1. PANORAMIC VIEW FROM SKYSCRAPERS
Panoramic view of the city? Look no further than Saigon Sky Deck on the 49th floor of the Iconic Bitexco Financial Tower and Chill Sky Bar on 27th floor Rooftop of AB Tower At a fee of VND200,000 per adult and VND130,000 per child (4 – 12 years old), you will get a pass to Saigon Sky Deck, located on the 49th floor and enjoy the superb view of Saigon below. There are telescopes for your pleasure. If a good cocktail is what you are after, go unwind with a drink in the skyscraper’s lounge on the 52nd floor. Local Insight: Opening hours is from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. The last ticket shall be bought 45 minutes prior to closing time. Chill Sky Bar is an enviable location for travellers looking to get above the street-level deluge of motorbikes and honking trucks. Spectacular views, sophisticated design, stellar service and excellent food are this rooftop bar’s cornerstones. Local insight: Weekday’ happy hour lasts from 5:30 p.m. till 8:30 p.m.
2. CHILLING IN A COFFEE SHOP
Coffee is second only to rice in value of agricultural products exported from Vietnam. Coffee has became an important part of a Vietnamese everyday life. It is easy to catch a sight of people enjoying coffee at any time during the day. Saigon has different types of coffee shops to meet different demands: watching movies, listening to music, reading magazines, watching street-life, or, oddly enough, even coffee places for couples, cat lovers and Japanese maid theme. Local insight: Vietnamese coffee is almost exclusively Robusta. Robusta strains contain about 40–50% more caffeine than Arabica. For local style, head to Trinh-Coffee where some of the most popular songs by Trinh Cong Son, a talented music composer, are performed.
3. HEAVEN OF STREET – FOOD
Phở is a must-try whether you like it or not. If you don’t try phở, then you’ve never been to Vietnam. Don’t try street-stall food until your stomach has become acclimatized! Some of our recommendations: Phở Pasteur, Phở Hòa, Phở 24h, Phở 2000, Phở Hùng and Phở 5 sao. It’s best if you have local friends to take you to stalls that serve for the local, not the tourists for the genuine experience of Phở of Vietnam. Local insight: Take your time to try some other traditional foods, such as Bún Bò Huế (spicy beef noodle soup) and Cơm Tấm (broken rice) among others.
4. LIVE MUSIC EVERY SINGLE DAY
HCMC is home to hundreds of bands and DJs. You can enjoy live music from over 20 bars and cafés in the center of HCMC.
5. COOK IT YOURSELF
Making Vietnamese food is not a “Mission Impossible”. All you need is a passionate and ready-to-make-mistakes attitude. You can start first with your Vietnamese friends and make easy ready-to-eat pieces. So you will feel like a ‘master’ the next time you go eating out and do your own wrapping roll. Local insight: Try the excellent cooking classes offered by Hoa Tuc Restaurant and Vietnam Cookery Center
6. WATCHING À Ố SHOW- A UNIQUE WAY TO EXPERIENCE VIETNAMESE CULTURE
À Ố show is a new kind of art performance commonly acknowledged globally as new circus. The show surpasses all the limits that was previously by many other art show in Vietnam over the years. Audience is offered the opportunity to let loose their imagination once they are set off by the visual creation and lighting of each performance. The word “amazed” does not even begin to describe it the moment the audience see themselves walking on a small walkway of the sweet and breezy Southern Vietnam, wondering pass the surging dunes of the Southern Central only to find themselves ended up in front of a lotus swamp. Every now and then audience can hear echoes of a Southern chantey and the traditional music of “Don Ca Tai Tu”. All the details that are portraited and recorded of the show reflect the spirit of the Vietnamese people and their heritage. The chastity of bamboo, basket boat and its use in the daily life of many Vietnamese are leading visuals for the show. À Ố Show has no script, no climax and no sequence. During the 60 minutes of the show, the audience is gently introduced to many different tones of emotion as some may see flashes of their own reflection through the vivid yet poetical render. À Ố show may still be within the path of pursuing perfection but it does take pride in providing audience an hour long of peace, comfort and serenity mixed with astonishment and joy. It is almost as if the audience were captured in a Vietnamese dream of life, survival, love and everything else in between.
Local insight: 7 Cong Truong Lam Son, District 1. Or book ticket at: [email protected]
7. WATER PUPPET SHOW
Like in other traditional performing arts -popular opera (chèo), classical .opera (tuồng), and renovated opera (cải lương) -a water puppetry programme always starts with a boisterous music composition to attract attention and create a joyful atmosphere. In the past, in the water puppetry villages, drums and buffalo horns were used because they could provide loud and echoing sounds to attract the audience. The water puppetry orchestra could be that of a “chèo” or “tuồng” troupe or some villagers who play musical instruments. In modern theaters, the orchestra consists of professional musicians and singers. They play traditional musical instruments like drums, clarinets, cymbals, Chinese guitars, bamboo flutes, zithars, and twostringed violins. The most noteworthy instrument is the monochord with a single string which can create wonderful tune found in Vietnam only. The singers not only accompany performing items but also converse with puppets, especially Uncle Tễu, a puppet functioning as a humerous and intelligent M.C. Previously, such open and impromptu talks between the audience and performers was an indispensable part of the village’s performances. In the past, most Vietnamese farmers in the Red River Delta had a great passion for “chèo” performance at their village’s communal houses during traditional festivals. Tunes and songs all originate from of folk music. Audiences are treated to classic tunes that harken back to simpler times.
Local insight: 55b Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Str, District 1 Tel: 08. 8272653
8. ENJOY SPA & MASSAGE IN HCMC
One of the first stops in Vietnam for many tourists is the massage parlour! Getting a massage in Vietnam is a big part of tourism here and is a perfect escape from the heat and bustle outside. But what’s the big deal with massages in Vietnam? Here’s a run down to go along with our other Vietnam travel tips… What is a Vietnamese Massage? Massage therapy has existed in Vietnam for centuries. In the early days, massage establishments were considered shady businesses where men would go to commit adultery or to simply get away from their wives. In fact, it was considered shameful to be recognized while coming out of such an establishment. Not so much the case anymore, so feel free to enjoy massages here as much you’d like! Vietnamese massage is influenced mostly from Chinese methods of therapy but has evolved to be unique in that it really focuses on kneading and working out the knots in the muscles. By contrast, Thai massages use a lot of muscle movement, stretching, and moving limbs. To add more confusion to the mix, a foot massage isn’t necessarily just a foot massage! Most places will add in a body massage to some degree. And does reflexology really work? It depends on whom you ask! But the many foot massage parlours claim it does and can do wonders for your body simply by invigorating pressure points on your feet. Some parlours will also use hot stones strategically placed at points on your body to stimulate and warm the muscles in the area. Again, does this work? Maybe, but the point is that it feels good.
For a good massage in Ho Chi Minh City, here are a few of our recommendations:
1. Nails & Beauty Shop – 118 Pasteur, District 1
2. Ngoc Anh Spa – 36-38 Nguyen Cu Trinh, District 1
3. Indochine Spa – 69 Thu Khoa Huan, District 1
4. Orient Skin Care & Spa: 244A Cong Quynh, District 1