Ho Chi Minh, also known as Saigon, is a food lover's wonderland. The 'city that never sleeps' is also a very populous city, with a dense population of 9.3 million. Ho Chi Minh boasts a mix of skyscrapers and charming French colonial structures that make for a picturesque visit.
Recently, over a short weekend break, my husband and I flew into the city after deciding at the last minute to fly to a country that's only a two-hour flight away. Ho Chi Minh is known as a food haven, and we couldn't wait to try the many dishes that reflect its cultural diversity.
Day 1: Friday
There are many beautiful boutique and chain hotels in Ho Chi Minh, including InterContinental Residences Saigon, Sotetsu Grand Fresa Saigon, and Park Hyatt Saigon, but I decided to go with a boutique hotel instead. For this trip. I chose to stay at The Myst Dong Khoi because of the captivating modern design combined with the classic charm of colonial aesthetics. At the entrance, you literally feel like you've been transported to a museum because of the relics that were carefully exhibited there. Other boutique hotels I would recommend staying at are Mai House Saigon Hotel and KunKin Garden Aparthotel & Spa.
For lunch, we head straight to Propaganda Restaurant & Bistro, a fun and lively eatery with vibrant drawings of livelihood in Vietnam. The chicken pho and banh mi were tasty and perfectly cooked!
We checked out the local fashion and found some cool streetwear brands. Head to The New Playground, a basement filled with small, independent brands for the cool kids to shop from, Joe Thrift for secondhand finds, Paradise Saigon for their Supreme-inspired wear and Compound Garment for sleek lines. Now, a quick stop at Cộng Cà phê for some cool iced coffee by the balcony.
Another place we stopped by was The Café Apartment building on 42 Nguyen Hue Street. This nine-storey building houses a mix of cafés and retail shops, and if the stairs scare you, you could opt for the rustic elevator with a fee of 3k Viet Dong. There weren't a lot of shops open when we arrived there by late evening, but some of the standout shops we've seen are Meraki Café, Orientea and Arabica %.
For dinner, my husband picked Square One, a Michelin 2023 Selected Restaurant located inside Park Hyatt Saigon, which serves French-Viet fine dining cuisine. The main dishes, beef Wellington and Vietnamese-style lobster with rice were delectable. The perfect place to celebrate date nights and anniversaries! Other recommendations: Try the Seafood Buffet at Lotte Hotel Saigon.
As the night was still young, we took a cab to Legato, a jazz bar hidden in a small alley. There are three live performances in a week, so we were lucky to catch the live band and appreciate the cocktails and extensive whiskey drinks list. All that walking, eating and shopping – I'd definitely recommend a spa massage to soothe your aching muscles.
Day 2, Saturday
Because it was our last day in the city, we didn't have enough time to check out sights outside like Cu Chi Tunnels Tour or a full-day excursion to Mekong Delta. Perhaps, a longer trip the next time! We spent some time instead, taking it easy with strolls around different neighbourhoods.
The Saigon Japan Town is perfect for a stroll at night as it really comes alive with all the bars, but when we checked the place out in the morning, we found a quaint cafe called Tokyo Moon Cafe Noir that serves delectable cakes and coffee.
For lunch, we opted for Hoa Tuc, which is located in a previous old opium refinery. Now a contemporary Vietnamese restaurant, the restaurant was recommended by Michelin for its tasty and harmonious combination of flavours. The restaurant also offers cooking classes and a street food tour.
By evening, we booked a bamboo circus show at the Ho Chi Minh City Opera House. It's a well-known spot for wedding shoots as well! The bamboo circus show combines the folk harmony of the Vietnamese countryside with the youthful melodies of the Vietnamese city. I must say, some of the artists performed some gravity-defying stunts that had my jaw dropped!