Enjoy Savoring Saigon in 48 hours
Saigon, or Ho Chi Minh City, is a charming city as one so-called Oriental Pearl. Unlike anything from Western movies like “Apocalypse Now”, it has youthful spirit and looking-forward city with glittering skyscrapers, innovative fashion and a pulsing night life. Savoring Saigon as a Saigonese won’t be as hard as you think because someone has said “when you’re in Saigon, just make the most as you can”.
It’s Friday night and you might be feeling a bit jet-lagged, you can chill out at a rooftop bar to have a good drink and enjoy the city view. If you are keen on trying authentic taste of Saigon cuisine, have a visit at The Temple Club, one of the last heritage building in central Saigon in the 1880s. A lantern-lit corridor leads through a flight of stairs to a nostalgic house which is considered the top-notch Vietnamese fine diner. The refined atmosphere of this bygone area is recreated vintage interior with beautiful jazz melody.
After a real glimpse of the old Saigon cuisine, let’s mix and mingle to the modern Saigon at Chanh Bistro Restaurant. Meaning “lime” in English, the bistro concept is all about fresh and nature with daily flourish and generous international dishes prepared by Chef Sakal and Chef Vinh. You can enjoy chilling at outsides rooftop terraces overseeing the Bitexco Financial Tower with the view of Saigon River, and observe the never-ending night of the Saigonese life.
Most Saigonese starts their Saturday with a cup of street coffee. The best place where it can be is Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica area. You can choose to sit outside The Coffee Bean or NYDC to catch an occasional glimpse of picture-postcard Vietnam, like an old woman in a conical hat pedaling a bicycle, but she’ll most likely be lost in a sea of motorbikes, rumbling toward the future. However, the best option is ordering a take-away coffee from The Coffee Factory around the corner and having a walk along the park.
For brunch, let’s visit Duck Deli. Despite its small size, this deli already has 25 years history dating back in 1990. Started with a small vendor on the street, now Duck Deli is about the authentic cabbage salad with boiled duck, adsorbed in unique home-made sauce and served together with congee, glass-noddle or rice-noddle. From Duck Deli, you can also walk to Fine Art Museum and visit some antique boutiques around the corner.
At noon, most people in Saigon will prefer a short break under the shadow, especially along riverside. So reward yourself a trip to The Deck, one of the city’s most elegant rendezvous and a restaurant which offers relaxed, riverside and open-air dining. This is a space for you to chill out on a large outdoor wooden deck, enjoy innovative and glamorous cocktails created by renowned New York Mixologist Joseph Barowski and creative contemporary fusion cuisine. Or if you want more adventure, you can try Sunset Cruise, Cu Chi Tunnel and Wildlife Rescue Station Cruise, a uniquely romantic experience with lunch on board and cold drinks to enjoy your day in style.
The night is the trickiest occasion even for a Saigonese because there are so many events going on and you do not want to miss one of them. You can choose to stay in district 2 and visit Saigon OutCast, the first culture and street art hub ever in Ho Chi Minh City. Started in 2012 with couple of shipping containers stacked on a grassy block of land, now Saigon Outcast is a creative space with DIY wood plank swings, graffiti, skateboarding; a center of music and art events with loads of beer, BBQ, pool parties and a whole lot of good vibes.
Although the sun rises early in Saigon, life begins slowly at Sunday morning. A cup of Vietnamese traditional coffee or tea with some snacks at Khanh Casa can wake you up while the stylist decoration at balcony over-looking the streets below is definitely #instagram-worthy to snap a few photos to share for your friends.
Now if you’re feeling hungry and want to explore more about authentic Vietnamese cuisine, La Mint by Danh is worthy for a visit with well-executed international dish with fresh and local ingredients. The comfortable seating, relaxed music and vaulted ceiling create an elegant but cozy ambience will be a perfect choice for your morning.
The next stop in our list is 3A Station, which is a complex-contemporary art space, recycled from old houses built in 19th Century under French colonial with huge graffiti paintings. The station is decorated in classical style and combined with modern features, master planned into an entertainment complex including art gallery, studio, cloth shops, charity warehouse and café on the wide area of 2,000 square meters. You can find other goods such as handmade bowl, dish, ceramic products or innovative fashion designs here.
To make the journey the most memorable, don’t forget to watch AO Show, an interesting mix of the new and the old, combining elements of Vietnamese music, dance and Cirque du Soleil at Saigon Opera House. Only lasts only an hour, the show depicts a series of stories describing the daily lives of people in Mekong Delta from the past until the present. The show is a unique blend of athleticism, acrobatic acts and theatrical visual drama portraying the beauty of Southern Vietnam.
Dining at The Racha Room is a proper farewell to this short trip. This currently opened contemporary Thai restaurant is certainly a refined for enjoying Thai cuisine, street influenced dish, which have been elevated into smart and chic plates by executive chef Chris Donnellan. But the signature cocktails at The Racha Room are the hardest ones to resist, namely Hot and Stormy (Brugal Especiate dark rum, sugar cane juice, maple syrup, ginger beer and chilli), a signature cocktail suitable for deep ruminating on long days and long nights, or a terrific weekend in Saigon.