Ben Thanh Market selling gifts to tourists. Her boss is closing up her stall there, so her future career path is unclear. Ever the optimist, the 34-year-old knows there is a big age gap and many other differences, but he also knows they have a real spark which will keep their relationship on track. “I hate actually going to Ben Thanh Market even though I have to drop Yi off at work,” he says. “I avoid it like the plague.

We don’t really have common interests, which is funny. I am a computer geek and she hasn’t touched a computer. She loves iPod games though. One time I was on the bike and she was on the back and I couldn’t feel her arms and I said, ‘What you doing?’ and she was playing Fruit Ninja on my back in traffic. She has taken photos of me in the bath; I haven’t dared to get her back for that one. We have a lot of fun. Vietnamese have a wicked sense of humour, we are always teasing each other.” David admits he tests Yi’s patience with his rituals to wake her up at the crack of dawn, so he can drop her off at the market. “I am really brutal getting her up in the morning,” he says. “I use loud music, put the air conditioner up really high and sometimes I use water, but that normally gets me into a load of trouble — she always gets me back. We fight in Japanese and make up Korean as we both love to learn languages. We can say ‘I love you’ in five languages. He laughs. “Yi is always threatening to kill me but so far I’m okay. I joke about it to my friends all the time and on Facebook about how she wants to kill me and the conversations we have.”

aaron joel santos

Another David, Mr. Robinson, has also found love in Saigon in the shape of 20-year-old Yi. The two are determined to keep their flame alight despite many cultural and linguistic difficulties. The Australian native is fascinated with life in his adopted home in the backpacker’s district of Bui Vien — it was there he met his dream girl. A few months later, he proposed. It was Christmas Day. His girl is so smitten she is even talking of having a baby next year. “We actually lived in the same building,” says David. “I met her many months before and said hello. Yi’s boss is the landlord’s daughter-in-law and the owner reckoned I should teach Yi English. As part of teaching I would show the students English movies. So we watched some movies together and then I asked her to go to see a movie with me together on a date. Luckily she said yes.” Here he gets a bit sentimental. “She actually used to sleep in the lobby at night and every night when I came home after we started dating, I would [bring her] a red rose and lay it by her side. That was my nightly ritual.”

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T The

Gift Experience Two new start-ups are trying to introduce Vietnam to a different way of giving gifts. But are people ready? Words by Fabiola Buchele

he art of gifting has a long history in Vietnam, but the almost simultaneous launch of two gift experience companies suggests that some believe the country’s growing middle class is ready for a new kind of present. Happimap and Senses Club are attempting to pitch their tents in a gap their respective founders spotted in the country’s economy. The idea currently being introduced to Vietnam is born out of two concepts of gift-giving popular in the West; the gift voucher and the experiential gift. Gift vouchers, redeemable for a specified amount, are widely available from many stores. But the idea of giving an experience as a gift was introduced in the 1990s by UK company, Red Letter Days. They offered a huge range of experiences to give your loved one; from spa visits to paragliding sessions, the chance to learn magic tricks, or perhaps to make jewellery. The idea took off and today the experiential gift market is a multi-million dollar industry. The concept being offered here combines the two ideas. The giver buys a gift voucher, which is then redeemed by the recipient for an experience of their choice. The founders of Happimap and Senses Club believe this will

lead to more exciting and memorable gifts. “Often after a birthday or party you end up with 10 bottles of wine or spirits and you have to really think to remember — I got this one from Mary, this one from Jenny,” explains 29-year-old Biqué Trieu, the cofounder of Happimap. “But when you have been given an experience by someone, you will think of Mary or Jenny when you’re redeeming your spa voucher.” This is echoed by co-founder of Senses Club, Alexi Daste. “You don’t want to buy a gift for someone and then find out it is not what the person likes,” he says. In response, both have created a catalogue of gifts, each with a different value. Happimap’s version is colour-coded, starts at VND500,000 per gift set and rises to VND3 million. Senses Club similarly offers a value range with their three price categories Crystal, Gold and Platinum spanning from VND350,000 to just under VND2 million. The selection of gifts in each catalogue is divided into categories. So, in Happimap’s culinary gift experiences section, the person who has received the gift can choose to redeem their voucher on anything from a meal for two at an Indian restaurant through to a street eats tour of Hanoi, a cooking class in Hoi An. In the sport and adventure

category, you could play paintball, have a round of golf, learn pole dancing or even choose to go scuba diving.

Creating the Market The market that exists in the West relies on consumers’ total trust that you will get what you pay for. If it turns out this isn’t the case, you have legal rights to a refund. Such consumer security is lacking in Vietnam; trying to convince people who haven’t yet had reason to trust in the concept of vouchers is not simple. Here, traditionally gifts are presents to be unwrapped, things you can touch and feel. This lack of security has been accentuated by problems experienced by customers of the discount coupon provider, Nhom Mua. When they failed to deliver on valid, pre-purchased vouchers last November, the previously popular website went offline and its manager, Tom Tran, left the country — all eroding any trust that had been built up for such vouchers in Vietnam. With Happimap and Senses Club both working in a similar market, according to Alexi, this is one of the most difficult hurdles that they have had to overcome. “We felt the effect [of the Nhom Mua scandal] during our negotiations with

providers,” he explains. “We had to work even harder to convince them that our vouchers are secure.” Biqué says that to deal with this problem they’ve had to pay the utmost attention to quality control. They’ve also had to make a clear distinction between discount coupons and their own product. “It’s not about deals, it’s about experience,” she says, adding that it was not easy to find reliable partners. “We had to be picky and even now keep up quality control for every service and [piece of] equipment featured in our range.”

Tug and Pull It is in the difficulty of finding the right partners where it seems their race to a sturdy tent is at its fiercest. “Few of our partners are shared,” says Alexi. “But Vietnam has only a limited number of services with standards as high as we need them to be.” Yet, having two new businesses simultaneously trying to change gift-giving behaviour is beneficial for both start-ups. By promoting themselves, they are promoting the industry as a whole, and by virtue of this, their competitor, too. They are also dependent on each other to build up trust. Make one Nhom Mua-style mistake, and

it will affect the whole market. But create trust among their customer base, and their competitor will benefit, too. But even getting to launch stage was tough — the gestation period for both Happimap and Senses Club was roughly a year-anda-half. “Unless you want to release a [low quality] product it takes time,” explains Biqué. “A lot of people give up on Vietnam easily. But when you are still here at the end of the day, you know you believe in something. I still believe in the market and the people.” It is the growing middle class that Senses Club is putting its money on as well, 20 to 40 year-olds who spend money on leisure and entertainment. Alexi describes the target customer as someone who is “willing to try new things and whose mind is more flexible.” How quickly they will help Senses Club and Happimap make those tent pegs sturdy is yet to be seen. But with the entry of both these gift experiences to the market, one thing is clear. Gift-giving in Vietnam is about to become just that little bit more exciting. For more information on both Happimap and Senses Club, or to purchase your own gift set, go to or

“You don’t want to buy a gift for someone and then find out it is not what the person likes,” Senses Club co-founder Alexi Daste says.

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There is a stereotype out there that people are happier in California, and it didn’t come from nowhere. From the gold rush days of the mid1800s, Cali became known as a lucky place — where people could go to strike it rich in oil, dreaming and sunshine. Add some carefree, Native American / hippie influences to the mix, and you’ve got the ready-to-wear fashion export we know as California style. While it might not be strictly true that people in California are happier on average, these summer babes sure bring some light to Ho Chi Minh City.

Wish Th

ey All

Could B



ia Girls

Left model: Top: VND1,470,000; Mullet skirt: VND1,470,000 by Debenhams. Maroon sneakers: VND1,300,000 by Converse Right model: Top: VND1,250,000; Cardigan: VND920,000 by Debenhams. Mexican duffle bag: VND1,295,000 by Accessorize

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Left model: Pink Hawaii tie front shirt: VND1,060,000 by Debenhams. Necklace: VND485,000 by Accessorize Right model: Blue flannel shirt: VND1,250,000 by Converse Right Page: Parrot earings: VND285,000 by Accessorize

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This Page: Maroon flannel shirt: VND1,250,000; Aztec sneakers: VND1.5 million by Converse. Cutesy stretch bracelets: VND325,000; Fox ring: VND485,000 by Accessorize

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City Guide BUSINESS 078 / EAT 084 / BARS 093 / CAFES 097 / ARTS 099 / LEISURE 101 / WELLNESS 107 / FASHION 111 / INTERIORS 114 / ELECTRONICS 116 / GROCERIES 117 / GENERATION V 119 / TRAVEL 125 Photo by aaron Joel santos

Photos by Mads Monsen Modelling by Harry Dixon and Jessica Shea Styling, Hair & Makeup by Francis Xavier Debenhams: B1-28, Level B1, Vincom Center, 70-72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Accessorize: B1, 37-38, Vincom Center, 70-72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Converse: 122 Ba Thang Hai, Q10 Left model: Tie-dye back shirt: VND1,320,000 by Debenhams. Mint & gold necklace: VND485,000; Backpack: VND1,425,000 by Accessorize. Blue sneakers: VND1,100,000 by Converse Right model: Dress: VND895,000; Necklace: VND325,000; Indigo ethnic multi bangles: VND615,000 by Accessorize


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Job Search Top Eats Decks, Drums Night Watchman In the Frame Road Rules Nerds World

086 094 098 100 110

112 121

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BUSINE$$ * *

* *

design, activation, digital, media, PR, research, training, premiums and production.


From accounting to advertising to serviced apartments, our selection of some of the city's top businesses

Accounting & Audit BUREAU VERITAS

E-Town Building, #4.4B & 4.5A 364 Cong Hoa, Tan Binh, Tel: (08) 3812 2196 Auditing, technical services and solutions in all major industrial service sectors. Provides management system certification and related training for IS0 9001, ISO 14001, SA 8000, OSHAS 18001, HACCP, ISO 22000 and BRC.


11th Floor, Saigon Trade Center, 37 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 0751 Provides audit, tax, consulting, and financial advisory services to public and private clients spanning multiple industries. A member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohatsu.


4th Floor, Unit 17, Saigon Center, 65 Le Loi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 0220 An invaluable resource for expats, Globaleye provides consultation on investments, offshore banking, education planning, life protection, wills, pensions and more.


10th Floor, Sun Wah Tower, 115 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 9266 Worldwide firm specialising in auditing, accounting, tax and management consulting services. Also provides ex-

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ecutive search and selection.


7th Floor, E-Town Building, 364 Cong Hoa, Tan Binh, Tel: (08) 3812 5562 odyssey– One of the leading mid-tier accounting services firms in Vietnam. Odyssey provides accounting and management consulting services, along with tax advice and Australian tax agent services.


Saigon Tower, 29 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 0796 With more than ten years of experience in Vietnam in all major industry sectors, PwC provides auditing, business and technology solutions and tax and legal consulting.


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


Unit 501, 5th Floor, Saigon Trade Center 37 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 2262 Headquartered in the Netherlands with over 100 offices in 75 countries, TMF provides accounting, tax and payroll services. Specialises in help-

ing international investors establish a presence in Vietnam.

Advertising & Mktg ADMAKER

Unit 2.4, 2nd Floor, 12M Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 3500 A local full-service agency run by advertising professionals, dedicated to providing clients with results-orientated marketing communications via strong advertising concepts and excellent customer service.


Level 7, Vietnam Business Center, 57-59 Ho Tung Mao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 8632 A full-service marketing communications company that is part of the WPP Group. Focuses exclusively on the growing demands of Asian business, helping to build sustainable brands with global ambition.

Working extensively across Asia, Cowean specialises in brand strategy and brand design for both local and international consumer and corporate companies.


13D Phan Chu Trinh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 3551 2202 One of the largest global advertising agency networks, with headquarters in both Chicago and New York, DraftFCB has more than 190 offices serving clients in 102 countries.


1Bis Ngo Van Nam, Q1, Tel: (08) 3911 1191 edge– A creative marketing company that matches the results–driven requirements of modern business with the needs of the consumer, embracing modern technology and concepts to provide a full–service marketing package.


with over 10 years of working experience in Asia offer (re)design, design engineering (3D CAD) and innovation consultancy for plastics, consumer products, electronics, and metal parts.


113 Nguyen Thai Binh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 3615 Managing successful marketing campaigns since 2002 with four full-service offices and project management available nationwide. Marketeers Vietnam have designed and implemented locally and globally recognized campaigns.


12th Floor, Centec Tower, 72–74, Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 9529 Well–known marketing communications company combines local know-how with a worldwide network to leverage the brands of multinational clients.


74/3 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 6662 BBDO is an award-winning global advertising and communications company. Accolades include Network of the Year honours at Cannes four years running.

404 Vo Van Tan, Q3, Tel: (08) 3929 1450 This full-spectrum marketing / communications company offers PR, retail management, events and database marketing. Major clients include Proctor & Gamble, SmithKline, Beecham, BAT and Mars.





16th Floor, Bitexco Office Tower, 19–25 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 3064

Villa B, 12A Duong So 12, Tran Nao, Q2, Tel: (08) 3740 6388 Dutch industrial designers

company, Purple Asia offers a wide range of services such as graphic design, branding, interactive media, video, photography and production.

7th Floor, 11bis Nguyen Gia Thieu, Q3, Tel: (08) 3930 6777 An independent, creative–led communications company helps brands connect and grow across Southeast Asia. Clients include The Coca–Cola Company, Asia Pacific Breweries, Piaggio and UPI. Melody Tower, 422-424 Ung Van Khiem, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 3898 1005 A leading communications

PBB graphic Studio

Tel: 01265 669632 Founded in 2002, with more than 10 years of experience in graphic design, PBB specialises in branding, interior graphics, signage, print design, POSM and web design. As of 2006, PBB has been based in Ho Chi Minh City operating as a graphic consultant for creative agencies, companies as well as private clients.

3 Phan Van Dat, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1207 Ranked among the top 100 global advertising agencies, S&S has worked with over half of the 50 best–known brands in the world, providing advertisement planning, direct marketing, marketing consulting and graphic design.


Unit 603, Rosana Tower, 60 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 5315 TBWA is a Top-Ten worldwide advertising agency, with marketing services including strategic consultancy, creative development, events and activation, direct mail, shopper marketing and public relations.


37 Dang Thi Nhu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 0779 A complete range of services and facilities for advertisement campaigns and public relations in Vietnam.

Business Consulting BDG VIETNAM

10 Phan Ngu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3820 0169 Long-established branding consultancy and marketing agency. The Red team creates and shapes unique marketing strategies that add impact to international and local brands from Vietnam to Australia.

11th Floor, Capital Place, 6 Thai Van Lung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 7858 bdg– Active in sourcing & production, strategic marketing and project management, BDG partners with clients in all sectors and regions to open perspectives, address critical challenges and promote successful business in Vietnam.




Tel: (08) 3925 2538 Communications network operating in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar for over a decade, specialising in advertising,

33 Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3911 1480 concetti– Consulting and research firm with a range of clients including the Vietnamese government, global US con-

sumer products companies, infrastructure developers, oil companies and the World Bank.


69A1 Tran Ke Xuong, Phu Nhuan, Tel: (08) 3551 2260 DL Technologies provides premium integrated technology solutions with emphasis on local “on the ground” support from a highly skilled international team. Services include home entertainment, security systems, air conditioning and energy-management systems.


8th Floor, Saigon Riverside Office Center, 2A–4A Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 5252 Provides a broad spectrum of services to help businesses capitalise on opportunities for growth, improve financial performance and manage risk. Works with a range of firms including private, state–owned and foreign.

GOLDEN SPEED SEO Helps clients get maximum exposure for their websites by improving rankings in search engines like Google. Contact Golden Speed SEO for a free session regarding your online project.


28th Floor, Saigon Trade Center, 37 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 9100 Chartered accountants and management consultants work in a range of fields including Audit, Tax Advice, Corporate Finance and Advisory Services, Business Risk Services, Valuations and Due Diligence, Private Equity, and Mergers and Acquisitions.


Villa 15, Duong 58, Phu Nhuan Compound, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 0916 352573 An internationally accredited Master in Image Consulting, Huong Nguyen offers

personal consultations and corporate workshops on developing a professional and confident image, modern etiquette and business behaviour skills.


8th Floor, YOCO Building, 41 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 6416 A professional information technology services company offering expertise in data security, email, document management, web hosting, information and communication technology (ICT) relocation services and a full-range of other IT solutions.


6th Floor, Abacus Tower, 58 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 6770 Specialist in intellectual property consultancy service providing the full range of IP services, from the implementation of global investigation and enforcement strategies, to the provision of commercial IP services.


161A/1 Nguyen Van Thu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3911 0965 Aids in the opening of representative offices and offshore bank accounts and provides licenses and tax stamps, business and marketing plans, reports and English-language editing to offshore businesses based in Vietnam.


Fideco Riverview Building, Mezzanine Floor 14 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: 0904 410884 Powered by Haines Centre for Strategic Management, STRASOL strives to deliver superior results and sustained competitive advantage through the application of strategic solutions in Vi-

etnam, Cambodia and Laos.


164 Nguyen Van Thu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 2205 Tractus is a management consulting company that focuses on helping foreign investors gain success in Asia via corporate strategy development and implementation, site selection, trade promotion and market research.


35A-1-2 Grandview, Nguyen Duc Canh, Q7, Tel: (08) 5412 3402 An international human resource management consultancy specialising in organisational and professional development. Services include team building, corporate training, HRM audits and HR systems design.

Business Groups AMCHAM

of its members in addition to the more general interests of British business. Organises business luncheons and seminars as well as regular social and networking events.


Room 305, New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 3754 Open to all nationalities, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce aims to create an effective network of business associates together and to facilitate discussion forums about business in Vietnam.


12A Floor, Bitexco Building, 19–25 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 5423 Provides support for Nordic companies and individuals operating in Vietnam. A business and social network, members have the opportunity to meet, discuss, interact and share expertise.

New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 3562. An independent association of American and international businesses, the objective of the American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam is to promote trade and investment between the United States and Vietnam.


Ho Chi Minh Chapter, Suite 1A, 1st Floor, TV Building, 31A Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q1 Tel: (08) 3911 0272 A licensed foreign business group established to represent and promote the interests of Australian businesses operating in Vietnam, AusCham coordinates topical breakfast seminars, social networking functions, governmental relations meetings and charity events.




25 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 8430 BBGV promotes the interests

40/5 Pham Viet Chanh, Ward 19, Binh Thanh A non-profit organisation that aims to promote and develop trade between the Philippines and Vietnam, to foster interaction and understanding and to serve as the voice of Filipino business entities.

6th Floor, Unit 601, Tran Quy Building, 57 Le Thi Hong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 3046 300+ members meet regularly to foster HCMC business relations, as well as to organise social, cultural, educational and charitable activities. Membership grants access to a wide range of discounts around town.


42 Giang Van Minh, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6996 The Swiss Business Associa-

tion is a non-profit organisation that strives to promote economic and cultural activities, as well as cooperation between Swiss business entities and Vietnamese authorities.


14-16-18 Chu Manh Trinh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 8364 One-stop-shop for corporate gifts and merchandise ranging from shaped USB disks through to apparel, clocks, bags, golf products, wine accessories and more.

Event Management EVECOO

Tel: (08) 0988 297990 Evecoo provides everything needed to plan, supply, organise, publicise, improve and implement a successful event. Evecoo gives every client specific attention and adds the touches to make any event memorable.


63 Mac Dinh Chi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 6048 This luxury event hall has four ballrooms, a rooftop terrace, and banquet, catering and event services. Gala Royale is the ideal venue for meetings, conferences, product launchings, cocktail parties, weddings or anniversaries.


50/8 Hoa Binh, Q11, Tel: 0165 6392 507 Mr Bouncy is an inflatable game hire company, hiring out a number of inflatables such as waterballs, bouncy castles and more inflatable items for parties and events.


268/3-5 Nguyen Thai Binh, Tan Binh, Tel: (08) 6675 2620 Wedding planning busi-

March 2013 Word | 85

{business Buff} **

Unusual Ways to Make Money


By Shane Dillon

ness offers comprehensive services for weddings of any size or style. Delivers high-quality, detailed planning and resources to create dream weddings.


46D Vuon Lai, Tan Phu, Tel: (08) 3812 6901 Offers everything from canapés and cocktails, buffets and set menus to barbeques and wedding catering. Combines excellent food, event management and exclusive venues to make any kind of event a success.

Expat Services CHUM’S HOUSE


friend of a friend was recently paid $US1 million dollars for a phone application that they had conceived of and had made in China for a few hundred dollars. This got me thinking about other great ways people have made their fortune on what at first would seem like absurd ideas. So if the Year of the Dragon was not your thing, why not try one of the following in the Year of the Snake and turn your fortunes around.

Virtual Farming It is estimated that over one million Chinese make money from online gaming through making virtual currencies and selling them for real currency online. Recently it was discovered that North Koreans had done a more aggressive strategy that netted them over US$6 million in the last two years focusing on South Korean online games.

Pet Accessories A huge market in the US with a recent success story of a group that marketed UV protective Doggles (goggles for dogs). Any pet product that catches the market can make a fortune with Americans spending over US$310 million a year on pet costumes alone.

Web Services There are so many of these success stories whether it’s printing and making yourself a yearbook based off your Facebook photos or outsourcing your background

86 | Word March 2013

design on MySpace, to the million-pixel / million-dollar webpage experiment; there are people making a fortune off providing simple services for your online life. And of course there are apps, with several entrepreneurs now coming up with ideas and having the software made cheaply in Asia.

Children Services Parents love to spend money on their children and one multi-million dollar idea was had by the guy who started the letters from Santa service where for US$10 he will write your child a reply from Santa posted from the North Pole. He now reportedly makes over a million dollars each Christmas. Fun online education and fitness games also seem to make a packet.

Wacky Ideas Some notable success stories are the pet rock, lucky wishbone, car antenna balls. These cheap and easily-made ideas have huge margins and if they catch the market, make a fortune for their creators. So maybe it’s time to throw in that 9 to 5 job and start investing in your own brilliant ideas. With the internet and cheap outsourcing available, there is a whole world of people out there to market your ideas, too, and a fortune in online payments to make the Year of the Snake your year to shine. Shane works in financial services and can be contacted at

121/21 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3920 7237 Dedicated to helping expats find housing, Chum’s House provides an extensive list of properties that fit any price range and preference. Also facilitates motorbike rentals and visa acquisition, all free of charge.


32-34 Ngo Duc Ke, Suite 701, Q1, Tel: 01659 419916 Happy House aims to make Saigon life easier by offering practical solutions to every kind of problem — including bill payments, repairs, motorbike rentals, visa applications, maid placements, plant watering and pet transportation.


Tel: (08) 2226 8855 The first dedicated relocation company in Vietnam, Resident Vietnam provides services from relocation and immigration to cross–cultural and business awareness training.

Housing & Real Estate CBRE

Unit 1201, Me Linh Point Tower, 2 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 6125 Property developers and consultants with both private and commercial properties for sale, lease and rent. Issues a monthly newsletter with the latest property news. Also does research and management services.


Bitexco Office Building, 7th Floor, 19-25 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 3529 Represents property investors, developers and renters in all matters related to commercial and residential property.


International Plaza Building, Room 16B8, 343 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 7553 A real estate agent providing a wide range of services including property sales, leasings, rentals, free brokerage and aftersales service.


Level 2, Pathfinder Building, 52 Dong Du, Q1 Tel: (08) 6291 4707 Global real estate consultants, specialising in commercial / residential sales and leasing, project management, valuation and research & consultancy.

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


Tel: (08) 3914 7003 HomeConnect by Transpo provides a home search service to expats already living in Vietnam, specialising in finding high–end apartments and villas, with a full range of relocation services available to new arrivals as well.


Suite A, 7/F, VTP Office Building, 8 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 6777 Founded in 1896, Knight Frank has grown to become the world’s largest privately owned global property agency and consultancy. In Vietnam, they offer commercial, residential and residential development services.


48A Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: 0989 007700 Expert in providing rental properties, constructions and interior decoration, especially in District 2. Supports professional services and aftersales.


1 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 6281 8516

HousingInteractive Real Quest Vietnam staffs a mix of foreigners and Vietnamese to find houseseekers good homes at affordable prices.

to VND40 billion with no hidden hospital sub– limits for anyone up to age 74. Also includes a routine heath check and dental care. No claims discount available.


Fideco Tower, 18th Floor, 8185 Ham Nghi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 9205 Savills Vietnam is a leading property service provider in Vietnam since 1995, providing research, advisory services, residential sales, commercial leasing, asset management, retail advisory, valuation, investment advisory and other services.

SNAP Owners of Snap Café in District 2, Snap offers a web– based real estate search service with information on rental properties all around the city, as well as an advisory service for those averse to wading into the internet depths for their needs.


18/34b Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1 Tel: 0903 955877 Native English speakers specialising in rentals and tenancy management.


Capital Place, 6 Thai Van Lung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3520 2000 Vietnam Sotheby’s International Realty has access to residential real estate both for sale and lease around the world. Contact them to view high–end apartments, villas, resorts and island properties.


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


Tel: (08) 3825 8416 Offers hospital costs paid up

Tel: 6255 6774 HousingInteractive offers an easy-to-use, comprehensive website that only lists authentic apartments and villas throughout Ho Chi Minh City. The website allows users to make specific searches to narrow down properties in order to suit their exact requirements and save time. Upon selecting, HousingInteractive’s professional staff is available 6 days a week to introduce tenants to their future homes.

Blue Cross Vietnam

Lau 8, River View Tower, Thai Van Lung,Q 1 Tel: 3821 9908 Blue Cross Vietnam is part of the Pacific Cross group of companies with over 60 years’ experience in providing health and travel insurance to people and businesses who call Asia home. Their reputation for transparent, honest and reliable service means they are the strength behind your insurance. To make sure you are getting the most out of your insurance contact them for a free quote.

and money management, debt and cash–flow planning, life, disability and health insurance and family wealth protection.


17th Floor, Sun Wah Tower, 115 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 9930 A leading investment fund management company with extensive experience in the emerging Vietnam market. Manages the Vietnam Opportunity Fund (VOF), which is a US$839 million investment fund.


26 Phung Khac Khoan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 3597 Established in 1994, Apollo offers high–quality, cost–effective English language classes including general English, English for teens and English for business communication, and a pronunciation clinic.

1A Me Linh Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 7362 Independent advisors that represent top reputable medical insurers provide you with the best suitable medical cover for individual, family or company needs.



Tel: 0934 874271 Represents insurance programs offered by Seven Corners, and other global insurers. Customized health and travel cover options available at competitive rates for corporations, individuals, families, students, and groups.

51 Nguyen Cu Trinh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3838 6788 A foreign-owned education and training company that offers a range of educational programmes, such as English-language tuition, university pathway programmes, corporate training, teacher training and overseas study consultancy and placement services.



15th Floor, Kumho Asiana Plaza, 39 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3812 5125 Provides a range of services to both commercial enterprises and individuals. Coverage includes property, liability, business interruption, marine cargo, automobile, home and travel, as well as expat healthcare.


Unit 25F, Saigon Trade Centre, 37 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 0999 Operating in Vietnam since 1995, Prudential has over 70 customer care centres throughout the country.

Investment & Finance DRAGON CAPITAL

1901 Me Linh Point, 2 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 9355 An integrated financial services provider, with an exclusive focus on Vietnam’s capital markets. Established in 1994, the group is one of the largest and most experienced asset managers in Vietnam.


33/19 Quoc Huong, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: 0908 381492 Offers classes to francophone and other foreign children and adults. Classes include monitoring for the French Education Programme, preparing for official tests (DEFL, DAFL, TFL, IB), Vietnamese lessons and extracurricular activities.


135/10 Nguyen Cuu Van, Binh Thanh, Tel: 0916 670 771 A Vietnamese language school specialising in personalised one-on-one instruction at a comfortable and central campus or at your home, office or over Skype.


45 Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 0168 Offers courses ranging from basic conversational Vietnamese to upper elementary, intermediate and advanced levels, as well as special courses including Vietnamese literature, composition or a 6-hour survival crash course.

VNC VIETNAMESE LANGUAGE TRAINING & TRANSLATION The Ethical Investment Group is dedicated to offering alternative investments to investors looking to make quality, above-average returns, while simultaneously expressing a social conscience with meaningful, measurable and sustainable environmental benefits.

37/54 Tran Dinh Xu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6678 0914 Provides Vietnamese language training by qualified and experienced teachers, and expert certification, notarization and translation for all types of materials and documents.


189 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3925 9800 One of the largest and most respected language institutions in the city, VUS offers programmes that are designed in cooperation with the City University of New York.

66/11 Pham Ngoc Thach, Q3, Tel: (08) 3820 0623 t– Offers personal financial planning for expatriates, portable retirement savings plans, tax minimisation strategies, asset allocation

110-112-114 Street No. 2, Hung Gia 5, Q7 Tel: (08) 5412 3300 A fast-growing English language center in District 7’s Phu My Hung, UEC was founded in 2009. Now with 500 students drawn from 17 different nationalities, the classes are served by over 35 native English speaking teachers who are committed to providing a culturally diverse and engaging classroom atmosphere. Offers a wide range of classes from beginner levels through TOEFL, IGCSE, SAT and IELTS. UEC also provides support to students aspiring for a place in international schools.

Legal Services


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





Suite 605, Saigon Tower, 29 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 1717 Australian law firm providing standard legal services to corporate clients, Allens’ website is also an excellent resource for English translations of over 3,000 Vietnamese laws. Also publishes a monthly Vietnam Legal Update.


12th Floor, Saigon Tower, 29 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 5585 Baker & McKenzie provides on–the–ground liaison and support services to clients interested in investigating, negotiating and implementing projects in the country.


Unit 1501, 15th Floor, The Metropolitan, 235 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 2733 Frasers Law Company is an integrated team providing international legal advice in a Vietnamese context on all matters of business and commerce.


18 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 8599 A leading international law firm with 19 offices worldwide. The Vietnam office offers clients high quality service that combines legal expertise with a highly commercial approach, across all sectors of business law.


Unit 4A2, 4th Floor, Han Nam Building, 65 Nguyen Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 9640 A business law–focused practice established in 2006, Indochine Counsel assists both international and local clients in meeting the various legal needs related to their business and investment.


17th Floor, Saigon Tower, 29 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 8860 Operating in Vietnam since 1994, the firm provides clients with a full range of legal services in all areas, including corporate, real estate, banking and finance and all forms of inward investment.

Management Training BRAINBOX VIETNAM

5th & 6th Floor, Saigon Prime building, 107–109–111 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q3, Tel: (08) 6920 7405 An education and training firm with its HQ in

March 2013 Word | 87

{JOB Search}

Singapore that provides several business courses leading to internationally–recognised qualifications such as BAs, MBAs and doctorates.


** Are You Experienced? * * In the first of a new series of columns by recruitment specialist Jeff Bonnin, we look at the employment market in Vietnam for expats. With the economic downturn and growing localisation, how ripe exactly is it?


or many years Vietnam has not only been known as the country of bia hoi, difficult to pronounce tones and insane traffic, but also as an Asian Economic Tiger. At one time its robust economy seemed to offer limitless employment opportunities for expat workers. During this period it seemed that all an expat worker needed to find their ‘pot of gold’, was a few years of international work experience from their home country and a desire for adventure. However, the global economic recession that plunged many countries into crisis in 2008 has been nipping at the shores of Vietnam. Over the last couple of years its effects have finally been felt. Throughout the streets of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City you can see deserted constructions sites turned into parking lots and buildings abandoned half way through construction. What does it all mean? Is there still potential for the expat worker? The answer is yes and no. Over the past few years the skill level of local Vietnamese employees has risen and the skills and international experience of the expat worker is no longer a high demand commodity. Furthermore, although, the ‘expat package’ does still exist, it tends to be much more limited. What was once common for many is now found strictly reserved for “C” level executives.

into business on their own with limited resources and stand a high chance of success. The country is chock-full with expats who have found success opening up language schools, restaurants, consulting companies, galleries and much more. Although it is true that Vietnam is home to some very limiting red tape, it is also home to a country with a low cost of living and an underdeveloped market. An underdeveloped market that with the right product or service could soon find high demand, and a low cost of living that means business failure does not necessarily mean bankruptcy and high levels of debt. It is true that there are still some industries where expat expertise is still invaluable, hospitality and language schools being the two most obvious. However, these are becoming fewer and fewer, and salaries are decreasing. Take the IT industry. Still in its infancy, there are openings for expats, but salaries are at a local level. The key is to have a good skill-set and to be able to think outside of the box by offering something which is not yet here. In other words, sell yourself as a consultant. Look at what a company has to offer and approach them with ideas to help them move forward. There is still incredible opportunity in Vietnam, but one must be willing to take a bit of a gamble. If you do, then maybe you, too, will find your ‘pot of gold’.

Outside the Box

Jeff Bonnin is the business manager at Adecco. For further information email him on jeff.

Nevertheless, Vietnam still remains one of the few countries where one can go

88 | Word March 2013

4th floor, 4 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 4728 The first team-building provider established in Vietnam, Embers specializes in ensuring success in globally competitive markets. Embers’ HR performance management services include excursions, strategic planning retreats, conference facilitations and training workshops.


88 Huynh Van Banh, Phu Nhuan, Tel: (08) 6292 9288 With campuses throughout Southeast Asia, ERC offers a comprehensive range of business courses from soft skills development programmes to tourism and hospitality, all the way through to MBAs.


6th Floor, Yoco Office Building, 41 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 9919 A 100 percent foreign–invested company focusing on management services and consulting with in–house programmes to meet the particular requirements of its clients. Offers teambuilding and academic–based business and management programmes.


Tel: 0128 3327472 Innovative Training 2020 provides tailored training courses combining soft skills with English, offering training and development in all industries — hospitality, banking, healthcare, IT and local government.


35A-1-2 Grandview, Nguyen Duc Canh, Q7, Tel: (08) 5412 3402 An international human resource management consultancy specialising in organisational and professional development. Services include assessment and development, team building, corporate training, HRM audits and HR systems design.

Market Research CIMIGO

9 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 3822 7727 An independent marketing and brand research specialist operating in the Asia Pacific region. Services include auditing and optimising research programmes, knowledge management, developing marketing plans

and business models and assessing market opportunities.


11th Floor, Dinh Le Building, 1 Dinh Le, Q4, Tel: (08) 3826 8989 Epinion is a European market research and business intelligence company operating the largest online panel in Vietnam. Offers solutions in brand equity tracking, ad and TVC tests, retail feedback and employee satisfaction.


3rd Floor, 140 Nguyen Van Thu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 6965 Provides a regional perspective on consumer, retail and social research to a range of multinational organisations operating in Indochina.


91 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 6258 6314 Providing business-to-business and industry market research since 1997. Clients include multinationals, investment funds and government commercial offices. Consulting services focus on market sizing, investment analysis and trade promotion.


CentrePoint Building, Level 4, 106 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhan, Tel: (08) 3997 8088 Global information and measurement company, with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence, mobile measurement, trade shows and related properties.


13th Floor, Room 1312, Kumho Asiana Plaza 39 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 6288 8785 A global market research company that works on competitive brand, product and customer experience strategies, Synovate combines global research capabilities with personalised service, local knowledge and flexibility to meet clients’ specific needs.


105–107 Nguyen Cong Tru, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 5727 With over 11 years in the marketplace, TNS Vietnam offers all three major market research services — customisation, access panels and media monitoring — to a range of local and international clients.

Public Relations MASSO GROUP

30 Dang Tat, Q1 Provides professional mar-

keting services and consulting for the Vietnamese market including integrated marketing communications, PR and brand-building consulting.

Provides a range of manpower services in a wide variety of industries, including executive search and selection, HR management and employment outsourcing.



Level 5, 273-273B Ben Chuong Duong, Q1 Tel: (08) 3838 5517 matterhorncommunications. com Providing public relations and communications support to international and local firms operating in Vietnam. Specialising in corporate communications, media relations, corporate social responsibility and media and issues management and training.


1201, Block A, Indochina Park Tower, 4 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 2220 2989 universalmanagementasia. com UMA is an Australian/Vietnamese promotional and representation company providing promotional marketing solutions for business products and services within Vietnam.


7th Floor, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 0462 Vero Public Relations helps clients expand their footprints in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand through effective public relations campaigns. Services offered include branding, media relations, event management, public affairs and issues / crisis management.


1st Floor, Thien Son Building, 5 Nguyen Gia Thieu, Q3, Tel: (08) 3930 8800 Established in 2003, HR2B is one of Vietnam’s top three HR consulting firms, specialising in finding opportunities for senior level professionals. Other services include payroll outsourcing, contract staffing and HR management consulting.

130 Suong Nguyet Anh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3925 5000 Well–known human resources agency with a wide range of services including executive search and online recruitment.


2A Rolanno Offices, 128 Nguyen Phi Khanh, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 8209 Established in Ho Chi Minh City in 2005, Opus services local and multinational companies seeking to recruit high quality personnel. An Associate of Horton International, one of the world’s leading search groups.


39 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3520 7900 Offers a professional recruitment service, specialising in sales and marketing, technical healthcare, accountancy and finance, banking and financial services, human resources, IT, supply chain, engineering and oil and gas.


Suite 808, 8th Floor, Sun Wah Tower, 115 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 9488 The first and only global HR consulting firm fully operational in Vietnam. Services include executive compensation, talent management, employee rewards and surveys, HR effectiveness and technology, data services and total reward surveys.


130 Suong Nguyet Anh, Q1, Tel: (08) 5404 1373 Online job-search website with one of the best selections of jobs in Vietnam.

Also contains sections with career tips, CV writing advice and information on training courses.

Relocation Agents AGS Four Winds (Vietnam)

5th Floor, Lafayette De Saigon, 8A Phung Khac Khoan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3521 0071 A global leader in international removals and relocations, with 130 offices globally, we can move your property to and from any location.

Allied Pickfords

Tel: 01225 141848 joel.garbutt@alliedpickfords. With more than 800 offices in over 45 countries, Allied Pickfords is one of the worldwide leaders in removal services. In Vietnam, Allied also provides tailored relocation services.


9th Floor, Unit 9.3, REE Tower 9 Doan Van Bo, Q4, Tel: (08) 3826 7799 Asian Tigers is one of the largest regional move management specialists, with services including door-todoor moving, housing and school searches, local and office moves and pet relocations.


48A Huynh Man Dat, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 3840 4237 Crown Relocations services include expense management, policy consulting and programme administration, storage, transit protection and domestic and international transportation of household goods.

JVK INTERNATIONAL MOVERS 6th Floor, Saigon Port Building, 3 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4,

Tel: (08) 3826 7655 Focused primarily on the international and local movement of household goods, JVK is a leader in the field. 100




396/4 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Q4, Tel: (08) 3941 5325 75 Specialists in international, local, domestic and office moves for household goods and personal effects through our global partner network. 25 used Experts in exporting scooters that do not have documentation.






Tel: (08) 2226 8855 0 100 The first dedicated relocation company in Vietnam, Resi95 a full dent Vietnam provides range of destination services, cross–cultural training and 75 immigration management services.

0 100 95 75


7th Floor, 6-8 Doan25Van Bo, Q4, Tel: (08) 3826 8850 5 range SEAL offers a complete of relocation services, including global and local reloca0 tion services to, from and within Vietnam. SEAL is also an accredited pet relocation agent.


8th Floor, Thien Son Building, 5 Nguyen Gia Thieu, Q3, Tel: (08) 3933 0065 Santa Fe Relocation Services offers moving, home search, pet transport, orientation and immigration services. The only moving company to have ISO 9001-14001 certification in Vietnam.

25 5 0

RS-Artwork-Ad.M-TUSAwdSB-119hx86mm-v1302242100F-e14 Monday, February 25, 2013 6:40:11 PM

Serviced Apartments Apato

15B/107 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Rooms for rent in Districts 1, 4 and 7. From VND5 million


8th Floor, Resco Building, 9496 Nguyen Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3911 0950 The first global recruitment company to set up locally, Manpower offers a range of services for the entire employment and business cycle.


4th Floor, 8 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: (08) 3820 3115

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to VND9 million per month with laundry, cleaning and facilities included. Minimum stay of two weeks or one month available, no deposit required.


656 Cach Mang Tham Tam, Q3, Tel: (08) 3993 1587 camlyapartment@hcm. With a total of 10 studio apartments for long-term lease, each unit comes fully furnished with a living room, kitchen and bedroom. Rates are subject to the duration of stay.


12 Mac Dinh Chi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 1111 Conveniently located only five minutes from downtown, Cityview has 69 fully–furnished apartments. Facilities include a gym, billiards lounge, kids playroom, restaurant and laundry.


Crn. of Nguyen Du & Le Van Huu, Q1 Tel: (08) 3520 8888 Adjacent to the InterContinental Asiana Saigon you’ll find 260 luxurious and spacious residential suites. The residences offer panoramic

views of the downtown area.


307/29 Nguyen Van Troi, Tan Binh Five minutes from Tan Son Nhat International Airport and 15 minutes from the city centre, Jasmine Court is a boutique property with 12 apartments comprising one and two-bedroom suites of various sizes.


17–19-21 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 6111 Offers a wide choice of luxurious and modern furnished accommodation with attentive and discreet service. Facilities include an outdoor swimming pool, a gym, sauna and steam room, as well as two on-site restaurants.


53 Vo Truong Toan, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 4111 riverside– Over four Saigon Riverbank hectares, Riverside Apartments combines a resort lifestyle with the amenities of a fully serviced-apartment. Located minutes from downtown by high-speed boat shuttle.


65 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9666 Located in the centre of

town above Saigon Center, 89 well–appointed one to three-bedroom apartments come complete with full housekeeping services and fully–equipped kitchenettes.


127 Pasteur, Q3, Tel: (08) 3823 2288 Sherwood Residence is a luxurious serviced apartment property where modern living spaces meet prime location, comfort and class, with five–star facilities and service.


8A Nguyen Binh Khiem, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 8899 21-23 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 9197 Somerset Chancellor Court and Somerset Ho Chi Minh City serviced residences combine the space and privacy of an apartment with the services of a top-rated hotel.


5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 2098 65 serviced apartments located in the city centre overlooking the river. Also has a comprehensive health club for tenants and members, a squash court and a 16th floor swimming pool.

EAT[ French & Italian CIAO BELLA


world wine list.


NEW YORK-ITALIAN 11 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 3329 New York-style Italian restaurant offering a range of tasty and affordable antipasti, pastas, and pizzas. Friendly staff and rustic bare brick walls adorned with Hollywood film legends make for a relaxed and attractive setting.

FRENCH / MEDITERRANEAN 48 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 2229 8882 This intimate, open-kitchened restaurant bathed in white specialises in a mix of contemporary Mediterranean and French cuisine. Has a small but well thought out menu, backed up with an extensive wine list.



FRENCH/MEDITERRANEAN Sofitel Saigon Plaza, 17 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 1555 Exuding a southern Gallic atmosphere with its tiled veranda, pastel-coloured walls and ficus trees, this traditional French restaurant has quarterly Michelin star promotions and an award winning pastry team.

TRADITIONAL ITALIAN 17B Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 1080 This downtown hideaway with rustic–style decorative trawls features fresh, light regional cuisine from across Italy. Try the carpaccio misto di pesce and agnello d’antico. Also specializes in excellent wood-fired pizzas.

la brasserie de saigon





Want to know the best places to eat or drink in this city? Here is our pick of the top 100 restaurants

FRENCH / PARISIEN 38 Dong Du, Q1 Tel: (08) 6291 3657 Chic art nouveau decor surrounds this dining experience ­– but the streetside seafood stand draws the focus back to where it should be, on the fresh, authentic Parisian cuisine.

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THE 100 * * TOP

FRENCH / MEDITERRANEAN 74/7D Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3520 4888 A romantic, indoor setting creates the atmosphere at this white tablecloth mainstay. Serving a mixture of French-influenced Mediterranean cuisine, it also boasts excellent desserts and a great old and new

CONTEMPORARY ITALIAN 11 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: 01634 991625 Serving traditional Italian cuisine with a contemporary flair, Del Buon Vino (the Good Wine) also features a beautiful lounge on the 3rd floor for relaxing with friends and a glass of wine.


CLASSIC FRENCH / EUROPEAN FUSION 40 Thai Van Lung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 9263 A sociable and popular French bistro serving up 100 percent organic, traditional Gallic staples such as

French onion soup, escargot, and moules marinières, plus European fusion dishes, and competitively priced world wines.


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


TRATTORIA-STYLE ITALIAN 88 Ho Tung Mau, Ben Nghe, Q1, Tel: (08) 3915 3692 A contemporary trattoria in the heart of Saigon, serving home-cooked Italian cuisine with New York flair in a beautifully designed space with high ceilings. The menu features both traditional antipasti and substantial main courses.


ITALIAN, INTERNATIONAL 175/1 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 0760 A family-run restaurant selling excellent pizzas, salads and pastas to hungry backpackers for well over a decade. Amiable service and reasonable prices make a very pleasant eating experience.


FRENCH BISTRO 28 Do Quang Dau, Q1, Tel: 0903 852956 French backpacker area mainstay attracting a clien-

tele made up of Gallic expats and tourists. Excellent food menu with daily specials backs up a long bar seating area perfect for cradling a Ricard.


CONTEMPORARY ITALIAN Ground Floor, Park Hyatt Hotel, 2 Lam Son Square, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 1234 Unpretentious, casual but elegant restaurant with a tried–and–tested Italian menu backed up by a compact wine list from regions like Umbria, Toscana and Veneto. Regular specials and impressive open kitchens.


PAN-ITALIAN 36 Tong Huu Dinh, Q2, Tel: (08) 6253 2828 Opening out into a large, leafy terracotta-tiled garden area, this trattoria-style Italian restaurant serves up quality homemade pasta, risotto, gnocchi, excellent pizza and grilled dishes. Another branch downtoan at 87 Nguyen Hue, Q1.


ITALIAN / VIETNAMESE 119-121 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3836 9220 Two-storey Stella serves very reasonable Italian food — antipasti, pasta, pizza, insalata plus meats and fish — at reasonable prices. Also has Wi-Fi, cool aircon, and one of the best lattes around. Now no-smoking indoors.


CLASSIC FRENCH 18 Tong Huu Dinh, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 4585 Trois Gourmands is the suc-

cessor to the legendary Le Toit Gourmand in Tan Binh, and continues to serve up some of the best Gallic fare in town. The seven-course, wine-paired dinner remains excellent value.

tasty Vietnamese-styled sandwiches, spiced up cocktails, mains and more, all served up with a Californian edge at this small but popular two-storey eatery close to the river.

International AL FRESCO’S

INTERNATIONAL 27 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: 0838 238424 The downtown outlet of one of Vietnam’s most successful restaurant chains, Al Fresco’s offers international, Australian-influenced comfort fare in a pleasant environment with efficient, friendly service to match. Excellent delivery service.


BRAZILIAN / BUFFET 238 Pasteur, Q3, Tel: (08) 3820 7157 Latino ambiance with great meat dishes and attractive, spacious décor. The churrasco, with 12 cuts of barbecued and cured meats plus unlimited salad, is hand carved at your table. Can get busy.


EUROPEAN / CAFÉ 23 Han Thuyen, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 2772 Consistently tasty European café fare — think deli-style sandwiches, salads and mezzes, plus coffees and juices — served at a popular park-side Le Duan location with classic cream and green-tiled décor.


LEBANESE The Courtyard, 74/13D Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: 3822 2188 A Lebanese restaurant and shisha lounge located downtown, encompasses a multiple-floored restaurant and extensive garden area. As the name suggests the menu has a Lebanese/Arabic theme.

Black Cat

AMERICAN 13 Phan Van Dat, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 2055 Creatively named burgers,


87-89-91 Ho Tung Mau, Q1 Tel: 0122 763 1261 bahdjarestaurant@gmail. com Located just beneath Au Lac Saigon Hotel, Bahdja is Saigon’s first ever Algerian restaurant, serving authentic, multi-ethnic Berber North African and Mediterranean cuisine cooked and served in a traditional Algerian style. Best experienced in a group, this small but pleasant restaurant’s soothing ambience is matched by the owners’ genuine hospitality and complimented by an array of tasty tajines and couscous-based dishes. Make sure to try the excellent Moroccan wine, too.


AUSTRALIAN / INTERNATIONAL 40 Lily Road, An Phu Superior Compound, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6790 Live music, mini-festivals and functions are regular events at this spacious restobar in An Phu on the banks of the Saigon river. The menu offers seasonal dishes, classic mains and sharing plates.


INTERNATIONAL / GRILL CR-2 3-4 107 Ton Dat Tien, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (08) 5413 6592 Australian themed but Singaporean-owned eatery and bar on The Crescent with great terraced seating specializing in huge-portioned international fare, all set in a contemporary, spacious environment.

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{ } bad Egg


eading out for Thai, I got more than I bargained for. In fact that is the problem with a bargain. If it seems too cheap to be true, it normally is. It seemed like a convenient idea at the time. Its name means 'authentic Thai', which certainly raised eyebrows the moment the starter arrived. I had a stab at it but winced. My dining partner and myself looked at each other and although she had a go at eating it — for the first time in my life I actually didn’t even attempt to taste the rest of my dinner. The two mains arrived and I stuck to Tiger beer throughout and ordered some beer nuts to keep my appetite at bay until later, as the food certainly didn’t resemble what ‘it said on the tin’. It was like going to an Italian restaurant and asking for penne arrabbiata and receiving overcooked pasta with chilli sauce. If that was a first date, you can be guaranteed it would have been your last. Maybe I am being a little harsh, as located in a quietish area of District 1 just off Hai Bai Trung and geared towards students and low-paid workers, this eatery offers ‘authentic’ Thai on the cheap. Our meal cost about VND250,000. Out of fairness to our readers, this is the bad food column after all, I will spare the eatery’s blushes by not mentioning the horrors on offer. And keeping the name quiet, too. There are only a few Thai restaurants worth trying in this city. This isn’t one of them. — Derek Milroy

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GERMAN / RESTOBAR Level 1, Kumho Link, 39 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 4206 The city’s first contemporary German beer bar and restaurant, Brotzeit offers well known German beer accompanied by authentic Bavarian Cuisine —sausages, schnitzels and more — in a relaxed yet chic drinking hall setting.


INTERNATIONAL / VIETNAMESE 40/31 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3836 7622 This affable café is a rarity in the backpacker area for its genuinely good musical playlist. Excellent, build-your-own breakfasts, baked potatoes, toasties, Vietnamese fare and more. Has a popular motorbike rental service.


INTERNATIONAL / ASIAN Level 51, Bitexco Financial Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 8751 Highest dining in the city. Modern international and pan-Asian fine dining cuisine with 360-degree sweeping views. Open theatre kitchen, mezzanine seating and 300+ label walk-in wine cellar.


STEAKHOUSE / INTERNATIONAL 117 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 5368 Although a hotel restaurant, the enticing range of US and Australian steaks plus great grill and comfort food menu in this contemporary eatery make for a quality bite. Decentsized steaks start at VND390,000.


AMERICAN 52 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 4327 The comfort food on offer at this striking USstyle diner ranges from meatball baguettes to chilli burgers, pizzas, blackened chicken salads and a selection of more expensive international mains.


ARGENTINIAN STEAKHOUSE 5D Nguyen Sieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 1879 A pleasant downtown eatery mixing an Argentinian steakhouse theme with pork, chicken, lamb, homemade spicy sausage, skewers, burger dishes and everything that can come off a grill.


AUSTRALIAN / INTERNATIONAL Ground Floor, Bitexco Financial Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1Tel: (08) 3915 6006 Mixing hearty pub grub such as burgers, salads and prime rib steaks with a sports bar atmosphere, this Australian chain also offers regular promotions and a 4pm to 7pm happy hour. Excellent outdoor terrace.


INTERNATIONAL FUSION The Square, 74/7 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 0931 Although a chain restaurant, the international offerings here are consistently good and creative. Excellent service, an attractive outdoor terrace area, and a good kids menu. Check out their pepper steaks.


INTERNATIONAL BUFFET Ground Floor, InterContinental Asiana Saigon, Crn. of Hai Ba Trung & Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3520 9099 Buffet restaurant specialising in a boutique selection of appetisers, local and imported seafood, succulent steaks from the grill, and hand-crafted noodles. Bakery operates throughout day to ensure that every dish arrives fresh.


INTERNATIONAL CAFE FARE / SEAFOOD 23 Thao Dien, An Phu, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6478 The rustic looking, banana-leaf roofed Mekong Merchant has long been the place in An Phu. Set around a cobble-stoned courtyard the cuisine includes gourmet seafood and pastas. Bakery-style Bistro out front.


PAN-AMERICAN / TEX-MEX 50 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 1311 Mogambo is one of the city’s longest running establishments. A well-known expat meeting spot, with dishes running from fajitas and burritos through to the coronary bypass burger, gumbo and ribs.


AMERICAN / FRENCH 25–27 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 7373 NYSW is well known for serving up formidable prime signature cuts of New York strip steak, rib eye, double strip loins and chateaubriands along with sophisticated sides, in a glitzy, Hollywood-esque atmosphere.


INTERNATIONAL / ASIAN Ground floor, Caravelle Hotel, 19 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4999 Great buffets draw daily crowds to this downtown hotel restaurant. Streamlined décor and clean lines create a modern ambience that makes an excellent backdrop for the extensive range of cuisine.


SPANISH / EUROPEAN 97 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 6924 Legs of Iberian ham hang in the downstairs bar at this multi-story bodega serving Spanish-styled tapas. Attractively decorated in warm reds, yellows and oranges, Pacharan’s food menu is traditionally Spanish.


INTERNATIONAL / ASIAN New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 8888 Flagship restaurant of The New World Hotel, serving lavish buffets all day. Many cooking stations ranging from Chinese to Italian, sushi and seafood, to salads, cold cuts, cheese plates and desserts.


TURKISH / INTERNATIONAL 25 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 3677 Sumptuous, Turkish-themed restaurant close to the mosque with Islamic-style white dome décor and comfortable, cushioned seating. Authentically Turkish cuisine with a sprinkling of western fare thrown in.


EUROPEAN/ASIAN FUSION 8/15 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9838 This quirky but highly rated Italian / Japanese fusion pizza parlour serves wacky yet delicious pies such as tuna curry pizza and calamari seaweed pizza, as well as more traditional varieties.


FRENCH BISTRO / INTERNATIONAL The Square, 74 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 0509 A slightly retro feel pervades this popular French-style bistro and wine bar which once housed the city’s opium refinery. The cuisine runs from creative salads through to Mediterranean influenced mains.

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{ top Eats } ** Reviews * *


photos by: alexandre garel

INTERNATIONAL / FINE DINING 3rd floor, Caravelle Hotel, 19 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4999 Old images of Saigon grace the walls while a pianist plays in the background of the Caravelle’s signature restaurant. The fare is surprisingly contemporary. Good choice for a particularly special meal.


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


INTERNATIONAL 15-17 Cao Trieu Phat, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: 0948 901465 pages/scottbinhs.php Serving creative, all homemade comfort food, this restaurant boasts a full bar, ice-cold beer and an international wine list to complement meals. Has a focus on the creative use of local ingredients.



ith its immaculately designed interior and breathtaking views of the city’s skyline, Chill Skybar has become one of Saigon’s choicest drinking establishments over its first year-plus. But in the past few months, with a revamped menu, and an expanded upper deck drinking and dining area, Chill has committed itself to bringing the glamour for which its bar is famous to all aspects of the customer dining experience. One of the biggest recent changes to the restaurant comes with the hiring of sommelier Tobias Nilsson, the youngest person in history to be awarded an advanced certification from the Danish Sommelier Association. Over the course of the past two months he has completely reinvented the wine list.

Back to the Food Although at VND390,000 it was one of the most expensive appetizers on the menu, the seared foie gras with apples and a chamomile gelée was well worth the price. With a crisply seared shell yielding pure, fatty viscosity, the foie gras sweetness was perfectly balanced out by the marriage of sweet grilled apples and a green apple salsa. The seared scallops were another standout. Tobias matched both dishes with Stillwater Bay sauvignon blanc, a crisp

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New Zealand white, with citrus notes that perfectly matched the sweetness of the scallops, and pleasantly cut the fattiness of the foie gras. Executive chef Casper Gustafsen has increased the menu’s focus on premium cuts of meat. Although both cuts we tasted lacked the distinctive mineral tang of dry aged-steak, they were beautifully tender, well marbled and handled with care. The trio of homemade sauces served with every steak only sweeten the deal. Chill Skybar has always been a top-end dining destination, but with an increasing focus on menu design and wine parings, the quality of food matches the spectacular setting. It’s not a place to go to if you’re looking for nouveau-style culinary innovation — that is reserved for a handful of upper echelon establishments overseas. It is, however, an ideal setting for a fancy date or a special occasion meal, where you can enjoy carefully and deliciously prepared international-style staples, served with probably the best view in town. — Emily Beyda

CONTEMPORARY EUROPEAN 23rd Floor, Centec Tower, 72–74 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3, Tel: (08) 3827 9631 A breezy terrace, indoor bar and separate dining room with sweeping views over central Saigon make up this enormous, comfortable space. A wellthought out and romantic venue, with excellent food.


INTERNATIONAL / MEDITERRANEAN 9A Thai Van Lung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 4798 Simple, unpretentious Greekinfluenced, international cuisine ranging from the zucchini carpaccio through to the saganiki, a range of dips, mousaka, osso buco and lamb chop skewers. Also has an excellent upstairs cigar room.


INTERNATIONAL/ASIAN Level 50, Bitexco Financial Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 8750 All-day restaurant and events venue offering a panoramic view of Saigon. Food offered includes an express business lunch, high tea, and buffet dinner, along with an a la carte menu.

THE DECK Chill Skybar Floors 26 & 27, 76A Le Lai, Q1 Tel: 0838 275630

MODERN ASIAN FUSION 38 Nguyen U Di, Q2 Tel: (08) 3744 6632 Set on the banks of Saigon River across from Thanh Da Island, this innovative restaurant serves up modern Asian fusion cuisine in a Bali-style atmosphere, complemented by great cocktails and a long wine list.


MIDDLE-EASTERN 71/7 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 3822 The deep colours, Arabic décor and cushioned outdoor terrace area give this popular venue its unique touch. The food is good, too, taking in tabouleh, houmous, falafel and mutabbal, shwarmas and more. Sells authentic shisha.


INTERNATIONAL FUSION 41 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 7375 Creative cocktails, an extensive wine list and laid-back ambiance, combined with a conversationfriendly bar area, 40-seat dining space, and high quality international cuisine makes ZanZBar one of Saigon’s go-to destinations.


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


JAPANESE NOODLES 29 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3521 0008 Bright, airy and spacious with sake bottles hung across the wall, the menu here focuses on ramen noodles, starting at around VND100,000 a dish. Also rice and dumpling options.


SUSHI / SASHIMI 4 Chu Manh Trinh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 0326 The restaurant of famed chef Ryoichi ‘Roy’ Iwashita, from Osaka, Inaho features some of the best sushi and sashimi in town, with faultless ingredients and presentation.


JAPANESE / FUSION 45 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2351 Kabuto Tokyo offers typical Japanese cuisine, and fusion dishes in a dramatic environment with Manga cartoons on the walls, golden ceilings, Japanese armour and huge carp steamer lantern displays.


JAPANESE NOODLES 18 Thai Van Lung, Q1; SD04, Lo H29-2, KP My Phat, Phu My Hung, Q7 Noodles can be found in every form in this sleek, open-kitchened eatery. Noodles are served in sets — the lunchtime offering goes for just over VND100,000 — or as individual dishes.


SUSHI / SASHIMI 53-55 Ba Huyen Thanh Quan, Q3, Tel: (08) 3930 0039 Sushi Dining AOI offers full-blown

Japanese-style sushi, sashimi, and other dishes such as tempura, pork cutlet and cold soba noodles in a warm and friendly atmosphere. Good value set lunches. Probably the best sushi in town.


JAPANESE BARBECUE 15A6 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2527 Japanese eatery specialising in all things barbecue, the charcoalgrilled beef cooked at the table is to die for, and various other meat and vegetable options are good, too. Great lunch set.


JAPANESE / OKINAWA 13/1 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 8433 yamaneko– Funky Yamaneko — down an alley off Le Thanh Ton — offers delicious, unpretentious Okinawan fare alongside mainland staples. Does a great set lunch deal.

Pan-Asian ashoka

NORTH INDIAN / CHINESE INDIAN 17/10 le thanh ton, q1, tel: 3823 1372 Long-running, award-winning Indian restaurant famed for its excellent kebabs, creamy curries and Chinese-Indian fare. Has a second venue in Hung Vuong 2, Phu My Hung.


PAN-THAI 55 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 5453 Subtle lighting and comfortable sofa-like seating at this An Phu eatery. The menu has a whole page dedicated to tom yum soup as well as firey larb moo and Laotian som tam. Thai cuisine cooked up by no-holds-barred Thai chefs.


NORTH / SOUTH INDIAN 164 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3838 6661 This pleasant, airy Indian does the full range of fare from all ends of the subcontinent, from dosas and vadas through to chicken tikka masala, kormas, kebabs and fiery vindaloos.

DELIVERY Ben’s Style

Tel: 0906 912730 restaurants-ben-style Healthy, calorie-counted sandwich and deli fare

Chez Guido

Tel: (08) 3898 3747 Vietnamese, international fare, pizza, pasta, sandwiches

Domino’s Pizza

Tel: (08) 3939 3030 Pizzas, wings, desserts

Eat.Vn Delivery service website for local restaurants

el gato negro

Tel: (08) 6660 1577 Californian-style burritos

HUNGRYPANDA.VN Delivery service website for local restaurants


Tel: (08) 3848 9999 Fried chicken, chicken burgers, sides


Tel: (08) 3910 0000 Burgers, fried chicken, sides


2A Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 3519 4520 British-style pan-Chinese

Pizza Hut (PHD)

Tel: (08) 3838 8388 Pizzas, wings, pasta, appetizers


Tel: (08) 3823 5795 Pizzas, pasta, salad, antipasti, desserts


INDIAN MALAY 35 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: 0903 863114 Long running hole-in-the-wall halal restaurant opposite the Mosque selling a selection of Malaysian-style Indian cuisine. Simple fan-cooled dining area with all dishes costing well under VND100,000.


THAI / VIETNAMESE 185 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 1311 Owned by a Thai-trained Vietnamese chef this is one of the few eateries in town serving up very good pan-Thai cuisine. Great value, with mains generally around VND70,000. Homemade Mexican fare

willy woo’s

Tel: (08) 3941 5433 www.blackcatsaigon. com US-style chicken and waffles

Vietnammm Delivery service website for local restaurants


Tel: (08) 3824 4136 Japanese bento and rice sets. Go to vietnammm. com for menu

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* * * TOP 100

{ food Promos } **


Want to know the best places to eat or drink in this city? Here is our pick of the top 100 restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City. Feel we're missing something or have included the wrong places? Simply email


CANTONESE / PAN-CHINESE New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 8888 Elegant surroundings, top quality ingredients, attentive service and comfortable, roundtable dining makes Dynasty one of the top Chinese restaurants in town, with a classic dim sum menu.



NORTH / SOUTH INDIAN 15B4 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 3017 The ubiquitous mint sauce is thick and creamy and the curries are both authentic and smoky. Ganesh is rated by many as the best Indian in town. Very friendly service.


CLASSIC THAI 34 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 8554 Excellent, long-running restaurant with classic Thai decor. The fare includes laab salads, curries, som tam, fish cakes and dishes such as deep-fried catfish with mango salad. Three VIP rooms upstairs.


NY Steakhouse Under its new, drink-friendly management, NY Steakhouse is breaking up the mid-week slate with bring-your-ownbottle Mondays (no corkage fee), free cosmos on Tuesdays and free iced bourbon coffee Wednesdays. But the emphasis, as always, is on the meat, and that’s where Butcher’s Thursday comes in — you come into their “sexy environment”, pick your cut, quantity and temperature, and pay for the final result. Renaissance Riverside Hotel Even as the Tet hangover subsides, March finds a few things worth celebrating, and the Riverside Café and Kabin are doing so in style, with 50 percent off all food for women on International Women’s Day (Mar. 8), and a VND840,000++ set meal at Riverside, including

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a free flow of drinks. Three weeks later it is Easter (Mar. 31), when the Riverside Café will host an “eggceptional” Sunday brunch, with the standard free flow — VND900,000++ per person. sgnbr-renaissance-riverside-hotelsaigon Caravelle Hotel International Women’s Day (Mar. 8) takes on gluttonous dimensions with the buffet at Restaurant Nineteen, and of course, the best part — a dessert corner laden with truffles, trifles and treats. Get your snack on for VND1,013,000++ per person. So the fellas don’t feel neglected, the week of Mar. 9 to Mar. 15 will feature a US beef promotion at Reflections — with tasty cuts of tenderloin, rib eye and black angus strip loin cooked to your specifications. Lighter eaters can satisfy themselves with sides such

as baked potatoes with sour cream, chives and bacon bits, and sautéed forest mushrooms. Steaks are priced from VND450,000++ for a 150 gram cut of tenderloin. Restaurant Nineteen’s promotional schedule gives you time off until Easter Sunday brunch on Mar. 31, which will be chock full of springtime favourites. Select from roast rabbit, stuffed courgette with ratatouille, cooked-to-order seafood and, of course, Nineteen’s famous dark chocolate eggs stuffed with white mousse — VND1,144,000++ per person, including one flute of Taittinger Champagne and free flow of drinks. La Creperie Looking at the pin-up style that always seems to present itself wherever the French go, one might be tempted to ask,

“How do they do it?” They do it through clever little moves like the one La Creperie is pulling out until Mar. 20, Tuesdays through Sundays from 5pm to 11pm, wear a white-and-blue striped shirt to dinner, and receive a free cocktail with your purchased galette or crepe. The neck scarf is optional. New World Hotel To celebrate the coming of spring, Dynasty is launching a “Shanghai Surprise” courtesy of guest chefs Jeffrey Fang and Stanley Lu of New World Shanghai. From Mar. 21 to Mar. 30, the braised specialties of Shanghai — such as braised eel with garlic — will be on offer, alongside a Shanghaithemed dim sum. Priced from VND80,000++ per dim sum set or VND650,000++ for the special set menu.

ROAST KITCHEN CANTONESE Unit 15, 1/F, Kumho Asiana Saigon, 39 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3521 8181 Hong Kong casual dining restaurant, Gourmet’s Delight Roast Kitchen is the first of its kind in Saigon serving authentic barbeque and traditional Cantonese dishes in a laid-back atmosphere.


CANTONESE Renaissance Riverside Hotel, 8–15 Ton Duc Thang. Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 0033 Offers authentic, gourmet Cantonese cuisine in an elegant, classic setting, with striking décor and the bonus of views over the Saigon River. Dishes range from VND80,000 to VND900,000.


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


SINGAPOREAN 45 Le Anh Xuan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 8371 Friendly, authentic five-storey Singaporean eatery, plating up the likes of nasi lemak, mee rebus, and awesome chicken curry, as well as specialities like frog porridge, chilli crab and fish head curry.


PAN-SOUTHEAST ASIAN 1 Cao Ba Nha, Q1, Tel: (08) 6290 8899 Traditional pan-Southeast Asian favourites served in a visually arresting setting within a French colonial-era villa, just minutes from the backpacker area. Reasonably priced, with healthy juices and smoothies.


KOREAN 33 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 4297 Seoul House was the first Korean restaurant in town and continues to be popular with a cosmopolitan clientele. Food includes banchan starters, bulgogi, awesome spicy tofu and minced pork soups.


PAN-CHINESE / CANTONESE 1st Floor, Norfolk Mansion, 17-19-21 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 2221 (Ext: 164) Featuring over 200 dishes and 50 kinds of dim sum prepared by chefs from Hong Kong, Shang Palace has nine private dining rooms and a main dining area seating over 300. Good for events.


NORTH / SOUTH INDIAN 74/6 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3930 4839 Downtown location, and extensive menu taking in anything from creamy korma and rogan josh curries through to vindaloo, sambhar, dosa, and kebabs. Also a great range of vegetarian fare.


NORTH INDIAN 40/3 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3508 3777 Don’t be duped by the veneer, The Punjabi knocks out some seriously good North Indian fare at budget prices. Portions of both vegetarian and meat dishes are big, too.


TEPPANYAKI & BBQ 42 Le Anh Xuan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 3232 This seven-floor restaurant is headed up by Thailand’s number one teppanyaki chef. The all-Thai cheffing team possess an arsenal of entertaining cooking skills, preparing meat and seafood on traditional teppanyaki grills.


PAN-CHINESE 1st Floor, InterContinental Asiana Saigon, crn. of Hai Ba Trung & Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3520 9099 Skillful chefs prepare authentic hand-pulled noodles, fresh dim sum and hot wok dishes within an impeccably designed open kitchen, as diners look on. Stylish and spectacular.

Street Food BANH XEO 46A

BANH XEO / HUE CUISINE 46A Dinh Cong Trang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1110 One of the best banh xeo — pork, beansprout and prawn pancakes served up with salad and fresh herbs — joints in town. No frills, outdoor, covered bench seating.


VIETNAMESE STEAKHOUSE 188 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (08) 3930 3917 Specialises in tasty Vietnamese or Australian steak served sizzling on a griddle with thick–cut fries, bread and salad, optional pate or eggs, all for well under VND100,000.


COM TAM (BITTY RICE) 26 Ton That Tung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3925 0935 Downtown branch of the famous budget Thuan Kieu eatery. Broken rice with barbecued pork, bitter gourd broth, stuffed squid etc. Average meal price just VND35,000. English menu.


PHO EATERY 260C Pasteur, Q3, Tel: (08) 3829 7943 Huge sized portions dished up at this famous restaurant serving Vietnam’s national dish. Choose from a range of cuts of beef, fresh herbs and spice to taste.


PAN-CHINESE / NOODLES 162 Nguyen Trai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3925 0824 Bustling 24-hour restaurant offering the full range of Chinese fare, including dim sum, homemade noodle soup, rice and seafood dishes. Perfect if you have an attack of midnight munchies.


CHINESE / VIETNAMESE BINH DAN 67 Le Thi Hong Gam, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 7751 Few places do Hainanese-style chicken rice as well as this multi-storey eatery. Prepared downstairs out front, choose from chicken, sweet-roasted pork, roasted duck, and a range of other options.

Vegetarian PHAP HOA

VEGETARIAN 200 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3839 5893 Good vegetarian eatery with a well-stocked and enticing com binh dan buffet-style counter in the entrance. It’s a pick and choose affair, with a range of faux meat dishes. The staff, though, are not know for their politeness.


VEGAN 378/3 Vo Van Tan, Q3, Tel: (08) 3834 4473 A pleasant, standalone eatery with the feel of a meditative retreat specialising in hotpots. The

vegan menu, however, runs the gamut from faux meat through to noodle and rice dishes.


VEGAN 9 Tran Hung Dao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 2538 One of the city’s oldest eateries (established in 1925) does some of the cheapest and tastiest vegan cuisine in town, all cooked up without onions, garlic or MSG.

A Taste of Authenticity


VEGAN Vinh Nghiem Pagoda, 339 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Set inside the city’s largest pagoda, this eatery has received many plaudits for its setting, reverent ambiance and interesting menu which includes salted tofu in claypot and hundred flowers hotpot.

Vietnamese 3T QUAN NUONG

VIETNAMESE BBQ Top Floor, 29 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 1631 A steamy, smoky rooftop homage to the art of barbecuing and grilling, with an expansive menu of meat, fish and vegetarian dishes on offer, all grilled at the table. Often packed to the brim.


VIETNAMESE / BARBECUE 135A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 3340 A charming, leafy outdoor terrace area lit up by fairy lights plays host to one of downtown’s most popular and alluring eateries. It’s a DIY barbecue on the table affair.


VIETNAMESE FRENCH 38 Dang Dung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3846 9853 MSG-free traditional Vietnamese cuisine with a French twist, cooked fresh to order. Dishes include noodle soup, steamed ravioli and beef stew, stir fries, hot pots and curries.


MODERN VIETNAMESE 10 Dang Tat, Q1, Tel: (08) 3848 0144 A converted French villa with mixed Indochine and rustic Vietnamese décor, the cuisine here is scrumptious, mixing street food dishes done well with quality ingredients and more contemporary options.


NORTHERN / PAN-VIETNAMESE 101 Vo Van Tan, Q3, Tel: (08) 3602 2069 Named after the mountain highway that skirts the ChineseVietnamese border to the north, Highway 4 serves up authentic north Vietnamese cuisine. Also does excellent Son Tinh branded rice wine.


CONTEMPORARY VIETNAMESE The Square, 74 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 1676

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

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

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{d e c k s

TOP 100 *

Drums & Rock'n Roll}

* *

Our pick of the best restaurants in this city

Highly rated restaurant with stunning outdoor terrace. Specialities include pink pomelo squid and crab salad, mustard leaf prawn rolls, fishcake wraps and barbecue chicken in ginger, onions and a lime leaf marinade.

** My Big Fat Gypsy Concert * *

Don’t Wake up

Gao Gao!


PAN-VIETNAMESE 31 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 1330 Famous for its signature dish, bo tung xeo — strips of grilled marinated beef, as well as its slightly more unusual offerings — scorpion, grubs, ostrich and crickets. Try if you dare!


INDOCHINE VIETNAMESE 5/2 Hoang Sa, Dakao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 1277 Meaning ‘Cloud’, May utilises homemade recipes and broths developed by the restaurateur’s father, such as pan-fried duck breast served with nuoc mam and ginger, and 1940s style spring rolls. This is the Saigonese cooking of old set in an Indochine atmosphere.


HUE CUISINE 136/15 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 38 250261 Down an alley near Ben Thanh Market, this pleasant Hue-style eatery is known for its excellent central Vietnamese cuisine. Think banh beo, bun thit nuong, com hen, all at under VND50,000.


STREET FOOD 160 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 7131 A well-spruced, leafy courtyard in a colonial villa provides the setting and the old-world charm for one of the city’s most frequented Vietnamese eateries which serves up quality street food.


PAN-VIETNAMESE 68 Pham Viet Chanh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 6258 1508 Papaya is one of the city’s unsung gems. The cuisine here is presented simply but beautifully with an emphasis on top quality ingredients. Prices are cheap and portions are large.

QUAN BUI photo by: kyle phanroy


The Freckled Gypsies are making their way through Saigon’s unconscious

ypsies occupy a special place in the western collective unconscious. For many, they represent freedom, adventure and perhaps romance. These concepts form the foundation for the musical project of Ho Chi Minh City’s own Freckled Gypsies, Maeve Meleady and Julien Masson. This folk duo is the intellectual lovechild of the speckled travel enthusiasts, who have been writing and performing together since they met in January 2012. Aspects of gypsy lifestyle appeal to the pair, like the lack of constraint and access to multiple cultures. This is also what appeals to them about working in Ho Chi Minh City. “You become braver because you try things that you wouldn’t try at home,” Maeve explains. “You grow as a musician because you’re more willing to put yourself out there.” Equally encouraging is the expansion of the music scene in the three years since their

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arrival in Vietnam. With a wider variety of styles and a growing interest in original music, they see the city as a choice breeding ground for advances in both western and Vietnamese music.

There’s a Thin Line… While their style is influenced by their surroundings and mutual interests, their lyrical content is generated primarily by their relationship. “When a couple makes music together, it’s going to be influenced by love and hate,” Julien says. “But we try to be honest about things that happened to us — arguments. We’re not trying to create some fantasy.” Like the movements of their namesakes, Julien and Maeve’s composition techniques are intuitive and unplanned. While they sometimes approach each other with ideas or themes, often inspiration arrives a result of their cohabitation. An active local musician, Julien is constantly playing with

his guitar and loop machine. Maeve may hear a guitar riff in passing and a melody will take root in her brain. They usually proceed by recording Julien’s guitar part, to which Maeve listens to in private, allowing the melody to “provoke the words.” While their domestic status makes scheduling rehearsals unnecessary, agreements are not guaranteed. “Rehearsing can be difficult, because we’re a couple,” Maeve explains. “It’s not always polite.” Typical bickering aside, the two continue to produce both musical and human offspring. Having recently incorporated a loop machine, the expectant couple is adding new layers of sound to their work while anticipating the arrival of a new band member. “We’ve decided that she will be our drummer,” Maeve says. “Although if she wants to be a banker, that’s cool, too.” — Tess Somerville

TRADITIONAL VIETNAMESE 8 Nguyen Van Nguyen, Q1, Tel: (08) 3602 2241 Make sure to try the sautéed shrimps with cashew nuts and crispy fried tofu with lime wedge, at this popular, high-quality eatery where all food is served in traditional crockery.


PAN-VIETNAMESE 1st Floor, Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 9244 Once a hotel for Indian dignitaries visiting old Saigon, the elegant and atmospheric Temple Club is one of the city’s best-preserved buildings. Serving quality Vietnamese and Indochine cuisine at reasonable prices.

Push the button gently so as not to wake up the

Gao Gao. If he doesn't wake up,

you win

a Free-flow of

Draft beer!

*1 person of your group pushes the button on arrival at Yamaneko.


HUE / VIETNAMESE 187 Hai Ba Trung, Q3, Tel: (08) 3829 7242 Imperial Hue cuisine mixing dark brown Indochine décor and a more casual and jovial atmosphere than other eateries of its ilk. For the background and quality of cuisine, prices are very reasonable.


MODERN VIETNAMESE First Floor, 71-75 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 8468 Elegant Xu is a venue at the forefront of modern Vietnamese cuisine. Pushing the Asian concept of shared-plate dining, the fare includes pork wanton, seared beef crostini, and Xu-style chicken rice.

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{ night Watchman } ** Leaving Party * *



Drink and be done by, or as the t-shirt tells us, khong say, khong ve. Our pick of the best drinking haunts in Ho Chi Minh City. Think we've missed somewhere? Email us on

Bars & Restobars 107 Pasteur

MICROBREWERY / RESTOBAR 107 Pasteur, Ben Nghe, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 8619 After spending 30 years in the Czech Republic mastering the Gambrinus brewing technique, 107 Pasteur’s owner has returned to Vietnam to share his craft (and tasty Czech cuisine) with beer enthusiasts.

2 Lam Son

TOP-END INTERNATIONAL Park Hyatt, 2 Lam Son, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1234 International décor blends seamlessly with local themes. Style joins forces with a wideranging drink menu and hip dance tunes to create one of the most tasteful if pricier bars in Saigon. photos by: ed weinberg


f my friends, I was the first to leave. It wasn’t goodbye, just so long — two-and-a-half months later I was back in Ho Chi Minh City. But still I had a leaving party, and it was epic. I was a little broke at the time, doing things like drinking beer outside Thi Café when my friends would go there, talking with the ones who came out for air. Having a party in a Shop & Go seemed to make perfect sense. I invited everyone I knew to come by, and himself-just-departed Brett Newski to play a few songs inside. We called it ‘Shop & Stay’. We didn’t exactly rock it flashmob style, with a steady trickle of people coming in past the eight-sharp start time. Brett played for about 45 minutes, by which time the store was packed, around 40 people crowding the one aisle and drinking beers from the fridge. The two clerks we’d found at the start had called another on, and they alternated between smiling nervously and taking phone pics. It was loud and unruly, and one of the best convenience store scenes I've ever witnessed. And it was all for me.

Peeks, Blue Lagoons and Lobsters I spent two of my going-away months in Nepal, which ended not with a bang but with a whimper. And by the time I was back in Saigon another one of us was going. Dav had two years in Saigon to look back on, and her own set of things she’d miss. She once told me how, in her first year, she’d spent every Friday night pre-hanging at Turtle Lake before going out. And that's where our nostalgias fell in common

100 | Word March 2013

Acoustic — above all, we both loved the people we'd met here best. She elected to take this thought in a more opulent direction — the VND790,000++ Sunday buffet at Legend Hotel. 20 people gathered around a long table overlooking the pool, drinking from a free flow of well cocktails and house wines and toasting the girl of honour. We ordered baby lobsters and poked at them, and drinks by the dozen. At one point I had five in front of me — coffee, orange juice, a rum-and-coke, a strange cocktail experiment called the Blue Lagoon that I wouldn’t repeat until later on, when it was the only thing left poolside, and a coconut. We poked at the specialties on offer, took plates and plates of things we wouldn't eat and tried to pass them off. We used the Japanese toilets with the heated seats. We each took a turn around the table, saying what we'd miss about Dav, telling a funny story. We made her wear a balloon hat during this. Sara told about the time they were together on Bui Vien, and Dav said to her in her sneaky little mischief voice, “Sara, on this street we’re invisible, no one can see us. See?” Dav lifted up her shirt for a second, giving a bit of a peek to the street beer drinkers. No one said a thing. Dav laughed and laughed in that dire way of hers, needing to catch her breath after. “Sara, Sara,” she finally said. “I really don't remember that.”

Forever Friends Dav left to teach in Cambodia and we

still talk, but that day crystallized all the things I love most about her. Dav on that day is the Dav I think most often of. This past month, I tried my hand at throwing a surprise party for my departing friend Ellen. I also learned Lesson No. 1 of surprise party-throwing — talk on the phone to everyone, and ram it into their heads to keep quiet. Facebook messages just don't have the same effect. But still, it was glorious. We had an ample supply of things on hand for her to love — muddled-strawberry Mimosas (similar to the British Buck’s Fizz), pancakes with VND290,000 maple syrup from the western supermarket on Ham Nghi, dance parties, friends, unpredictability and sunrise at the end of it all. I also cheekily enlisted some things that I knew she wouldn’t like, borrowing bean bags and a lava lamp. I don’t know where she was on the hula-hoop we brought everywhere that night. Every time I looked across the wild District 2 rave we eventually ended up at I saw her smiling, which is how I want to remember her. Even dancing by herself, the girl was fully 100 percent, eyes wide like in a crazy cat GIF. In this fast-paced and passionate scene we expats call home for months or decades, this is how we family-surrogates aim to make others feel, and to feel ourselves — like we’ve never had such good friends, like the relationships we've started here will go on forever, wherever. And on nights like this, it even seems true. — Ed Weinberg

LIVE MUSIC 6E Ngo Thoi Nhiem, Q3, Tel: (08) 3930 2239 Though only 1km from the city centre, Acoustic is well off most foreigners’ radars. Come see the Vietnamese house band play nightly, as well as performances from overseas bands and guest artists.


RESTOBAR / NIGHTCLUB 5 Nguyen Sieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 6257 Alibi’s dark wood paneling and warm red palette seem intended for colder cities but are nonetheless welcome in steamy Saigon. The addition of tasty fusion cuisine makes it an attractive destination.

Alto Heli Bar

TOP-END LOUNGE BAR Floor 52, Bitexco Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 8752 The jazzy, lightbox-lit space by the helipad in the city’s highest building is more than just great views. Top-end cocktails, a great tapas menu and a chilled ambience make up the mix.

Apocalypse Now

DANCE / NIGHTCLUB 2C Thi Sach, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 6124 One of the oldest nightclubs in Saigon, Apo draws in a not-so-healthy mix of tourists, expats and locals, who dance to Top 40 tunes on the club’s two floors and outdoor terrace. This is a pick-up joint in every sense of the word.


INTERNATIONAL / COMFORT FOOD 19 Thai Van Lung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 1720 Bernie’s upstairs dining room and casual downstairs bar make a great place to indulge in international cuisine or chow down on a burger while watching a sports game or a live band.

Blanchy’s Tash

Cloud 9

Bootleg DJ Café


RESTOBAR / NIGHTCLUB 95 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 This popular downtown three-storied bar attracts late-night revelers thanks to its past midnight opening hours, regular DJ sets, and London-style bar décor. Has a great upstairs terrace. MINIMALIST CAFÉ BAR 9 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: 0907 609202 Reminiscent of a New York or London underground watering hole, this is a great place to enjoy Mediterranean influenced breakfasts, lunch by day and a variety of DJ sets by night.

LOUNGE BAR & TERRACE 6th & 7th Floor, 2bis Cong Truong Quoc Te, Q3, Tel: 0907 502951 The creators of Velvet present this trendy, double-tiered escape, complete with upstairs garden space, an extensive wine list, top shelf spirits and unobtrusive music. LOUNGE BAR Hem 36, Chu Manh Trinh, Q1 This hip marriage of living room-of-workingarchitects and opium den is populated with vintage furniture, records and a thoughtful, intimate vibe. Its only street-side markings are a few Chinese lanterns.

Boudoir Lounge

HOTEL LOUNGE BAR Saigon Sofitel Plaza, 17 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1555 Boudoir’s sun-drenched conservatory, plush salon, old-timey cigar room and upscale library will please any lounge enthusiast. Features breakfast, lunch and evening bouchées, as well as International DJ sets on weekend nights.

Bread & Butter


INTERNATIONAL / RESTOBAR 187 De Tham, Q1 Tel: (08) 3836 9575 A slightly grungy corner joint banging out indie and pop tunes, Go2 draws in all walks of life at all hours. Whether you’re looking for affordable Thai / Vietnamese / western cuisine or late-night debauchery, Go2 delivers.

INTERNATIONAL / COMFORT FOOD 19 Thai Van Lung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 1720 With a free book exchange, and tasty Sunday night roasts, the tiny Bread & Butter is a perfect place for homesick expats and beer enthusiasts (excellent Hue-Brewed Huda beer served here exclusively in Ho Chi Minh City).


COCKTAILS / ROOFTOP 41 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 6838 Broma’s medieval rooftop-cocktail lounge conglomeration is a magnet for the city’s weirdest and coolest events/random moments. A sophisticated cocktail menu and quite possibly the best lamb burger in town. Check out their bun bo Hue-inspired cocktail.

Buddha Bar

RESTOBAR 7 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2080 Just across the lane from Mc’Sorley’s, this pub with an eccentric European tilt and some nice, authentic cuisine draws an older crowd with darts, pool and weekly poker tourneys.


LIVE MUSIC / BAR 8 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 7699 Named after the famous opera, Carmen has built its reputation on offering a mix of nightly live Latin music, most notably flamenco. Its striking design is a treat for the eyes as well.

Chill Skybar

LOUNGE RESTOBAR & TERRACE Floor 26 & 27, 76A Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 5630 Chill’s view has only been improved by the addition of a magnificent VIP terrace. A substantial wine list and specialities from the owner’s native Denmark complement the primarily French-influenced cuisine. Great cocktail selection.

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{t o p Shelf}

Drink and be done by, khong say, khong ve. Our pick of the best drinking haunts in Ho Chi Minh City. Think we've missed somewhere? Email us on

Godmother Bar


Cunhouse Lounge and Café


RESTOBAR / VIETNAMESE / WESTERN 129 Cong Quynh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3832 4589 Only a couple blocks from the bru-haha of Bui Vien, Godmother’s is a small watering hole with big attractions including excellent mojitos, good food, and the weekly Optimus Club featuring international DJ’s.

Hard Rock Cafe


rom bamboo hanging lights to funky mismatched coloured pillows and Buddhas, there is no going back. Cunhouse Lounge and Café has now been open for three years and is a popular hangout — hosting private parties is their forte. The owner, Le Xuan Loc, is an architect by trade. He originally designed the building for his home and lived in it for two years before realising what an ideal location and atmosphere it is for a bar. Who doesn’t like having a drink or two in their own living room? There is an immediate feeling of isolation as you approach the venue; it is hidden down a back alley on Hem 36, Chu Manh Trinh in District 1. This feeling of isolation morphs into curiosity as you arrive at the door, displaying an eerie half lit sign. The maybe unsettling eccentric vibe changes as you step inside and see the vintage bicycle with two worn leather chairs whispering your name. You then continue into a large loft-like room with modern couches surrounded by books, candles and small cultural monuments. It feels as though the room is screaming at you to invite your closest friends for an intimate private party or at least your work colleagues to discuss your future, completely out-ofreach plans.

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photo by: kyle phanroy

Tattered but Original Cunhouse has a minimalist menu, perhaps to maintain their speciality in cocktails, wines and snack food. After sliding a couple of different cocktails down my throat, I feel as though this objective has not yet been met. But the mystique is intact. The menu looks as if it's been pulled out of a glass bottle that has been floating in the ocean for a good two months. The edges are tattered and the paper faded, and you can feel the originality. Loc says he has continual private party bookings and they always return. He’s the kind of person who immediately makes you feel at home, which is safe to assume is why he has so many returning customers. I exited the loft-like lounge bar along the wooden floorboards, past the gorgeous staircase and the memorable vintage bicycle thinking how much I would love to live in a place like this. But, would I return for the cocktail, wine or snack? I am yet to conclude. The minimalist menu suggests that the cocktails will contain premium spirits and will be mixed, shaken and stirred to melt your lips. But this was not the case — there is room for improvement. On the flip side, the ambiance might just lure you back to this unique back alley curiosity. — Jessica Shea

LIVE MUSIC / WESTERN RESTOBAR Kumho Asiana Plaza, 39 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 7595 If you’re craving for American food, classic cocktails, rock n’ roll memorabilia, and live music, Hard rock delivers all three in large doses. Stages regular events including ladies’ nights and stand-up comedy.


LIVE MUSIC / RESTOBAR 40/15 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: 0902 799962 With swings dangling playfully overhead, an expansive mural of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, multi-genre musical attractions, and famous western breakfasts and Mexican dishes, Hideaway awakens the senses and appeals to cosmopolitan sensibilities.

Ice Blue

EXPAT BAR 54 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2664 Expats keep returning to this smoky dive bar, largely due to its amicable service, brewsky-downing atmosphere, and spirited dart games. A mainstay in the local darts league.


LATE NIGHT RETRO 13B Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 1074 Plush couches, hookahs, soft lighting and artsy retro decoration, combined with affordable drinks, friendly staff, and the ability to request or play music makes this a great place to bring friends. Open Late.

La Habana

CUBAN / MUSIC BAR 6 Cao Ba Quat, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 5180 Cuban-themed bar and Word tries to keep its listings as accurate as possible, but we can’t do this without yourself. So, if you see anything which needs updating or revising, please email us on


restaurant selling an exciting range of Spanish and Cuban cuisine, as well as a few German favourites such as curry wurst and Weiner schnitzel. Nightly live music and regular salsa classes.

La Fenetre Soleil

FRENCH / JAPANESE RESTOBAR 2nd Floor, 44 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 5994 A seductive watering whole in a great corner location thanks to its old Saigon glamour, Japanese-Vietnamese fusion cuisine, imported beer, classic cocktails, and entertaining music events / DJ sets.

Last Call

AFTERHOURS LOUNGE 59 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 3122 If you’re in need of dense, soulful atmosphere and maybe an artisanal cocktail on your way back from wherever, Last Call is your stop — and fast becoming that of the similarly inclined. Great happy hour deals for early evening starters.

Le Pub

INTERNATIONAL / RESTOBAR 175/22 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 7679 Warm colors, artsy décor and a friendly ambiance combine to create a perfect setting for enjoying tasty international and Vietnamese cuisine. Check out their daily drink specials and Tuesday night pub quizzes.

Level 23 Nightspot

HOTEL MUSIC BAR 23rd floor, Sheraton Hotel & Towers, 88 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2828 Some of the most aweinspiring views of the city make this a choice venue for enjoying live performances from the international house band. Expect a bit of everything from jazz to R&B, with five-star prices to match.

The Library

HOTEL LOUNGE BAR Ground Floor, InterContinental Asiana Saigon, cnr. Hai Ba Trung & Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3520 9099 The Library captures the romance of a bygone era, offering a sophisticated snack menu and a nostalgic afternoon tea from 2.30 pm to 5pm. A great place to hang out in five-star luxury.

Long Phi

FRENCH / RESTOBAR 003 / 207 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3837 2704 French-run but universally appealing, Long Phi has

been serving the backpacker area with excellent cuisine and occasional live music since 1990. Excellent latenight bistro cuisine.


IRISH BAR 4 Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 3519 4659 Standing in the former home of Gaudi, McSorely’s is full of surprises, including a beautifully backlit swimming pool, reggae parties, comedy nights, and sporting events projected onto the patio wall.

No we’re not talking about condoms that fly or even chicken wings that do a shimmy off your plate. Here we’re discussing the finger food invention at Barcode (102 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1 ), one of the latest lounge bars to be plying a trade in this city — flavoured chicken wings. And in particular we’re excited by the mini, finger condoms used to eat them.

** STAFF PICKS Wings with Condoms * *

Fortunately, it’s not all gimmick here. The wings themselves are damned tasty and can suit any taste bud — the flavours range from buffalo and honey mustard through to soy garlic, Asian spice, parmesan and teriyaki. Even better, on Mondays and Wednesdays they’re cheap — VND6,000 a wing. Oh, and the finger condoms come for free.

MZ Club

LIVE MUSIC / NIGHTCLUB 56A Bui Thi Xuan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 5258 Cover bands of the pop, jazz, rock, and Latin persuasion, flattering lighting, and ample choices of vintage wines make this crafty cocktail bar a destination for Saigon’s 30-plus Vietnamese / expat population.

Sushi Buffet 200,000vnd/person


IRISH BAR / INTERNATIONAL 74/A3 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 3198 This Irish-themed sports bar with classic pub décor is widely appreciated for its excellent international fare, large whiskey selection and upstairs pool table. Great pizzas. And for a real treat, check out their zesty rolls.


EVENTS / MAKESHIFT CAFÉ BAR 188/1 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 0908 208523 Up-cycling and innovative design form the foundation for this bar / arts venue / mini- skate park. Come for barbeque and reasonably priced drinks, stick around for entertaining events and adorable puppies.


SPANISH RESTOBAR / LIVE MUSIC 97 Hai Ba Trung , Q1 Tel: (08) 3825 6924 Legs of Iberian ham hang from the ceiling in the downstairs bar of this multi-storey homage to everything Spanish. Regular first-floor live music and excellent eats makes it a mainstay for the wining, dining and tapaseating crowd.


AUSTRALIAN / SPORTS 46-48 Ton That Thiep, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 0796 From its roots as the famed Café Latin, Phatty’s has become the go-to, Aussie beer-

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T&R Tavern

national standard massage parlour upstairs. Open late.

In honour of the upcoming smoking ban, we’re staffpicking the smokiest little dive bar in all of Saigon. Around the Word office, T&R Tavern (57 Do Quang Dau, Q1 ) elicits divisive reactions. “Don’t put that place in, I got beat up there twice!” on one hand, some glazed-eye smirks on the other. But like it or not, chances are you’ve ended up here some late night, danced and caroused, shot pool and cut off someone else’s crappy iTunes ballad on the self-DJ setup. Like family, you don’t always get to choose the places you spend time in, but you learn to love them anyway.

Rockfanclub Bar

guzzling / sports viewing emporium, showing everything from international cricket to Aussie rules and serving an array of pub grub favourites.


WINE BAR / ASIAN FUSION 110 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: (08) 3915 2979 Saigon’s first wine bar offers a well-rounded wine list and a pan-Asian fusion menu that boasts crowd pleasers like Asian tapas. Also features a highly rated inter-

ROCK BAR 25C Tu Xuong, Q3, Tel: (08) 6290 7489 The promoters of Rockfanclub (the long-running Vietnamese hard rock and metal night formerly hosted at Tadao Coffee Bar) have found a home for fans to mosh in every night from 9pm. This is rock in its rawest, most grass roots Vietnamese form.

Ruby Soho

LOUNGE BAR S52-1, Pham Van Nghi, Sky Garden 2, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (08) 5410 6039 rubysohosaigon.wordpress. com Owned by French animation designers, this spacious double-tiered lounge offers classic French dishes, a set lunch menu every day from 11am until 2pm for under VND100,000, and a 3pm to 7pm daily happy hour.

Saigon Saigon

HOTEL MUSIC BAR 9th floor, Caravelle Hotel, 19 Lam Som Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4999 Live Latin music in its various forms is this fan-cooled, Old Saigon-style bar’s main attraction. With the international bands performing nightly, Saigon Saigon also benefits from great views, polished service and a vibrant ambience.

Seventeen Saloon

THEMED MUSIC BAR 103A Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 0007 Wild West-themed bar doubles as a music venue, where three talented Filipino bands (B&U, Wild West, and Most Wanted) play covers of rock icons like Bon Jovi, U2,

and Guns n’ Roses. Top-shelf spirits and friendly, hostessstyle table service are the name of the game here.

they’re doing.

Spotted Cow

INTERNATIONAL / SPORT 111 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: (08) 3920 7670 spottedcow@alfrescosgroup. com Spotted Cow delivers the fun-loving atmosphere that its playfully decorated black and white spotted interior promises, as well as decent international comfort food, a range of happy hours, live sports, and darts.

Storm P DANISH / INTERNATIONAL 5B Nguyen Sieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 4738 Named after a Danish cartoonist, this Saigon long-termer with its wall-length mural of Copenhagen attracts a variety of patrons and provides them with a wellstocked bar and extremely tasty Danish-influenced pub grub.

Thi Café LIVE MUSIC / LOUNGE 224 De Tham, Q1, Tel: (08) 2210 2929 It’s a well-worn Saturday night path that starts at Thi Café, where Saigon’s better funk and rock cover bands can be danced to downstairs or listened to from the underutilized upstairs lounge. A Backpackers’ Area mainstay.

T&R Tavern DIVE BAR 57 Do Quang Dau, Q1 T&R is a popular setting for late night fun and questionable decisions. The bar’s laptop allows patrons to choose their own soundtrack to a pool / darts game, dance-off, or…whatever else

Tryst Lounge

1st Floor, Gemadept Tower, 6 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: 3822 1637 Specialising in French and Vietnamese cuisine cooked up by an experienced chef, Tryst Lounge serves up its tasty fare at all times of the day, making it a venue for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Complemented by healthy mixed juices, Illy coffee, creative cocktails and a good selection of wines at affordable prices, the space has a chilled atmosphere, and is great for hanging out both indoors and on the outdoor terrace. Has live acoustic and Latino music every weekend courtesy of well-known Cuban outfit Warapo.

Universal Bar LIVE MUSIC / RESTOBAR 90 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: 01633 343933 Just up from Bui Vien’s street beer nexus is Universal, a live music and sports-watching venue with an outdoor seating area that lets you take in the action from a more comfortable perspective.


MUSIC / LOUNGE BAR The Square, 74/7D Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 2888 A veteran fixture of Saigon’s nightlife scene, Vasco’s offers a softly lit downstairs patio, and an upstairs Blue Room chill out lounge area with regular live music.


WINE BAR / TAPAS The Square, 74/17 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: (08) 6299 1315 This downtown wine shop’s terrace is a popular after work drinking spot, where one can select from 10 wines by the glass, a range of imported beer, and an excellent tapas menu. Alternatively, buy from the great selection of wines in the shop and pay a small corkage.


CAFÉ / LOUNGE BAR Ground Floor, 71-75 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 8468 This iconic upmarket downtown bar is known for its cocktails and wine list. It serves a range of international and Vietnamese dishes to be enjoyed in its richly decorated interior. Regular DJ nights.

Nightclubs Fuse

TECHNO / DANCE / HIP-HOP 3A Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: 0919 206461 Neon-lit Fuse is popular with the young, fashionable and affluent Vietnamese crowd. A small space means this place gets packed quickly, so arrive early to enjoy bumping techno, whisky and fruit platters.


HARD TECHNO 79 Tran Hung Dao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 2525 A friendly, communal atmosphere and attentive service helps Gossip to stand out from its contemporaries. As expected, techno and house blare at tinnitus-inducing volumes throughout the packed two-tiered club.


PROGRESSIVE / MAINSTREAM 2 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 2496 Overseas DJ’s, Tuesday night ladies’ nights and cosmopolitan clientele converge in the red-velvet and cartoon-styled interior that makes Lush one of the city’s iconic clubs.


DANCE/HIP HOP 26 Ho Huan Nghiep, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2262 You will be hard-pressed to find another club as extravagantly furnished and über trendy in Saigon. Packed with socialites, celebrities, and fashionistas, Velvet’s the place to see and be seen in this city.

Quan Nhau

Anh Duc’s

QUAN NHAU 18A/31/B22 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1 This plastic-chair establishment is the effective living room of the room-renting expats in the alley surrounding, featuring cold beer, easy conversation and a friendswith-everyone proprietor.



If there's any industry where Saigon excels, it's the industry that is all things coffee. Here is our list of some of the best places to drink coffee, tea and everything else non-alcoholic in this city.

Cafes An’s Interior Café

VIETNAMESE / INTERNATIONAL 40C Tran Cao Van, Q3, Tel: (08) 3823 3398 Eat, drink, and buy furniture at this beautifully designed café located down alleyway 38. Doubling as an interior design showroom, customers are invited to lounge with their coffees and browse simultaneously.

Au Parc

EUROPEAN / MEDITERRANEAN 23 Han Thuyen, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 2772 Set in a shophouse-style building, Au Parc offers a chic colonial space to indulge in sensibly priced European and Mediterranean food complemented with good coffee and excellent desserts.

Bia Tuoi 33

BIA HOI 102 Bui Vien, Q1 Beloved for its cheap, cold beer, prime people-watching, and elderly but toughas-nails hostess, Bia Hoi or “Grandma’s” is a favourite of locals, expats, and backpackers alike.

Minh Chau’s

BIA HOI 75 Bui Vien, Q1 Right across from “Grandma’s” you’ll find this comparable street-side establishment serving cheap beer. Minh Chau’s plastic chairs are populated by a more foreign crowd, due to the hotel upstairs.

Bobby Brewer’s

INTERNATIONAL 45 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: (08) 3920 4090 Choose from a full range of café beverages and a fast-food style menu as you watch the latest Hollywood hits in their upstairs lounge. Check website for movie locations and schedule.

Bong Den Café

CONTEMPORARY CAFE 118/11 Tran Quang Dieu Street, Q3, Tel: 0903 736313 A small, simply designed café tucked down a small alley away from the noisy outside world. Enjoy acoustic music shows on the weekend and drinks starting at VND22,000.


LIVE MUSIC / THEMED CAFE 57H Tu Xuong, Q3 Tel: (08) 3932 2797 Set in a three-storey colonial villa, this cafe devotes a unique stylistic sound and decor to each floor, with the ground level dedicated to live music five nights a week.

Café Dat

VIETNAMESE 343/17 To Hien Thanh, Q10, Tel: (08) 3863 2832 A unique, rustic décor travels through this spacious cafe, from its garden to terrace to their cozy indoor seating. Bamboo, streams, and lush plants create a serene atmosphere.

Café Me

CASUAL CAFE 8A Luong Huu Khanh, Q1 Tel: (08) 3926 2828 This picturesque coffeehouse is full of charm, providing a quiet location to relax or read from their ‘Borrow-A-Book Nook’. A perfect blend of coffee and creativity.

Café Park Bach Dang

VIETNAMESE 10B Ton Duc Thang, Q1 In contrast to its trendy, stylish café neighbours, the basic outdoor seating and affordable menu makes for a modest, less pretentious experience with drinks around VND15,000.

Café Screen Golf

SPORTS CAFE 384/1B Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (08) 3526 8480 Three-screen indoor rooms, one putting room, and an area for food and drink set this café apart. Play for VND400,000 per hour or hang out and watch others.

Café Song Me

CONTEMPORARY CAFE 125/3 Hoa Hung, Q10, Tel: (08) 3865 2075 Secluded and difficult to find, Song Me is a perfect chill out spot to sit surrounded by water and lush plants or opt for indoor sofa seating. Drinks reasonably priced.


MIDDLE EASTERN Alley no. 59, Nguyen Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 8382 4130 This secluded Middle Eastern coffeehouse has both cozy indoor and rooftop seating to admire views of the city. With such a prime downtown location, expect prices to match.


ITALIAN 11-13 Lam Son Square, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 5946 Conveniently located near the Caravelle Hotel, this casual cafe serves one of the best lattes in town with a mid-range Italian menu including panini and other typical fare.

Chicco Dicaff Café

CONTEMPORARY CAFÉ BAR 213 Bui Vien, Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: 0902 514757 An up and coming hole-in-the-wall cafe, Chicco Dicaff serves an extensive menu of coffee, ice blended drinks, lattes and Italian sodas at affordable prices. Delivery available.

Chuong Gio Café

CONTEMPORARY CAFE 386/5i Le Van Sy, Q3, Tel: (08) 2212 8560 Explore the interesting artwork or listen to beautiful melodies as you escape for an hour in this warm, cozy café that doubles as a music and theatre venue.

** STAFF PICKS Foie Gras and Wine **

A rich combination, right? But at Wine Bar 38 (38 Dong Khoi, Q1 ), it’s a bit of gastronomic paradise rarely found in this country. Ok. We’re not saying that this country is foie-gras free — any good, international, French-influenced restaurant that wants to earn its stripes has goose liver pate on its menu. And of course, wine is everywhere. But at 38 they make the good stuff themselves courtesy of Lyon-born head chef, Yoan — the liver is imported and then prepared on-site. Even better, the foie gras can come in small or big portions and there are four options to boot. Perfect for sharing, and perfect in a wine bar with an exclusive selection of self-imported Bordeaux wines, 27 of which are sold by the glass.

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March 2013 Word | 105

Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

INTERNATIONAL Metropolitan Building, 235 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3508 7825 Large portioned coffee lures customers into the flagship store of this international café chain. The contemporary, yet generic atmosphere is bolstered by comfortable seating and a menu to satisfy any sweet tooth.

Creperie and Café

FRENCH 5 Han Thuyen, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 9117 Known for it's fantastic street-side seating opposite the park on Le Duan and savoury crepes, this hang out café will impress you with its location as much as its food.


INTERNATIONAL 79/2/5 Phan Ke Binh, Q1, Tel: (08) 6271 0115 Trendy without pretense, this two-floor, relaxed café offers beautiful decor and unique original events like live music, film screenings, and art exhibits. Great prices and food with daily specials.

Gac Hoa (Attic) Café

INTERNATIONAL 92/17 Pham Ngoc Thach, Q3, Tel: (08) 3507 1418 A unique theme and decor secluded from the city bustle create a warm space that values both art appreciation and coffee love, with drinks starting at VND30,000.

Givral Café

INTERNATIONAL 169 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 8659 In typical French fashion with fresh pastries, groomed waiters, and elaborate portions of ice cream, Givral is located opposite Continental Hotel Saigon, offering prime city viewing but higher prices.

Gloria Jean’s

INTERNATIONAL 106 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3 International coffee chain found throughout the city. It may not provide an authentic Vietnamese experience but it does offer comfortable seating and killer ice blended chillers to help beat the heat.


INTERNATIONAL 41/1 Pham Ngoc Thach, Q3, Tel: (08) 3822 4222 Hidden in a colonial building with an outdoor courwrd, the ample soft, sofa seating renders a great spot to relax. The mouth-watering western menu is on the expensive side.

Highlands Coffee

INTERNATIONAL Saigon Trade Centre, 37 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 5689 The flagship store of this

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upscale, somewhat pricey, coffeehouse offers westernstyle and local-style brews, with other branches also found in prime locations around the tourist area. Cappuccinos and a mediocre café experience costs above VND30,000. But the Wifi is good.

Le Petit Café

Himiko Visual Café


CAFE/ART GALLERY 324bis Dien Bien Phu, Q10, Tel: (08) 3888 1908 Renowned for its appreciation of art, Himiko is a hybrid of café and art gallery. Regularly displaying the work of young artists, an atmosphere unlike many others flourishes here.

i.d. Café

CONTEMPORARY CAFE 34D Thu Khoa Huan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2910 Centrally located near Ben Thanh Market, i.d offers casual café dining with a wide variety of food and beverages. Where modern design and a warm ambience meet for coffee.

I’m Yours

MUSIC CAFE / VIETNAMESE 29/27 Doan Thi Diem, Phu Nhuan, Tel: 0909 682927 This tiny café pairs nightly live music with a warmcoloured, rustic decor. The combination of young Saigon artists and striking wall decor makes it worthy of the crowd it draws in.

Kita Coffee

INTERNATIONAL / MEDITERRANEAN 39-41 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 6799 Kita's colonial-era building and bistro-style decor will have you thinking you've been transported to the streets of Europe. Pair your experience with an espresso-based Italian coffee from their Mediterranean-based menu. Excellent sandwiches and salads.

L’An Mien Dining Cafe

INTERNATIONAL / VIETNAMESE 76A Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 2718 The outdoor, well-aired terrace is the centrepiece of this popular, contemporary café. Enjoy live music on weekends as you sip on reasonably priced Vietnamese or espresso-based coffee.

La Maison Café and Galley

CAFE / GALLERY 163 Nguyen Dinh Chinh, Phu Nhuan Inside this striking white house is a space devoted for art enthusiasts and cafégoers alike. Browse the arts and impressive decorations and enjoy homemade milk and cakes.

FRENCH 189 Hai Ba Trung, Q3, Tel: (08) 3827 7868 A small space is met with a warm, luxurious design in this romantic French-style café. Menus change daily but the friendly staff ensures customer satisfaction.

{t he Coffee Cup} **

Drink With Compassion


CONTEMPORARY / FRENCH First Floor, 151 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 6674 3565 French-style wooden decor compliments the spacious, whitewashed contemporary interior of L'Usine. A simple, creative menu combines with reasonably priced coffee, and a fashion store and art gallery out back.

Nostalgie Club

VIETNAMESE / INTERNATIONAL 54 Nguyen Thai Binh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3915 3274 Unveil culture and admire old architecture and antiques in this villa converted into a café. Live drama Thursday evenings in the first floor cafe. Drinks start at VND30,000.

Operation: Tearoom

TEA ROOM 335/31 Dien Bien Phu, Q3 Traverse a wooden bridge over a bamboo-shaded goldfish pond to enjoy high quality tea, starting at VND35,000, in this quaint, open-air tearoom. Tea and tea-ware available for purchase.

Petite Note

MUSIC CAFE 351/4A Le Van Sy, Q3, Tel: (08) 3931 6312 In a jungle of a place where vines wrap round stairwells, an all American playlist meets a typical Vietnamese menu. A living-room style music cafe with live piano on weekends.

Princess AND the Pea

CONTEMPORARY CAFE 63/18 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: (08) 9070 3159 Venture through an alley and up three floors to this unique, relaxed cafe. Casual, cushioned floor seating and a simple, sensibly priced menu. Music on Wednesday and Friday evenings.

The Print Room

CONTEMPORARY CAFE 158 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4990 Second-storey coffeehouse

Soho Coffee Lounge

CONTEMPORARY VIETNAMESE 185 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3839 5038 Spreading to four cafes in town, comfortable sofa-style seating with surprisingly cheap coffee and good WiFi makes Soho Coffee Lounge convenient to work, eat, rest, or play.

Slow Time Café

CONTEMPORARY CAFE 53/56 Tran Khanh Du, Q1, Tel: 0903 714525 Boasting a cozy space in a quaint wooden house, Slow Time is a simple, peaceful café serving reasonably priced Vietnamese cuisine and a range of café drinks.

Stella Caffe

ITALIAN / INTERNATIONAL 119 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: (08) 3836 9220 This pleasant, mid-range venue, best known for its coffee, offers some of the best lattes and cappuccinos in town. Choose from indoor and outdoor spaces as well as upstairs dining.

MonPERE Café

FRENCH 5H Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 0458 This charming, mid-range café is filled with vintage decorations and architecture from the French colonial era. Live piano performances add a touch of romance on Wednesday and Saturday at 5pm.

offers a quiet atmosphere to chill out or read from their book-nook collection. Comfortable couch seating, open table space and a cappuccino costs VND40,000.


elp those less fortunate. Give back. Be the change you wish to see in the world. We have all heard these chestnuts. Probably some of us have quoted them. They are words with the purpose of sculpting us into better people. It's time to add another to this list on improving humanity — Drink with Compassion. Regina Coffee embodies this quote. Establishing itself as a café with a cause, Regina Coffee has won the respect and hearts of coffee enthusiasts. Since 2007, the café has committed all profits to the Regina Charitable Fund to help less fortunate Vietnamese. Every time you enjoy a cup, you help contribute to rural healthcare, education or agricultural initiatives. All this invests the café with a sweet mix of coffee and activism.

Community Spirit The main attraction of Regina Coffee is the large, open-aired patio, filled with massive umbrellas that seclude you from the city chaos. The trees and greenery create a feeling of serenity and calmness as the world whizzes by outside. Water trickles down the side of the building as a string of ivy crawls up the stone plates. The water cascades under a stepping stone walkway that leads into the indoor section. The dark wood décor is reminiscent of a treehouse you might have frolicked in

The Fig & Lounge as a child. Perhaps that’s the point — a discrete, subliminal message to make you think of kids and the opportunity they deserve, the opportunity you help support. Even a playground swing set sits in the corner. But it’s not the colour scheme or interior design of Regina Coffee that makes it so special. It's the community spirit that fills the air. A sense that together people can help in even the most ordinary way, by simply drinking a cup of coffee. In addition to the Charitable Fund, Regina Coffee claims “a close relationship between the farmers who grow our coffees and the customers. Through long-term contracts with farmers on paying prices, Regina helps farmers support their families and improve their farms”. It is a win-win-win café system — the producers, the consumers and the beneficiaries. As they put it, “we all take part in building an increasingly better environment, community, and life”. Prices range from VND40,000 for your basic black coffee to VND70,000 for your fancy frap. You might even want to try their decadent chocolate mud cake. Just make sure to tell your health-conscious mind that it's all for a good cause. — Deirdre Appel Regina Coffee is at 84 Nguyen Du, Q1, Tel: 0838 247669

CAFE & RESTAURANT 11 Nguyen Thi Huynh, Phu Nhuan, Tel: (08) 2211 3544 VIETNAMESE / INTERNATIONAL Positioned cozily down an alley in this less travelled part of town, The Fig's earthy, ecofriendly vibe is a gem that combines Vietnamese, Thai, and western cuisines tastefully, at prices between VND100,000 and VND300,000 a dish.

Tram Café

VIETNAMESE 100 Tran Huy Lieu, Phu Nhuan, Tel: (08) 2240 5306 Tram Café combines modern and classic design creating an artistic harmony between earth and heaven that won't break your wallet. A sanctuary of nature awaits you.

Trung Nguyen

INTERNATIONAL VIETNAMESE 80 Dong Khoi, Q1 One of a growing number of downtown locations of the ever-expanding international homegrown brand, this pleasant two-storey café produces and serves their own coffee in distinct Vietnamese-styles in a comfortable, sophisticated atmosphere.

Up Cafe

CONTEMPORARY VIETNAMESE 269 Nguyen Trung Tuyen, Phu Nhuan, Tel: (08) 3845 2155 A unique cafe with whole sets of upside down furniture and even a grand piano hanging from the ceiling, Up offers cafe drinks, cocktails, and simple Vietnamese cuisine.

Yesterday Piano Café

VIETNAMESE / INTERNATIONAL 28 Ho Bieu Chanh, Phu Nhuan, Tel: (08) 3505 2727 Turn back the clock in this vintage café. Embrace your nostalgia with their black-andwhite photos as you indulge in a reasonably priced menu. Music Tuesday to Sunday evenings.

Zest Bistro & Café

INTERNATIONAL 5 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3911 5599 This two-storey building with a mezzanine level boasts an industrial style complex with block walls, steel structures and huge glass windows. The mid-range menu offers over 40 options from appetizers to desserts.

o The only all-day dining restaurant in Saigon with a VIEW o Special menus for special celebration dates o All-day buffet dining available every lunch & dinner o Special free--ow Sunday brunch f buffet menu served every week o Private dining rooms and function room spaces available for family gatherings and corporate affairs o Saigon’s highest tea available every afternoon o A la carte ca snack menu available

Level 50 Bitexco Financial Tower 2 Hai Trieu, D.1, HCMC, t: 08. 6291 8750 e: March 2013 Word | 107

{ CINEM A Buff }


icknamed mumblecore by the haters, our intrepid young pseudonyms check out the latest in the lo-fi, nothingreally-happens-just-likein-life movement — which, disclaimer, might already be dead. The Comedy Director: Rick Alverson Stars: Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim, the guy from LCD Soundsystem Release Date: Nov. 2012 In Brief: It’s a movie about a Brooklyn hipster who never smiles. He’s also really racist, and kind of a dick. You get the feeling that he’d like to claim that there’s an angle to everything he does and says, but he’s really like that. We didn’t like it. Movie: Men are dancing around, sweating, hugging and jumping on each other, sliding off each other’s moist bodies. One takes a beer can and, pulling another’s tightywhities from the back, pours it in. Romantic music is playing. Our hero takes repeated sips from his can and blows it all out around the room. A: Oh god, I never want to have sex again. And of course it’s PBR. Movie: The first storyline starts with a discussion of prolapsed anuses. V: Eww, why are we listening to this? This is in the first three minutes of the movie. A: I think it’s due to the conflation of comedy and discomfort. But I feel like in a traditional comedy it’s a character’s discomfort and we’re supposed to be laughing at them, but this is trying to make us uncomfortable. V: It’s giving me a headache. A: It’s supposed to do that. V: This is film as sadism. Movie: They’re saying, “You are so special, you are so special,” to a character in the drinking circle who’s just said, “You are my family,” to all of them. This is the same circle

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The Year in Mumblecore

that’s just had the beer and underwear party. A: The problem with this scene is that the characters are saying all these seemingly sincere and nakedly emotional things, but the delivery makes it sound like they’re insulting each other. V: I keep waiting for the punch line... A: But it never comes. Movie: There is a party. Not a weird one. V: These guys really know how to party. A: Inexplicably. And they have a bunch of really hot girls there. Which is how this movie is like every movie ever. Movie: He takes a girl to bed with kind of racist late-night moves (part of the conversation: the main character is defending Hitler, rationalising, “Hitler had… Hitler had horrible indigestion”). A: Why does she go for him? Is this a kind of commentary on that Adam Sandler movie cliché of a guy having a heart of gold but being really schlubby, and some girl follows him around anyway? But this guy sucks. Movie: The main character is on a boat. A: Why do they keep showing boats? V: If you have a boat for a low-budget movie, you use it. A: If I had a boat in New York, I’d use it to commute. Hell, if I had a boat in Saigon I would too. Real Life: The English person in the room looks like she’s falling asleep. V: Are you enjoying it, English person? English Person: Not really. I can’t really understand what they’re saying.


The Color Wheel Director: Alex Ross Perry Stars: Bob Byington, Ry Russo-Young Release Date: May 2012 In Brief: Post-mumblecore road sibling freakout. We liked it. Movie: A Christian motel owner won’t rent shared rooms to siblings, only married couples. He says, “I need to see you kiss.” A: Why is that always in movies? Has anyone ever said that in real life? V: I love that she’s wearing a shirt that says 'WHO FARTED?' That’s actually my favourite part of this movie so far, and I like this movie. Movie: “… Einsteen…” A: Einsteen? V: They mispronounced Einstein? That has to be on purpose. A: Maybe we’ve been mispronouncing it this whole time! Movie: The brother says, “That’s why no one likes you,” for the second time in a conversation. A: This isn’t like other mumblecores that are mostly about low-key situations

and low-key conversation. I don’t know what this is. V: I think it’s a comedy. But it’s black-and-white so it can still be mumblecore. Movie: Sister spills something, says, “It looks like I had an abortion on my shirt!” A: What do these people think an abortion is? Movie: Sister calls her ex-boyfriend, whose house she’s visiting with her brother to move some stuff out of, from a gas station payphone. A: Why is she calling on a payphone? V: I think it’s kind of more romantic that way. Movie: They’re driving and bickering. A: If you’re getting some guy to help you move out of your ex-boyfriend’s house, shouldn’t it be some super-hot cool guy? Computer: The poor-quality video cuts out just as she goes into the bathroom and drinks something. V: Is she drinking mouthwash? A: she’s actually hocking a loogie in his toiletry bag. V: That’s actually pretty good. A: Shouldn’t she have spit on his toothbrush? Movie: The ex-boyfriend’s new blonde girlfriend is waiting in the next room for all this to be over. She can hear some semi-valid recriminations. V: What’s the blonde thinking in all this? Isn’t this a bad sign? A: I feel like it is. I really respect people who are friends with their exes. V: ...and everyone’s white again.



From our columns - For the Record, In the Frame and Decks ‘n Drums - to our listings, arts-wise this city’s starting going from strength to creative strength

Do you think you should be listed on these pages? If so, simply email us on and we’ll see what we can do. We can’t promise but we’ll try our best


CINEMAS Showcasing the latest Hollywood blockbusters and 3D cinematic sensations, chains such as Megastar Media, Lotte and Galaxy Cinema offer the most up-to-date and modern cinema-going experiences in Saigon. For those partial to more esoteric and independent flicks, smaller outlets such as Cinebox and Idecaf carry little known Vietnamese and European efforts.


240 Ba Thang Hai, Q10 Tel: (08) 3862 2425

Lotte Cinema

13th Floor, Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (08) 38227897 3rd Floor, Lotte Mart, 469 Nguyen Huu Tho, Q7 Tel: (08) 3775 2521

Galaxy Cinema

230 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3920 6688 116 Nguyen Du, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 5235 246 Nguyen Hong Dao, Tan Binh Tel: (08) 3849 4567


31 Thai Van Lung, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 5451

Megastar Cinema

Level 5, Crescent Mall, Nguyen Van Linh, Phu My Hung, Q7 Tel: (08) 5412 2222 Level 10, CT Plaza, 60A Truong Son, Tan Binh Tel: (08) 6297 1981 Level 5, Parkson Paragon, 3 Nguyen Luong Bang, Phu My Hung, Q7 Tel: (08) 5416 0088


189/C1 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2 Tel: 0903 955780 This French painter teaches beginners how to work with different mediums and techniques, and more advanced artists how to release creativity.

THE TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHERS WORKSHOP; Peter Stuckings and Mark Stennett are professional travel photographers based in Ho Chi Minh City who offer workshops and tours to help you improve your photography skills.


Tel: 01642 078110 A creative group inviting new members every second Tuesday for feedback on work in progress and creative writing exercises to inspire. All levels are welcome from beginners to the more experienced.


4 Le Van Mien, Q2 Tel: 0983 377710 Vin’s Space is an intimate, light-filled space that offers artists a quiet space to work individually or share ideas. Weekly classes include oil painting, drawing and arts and crafts classes for all ages.

Books & Magazines ARTBOOK

43 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3502 1559 Frequent overseas imports of the latest magazines and books makes Artbook a rarity in this city. The stock covers art and architecture through to graphic design, fashion, cooking, interior design and landscaping.


40 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 5796 Although there are many branches of Fahasa dotted throughout the city, this is

one of the largest, with three floors of books and related products in English, French, Chinese and Vietnamese.


94 Ho Tung Mau, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 7859 Set in a mixed-colonial, Chinese shophouse building constructed in the early 20th century, this small Gallic-run bookshop specialises in mainly French language novels and non-fiction publications.


2A Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9650 Now with over 30 bookstores in Ho Chi Minh City, PNC is probably the leading book retailer in Vietnam. Stocks the full range of Vietnamese fiction and non-fiction books as well as over 2,000 English language titles.


175/24 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1 Tel: (08) 6290 6599 The authorised distributor of Lonely Planet in Vietnam, they also stock non-copied works of fiction in English (both new and second hand) as well as postcards, maps, stamp books, coin collections and travel fiction.


97A Pho Duc Chinh, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 3695 Built in the 1920s by a wellknown local businessman, the rambling colonial building that houses the Blue Space Arts Center is an attraction in itself. Inside, Tran Thi Nguyen Nga curates a collection featuring artists from throughout Southeast Asia.


27i Tran Nhat Duat, Q1 Tel: 0908 878317 (Ms. Mai) Located in a quiet corner of District 1, Craig Thomas Gallery offers a compelling mix of up-and-coming and established local artists. In operation since 2009, its

founder has been promoting Vietnamese art for a decade.


31C Le Quy Don, Q3 Tel: (08) 3933 0498 Housing over 1,000 works of traditional and contemporary art, this mock-colonial mansion constitutes the private art gallery of Vietnamese business tycoon Bui Quoc Chi. Prices start at VND2 million per painting and rise to the astronomic.


65 De Tham, Q1 Tel: (08) 3836 8019 In addition to working with artists based in Vietnam, Galerie Quynh also exhibits the work of artists from around the world. This wellestablished gallery supports education through talks, lectures and publications.


324 Bis Dien Bien Phu, Q10, Tel: 0958 881908 (Ms. Hoang) A visit to Himiko’s Visual Saloon is never anything less than a feast for the eyes. Open for five years, this cafecum-gallery has a reputation for showcasing the work of Saigon’s bright young creative things including Himiko herself.


97A Pho Duc Chinh, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 4441 Housed in a colonial-era building that also boasts what is possibly the first elevator ever built in Saigon, the exhibition space here covers three levels. There’s also a warren of galleries in the basement.


Floors 2 and 3, 9 Phan Chu Trinh, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 6570 Founded in 1999 with the objective of promoting contemporary Vietnamese art, the gallery organises about three Vietnamese exhibitions every year and the entire inventory of works is available to purchase via their website.


213C Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 1366; 129B Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 3181

Established in 2004, these two galleries feature works by the likes of La Hon, Ton That Bang and Le Xuan Chieu. An eclectic range of styles is exhibited, including abstracts, landscapes and impressionism.


3 Me Linh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 3840 0898 san– San Art is an independent, artist-run exhibition space that offers residency programmes for young artists, lecture series and an exchange programme that invites international artists/ curators to organise or collaborate on exhibitions.


53 Ho Tung Mau, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 0966 Opened in June 1989 as Vietnam’s first private art gallery, TuDo specialises in oils, silk paintings and lacquerware, and has over 1,000 pieces across its five showrooms of works by city artists.


288 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3 ZeroStation is a multi-complex studio space for young, experimental Vietnamese and foreign artists and longterm art projects managed by visual artist, independent curator and art writer, Nguyen Nhu Huy.


The City Opera House, 7 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 7419 Ho Chi Minh City’s opera and ballet perform programmes of classical dance and music throughout the year. Depending on the show, tickets start at just VND60,000 for the sky seats, with circle seats priced at VND150,000.


112 Nguyen Du, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 3774 This colonial–era theatre holds classic piano recitals and orchestral performances,

and is closely connected to performance groups in the city. There are two concert rooms with two performances weekly.


Tel: 0903 930907 This 40–voice choir and 21-piece orchestra holds both private and public performances, with rehearsals held every Monday from 7.30pm to 9pm at the British International School at 43 Tu Xuong St, Q3.

SAIGON PLAYERS Composed of local and foreign thespians, Saigon Players hosts monthly drama activities that include club nights every first Wednesday of the month and script nights every third Wednesday.

Production Houses CREA TV

339 Binh Quoi, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 3823 7434 Established in 1995, Crea TV produces television programmes and commercials, corporate films, documentaries, and feature films. Services include location scouting, casting, authorisation and permits, art department work, production and direction.


91/12 Hoa Hung, Q10, Tel: 0908 477079 Fact & Fiction Films has developed content worldwide for documentary, web and TV, with experience in all stages of production from development through to post-production and delivery

Word tries to keep its listings as accurate as possible, but we can’t do this without yourself. So, if you see anything which needs updating or revising, please email us on


March 2013 Word | 109

{IN The Frame} ** One Dimension at a Time * *


LEISURE Time to release all that pent up energy - it’s not all work and propping up the bar, you know. Here are some ideas for better ways to spend that free time



ubtly and excitingly, contemporary artist Nguyen Manh Hung transformed Galerie Quynh last month with his first solo exhibition in Ho Chi Minh City. Hung is known for his unique, surrealistic style that incorporates a fascination with all things militaristic, stemming from his father’s wartime occupation as a jet fighter pilot. Inspired by his own experiences and interpretations of Vietnamese life, One Planet featured previously 2D artworks expanded into three dimensions, offering an innovative way for the audience and art to interact. While it posed a challenge, the transformation to 3D established a foundation for the exhibit. It was after a trip to the American Museum of Natural History in New York that Hung found himself “immediately inspired by the dioramas, and began thinking about transforming [his] paintings to objects and new models”. And from there, One Planet was born.

Conflict, Community and Creation Supported by the Danish Cultural Development and Exchange Fund (CDEF), the exhibit examined the idea of communities and the conflicts and complexities that exist within these constructed societies. His works dismantle the myths behind these traditions and showcase the occasional absurdity of human behaviour through a mix of irony and humour. Galerie Quynh calls Hung “one of Vietnam’s most important young artists”. Part

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of this importance derives from his innovative style, but there’s also his role in the artistic community. He’s a proponent of Vietnamese artists embracing a more experimental, explorative method that strays from the ordinary style promoted in typical art education. For Hung, there are “too many interesting things waiting for us to explore” to stick to the mundane. Looking back on his own educational experience, Hung believes “[art] education in Vietnam focuses on the skills of drawing, painting, and sculpting. Teachers and professors nearly forgot the mission to encourage their students about creation.” It is this narrow focus that leads to monotonous works mirroring the same skill set. “To impact Vietnam’s art scene, we need firstly to change the education method and set up more and more opportunities of exchange between Vietnamese students and international artists,” Hung adds. Through these methodological tweaks, Hung believes, true art success will prosper here in Vietnam. And for a successful artist? Hung believes a “successful artist needs to balance these three elements — skill, knowledge, and emotion”. It is these essentials that an artist must utilize to highlight his message and convince the audience. In One Planet, Hung’s installations combined all three to create an exhibit of interaction, contemplation and innovation. — Deirdre Appel Galerie Quynh is at 65 De Tham, Q1. Go to for more information

Binh Duong Highway, Phuong Hiep An, Thu Dau Mot, Binh Duong Tel: 0650 3845845 This huge amusement park is Vietnam's answer to Disneyland. A bus ride from Ho Chi Minh City gives you access to some amazing rides, a water-park and one of the better zoos in Vietnam. Located 45km away on Highway 13, just after Thu Dau Mot.


5th floor, Alta Plaza, 91B2 Pham Van Hai, Tan Binh Take the glass elevator to the top floor of Alta Plaza and you’ll soon find yourself in a dark playground holding a laser gun, ready for 15 minutes of sci-fi style fun.


2 Nguyen Binh Khiem, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 3728 Dating from 1875, Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens has a vast collection of rare orchids and ornamental plants, and a collection of over one hundred species of animals.

Clubs & Societies INTERNATIONAL LADIES IN VIETNAM This long–established social organization offers ladies a chance to socialise at their weekly coffee mornings (Thursdays at 10am) and

participate in many cultural, social and sporting activities. Please see website for details.


628A An Binh, An Phu, Q2, Tel: (08) 3898 9000 The Parkland Country Club offers a wide range of activities on its extensive facilities including supervised children’s areas, a multiuse sports field, tennis courts, squash courts, pools, spa and a gym.


Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9666 This Club boasts two floors of modern facilities that provide sanctuary from the busy streets below. Facilities include tennis courts, a sauna and Jacuzzi. Members can enjoy alfresco dining at the ‘Coco Cabana’.


36bis Huynh Khuong Ninh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3820 9734 Sunday 1.30pm to 5pm The Overland Club organises pottery classes, VietnameseJapanese cooking classes, cultural art events and monthly special activities, such as the Soba Festival, pottery painting classes, the art of decorating paper and multinational cuisine days.

SAIGON COOKING CLASSES BY HOA TUC 74/7 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: (08) 3825 8485

Learn to cook quality Vietnamese cuisine with local specialist Hoa Tuc. The three-hour lesson, conducted by an English-speaking Vietnamese chef, includes a trip around Ben Thanh Market to gather fresh ingredients for the class.


Suite 45, 4th Floor, 26 Ly Tu Trong, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 0349 Located in a pretty colonialstyle villa, the Vietnam Cookery Centre offers a hands-on guide to local gastronomy for persons of any ability. An introduction to traditional Vietnamese kitchen utensils is an added bonus.


53 Nguyen Dang Giai, Thao Dien, Q2; The Crescent Mall, Phu My Hung; Tel: (08) 3519 4490 Children and teenagers can enjoy jazz, ballet, hip-hop, tap, sing & dance, break, acro and more in this modern, newly built studio.


Geisha's Coffee and Tea House, 2nd Floor, 85 Pasteur, Q1 Salsa, Merengue, Bachata and Reggaeton is taught every Sunday. No partners needed, just buy a glass of wine or a cocktail to participate.

No 96, Street 2, Cu Xa Do Thanh, Q3 To learn how to move your hips like Shakira, head over to this studio for courses in belly dancing and “sexy dancing”. Scheduling information is available online.

SAIGON SWING CATS For lessons in the Lindy Hop, East & West Coast Swing, Shap and Jitterbug, visit the website for more information. Free introductory class every Wednesday.


Cherry Blossom 1 & Lotus Road 1 and 3, APSC Compound, 36 Thao Dien Road, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2549 (Ms. Chi) With a pool, astroturf play area, basketball court and outdoor gym equipment, AIS Sports Centre is a great venue to stay fit. Packages available for family members of students, couples and others.


Tel. 0909 008985 Aquabiking classes help you strengthen and sculpt your body fast while keeping it safe for your joints and refreshing, thanks to the benefits of water. Suitable for all condition levels.

Body Expert Systems

Tel: (09) 3478 2763 Do you have limited time? Not seeing results? BES’s online software and memberships offer affordable and powerful tools to achieve fantastic fat loss, fitness improvement and overall wellbeing ­— anywhere.


Queen Ann Building, 28–30– 32 Le Lai, Q1; 5F Hung Vuong Plaza and 126 Hung Vuong, Q5, Tel: (08) 2222 0355 One of the leading fitness and yoga centres in Vietnam featuring modern equipment with over 100 aerobic and yoga classes like Hot Yoga, Indian Dance, Pole dance, Zumba, Body Balance and Body Combat. Word tries to keep its listings as accurate as possible, but we can’t do this without yourself. So, if you see anything which needs updating or revising, please email us on



19 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 4999 This well–equipped gym has rows of cardiovascular machines and free weights, a massage parlour, sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi, with a pleasant swimming pool.


49 A Xa Lo Hanoi, Q2, Tel: 0947 771326 This sports centre in An Phu, started by fitness guru Cyril Terrones, features the same personalised mentorship Cyril's clients love. Includes Zumba, salsa, boxing and fitness for kids and adults every day. No membership fees. Pay for classes in installments of 10.



13th Floor, Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 7750 A well–equipped gym with steam room, Jacuzzi, massage parlour and swimming pool can be found above this leading department store.


Tel: (09) 8378 9318 This certified fitness professional offers tailored training for exercise and nutrition programmes, weight loss, muscle gain and strength training based on 10 years experience in the fitness industry.


100 Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien, Q2 K1 offers martial arts, boxing, kick and Thai boxing, Krav–maga, grappling, MMA, kid’s martial art classes and private fitness and conditioning. Open to everyone from kids to adults, beginners to professionals.


Tel: (09) 3478 2763 Kiwifitness provides quality, accurate, professional and effective fitness and health services to enrich people’s lives.


Rex Hotel, 141 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 1812 A colonial–themed gym in a large, open–plan space, situated on top of the Rex Hotel. Includes a tennis court, swimming pool, Jacuzzi, cardio and resistance machines, sauna and steam rooms.


64A Truong Dinh, Q3, Tel: (08) 3932 5181 Classes in Ashtanga, Iyeng-

ar, Hatha and Vinyasa yoga, Power yoga, Pilates, Tae Bo, Centergy, aqua–aerobics and body sculpting are offered by internationally certified teachers. There’s also a swimming pool, sauna, and steam room.


34 Nguyen Dang Giai, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6672 Offers fitness classes and personal training with excellent facilities. Group classes include power yoga, pilates, circuit training, martial arts and spinning. There is also a spa and a restaurant serving calorie–calibrated meals.


Tel: 01286 305982 Paul Simos creates a supportive environment that enables people to achieve all of their health goals. Paul uses practical lifestyle coaching methods to guide clients in discovering which approach works best for them.


Tel: 0938 156865 Personal fitness, yoga and mixed martial arts trainer with 14 years of fitness industry experience and over 10 years of experience as a kickboxing instructor at Gold’s Gym in Venice, California.


8–15 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 0033 Exercise with an unsurpassed city view at this health club with gym, swimming pool, steam room and massage parlour. There’s also a good place to take time out, by the poolside bar.


New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 4000 Medium–sized gym with new cardio equipment and spacious changing rooms with adjustable shower settings, Jacuzzi, steam bath and sauna. Also has an excellent guitar–shaped outdoor pool.


Tel: 01225 811080 Sawano specializes in Fletcher Pilates and personal fitness, and emphasises core muscle development to strengthen and tone the body. Savano also offers individual and group classes tailored to your needs.


17 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 1555 At this small but well– equipped gym the equipment is modern and staff members are extremely

March 2013 Word | 111

{ Roa d Rules} ** Helmets and New Look Vespas * *

Pat Joynt of Saigon Scooter Centre has been in Vietnam for 15 years restoring classic bikes, importing and producing parts. Here he answers your questions.

HI PAT, I KNOW YOU’RE INTO CLASSIC BIKES. BUT HOW WOULD YOU RATE THE LATEST VESPAS BEING PRODUCED IN VIETNAM? ARE THEY WORTH INVESTING IN OVER, SAY, ONE OF THE AUTOMATIC HONDAS OR YAMAHAS? THANKS, PW Weighing up the pros and cons with the Hanoiproduced Piaggio models, I think they’re a good deal. It’s only a couple of years ago that the imported Italian LX models were selling here for US$7000 (VND140 million). The new VN LX model is priced at about US$3400 (VND70 million) which is less than half price. Of course there are differences between the European-produced model and the Vietnamese model, but more than acceptable considering the price. The most important factor is the engine unit that even on the Vietnameseproduced scooters is still imported as a complete unit. I’ve found the local models use slightly inferior parts such as tyres, brakes, suspension, rubbers and trim, but at the of the day these are wear and tear parts that you will replace over the course of a couple of years anyway and then change for better quality imported versions if you want. You’ll still end up saving a considerable amount of money if you’re looking for classic Italian styling. And the Vietnam-produced Vespa will always pull looks over the plastic

112 | Word March 2013

helpful. Yoga classes are just one of a number of fitness classes offered.


Manor Apartments, 91 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 3514 0255 Steve Chipman, who had a hand in establishing gyms at the Sofitel hotels in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, is behind Star Fitness — one of Vietnam’s largest and bestequipped gyms.


Tel: 0908 897604 Stephane Laporte is a certified personal trainer and sports massage therapist. Programmes include pre/ post-race preparation and therapy, triathlon coaching, corrective and functional exercises, weight loss/gain, TRX, Kettlebells, Capoeira and more.


fantastic Nuovo.

HI PAT, ARE THERE MASSIVE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN HELMET QUALITY AND PRICE? I’M LOOKING FOR A WELL-MADE HELMET BUT WITHIN A BUDGET OF LESS THAN VND2 MILLION. WHAT WOULD YOU RECOMMEND? You really do get what you pay for with regards to helmet quality. There are a number of premium international helmet companies, some of the more famous being Schoei, Arai, Bell, Nolan, Vemar and AGV. For the budget you’re looking for in Vietnam you’d be better off with either Korean or Thai brands. You will not of course find international safety kite marks like Snell, DOT or British standards on these helmets. However, on budget helmets both Thailand and South Korea offer reasonable safety standards for Asian manufactured helmets. There are five main materials used in the production of motorcycle

helmets, these are: plastic, thermo plastic, fibreglass, kevlar and carbon fibre. As a general rule the better the protection, the higher the price. Also remember there are two impact zones to consider. In the case of an impact there should be sufficient protection between your head and the interior helmet as well as the primary impact point between the helmet and the road. A comfortable fitting and well padded interior-lining and a foam or equivalent liner is essential. Budget VND50,000 helmets are just a plastic shell offering no first stage protection and in most cases will break-up on impact with any hard surface. In the 1970s Schoei ran an advertising campaign “A US$5 dollar helmet for a US$5 dollar brain!” Buy yourself the best protection you can afford, you only get one brain. At the end of the day a good helmet will save your life and in the meantime you can look good, be comfortable and avoid that VND200,000 fine for driving without one.

3rd Floor, Crescent Plaza, 105 Ton Dat Tien, Phu My Hung, Tel: (08) 5412 1277 Overlooking the Crescent complex’s lagoon, this centre offers modern facilities, a gym with Technogym equipment allowing users to track their progress. Includes fitness classes, yoga, squash courts, pool, steam bath and nutrition bar.


The Landmark, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 2098 ext. 176 In addition to the squash court, facilities include a fully–equipped gym room, a rooftop swimming pool and separate male and female saunas.

THE SAIGON RIVER CLUB Ruby Towers — Saigon Pearl, 92 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh Tel: (08) 3514 9009 This gym is equipped with advanced equipment, cardiovascular, strength and free weight sections, sauna and steam rooms, plus studios offering Spinning, Pilates, Yoga, Zumba, Aerobics, and Belly Dancing. Includes a large outdoor pool with jacuzzi.

Do you think you should be listed on these pages? If so, simply email us on and we’ll see what we can do. We can’t promise but we’ll try our best



8 Vo Van Tan, Q3 Tel: (08) 3829 6312 Home to the majority of hotshot Asian teams including Filipinos, South Koreans and Japanese. Mismo Ngayon, one of six Filipino teams, play there every Sunday morning.


RMIT University, 702 Nguyen Van Linh, Tan Phong, Q7 Weekends The Saigon Cricket League includes teams from five nations — Australia, England, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka — plus a mixed–nationality team called United Cricket Club. New recruits are welcome.

0937 683230 The Vietnam Swans play international footy matches around Asia. Social functions aplenty for everyone. Regardless of age or ability, all are invited to become an active part of the club.

LES GAULOIS DE SAIGON This originally French team welcomes football enthusiasts looking for competition or conviviality both on and off the pitch.


Contact Fred on 0919 709024 or Viet Luu 0909 500171. This predominantly French side has been playing for over 10 years, winning the championship title for the last four years.



Manish Sogani, Tel: 0908 200598 This team is part of the Saigon International Football League, with regular games against local teams. A sociable football team always on the hunt for enthusiastic new talent.



ECCS (THE ENGLISH CRICKET CLUB OF SAIGON) Richard Carrington, Tel: 0909 967 353


Deeptesh Gill, Tel: 01228 770038

ISCS (INDIAN SPORTS CLUB IN SAIGON) Munish Gupta, Tel: 0986 973244


Samie Cashmiri, Tel: 0976 469090

SACC (SAIGON AUSTRALIA CRICKET CLUB) Steve Treasure, Tel: 0903 998824


Suhard Amit, Tel: 0988 571010

UCC (UNITED CRICKET CLUB) Asif Ali, Tel: 0937 079034


RMIT University, 702 Nguyen Van Linh, Tan Phong, Q7, Tel:

RMIT University, 702 Nguyen Van Linh, Tan Phong, Q7 saigonrugbyfootballclub@ The Saigon Geckos play social touch rugby and also welcome men and women to join and enjoy drinks afterwards. There are regular tours of the region, as well as games with visiting teams. Beginners welcome.

SAIGON SAINTS Players train weekly and tour across the region to play in local and international tournaments. New players are actively encouraged to join this SIFL expat football club, running since 1995.


ladiesfirst– A non–profit association of women golfers in Ho Chi Minh City, organising monthly tournaments whose format varies from month to month, including single stroke play, individual stableford and two–ball scramble.


Nguyen Van Linh, Tan Phu, Q7 Tel: (08) 5411 2001 Visitors’ fees are around VND500,000 for a round of golf at this mini nine–hole course. 40 percent discount on Wednesdays. On the driving range, 50 balls cost under VND60,000. Equipment hire available.


77 Binh Duong, Thuan An, Binh Duong, Tel: 0650 756660

This resort incorporates tennis courts, a swimming pool and a gymnasium at its 18–hole, 6,384–metre course just 22km from the city.

league, running on Monday nights, is open to both men and women from the ages of eight and up (including an adult competition).



Long Thanh My Village, Q9, Tel: (08) 6280 0101 This facility just off Highway 1 has two courses. Both 18– hole courses are complemented by other attractions such as tennis, boating and an on–site eatery.

Tel: (08) 7303 1100 Offers coaching for football, tennis, basketball and swimming for both children and adults. Private lessons are also available throughout the year.


The Landmark, 5B Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 2098 ext 176 Membership is open to non–Landmark residents for use of the courts. Private instruction is available for new players or those without a partner. Racquet rental with balls inclusive. Book in advance.


25 Nguyen Binh Khiem, Q1 capoeira.vietnam@gmail. com For a different form of training, try Capoeira, an Afro–Brazilian art form that involves movements from martial arts, games, and dance.

HASH HOUSE HARRIERS Balancing beer and exercise, this long–established running club goes to various out–of–town locations to tear up a few kilometres and burn some of the weekend’s calories. Walking trails offered. Depart from the Caravelle Hotel on Sundays at 2pm.


Buddha Bar, 7 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: 0913 408146 Diving courses and trips offered by the longest established PADI dive centres throughout Vietnam. All courses can be started at their state–of–the–art centre in An Phu.

RANGERS BASEBALL TEAM A baseball team with over 25 international members. Practices and games are held on the weekends at RMIT and the Taiwanese Junior High School in District 7.

SAIGON INTERNATIONAL DARTS LEAGUE There are some excellent players in this fun and popular international darts league, which runs a highly competitive competition for a growing number of pub– based teams.

SAIGON INTERNATIONAL SOFTBALL LEAGUE The Saigon International Softball League invites you to play slo-pitch softball. Teams with players from all over the world compete every Sunday.


saigonshootersnetball@ A friendly mixed netball



James: 0938 889899 Rina: rinabakher@yahoo. com. Founded in Singapore, they train every Saturday morning from 10am to midday. Everyone is welcome. For more information about games and the club in Vietnam contact James or Rina.


RMIT, 702 Nguyen Van Linh, Q7 Tel: 0909 458890 / 0903 042014 saigon– Pan–Asian competitions are often organised for the more experienced and everyone can join in this exciting modern sport held every Sunday afternoon in Saigon South from 4pm to 5.30pm.


74 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q3, Tel: (08) 6210 9192 Offers beginner and advanced mountain climbing routes, safety courses and training at its 26–metre purpose–built mountain in District 3, with an additional location in District 2.

Tennis KY HOA II

796 Su Van Hanh, Q10, Tel: (08) 3863 3706 Hourly hire for courts starts from VND80,000. Private coaching is available, and a small shop stocks all the equipment. Also has an excellent gym and swimming pool.


291 Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q10, Tel: (08) 3862 7144 Private coaching sessions and group lessons are available at this popular club. You can rent one of several courts from VND40,000 per hour. There is also equipment for hire.

March 2013 Word | 113

{ body and Temple} ** Fitness Advice * *


Asian Superfoods: The Coconut. Fitness expert Phil Kelly explains

ne of the best aspects of living in Asia is the availability of fresh coconuts. This delicious drink is fantastic for improving hydration and preventing disease. Coconut water is not the solution to all your problems but it does convey some excellent therapeutic benefits. Research shows coconut water supports hydration, helps fight the aging process, can lower cholesterol (to the same degree as prescription drugs), improves insulin sensitivity, and lowers blood pressure. However, coconuts have suffered from an unjust reputation at times due to their saturated fat content. Most people think that if anything contains saturated fat it’s bad. The truth is that we cannot function without saturated fat; it makes up at least 50 percent of our cell membrane structure. The right kind of fat helps transport vital vitamins around the body and actually assists the burning of stored body fat.

The Mighty Coconut Here are some reasons why you should be reaching for a coconut or natural coconut products: Increased Metabolism: Coconut oil boosts your metabolism and in turn promotes weight loss. Coconut oil may triple your calorie burn because it contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCT). The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has published several studies that explain how MCTs burn three times more calories after a meal than long-chain triglycerides (LCT). MCTs are more easily absorbed and converted to energy, quickly helping to create an effective fat burning metabolism Cooking: Coconut oil is one of the best cooking oils. It has a higher smoke point than olive oil and this means you can cook

114 | Word March 2013

with it at higher temperatures. It is harder for coconut oil to go rancid. Rancid oils cause free radical damage in the body which is a leading cause of cancer and ageing Bug Killer: Coconut contains antiviral and antimicrobial substances. They have a fat called lauric acid that gets formed into monolaurin, which is a bug killer. A fantastic feature when living in a country like Vietnam Improve health: Coconuts are highly nutritious and rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals. Furthermore, coconut oil helps your body absorb nutrients more effectively, such as Vitamin E Fight the ageing process: Coconuts contain a wealth of micronutrients such as inorganic ions and vitamins that enhance the natural antioxidant system of the body. The high levels of antioxidants may be its greatest benefit Hydration: Coconut water is famous for containing the electrolytes potassium and sodium, which are important for keeping the body properly hydrated Fight inflammation: Inflammation is now identified as being one of the major factors relating to illness. Coconut water provides a good source of vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, B vitamins, arginine, alanine, lysine, glutamic acid, and other micronutrients and enzymes that are anti-inflammatory My tip: Coconut water is a great alternative to dairy products. So, why not try using coconut water on your cereal in the morning and when making vegetable shakes? Phil Kelly is founder and master trainer at Body Expert Systems. For more information contact him at 0934 782763, or go to


Tel: 0908 604753 Contact outgoing and experienced instructor Mr Hoang, who takes individuals or groups from beginner level up to fluency. VND220,000 per hour.

Vietnamese Language Garden

135/10 Nguyen Cuu Van, Binh Thanh Tel: 0916 670771 vietnameselanguagegarden. com A Vietnamese language school specialising in personalized, one-on-one instruction at a comfortable and centrally located facility, in your home, office, or over Skype.


45 Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 3175 This professional school has built a good reputation over 12 years. Offers set and tailor–made courses for all abilities in both northern and southern Vietnamese within high quality facilities.


37/54 Tran Dinh Xu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6678 0914 VNC Vietnamese Language Training & Translation provides Vietnamese language training by qualified experienced teachers and Certified / Notarized Translation by experts for types of materials and documents.

Yoga & Meditation Anupa Yoga

9 Dong Du, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 2394 At anupa's private studio, we offer classes to individuals or small groups. The primary focus is to support students who want to regularly practise traditional yoga. For information contact us via email support@ or phone.


shivaprakashyoga@yahoo. com A qualified yoga master from India who has been teaching in Ho Chi Minh City in different locations including L’Apothiquaire and Nutrifort. Yoga styles include Asthanga, Hatha, Dynamic, Vital and Power yoga.


Tel: 0909 648193 E-RYT200-certified yoga in-

structor offering Vinyasa yoga classes at various locations around the city. Private and corporate yoga programmes available.


Tel: 01286 305982 Paul Simos offers power yoga to build strength, flexibility, balance and endurance while at the same time imparting a feeling of calm and relaxation. Private sessions and group classes available.


Ruby Towers — Saigon Pearl, 92 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh Tel: (08) 3514 9009 Saigon Pearl’s luxury, stateof-the-art health club provides a number of Yoga classes held throughout the week with experienced practitioners at varied times in a specifically designed softfloored studio.


Tel: 0908 352265 Founder Suzanne Vian, has two decades of experience and is a Yoga Alliance ‘Experienced Instructor’. Iyengar-influenced classes, specialising in Hatha, Flow, Hot, Pre and Post-natal Yoga, Restorative, Injury Rehabilitation, Retreats and Trainings.


shop also sells high quality yoga products.

VAJRAYANA BUDDHISM MEDITATION GROUP Meditation group specializing in the methods of Tibetan Buddhism. Help the practitioners understand and experience the nature of their mind and the nature of all phenomena.


Van Hanh Pogoda, 750 Nguyen Kiem, Phu Nhuan, Tel: 0913 985403 vn Well-respected Dr Thich Tam Duc, secretary-general of the research institute, teaches Theravada and Mahayana Buddhist meditation classes, with the ultimate goal of attaining true happiness. Open to both Vietnamese and nonVietnamese speakers.


33/19 Quoc Huong, Q2; Lotus Road 28, Thao Dien, An Phu, Q2 Tel: 0903 873599 Vivacolour offers tailoredmade relaxation and meditation programmes combined with chromotherapy, essential oils and music. Laughter Yoga and a Colours Meditation group training workshop is also available.

54/2/25 Bach Dang, Tan Binh, Tel: (08) 3848 5347 Newly opened yoga studio focusing on Ashtanga Yoga and suitable for all levels. Prenatal and postnatal classes also available. Classes are bilingual with internationally certified instructors in cooperation with Tirisulayoga Singapore.



Manor Apartments, 91 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh Tel: (08) 3514 0255 Yoga professionals teach regular yoga classes in three disciplines at this gym. Members get free access. Contact Star Fitness directly for schedules and non–member prices.

Studio 1: 95 Pasteur, Q1; Studio 2: 5 Ton Duc Thang, Q1Tel: 0905 735833 (Thuy) Conducts over 150 commercial and private classes a month and offers a variety of classes. A larger second studio provides a great space for yoga workshops, training and healthcare and lifestyle events.



84T/4 Tran Dinh Xu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3920 5813 Soham Yoga Studio and Boutique specialises in highquality yoga training, offering Vinyasa Flow, Sivananda, Power yoga and more with Yoga Alliance-certified yoga instructors. Soham’s yoga

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WELLNESS From alternative medicine through to have that long sought-after nose-job and that once-a-year medical check, here are some the wellness options available in town


8 Truong Dinh, Q3 Tel: (08) 3930 6667 A clinic providing chiropractic, physiotherapy, and foot care, staffed by Americantrained chiropractic physicians and an Americaneducated doctor of physical therapy. Includes treatment of back, neck, and knee pain, and sports injury rehabilitation.


Family Medical Practice Tel: (08) 3822 7848 American-educated and licensed physical therapist with a Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree in Viet-

nam. Specialising in orthopedic injuries, joint pain, sports injuries and post-operative rehabilitation.

Dr. Astrid Matarrita PsyD.

Psychologist and Counsellor Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: 01218 263167 Certified psychologist specialized in dynamic therapy focusing on improving emotional health and positive behavior. Personalised process design to help people suffering from emotional distress. Children and adults. English and Spanish.


2B1 Chu Manh Trinh, Q1 34 Nguyen Dang Giai, Q2 Tel: 01268 654202 American-trained and nationally certified massage therapist and National Academy of Sports Medicine certified

personal trainer offering orthopedic manual therapy, corrective exercise and orthopedic massage, focusing on pain management well as injury rehab/prevention.


432 Pham Thai Buong, Q7 Tel: 0906 684969 Dr Kim Sung Soo offers a range of alternative oriental treatments, including acupuncture, cupping, moxibustion, physical therapy, plus treatment for fertility, chronic pain (headache, backache, arthritis, muscular), obesity, allergies and menopausal disorders.


273–275 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Q3 Tel: (08) 3997 1146 Apart from standard treatments such as acupuncture and massage, this hospital

and training centre places emphasis on physiotherapy — the use of herbs to stimulate and protect the immune system.

OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE / PHYSIOTHERAPY — DAVID TRUONG TAN Tel: 0903 098124 osteopathy– French–trained osteopath and physiotherapist specialising in treating back pain and other muscular, ligaments and joint problems. Osteopathy relieves pain and other discomforts using a global approach and gentle manipulative techniques.


Tel: 0937 442 516 Australian-trained Massage and Remedial Therapist offering Deep Tissue/Sports Massage, Hawaiian Lomi Lomi Massage, Prenatal Massage and Reiki. Located in An Phu.

Home visits available.


Tel: 0918 591933 A unique energy healing technique for mind, body and spirit. Jodie Eastwood is a UK-qualified practioner based in Ho Chi Minh City.


179 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (08) 3932 6579 One of the city’s leading centres of traditional Chinese medicine infused with modern understanding. Up–to–date and clean with friendly staff, but you will need a translator.


Tel: 0903 873599 Vivacolour offers chromotherapy and chromopuncture which involves combining the energy of colour

and acupuncture channels. Treatment is available for a variety of problems such as joint pain, stress, sleep issues, among others.


5th Floor, Crescent Plaza, 105 Ton Dat Tien, Q7 Tel: (08) 5413 6758 American Eye Center Vietnam offers a solution to different eye problems with eyelid plastic surgery by an American Board-Certified eye surgeon providing eyelid surgery as well as Botox and cosmetic filler injections.

CAO THANG AESTHETIC CENTRE 135B Tran Binh Trong, Q5 Tel: (08) 3923 8435 A range of eye and aesthetic procedures are available at

Tel: 01266 626467 Daphne offers yoga classes, Reiki and Thai Yoga Massage across the city. Each session is unique and different to provide the perfect balance in nurturing the body and mind.


335/31 Dien Bien Phu, Q3; Tel: (08) 3929 1707 A place to get away from the city for quality yoga or meditation practice. They offer daily classes in different yoga styles — Ashtanga, Power, Yin, Vinyasa, Hatha, Slow Flow and Funky Flow. March 2013 Word | 115

this modern hospital. With state-of-the-art devices, services include laser vision correction, cataract surgery, himyopia treatment, Botox and other cosmetic procedures.


290 Tran Hung Dao, Q1 Tel: (08) 3836 7685 Modern treatments such as ultrasound–based fat elimination and body contouring, Botox, restylane, and surgical interventions. The clinic director is a certified member of the International Board of Cosmetic Surgery.

EXM Esthetic Mediplex

MD6, Nguyen Luong Bang, Q7 Tel: (08) 5410 0100 EXM Clinic is a high tech skincare and dental cosmetic center that specialises in beauty enhancement. EXM is founded by the same people behind SIAN Skincare Laser and Westcoast International Dental Clinics.


6 Nguyen Luong Bang, Saigon South Parkway, Q7 Tel: (08) 5411 3366 This modern international– standard hospital has a full cosmetic surgery department offering body contouring, breast augmentation, Botox, a range of facial surgery options, laser skin improvement, with expert French and Vietnamese doctors.


45 Vo Thi Sau, 2nd Floor, Citilight Tower, Q1 Tel: (08) 6290 6167 Conveniently located downtown clinic providing modern, safe and fast treatments including Botox and restylane, by an experienced American doctor. Also provides cosmetic surgery consultations with French and Vietnamese doctors.


Level 2, 71-79 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 6999 The Australian and Canadian

managed SIAN Clinic offers a wide range of skincare medical therapies to treat problems by an experienced dermatologist and facial care team. The clinic utilises the latest therapies.


254 Dien Bien Phu, Q3 Tel: (08) 3932 1090 Stamford Skin Centre offers a broad range of medical and aesthetic skin treatments. Their international dermatologists and doctors ensure accurate diagnosis and safe treatment procedures. It houses excellent equipment for a variety of procedures.


Opera View Building, 161 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 8800 Accadent Vietnam is supported by Accadent Germany and offers high quality standards, high–tech materials and equipment, German precision and hygiene standards for your teeth.


6 Nguyen Luong Bang, Saigon South Parkway, Q7 Tel: (08) 5411 3435 Full–service dental clinic at this international–class hospital covers the entire spectrum from examinations and cleaning to braces and implants, all carried out to the highest standards.


167A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3 Tel: (08) 3829 8520 Globally renowned provider of medical assistance and international healthcare offers full dental services in the clinic. Foreign and Vietnamese dentists provide high skilled dental service. Orthodontics is also available.


2 Bis Cong Truong Quoc Te, Q3 Tel: (08) 3822 6222 Long–established, modern clinic with French, Canadian, Belgian & Vietnamese dentists. A favourite of the foreign residential community due to its modern and effective treatments allied with extremely reasonable prices.


The Crescent, 173 Ton Dat Tien, Q7 Tel: 5413 6634 A contemporary Japanese dental clinic that provides a full range of standard and specialised dental services and treatments, including a 20-minute teeth whitening using Brillica mouthpieces and LED lighting systems; general check-ups and cleaning (polishing & prevention), and a range of orthodontic work. Smile Dental Clinic is open Mon-Sat from 9am to 12pm and 2pm to 6pm, closed on Sundays and public holidays. English Vietnamese and Japanese are also available to call

Ben Thanh Clinic, 27 Nguyen Trung Truc, Q1 Tel: (08) 3825 6999 The Practice, Level 1, 71-79 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3825 6777 An international dental clinic equipped with the latest technology, the comfortable clinics offer cosmetic and implant dentistry with a focus on making each patient’s experience anxiety and pain free.


Fideco Riverview Building, 14 Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 3744 6475 anthony@aglondonsalon.

Top British stylist “George” brings his unique flair to hair in District 2. A modern and professional salon, the products used here are exclusively Dermalogica, Schwarzkopf and L’Oreal.



21–23 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9660; 65 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 6394 From the same chain as His Salon, these places have equally well–trained stylists offering simple haircuts starting from VND150,000.


41 Nguyen Trung Ngan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 6298 This salon can make you look naturally blond or help you to revamp your hairstyle. Using international brands like L’Oreal and Wella, your hair will be given that healthy, bouncier new look.

37B Pham Ngoc Thach, Q3 Tel: (08) 3823 0908 A four–floor, one–stop hair salon for people who like highlights and a sharp–looking mane. Even the stylists here sport modern, funky styles. A cut above the rest. 23 Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 7700 A Singaporean salon specialising in hair colouring, treatments and styling. A team of local and foreign stylists will help you choose the hair colour and style that is right for you.


48 Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 3519 4625 Open daily from 9am to 8pm Hair stylist and colourist specialist Sandrine has relocated her long-standing flagship salon Venus Coiffure to a villa in Thao Dien. A full range of services is offered including a dedicated kids salon.


45 Ton That Thiep, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 2737 Spa–related salon with a good reputation for quality and comfort offers washes and leisurely haircuts from VND330,000 plus a range of related services.


119 Dinh Tien Hoang, Da Kao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 7700; SD11,Panorama Phu My Hung, Tan Phong, Q7, Tel: (08) 5413 3300 More high–end salon than school, this outlet provides treatments, from a simple wash and blow-dry from a student to multi–tonal highlights from a junior stylist supervised by qualified instructors.



219 Dien Bien Phu, Q3, Tel: (08) 3829 2791 Run by Canadian hair stylist Ky The Guy, YKC Hair Studio attracts a loyal expat clientele thanks to the welltrained staff and friendly English-speaking environment. Top industry products such as Tigi and Goldwell are used.

Medical AUSTRALIAN CLINIC & PATHOLOGY DIAGNOSTICS 273–275 Ly Thai To, Q10 Tel: (08) 3834 9941 Services includes general outpatient healthcare, corporate / visa health–checks, X–ray, full laboratory and in– house pharmacy including specialist medical services covering cardiology, pediatrics, obstetrics, gynecology, orthopedics and dermatology.


135B Tran Binh Trong, Q5 Tel: (08) 3923 8435 Cao Thang is a comprehensive eye hospital overseeing 6000 surgeries per year. English speaking staff, a member of the World Association of Eye Hospitals, and quality assurance by the Joint Commission International.


American Eye Center

5th Floor, Crescent Plaza, 105 Ton Dat Tien, Q7 Tel: 5413 6758 / 5413 6759 American Eye Center is located in the heart of Phu My Hung, providing eye care services to Adults and Children by an American Board-certified ophthalmologist with 17 years of experience. The American-standard facility is equipped with state of the art equipments for the early detection and treatment of important eye diseases from Lasik and cataract surgeries to presbyopia, glaucoma and diabetic eye disease treatments. Cosmetic procedures such as eyelid surgery and Botox injections are also available.

Manor Apartments, 91 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh Tel: (08) 3514 0757 Sister clinic of the Family Medical Practice, Care 1 opened in 2007 and offers preventative healthcare checkups as well as a full range of corporate health services for international companies in Vietnam.


1 Han Thuyen, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 2366 This French medical clinic provides general practice and a range of specialties including cardiology, gynecology, psychotherapy and traditional medicine.


8 Alexandre de Rhodes, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 8888 Well–established and well– regarded, offers emergency and primary medical care with international and Vietnamese doctors on call 24 hours a day. Prices are very


Commitment, Integrity, Quality

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Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 7848 Full–service 24–hour healthcare provider with highly– qualified doctors handling everything from emergencies to tests and X–rays, in–patient and out–patient care, check– ups, travel medicine and medical evacuations.


6 Nguyen Luong Bang, Saigon South Parkway, Q7 Tel: (08) 5411 3333 Emergency: (08) 5411 3500 International hospital whose standard of health care matches that found anywhere, with 19 full–time French doctors and 58 Vietnamese doctors, providing expertise in 30 medical and surgical areas, especially maternity care.


45 Vo Thi Sau, 2nd Floor, Citilight Tower, Q1, Tel: (08) 6290 6167 State–of–the–art medical centre located in District 1. Experienced American, French, and Vietnamese doctors provide the full spectrum health care. Plus sports medicine, cosmetic treatments, skin care and surgical consultations.


601B Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q10, Tel: (08) 3977 8130 Mottoed “Building Stem Cell bridges for everyone”, HMIC comprises a medical clinic and associated pathology laboratory with Applied Research Center of Regenerate medicine.


1 Han Thuyen, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2366 cmi– This French medical clinic provides general practice and a range of specialties including cardiology, OB–GYN, ophthalmology, paediatrics, and sports medicine.


167A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (08) 3829 8520 The world’s leading provider of medical assistance and international healthcare offers primary health care, diagnostic services and 24/7 emergency care. Specialist care is available in many fields.


254 Dien Bien Phu, Q3, Tel: (08) 3932 1090 Stamford Medical Clinic offers services in internal medicine, dermatology, aesthetic medicine, infectious diseases, and


general medicine.


135A Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan, Tel: (08) 3997 4545; 79 Dien Bien Phu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 4545 Well-regarded clinic offering general examinations and specialising in pediatrics, digestive diseases, cardiology, women’s health and internal medicine. Offers a membership programme and cooperates with most insurance companies in Vietnam and abroad.


3 Truong Dinh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3521 0599 A nail spa in Saigon with a modern ambiance. Services range from classic manicures and spa treatment to acrylic and gel enhancements.



Lash Lounge, Q7 Tel: 01205 100583 Originating in Canada, Lash Snob has just recently opened another luxury lash lounge in District 7. We specialize in silk lash extensions and use only the highest-grade glue that has been approved by Health Canada. Each individual silk lash is properly and precisely applied to your natural lash, and lasts anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks. No need for mascara! You too, will leave as a Lash Snob. Make-up application also available. Book your appointment today.

40 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 1407 Grooming salon for men which, as well as its standard hairdressing services, offers massages for the tired executive. A good place to escape the hustle and bustle of Saigon.

tors offers body massages, facials, sports fatigue massages, slimming wraps and waxing. Also offers gentleman’s care.



64A Truong Dinh, Q3; 100 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 1218 Award–winning salon very highly rated by foreign visi-

23C Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Specialising in all forms of skincare, this is well–designed, ambient and outfitted day spa offers body treatments as well as facials and foot treatments.


G20-022, Rd. 6 Hung Vuong 1, Q7, Tel: (08) 5414 8008 This modern salon provides waxing, nail art and manipedis to both women and men. Smooth aims to satisfy your cravings for luscious lacquer, silky smooth skin, happy hands and fab feet.


Sheraton Saigon, 88 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2828 Natural and holistic treatments abound at this refurbished luxury hotel spa, from natural rainforest showers to the use of Harnn & Thann spa products.


61-63 Tran Dinh Xu, Q1, Tel: (08) 6295 8926 Aimed exclusively at ladies and couples only, treatments at this Japanese spa include facial, body and foot care, and Japanese-style haircuts, as well as steam-sauna, paraffin and waxing services.


129A Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 8368 Modern and bright downtown spa, offers massages lasting from 30 minutes, to two-hour hot stone therapy, includes one suite with a Jacuzzi bath; offers hand and foot care and a hair styling area.

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69 Thu Khoa Huan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 7188 Indochine Spa provides a peaceful and serene atmosphere with aromatic scents and lulling melodies. Customers are pampered by qualified therapists using natural French products in a clean and pleasant environment.


112, Pasteur Street, Q1, Tel: (08) 6299 0563 10am to 10pm (last booking 9.30pm) Mekong Bliss Spa is a top place to enjoy authentic Vietnamese spa treatments. As well as offering an impressive array of services, part of the proceeds help disadvantaged youth in the Mekong Delta.

Miu Miu Foot & Spa

4 Chu Manh Trinh, Q1 Tel: 6659 3609 2B Chu Manh Trinh, Q1 Tel: 6680 5652 10am to 11:30pm (Last booking 10:30pm) Located in the city centre, and standing for “Nyanya” (or “cry of the kitten”), Miu Miu is an elegant and serene Japanese spa offering various body, facial and foot massages, as well as several nail treatments including manicures, polish and design, and scrubs. Massages range from 60 minutes to two hours and rates are from VND65,000 to VND530,000. The spa also offers Thann and Harnn, popular beauty products in Thailand.


31 Ly Tu Trong, Q1, Tel: (08) 3905 4609 An old world, Indochineesque interior complete with wooden floors, flowers and flowing drapes makes this an excellent atmosphere in which to enjoy a massage. Also offers hair styling and facials.


110 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: 0907 589290 A new spa that offers services such as body massage, facial and hair treatments. The price list includes service with discounts for members.


3rd Floor, InterContinental Asiana Saigon, crn. of Hai Ba Trung & Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3520 9901 Spa InterContinental offers guests the professional spa expertise and a truly sensory experience. With an extensive menu, the Spa InterContinental provides the caring touch of local therapists.


79 2/1 Phan Ke Binh, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 5575 Spa Tropic is a stylish boutique spa housed in the refurbished former Chilean Consulate. Spa Tropic has a long-standing reputation among expats and visitors alike for its professional quality service.


Nguyen Du Villas, 111 Nguyen Du, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 0885 High–end spa set in the elegant grounds of one of the city’s most enviable addresses. The spa itself is intimate and beautifully decorated. Treatments focus on relaxation therapies.


22nd floor, Sailing Tower, 111A Pasteur, Q1 Tel: (08) 2220 2600 A luxury health spa that offers both relaxation and health care therapies to clients. Oriental remedies and therapies collected from the Traditional Medicine Institutes of Vietnam are used by the centre’s therapists.


Saigon River Club, Saigon Pearl, Ruby 1 Tower, 92 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 3514 9006; The Manor, 1st Floor, 91 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 3514 0290 Located at two serviced apartment locations, The Spa offers foot massages, body massages and treatments, facial skin treatments and pampering packages.


New World Saigon Hotel, 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 4000 ext. 2235 Elegant facility offering relaxation at the highest level. Different treatment rooms are available to deliver contemporary rejuvenation treatments. Spacious changing rooms with jacuzzi, steam bath and sauna.


Park Hyatt, 2 Lam Son Square, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 1234 Breathtaking luxury spa with a tranquil atmosphere, Vichy shower room and range of high–quality massages, facial, body and foot treatments, and overall spa packages complemented by the use of Comfort Zone products.


219 Dien Bien Phu, Q3 Tel: (08) 3829 2791 Exceptional service and customer satisfaction has established YKC as a premier pampering destination for Saigon’s expats and visitors. YKC operates with the utmost integrity and respect in regards to serving its clients.



Looking good and dressing even better is big in this image-conscious metropolis. So, here are some of the fashion options available to you in Ho Chi Minh City

Accessories & Shoes 2K BAG SHOP

193 Vo Van Ngan, Thu Duc; 55 Pham Van Thuan, Bien Hoa Tel: 0977 872777 Gaining popularity amongst Vietnamese and foreigners alike, this store stocks an impressive, colourful selection of purses, wallets, handbags, laptop carriers, backpacks and suitcases. Prices range from VND100,000 to VND1.5 million.


B1-37 Vincom Center, 70-72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: (08) 3993 9308 Accessorize pulls in droves of shoppers thanks to their attractive range of globally sourced products, from beachwear and children’s clothing to underwear, swimsuits, hats, bags, sandals, jewellery, sunglasses, and more.

Anupa Eco Luxe

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


2 Thao Dien, Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: 01283 221705 B.O.M provides imported, high-quality helmets from Italy and China, bean bags, authentic sunglasses from France, high-quality raincoats for kids and adults and other accessories.


B-42, Vincom Center, 70-72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: (08) 3936 9777 9am to 10pm Birkenstock sells shoes, sandals and clogs imported from Germany, offering similar products for kids. A pair of thong sandals starts at VND1.9 million for adults and VND1.6 million for kids.


1B Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: (08) 2210 2084 8am to 10.30pm Well-known for recycled bags of various designs and colours. Other unique products

includes quilts, ethnic bags, jewellery and scrap metal animals. Prices range from VND5,000 to VND2.1 million.


18-20 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 1132 B1-62 Vincom Center, 70-72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: (08) 3993 9306 9am to 10pm With two branches in town, this airy, well-displayed Singaporean store sells women’s shoes, bags, sunglasses and accessories. Prices are acceptable for an international brand.


127-129 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3832 3904 The bright yellow signage and the street style, wooden-shelf decor of this shop displays a range of shoes, sandals and boots. With Dr. Martens, it’s all about the quality of the soles.


contains a huge collection of cool, funky jewellery, along with ethnic bags, hand-made silver and lacquer items. All products are from Vietnam. Prices begin at VND160,000.


146AB Pasteur, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 8382 10.30am to 8.30pm Features upmarket shoes and bags made from highquality materials such as crocodile or python skin, and garnished with a large variety of wooden, Swarovski crystal and European-style colourful beads.


115 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 9582 9am to 10pm One of the world’s most sought-after footwear brands. SKECHERS offers new and stylish designs for both genders from 5 to 70 years old. A pair of sports shoes starts at VND2 million.

books, bags, magazines, posters and more. Rental scooters and bikes available.


32 Tran Ngoc Dien, Q2 Tel: 0907 168910 Offers handmade jewellery products that are crafted from gemstones consisting of turquoise, quartz, jasper and hematite. Prices are affordable, depending on gemstone and design, but usually start at VND50,000.

Clothing - Budget MARATHON

147 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: (08) 3920 7442 123A Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: (08) 3838 0019 9am to 10.30pm Simple and accessible, Marathon offers colourful beach pants, t-shirts, flip-flops, caps and a small selection of sneakers and belts. Prices start at VND110,000 for a tshirt.

35 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 6291 8162 9.30am to 8pm This retail-cum-gallery space specialises in contemporary and exclusive handcrafted jewellery made from handpicked gemstones and raw materials. Exhibitions and gallery talks run every month.


20 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 3807 393 Dien Bien Phu, Q1 Tel: (08) 3929 0685 8am to 9pm TDC is the official dealer of Tissot, Swatch, Longines and Jacques Lemans. Stocks highend brands like Rolex, Cartier and Omega.




72 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 3519 9am to 10pm TicTac, growing from a family watch specialist store to an elegant black-and-gold designer watch showroom, stocks luxurious brands such as Omega, Maurice Lacroix, Hirsch and Swiza. Provides repairs and battery changes.

152 Bui Vien, Q1 180 Bui Vien, Q1 238B Pasteur, Q3 Tel: (08) 3820 2620 9am to 10pm With three stores throughout town, this well-known clothing outlet is aimed at teenagers and young adults, selling jeans, t-shirts, sandals and accessories. Prices are affordable, with t-shirts selling for VND180,000.



77-79 Dong Khoi, Q1. Tel: (08) 3822 3277 71 Pasteur, Q1. Tel: (08) 3824 2701 9am to 9pm One of Vietnam’s most renowned brands for designer handbags and jewellery, Ipa-Nima offers flamboyant designs, unique twists and funky embellishments in great fashionable shapes. Stocks shoes, dresses and hats.


174 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3926 0270 Jemma’s elegance and luxury provides instant temptation for the avid shopper. All products are made in Vietnam, with imported rare stones that increase the value of each piece.


67 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 4007 8am to 10pm This small two-storey shop

9 Nguyen Thiep, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 3756 8am to 7.30pm A great lap of luxury. Products vary from pearl rings to sapphire earrings, from a gold plain daisy brooch to cufflinks. Prices start at VND10 million for a ring.


Unit 66, Saigon Square, 7-9A Ton Duc Thang, Q1 11am to 8pm Stocks a wide range of Vespa-inspired tidbits and memorabilia including t-shirts, riding gear, Italian helmets, Respro face masks, DVDs,

171 Bui Vien, Q1 9am to 10pm Specialises in 100 percent cotton t-shirts and offers a small selection of hats, safety pins and postcards. Profits from each sale are given to two charity organizations.


137 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: 01222 210008 9am to 10.30pm A fashion store with streetwear, t-shirts, bags, sunglasses, sneakers, authentic Brazillian Havaianas flip-flops and Crocs sandals. Carries European-sized tshirts.

Clothing - Mid-Range BAM SKATE SHOP

174 Bui Vien, Q1; 148 Dien Bien Phu, Q3; 228 Vo Van Tan, Q3; 15H Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1 Tel: 0903 641826

9am to 10pm This hip-hop-style-cumskate store stocks a mix of sneakers, tees, hoodies, jeans, oblique baseball caps and accessories. A range of skateboards are on sale, costing between VND1.5 million and VND2.5 million.


187A Hai Ba Trung, Q3 134 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: 0936 303632 BOO embraces street style in clothing and décor. BOO’s brands have their own street stalls in-store, stocking clothing and shoes made in Vietnam and designed by the youth-savvy staff.


54-56 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: (08) 6675 2281 9am to 10pm Quality, original, Vietnamthemed tees are the showpiece at this airy French-run store. Designs are inspired by anything from the Vietnamese flag, local telecom wires and motorbikes to creative, Siddharta-style imagery.



89A Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 5164 9am to 10pm Inspired by modern women and youth, D’Blanc introduces an ageless brand that balances a feminine, sexy aesthetic with an electric, urban sensibility. Dresses start at VND1.5 million.


43 Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 3744 2411 9am to 8pm Stocks high-quality designer garments from floral dresses to tight tanks and chiffon shorts to high-waist trousers. Accessories are carried as well as larger sizes.


L1-08, Vincom Center, Dong Khoi Street, Q1 Tel: (08) 3825 7493 9am to 10pm Stocks both casual and formal wear for both men and women, including jeans, tees, shirts, party dresses and working skirts. A pair of men’s jeans costs around VND1.8 million.

52 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3833 4299 150-152 Hai Ba Trung, Q3 Tel: (08) 3824 9534 8.30am to 10.30pm Best-known for its unisex clothing, MaxxStyle contains a wide range of apparel in different designs, fabrics and colours. A pair of jeans starts at VND450,000 while shirts start around VND279,000.




118-122 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 9689 8.30am to 10.30pm Set in a large, two-floor space with Renaissance-style columns, Ninomax offers both men’s and women’s clothing. As a brother to MaxxStyle, it has the similar prices and products.

Clothing Mid to Top BOSSINI

22 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3839 2292 9am to 10pm Hong Kong-brand retailer sells male and female casual wear of various designs, including plain, striped, V-neck and button-neck shirts. Prices range from VND900,000 for jeans and VND700,000 for shirts.

Le Lai Corner, 1 Nguyen Van Trang, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 1495 Clothing is designed and tailor-made by renowned designer Romyda Keth, and concentrates mainly on women’s wear. Gaya sells colourful, sexy evening dresses, embroidered floral skirts and cute chiffon tops.

85 Pasteur, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 4004 8am to 10pm Contemporary ranges of casual and evening wear fused with Asian designs. The apparel includes floral dresses, jean skirts, printed tees and street-style bags. Enjoy a cup of coffee at their café after.


89 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3825 8325 itshappenedtobeacloset. 9am to 9pm This spot (also known as Ethophen) not only carries a range of retro-ethnic Thai bohemian women’s wear, jewellery and accessories, and doubles as a WiFifriendly café.

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85-87 Pasteur, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 0172 9am to 9pm Products inside this decorative Vietnamese fashion outlet include a comprehensive range of silk dresses, halters and skirts. Offers a large selection of bags, night and loungewear, scarves and belts.


47 BC Nguyen Trai, Q1 315A-317 Ba Thang Hai, Q10 225 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q3 Tel: (08) 3822 3281 9.30am to 10pm For those with Levi’s love, there are several of the selfbranded stores throughout the city that offer a range of the latest jeans and accessories. Prices normally start at VND2 million.

traditional clothes and accessories and a selection of artworks.


40-42 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 1136 Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3914 7464 B1-43 Vincom Center, 70-72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: (08) 3993 9300 9am to 10pm This Spanish brand provides a range of clothing along with selections of bags, wallets, belts and scarves. A shirt costs from VND1.2 million and jeans starts at VND1.4 million.


40D Ly Tu Trong, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 7114 10am to 7pm Stocks simple but vintage embroidered and crocheted clothing for women and kids, along with clocks, brooches, teapots, cups and other art deco-style products. A simple blouse starts at VND820,000.

61 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Parkson, Saigon Tourist Plaza, Level 2, 35 Bis - 45, Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Parkson, Flemington, Level 2, 184 Le Dai Hanh, Q11 Tel: (08) 3925 9993 Established in Punta Del Este, Uruguay in 1960, master-brand Lolita operates ladies fashion boutiques in 19 countries around the world, with this one offering stylish and comfortable clothing for work or play.




First floor, 151 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 6674 3565 10am to 10pm Exclusive labels, elegant and sophisticated clothing and casual high-quality cottons are stocked at this boutique/ café. Lifestyle accessories include shoes, homewares, knickknacks, cameras, stationery and a range of vintage bicycles.


132–134 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 2733 9.30am to 9.30pm Run by designer Mai Lam, all products displayed are her own designs, with a mixture of vintage and modernised

43 Ton That Thiep, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 8019 9am to 9pm This designer fashion outlet sells a variety of clothing and shoes produced in Vietnam. All designs are brand new, delivered from the factory weekly and sold at factory outlet prices.


23 Ly Tu Trong, Q1 Tel: (08) 6290 9391 24/4 Pham Ngoc Thach, Q3 Tel: (08) 3827 7688 9am to 8pm Stocks mainly women’s clothes, though men are also catered to. Prices are more top-end due to designs and high-quality fabrics. A party

dress starts at VND6 million.


1st Floor, Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 5292 Stocks clothing by French designer Valerie Gregori McKenzie with a quaint, slightly Gallic feel, made from a mixture of linen, silk and cotton. A simple white tank dress costs VND760,000.


19 Vo Thi Sau, Q1 Tel: (08) 3820 3574 8am to 8pm One of the best-known garment brands in Vietnam, this luxurious shop stocks men’s and women’s clothing, including office attire, casual and evening wear, along with jewellery and accessories.


35 Ly Tu Trong, Q1 Tel: (08) 6276 2730 8am to 10pm Umbrella sells their own women’s clothing designs including dresses, trousers, skirts, jumpers and blouses. Prices vary, from VND999,000 up to VND3,499,000 on selected items with more complicated craftsmanship.

Clothing - Top-End ANUPA

Eco Luxe Anupa, 9 Dong Du, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 2394 Houses the complete Anupa Collection along with products of Anupa Horvil’s handpicked eco designers. Features luxury leather accessories including bags for men and women, yoga bags, and belts.


155 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: (08) 6291 3582 10.30am to 8.30pm One of the most popular international brands due to

its well-tailored, traditional, feminine and fashionable products like low-rider fitted jeans, satin dresses, crocodile skin shoes, contemporary glasses and Sakia bags.


M-29, Vincom Center, 70-72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: (08) 3993 9005 9am to 10pm This Italian brand’s apparel varies in both design and fabric stocking for men and women. A pair of floral shorts starts at VND9 million and a snake-patterned dress costs VND24 million.


155 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: (08) 6291 3580 10.30am to 8.30pm Situated inside the Rex Hotel, this urban American brand carries internationalstandard clothing and a wide range of accessories and sophisticated bags, starting around VND6 million.


M-15, Vincom Center, 70-72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: (08) 3993 9001 9am to 10pm Stocking the designs of the iconic Italian fashion label, products come in many colours and fabrics, with floral dresses, plain chiffon blouses and skinny trousers designed elegantly in a classic and sophisticated style.

Lingerie & Swimwear AQUAMARINE

211 Ly Tu Trong, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 5695 A small shop full of colourful products offering one-piece bikinis, two-pieces, monokinis and various types of beachwear. Prices start at VND790,000 for a bikini. Custom orders are available.


Zen Plaza, 54-56 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3602 2676 9am to 10pm

The American brand shop stocks a full range of Vietnamese-manufactured or imported products for men and women, including underwear, sleepwear and sportswear. Imported clothing is slightly more expensive.


139 Ly Tu Trong, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 3757 9.30am to 9.30pm One of the best local swimwear brands, containing a comprehensive range of swim products as well as yoga and gym outfits. Prices start at VND175,000 for a bikini.


127 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: 0909 711312 9am to 10pm Sells women’s swimsuits in plain and floral styles, including one-piece and twopiece bikinis starting from VND250,000. Stocks maxim dresses from VND380,000 and beach sandals from VND110,000.


Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 5756 Saigon Tax Centre, 135 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: (08) 3914 3202 9am to 9pm A well-known underwear brand in Vietnam, designed with western women in mind. Bras start at VND600,000.


94 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 6291 1099 232 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: (08) 3820 3948 9.30am to 9.30pm One of the growing number of Japanese underwear brands for women, Wacoal differentiates itself with its classic designs. Bras range from VND400,000 to VND800,000, while pants start at VND250,000.


{ through the Keyhole}

{ nerd's World}

** The Bean Bag District * *

** Apps that Could Save Your Life * *

Huyen Tran Cong Chua, Q1; Pham Hong Thai, Q1 These two main streets in city centre stock everything from local clothing to imitations of famous brands like Adidas, Nike and Puma through to the real thing.


163 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Q1 Tel: (08) 3920 9187 9am to 10.30pm Stocks a range of travel related products, including torches, binoculars, climbing gear, funky men and women’s casual outfits, bags, underwear and cycling gear.


270 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: (08) 2240 5990 9am to 8pm Offers a wide range of tailormade clothing. Bring your own fabric or choose from their stock. A vest costs around VND700,000, and it’s about VND300,000 for an ao dai — not including fabrics.


171 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 5267 9am to 7pm Great place for picking up a tailor-made pair of shoes or ready-to-wear shoes. Choose the design and colour yourself. Prices range from VND300,000 to VND2,000,000, depending on style and materials.


39 Dong Du, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 4556 9am to 11pm Offers tailor-made clothing in the latest and trendiest designs and styles, with a wide range of fabrics. Alterations are available. An ao dai starts at VND1.6 million, including fabric.

photo by: francis xavier


o it’s not really a district, but a rough designation stretching through the alleyways of Phu Nhuan, Binh Thanh and Tan Binh. The sellers we found lived in alley houses, with at least one room piled high with bean bag chairs, huge pillows, neck pillows and absurd bean bag-esque couches. These aren’t the VND1.6 million types from Index Living, which aren’t hard to come by. These are pick-your-pattern types that retail for pretty much a million or less, and have transformed many a living room into a ’chill zone’. But the bean bag chair has more of a high-concept history than you might know from just watching That ‘70s Show. It was first developed, possibly by accident, by Italian designers in 1969. They were working on developing a chair for the Flower Power generation, which the beanbag eventually became, with its casual, egalitarian approach to lounging positions. The rumour goes like this: the manufacturing plant they were working in used to throw out waste polystyrene in oversized bags, and one day someone just sat on one.

Pear-Shaped Paradise The pear shape is the original, built for the full-body experience. Reclining on it takes a bit of skill, as the pear point should recline with you, eventually catching your neck and supporting it. There are many other types,

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but I elected for the pear shape after coming uncertainly upon a small alley house at 200/14 Hoanh Hoa Tham, Binh Thanh ( In the narrow front room, the seamstress slept on some bags tumbling from a ceiling-high stack. A sewing machine sat in the corner next to the fabric samples, and my friend and I sat on one bean bag after another, trying to visualise the leopard skin-type covers in a more modest beige. Despite limited Vietnamese, I managed to get a black leather bag and a grey one of smart, grained material delivered to my door the next day for VND1.45 million. Close by you’ll find Omely Bean Bag (12/58B Dao Duy Anh, Phu Nhuan,, a larger operation, but one without the coveted pear-shaped model. And if you’re looking for some Doraemon or perhaps Crazy Birds-inspired bags, look no further than Ms. Ha’s house — Vao Nha Toi literally translates to ‘in my house’ — at 260/5 Nguyen Thai Binh, Tan Binh ( She has some classy leather items as well, and prices at all three shops are competitive. Despite the reservations of a more sophisticated roommate, the bean bags have been working quite well in our sparse living arrangement, which formerly had people pulling over kitchen chairs to join the couch sitters. Maybe it’s not the answer, but it sure makes sitting more comfortable. — Ed Weinberg


kay, so there really is an app for everything. But we don’t want to share with you just any app, we want to look at the most useful right through to the most ridiculously high-tech and multifunctional because you never know when that next emergency situation might occur. Whether it’s finding out where the nearest pizza takeaway is to giving CPR on the street side, we’ve got you covered.

Price: US$4.99 (premium version), free for the lite version This revolutionary app is a winner for parents, pet owners and anyone that’s feeling on the cautious side. Armed with 400-plus topics covering everything from bee stings and how to put on a sling to giving CPR, this app offers step by step instructions in the form of PDFs and video content. A genuinely remarkable piece of tech that every smart phone should have. Bonus points have to be awarded for covering pets and the significant ability to save a life.

Aroundme Supported by iOS and iPhone 5 (version 6.0.0) and Android (version 4.0.1) Price: Free A local search engine packaged into a handy app, allowing you to search for everything nearby from restaurants, bars and cinemas to ATMs and hotels. Whether it be inspiration you’re looking for or just the nearest ATM on a night out, this app has you covered. And with incorporated GPS-driven directions you’ll be sure to get where you want, when you want.

gotoAID Supported by iPhone

Redpanic Button Supported by iOS and iPhone (version 4.3.0) and Android (version 1.6.0) Price: Free Simply download this app and you’ll be thankful in the long run. This nifty piece of software allows you to create a list of close friends and family — anyone you’d contact in an emergency. A great option for those living in natural disaster zones. When in danger, press the red button and this generates an automatic SMS and email to your assigned list along with your GPS coordinates and a link on Google maps, maybe saving the day. What more could you ask for? — Tara Oldfield

March 2013 Word | 121


Give your home that look you’ve always dreamed of. Furniture and repro art is not just manufactured in Vietnam for export. Apparently you can even buy bicycles made from bamboo here. Oops, no. Those beauties are for export only.


50-52 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 7962 8.30am to 8.30pm With a sister gallery in Hanoi, this airy and spacious place is ideal for people interested in Vietnamese-themed art. Displays and sells works by local leading artists, from past masters to new rising stars. Think carefully before purchasing as the cheapest piece starts at VND40 million.


244 Bis Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: (08) 3838 9136 9am to 10pm Offers one of the most interesting types of local art: rice painting. Standing out with its neon-lit front sign, Gallery is small and simple with artwork adorning its walls. Takes custom orders and delivers after four days for the smallest sized paintings. Prices for bespoke work starts at VND600,000 a piece and the space also offers an international shipping service for customers living abroad.

GALERIE QUYNH Cactus Gallery

17/12 Nguyen Huy Tuong, P6, Binh Thanh. Tel: 0904 959053 Located near to the Fine Art University, Cactus Gallery was founded in 2011 by artist Phuong Quoc Tri with a desire to provide the art space to the world in general and Viet Nam in particular, both on a personal level and on a united one. Linking talented artists together for daily art events such as exhibitions, artist talks and art projects the gallery aims to erase the boundaries between Vietnamese and International artists as well as any art lovers, curators, collectors and art dealers. Cactus Gallery primarily focuses on discovering, supporting and developing young talent.


1st Floor, 43 Ton That Thiep, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 8272 9am to 8pm Located in the same building as Saigon Kitsch, Dogma stocks many cool and interesting tidbits, including propaganda art costing from VND450,000 per poster, Uncle Ho statues, books and themed postcards. If you want to wear these pieces of propaganda art, there is a wide range of propagandaprinted tees and jackets for both men and women, stocking at around VND600,000. A small selection of jewellery is also available.

65 De Tham, Q1 Tel: (08) 3836 8019 10am to 6pm, Closed on Monday Although situated close to the canal in one of the poorer parts of District 1, this gallery retains it distinct character, providing visitors with an authentic artsy feel that avoids the jaded, Vietnamese-themed stereotypes available elsewhere in town. Open from Tuesday to Saturday and run by Viet Kieu Pham Quynh and her partner Robert Cianchi, the art and installations on display here are the work of both international and contemporary Vietnamese artists. The helpful local staff speak good English. Visit the website for information on up-coming exhibitions.


257 De Tham, Q1 Tel: (08) 3836 7692 11am to 10pm Located opposite Highlands Coffee in Pham Ngu Lao, this small shop is decorated with lacquer paintings of Buddhist and Vietnamese landscapes and flowers. Nhu Y takes custom orders and prices vary from VND150,000 for the smallest piece (20cm x 20cm) rising to VND1.1 million for a 40cm x 80cm painting.


213C Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 3166 129B Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 3181 9am to 8.30pm Located opposite the Vincom Center, this tiny white space displays selected contem-

porary artworks by Vietnamese artists. Styles include abstract works, landscapes and modern day impressionism, focusing mainly on lacquer on wood, oils on canvas and silk paintings. More paintings are displayed at the Le Thanh Ton gallery in a four-floor building with each floor yielding a different style of art. Prices start from VND2.7 million. Credit cards are accepted.


Although available elsewhere in town, Bui Vien in the Backpackers’ Area is the best place to find reproductions of masterpieces by the likes of Van Gogh, Monet and Degas as well as Andy Warhol copies and the works of a whole host of other artists. Depending on size, style and material, prices vary but generally start from VND1 million per painting. Shops include Truu Tuong (No. 158), Buddha Art (No. 230), Duc Tai (No. 155A), Hanh Dung (No. 210), Duc Anh (No. 136), Nam Phuong (No. 105) and The Sun 3 (No. 145).


234 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: (08) 3838 9542 9am to 10.30pm This airy, simple and wellorganised space offers a comprehensive range of products. An eye-catching selection of plastic Buddha images and statues start at VND2 million. Also stocks embroidered paintings from VND700,000, pottery, lacquerware, bamboo lamps and a selection of bags and scarves. Takes custom orders for embroidered painting.

Crafts EM EM

38 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 4408 8am to 9.30pm With its ancient-looking dark brown and tiled roof, many Japanese tourists favour this petite shop. Carries a full range of products including souvenirs, embroidered handkerchiefs, kitchenware, home décor and much more. There are also large selections of men’s shirts, ties and women’s dresses and skirts. Offers order-madeclothes to fit individual sizes and tastes.

Want to be in touch with what’s happening in this city? Check us out online at

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35-37 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1 Tel: (08) 2210 3110 S17 – Sky Garden 1, Nguyen Van Linh, Q7 Tel: (08) 6271 7758 A project of the NGO Mekong Plus designed to support community development programmes in remote villages in Vietnam and Cambodia. All products are locally produced, including paper mache, ratten, bamboo and hyacinth products, contained and displayed in a simple white-painted space. Bamboo vases from VND350,000 and rag ranges from VND400,000.


2 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 9459 8am to 8pm The dark, musty décor gives Nguyen Freres the aura of a haunted house. Strange, unique yet seductively attractive, this retail shop doesn’t stand out as much as other places in the same area but it is big and carries a wide range of products concentrating on northern and hill-tribe culture with ethnic clothing, hand-crafted décor items and antique furniture. Items costing as low as VND20,000 can be found here.


83 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 9079 8am to 10pm With more than 10 stores around the city, this Vietnamese company is known for its hand-embroidered and crocheted products including bedding, tablecloths, napkins and placemats. This packed and slightly haphazard looking shop also stocks children’s and adult’s wear as well as souvenirs. All products are made from linen and cotton. Prices vary but normally start from VND110,000 per item.


209 De Tham, Q1 Tel: (08) 3838 9780 69 Dong Khoi, Q1 7am to 10.30pm Gorgeous tribally-inspired handbags, dresses and accessories on the ground floor combine with authentic tribal clothing on the floor above.

Concerning itself mainly with the hand–woven clothing of the northern rural Vietnamese tribes such as the Hmong, there is also a cute line of ladies’ shoes, silk wraps and bags.


35-37 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1 Tel: (08) 2210 3110 64 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1 Tel: (08) 3914 2119 S17 – Sky Garden 1, Nguyen Van Linh, Q7 Tel: (08) 6271 7758 A charity organization helping poor women in rural areas, all products are handmade with a wide range of quilts in many designs and fabrics. Special orders can be taken for delivery within 5-6 weeks. Also stocks accessories such as aprons, sheets and tablecloths.


20 Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 3519 0023 9am to 6.30pm Located in a villa-style building, this An Phu-based shop stocks antique repro furniture. All products are samples, so it’s limited and exclusive with only one or two pieces of each particular item. Also has a great range of imported fabrics up on the 2nd floor and an in-house sewing room for cushions, sofas and curtains. Offers custom-made furniture and delivery within four weeks. Home décor orders are also available.


Km 11 + 300 Highway Hanoi, Q9 Tel: (08) 3730 9856 8am to 4.30pm, closed on Sundays Produces high-end Danish design sofas and armchairs in contemporary and traditional styles. With imported materials, the brand provides a large amount of high quality products for the Vietnamese market and exports to Europe, New Zealand, Australia, Taiwan and Singapore. Also offers to produce customers’ own designs. Their products are stocked at AA Deco with Their products are stocked at Nha Xinh showroom.


The Crescent Parcel CR107/08, 103 Ton Dat Tien, Phu My Hung Tel: (08) 5413 6538 A branch of the AA Corporation, Bellavita specialises in the distribution of imported high-end furniture manufactured by well-known brands such as Walter Knoll, Poltrona Frau, Minotti and Cassina. Most products displayed in this airy space include chairs, tables and other high quality glassware. Orders are taken 10 to 12 weeks in advance before delivery. There is also a selection of home décor items such as pottery.


68-70 Dong Du, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 6604 4th Floor, Unit 09, The Crescent Mall, 101 Ton Dat Tien, Phu My Hung Tel: (08) 5413 7357 Located next to Sheraton Hotel, the first BoConcept shop stands out thanks to its black signage and glassy atrium. The shop carries a full range of furniture including sofas, beds, wardrobes, tables and chairs; all are imported from Denmark. Delivery of non-stock items takes up to two weeks. Also has a range of furnishing accessories such as mirrors, rugs, paintings and lamps.


4th Floor, Unit 10, The Crescent Mall, 101 Ton Dat Tien, Phu My Hung Tel: (08) 5413 7355 The famous Italian interiorfurnishing brand, founded by Antonio Calligaris in 1923, designs, produces and distributes chairs, tables, beds, sofas, storage units and furnishing accessories. Producing 160,000 units per month with over 7,000 product variations for the kitchen, living room and bedroom, products are distributed to over 12,000 retail outlets in 90 countries worldwide.


53 Pham Ngoc Thach Q3 Tel: (08) 3823 2213 207 Dien Bien Phu, Q3 Tel: (08) 3827 3696 8am to 9pm This well-known Vietnamese furniture brand is a good choice for most families with its respected high-quality de-

signs and competitive prices. Located on the corner of Pham Ngoc Thach and Dien Bien Phu, the spacious showroom specialises in sofas and other furniture such as table sets, shelves and kitchen cabinets. There is a large selection of carpets as well as numerous choices of curtains and accessories.


327F Luong Dinh Cua, Q2 Tel: (08) 5402 7434 This is a great place to pick up compact sofa beds for homes lacking large amounts of space. A wide range of stock includes many covers in various colours and fabrics. Purchases of all standard and deluxe products include a one-year warranty. Prices start at VND6.7 million and a free delivery and assembly service is offered to city residents. Visit the website for a quick demonstration.


13 Ngo Duc Ke, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 1803 9am to 8pm The two-storey shop stocks contemporary and colorful furniture and decorative accessories, from sofas and armchairs to tables and cabinets, lightings, votives, kitchenware, vases and a full range of modern home accessories. Special orders are possible for delivery all over the world.


11 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh Tel: (08) 3514 7371 vn 9am to 7pm Having just moved to its new location, this large two-storey outlet specialises in interior and external designs. Products include beds, sofas, wardrobes and shelves made from high-quality woods. Also offers antique reproductions as well as made-to-order furniture such as sofas and home décor designs. Lamps, lampshades and other accessories are also stocked.


51 Le Van Mien, Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 3744 2181 8am to 6pm, closed Sundays Specialising in interior designs and landscaping, this three-storey building is so packed full of items for sale that it doesn’t seem to have enough space for all of its products. The basement storey carries outdoor furniture such as bamboo-imitation and mosaic table sets, while the second level stocks all types of indoor furniture except beds. Accessories are found on the level above. Special orders are taken for delivery within three weeks. Also offers a rental service.


81 Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 3519 4640/4643 8am to 6pm This two-storey shop carries all types of furniture, displayed simply so as to give

clients a general idea of each product’s style and quality. Items for sale include chairs, tables, wardrobes, drawers and other furniture made from Kiwi pinewood and acacia. Custom orders are accepted and take about four weeks for delivery. Free shipping is included for orders costing more than VND10 million and within Ho Chi Minh City. As a general pricing gauge, a bed costs VND5.6 million and a wardrobe starts at VND6 million.


3B Tong Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: (08) 6657 0788 www.thefurniturewarehouse. 9am to 7pm Specialises in high-end European-style furniture for outdoor and indoor design and home décor. Products include wardrobes, armchairs, sofas, tables and shelves made from pine, oak, acacia and hardwood. There is also a selection of antique furniture and décor items. Free shipping and made-to-order available for small quantities. Visit the website for more information and prices.


1 Nguyen Van Trang, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 1495 10am to 8pm Set in one of the most attractive post-World War II buildings in the city, Gaya has a reputation for chic and sophisticated indoor and outdoor sofas, pod seats, lamps and tableware, with all products both constructed and designed locally. You can find a wide range of mirrors and lacquerware with bowls, vases and contemporary Asian-style boxes as well as a fantastic selection of linenembroidered bedding in all colours and designs. Prices here match the quality of the products.


7/308 Highway 13, Thuan An, Binh Duong Tel: (0650) 376 5115 Typical of the large, slightly out-of-town stores found in Europe, North America and Australia that focus on all things for the home, Gomo represents the arrival of a new style of homewares shop in Vietnam.


46A Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Tel: (08) 3997 7300 8am to 8pm This giant glass showroom features a comprehensive range of products including exclusive kitchen and bathroom appliances, furniture, and light and locking systems. This is also a good place to pick up sensor equipment and items such as rubbish bins, doors and lights. The selection of door handles is endless and all products are imported from

Germany. Like Gaya, prices are top-end but the quality is beyond reproach.


Light and Living Store 37 Bis Mac Dinh Chi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3521 2828 Open 9am to 8pm Delivering superior quality interior decorative products at an affordable price, Irresistible's integrated selections create a synergy which offer home furnishing solutions for anything from the bedroom through to the living room and the study. For more information check out their website -


59 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh Tel: (08) 3514 7614 9am to 7pm This narrow four-storey building carries products ranging from sofas, chairs and tables to beds, bookshelves, cabinets, dressers and wardrobes. Accessories include ceramic pots, candles and mirrors. Special orders can be taken based on the catalogue or custom design and will be delivered within three weeks. Also stocks a range of bedding made from cotton, linen and silk.


85 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: 0955 000560 9am to 5pm With more than 10 years in the business, this old world, French colonial styled store has a reputation for restoring and reproducing antique furniture. Products include armchairs, sofas, tables, bookshelves, drawers, lamps, paintings, ceramics, lacquerware and much more. Also offers an exclusive interior design service package, from initial design to installation with natural wood imported from the US. Free consultation is provided via phone or email.


2nd Floor, Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 6115 CR3, The Crescent Mall, 111 Ton Dat Tien, Phu My Hung Tel: (08) 5413 6657 8.30am to 9.30pm One of the most renowned Vietnamese furniture suppliers, this brand has over 15 years experience in the business, selling a wide range of furniture products made for the bedroom, living room, dining room, kitchen and bathroom. Custom orders are also accepted. Also sells a large selection of home decorations such as handmade flowers, statues and modern lamps. Offers a good design consulta-

tion service.

outdoor living

Tel: (09) 0770 9044 Vietnam has a climate that is perfect for spending time outdoors, why not make the most of it? Outdoor Lifestyle Products offers a range of products designed and developed to complement the best in BBQs.


distributor of the award-winning TouchAble brand. Stocks elegant and fashionable interiors, and a selection of souvenirs, leather boxes and luxury stationary. Includes table-standing lamps, pendant lights and hand-painted lampshades imported from Spain and the UK. Promises to deliver non in-stock orders within 30 to 45 days.


222 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3 Tel: (08) 3930 4190 9am to 9pm This white-painted building sells highly stylized, contemporary imported indoor furniture made from various materials. From wood to plastic, and crystal to stainless steel, this shop stocks a large selection of sofas, tables and chairs. Accessories include exclusive clocks and lamps. Paintings of Marilyn Monroe, Chairman Mao and other well-known characters are also stocked.

51/2A Thanh Thai, Q10 Tel: (08) 3866 9173 8am to 8pm Features imported decorative lights from Austria including wall, track and outdoor lighting made of metal, glass and plastic resin. Stocks a full and varied range of lighting systems for the kitchen, bathroom, children’s room, garden and swimming pool. Also offers customised lighting system orders. Prices range from VND159,000 to VND27million. Visit the website for information and images of the products.



152 Le Lai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 3648 Inspired by the sumptuous textiles, rich palettes, and hotels of the 1940s, Verlim stocks a well-curated and eclectic trove of French, Chinese and Vietnamese Deco furniture and accessories, including outsized teak-framed mirrors, panelled screens and low-slung armchairs. There is also a selection of antiques and art deco reproduction. Arranges shipping and offers custom-made items.


Tel: (08) 090 3873 599 Vivacolour offers professional interior design services for your home that create a personalised ambience to express your style and personality, business colour consultations to build a tailormade environment for your team and clients, visually expressing your brand and communicating your values to your customers. Contact Pascaline for more information.


It’s easy to figure this area out with all the stainless steel goods hanging from the rows of shops. You can quite literally find everything for the bathroom and kitchen, from sinks to cups and dish shelves to buckets. Compared to other shops in the centre of town, prices tend to be cheaper here. However, prepare to bargain.

Lighting AO DONG

Saigon Center, 65 Le Loi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3915 1778 CaoDong Design is an official

92 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q1 Tel: (08) 2210 3460 8am to 7pm Located opposite Saigon Square, this big store displays all types of lights from ceiling and wall lights to table and desk lamps with lampshades in all designs and styles. All products are self-produced and designed, and are made from a comprehensive selection of high-quality domestic and international materials. Good customer service with enthusiastic staff. Customised orders are accepted.


98 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 4634 This eye-popping lime greenpainted boutique carries furniture, tableware and decorative home accessories. Also stocks an exclusive selection of lights and lamps, including lotus lamps at VND300,000, lacquer lamps at


12 Dang Tran Con, Q1 Tel: 3823 9375 Located opposite Galaxy cinema, Unity offers accessories that are designed to seamlessly blend in with your life. Familiar basics are given a contemporary update with the use of modern, alternative materials like silicone, rubber, and brushed aluminum. From orbital lamps and eggshell-white china, to wire-clasped water bottles, each individual piece complements the others in the collection— to give your home a sense of Unity.

VND400,000 and orchid lamps at VND650,000. All products are Vietnamese-themed and are made from bamboo. As well as selling locally, Mosaique exports to Europe, the US, Australia and Africa.


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

Hung Vuong Plaza

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

Parkson Plaza

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

Saigon Centre

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

Saigon Square

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

Saigon Tax Trading Centre

135 Nguyen Hue, Q1. Tel: (08) 3821 3849 9am to 9.30pm Cosmetics, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories, Electronics, Souvenirs, Restaurant

Vincom Center

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

Zen Plaza

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

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Nope, Ho Chi Minh City is not as cheap as Hong Kong or Bangkok when it comes to those camera and computer purchases we are all obsessed with these days. But it’s not far off. Here’s a lowdown on where stuff is available


Saigon’s photography lovers need look no further than Huynh Thuc Khang, Ho Tung Mau, Nguyen Hue and Le Loi to find dozens of stores stocking everything from digital to disposable cameras. Camera accessories, such as lenses and caps, digital image printing and other services are also available too as is a range of second-hand lenses and camera bodies.


28 Ton That Thiep, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 8773 8.30am to 6.30pm Lying opposite Sun Wah Tower, this is a typical Vietnamese retail outlet without decoration and with products displayed in glass cases. Selling digital and video cameras of well-known brands such as Nikon, Canon, Panasonic, Sony and JVC, prices start at VND9 million for a professional camera and VND5.5 million for a standard video camera. Also sells a range of accessories.


Tel: 0903 035 271 Wear it or mount it. Waterproof, professional, true HD and extremely small. The world’s most versatile camera and accessories are available in Vietnam from authorised distributor Silver Sun Ltd Co. in Da Nang. Call for details of stockists or for a direct order.


85 Nguyen Hue, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 6503 9am to 8pm Located in the same building as The Lost Art, Le Vu Nikon specializes mainly in Nikon products with a full range of cameras and accessories. A normal DSLR Nikon camera with a lens that can be disassembled is priced at VND12 million. Batteries cost between VND200,000 and VND300,000. Also offers a maintenance service and part exchange.


Fitting & Services Centre, 117/28 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh Tel: (08) 6294 5448 Ctrack GPS vehicle solutions.

A world leader in real time monitoring and data collection, Ctrack GPS has operations in 56 countries and have more than 20 years of hands on experiences in solutions related to GPS and management logistics. Juotec T-eye Dashboard Cameras record events outside and inside vehicles with high-res 1.3Mb cameras.


11 Le Cong Kieu, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 5888 Situated in one of the most beautiful antique-store streets in the city, this small shop restores and fixes all kinds of cameras from Nikon and Canon to Sony. They will locate and identify the specific problem and quote a price before fixing the camera. Speak good English.


Bui Thi Xuan, Nguyen Cu Trinh and Ton That Tung streets are considered to be the places to shop for computers, selling everything from LCD monitors, RAM sticks, keyboards, webcams and internet phone cards through to speaker systems at reliable and affordable prices. Many of the stores also offer a computer maintenance service.


81 Dien Bien Phu, Binh Thanh Tel: (08) 3514 0999 8am to 5pm This Australian company provides an impressive selection of printing solutions such as ink, lasers, faxes, photocopier cartridges and high-quality paper. Free pick-up and delivery service, and a refill service is available at reliable prices. With professional staff, the store offers an effective and quick restoration and maintenance service for printers of well-known brands such as HP, Epson, Canon, Xerox and Brother.


236 Dien Bien Phu, Q3 Tel: (08) 7300 6666 8am to 5pm A large internet service supplier, FPT is also known for being one of the biggest Vietnamese IT brands. Manufacturing IT products including deskstops, notebooks,

servers and accessories, their stores are found nationwide. Prices start at VND5,7 million for a desktop without monitors, and a notebook costs from VND11 million. Accessories vary, from flash memory cards and scandisks to USB bars. Visit the website for information and product prices.


Hoan Long Building, 244 Cong Quynh, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 8999 8am to 9pm Located opposite Co-Op Mart, this glass building carries a full range of IT equipment and accessories, including laptops, desktops, Acer RAM and products by Dell and Sony. Also sells Apple’s iPad, starting at VND21.8 million for the 3G version and MacBooks for VND28 million. In addition has a small selection of digital video cameras. Offers an assembly service for both domestic and international orders. Good post-sale maintenance and customerservice.


50 Nguyen Cu Trinh, Q1 Tel: (08) 3836 0699 8am to 7.30pm This shop concentrates mainly on notebooks, stocking popular brands such as IBM, Dell, Acer, HP, Sony and Apple. Also stocks plus disk drivers, RAM and batteries, and offers cameras, pocket PCs, smart phones (HTC and 32GB iPhone 4 sold at VND23.6 million), projectors and printers. Good customer service and quick delivery.


125 Cach Mang Thang 8, Q1 Tel: (08) 6290 8777 9am to 9pm Known as one of the leading IT retailers in town and located at the corner of Cach Mang Thang 8 and Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, the products for sale at Phong Vu include computers, laptops, office equipment, entertainment devices and accessories. Also provides internet and network solutions and systems. Good maintenance service for desktops, notebooks and printers. Visit the website for more information.


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42 Huynh Thuc Khang, Q1. Tel: (08) 3822 2247 Upon arrival, this large store looks more like a stationary shop than a mere CD shop. Products include blank CDs and DVDs at VND25,000 for 10 Kachi CD-Rs and VND38,000 for 10 Maxell CD-RWs. The DVD selection is endless with the prices starting from VND5,000 for one DVD, depending on type and brand. Also stocks numerous music CDs and DVDs of international and Vietnamese singers.


428BIS Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3 Tel: (08) 3818 1188 8.30am to 9.30pm This supermarket-esque shop is an official distributor of top brands including Intel, Asus, HP and Acer, stocking everything from laptops and desktops to monitors and keyboards, laptop fans and computer speakers. Office equipment, including photocopiers, fax machines and paper destroyers, is also sold here. Other entertainment devices, such as mobile phones and mp3 players are also stocked.


227 Tran Hung Dao, Q1 Tel: (08) 3838 9164 8am to 5pm Devout fans of that new religion called ‘Apple’ will be satisfied at Thuan My, one of the growing number of Apple dealers in Saigon. Products include MacBooks, iMacs, iPods, iPhones and their numerous accessories. Remember to ask for software installation. Competitive market prices and service make this place stand out.

Mobile Phones GIA KIEN

352 Ba Thang Hai, Q10 Tel: (08) 3868 3733 9am to 6.30pm Besides stocking the ubiquitous iPhone and iPad, this shop also sells mobile phones from the likes of HTC, LG, Dell, Nokia, Vertu, Blackberry and more. There is also an exclusive and unique selection of handsets from the likes of GoldVish Gold Le Million, Porsche P9521 and Tag Heuer. Prices are higher than

other places but the after-sale customer service is excellent.


The following streets have dozens of stores selling major mobile brands such as Samsung, Nokia, LG, Apple, etc. New and second-hand handsets and extra accessories are also available. Ba Thang Hai between Ly Thuong Kiet and Ly Thai To, Q10; Hai Ba Trung between Le Duan & Dien Bien Phu, Q1 & Q3; Hung Vuong, Q5 (close to the end of Nguyen Thi Minh Khai).


382B – B1 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3 Tel: (08) 3526 5838 8am to 5.30pm One of the top five master dealers nationwide with popular mobile phone brands such as Nokia, SamSung, LG, Motorola, and Panasonic, this company is an official distributor of Philips in Vietnam. Produced the first Vietnamese mobile phone, Bavapen, and also stocks the iPhone 4 at VND21.3 million. Accessories include phone wallets, earphones and batteries.


182A Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3 Tel: 1900 561 292 8am to 10.30pm This well-known retail chain catches the attention of pedestrian shoppers due to the unmissable and striking yellow signboard with its long black logo. The website is efficient with adequate photos and information on phones and specifications. The staff speaks English and the store offers online orders at cheaper prices. Stocks everything mobile, from phones through to tablets and laptops.


328-330 Ba Thang Hai, Q10 Tel: (08) 3863 3333 Has more than 65 stores nationwide and offers a comprehensive range of mobile phones from top brands such as Apple, HTC and Blackberry to the Chinese makes Cayon and Huawei. There is also a wide range of top laptops and mp3 and mp4 players. Recently opened a technology support centre called EBAR where customers check and test new products and software. Online orders with free shipping is available.

ELECTRONICS MARKETS Known as “electronics supermarkets”, the number of stores selling everything from TVs, refrigerators and air conditioners to washing machines, coffee makers and blenders seems to be increasing by the day. You’ll also be able to find vacuum cleaners and irons from popular brands such as Sony, Samsung, Toshiba, JVC, LG and Sanyo. In addition these stores stock a wide range of mobile phones from the likes of Nokia, Samsung, Motorola and Sony Ericsson. In order to attract the largest number of customers, most of these stores offer daily promotions with competitive prices. Visit their websites for promotions, online orders and more information.

Cho Lon Electronics MarkeT

590 Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q3 Tel: (08) 3846 4700 8.30am to 9.30pm

Gia Thanh

975 Tran Hung Dao, Q5 Tel: (08) 3923 1536 8.30am to 9.30pm

iDEAS Shopping Centre

133–141AB Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q3 8.30am to 9.30pm

Nguyen Kim

63–65 Tran Hung Dao, Q1 Tel: (08) 3821 1211 8am to 10pm

Thien Hoa

277B Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q10 Tel: (08) 3863 3733 www.dienmaythienhoa. vn 8am to 10pm


From catering services through to the growing number of bakeries - and we’re not talking Tous Les Jours. Here are places to stock up on wine, liquor, imported cheeses and freshly baked bread


84 Nguyen Cong Tru, P. Nguyen Thai Binh, Q1 Tel: (08) 6295 9087 Specialising in freshly baked cupcakes such as the Ravishing Red Velvet, Foxy Banoffee, and Heavenly Honey, this boutique cupcake shop also offers coffees, teas and juices. Wi-Fi available.


117 Cong Quynh, Q1 Tel: (08) 3836 1992 Dubbed “the local bakery”, Crumbs serves up a variety of baked goods including baguettes, muffins, cheese and garlic–based buns and loafs, meat–filled pastries, sweet pastries, health–conscious breads and more. There is also a breakfast menu and variety of sandwiches available.


33 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1 Tel: (08) 5404 7777 The air of American donuts infuses this pleasant and popular venue, with a variety of the sweet circular treat complementing an excellent selection of coffees, teas and juices. Specials include the mixed fruits donut, ice cream donut, and ice cream & sauce/peanuts donut. The store is open from 7am to 10pm daily and offers free Wi-Fi and a non-smoking area.


30 Lam Son, Tan Binh, Tel: (08) 3547 0577 Made to order baking delivery specialists by phone or email. Scones, bagels, breads (everything from 12 grain loaves to Italian focaccia), muffins, cookies, buns, fudge cake and more, from upwards of VND45,000. Orders must be placed 48 hours in advance.


64–68 Ham Nghi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 2970 Selling baguette–style bread for VND5,000 and basic freshly made sandwiches for around VND15,000. Also has a range of Vietnamese pastries and savouries. Open 24 hours.


SL15-1 Grand View, Nguyen Duc Canh, Q7

Tel: 0908 828552 For anyone with a sweet tooth, this cake delivery service offers homebaked products using the finest ingredients including fresh fruit, imported butter and chocolate. No preservatives or hydrogenated fats are used. All cakes and cookies are made to order and can be customised upon request. Free delivery is available. Place orders one day in advance.


153 Xo Viet Nghe Tinh, Binh Thanh Tel: (08) 3518 0897 Located in the premises of the Hospitality School, Sesame Bakery provides practical experience to its students. Has a wide variety of French pastries, loaves, baguettes, cookies and cakes at good prices. Special order and delivery available.


180 Hai Ba Trung, Q3, Tel: (08) 3823 8302 59 Tran Hung Dao, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 4350 187 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3 Although tailored to the local market, this Korean–owned bakery chain and café bakes a tasty range of pastries, bread and cakes all at very affordable prices. Excellent baguettes and sandwich bread. Also does a slightly sweet version of croque monsieur.


39 Thao Dien, Q2 French–run bakery selling probably the tastiest range of patisseries, breads, quiches and pies in town. The signature passion–fruit tart is a must try.


Available all year round for birthday cakes, BBQs, corporate events, private parties, wine tastings and more, Au Parc Catering provide a full service including drinks, glass rentals, waiters and crockery. For a quote, email or call Mr. Loi on 3829 2772.


100 Xuan Thuy, Q2, Tel: (08) 6281 9830 New delicatessen shop offering western–fusion French food. French Chef Stephane

Courtin and his team will assist you in a Gastro’Home food experience. Visit the shop in An Phu or try the “at your home” catering service for a dinner, buffet or cocktail party.


Tel: 6274 0647 A French food delivery service that does cocktail parties, buffets and events specialising in salads, sandwiches, gratin, quiche, pies, desert, muffins and more. Visit website for full menu.


Ground Floor, Norfolk Hotel, 117 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 5368 / 0908 406 505 Delicious food and professional service for any special occasion including company functions, formal banquets, Christmas and New Year parties. Reasonably priced.


41 Vo Truong Toan, D.2, HCMC Tel: (08) 3898 9286 With over 10 years experience, SCC is the event manager for the annual NZ Wine & Food Festival, official caterer for ZanZBar, and provides catering services to a number of consulates and multinationals. Experienced with every conceivable style, from the smallest dinner party to a stand-up cocktail event for thousands, SCC takes care of everything from the venue, flowers and decorations to transportation, set-up, guest management, event flow, marketing and promotions, invitations and menu planning.


46D Vuon Lai, Tan Phu Tel: (08) 3812 6901 With extensive experience in menu design, The Caterers will come up with an original menu for your party or gathering, then prepare all the food and serve it to your guests. Also offers a venue for clients to use.


84 Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien Ward, Q2 Tel: 0913 981128

SCC can create a menu to meet your exact requirements and budget.Theirchefs use the freshest ingredients to produce quality, perfectly cooked and beautifully presented food at reasonable prices.

but some locally–sourced poultry and fish products are also on offer. Also does pre–packaged prepared meat like chicken strips – perfect for the freezer. Open seven days a week.


32 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3829 3856 An international standard butchers with a solid selection of fresh meats, charcuterie products, a tasty selection of pates, sausages, cheeses and poultry. Sells both retail and wholesale.



16–18 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 9332 41A Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2630 Attractive and spacious French–owned grocery shop stocking a large range of foods, organic fruit and vegetables, imported beers and wines. Also sells luxury branded products from the likes of Fauchon. The deli upstairs in the Hai Ba Trung branch serves tasty baguette rolls in a comfortable lounge area with free Wi–Fi, and offers probably the best selection of cheese and cured meats in town. Free delivery for Districts 1, 2 and 3.


45 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 6291 8126 aussie– Aussie Fruits are among the first in Vietnam to promote a full range of Australian seasonal fruits. Their mission is to bring the best quality fruits from Australia into Vietnam, with professionally trained customer support along with a state of the art facility that guarantees 100% freshness directly from Australian farms. Check their website to see what’s in season.


No. 17, Street 12 (perpendicular to Tran Nao street), Q2 Tel: (08) 3740 7105/06/07/08 / 0903 814761 Fax: 3740 7109 Supplier for the city’s five– star hotels, also distributing brands like San Pellegrino, Rougie foie gras, Galbani cheese, fresh poultries, meat, live seafood and vegetables. You can now find all the products at the gourmet shop on location.


73 Le Thi Hong Gam, Q1, Tel: (08) 3821 6057 Stocks a comprehensive range of fresh meat products imported directly from Australia. Beef and lamb make up the bulk of the selection,



58 Ham Nghi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3914 1318 Mini supermarket stocking a large range of imported foods, cheese, meat, fresh fruit, vegetables and good wines. Friendly service and helpful staff, although the selection of products is slightly smaller than its next door neighbour, Thai Ha.


60 Ham Nghi, Q1 Supermarket that vies with its next door neighbour, Phuong Ha, for customers. Excellent selection of imported goods including canned foods, dairy products, cereals and meat products. The staff here speak reasonable English although the service is better next door.


29A Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 8526 Packed from floor to ceiling with imported cereals, meats, cheeses, and almost anything else you can think of, this is a very popular choice for expats doing their weekly shop. The walk–in fridge at the back is a draw in itself.

Liquor & Wine ANNAM SHOP


16–18 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 9332 annam– Here you’ll find anything from Guinness to Leffe, with a whole lot of Belgian, Australian and German beers in between. Also has an excellent selection of imported wines and liquors.


158D Pasteur, Q1 A range of spirits, whiskies and wines at affordable pric-

es. Wines come from all over the world with an especially good selection from France, Chile and South Africa. Also has an excellent range of single malts, top shelf tequilas and has an on–site wine tasting machine, the Enomatic, the first of its kind in Vietnam.


74E Hai Ba Trung,Q1, Tel: (08) 5404 3575 A premier importer/distributor of quality wines, spirits, non–alcohol drinks, representing over 400 wines, spirits and drinks from 12 countries since 1995.


6/7 Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q1 Tel: (08) 6210 2986 Wine wholesaler importing well–known Australian wines. Present portfolio includes Kangarilla Road, Zema Estate, Buller, Bethany and Chapel Hill.


22 Chu Manh Trinh, Q1 Tel: (08) 3823 0021 One of the largest distributors in town, stocks around 90,000 bottles from virtually every region in the world. Sells both retail and wholesale.


178 Pasteur, Q Tel: (08) 3825 8826 One of the busiest wine retailers in town. In addition to their excellent range of wines, they also stock imported beers, bottled mineral water and spirits.


15C7 Thi Sach, Q1 Tel: (08) 3822 1141 Well–known and respected wine importer and distributor stocking a number of old and new world wines. Brands include Perrin & Fils, Pere & Fils, Dr Loosen, Kracher and William Fevre.


74/17 Hai Ba Trung, Q1 Tel: (08) 6299 1315 Corner of Thao Dien & Duong 2, Q2 Tel: (08) 6281 9059 Professional advice on selecting and tasting wines. Also offers regular popular wine courses. The outdoor terrace area is the perfect spot to sample a new vintage.

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6 Le Van Mien, Q2 Tel: 0907 729846 Provides kids classes in anything from mixed art, oil painting, crafts and still life drawing through to jewellery making and fashion design.

Got kids? Looking for that perfect school for your children? Want to give them involved in some extra-curricular activities? Search no further. Here are some options for you.

Clothing 123 Baby Clothing

Baby Equipment Baby

66B Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q10 Tel: (08) 2210 2775 Discounted car seats, buggies and more.

Babyland (Bao Mau) Saigon Center, 65 Le Loi, Q1 Offers first-rate (if pricey) equipment ranging from strollers to sterilizers to parenting books.


325 Truong Vinh Ky, Tan Phu Carries an expansive selection of baby equipment in its stores and online. Offers fast delivery for online purchases.


359/51 Le Van Sy, Q3 Here you can find baby clothes, accessories, and toys imported from the US.

Belli Blossom

12 Mac Dinh Chi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 6615 4th Floor, Crescent Mall, Nguyen Van Linh, Q7, Tel: (08) 5413 7574 Stocks imported brands of maternity wear and nursing accessories, infant clothes, baby utensils, strollers, high chairs, slings, baby carriers, diaper bags and more.

Du Lundi Au Samedi

17/5 Le Thanh Ton, Q1; Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan Q1; Saigon Center, 65 Le Loi

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Q1; Vincom Center, 70/72 Le Thanh Ton Q1 Sells clothing for kids from newborn to toddlers, as well as bedding, equipment, accessories and organic jarred baby food.

Maman Bebe

Vincom Center, 70/72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 8724 Carries strollers, car seats, baby utensils, clothing, and accessories. Most products are made by the Japanese company Combi.

Me Oi

1B Ton That Tung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3925 5404 Near Phu San maternity hospital, this shop sells reasonably priced clothing, bottles, nappy bags and toys.

Mom & Baby

230 Vo Thi Sau, Q3, Tel: (08) 3932 1611; 40 Ton That Tung Q1; 101-103 Khanh Hoi, Q4; 141D Phan Dang Luu; 287A Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nuan, Q7 The closest this city has to Mothercare, stocking apparel, bottles and sterilisers.

Rainbow for Kids

105C Truong Dinh Q3 Tel: (08) 3930 4930 Offers a variety of supplies, utensils, and healthcare products for both expectant mothers and infants.

Classes & Sports Dancenter

53 Nguyen Dang Giai, Q2 Tel: (08) 3519 4490 Children and teenagers can enjoy jazz, ballet, hip-hop, funk, belly dancing, salsa and in multi-level classes at this modern dance studio.

Guitar and Piano Classes

Kids Club Saigon

79/7 Pham Thai Buong, Q7; 27/3 Ha Huy Tap, Q7, Tel: 0908 460267 An early childhood centre offering early learning programmes for children aged 18 months to five, including toddler playgroups, preschool classes and enrichment activities. Also has after-school activities for kids aged four to eight.

Tel: 0913 877884 With 30 years experience teaching youngsters, Mr Anh Vu Phi offers private tutoring in Vietnamese and English at reasonable rates. After a stint in Seville, Spain, he now offers classes in flamenco.

Minh Nguyen Piano Boutique

Helene Kling Oil Painting

Montessori School

189/C1 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2 Tel: 0903 955780 French painter offers daytime and evening courses for children and adults, teaching beginners about different mediums and techniques and helping artists of all skill levels unlock their creativity.

Inspirato Center


4-6 Le Van Mien, Q2, Tel: 0907 729846 Private music lessons in piano and violin from beginner level up to Grade 8 and beyond. Also runs a chamber music club with regular concerts and ensemble lessons for strings and woodwind.

82 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3823 7691 Former conservatory student Nguyen Trung Minh offers lessons in piano at Minh Nguyen piano boutique for all ages and levels.

42/1 Ngo Quang Huy, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2639 Geneva Conservatory graduate Steffen Christophe teaches an introduction to musical instruments for students aged four upwards at Montessori, as well as private and group lessons in guitar, keyboard and voice.

Performing Arts Academy of Saigon

19A Ngo Quang Huy, Q2 Tel: (08) 6281 9679 Has a range of music-based programmes teaching kids in anything from guitar and drums to piano, clarinet and saxophone. Also provides musical assessment and a mixture of private and group classes.

Piano Classes

Tel: 01225 636682 morrissokoloff@hotmail. com Suitable for kids of all ages, these piano lessons range from basic to advanced.

Rubba Duckies Swim School

Tel: 01227 163844 Infant water familiarisation classes for little ones from six months to three years, run by Elizabeth Hollins.

Saigon Movement

Tel: 0987 027722 saigonmovement@gmail. com Aiming to improve children’s total body awareness through games and sports activities, Saigon Movement offers a variety

of classes in movement development for ages two to 11. Contact Abbie Klein.

Saigon Seal Team

55 Nguyen Dang Giai, An Phu, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6825 This 15-week PADI programme conducted by Rainbow Divers, the leading PADI dive centre in Vietnam, offers scuba diving adventures in a swimming pool for eight to nine year olds.

Saigon Pony Club

42 Le Van Thinh, Q2, Tel: 0913 733360 An excellent way for children to escape the urban bustle is to ride one of the 16 ponies and learn riding techniques from three, part–time teachers.

S ai g on S ports Academy

W atercolour Workshops with Lindsay Erdman

Tel: 0932 102378 Canadian watercolour artist, Lindsay Erdman hosts Saturday afternoon workshops for painters of all levels. Work with still life, live models and flora while learning or refining a variety of watercolour techniques. Workshops held on a beautiful terrace in district 10. Weeklong workshops are also available.

28 Tran Nao, Q2, Tel: (08) 7303 1100 International coaches provide training in soccer, basketball, tennis and swimming for children aged four to 16 years and private lessons for children and adults. Youth soccer league Sundays from 2pm to 6pm in District 7.

Tae Kwon Do

BP Compound, 720K Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: 0903 918149 Martial arts expert Mr. Phuc welcomes anyone over the age of five to take part in his thrice–weekly classes. An additional fee for non– members applies.

226 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q3 Focuses on quality clothing for up to the one–year–old mark, with prices starting from just VND120,000 per item. Also has a decent range of shoes and other accessories.

Baby Gap

Vincom Center, 72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1; Crescent Mall 101 Ton Dat Tien, Q7 Offers everything you would find at a Baby Gap overseas, including socks and shoes for kids ages one to five, although at a higher price.

Children’s Planet

90 Vo Thi Sau, Q1 Provides boys and girls’ clothing from ages five to 14 with clothes imported from Singapore.


Chieu, Q3 Tel: (08) 3930 9183 Offers 100 percent cotton hand-embroidered apparel for children ages one to 14.

Small is Beautiful

227 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Provides little princes and princesses with an exclusive selection of brandname clothing, accessories and creative toys in their playfully designed, childfriendly shop.

Thanh Thuy

93 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 4893 Offers primarily cotton clothes for all ages at reasonable prices. Their friendly, English–speaking staff is always on hand to help.

Tuti Bella

75 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 0527; 49 Nguyen Trai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3925 7348; 72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 Tel: (08) 3993 9088 This Los Angeles establishment selling fashion and accessories to kids from one to 12 years old now has a number of branches in Ho Chi Minh City.

Children's Books Fahasa

Vincom Center, 70-72 Le Thanh Ton, Q1 A range of apparel for children from newborns to pre-teens with clothing imported from the UK.

40 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 5796 Good selection of imported books for all ages as well as cheap stationery, stickers and other odds and ends.

Little Anh-Em

Phuong Nam

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

Ninh Khuong

44 Le Loi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3824 7456; 83 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 9079; 220 De Tham, Q1 Tel: (08) 3920 3224; 222 Nguyen Dinh

1st Floor, Saigon Centre, 65 Le Loi, Q1 Picture books for babies to stories and education books for older children can be found here.

Nha Sach Me va Con

(Mum and Baby Bookstore) 46 Le Loi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 8386 Supplies a variety of books, paintings, pictures, CDs,

Compass Education

VCDs and DVDs, stationery and gift accessories for mums, dads, children and educators.

Education ABC International School

2, 1E Street, KDC Trung Son, Binh Hung, Binh Chanh, Tel: (08) 5431 1833 Serving students from 32 nations, ages two to 18, ABC delivers a curriculum wholly based on UK standards, culminating in IGCSE’s and A levels (awarded upon graduation by Cambridge University examinations board).

ACG International School

East-West Highway, An Phu, Q2 Tel: (08) 3747 1234 Part of the Academic Colleges Group’s international network of schools, ACG boasts comprehensive education programmes from kindergarten to high school, a range of extracurricular activities, and impressive facilities.

Australian International School (AIS)

Xi Early Childhood Centre 190 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 2727; Early Childhood & Primary School, Cherry Blossom 1 & Lotus 1, APSC Compound, 36 Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 3744 6960; Middle & Senior School, East-West Highway, An Phu, Q2, Tel: (08) 3742 4040 In addition to academic excellence, exceptional facilities and a wide range of extra-curricular activities, AIS offers the University of New South Wales Foundation Studies to its grade 12 students (exclusive in Ho Chi Minh City). Follows the MYP and PYP syllabus.

Canadian International School

13C Nguyen Van Linh, Binh Chanh Tel: 5412 3456 The first Canadian international school in Vietnam offers co-educational classes from Kindergarten to grade 12 for local and foreign students. Talented, certified teachers implement the awarded Ontario curriculum to create a student-centered learning environment. Focuses on academic achievement, character education and global thinking with a commitment to the arts and languages (Vietnamese and French). Students graduate with the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD), recognised by universities worldwide.

15 Tran Doan Khanh, Q1 Tel: (08) 3820 3302 Promoting and facilitating English language acquisition, Compass Education offers a range of courses designed to meet academic, corporate, and professional goals. Offers nanny and teacher placements as well as career counselling.

Gymboree Play & Music of Vietnam Somerset Chancellor Court, 1st Floor, 21-23 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1 Tel: (08) 3827 7008 Gymboree Play & Music has been fostering creativity and confidence in children up to five years old for over 30 years, making them a leader in early childhood development programmes.

Canadian I nternational School

13C Nguyen Van Linh, Binh Chanh Tel: (08) 5412 3456 The first Canadian international school in Vietnam


Cu Xa Do Thanh, 7, Duong So. 2, Q3 Tel: (08) 3832 8488; Flemington Tower, 2nd Floor, 182 Le Dai Hanh, Q11, Tel: (08) 3962 1218 CitySmart delivers a range of diverse, internationallyrecognised educational programmes, as well as life skills and character building for comprehensive development.

I nternational School Ho Chi Minh City (ISHCMC)

28 Vo Truong Toan, Q2, Tel: (08) 3898 9100 The only fully authorized IB World School in Ho Chi Minh City, ISHCMC has been awarding graduates with an IB Diploma and sending them off to high-profile overseas universities since 1999.

I nternational S chool S ai g on Pearl (ISSP)

92 Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 2222 7799 ISSP offers a rigorous American-standard curriculum, as well as unique extra-curriculars like golf and Mandarin Language classes. A brand new, state-of-the-art campus caters to students from nursery through to grade 5.

Kindermusik Early Childhood Education Centre

British International School (BIS)

246 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2335 An IB World School and a centre for the UK Cambridge International Examinations boards, BIS offers a Britishstyle education to over 1,500 students ages two to 18 at its three campuses.

serves local and foreign students from Kindergarten to grade 12. Talented, certified teachers implement the internationally recognised Ontario curriculum to create a studentcentred learning environment promoting academic excellence.

German International School – GIS

730 F-G-K Le Van Mien, Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: 7300 7257 The German International School offers a unique bi-lingual German-English programme for students, from a variety of nationalities, from 2 to 16 years old. Its curriculum is based on the internationally recognised Primary Years Programmes (PYP), Middle Years Programme (MYP) and IB Diploma Programme of the International Baccalaureate (IB) system.

Ground Floor, Crescent Residence 2, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: 0907 099480 Kindermusik is the world’s premier music, movement and English language programme for children from birth to age 7. Each weekly lesson promotes early literacy and English language acquisition, social skills and more.

Little Genius International Kindergarten

102 My Kim 2, Phu My Hung, Q7, Tel: (08) 5421 1052 Little Genius Kindergarten shares a curriculum with its sister school in the US. Its facilities and learning environment remain un-

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surpassed by any other kindergarten in Vietnam.

Montessori International School 42/1 Ngo Quang Huy, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 2639 Aiming to encourage children’s engagement with their surroundings, MIS offers children from age three to 12 a classic Montessori education as well as a variety of extra–curricular activities.

Renaissance International School Saigon (RISS)

74 Nguyen Thi Thap, Q7, Tel: (08) 3773 3171 RISS provides students from over 25 nations with a British / international education. Students ages two to 18 enjoy classes taught by qualified native English speakers at their state–of– the–art campus.

Saigon International College (SIC)

21K Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Tel: 0938 371760 Overseen by the Curriculum Council of Western Australia, SIC’s program for years 10 to 12 provides graduating students with the Australian Certificate of

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Education (WACE), allowing direct entry to all Australian universities.

Saigon Kids Educational Childcare Centre

15 Street 12, perpendicular to Tran Nao, Q2, Tel: (08) 3740 8081 saigonkidskindergarten. com SKECC has evolved over 10 years to create a creative, playful learning environment for children ages two to six. Limited class sizes and highly engaged teachers ensure personal attention for all students.

S ai g on S outh I nternational School (SSIS)

Saigon South Parkway, Q7, Tel: (08) 5413 0901 Offers an American-style education (SAT, IB and AP) from elementary to high-school, emphasizing a multi–cultural student environment and a commitment to well–rounded education at all levels.

Saigon Star International School

Residential Area No. 5, Thanh My Loi Ward, Q2, Tel: (08) 3742 3222 Supported by the Cambridge International Pri-

mary Programme, SSIS integrates Montessori methods into nursery and kindergarten programmes to create a stimulating learning environment. Small class sizes allow experienced teachers to cater to individual needs.


1172 Thao Dien Compound, Q2, Tel: (08) 3744 6076; 26, Street Nr. 10, Thao Dien, Q2 Tel: (08) 3898 9816; 15 Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4236 This international childcare centre provides children ages 18 months to six years with a high quality education in a playful and friendly environment.

The American School of Vietnam

177A Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 2223 An independent and private university preparatory school with an individualised programme, The American School of Vietnam offers a US-based curriculum for Kindergarten through to Grade 12.


98 Cach Mang Thang Tam, Q3 Tel: (08) 3933 3655 One of the leading schools in Vietnam, VAS provides

programmes from kindergarten to secondary school. In line with their mission to encourage a global mindset in new generations, VAS integrates international educational methods.

Vietnamese Language Studies Saigon (VLS)

45 Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 0168; R4-28 (Hung Phuoc 2), Le Van Them, Q7, Tel: (08) 3602 6694 VLS has built a reputation over 18 years by offering courses tailored to all abilities. Classes are located either at VLS’s high quality facilities, or at the learner’s office/ home.

Entertainment Binh Quoi Botanical Gardens

1147 Binh Quoi, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 3556 6020 Features a landscaped park, weekend buffets, and children’s activities and entertainment. Reachable by boat from District 1.

Dam Sen Park

3 Hoa Binh, Q11, Tel: (08) 3963 4963 Popular theme park / wa-

ter park provides fun for the whole family at a low price.

Diamond Plaza

34 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 7750 Features a fourth–floor bowling alley and video arcade as well as youth– oriented eating options such as KFC and Pizza Hut.

Parkson Plaza

35Bis Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 7614 Parkson Plaza has a large selection of arcade games along with a bowling alley and a food court one floor down where you can regroup after zapping millions of aliens.

Saigon Zoo

2B Nguyen Binh Khiem, Q1 Tel: (08) 3829 3728 A wide variety of animals, well maintained facilities, peaceful atmosphere, and fun activities for kids including bumper cars and playgrounds.

Suoi Tien Amusement Park

120 AH 1, Tan Phu, Q9 Tel: (08) 3896 0260 Offers all of the expected amusement park attractions in a spectacular setting that includes a manmade beach, a dinosaur garden and a zoo.

X-Rock Climbing

74 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Q3, Tel: (08) 6210 9192; 503A Nguyen Duy Trinh, Q2, Tel: (08) 2210 9192 Offers beginner and advanced mountain climbing routes, safety courses and training at its 26–metre, purpose–built mountain in District 3, with an additional location in District 2.

Kids' Parties A2

196 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (08) 3912 0161 Popular toy shop which also houses a large selection of partywear and costumes.

Dots & Con

Tel: 0909 052502 Specialising in producing environmentally friendly handmade flaglines for any occasion including kids’ parties, picnics or school decorations.

Gymboree Play & Music

Somerset Chancellor Court, 1st floor, 21-23 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 7008 Specializing in first through

fifth birthday parties, Gymboree will take care of everything, including venue, invitations, party favours and more. Offers themes such as Princess Palace and Dinosaur Adventures.

The Balloon Man

100/531B Thich Quang Duc, Phu Nhuan Tel: (08) 3990 3560 For an unusual and special performer, contact the excellent Balloon Man, who has earned a reputation for dashing instantly to any party that needs balloon shapes.

The Caterers

46D Vuon Lai, Tan Phu, Tel: (08) 3812 6901 Although mainly focused on grown–up events, this company does an excellent job catering for kids’ parties.

Medical American Eye Center

5th Floor, Crescent Plaza, 105 Ton Dat Tien, Q7, Tel: (08) 5413 6758 An American Board-certified ophthalmologist with 15 years of experience in the US treats vision prob-

lems such as hyperopia, astigmatism, focusing problems, myopia, strabismus and lazy eyes.

Family Medical Practice

Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: (08) 3822 7848 vietnammedicalpractice. com Three paediatricians practice their speciality at this well–equipped medical care centre. Also has obstetrics and gynaecology services for expectant mothers including pre–natal screening.

FV Hospital

6 Nguyen Luong Bang, Q7, Tel: (08) 5411 3333 This international–standard hospital has a dedicated and fully equipped pediatric centre staffed by a team of international specialists. Also offers other maternity services.

International SOS Medical & Dental Clinic

167A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Q3, Tel: (08) 3829 8520 Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the internationally experienced pediatric team at this clinic will meet your family's preventative, diagnostic and treatment needs.

House call service is also available.

Starlight Dental

2Bis Cong Truong Quoc Te, Q3, Tel: (08) 3822 6222 Modern, well–equipped clinic with both western and local dentists experienced in providing preventative care and reconstructive procedures for children of all ages.

Victoria Healthcare International Clinic

79 Dien Bien Phu, Q1, Tel: (08) 3910 4545 Committed to pediatrics, this clinic provides services including general examinations (vision and hearing checks, immunisation, growth and development assessment) as well as specialist consultations.

Do you think you should be listed on these pages? If so, simply email us on and we’ll see what we can do. We can’t promise but we’ll try our best


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People travel thousands of miles to get a whiff of exotic Vietnam. From travel agencies though to resorts, here are a few suggestions on where to stay and how to get there in and around Vietnam


Air France

130 Dong Khoi, Q1 Tel: 3825 8583

Air Mekong

1st Floor, Centre Point Building, 106 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan Tel: 3846 3999

American Airlines

194 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3 Tel: 3933 0330

Cathay Pacific

5th Floor, Centec Tower, 72-74 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Q3 Tel: 3822 3203

China Airlines


7th floor 28 Nguyen Thi Dieu, Q3, Tel: (08) 3933 1000 The number one hotel loyalty membership in the Asia Pacific. Members enjoy fantastic savings on dining, and the best accommodation rates at over 340 Accor Hotels throughout Asia.


113C Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: 3838 6678 92-94-96 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: (08) 3825 0615 A tourist information company offering customized itineraries, tour packages, hotel and cruise reservations throughout Asia. Daily tours are available in Saigon, Hue, Hanoi, and three deluxe cruises in Ha Long Bay.


3rd Floor, Sheraton Hotel, 88 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: 3821 9098

S67-1 Rock Climbing Gym, Sky Garden 3, Q7, Tel: (08) 5410 5523 AZA seeks to connect adventure travel newcomers and veterans with service providers, adventure activities, and accommodations that fit the client’s desires, budget and skill level in Asia.

Jetstar Pacific


37 Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: 3911 1591

Japan Airlines

Korean Air

34 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: 3824 2878

Lao Airlines

93 Pasteur, Q1, Tel: 3822 6990

Malaysia Airlines

Ground Floor, Saigon Trade Centre, 37 Ton Duc Thang, Q1 Tel: 3829 2529

Singapore Airlines

Saigon Tower Bulding, Room 101, 29 Le Duan, Q1 Tel: 3823 1588

Thai Airways

29 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: 3822 3365

Tiger Airways

Vietnam Airlines

27B Dinh Tien Hoang, Q1 Tel: 3832 0320

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Travel Agencies

Ho Chi Minh Intl Airport, Tel: (08) 3930 1118 Chauffeur–driven and self–drive vehicles (for local license holders) from one of the world’s best– known car rental companies.


81 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 9170 This premium travel agency helps travelers select their destinations and organize their trips. From corporate travel to small group tours, explore the world or Vietnam.


195/14, D1, Binh Thanh, Tel: (08) 6258 3281 Friendly, high–quality, innovative custom tours in and around Vietnam to suit most budgets. They also offer a fast and efficient flight ticketing service.


70 Phan Dinh Phung, Dalat

Motorbike tours from over 70 guides, all speaking English. Tours include Dalat, the Central Highlands, Phan Thiet and Nha Trang. Note: insurance is not included.


64 Dong Du, Q1, Tel: (08) 3827 2911 SC4-1 My Khanh 3, Nguyen Duc Canh, Q7, Tel: (08) 5412 2761, Ext 113 41 Thao Dien, Q2, Tel: (08) 3519 4111, Ext 171 An upmarket operation operating through Southeast Asia, Exotissimo brings you personalized tours across the region, many including insights into culinary customs, handicrafts and humanitarian initiatives.


121 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, Tel: (08) 3824 7744 Flight travel services, including global travel management, domestic and international air booking and travel insurance, to corporate companies, family and individual travelers.


60 Tran Hung Dao, Duong Dong, Phu Quoc, Tel: 0939 402872 A PADI 5-star dive resort with fully experienced and certified scuba diving staff fluent in English, French, Dutch, German, Spanish, Russian, Swedish, Norwegian and Vietnamese.

FLY VIETNAM They provide flight information, pricing, availability and booking for domestic and international travel, in addition to railway reservation, hotel bookings, holiday packages, buses, and car rentals, travel insurance, coach tours and visas.


270 De Tham, Q1, Tel: (08) 3920 5552 One of the first tourist companies to set up shop in De Tham, Kim Travel has bussed hundreds of thousands of tourists up and down Vietnam. Destinations include Hanoi, Nha Trang, Hoi An and Hue along with other tours.


149/42 Le Thi Rieng, Q1, Tel: 0904

193308 An international travel company operating in Vietnam since 1992. They offer daily tours, short getaways, and small group excursions throughout Vietnam and beyond.



108 Huynh Thuc Khang, Mui Ne, Tel: 0908 400108 Vietnam’s first and only sailing school offers individually tailored training programmes for individual clients and groups. Services include recreational sailing, supervised dinghy rental, sail training, racing, wake boarding and beachside accommodation.


Chi’s Café

28/4 Do Quang Dau, Q1, Tel: (08) 6675 2620 A local inbound tour operator specializing in boutique tours around Vietnam. They provide economy, luxury, packages and tailor-made tours, which include the flexibility for customers to explore at their own pace.

40/27 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: 0903 643446 On offer are automatic bikes for VND1,575,000/month and standard bikes for VND1,050,000/month. Bikes are well-maintained and staff helps with any difficulties bike may encounter.


Tel: 0979 992983 Good selection of standard and automatic bikes. Bike delivery available for drop-off and pickup.

12/20 Nguyen Canh Di, Ward 4, Tan Binh District Tel: (08) 3984 4754 If you like cycling through the Mekong Delta, trekking in the highlands, or lazing in a junk on Ha Long Bay — all while making a difference in people’s lives — then this company will suit you well.


60 Hai Ba Trung, Can Tho City Tel: 0713 752436 Services include trips to the Mekong Feeling floating hotel, cruises along the Mekong Delta, and speedboats between Chau Doc, Phnom Penh, Saigon, Cantho and Chau Doc.


169A De Tham, Q1, Tel: 01222 993585 Vespa Adventure offers multi–day tours of southern and coastal Vietnam on the back of a luxury motorbike powered by clean, renewable biodiesel. English-speaking tour guides lead the way.

Want to be in touch with what’s happening in this city? Check us out online at

Natalie’s Bike Rentals

Saigon Motorbike

203 Bui Vien, Q1 Tel: 2244 4466 Where foreign residents in the know go for long-term bike rentals. Operating in the backpacker area for almost 10 years, Saigon Motorbike stocks a large variety of motorbikes and scooters (including Vespas) at prices that are hard to beat.

Saigon Scooter Centre

25/7 Cuu Long, Tan Binh Tel: 3848 7816 Saigon Scooter Centre stocks a selection of high-end well maintained bikes and classic scooters for short and long term rentals. Vietnam’s only 100% foreign-owned scooter business also offers a one way drop-off service for their bikes and includes helmets, locks and travel packs. March 2013 Word | 131

{ t r a v e l Notes}


$$$$ Le Lai, Dalat Tel: 063 3555888 17 French colonial villas reside atop the slopes of Vietnam’s rural highlands. Complete with a personal butler, in-villa dining, and a holistic spa, Ana Mandra Villas is where luxury meets tranquility.

By Mark Bowyer

$ 174 Phan Dinh Phung, Dalat, Tel: 063 3827 999 Free Wi-Fi, private car airport pickup, a coffee shop, and 10% discounted promotions at the nearby V Café; this charming hotel offers cost effective peace and quite.


$ 151 and 164b Phan Dinh Phung, Dalat, Tel: 063 383 3748 An all you can eat breakfast buffet, jacuzzis, saunas, and friendly service. This is one of the budget deals in town.


$$$ 1 Phan Chu Trinh, Dalat, Tel: 063 355 0979 This four-star apart’hotel exudes the French art nouveau style. Boasting a modern commercial centre, retail, food and beverage outlets, La Sapinette is the palace to call home.


$ 4A Bui Thi Xuan, Dalat, Tel: 063 382 2663 Centrally located, this quaint stop offers affordable accommodations, in

a basic style. Goes bus-todoor through the Sinh Café people.


$$$ 36 Le Duc Tho, My Dinh Commune, Tu Liem, Hanoi, Tel: 04 6270 6688 This premier five-star property lies beside the My Dinh National Stadium and Convention Centre. Boasts two swimming pools, a spa, and a fitness centre in its 24 stories.


$$$$ 51 Xuan Dieu, Quang An, Q Tay Ho, Tel: 04 37198877 Fully serviced, fully furnished, and strategically located in the Syrena Centre on Xuan Dieu, Fraser Suites is a gold–standard bearer of expat living.


$$$ 109-111 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Tel: 0439 286969 Located in the centre of the Old Quarter, this little slice of heaven offers complimentary sundries and a

replenishable minibar. The Orient restaurant, serves the finest in international and Vietnamese cuisine.


$ 48 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0438 285372 Two locations in Hanoi; complete with bunk beds, in same or mixed sexed dorms, pool tables, and darts. This is the place to meet international travelers.


$$$$ 1 Le Thanh Tong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0439 330500 Adjacent to the prestigious Opera House, this five–star landmark lives up to its family name. Colonial architecture, an elegant and spacious interior, is further complemented by, the spacious courtyard pool.


$$ 14 Luong Van Can, Hoan Kiem Tel: 0904 428387 With four locations in the Old Quarter, and close proximity to Hoan Kiem Lake, this is a good, central, no-frills chain. Amenities include compact rooms, friendly staff and free Wi–Fi.


$$ 5 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0439 381048 Aside the immaculate St. Joseph’s Cathedral, and boasting exceptional Breakfast Pho, comfort is found at Joseph’s. One of the best boutique deals in town.


$$ 17A Pham Dinh Phung, Ba Dinh, Hanoi, Tel: 0437 349988 The newly-built Marigold Hotel combines traditional Vietnamese architecture with Oriental luxury . Online promotions, and a nightly live Irish pub on the top floor.


$$$ 35-37 Hang Trong, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0439 380999 A minute from Hoan Kiem Lake, this glowing pearl in the heart of Hanoi provides tranquility with an art gallery and piano bar.


$$$$ 40 Cat Linh, Ba Dinh, Tel: 0437 330808 With deluxe rooms and suites, a contemporary

lobby, an excellent buffet, and a la carte restaurant, this Accor group property is prestigious and close to the Old Quarter.


$$$$ 15 Ngo Quyen, Hoan Kiem, Tel: 0438 266919 The finest hotel from the French colonial period restored to modern Hanoi. This elegant oasis of charm is complimented with impeccable service, luxurious facilities and an ambience of a bygone era.


$$$ KM 8 Pham Van Dong, Duong Kinh, Hai Phong, Tel: 0313 880888 This four-star resort offers in room bathrobe, slippers, digital safety box, free Wi-Fi, satellite TV, 24hour room service. A resort complete with a pool, deluxe spa, fitness centre, and VIP massage room.


$$$ Tel: 0933 446542 Experience breathtaking

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

Mark Bowyer is publisher of the Vietnam and Cambodia travel guide — You can contact him on mark@

Don’t Forget…









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22 0 200



Free wi-fi, international breakfast, spacious and airy, lift, plasma TV, multi-shower, friendly service

12 0

And those banks? While you can take steps to minimise your exposure to nasty roaming and internet charges, the banks have you by the proverbial…. After all, you need to access your money when you travel. Have you ever thought to calculate the margin your bank



Buy a local SIM card wherever you are. This is easier in some countries than others. In Vietnam and Cambodia, it’s very straightforward. And stay with services like Skype, Viber and Whatsapp. You’ll need an unlocked phone if you want to change SIM cards. If you’re from the US, good luck. The land of the free recently made it illegal to unlock phones. They’re even threatening huge fines and prison terms for offenders. In Vietnam, a new company called Tourisim is offering a SIM card designed for travellers. No confusing visits to the telco offices. Everything’s in English, including a support line. Prices start from VND200,000 with some local and international calls thrown in. You can even buy a new handset and SIM for VND600,000. They’re available at the places tourists congregate — airports, hotels

$$$ 04 Phan Boi Chau, Dalat, Tel: 063 357 8888 This châteauesque resort is found in the heart of Dalat. Pamper at the beauty salon, indulge at the BBQ garden, or take in the view from the heated swimming pool.


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Go Local

and supermarkets, and even from street vendors. If you need to keep your home mobile number active, Skype has some inexpensive premium services that provide cheap calls and you can even forward your mobile number back home to a Skype number back home (a local call) that follows you around the world. With it, you can keep your main mobile number functional while bypassing ugly roaming charges. Here in Vietnam, we’re fortunate that free WiFi is ubiquitous in cafés, bars, restaurants and most hotels. Remarkably, a handful of fivestar hotels refuse to follow the trend and continue to charge their guests silly prices for internet access. Some travellers to Vietnam get a decent room, breakfast and free WiFi for the price others pay for WiFi. Go figure. In the West, access to free WiFi is far more patchy. And in many countries, hotels persist with high internet charges.


$$$$ 12 Tran Phu, Dalat, Tel: 063 382 5444 The style of the 1920s, the backdrop of the Xuan Huong Lake and Liang Biang Mountain, and a piano bar — these are the elements through which Dalat’s top hotel retains its classic charms.


The best scams are those that the victim doesn’t notice, at least until it’s too late. Telco roaming ripoffs have had quite a lot of press coverage of late. But that hasn’t prompted a change of heart from the telecommunication companies. Banks, meanwhile, whose treatment of travellers is almost as shabby, get off very lightly. Many travellers have never even noticed that they’re being had. And just like dodgy taxi drivers, tour operators and market sellers, telcos and banks exploit the ignorance and vulnerability of travellers. It’s hard to imagine a more bald faced rip-off than the charges global telcos impose on loyal customers that have the temerity to travel internationally. By my estimate, you’ll pay around 100 times the price locals pay for international calls and up to 1,000 times the price locals pay for data in most countries while roaming. Unsuspecting travellers are still being caught out with bills in the thousands after a few weeks away with regular call and data usage.

There’s no cost basis for the huge gap between local and roaming charges. They’re purely opportunistic. Remember that taxi driver? He was being opportunistic, too. But at least he only got away with a few dollars. To get around this, get yourself off the roaming network completely. Dump your local telco as soon as you leave home.



Oh to be a banker or a telco!

makes on each foreign currency transaction when you use your credit card or an ATM abroad? When you use an ATM, you’re asked if you accept a fee. But that’s only one of three places you get hit — it’s usually the least costly. And no-one alerts you to the other charges or asks whether you accept them. There’s the ATM owner’s fee. These are reasonable in Vietnam but brutal in Cambodia. There’s your bank’s fee. These can be as much as 8 percent. And then there’s the margin on the foreign currency exchange that your bank charges — in the samples I used, two to four percent. It can easily run as high as 10 percent on transactions between US$100 and US$200. That’s US$10 to withdraw US$100. And to top it off, at no time will you ever be in possession of a single document that itemises these three charges. Some banks with global networks offer preferred ATM charges for their customers. Others are releasing complicated ‘traveller’ cards that giveth with one hand and taketh with the other. So next time you’re enraged by a taxi driver or cyclo that’s fleeced you out of VND100,000, think how much you’ve lost to your bank or telco. That’s if you can find a way to calculate it.


e’ve all heard of them, the common scams that afflict travellers to Vietnam. Dodgy taxis, standover cyclo drivers, fraudulent tour operators. While Vietnam rates pretty well in terms of safety for travellers, travel blogs are littered with tales of nasty scams. Vietnam’s scams are real and serious, and definitely shouldn’t be trivialised. But while many travellers will escape the local scammer, only an exceptional traveller escapes another kind of scam — telecommunication company and bank ripoffs. And they’ll hit your wallet a lot more than most of the stuff you’ll encounter in-country.



** Travel scams and ripoffs? Check your telco and bank * *

DALAT PALACE 5, Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi | Phone: 04 3938 1048 | Mob: 0913 090 446

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{ travel Promos } Photos by: Lucas Jans




VietStar Resort Tuy Hoa loses some of the lazier southern tourists to Nha Trang, its coastal cousin 120km closer to Ho Chi Minh City. For those willing to invest slightly more time into the trek, VietStar Resort and Spa will reward the extra effort with a twonight spa package, available until Mar. 31. Included are complimentary breakfasts, daily spa treatment, daily choice of lunch or dinner and transportation all around the beautiful Phu Yen region — VND3,339,000 per room, per night.

tours of the serene Halong Bay, aboard reproduction wooden junks. Two or three–night trips with a wide range of cabin styles: standard, deluxe, or royal.


$ Cuc Phuong, Nho Quan, Ninh Binh, Tel: 0303 848006 Vietnam’s first national park and primate centre with accommodations is stilt houses or detached bungalows. Both are available at the park headquarters, the park centre and on the road between the two.


$$$$ Tel: (04) 3935 1888 Reproductions, of 19th– century paddle steamers, trawl around Halong Bay in colonial style. A classic experience, complete with, overnight accommodations in impeccable cabins suites.


$$ Cu Yen, Luong Son, Hoa Binh Tel: 0218 385622 10 houses, surrounded by rice fields, lakes, and hills, this eco–village caters to those who wish commune with nature.


Eden Resort You don’t need to be newlyweds to enjoy Eden’s Honeymoon Package, but it sure helps! For VND13,230,000++ a happy couple can spend three wonderful nights at Eden’s gorgeous Phu Quoc resort, with champagne, a couple’s massage and a candlelit dinner. The promotion runs through Mar. 31. Unique Resort Although every visit to Mui Ne feels like

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a special occasion, make your next visit really romantic with Unique’s Honeymoon Package, three nights in a magical ocean-front suite for VND7,540,000++. Quaff complimentary champagne, bask in the candle light of a complimentary dinner and sniff the roses presented on welcome, as long as you book before Mar. 31. muineuniqueresort. com

Mercure Danang March is duck month at Mercure Danang, with a whole Hong Kong duck clocking in at VND380,000++ until Mar. 31. And after you’ve stuffed your belly, take on the 170-minute pamper spa package for VND1.5 million net — a steam and soak followed by a sesame seed scrub and body massage. mercure-danang. com

Mia Resort A weekend in Mui Ne puts you in a relaxed frame of mind, at least until the doof doof scene starts up around nightfall. So, take a calculated risk by heading to Mia Resort’s yoga and meditation retreat, led by Californiabred yogi Suzanne Vian on the weekend of Mar. 15 to Mar. 17. Weekend rates inclusive of food, accommodation and transportation start at US$460, on a double-occupancy basis. For more information email

$ Ngoi Tu Village, Vu Linh, Yen Bai , Tel: (04) 3926 2743 A resort, ecolodge, and school, located on the banks of Thac Ba Lake. This bamboo-constructed paradise offers lake cruises, mountain biking, motorbike tours, hiking, and volunteer opportunities.


$$$ Mai Chau Town, Hoa Binh, Tel: 2183 868959 Rock climbing, kayaking, cycling, and a romance in nature, the Buffalo Toursowned lodge is set in a lush valley, this is home to indigenous Vietnamese.


$$$$ 19 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: 0838 234999 Winner of Robb Report’s 2006 list of the world’s top 100 luxury hotels, the Caravelle houses the popular rooftop Saigon Saigon bar, and the restaurants Nineteen and Reflections.

exclusive spa and health club, together with luxury boutique arcade.


$$$$ 2A–4A Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: 0838 233333 Immaculate architecture, spacious rooms, and a fine selection of fine dining, with buffets specialising in Americana and Pan-Asian cuisine.


$$$ 63 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: 0838 222999 Famous for its day–long rotating–menu buffets, the Duxton deserves luxury appellation with a pool, gym, spa, and fine dining.

$$$$ 76 Le Lai, Q1, Tel: 0838 228888 Former guests include U.S. presidents — two Bushes, Clinton — and K-Pop sensation Bi Rain. An ongoing event as well as a hotel, New World is one of the best luxury stops in town.




$$$ 242 Tran Binh Trong, Q5, Tel: 0838 397777 This massive property boasts seven dining and entertainment outlets, a business centre, meeting rooms and a comprehensive fitness centre and spa. The Equatorial also has an onsite casino.


$$$$$ 235 Nguyen Van Cu, Q1, Tel: 0839 257777 The five-star hotel and serviced apartment complex offers: 14 instant offices, seven meeting rooms, a 600-capacity ballroom, spa, outdoor swimming pool, a gym, 24-hour fine dining, 24-hours room service, and limousine services.


$$$$$ Hai Ba Trung and Le Duan, Q1, Tel: 0835 209999 In the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, resides the Asiana with signature dining options, an innovative cocktail bar,

$$$$$ 2 Lam Son Square, Q1, Tel: 0838 241234 Fabulous in style, prime in location, everything one would expect from the Hyatt. The Square One and Italian-themed Opera restaurants have garnered an excellent reputation, as has the landscaped pool.


$$$$$ 18–19-20 Ton Duc Thang, Q1, Tel: 0838 251417 This distinct French architectural wonder offers complimentary Wi-Fi, airport pickup or drop off, a 4th floor ballroom, and authentic Vietnamese cuisine at the River Restaurant.


$$$$ 141 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: 0838 292185 Brimming with history the Rex’s open–air fifth–floor bar is Saigon highlight. A recent renovation, of this now fivestar property, boasts designer fashion and a shopping arcade.


$$$$$ 88 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: 0838 272828 Sheraton boasts one of the best locations in town, with first–class facilities, an open–air restaurant 23 floors above the city and a live music venue on the same floor.


$$$$ 17 Le Duan, Q1, Tel: 0838 241555 This 20–story building in downtown Saigon, caters to upscale business and leisure travelers seeking a classic yet contemporary stay in Saigon.


$$$$ Tel: 0933 446542 The Au Co offers a continuous three-day voyage in the Gulf of Tonkin. The firstclass twin vessels feature: 32 luxury cabins, private balconies, nature-inspired cuisine, spa treatments, and a jacuzzi.


$$$ 18 An Duong Vuong, Q5, Tel: 0838 336688 The full ensemble with its own shopping hub (including a bank), fine dining, a sauna, health club, and superb panoramic views of the cityscape. Also hosts the largest Oktoberfest in the region.


$$$ 132-134 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: 0838 299201 This charming old hotel has been fêted in literature and in film. In the heart of Saigon, this is the first choice

to highlight Vietnamese culture .

swimming pool, and the Sawasdee Health Club.



$$$ 1 Dong Khoi, Q1, Tel: 0838 295517 Since 1925 this vintage hotel encompasses the beauty that is Vietnam. Overlooking the Saigon River, its unique atmosphere makes it that much more majestic.


$$$ 656/52 Cach Mang Thang 8, Q3, Tel: 0838 460263 The hotel features 12 luxurious rooms designed to capture the warmth of the French countryside. The Little Bistro Restaurant serves Asian and European signature dishes for in-house guests.


$$$ 117 Le Thanh Ton, Q1, Tel: 0838 295368 Intimate atmosphere and excellent service, this boutique business hotel is located minutes from famous landmarks, designer shops, and is renowned for its fabulous steaks at its in-house restaurant, Corso.


$$$ 167 Hai Ba Trung, Q3, Tel: 0838 224866 Novotel Saigon Centre has a contemporary feel, an international buffet — The Square — a rooftop bar, and a wellness centre including a swimming pool, gym, sauna and spa.


$$$ 323 Le Van Sy, Q3, Tel: 0838 439999 A four–star business class hotel, The Ramana boasts 293 guestrooms and suites while offering: a business centre, a well–equipped fitness room, an outdoor

$$$ 24 Noi Khu Hung, Gia 4, PMH, Q7 , Tel: 0854 161000 On a quiet, tree–lined street in Phu My Hung, the Sabena is equipped with the latest in–room technology. For the international businessperson, this is a good choice away from downtown Saigon.


$$$ 144 Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan, Tel: 0839 998888, The newly-built hotel is near Tan Son Nhat International Airport. With spectacular city views and a comfortablydesigned outdoor swimming pool, there is little reason not to choose this shining star.


$$ 133 Nguyen Hue, Q1, Tel: 0838 225914 Perched on one of the city’s major boulevards, the brightly-lit exterior guarantees that you’ll never be lost at night. Enjoy executive jacuzzis and use online booking for discounted promotions.


$$$ 46 and 73-75 Thu Khoa Huan, Q1, Tel: 0838 227926 Centrally located near the Ben Thanh Market, the two hotels are juxtaposed on opposite sides of Thu Khoa Huan. Lan Lan 1 and 2 offer a homely feel at affordable prices.


$$ 195 Nguyen Van Huong, Q2, Tel: 0837 442222 A colonial–style hotel and

spa offers fine Italian, Thai and Japanese dining. Manicured gardens and a view that overlook the bank of the Saigon River, this is truly someplace special.


$$$ 133A Nguyen Dinh Chinh, Phu Nhuan, Tel: 0862 569966 Architectural elegance, and timeless style, this literal library themed inn is nestled in a charming and quiet neighborhood. Their fine selection of literature waits to be read, atop the rooftop terrace.


$ 171A Co Bac, Q1, Tel: 3837 8885 Always buzzing with activity, the California Guest House offers a communal kitchen, and free laundry. Book early, as this guesthouse is highly popular and has limited numbers vacancies.


$ 656 Cach Mang Thang 8, Q3, Tel: 3993 1587 With 24-hour security, cable television and ADSL Internet access, this clean and comfortable hotel offers peace of mind and affordable studio apartments.


$ 195 Bui Vien, Q1, Tel: 0839 206992 Free Wi–Fi offered in every room. Low prices, friendly staff, clean rooms. This modern oasis is only a few steps from the backpacker’s area.


$ 167 Pham Ngu Lao Q1, Tel: 0838 373699 With its communal kitchen and a TV room, a stay here


$$ Ha Long Road, Bai Chay Ward, Ha Long City, Quang Ninh Tel: 0333 848108 This beachfront property is close to local markets. Fine dining, a professional spa with seven treatment rooms, Novotel Ha Long Bay enjoys impressive panoramic vistas, and a pool overlooking the limestone bay.

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will make you appreciate the pleasure of being a guest rather than just a customer.


$ 185/28 Pham Ngu Lao, Q1, Tel: 0838 361915 It’s always hard to get a

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

Bloom Microventures

Soc Son Tel: 0164 387 6594 (Lain)

Forest Floor Lodge

Cat Tien National Park, Tan Phu, Dong Nai Tel: 061 366 9890

Jungle Beach

Nha Trang Tel: 058 362 2384

La Vie Vu Linh

Yen Bai Tel: 04 3926 2743

Mango Bay

Ong lang Beach, Phu Quoc Tel: 077 398 1693 w w w. m a n g o b a y

Mekong Lodge

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

Mia Nha Trang

Bai Dong, Cam Hai Dong, Cam Lam, Khanh Hoa Tel: 0918 821633

Pan Hou Eco Lodge Village Resort

Ha Giang Tel: 0219 3833 3565 www.panhou-village. com

Six Senses Ninh Van Bay

Ninh Van bay, Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa Tel: 058 372 8222

room here without booking, and no wonder, since this tucked-away little spot is on a par with anything else in the area — attractive, comfortable, friendly and more.


$ 157 Nguyen Du Q1, Tel: 3827 4648 Free breakfast, free computer usage, motorbike rental, and discounts for long term stay, the Sinh Huong Hotel is one of the few guesthouses to accept credit cards.

Hoi An & Danang

Marble Mountains. There are 182 luxurious residences and 27 private ocean villas, each with a private pool.


$$$$ Bai Bac, Son Tra Peninsula, Danang , Tel: 8884 246835 With its own private bay on the Son Tra Peninsula, the Bill Bensley-designed hotel is nestled within one the region’s most exquisite locations.


$ 18A Cua Dai, Hoi An, Tel: 5103 862231 Hoi An’s best kept secret is a family–run hotel with a charming colonial air located between the town and the beach, complete with a pool garden and air–conditioned rooms.

$$$ Tam Hai Island, Thon 4, Nui Thanh, Quang Nam, Tel: 5103 545105 Located to the south of Hoi An, the secluded sand island of Tam Hai houses a dozen modern villas with private gardens. There are endless beaches and an abundance of fresh seafood.




$$$ Son Tra – Dien Ngoc, Hoa Hai, Ngu Hanh Son, Danang, Tel: 5113 961800 20 minutes from Danang airport, this resort is comprised of six villas, a 33–floor twin tower, three five–star hotels, a convention / commercial centre, a 36–hole golf course and a culture village.


$$$$ 68 Ho Xuan Huong, Danang, Tel: 5113 847888 This venue has stunning beachside location. The smallest room measures 40 square meters — with a general air of refined luxury, as typified by the Cafe Indochine restaurant and the Lagoon poolside bar.


$ 73 Phan Boi Chau, Hoi An, Tel: 5113 936741 A mere 0.025km from the city centre, in addition to simple and comfortable rooms. Truly an excellent base for exploring the old town.


$$$$ Hoa Hai, Ngu Hanh Son, Da Nang, Tel: 5113 981234 The Hyatt Regency Danang Resort and Spa is beachfront with a stunning view of the

$$$$ Truong Sa, Ngu Hanh Son, Da Nang, Tel: 5113 958888 Located on Bac My An Beach, this exquisite resort has been carefully designed to immerse guests in luxury and seclusion.


$$$ 1 Pham Hong Thai, Hoi An, Tel: 5103 914555 This award–winning resort is located close to the bustling Old Town. With an emphasis on wellness and pampering, its spa combines traditional Chinese medicine, tai chi, touch and hot stone therapies.


$$$ Lot A1 Zone Green Island, Hoa Cuong Bac, Hai Chau, Danang, Tel: 5113 797777 Located on Green Island, in the heart of Da Nang city, the Mercure Danang offers modern style reflecting local Vietnamese culture. All day dining is offered at their brasserie and Chinese restaurant.


$$$$ Hamlet 1, Dien Duong Village, Quang Nam, Tel: 5103 940000 Includes three massive swimming pools, a gourmet restaurant and elegant spa on a lotus pond. Each massive room has its own

Want to be in touch with what’s happening in this city? Check us out online at

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espresso machine, pre–programmed iPod and both indoor and outdoor showers.


Cua Dai Beach, Tel: 5103 927040 This charming resort replicates a traditional fishing village, ponds, and village houses, all upon a private beach. Eat at the Annam Asian restaurant or relax with Thai or Swedish massage.

Hue & Quang Binh ANGSANA LANG CO

$$$$ Cu Du Village, Loc Vinh Commune, Phu Loc, Thua Thien Hue, Tel: 0543 695800 Located on Vietnam’s South Central Coast, Angsana Lang Co commands an unrivalled beach frontage of the shimmering East Sea. Traditional Vietnamese design encompasses the resort’s contemporary buildings and chic interiors.


$$$$ Cu Du Village, Loc Vinh Commune, Phu Loc, Thua Thien, Hue, Tel: 0543 695888 Built on a crescent bay, The Banyan Tree offers privacy and unparalleled exclusivity with all-pool villas reflecting the cultural and historical legacy of past Vietnamese dynastic periods.


$$ 10 Pham Ngu Lao, Hue, Tel: 0543 826567 hanoibackpackershostel. com Housed in a breezy, colonial villa complete with bunk beds, in same or mixedsexed dorms, pool tables, and darts. This is the place to meet international travelers.


$$$ 10 Hung Vuong, Hue, Tel: 0543 882222 The Forbidden City meets modern luxury. This high– rise hotel has great city views, a fine selection of restaurants, a piano bar and the sumptuous Royal Spa.


$$$$ 5 Le Loi, Hue, Tel: 0543 837475 la–residence– Built around the former co-

lonial governor’s mansion, with a nautical modern style, this is one of Hue’s unique experiences. Throw in an excellent restaurant with river views and you’re in paradise.


$ 48/3 Le Loi, Hue, Tel: 0543 826736 A budget option hotel, the Phuong Hoang offers reliable service and comfort, in additional to superb views of the Perfume River.


$ Chay Lap Village, Phong Nha-Ke Bang, Quang Binh Near the Phong Nha–Ke Bang National Park, this eco lodge is accessible by public transport. Activities include biking, kayaking, trekking and cave diving. SUN SPA RESORT $$ My Canh, Bao Ninh, Dong Hoi, Quang Binh, Tel: 0523 842999 Three hours north of Hue, this top–end resort offers elegant, comfortable pool villas and bungalows. An ideal base for trips to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Phong Nha caves.


$$$$ Beachside, Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Tel: 0583 522222 2.6 hectares of private beachside gardens and villa–style accommodation furnished in traditional native woods, this resort offers verandah dining, a pool bar and the signature Six Senses Spa.


$ Ninh Phuoc, Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa, Tel: 0583 622384 On a secluded promontory north of Nha Trang, this budget place is all about hammocks, the sea, the jungle and nature.


$$$$ Bai Dong, Cam Hai Dong, Cam Lam, Khanh Hoa, Tel: 0918 821633 Nestled in the mountain pass between Cam Ranh Airport and Nha Trang, this sanctuary has its own

private beach. With ecofriendly principles, Mia boasts rooftops studded with manicured grass and shrubs.


$$$ 50 Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Tel: 0586 256900 This four-star hotel with 154 guestrooms, all with a terrace and sea view. Complete with a pool, spa, restaurant, bar and meeting room that caters for up to 200 delegates.


$$$$ Van Dang Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa, Tel: 0583 728222 The upmarket Tatler magazine voted top hotel of 2006. The location is stunning, on a bay accessible only by boat.

Phan Thiet & Mui Ne ALLEZ BOO BEACH Resort and Spa

$$$$ 8 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet, Tel: 0623 743777 This resort offers exotic Bali–style, thatched roof “honeymoon” villas, 55 spacious suites, deluxe rooms, fresh seafood, Vietnamese cuisine, Thai and international cuisine, kite surfing and parasailing.


$$$$ 54 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet, Tel: 0623 847322 Under Life Resorts management, the Blue Ocean Resort includes a large swimming pool and swim–up pool bar, a children’s activity playground, and an Irish bar.


$$$$ 26 – 28 Tran Phu, Tel: 0583 880000 A sleek beach-front property with six restaurants and bars, the Shine Spa with nine treatment rooms, an outdoor swimming pool a fitness centre, a kid’s club, business centre, and a cooking school.


$$$ 12–14 Tran Phu, Nha Trang, Tel: 0583 820999 Awarded in Expedia’s World’s Top one percent of hotels 2009, the Sunrise Nha Trang Beach Hotel and Spa is ideal for the diamond lifestyle. All rooms have a view of the sea.


$$ Tel: 0583 840501 This remote and unspoiled island 60km north of Nha Trang is a stylish getaway, with traditional bamboo bungalows on the beach and an excellent seafood restaurant.

$$$$ 58 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet, Tel: 0623 847111 With charming wooden bungalows, a private beach, a swimming pool (both with attached bars) and a French restaurant, Coco Beach continues to be run by those who opened it in 1995.


$$$ 24 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Tel: 0623 847440 / 2 Choose between bungalows with either open-air bathrooms or enclosed gardens, or beachfront bungalows overlooking the East Sea.


$$$ 1 Ton Duc Thang, Phan Thiet, Tel: 0623 822393 A first–class international golf course designed by golf legend Nick Faldo, great food and service is offered

at this 123–room escape destination with private balconies and ocean or golf views.


$$$$ Khu Hon Lan, Xa Tan Thanh, Ham Thuan Nam, Binh Thuan, Tel: 0623 682222 Set on Ke Ga Bay, with a sumptuous spa, original architecture, eight swimming pools and 24–hour butler service, this is one of the most well-appointed resorts in the country.


$$$ Khu 1, Ham Tien, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet Tel: 0623 743237 Beachfront apartments and studios with a luxurious outdoor pool and jacuzzi, and entertainment options including windsurfing, kite surfing, antique sidecars, bike tours and dune buggy rides.


$$$$ Mui Ne Beach, Phan Thiet, Tel: 0623 813000 Another beachfront Victoria chain, the thatched–roof bungalows and family villas are set in exotic gardens with an infinity swimming pool, a seafood restaurant, spa, beauty salon and jacuzzi.


$$$ 60A Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Ham Tien, Mui Ne Tel: 0623 741660 Villa Aria Mui Ne provides warm service, 22 spacious guestrooms, and one suite. The resort includes a pool overlooking the beachfront, and an alfresco dining lounge serving authentic Phan Thiet cuisine


$$ Ap Cua Lap, Xa Duong To, Long Beach, Phu Quoc Island, Tel: 0773 980998 A quaint and popular island guesthouse featuring a beachside restaurant, and includes free Wi-Fi. Motorbike rental, boat trips and tours are easily arranged. Discount rates during rainy season.


$$ Ong Lang Bay, Phu Quoc Island, Tel: 0773 986142 An eco-lodge with no televisions or air–conditioning, 18 bungalows offer views of the beach and bay. The beachside restaurant serves traditional Vietnamese cuisine with a classic ‘French touch.’

CHEN SEA RESORT AND SPA $$$$ Bai Xep, Ong Lang, Cua Duong, Phu Quoc, Kien Giang, Tel: 0773 995895 This 37–bungalow boutique resort provides a serene atmosphere along with first– class spa treatment and a Mediterranean–themed restaurant.



$$ Ong Lang Beach, Phu Quoc, Tel: 0773 985002 Secluded budget bungalows lie within a beachside coconut palm plantation. The restaurant serves fresh seafood, the resort is laid– back and simple.


$$ Cat Cat Road, Tel: 0203 871218 The best view in town from its bar restaurant, the Cat Cat Guesthouse is paradise at very reasonable rates. The rooms have big windows, balconies, and log fireplaces.


$$ 24 Muong Hoa, Sapa, Tel: 0203 872404 For the environmentally conscientious, 25 individual lodges rest on hills overlooking valleys. Employing solar technology and a wastewater facility, the Topas also organises treks and bicycle tours.


$$$ Tel: 0203 871522 Topping the list of Sapa re-

sorts, the Victoria include satellite TV, in–room coffeemakers, a hilltop health club, tennis court, and pool. The entire resort has panoramic views of the town below.

Vung Tau & Ho Tram BINH AN VILLAGE

$$$$ 1 Tran Phu, Vung Tau, Tel: 0643 351553 Perched on a cliff face, this Imperial Vietnam-styled resort has traditionally designed and furnished rooms and villas, seaside pools, fine dining, and a bar strategically located to watch the sunset.


$$ Nguyen Duc Thuan, Con Dao, Vung Tau ,Tel: 0643 830939 Seated at the heart of Con Son Island this beachfront resort has mini-golf, kayaking, and sightseeing tours via trams.


$$$$ Tel: 0643 781525 This attractive property is the ideal getaway from Ho Chi Minh City. 63 uniquely bungalows and villas prom-

ise a local experience complete with an excellent spa and two swimming pools.


$$$$ Ho Tram, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Tel: 0643 781631 The spacious villas come with their own pool and have direct access to the beach. Extras include tennis courts, a mini supermarket, and cycling and motorbike tours.


$$ 1 Le Quy Don, Vung Tau, Tel: 0643 852135 Built in 1972, this popular seafront hotel still maintains its 1970s–style architecture and room fittings. Amenities include a pool, two bars, a massage parlour and a karaoke lounge.


$$$$ Dat Doc Beach, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Tel : 0643 831222 50 wooden-framed bamboo pool villas stretch along the curved bay, each with an unencumbered view of the sea. Also has a fitness centre, two restaurants, diving facilities and free bicycle usage.

$$$$ Ward 1, Duong Dong Beach, Phu Quoc, Tel: 0773 982988 Among exotic greenery and a white sand beach, the M Gallery brand has beautifully–designed rooms, a stunning swimming pool, an all–natural spa, a beach grill and a fine fusion restaurant.


$$ Ong Lang Beach, Phu Quoc, Tel: 0903 382207 An eco–friendly approach with a gorgeous beachside location, the bungalows are made of rammed earth, no TVs or telephones (although Wi-Fi is available). Excellent sunsets from the beach bar.

Viet Nam

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


$$$ Dong Cat, Ninh Hai, Ninh Hoa District Tel: 0583 670670 Overlooking the ocean upon a 600–metre beach front, this four–star resort has 54 rooms, four restaurants, a swimming pool and a spa.

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Hanoi The teacher / ¡Chula!

The Many Faces of Hanoi

The Teacher I

The daughter of an artist, now in her 80s, Vietnamese language teacher Co Nhan is somewhat of a local celebrity. Words by Kaitlin Rees. Photo by Aaron Joel Santos

heard Co Nhan before I met her. “Mind your head,” was the first sentence called down from where she waited on the second floor of her home. Her home, my Vietnamese language classroom, is a snug two-floor space in the back of an alley off Hang Ga and ducking is required to ascend the stairs. When I arrived that day, as with the many days that have followed, Co Nhan was reading at her desk with a pile of yarn nearby. I don’t remember what she was wearing, but it was without a doubt something that made me a bit envious, probably multiple layers of dark purple floral prints, a black velvet jacket, a handmade head scarf, bright red nail polish. For me, it is impossible not to fall in love with tough old ladies who look you in the eye and allow amused smiles to surface. Co Nhan is 80 years old, but there is nothing in her demeanor that gives away her age. Despite living through some of the country’s worst conditions and experiencing the gamut of post-war struggles, Co Nhan makes a point of enjoying her life. “If I started to worry about my life, about the past, I would be worrying for a long time.”

is accustomed. As the oldest of 12 siblings, the brunt of cooking, cleaning, sewing clothes, drying off tears and overseeing the schoolwork of six sisters and five brothers fell on her. Though it was a hectic household, Co Nhan describes her family during her childhood as being quite fortunate. “My father was a strange man, very original,” she recalls. As a visionary artist, he moved the entire family, including both his wives, to

“Despite living through some of the country’s worst conditions and experiencing the gamut of post-war struggles, Co Nhan makes a point of enjoying her life”

Breathing Space What she does instead of worry, and why she seems so young, could probably fill this entire magazine with stories. A summary: three days a week she teaches English, four days a week she teaches Vietnamese, one day a week she teaches French. On Mondays she swims (because they change the pool water on Sundays). On Tuesday and Thursday morning she goes ballroom dancing at a nearby club, partnering with one of the young male staff. She knits clothes for herself and her friend’s grandchildren, she reads, plays the piano and is working on a book of memoirs. The active life is one to which Co Nhan

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Ba Vi Mountain to live in isolation for three years in 1945. When the family returned to Hanoi, her father’s furniture business began to boom, and Co Nhan lived a life of luxury for a little while. Today Co Nhan has family all around the world: in Moscow, Paris, Australia and the United States working as translators, painters and pianists. But along with six of her siblings, she has stayed an “authentic Hanoian”. For this reason, she appears to be somewhat of a celebrity while walking down the streets of her neighborhood. From her daily pho stand on Hang Hom, for example, I ask her about how many people she usually

runs into that she knows. “How can I count? Maybe I’m special because I’ve lived in this district for a long time. I can contact people very easily. If anyone needs my help, I do what I can do.”

Strong Ties This was the attitude with which Co Nhan started teaching Vietnamese in 1990 while still working at VNA as a translator. “There were foreigners working here and they needed to know Vietnamese at that time.” Co Nhan will say that she doesn’t just teach Vietnamese though. According to her, one cannot learn a language without learning about the culture, the ways of thinking. Along with her language lessons, she would offer cooking lessons as well as tie in history and anecdotes of her life, which she is still doing today. “Now I continue to teach just for fun. If I didn’t have contact with others, life would be so dull.” Thanks to this aversion to dullness, Co Nhan has guided countless students to access the impenetrable wall that the Vietnamese language can first appear to be. A common teaching tool that she uses is a breakdown of idioms and common sayings that come up during a lesson. One such saying recently surfaced when I asked about the standard customs of the approaching holiday. Me: “What do people usually do during Tet?” // “An Tet nguoi Vietnam thuong lam gi?” Co Nhan: “Mua day buoc minh.”// “Buy a rope and tie it around themselves.” In a response that contains an introduction of the vocabulary for “rope” and “to tie”, Co Nhan reveals much about herself and her relationship to the environment around her. After an explanation of the obligatory practices and superstitions that are entwined with daily life in Vietnam, she adds, “But I don’t like to buy the rope, so I don’t.”

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¡Chula, Que Bueno! Full of colour and bursting with energy, the world of Chula is a beautiful one. Much more than just a fashion brand, Chula is known for dresses that are pieces of art as well as regular events. Now they have a new range of furniture in the pipeline. Rose Arnold talks to Diego Cortizas and Laura Fontan, the husband-and-wife team behind it all. What is Chula about? Diego: Chula is for women who want to express something, not just a beautiful model wearing a beautiful dress. We are always really proud when a customer tells us they were in Tokyo or New York, or somewhere, and people stopped them to talk about their dress. Laura: I think sometimes that to have something very glamorous pushes people away, it makes you not approachable. With a Chula dress it is the start of a conversation. It is about a story, a connection. Diego: In some way Chula is always a little naïve, it is playful. Chula is about classic things, good material, classic cuts, but at the same time with a funny idea, with a concept.

you can wear, I think, in 20 years. I think working with trends can make you feel very depressed, there is no true meaning. Diego: Yes, fashion is one of the industries, along with technology, where you see how much people consume. I try to change this concept in our clients. And we avoid the chain production element. Here, no two dresses are the same. It is important that it involves us creatively. All the team, not just us, they make one dress from beginning to end, they don’t just do the same thing over and over. Every dress is new energy. Laura: And I think people who buy Chula feel a special relationship with the clothes, they feel a connection, it is part of their story.

What is it like to combine living and Some of the dress concepts have included environmental themes. How working in the same space, as well important is sustainability to you? as customers coming here? Laura: My mother used to have maybe four new dresses a year but they were well cut — you keep them for many years. It is not like now when clothes are so disposable. Buy, buy and throw away. Chula doesn’t go out of fashion quickly, there are dresses

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Laura: It was always shared space. The house has an altar in the middle of the house, we share this room with our landlord, so that makes our relationship with the landlord like a family. And we have all our workers here. At lunchtime there are 20

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“We are spoilt in Vietnam with the children. They have a very special life, they have experience of artists, and Chula is an open house so they meet many people” people eating. Then we opened up the shop. It made it really complete and fun. But when our family comes from Spain, we realise they are a little bit shocked sometimes. Diego: We had relatives here and somebody appeared, I don’t know, a neighbour or someone and our family was like: “Woah! There is somebody in the house!” Laura: In Spain, private is really like, private. Whereas we realise for us that no, private is not really important.

And you also opened up the space for evening events? Diego: Yes, we started by chance because a painter friend said to us, this space is very nice, why don’t you do an exhibition? We invited some friends, it started small but we’ve done more and more events. Mixing art and photography and fashion and music. Laura: We are really happy about this, we are enjoying the space and sharing with many people. It is a pleasure to have beautiful paintings, fantastic musicians, our dresses. We mix all these different people together; customers, artists, friends. Chula nights are to know more people, to have more inspiration.

What is it like raising your family here, away from your home country? Diego: We are spoilt in Vietnam with the children. They have a very special life, they have experience of artists, and Chula is an open house so they meet many people. Laura: And here they can feel independent, Hanoi is a very open place. The older children have their own bicycles, they can go to the street, play with the neighbours, go to the supermarket. In Spain we don’t have that freedom any more. Diego: In some ways for us, Hanoi feels like Spain in the 1970s. But at the same time, Spain is important, we visit often, we like that they keep their roots. Laura: Yes, they have that, a very strong Spanish feeling, they take the best of both worlds, Vietnam and Spain.

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How has Hanoi changed since you arrived in 2004? Diego: Some people who live here for a long time complain about the city changing, the traffic, you know? But there are some very exciting things, positive changes. Like West Lake. Laura: When we arrived here the city had its back to West Lake, the city was the part close to Truc Bach. Diego: Sometimes you would come to a house here and you would realise that in the garden you can see the lake. It was a private lake for privileged people. Laura: But now the little bars, the people cycling, it is really fantastic. It really changes the city. It is a big open space and the people enjoy that. And also, in Hanoi, the life for young people, for art and culture, I think in the last two years it is exploding. Diego: We are very lucky to be here in this moment.

What are your plans for Chula? Laura: We would like to make more collections around places that we love; to study countries that we love, to study the culture. We want to do something special abroad, a Japan collection perhaps. Diego: We have just launched Chula Place, a line of furniture. We want to combine many of the things from Chula, using things we find in Vietnam, handmade. A sense of humour but of course it is furniture. Furniture is a bit more conservative. You can be more risky with buying a dress. And we want to make accessories and things for the home. We are taking our time, we want to link with our other things but to make it new and exciting. If we make a notebook, it should not be just translating the circles from the dresses to the notebook; it should be a really, really interesting notebook. The Chula showroom is located on West Lake at 4, Ngo 416, Nhach 22, Lac Long Quan, or click on This interview has been edited and condensed.

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Tiêng viêt 33 cuôc cách mang trên môt phút Từ những chiếc đĩa hát cổ Việt Nam, tới những chiếc đĩa nhập khẩu từ Nhật Bản của Lana De Ray, Douglas Pyper khám phá phép màu của thể loại nghe nhạc có sức sống mãnh liệt này và tìm ra rằng những chiếc đĩa hát nhựa đang ở đỉnh cao trong dòng nhạc Việt Nam. Ảnh bởi Aaron Joel Santos


ạn đã từng xem những bộ phim hoạt hình trong đó nhân vật chính thường đi câu cá và chẳng câu được gì ngoài những chiếc lốp xe và những chiếc bốt cao su? Việc đi tìm những chiếc đĩa hát nhựa ở Hà Nội cũng gần như vậy. Ở giữa những chiếc máy hát cổ từ cuối thế kỷ 19 và những chiếc mũ bảo hiểm của phi công chiến đấu, bạn có thể may mắn tìm được một album của Chemical Brothers đã bị mất một mảnh, hay những phần còn lại của những đĩa nhạc cổ điển Nga hoặc Cuba, trông cứ như chúng đã bị đem làm thớt. Vào nửa sau thế kỷ 20, cụm từ “33 cuộc cách mạng trên một phút” được sử dụng thích hợp cho những quốc gia hơn là những cá nhân ưa thích việc chơi âm thanh, và những lí do của sự khan hiếm đĩa hát ở Hà Nội qua đó đã tự được giải thích. Ở miền Nam của đất nước, tình hình lại có một chút khác biệt. Sài Gòn đã từng là một trung tâm âm nhạc sầm uất trước và trong suốt thời kỳ chiến

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tranh. Thường thì những âm thanh thú vị nhất được tạo bởi những người có ảnh hưởng bởi dòng nhạc từ nước ngoài. Những bản nhạc như “Một Trăm Phần Trăm” của Hùng Cường đã kết hợp được cái hồn của nhịp điệu và chất blue với giai điệu và tâm tư của những năm 1960 ở Sài Gòn. Ở bài này, nỗi tâm tư là của một người lính muốn tìm được thời gian rảnh rỗi trong chiến trận để tới thăm người yêu.

Chơi Nhạc Đi Nào

Cùng với sự du nhập của đĩa CD vào cuối những năm 1980 và sau đó là những chiếc MP3, rất ít người bản địa ở đây sở hữu đĩa hát. Nhưng tình hình giờ đã thay đổi và những nhà cung cấp đĩa hát cổ Việt Nam đã bắt đầu xuất hiện. Với chiếc đĩa quay vác trên vai và chiếc mũ có bản quyền, tay nghiện sưu tập đĩa hát Thái Lan Maft Sai đang tìm trong số hàng trăm đĩa trước năm 1975 ở Quận Nhất Sài Gòn. Anh xem từng đĩa một, thử chạy một vài giây để

cảm nhận được bài bát. Quá trình mất khá nhiều thời gian nên những người bạn cùng đi với anh đã bắt đầu đi sang các cửa hàng khác hay tìm những quán café để ngồi. Maft tiếp tục một mình, tỉ mỉ nghe thử từng chiếc đĩa mà người chủ cửa hàng mang tới cho anh. Sau vài giờ và nghe qua vài trăm chiếc đĩa, anh mua 50 chiếc đĩa cổ điển để thêm vào bộ sưu tập nhạc nhảy Isan của mình. Tự gọi mình là Bà Tuân, người trông coi cửa hang không nói một cách chính xác những chiếc đĩa này đến từ đâu. Cũng đủ để đoán rằng chúng đã từng thuộc về những người mà giờ đâu không còn nghe những chiếc đĩa này nữa và cũng không có ai trong gia đình họ muốn có chúng. Mặc dù nói rằng bài hát “Một Trăm Phần Trăm” của Hùng Cường là một “bản nhạc tuyệt vời”, hát một vài lời, và đung đưa theo mỗi khi nó được nhắc tới, cô không bao giờ nghe những những chiếc đĩa mà cô bán. Giống như vậy, con cái

của cô cũng không quan tâm đến dòng nhạc này, họ thích nhạc pop hiện đại hơn. Là một người sưu tập nhạc Thái Lan chính như Molam và Luk Thung, Maft Sai đã tự xác lập cho mình một vị trí trung tâm của âm nhạc thế giới qua thương hiệu đặt tại Bangkok của mình với tên gọi ZudRangMa. Mỗi kỳ nghỉ lại là thời gian để anh đi tìm lại những âm thanh đã bị lãng quên dù là ở Trung Đông, Châu Phi hay Đông Nam Á. Đối với Maft Sai, mục đích của anh không chỉ là để có hiểu biết thêm về một di sản âm nhạc của một nước, mà còn để nhìn thấy những mối liên kết gắn bó giữa các nguồn gốc âm nhạc của thế giới. “ Tôi tìm thấy một vài bài hát từ Việt Nam hôm trước và chúng nghe rất giống với nhạc Luk Thung của Thái Lan,” anh nói. “Một bài khác thì giống một chút Ethiopian. Rất thú vị để tìm được những nền văn hóa khác trong các quốc gia cách nhau rất xa nhưng lại có một mối quan hệ

trong âm nhạc.” Khi anh chơi những đĩa nhạc Việt Nam cho khán giả là những thanh niên trẻ ưa tiệc tùng trong một hộp đêm ở Bangkok, nó có ảnh hưởng tương tự như đối với Ba Tuân. “Mọi người đếu đang hào hứng để nhảy. Họ nghĩ đó là nhạc Thái, nhưng họ chỉ không hiểu được ngôn ngữ trong bài hát.” Khi Maft Sai chào tạm biệt, Ba Tuân nói với anh rằng cô có thể có tới 5000 đĩa hát nếu lần sau anh đến. Đây là một nơi lưu trữ tuyệt vời của văn hóa không tồn tại dưới những dạng khác và có nguy cơ bị mất đi vĩnh viễn. Trải qua rất nhiều năm khôi phục lại gốc gác nhạc Thái, Maft Sai nhận ra việc giành hang tiếng đồng hồ để nghiên cứu và tìm tòi là việc hoàn toàn đáng làm. “Cần có thời gian,” anh nói. “Nhưng người ta bắt đầu nhận ra giá trị của văn hóa [trong những chiếc đĩa cổ].” Cùng với việc cứu rỗi một kỷ nguyên âm nhạc đã bị cho vào lãng quên, sự kiên trì của Maft Sai làm cho anh say mê hưởng thụ được cuộc sống, tới nỗi anh đã tự đặt cho mình một biệt danh có phần châm biếm “sử gia ích kỷ”.

Những Chiếc Đĩa Màu Đen

Trong khi đĩa hát đang trở thành một cách để nhiều người như Maft Sai tiếp cận văn hóa Việt, nó cũng bắt đầu cung cấp một con đường để người Việt khám phá văn hóa thế giới. Vì số ít nhạc nội địa được đưa vào đĩa hát đang bị lãng quên hoặc khó để có được, nhiều người đam mê đĩa hát đang tìm hiểu lịch sử âm nhạc phương Tây thông qua những bản đĩa hát nhựa này. Cộng đồng những người yêu thích lĩnh vực này tuy nhỏ, nhưng nó đang dần dần trở nên rõ nét hơn. Hà Nội đã trở thành nơi đầu tiên có một cửa hàng đĩa hát trên cả nước vào năm 2007. Đó là một cửa hàng và trong đó bán đồ – không có một biển quảng cáo hay một website nào về cửa hàng này. Nếu bạn muốn tới đó, phải có ai đó nói với bạn về

địa chỉ thông qua một tin nhắn qua điện thoại, qua mạng, hay chính họ phải nói trực tiếp với bạn. Chỉ có một số ít lựa chọn nên giá cả không rẻ chút nào, khoảng 1 triệu đồng một đĩa, nhưng theo anh Quang chủ cửa hàng thì nó hoàn toàn xứng đáng đông tiền. Mặc một chiếc áo khoác kiểu những năm 50, trong tiếng nhạc raggae của Pháp và tay cầm một chiếc tẩu hút thuốc, Quang nói với tôi về sức lôi cuốn của những chiếc đĩa nhựa màu đen. “Tất cả là một quá trình,” anh giải thích. “Một số người cảm thấy nó như một tín ngưỡng. Trước khi bạn đến chùa hay nhà thờ, bạn nên tẩy rửa thân thể mình cho sạch sẽ, chỉ nghĩ về những điều tốt đẹp thôi – đó chính là đĩa hát.” Thông qua đĩa hát, Quang đã khám phá được một nền văn hóa nhạc cổ điển và jazz mà anh thường không hiểu, nhưng vẫn luôn ngưỡng mộ. “Có rất nhiều nghệ sĩ jazz nổi tiếng và quan trong trong lịch sử nhạc jazz của Mỹ, nhưng đối với tôi và nhiều người nghe nhạc ở Việt Nam khác, chúng tôi không thể nghe được những bản nhạc của họ bởi vì chúng tôi không thuộc về nền văn hóa đó, không thể hiểu được văn hóa của họ.” Có lẽ không phải là hợp mốt lắm, nhưng Quang thích nhạc jazz hát hơn là nhạc của Charles Mingus hay Duke Ellington. Đối với anh, đĩa hát không phải là một phong trào chơi nhất thời mà nó là một cách để cảm nhận được nhiều nhất âm nhạc và văn hóa thế giới.

Trở Thành Phong Trào

Trong một vài tháng qua, phong trào này đã lan rộng ở Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, nơi anh Ngô Quốc Dũng đã tạo nên một cửa hàng đầu tiên của thành phố. Cũng như cửa hàng của Quang ở Hà Nội, ở đây cũng không có biển hiệu nào những ít nhất nó cũng có một địa chỉ website. Ông chủ của cửa hàng cũng có những ý tưởng lớn. Trong phòng trưng bày nhỏ

nhưng gọn gàng của mình, Frank Sinatra được xếp cạnh Eminem, Tholonious Monk cạnh The Sex Pistols và Stravinsky ở cạnh Mylo, Taylor Swift và Alicia Keys. Anh Dũng đang chơi bản London Calling của Clash vừa nói với tôi về dự định của anh để gây dựng phong trào yêu đĩa hát trên cả nước. Sự đa dạng trong thể loại và giá thành thấp bản thân đã là những cuộc cách mạng anh làm được. Trung bình khoảng VND700.000 cho một chiếc đĩa, theo Dũng là giá thấp nhất anh có thể đưa được ra thị trường và nó tương đương với giá các đĩa này được bán ở các nước khác trên thế giới, nhưng vào thời điểm hiện nay khi thị trường đĩa hát còn rất mong manh thì việc này có thể giết chết những người kinh doanh đĩa hát khác. Dũng cũng nuôi tham vọng là sẽ hạ thấp giá của những máy chơi đĩa và bắt đầu in đĩa hát Việt, cả những bài hát cũ và mới. Rõ ràng là anh Dũng muốn đưa đĩa hát chuyển từ một thị trường nhỏ sang một thị trường chính thống, nhưng tại sao người ta quan tâm đến thể loại định dạng có thị trường nhỏ, mong manh và đắt đỏ mà anh Dũng yêu thích? Một cách logic thì những bản nhạc MP3 sẽ là sát thủ đối với thị trường đĩa hát, nhưng Dũng thấy rằng việc tăng độ nén và giảm tỉ lệ đơn vị thông tin lại là một lợi thế. “Đó là khi những bản thu âm được làm sống lại,” anh nói. “Nếu bạn nghe một bản MP3 và so sánh nó với nhạc trên đĩa hát, bạn sẽ thấy như là đang nghe một bài hát mới. Điều này sẽ thu hút sự thích thú của những người trẻ tuổi.” Và thật đáng ngạc nhiên điều này là sự thực. Không chỉ có những người lớn tuổi thường xuyên ghé qua cửa hàng anh Dũng, có rất nhiều thanh thiếu niên cũng ghé qua để mua các album của Adele hay Lana Del Ray.

Âm Thanh Tinh Túy Hơn

Vị trí của đĩa hát như một nơi lưu

giữ văn hóa thế giới và trải nghiệm nghe nhạc trung thực nhất đang giúp cho nó sống lại sau thời gian dài tưởng như đã biến mất. Trong thập kỷ vừa qua, số lượng các đĩa hát được bán trên thế giới đã gia tăng và giờ đây có vẻ như Việt Nam cũng đang đóng góp một phần vào con số tiêu thụ đó. Cùng với việc cung cấp một lăng kính để qua đó người ta hiểu hơn về quá khứ, biểu tượng của định dạng đĩa hát cũng đang thay đổi hiện tại. Xét về nhiều phương diện, nó đã có thể bị lãng quên rất lâu rồi. Nhưng ngày nay, cái đã đẩy nó vào lãng quên, ngược lại, đang làm nó trở nên mạnh hơn – MP3 đang tiếp thêm sức sống mới cho đĩa hát. Một trong những khác biệt chủ yếu mà đĩa hát tạo được là ảnh hưởng của nó tới thói quen nghe nhạc của người nghe. Sự thuận tiện và phổ biến của ipod hay MP3 đã làm âm nhạc trở nên rẻ tiền. Với hàng nghìn bài hát có trong những cơ sở dữ liệu khổng lồ, hầu hết người nghe thấy quá dễ dàng để chuyển từ một bài nọ sang bài kia để mang lại cảm giác mới lạ. Kết quả là rất ít người có đủ kiên nhẫn để nghe trọn vẹn một album. Đĩa hát không cho phép bạn làm điều đó. Như Quang và Dũng đều đã nói, đĩa hát là một quá trình, cần thời gian và đòi hỏi bạn lưu ý tới những tác phẩm nghệ thuật mà bạn đang chuẩn bị thưởng thức. Từ việc ngưỡng mộ bìa của đĩa hát, đọc từng chú thích bên trong, đặt đĩa vào máy quay và bắt đầu chạy nó, người nghe tham gia toàn bộ vào quá trình của đĩa hát. Như anh Quang nói, “Khi bạn nghe nhạc đĩa hát, đó là cách mà người nghệ sỹ muốn bạn nghe. Nghe một bản nhạc của Pink Floyd không thể truyền tải được điều gì. Khi bạn nghe trọn vẹn một bản đĩa hát, đó mới chính là bạn thực sự đang nghe nhạc. Bạn hiểu được câu chuyện dẫn dắt xuyên suốt album đó. Với MP3, người ta không bao giờ hiểu được điều đó.”

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The Final Say the phu quoc dog / dead heat / last call Extended Feature

The Phu Quoc Dog: A Renaissance The hunting dog coming from Vietnam’s largest island maintains a mythical status. It has been close to extinction on a number of occasions yet this feisty ridgeback has clawed and scratched its way through the centuries. Derek Milroy decided to find out more about this phenomenal creature that is on its way to being recognised as Vietnam’s national dog. Photos by Adam Astley


hunter by nature, rivals of this ridgeback cower in fear when they see the erect whorls on its back and its short, menacing thin hair. Not only does the Phu Quoc dog look brave and strong, it is a supreme being. Despite some similar features to comedy cartoon character Scooby Doo, the superhero of the Vietnamese dog world can swim, hunt and even climb trees. It’s no wonder that when people come across Vietnam’s most revered breed they become intrigued.

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The earliest non-Vietnamese sighting of the Phu Quoc dog occurred in the late 19th century when French medical student Fernand Doceul witnessed a Phu Quoc bitch making a predatory kill on a deer far superior in size — the dog weighs on average 15 to 20 kilos. He was astonished to see the athletic animal forcing the deer into the water before swimming after it and attacking its neck. The end was a foregone conclusion. Some dogs were taken to Europe at the

end of 19th century by the French, with two individuals named Xoai (‘Mango’, a boy) and Chuoi (‘Banana’, a girl) winning a dog show in Lille, France. They were born in 1892 and owned by Gaston Helouin who lived in Helfaut, Pas-de-Calais, northern France. Xoai and Chuoi also took part in the Universal Dog show held in Anvers, Belgium in July, 1894. Around the same time, cynologist Count Henry de Bylandt recorded the standard of the Phu Quoc Dog in his book, Les Races de

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Rebirth The formation of the VKA started a nationwide campaign to preserve and recover the reputation of the Phu Quoc dog. In 2005, a group of dog fanciers in Vietnam met on a social network forum and floated the idea of a club for dog lovers. The group’s main target was the Phu Quoc. By the end of 2006 the group met overseas Vietnamese Du Thanh Khiem, who was living in Belgium and was a big player in the dog world in both Europe and the U.S. He knew mostly everything there was to know about the Phu Quoc and had researched it for decades. He intended to bring the dog to Belgium in the 1980s but was unsuccessful — not that it dented his passion. He then set out on the necessary path for a cynological national organization in Vietnam and smoothed the way for the Phu Quoc to recover its lost reputation. In July 2007 Khiem held seminars in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City where he lectured to the group and others interested in the dog, and shared his desire to bring the Phu Quoc into the international spotlight to celebrate the centenary of the establishment of Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI), or World Canine Organisation. The group enlisted support of businessman Pham Le Quan and drummer Cao Minh Kim Qui and on Feb. 13, 2008 the decision to establish Vietnam Kennel Association (VKA) was issued, approved a year later by the Minister of Home Affairs. A month after the official launch in July 2009, VKA established the Phu Quoc dog Standard Committee to research and construct the Phu Quoc dog breed standard. Khiem became its vice president. In the first VKA dog show in December 2009, Phu Quoc dogs took part and the breed won the award of Reserve Best in Show to become Vietnam’s first champion before joining the World Champion Dog Show in Paris, France in July 2011. It is estimated there are between 3,000 and 5,000 Phu Quocs nationwide.

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Chiens (‘Dogs of All Nations’), which covered 316 breeds.

A Miracle of Nature These days this feisty canine is being championed by breeders the length and breadth of Vietnam. Recent dog shows have catapulted the Phu Quoc into the spotlight. One man who has been seduced by the animal is Vietnam Kennel Association (VKA) officer Pham Hung, who has been breeding it since 2005 — having only heard about the dog just after the Millenium. He insists its reputation of having webbed feet is not completely true, but its athletic instincts are unique, which is what makes it a remarkable being. “The Phu Quoc is a hunting dog which has the characteristics of a primitive or wild dog,” Hung explains. “It has been bred by man for a long time now, but it is not a danger to humans. It can be aggressive towards other animals if they have not been trained to be social to other dogs or animals.” There is more to its reputation as a hunter than meets the eye, Hung says: “Its hunting instinct is very strong. Despite it living outside in its natural environment for a number of generations, city-born litters like to hunt small prey such as rats, cats and small reptiles. It is the type of dog you cannot keep in a small living space as it is alert and very active. Its reputation as a good swimmer is right, sometimes it even catches fish.” However, some things about the Phu Quoc that meet the eye are deceptive. “The ‘webbed feet’ term is not completely correct,” continues Hung. “But the skin between its toes is particular for this breed and is more developed than other breeds. In normal conditions, the toes are closed tightly and arched, but when it stands in the mud or on a wet floor, its feet spread widely and the toes straighten to increase the contact area of the feet to the floor. So, [the paws] looks like ‘webbed feet’.” Hung insists Vietnam is a dog-loving nation, despite the now frowned-upon culture of eating man’s best friend in hideaway restaurants around the country. However, he thinks that the new generation has a different attitude towards our little and large canine friends. “Even though many people in Vietnam

eat dog,” he explains, “many people consider the [the canine] as their closest friend, or a member of their family. We’re trying to encourage others to look at the connection between the people and the most loyal of friends, especially the valued dog breeds of Vietnam.”

Son of the Jackal? Its name tells you its birthplace — with the breed coming from Phu Quoc Island, off Kien Giang Province — but the dog’s origin is still a controversial topic. It wouldn’t be Vietnam without a folk legend recounting a mythical descent — that the breed is a cross between the Vietnamese Fu-dog and jackals living in the island, with the Fu-dog passing the ridge in its back onto the Phu Quoc. Some people say it is a crossbreed of native dog and wild dog, or that it originates from a country with ridgeback dogs. However, there is general agreement that it was bred with wild dogs on the island. Over a century ago, zoologist Emile Oustalet even thought that it could be a descendent of the Australian dingo, which was domesticated before being turned back to the wild. Yet unlike the dingo, the Phu Quoc is harmless to humans.

“Hung says Vietnam is a dog-loving nation, despite the now frowned-upon culture of eating man’s best friend in hideaway restaurants around the country”

A Phu Quoc in the Family VKA member Bui Quoc Viet, who is based in Tien Giang Province, admitted his life changed when his family received a strangelooking dog from Phu Quoc Island in 1986. “We were pretty fascinated with this dog as we had never seen anything like it before,” he says. “He looked like a greyhound with a bigger head and body. But it’s fair to say this dog awakened something in me. What I do find interesting is how sociable the dog can be and it can live with most animals if it’s reared with them from an early age.” Of course, the Phu Quoc’s unsociable aspects fascinate Viet as well. “Due to the fact that it can catch fish and small animals, it can live in the wild and survive alone,” he says. “With most breeds of dogs it is tough to get a pure breed. With the Phu Quoc you know what you are getting, as due to the isolation of the island from the mainland, it has not crossed with other breeds for a long time.”

Breeding Since the Phu Quoc dog comes from the wild it finds it hard to adapt to a life of dependency on humans, especially when living on the mainland where the surroundings, food and water are far different from its own environment. In an open environment, pregnant Phu Quoc bitches dig ‘caves’ before giving birth to their litter. It does not respond well to being kept in cages and is prone to infections and unusual illnesses, which is why eight out of ten die young. As a result, some breeders have drawn up ways to successfully tackle these problems. First, the dogs are vaccinated before leaving the island to prevent typical mainland illnesses; second, they bring soil and water from the island to the mainland, feeding the animals lean meat and clean water. The Phu Quoc is an expensive breed, priced at VND3 to 5 million per puppy from the island and VND5 to 10 million for a two to three-month-old dog from mainland breeders. Those with special features can be sold for VND30 million or more.

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Russell Kemp, an ex-captain in the South African Police Service and now a private detective, has teamed up with an ex-detective named Tran Hai Duong. The two men are on the trail of Gerard Prinsloo, a South African serial murderer who is operating in Vietnam. They have discovered Prinsloo’s apartment in District 1, but Prinsloo has vanished, taking with him a young Vietnamese woman… By Rob Marsh Part 9: A Race Against Time


fter the flurry of frantic activity that had followed the discovery of Gerard Prinsloo’s apartment in District 1 the action had slowed to a snail’s pace. Now, Captain Le of the Dakao Ward police station was in charge of the investigation. He had sent his men out into the streets to question Prinsloo’s neighbours in the hope of finding out where the killer had gone, but without any success. More worrying still was the fact that Prinsloo had taken with him a young Vietnamese woman whose life was now thought to be in danger. In Captain Le’s office Russell Kemp and Tran Hai Duong were sitting in front of the captain’s desk. Spread out in front of them were the papers that had been brought from Prinsloo’s apartment. Kemp had already gone through them, though in a cursory kind of way, because he didn’t know what he was looking for. “We have to find him before he hurts the girl,” Nguyen Ba Hoa said. She was the sister of one of Prinsloo’s victims, and the reason Kemp had come to Vietnam in the first place. She was standing with her back to the window. More by accident than design she had become a

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part of the investigative team. “Where passport?” Duong asked suddenly. “Where he keep money? We no find anything in apartment.” That was true, Kemp thought, and began intently going through Prinsloo’s papers once more. Captain Le, who had been speaking on the telephone, watched Kemp with interest then put his mobile back in his pocket. He said something to Duong in Vietnamese. “He wants to know what you’re looking for?” Ba Hoa said. “His bank statements,” Kemp answered. “Why?” “We haven’t really looked at them. If Prinsloo has a second apartment then being a westerner he can’t own it, right? So maybe money changes hands? Maybe he pays rent… ?” He began comparing the bank statements, going from one to the other. Eventually, he said, “He pays fifty million dong every month to…” — he struggled with the pronunciation — “… Phan Van Phu…” Captain Le said something in Vietnamese. “Landlord,” Duong explained. “Yes. But fifty million? That’s what, nearly two-and-a-half thousand dollars. How much is

the rent on his apartment?” No one knew. “Not that much,” Ba Hoa said finally. “I think we need to speak to Mr. Phan.” The captain, who appeared to have caught the gist of the conversation, suddenly spoke out again. “The landlord has gone fishing,” Ba Hoa translated. “Captain Le’s men are looking for him.”

District 2 Across the city, Gerard Prinsloo and Ngo Thi Bich, the young Vietnamese woman he had brought with him from his apartment, were standing sideby-side at the back of the house he rented in District 2. He was a big, broad-shouldered, blondhaired man, almost two metres tall and she was small and petite. The garden — cluttered yard would be a better name for it — ran from the back porch of the house down to the water’s edge where the Saigon River drifted past them in the twilight. It was a beautiful evening, the city lights starting to glow in the distance, but Ngo Thi Bich was feeling increasingly uneasy. There was something about her companion that disturbed her. No, more than that, something

that scared her. “I wan’ you take me back Distric’ 1, Gerar’,” she said. Apparently concerned, he turned to look at her. “Take you back, Miss Bich? But why?” “I forgo’ mus’ meet friend,” she said. “Friend hurt leg. Mus’ go hospital.” It was a pitiful excuse, she knew that, but could think of nothing else. “But we’ve just got here,” he said. He sounded hurt, but when she looked up at him she saw that his eyes lacked any vestige of expression; that there was something evil about him. A sixth sense told her that she needed to act with caution, take the line of least resistance. “Ok, I stay bit more,” she said. He seemed to relax. “Thank you,” he replied, but he had noted the change in her, saw it reflected in her eyes. He knew too that she was lying. You must keep lies simple, he thought. That was when he realised that there would soon be a need for greater sternness. “Excuse me for a moment,” he added then went back into the house. He found his bag which was sitting on the kitchen table and took out the knife, which he

Photo by: Adactio

slipped into his pocket, then walked back outside again.

Dakao Ward Police Station There were footsteps out in the corridor, then one of Captain Le’s detectives came into the office accompanied by a middleaged Vietnamese man wearing a floppy hat and carrying, incongruously, a fishing rod in one hand and two small fish on a string in the other. There followed a terse conversation during which the fish dripped water onto the floor, then Captain Le stood up and marched around the desk.

“This is the landlord,” Ba Hoa explained. “He has an apartment in District 2 that he rents to Gerard Prinsloo. He’s going to take us there.” Kemp stood up, causing the Captain to shake his head. There followed an angry exchange of words between Duong and the captain until the captain eventually capitulated. “No worry, Mitter Kemp, we go too,” Duong said grinning and patted him on the shoulder.

District 2 The two of them were in the kitchen where Prinsloo was standing at the sink washing

vegetables, preparing a salad for the table. “We go now, please?” Bich said, “My fren’ she worry about me.” Prinsloo nodded. He seemed to take pity on his guest, was suddenly apologetic. “Yes, Miss Bich,” he said, “but not just yet. Soon though, okay? After food…” Bich watched him. The fear was creeping forward once more. “Me not hungry.” “But I’ve made a special effort for you...” “Please we go,” she begged then suddenly the dam burst and she was shaking like a leaf,

handle and a short glittering blade rendered thin and razorsharp from constant honing. That was when Bich felt the terror truly enter her. It was because of the knife. The knife was reality, everything else was a dream. The final part of Dead Heat will be published in the April 2013 issue of Word. This is a work of fiction. All names, characters and incidents are invented. Rob Marsh is the author of 30 published books (both fiction and non-fiction). He has a special interest in matters crime-related and is the author of Famous South African Crimes and With Criminal Intent: the changing face of crime in South Africa. He currently lives in Ho Chi Minh City.

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The former champion bartender of Vietnam and now the general manager of New York Steakhouse, French-born Kevin Pham has transferred his skills with the mighty cocktail to the world of bovine eats. Photo by Alexandre Garel

THE SECRET TO A GOOD COCKTAIL IS… to not overcomplicate it. You need

good quality ingredients and most importantly there needs to be a surprise.

GLACED CHERRIES IN A DRINK… are just as annoying as a Christmas evening alone. I HAD NO IDEA THE TRANSITION BETWEEN DRINK AND FOOD WOULD… be so healthy, although it’s a challenge, but a challenge I’m adapting to and enjoying. It’s a real pleasure to go to work and then have a social life outside of the bar.


you rest after love — have a cigarette and enjoy. Give it the time it deserves.

A STEAK KNIFE SHOULD BE SHARP BUT SHOULDN’T BE… too sharp. A good steak should cut like butter.

STEAK AND COCKTAILS… both require attention and good skills. If you don’t like spirits then you can’t be trusted to make a good cocktail. If you don’t eat meat, you certainly can’t even attempt at making a good steak. IF I OWNED A COW I’D… feed her lots of grass and finish her off with a corn-based diet.

MY MUM TELLS ME… I drink and party too much, but I tell her it’s my job.


few shots of tequila and some barbecued steak on the beach with family and friends. Then I’d go to bed with my girl.

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Word Ho Chi Minh City March 2013  

The what's on guide to Ho Chi Minh City and beyond

Word Ho Chi Minh City March 2013  

The what's on guide to Ho Chi Minh City and beyond