This Week in Saigon: Best Events 26 January - 1 February

By: Angee the Diva

PRE-TET JITTERS

Gearing up for the long holiday? Hit up these events to get ready with gifts and giving.

Greasy Li Xi: Pre-Tet Charity Drive with Soul by Audium

Soul Burger, 4 Phan Boi Chau Street, D1
26 January | 6:00pm - 10:00pm | FREE
Facebook

Tet isn’t just about pretty flowers and delicious food. It’s also about giving back to others. Head down to Soul Burger for the Pre-Tet Holiday Charity Drive that supports poor seniors at Chùa Lâm Quang Pagoda in District 8. Get a free Rooster Beers and a ticket in the lucky draw with any donation, including anything from the list of acceptable non-cash donations. If you decide to donate cash, Ben Mawdsley and Audium will match it to buy essentials and gifts as well. Get an extra lucky draw ticket for any cash donation over VND100,000, plus an extra ticket per person for a table of 5 people or more. All night, there will be specials of VND30,000 Tiger draft and VND70,000 shots. Dance the night away to music by two of Saigon’s most generous DJs. Everyone can support a party with a great cause.

Event in SaigonImage source: facebook.com/soulburgersaigon

Tet Market

Schiller Saigon, 30 Duong So 10, Thu Duc District
27 January | 3:00pm - 11:00pm | FREE
Facebook

Just 20 minutes from District 2, Schiller Saigon is a welcomed escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Meander along the Saigon River through stalls of the Tet Market with handmade goods, eco-friendly items, the latest fashion trends, and second-hand wares. Or perhaps you’d like to make your own pizza from scratch with fresh ingredients and baked in their new outdoor oven. Partake in the sunset movement workshop hosted by Ilse Zoerb, then stay for the live music by psychedelic duo Lucy in the Sky - LSD (& friends). With free entry, this event makes for a great start to a relaxing Tet holiday!

Event in SaigonImage source: facebook.com/schillersaigon

MIND, BODY, AND BELLY

Time to amp it up with those resolutions -- or let them go completely! These events are all about trying something new.

The Board Game Exchange

The Language Exchange Coffee House, 399/43/5 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, D3
1 February | 7:00pm | FREE
Facebook+84 90 972 4314

Want to meet new people and practice English skills? There’s no better way to do it it than over friendly board games! Every Friday and Sunday evening, the Language Exchange Coffee House welcomes friends of all cultures and proficiency levels to practice English while playing games such as Carcassonne, Inhuman Conditions, Blokus, Splendor and many more. They promise that regardless of your language level, the games are easy to learn and a great way to make new friends. Families and friends of all ages and backgrounds are encouraged to join the fun!

Event in SaigonImage source: facebook.com/LanguageExchangeCoffeeHouse

Cook & Chill - First Class

Cook & Chill, 102 Vo Thi Sau, D1
27 January | 8:30am - 12:00pm | VND890,000
Facebook

Want to learn how to cook your Vietnamese food faves? Cook & Chill is a Vietnamese cooking class taught in English for everyone, especially foreigners, who want to know more about Vietnamese traditional dishes. Each class includes hands-on instruction, a choice of 3 beers, orange juice, or mineral water, a souvenir, and some recipes to take home. The first topic is a Saigon staple - Bánh Mì! Learn to make everyone’s favorite grab and go snack with 2 fillings and 2 sauces. Cook & Chill has made the class accessible to almost everyone; they even have vegan options! Feel free to message the friendly staff on the page for more information. Click here to register your spot.

Event in SaigonImage source: facebook.com/Cook-Chill

Marrenon Wine Dinner

Stoker Woodfired Grill & Bar, 44 Mac Thi Buoi, D1
28 January | 7:00pm - 10:00pm | VND1,500,000
Facebook; +84 93 486 7221; +84 90 729 2725; info@stokerwoodfiredgrill.com

Wine lovers of Saigon, you don’t want to miss this! Stoker Woodfired Grill & Bar is hosting special guest Robert Oustric, the Export Director for Marrenon Wines, direct from the Rhone region of France. Voted the best shiraz in the world in its class, patrons will have the pleasure of tasting their celebrated Gardarem 2015. Stoker chef, George Bloomfield, will prepare a specially curated 5-course menu to perfectly compliment the flagship Marrenon Wines. To preview the menu for the evening, please check out the Facebook event page. Reservations are required by phone or email.

Event in SaigonImage source: facebook.com/stokerwoodfiredgrill

Network Girls Breakfast

Latest Recipe, Le Meridien Saigon Hotel, 3C Ton Duc Thang Street, D1
31 January | 7:30am - 9:00am | VND250,000
Facebooknetworkgirlshcmc@gmail.com

The Network Girls invites local and expat female professionals in Saigon to attend their first breakfast event of 2019. Meet the ladies at Latest Recipe in Le Meridien Saigon Hotel for a networking event over a scrumptious buffet breakfast. The Network Girls boasts a contact list of over 700 professionals in Saigon, including executives of large international and Vietnamese companies, making this a fantastic opportunity to mingle with the most influential women in the city. While membership or fees are not required to attend, a reservation by email is required by Tuesday, 29 January. Please note that if once you have a confirmed reservation, payment is mandatory, even in the event of a no-show.

Event in SaigonImage source: facebook.com/networkgirlshcmc

Wellness Retreat: Recharge, Relax & Restore

Yoga Pod, 28 Thao Dien Street, D2
26 January | 8:00am - 6:30pm | VND1,500,000
Facebook

Let’s be honest. Most of us make New Years’ resolutions only to break them pretty quickly. However, you can renew those vows or get some support to stick with them at the Wellness Retreat hosted by Yoga Pod,La Holista, and The Hive Saigon. Start the morning with a relaxing yoga and meditation session by the knowledgeable Yoga Pod instructors. Afterwards, enjoy a delicious and nutritious breakfast prepared by La Holista. During the first break, mingle with the other patrons or take a cooling dip in the pool at The Hive Villa. Next, enjoy a 3-course lunch to energise yourself for an expressive painting workshop by Paint & Wine in Saigon. Take a stretch break with a group mindfulness walk, then complete your restorative day with a relaxing evening yoga and meditation session. Walk away from the day retreat with new strategies and a recharged soul.

Event in SaigonImage source: facebook.com/thehivevilla

MORE FUN STUFF

Pools and parties - shake your groove thing at these events around HCMC.

Australia Day BBQ Pool Party

Hotel Equatorial Ho Chi Minh City, 242 Tran Binh Trong, D5
26 January | 11:00am - 5:00pm | VND595,000 - Adult/VND195,00 - child presale; VND685,00 - Adult/VND225,000 - child at door
Facebook

The only proper way to celebrate Australia Day is with a pool party and a BBQ! Hotel Equatorial HCMC is throwing a shindig in grand fashion on their rooftop swimming pool and kiddie pool. In Australia, everything is bigger so you better bring an Aussie-sized appetite to this one. Tickets include an all-you-can-eat BBQ and free flow drinks. Expect a bountiful spread of appetizers, grilled seafood,meat and ice cream! Wash it all down with your choice of house wine, Tiger beer or soft drinks. After you’ve had your fill, cool off in the glittering pools until sunset.

Event in SaigonImage source: facebook.com/hotelequatorialhcmc

Fridays Drag Show Night

Republic, 274 De Tham, D1
1 February | 11:00pm | FREE with drink purchase
Facebook

The Drag scene in Saigon is heating up and the queens at Republic are making a name in the city! Expect drama, glitter, dance, and music swirl together in unparalleled performances. Get ready to gag at the eleganza of these local drag queens! The show starts around 11pm, but get in early to get a good perch because this place is gonna fill up real quick. Republic may be known as one of the few gay clubs in Saigon but feel free to party since the staff welcomes anyone with an open mind. Stick around after the show to dance until closing all night long!

Event in SaigonImage source: facebook.com/republicvn

Hilton and Popp - Live Folk and Country Blues

Malt South, 35 Nguyen Luong Bang, D7
31 January | 7:30pm - 9:30pm | FREE
Facebook

Saigon has a bit to offer everyone, and that’s no exception for our country music loving folks. Malt South is proud to host Australian songwriter-guitarist Mark Hilton and guitarist Paul Popp for a folk and country blues hoedown. Whether heart-wrenching ballads or foot-tapping tunes, these two are sure to get the party rocking. Enjoy some yummy bar food and a wide array of craft beers in Malt South’s rustic atmosphere. For a preview of what’s in store, check out Mark Hilton’s music at his website.

Event in SaigonImage source: facebook.com/maltsouth

Banner Image source: citypassguide.com


Golf in Vietnam

By: Simon Stanley


Golf in Vietnam. Great Experience

 


Although Vietnam has only 30 golf courses in operation, they are all very high quality and some outstanding designs by the top golf architects in the world. If you get the opportunity to play, you will not be disappointed and you will be made so very welcome wherever you go. As yet, there are no public golf courses in the country and golf is seen as a sport for the elite. Many of the top-position politicians and businessmen play golf as they see it as a good way to discuss business together.

 


Golf here is not as expensive as you would think. During the week, special offers mean you can play golf for around $60. This will include the green fee and caddie. Please note that caddies are mandatory and more about them later. Although many golf courses are ok for walking, due to the heat and the time taken to play 18 holes, it is wise to take a buggy. Prices vary from course to course, but a shared buggy charge will be around $15 per person.

 


golf in vietnam

 


Photo courtesy of Sea Links Golf Resort

 


When you arrive at the golf club, you will be welcomed by the Valet, who will direct you to Reception where you will book in. If you need rental clubs and shoes, the Receptionist will get them for you. Most golf clubs will offer acceptable rental clubs for about $25 for 18 holes or higher quality sets, such as Titleist or Taylor Made for $40. The price for shoes is usually $15. The Golf Shop will stock tees, gloves and golf balls and some clubs offer used golf balls for sale. They will also have a selection of shirts and caps for you to buy as souvenirs. You must be aware of the dress code. Each club will expect you to wear a proper golf shirt, golf shorts, not swimming trunks or very short shorts, golf shoes and each golfer must have their own set of golf clubs, Sharing is not allowed. All golf clubs have locker rooms and you will be given your own locker and key. Do not lose the key, otherwise they will charge you for a replacement.

golf in vietnam


Photo courtesy of Do Son Seaside Golf Resort


The caddie will help you on the golf course. When you book a tee time, insist on a caddie who can speak English. You will be spending 4 or 5 hours with them, so you do want to find out more about their life and you will find they are so interested in you. They will do everything for you except hit a golf ball. They will take care of your clubs, clean your golf balls, fill in divots, rake bunkers and repair pitch marks. They will describe each hole for you, tell you where the hazards are and even give you the line of the putt. As their salary is small, then you should give them a tip at the end of the round. The amount of tip is up to you, but the usual tip is 250,000 to 400,000 Vietnam dong per caddie ($13 to $20).



Make sure you are properly prepared for your round of golf. Drink plenty of water before you play and during the round. All golf courses have rest houses on the golf course and many return to the club house after 9 holes. Bringing your own drinks and food is a no no and should not be done.



After your round of golf, make sure you give yourself time to relax at the clubhouse with a welcoming and refreshing cold drink. Golf clubs are excellent places to eat, very reasonable in price and will offer both local and international menus.



Most of all enjoy yourself and take in the beauty of where you are. You are in a very special place with some friendly, smiling people who want to do their best for you and hope you will come back and see them again.


golf in vietnam



Other Golf articles by Simon Tinkler:
Golf in the North of Vietnam
Golf in Nha Trang
Golf in Da Nang
Golf in Phan Thiet and Mui Ne
Sea Links Golf Course - Heaven or Hell
Holes-in-One for BRG Group


Escape Hunt and Ubiquest in HCMC

By: Aleksandr Smechov

City Pass tries out two of Saigon’s most popular live detective games, Escape Hunt and Ubiquest, playing the role of a hard-nosed detective investigating a murder mystery.

Outside of theatre and video games, you don’t see much role play or interactive activities in Ho Chi Minh City. Luckily, we uncovered two detective games that drop you in the middle of a murder mystery, letting you live out those Sherlock Holmes fantasies (minus tobacco pipe and risk of death). Escape Hunt and Ubiquest are difficult (to an extent), immersive and rewarding – read on to find out exactly why they are some of the most fun you will have in Saigon.

Escape Hunt

Located somewhat furtively above The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is the quietly decorated lobby area of Ho Chi Minh City’s Escape Hunt office. Four rooms sit at various angles, blocked off by tall curtains. These are the escape rooms, and you will know nothing about them until you walk in, have the door shut and locked on you, and be given one hour to solve the mystery and find the key to unlock the door.

Escape Hunt HCMC

Escape Hunt is the brainchild of an English Psychologist who, after experiencing health issues and moving to Thailand, developed the idea of a detective game that has 2-5 players pitted against an intricate mystery.

Escape Hunt now has 25 locations, with a slew of others set to open in North America. The Ho Chi Minh City Escape Hunt branch was opened in September and has been popular with teens, universities, companies, tourists and expats.

Escape Hunt Saigon

Three of our staff stopped in for a 60-minute sleuth session. We were ushered into a low-lit room, explained the rules and left to solve the mystery and find the key to the door within an hour timeframe.

We heard the door sadistically lock and some moody music creep up. The game master was available for hints, but each time we asked for help from her we got minutes shaved from our remaining time.

Escape Hunt in Ho Chi Minh City

The puzzles are tricky, teamwork-oriented, and require some outside-the-box approaches. Few if any have solved the mystery and escaped the room without at least a few hints from the game master. Finding the next clue or coming upon an item you were searching for feels highly rewarding, and you get sucked into the role quickly. Time flies as you use a whiteboard to jot down notes and figures, collect pieces of evidence and nervously glance at the large LED clock ticking away.

It’s thrilling, addictive and relies on individual strengths working in unison rather than outsmarting the other person. As a team-building exercise or a rainy-day diversion, Escape Hunt is ace.

To check out available mysteries and booking options, check out the Escape Hunt booking page.

Ubiquest

Ubiquest Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City’s second live detective game takes players outside the claustrophobic confines of a room and throws them in the streets of Saigon.

This doubles as a self-directed walking tour, but you may want to do the tour part after the live game – you’ll be too busy role playing a hard-nosed detective, questioning actors in various roles, finding mafia-tied ancient artifacts or any of the other challenges Ubiquest presents.

For our experience, we chose the Urban Tales game, a murder mystery set in Cho Lon, Ho Chi Minh City’s China town. We were picked up by a cute yellow 1967 Citroen 2CV, a happy-go-lucky young driver creaking away at the ancient dashboard. We arrived at a dilapidated living space, escorted up to the top floor and into one of the rooms, a few curious residents peeking at us through open doorways.

We were briefed, told to search the evidence room and given our gear (map, notebook, water, etc.), including cell phones for further instructions from the head detective.

Urban Tales takes three to four hours to complete. Be sure to go when the wind blows and the sun’s behind the clouds – you can easily get exhausted walking around in the unbearable heat on a cloudless day. Sun block and a decently wide hat are all but mandatory. You’ll be provided water but it’s a good idea to bring a bottle of your own too.

Ubiquest detective game

For entirety of the game, we set out into the streets of Cho Lon with our map and collection of evidence, going from actor to actor, uncovering details of the murder. The characters drop you clues and hints when you press them for information, sometimes refusing you if you don’t put enough pressure or reasoning into your argument. The acting is hilariously campy, and the game would benefit from some natural English speakers with an acting background, but the campiness is tolerable in the grand scheme, and allows you to play out your own amateur detective fantasies without judgment.

Ubiquest Cho Lon

We were pitted against two other teams, and although we were the first to find out the murderer, another team found the sacred artifact before us. Afterwards we all took cyclos to a Chinese restaurant for free lunch.

Urban Tales is an eclectic way to discover Cho Lon – or any other part of Saigon – just be sure to go when the sun isn’t blazing.

For more games, check out the official Ubiquest page.


Best Things to Do with Kids in Saigon

By: Barbara

Many of Ho Chi Minh City's things to do are suitable for families with kids of all ages. If you are living in Vietnam as an expat or just visiting, we list the 10 best things to do with your children in Saigon.

Don’t forget to comment below to let us know what are your recommendations!

City Parks and their Playgrounds

The city's parks are places where childish exuberance, which can be hard to contain in a hotel room, can be unleashed. Van Thanh Park in Binh Thanh District has paths and a field for little people who just need to run, as well as a small playground and a swimming pool. While the kids are busy being energetic, adults can relax in a bamboo hut over a small pond or work up a sweat on the tennis courts.

Saigon Parks

Listening to Songbirds

Tao Dan Park in downtown District 1 also has room to move, making it a popular spot for city dwellers to take their morning and evening exercise. And it's not just people who visit the park. Songbirds are taken to the park's little cafe (fronting Cach Mang Thang Tam Street) every morning, their cages hung from purpose-built frames to encourage them to sing. It's a fascinating experience to visit the bird cafe, especially watching the bird owners take their beloved pets home by motorbike.

Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre

The park, which has large playground and an indoor play centre, is a short walk from the Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre. The 55-minute water puppet shows, all in Vietnamese, need to be booked a few days ahead.

You could continue the bird theme with a visit to Pet Me Coffee in Phu Nhuan District. This small drinks-only cafe has a resident mini-owl and several parakeets, which can be petted, as well as some larger more exotic birds who hang out at the front of the coffee shop.

Photo Source: Golden Dragon Theatre

Family-Fun in Suoi Tien Amusement Park

One of the city's wackiest attractions in town is the Buddhist-themed Suoi Tien Amusement Park. Allocate a full day here, especially if you plan to visit the vast water park section. The amusement park can be quite baffling if you're not well versed in Buddhist stories because there is limited signage in English. Still, a stroll through the strange displays, which include a wish tree and The Royal Herbal Wine Palace, can be very entertaining. There is also an aquarium, 4D cinema, a dolphin show and the Snow Castle, the perfect place to escape Ho Chi Minh City's heat ... by plunging into a sub-zero world of ice and snow.

Photo Source: Suoi Tien - Andrea Hale

Pretending to Be Adults in Kizciti

Younger kids will enjoy learning about the world of work at Kizciti in District 4. The staff here usually has enough English to explain how each activity centre works. Each child receives a small amount of kizo, the Kizciti currency, on entry and they must decide how to manage it. Some activities cost kizo, and some earn it. A small open-air cafe serves basic food and coffee to sustain the "kiz" and their parents through a long day of "work", which can entail learning to be a pilot, a paediatrician, a delivery person or a firefighter.

Photo Source: Kizciti

Indoor Kid’s Play Centres and Playgrounds

Ho Chi Minh City has several indoor play centres and amusement arcades. In the city centre, Vincom Center has a play area and a game zone in its basement. In District 2, there's a play area in the garden of Snap Cafe and in District 7 there's an air-conditioned indoor playground inside Bee Bee Premium Kid's Cafe (4th floor, 96-98 Cao Trieu Phat, Phu My Hung).

Older kids can while away a few hours at Paintball Saigon, X-Rock Climbing, in the pool at Lan An Sports Club or at the bowling alley on the fourth floor of Diamond Plaza.

Photo Source: Snap Café

Visit a Witch-Themed Café

Younger kids can be entertained for hours at the witch-themed Ba Cay Choi (Three Broomstick) cafe on the third floor of The Vista Walk in District 2. Activities at the cafe, which can be entered via the stairs or a giant slide, include candle-making, baking, hat-making and painting. Make sure you order something with a suitably disgusting name from the food and drink menu, such as bug mud or ghost pumpkin spaghetti.

There are more cool cafés for you to bring your children to: A long rainy Saigon afternoon can be spent playing board games and snacking on poutine at Monopolatte Au Play Cafe, while a long scary evening can be spent eating ribs. (There's a pool in the outdoor section).

Photo Source: Witch Coffee

Playing Detective in Escape Hunt

Escape Hunt is a game played indoors with a group of two to eight people. You are locked inside a room with a mystery murder to solve. It is one of the best thing to do in Saigon for families with teenagers. You must work together to find clues that will help you find out who is the killer and how to escape.

Learning Arts in Vinspace

In the expat area of District 2, there is a range of activities for older kids. Some of the more interesting include taking a workshop or joining a summer camp at Vinspace art studio.

Photo Source: Vinspace

Saigon Reunification Palace

The Reunification Palace is a prime example of a must-visit family-friendly attraction that has a special appeal for kids. The roomy but slightly run-down public areas could be the backdrop for a princess fantasy, while the basement war rooms will appeal to hero-types. Making the palace even more appealing is its location, a short walk from the Haagen-Dazs ice cream cafe.

Families traveling to Vietnam with kids should not worry about things to do in Saigon. We only listed our top 10 attractions but there are many more great ideas that will make your stay memorable. You may also want to read our article What to Do in 24-hour in Saigon.


Arabian Night in HCMC

By: Quang Mai

Funds raised from the event will be donated to Nguyen Dinh Chieu School for the Blind in District 10 to renovate and buy equipment for a Multi-Sensory Room that supports 305 students here to develope their academic learning. Multi-Sensory Learning happens when more than one sense is used to acquire and retain information – so applicable for children with multi-disabilities.

Date:

Saturday, 15th September 2012

Time:

From 7pm till late

Venue:

InterContinental Asiana Saigon
Corner of Hai Ba Trung & Le Duan St., Dist. 1, HCMC

Ticket cost:

VND3,165,000 per ticket
VND31,650,000 per table of 10

Bookings:

events@auschamvn.org
Tel: (84-8) 3832 9912

Please click here to visit Arabian Night micro website

XO Tours: Much imitated but never replicated!

By: Barbara Dorothy Clarke

We all know that it is near on impossible to copyright an idea and protect intellectual property in Vietnam.

But what does that mean for your day to day business when you have an original idea and an excellent product?

Luckily although people can steal your ideas – in minute detail – and almost totally replicate your offering - it’s the little things that make a brand – and ensure that brand still stands head high above any pale imitations.

Spend 5 minutes with Tung who is the founder of XO Tours and his passion and enthusiasm for what he does is palpable. It is a simple idea – tourists want to see the real Saigon but not on the back of a grubby motorbike and behind an even grubbier driver. Step up XO Tours with female drivers with class, style and excellent English who are also able to provide a female perspective on life in Vietnam.

XO Tours was the first company in Vietnam to offer affordable motorbike tours with attractive female tour guides dressed in traditional Vietnamese Ao Dai. All the XO guides are handpicked and fluent in English but it is Tung’s focus on service that really sets XO Tours apart.

Tung invests heavily in every detail of his brand and his employees imbue the same high brand values. All his employees are trained to the highest standards – whether it is presentation, language skills, driving skills or personability . All employees are full time and their bikes are upgraded at Tung’s expense to ensure maximum comfort and safety for clients.

This is a business where the customer experience is king – people are buying memories and that is what he aims to deliver. Staff retention is key and bonuses and profit sharing make for motivated and loyal employees who are focused on growing the company by providing the best experience they can.

Customers come from all over the world and a high percentage of business comes from word of mouth – simply the best publicity you can get – being number 1 on Trip Advisor for 2 years can’t be bad either.

Bristling with new ideas, Tung started with basic tours – he was the first to do night tours – then first to do foodie tours. Now others are jumping on the bandwagon - some good -some not so good….

In spite of this, XO Tours is expanding and bookings are full – anything between 18-24 guests go out on any one night.

So competitors can steal his ideas, follow the same routes , and visit the same areas, cosy up to the same suppliers…..

Imitate they may – replicate never!

Do you know of any businesses with similar experiences?

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