Food for the Soul: Eating Your Way Through Vietnam

By: Keely Burkey

You’ve probably seen this many times: a person sitting at a metal table at a hole-in-the-wall eatery, face held parallel to the plate or bowl in strong focus. In Vietnam, food isn’t just nutrition, it’s a philosophy – beautiful, complex and simple all at once.

vietnamese foodImage source: kenh14.vn

And lucky you – you can experience it yourself.

A Family Affair

Vietnamese food is not just an assortment of ingredients made in a specific manner. That’s a recipe, not a cuisine. At its most fundamental, Vietnamese food is both an idea and an experience.

First and foremost, it’s a cuisine that celebrates the idea of family. As the writers of Golden Spoon & the Quintessence of Vietnamese Cuisine point out,

“In Vietnamese culture, the family meal is always something holy. It is not only a place for reunion, but also a moment for connection, sharing [and] warmth that everyone saves for each other.”

vietnamese foodImage source: vicare.vn

Walk around Saigon’s streets at night, and you’ll see this happy communion of souls at many a bia hoi and sidewalk restaurant: large groups laughing, shouting and cheersing over gigantic, family-style spreads of stir fries or communal hot pots.

The Spice of Life

However, what is most integral to Vietnamese food? For renowned Vietnamese chef Chiem Thanh Long, it comes down to spices. Chef Long is quick to note that spices aren’t just used to add flavour.

Spices are part of a complex system of health that’s grounded in the concept of yin and yang, the idea of contrasting-yet-complementary forces that work to make a beautiful and balanced whole.

For example, in Vietnamese cuisine, duck is almost mandatorily paired with ginger. This isn’t just because these tastes work well together. “Duck is ‘yin’, or cool, and ginger is ‘yang’, or hot. They balance out, so that when a person eats too much duck, their stomach is not upset by too much ‘yin’.”

vietnamese foodImage source: lamthenao.com

Look at your next Vietnamese menu and you’ll start to see this pattern. Sauteed morning glory (yin) and garlic (yang). Snakehead fish (yin) and piper lolot (yang). This delicious list goes on.

No Set Cuisine

It’s a shame just how little the nuances and varieties of Vietnamese food are celebrated across the globe. “Before I came to Vietnam, I had no idea about the food! All I knew was pho and banh mi.” Mark Lowerson, food blogger and street food tour guide in Hanoi, recognises this unfortunate oversight in much of his clientele: “A lot of people will maybe know about pho, but maybe won’t know the difference between a Vietnamese and Chinese spring roll. And it’s always a revelation.”

Even Vietnamese locals have been humbled by the complexity. Ly Sang, who organises the yearly national cooking competition the Golden Spoon Awards, told us,

“I thought I knew a lot about Vietnamese cuisine, and then I started travelling the country [for the competition]. I realised I hadn’t even scratched the surface!”

vietnamese foodImage source: smiletravel.vn

After all, the bun cha in Hanoi is remarkably different from the bun cha on offer in Saigon. Each region lays proud claim to unique styles, tastes and spices. Chef Chiem Thanh Long says, “Nowadays people in Saigon eat less sugar, but it’s supposed to be sweet still… In the central [region], it’s salty and spicy. In the north, chefs try to keep the natural state of ingredients.”

And thanks to Vietnamese chefs’ penchant for using only fresh, locally sourced ingredients, a region’s cuisine naturally depends on the herbs, spices and produce that thrive in each of Vietnam’s dramatically differing climates. For the savvy gourmand who wants to understand the nuances of Vietnamese cuisine, here’s our list of must-tries in North, Central and South Vietnam.

Northern Specialities

Sapa: Thang Co and Com Lam

With perhaps the most unique menu on our list, Sapa’s mountainous region has naturally developed a very specific set of ingredients to work with. We recommend two rustic dishes cooked and enjoyed by the Hmong people: thang co and com lam.

Thang co is a hearty stew that pairs many parts of a horse (bone, viscera, meat) with a veritable medley of spices like cardamom, ginger, cinnamon and citronella. Making thang co is a labour-intensive process taking at least a couple of hours for all the flavours to blend. But when they do, get ready for something special. It’s typically served with a hot red pepper from Muong Khuong.

vietnamese foodImage source: lozi.vn

To accompany your thang co, go for com lam, or bamboo sticky rice. Locals fill individual sections of bamboo with rice and add a bit of salt and water, and steam the rice directly in the bamboo, which makes for a delicately sweet, salty and chewy accompaniment to any meal.

Grab a piping hot bowl of thang co at weekend fairs in Sapa, as well as Nha Hang Kham Pha Viet (15 Thach Son, Sapa).

Hai Phong: Nem Ran and Banh Da Cua

This industrial business town isn’t seen as very touristy, but it has incredible seafood. Crabs are usually on the menu, which they cook up adeptly for Hai Phong’s famous nem ran, a decadently big, fried, square spring roll traditionally cut into quarters.

Many restaurants mix the crab meat with minced pork, egg, mushroom and onion and wrap this in a special rice paper from Hai Phong to give these heavenly crab pillows the perfect amount of crunch. These can be served as an appetiser, or along with greens and vermicelli if you want to make a meal of it (recommended).

Once you’re done with your starter, it’s time for your main course: banh da cua. The wide, flat, brown noodles found in Hai Phong are here paired with wilted spinach and morning glory, tomato and crab balls. Over this delightful concoction the talented chef will pour a seafood-based broth. The flavours are relatively mild, and the textures provide a satisfying chew.

Check 264 Cho Hang and 26 Ky Dong in Hai Phong for these dishes done right.

Hanoi: Ca Cuon Thit, Bun Cha

On our “spring rolls done differently” tour, we come to Hanoi’s little-known ca cuon thit. This is simply a gem within a gem: at its core, there’s a mixture of pork and wood mushrooms; wrapped around this, flakes of succulent perch; and around this, different types of flour mixed with dill, deep fried to perfection. And when you add the obligatory fish sauce for dipping? Heaven in a bite.

We now come to the place of origin of bun cha. Part of the DIY variety of food so popular in Vietnam, a steaming plate of bun cha will allow the diner to create a soup made from diluted fish sauce (usually accompanied with pickled veggies), a mountain of greens, a mass of vermicelli noodles and bite-sized hunks of beautiful, flame-grilled pork. The most difficult part is finding the best bun cha place in Hanoi: there are too many!

vietnamese foodImage source: mevacon.com.vn

Ca cuon thit is difficult to track down in Hanoi, but check Bun Ca Sam Cay Si (5 Trung Yen). The best bun cha restaurant is a matter of dispute, but Bun Cha 34 Hang Than (34 Hang Than) is popular with the locals – always a good sign.

Central Specialities

Hue: Bun Bo Hue and Com Hen

Perhaps the most celebrated food destination in Vietnam is Hue, which houses a long food history, deeply intertwined with past royalty. It’s said that rulers in the 19th century demanded a new dish every day of the year, forcing the royal chefs to come up with hundreds of distinct and intricate culinary delights.

The quintessential Hue delicacy remains the rustic bun bo hue – not a very regal dish, but absolutely delicious nevertheless. As Tai Dang, tour manager of Saigon’s XO Tours told us, “The broth is different. For pho, the broth is beef or chicken. For bun bo hue, the broth is beef and pork, and flavoured with lots of lemongrass.” These subtle differences make for a notably different eating experience. When paired with the huyet (cubes of congealed pig’s blood), water spinach, morning glory and bean sprouts, it’s hard not to order a second bowl.

Another Hue dish is com hen, or mussel rice: steamed rice accompanied by tiny mussels, a variety of shredded greens and the obligatory spicy chili fish sauce. Traditionally this is seen as a dish enjoyed by commoners, but who cares? It’s amazing.

vietnamese foodImage source: vanhoaviet.com

Head over to the very local Quan Bun Bo Hue Restaurant (19 Ly Thuong Kiet) for your first course, and then nab some com hen at Quan Nho (28 Pham Hong Thai).

Danang: Mi Quang and Bun Cha Ca

One of the most distinctive Vietnamese noodle soup dishes around, you won’t get better mi quang than in its place of origin, Danang. The solid base of this hearty soup is the healthy dollop of turmeric-infused rice noodles, with a mad creativity of proteins that can include shrimp, pork, chicken, and sometimes fish and beef. Just as likely to be floating in your little bowl of paradise are crushed peanuts, hard-boiled egg, a large shard of sesame rice cracker and, our favourite part: a delightfully fresh and crunchy plate of thinly minced vegetables.

If you want more, it’s time for bun cha ca. Danang is famous for its fabulous, fresh seafood, and this is truly displayed by the cha ca (fish cakes), traditionally savoured for breakfast. This noodle soup dish pairs these delicious cakes with slices of lemons and chilies, fermented shrimp paste (just try it!), with vegetables like pumpkin, pineapple, tomato and cabbage.

For mi quang, you can’t go wrong at Ba Vi (166 Le Dinh Duong). For bun cha ca, there’s a great eatery on 109 Nguyen Chi Thanh.

Southern Specialities

Nha Trang: Lac Canh and Bun Ca Sua

There’s a saying: “If you come to Nha Trang and don’t try the grilled beef lac canh, it means you only know half of Nha Trang.” What really makes lac canh special is the marinade. They infuse the beef with a mixture of honey and spices and then grill this pairing over charcoal. It’s served with bread or raw vegetables.

Just as integral to Nha Trang’s cuisine landscape is bun ca sua – seafood soup. Of course, variations of seafood soups exist up and down the coast, but few take advantage of the jellyfish roaming Nha Trang’s seas. They’re definitely an acquired taste, but worth trying.

To get your fill of lac canh, visit Nha Hang Lac Canh (44 Nguyen Binh Khiem). For bun ca sua, there’s none better than Ba Nam (50 Thong Nhat). Bon appetit!

Saigon: Com Tam and Banh Canh

Saigon is a bit of a food mystery. As Tai from XO Tours tell us, HCMC is routinely referred to as “the house of food” with delicious dishes from all over Vietnam. However, there aren’t many Saigon-specific specialities. As Chef Chiem Thanh Long confirms, “Actually, there is no food that is typical of Saigon. Whether you want to eat the food of Central, Northern, Central Highlands or Southern regions, all are here in Saigon. Saigon and Dalat are similar in that sense, collecting so many dishes without a typical dish of its own.”

Bearing that in mind, you can get some seriously delicious fare here. Take the quintessential southern com tam, for instance. While broken rice was originally fed to livestock, today its soft, delicate texture lends itself well to the paired egg, meat (usually pork) and pickled vegetables. Com tam is meant to be sweet, like a lot of food in Southern Vietnam. Definitely soak the rice in fish sauce, not soy sauce.

vietnamese food

Image source: flickr.com

Another dish you’d be crazy to pass up is banh canh. With perhaps the thickest of all Vietnamese noodles, the beauty of banh canh lies in its variations. Depending on the city, or even the restaurant, you can get shrimp, pork or fish cake with it. In the Mekong Delta, be sure to keep your eyes open for banh canh made with coconut milk.

There’s no “best” com tam, but Tom Divers of Vietnam Coracle recommends Com Tam 352 (352 Chu Van An, Binh Thanh D).

For banh canh cua (with crab), we’ve heard good things about Banh Canh Cua 87 (87 Tran Khac Chan, D1).

Mekong Delta Region: Hu Tieu and Fried Elephant Ear Fish

As the farming capital of Vietnam, the Mekong Delta is virtually exploding with delicious food. Here there’s a multitude of everything: fruit, vegetables and animals. Take, for example, the always-lovely fried elephant ear fish available at restaurants and homestays.

The presentation is half the fun, as the fish is traditionally propped up, so hungry guests can take the meat from both sides at once. Paired with lettuce and a sauce for dipping, this is definitely one of the freshest fried foods around.

Hu tieu is another beautifully balanced dish – a medley of different meats from land and sea are paired with a clear, subtle broth, vermicelli noodles and a lot of seriously fresh vegetables. This dish has many changing faces: it can be served dry as well as in a soup, and the additives change depending on each chef’s speciality.

Nha Hang Song Nuoc Mien Tay (52-53 to ban do so 18, ap 3, xa Tan Thach, Ben Tre) has great fried elephant ear fish if you want this tasty treat, and Hu Tieu Binh Dan Ba Sam (188 Tran Hung Dao, Sa Dec) has been named the best hu tieu in Southeast Asia (and a bowl is only VND6,000!)

Understanding the Vietnamese Table

You might not be familiar with all the sauces at a Vietnamese table, but have no fear! Tai Long from XO Tours gives us a briefing.

Utensils

Chopsticks are used for a lot of dishes, but you’ll also see forks and spoons. Spoons are essential for eating rice and even cutting meat. Use the chopsticks in your right hand to push the food on the spoon, held in your left hand. If you eat rice with a fork, you might be laughed at.

vietnamese food

Image source: zing.vn

Limes, Peppers and Sauces

Chances are you’ll be presented with a small dish of limes, banana peppers (spicier than the red flakes!) and sauteed red peppers in oil. Use as little or as much as you’d like – one of the great things about Vietnamese cuisine is that it’s easily customisable. If a soup broth is too salty (broths tend to get saltier as the day goes on), add some lime to even things out.

Etiquette

Tai says, “When you’re drinking soup, don’t make so much noise. And don’t put your elbows on the table. It’s rude.” If you’re having dinner at a traditional Vietnamese house, wait before being served: sometimes elders and men are served before all others as a sign of respect, although this tradition is waning. If you want to show your host you’re a happy eater, there’s no better way than to eat everything. “Clean your bowl,” Tai says. “And don’t be afraid to pick up your bowl and drink from it. It means you’re enjoying it.” With the food in Vietnam, that won’t be a problem.

Banner image source: dulichvietnamhanoi.com

 


Maximise your travel business potential in Vietnam

By: City Pass Guide

Creative tourism platforms. Online and in Print

INNOVO JSC

THE COMPANY BEHIND THE BRAND CITY PASS GUIDE
 
Patrick Gaveau, CEO of Innovo JSC, reveals the core values and mission of Innovo JSC, the company behind the leading travel information provider in Vietnam-City Pass Guide.  For over 7 years,we have been providing travellers and residents useful information with our guidebooks, maps and apps, we have realised the lack of efficient and professional website development and online marketing services offered. This coupled with the ever increasing demand from businesses in the hospitality industry in Vietnam made us realise we could fill this void.

With our refined focus on serving the needs of businesses in adition to travellers and residents, we offer useful and practical solutions to maximise business potential. 
 
Discover How Innovo Can Help Your Business
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TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR TRIPADVISOR PROFILE 

BLOG ARTICLE



 Tripadvisor has become the leading resource for travelers when it comes to decide where to stay, lunch or hang out when visiting a new destination. However, most businesses in the hospitality industry in Vietnam still haven´t realised TripAdvisor´s full potential and the inherent competitive advantages they can get with a proper Tripadvisor business profile management.
Discover why you should take control of Tripadvisor for your business in 
this complete guide!
Need more information? Want to have a chat about how to maximise your business´s TripAdvisor efforts? Contact Us and let´s talk!

Did you know City Pass runs Vietnam's leading Travel Blog? Besides English, you can select from:


 Vietnamese                       
 French                            
 
Russian 
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NEW WORLD´S 20TH ANNIVERSARY
ART EXHIBITION

On October 8, The New World Saigon Hotel is celebrating their 20th anniversary. To celebrate this milestone, City Pass has been involved as a creative and active collaborator and consultant, displaying various works from artist around Vietnam (including Rehahn, DDK, Richie Fawcett, etc.) reflecting the many facets and colours of this wonderful country. Read the Full Article
Venue: New World Saigon Hotel. 76 Le Lai, District 1, HCMC, Vietnam.
Dates: until mid October
Photo Gallery: a selection of the
pieces of art displayed
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Online Marketing

ONLINE MARKETING RESOURCES
BEST ARTICLES IN THE INDUSTRY

During our long journey in the travel industry, we have read countless articles on Online Marketing. We´d like to share with you the ones that caught our attention, shaped our way of thinking and inspired us. We hope these will fuel the fire of success and help you achieve your goals.
This month we´ll feature materials about
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) since we consider it one of the most important (and technical) factors on which you may want to invest time and effort mastering and improving on your website.

Here is a selection of FREE Guides for beginners to learn what SEO truly means and implies for your business, as well as to start taking action over it:

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Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide --- by Google
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The Beginners Guide to SEO --- by MOZ
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Introduction to Search Engine Optimization - by Hubspot
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Guide to SEO --- by Search Engine´s Land

If you have any enquiry about our Services / Products please visit our
Website or 
 
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Online Marketing

HOW WELL IS YOUR WEBSITE PERFORMING??
FREE EVALUATION

Contact us today to evaluate your website SEO-performance and receive a detailed report within 10 days, highlighting your strengths and weaknesses. This is an exclusive offer with no ties attached.
 
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Creative tourism platforms. Online and in Print
42/37 Hoang Dieu, D4, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
www.innovo.vn | www.citypassguide.com 

Tourism In Vietnam: A Step In The Right Direction

By: Mark Gwyther

First, let me get the negative out of the way. This is going to be a brutal winter for Vietnam’s tourism businesses. The drop in value of the ruble is going to completely stop the flow of the fastest growing market of inbound arrivals. Investors and businesses were adding new supply to the market in anticipation of the Russian market nearly doubling this year and instead everyone will be fighting for the few who actually came. At the same time, the Chinese market has not rebounded from the anti-Chinese riots and arrivals are still less than last year. If you are thinking of investing in Vietnam tourism, this spring will represent the perfect buy-low opportunity.

So with that out of the way, let’s try to focus on some positive news, especially since this is the holiday season. It is not often I read about a Vietnam Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism proposal and feel they have any understanding of what they are doing; but this month they surprised me. The governmental department has proposed to give inbound travelers from India visa exemptions. Now granted, Vietnam should eliminate or at least ease the visa process for all travelers. Also, this is just a proposal and has not come into law. But the proposal is a rare example of understanding the future rather than a reaction to the past. It’s also a positive step in diversifying away from a dependence on Chinese tourists and a creating new demand for Vietnam’s two major cities which have been losing ground to coastal tourism.


Why India is Important?

At first glance, India’s outbound market is not all that significant;it’s only 17% the size of China’s. In fact, VNAT does not even list the country in its statistics so it is difficult to say how many Indian’s come to Vietnam each year.

india passport

Two interesting factors combine to make India a market to target. Obviously the first is the size of India’s population (2nd largest in the World). But India has been the second largest population for some time. Even though the country comprises 17.5% of the world’s population,Indiansstill only took 1.5% of the world’s annual international trips last year.

That is about to change. Like China before, India’s per capita GDP has made impressive gains over the last decade, but it is expected to grow even faster in the next decade as the country continues to urbanize. This is important because we know two things

  • 1. It is not the size of the population that matters when it comes to outbound tourism, it is the size of the middle class population that has disposable income.
  • 2. People begin traveling internationally at an income of about $1,500 USD per month.

So right now India’s population is not traveling in large numbers because a significant majority of them don’t have the disposable income (the GDP per capita is about $1,500 a year). As the average income increases over the next decade, a meaningful amount of people will have disposable income for the first time and they will begin traveling. Like China, the growth rate will be exponential rather than linear as the median income approaches the magic number.


What Does that Mean for Vietnam?

Another thing we know about tourism is that the first international trip is usually very close to home and easy for a first time international traveler to navigate. Vietnam is in a unique geographical position to take advantage of both the Chinese and India market. Last year TLR Development Advisory created an Asian population center of gravity map that took into account the major population centers in Asia and graphed a center line based on the weighted populations of various cities.

As you can see, the line went straight through Vietnam. In other words, Vietnam is at the center of India and China’s immense populations, denoting it should draw substantial number of tourists from each country.

asia population

Does Vietnam have what Indian tourists want? That is a more difficult question. There are currently direct flights from India to Vietnam by Jet Airways and Vietnam Airlines since November 2014 along with other foreign airlines as Thai Airways, Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines and Air Asia, so it´s expected that more airlines will include this route soon. But making steps to reduce barriers to first time international travelers is incredibly important so the visa waiver is a critical step. It is also avital step in reducing dependency on Chinese tourists, which as we’ve seen, will be used as an economic weapon by Chinese leaders.


Christmas and New Year’s Eve 2017-2018 in Ho Chi Minh City: Top Places to Party

By: City Pass Guide

Related articles: Christmas and New Year’s Eve 2017-2018 in Hanoi: Top Places to Party

December 2

British International School’s Christmas BISzaar

246 Nguyen Van Huong, D2 | 028 3744 4551

The British International School offers a way to get a head start on your Christmas shopping. Vendors will have an assortment of wares and treats, all ready for gifting. The students will also be there to sing Christmas carols.

christmas newyearImage source: facebook.com/BISHCMC

December 4

Cafe de l’Opera

19 Cong Truong Lam Son, D1 | 028 3823 4999

Caravelle’s café will host a daily afternoon tea complete with pastries and other sweets from noon until 5:30 p.m., finished with a glass of champagne. Enjoy with a live local choir for extra holiday cheer. Entry is priced at VND590,000++ per person. The café will also sell made-to-order Christmas goodies like gingerbread and honey-glazed ham for your own holiday feast.

BOOK NOW

christmas newyearImage source: facebook.com/caravellesaigon

December 7

Restaurant Le Bordeaux’s Christmas Epicurean Dinner

72 D2 St., Binh Thanh | 028 3899 9831

A dinner with pan-fried duck foie gras and lobster medallions will be served by top chefs at this Binh Thanh treasure.

christmas newyearImage source: facebook.com/saigon.escoffier

December 12

La Fenetre Soleil’s Eat the ‘80s Christmas Special

44 Ly Tu Trong, D1 | 028 3824 5994

An ‘80s dress code will be enforced strictly. Get ready to dance to some old-school Christmas jingles. The best-dressed attendee will get a special prize.

christmas newyearImage source: facebook.com/binauraldropout

December 9

Inpages’s Xmas Art Market

2 Le Van Mien, D2 | 097 115 6099

The bookstore Inpages will host an art sale in the run-up to Christmas this season. The event’s theme is notebooks, and they’re collecting the best notebook and stationery craftsmen and craftswomen (Craftspeople? Craftspersons?) together under the same roof. For the already-crafty, you can make one yourself in a workshop they’ll host during the day.

christmas newyearImage source: facebook.com/inpages.org

The Hive Saigon’s Meet The Crafters

94 Xuan Thuy, D2 | 097 115 6099

Local crafters in Saigon will be offering their goods from the morning through the afternoon. Come ready to buy, shop and get into the holiday spirit.

christmas newyearImage source: facebook.com/thehivesaigon

Rose Cao Floral Art Studio’s Christmas Flower Exhibition

67 Mai Chi Tho, D2 | 0167 446 6943

Stop by in the morning to see this small flower exhibition. The show will feature works from the studio’s namesake artist, as well as arrangements from 15 international students.

christmas newyearImage source: facebook.com/rosecaofloraldesign

The Snap Cafe’s Christmas Kids Festival

32 Tran Ngoc Dien St., D2 | 028 3519 4532

Why buy a toy when you could build one yourself? The Snap Cafe is offering a group of workshops all day long starting at 10 a.m. for children aged 5 to 12. Register in advance for VND300,000 or buy entry at the door for VND50,000 more.

christmas newyearImage source: facebook.com/wizkidsclubdotcom

December 16

The Oxygen’s Christmas Gingle & MIngle

628C Xa Lộ Hà Nội, D2 | 097 115 6099

Get into the holiday spirit with craft beer, food and music before everyone books it out of town for the real thing the week after. Cuba la Casa del Mojito will be among the many restaurants feeding hungry attendees. The entertainment lineup includes the Game On Crew dance group. Rumour has it there will also be a pole dance performance, but you didn’t hear that from us.

christmas newyearImage source: facebook.com/theoxygenmall

Saigon Outcast’s Outcast Christmas Market

188/1 Nguyen Van Huong St. Thao Dien, D2 | 028 3925 4666

Saigon Outcast’s regular farmers’ market is converting itself into a holiday market for those of you who haven’t found a gift for your loved one yet. A VND20,000 entry fee gets you a bottle of water or, if you’re hydrated enough, a Red Saigon. Come to find a wealth of homemade gifts, ornaments and, of course, the fresh produce you’ve come to expect from Saigon Outcast on weekends.

christmas newyearImage source: facebook.com/outcastfarmersmarket

December 23

Tapas Kitchen

19 Cong Truong Lam Son, D1 | 028 3823 4999

The Tapas Kitchen’s chefs are readying their menu of oysters, wagyu beef and cognac-infused lobster cocktails for the holiday season. Served in bites, the dinner is a perfect place to catch up over a few drinks and something delicious to eat.

BOOK NOW

christmas newyearImage source: facebook.com/caravellesaigon

Nineteen Buffet Restaurant

19 Cong Truong Lam Son, D1 | 028 3823 4999

Start Christmas early with a holiday buffet replete with ham and roast turkey from a carving station. Finish off with one of the 20 desserts that Nineteen Buffet Restaurant has prepared for the evening. Dinner starts at VND1,390,000++ per person. Nineteen will also serve dinner and lunch on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We hear Santa himself may make an appearance.

BOOK NOW

christmas newyearImage source: facebook.com/caravellesaigon

Christmas Eve

La Villa French Restaurant

14 Ngo Quang Huy, D2 | 028 3898 2082

La Villa is pulling out all the stops for its elegant Christmas dinner. A nine-course tasting menu, featuring culinary gems like pan-fried foie gras, Hokkaido sea scallops and a special fourme d’ambert espuma will definitely be a dinner you won’t forget. Be sure to book this well in advance.

eventImage source: La Villa French Restaurant

Saigon Flea Market’s Christmas Flash Sale

1st Floor 107 Ton Dat Tien, D7 | 090 438 2734

Christmas Eve and you still have no present? Hurry on over to the Saigon Flea Market. Starting at 10 a.m., they’ll be selling a bevvy of handmade wares from 100 shops. Find your cute thing there, dear reader.

christmas newyearImage source: facebook.com/saigon.flea.market

EON51 Restaurant’s Christmas Dinner

Level 50, 51 and 52, Bitexco Financial Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, D1 | 028 6291 8751

One of the city’s highest restaurants and bar is celebrating with a candy Christmas. You’ll get to enjoy top-notch mixologists creating special holiday tinctures, surrounded by the warm sounds of Christmas music. Plus, there will be a holiday buffet at Cafe EON: VND1.15 million++ per adult, VND695,000++ per child, which will feature a holiday-themed lucky draw. At EON51 Sky Dining, their Christmas Flair set menu (VND1.65 million++ per person) will feature a live musical performance from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. DJ Lan Kido and DJ Tuan Anh will perform late into the night right at the only Helicopter Bar in Vietnam.

BOOK NOW

christmas newyearImage source: Eon51

Christmas Eve Dinner Buffet At Latest Recipe

Mezzanine Floor, 3C Ton Duc Thang, D1 | 028 6263 6688

From 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., guests will enjoy a specially cooked feast at Latest Recipe. A holiday set menu, VND1.45 million++ for a free flow of soft drinks, juice, tea and coffee and VND1.95 million++ for a free flow of rose, wine, beer, soft drinks, juice tea and coffee, will delight the senses and tantalise the taste buds. Children under 3 get in free; children from 3 to 12 years of age have a 50 percent discount.

BOOK NOW

christmas newyearImage source: Le Meridien Saigon

Christmas Eve Set Dinner at Bamboo Chic

9th Floor, 3C Ton Duc Thang, D1 | 028 6263 6688

On Christmas Eve this Japanese restaurant will have a bevy of great deals, including a VND1 million++ set meal that includes two free drinks; a VND1.3 million++ set meal that includes a welcome glass of rose along with a free flow of wine, beer, soft drinks, juice, tea and coffee; and a VND1.7 million++ option that includes a welcome Champagne drink, and a free flow of the other beverage options.

BOOK NOW

christmas newyearImage source: Le Meridien Saigon

Cuba la Casa del Mojito

91 Pasteur St., D1 | 028 3822 7099

The Cuban lounge will be preparing a Christmas feast and following it with a dance party featuring a DJ and complimentary shots. As they say in Spanish, “nos vemos!”

BOOK NOW

christmas newyearImage source: facebook.com/SalsatekaUKinVietnam

Reflections Restaurant

19 Cong Truong Lam Son, D1 | 028 3823 4999

Executive Chef Darren Watson will be cooking a four-course meal starting with sous vide lobster and ending with fresh mince pies. Choose from a roast turkey or roast fillet of Turbot. Dinner starts at VND1,880,000++ per person.

BOOK NOW

christmas newyearImage source: facebook.com/caravellesaigon

SOHY’s Christmas Eve Dinner

72-74 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D3 | 090 330 5999

Besides a colourful tree-lighting ceremony on 9 December, this elegant rooftop bar is pulling out all the stops. A six-course set menu for two (VND2.5 million++) comes with a complimentary bottle of Bollinger champagne.

BOOK NOW

christmas newyearImage source: SOHY

Christmas Night Special Event @ SOHY

72-74 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D3 | 090 330 5999

Celebrate Christmas Eve in style by spending the night on the top of Saigon Winterland for a memorable time. Dance the night away and show your moves to the beats from SlimV, top DJ in Vietnam. Christmas won’t be Christmas without your loved ones by your side. So, why not bring them along? Chill with your friends without feeling chilly because they’re there with you. No need to worry about the budget, instead, use that energy to party all night. Why? Because you don’t need any entrance ticket whatsoever! Just dress to the nines and be ready to roll all night! Remember to grab some drinks and snacks to re-energise from 5:30 to 8:30 pm because they will be 49% off. What else are you waiting for?

eventImage source: SOHY

Saigon Saigon Rooftop Bar

19 Cong Truong Lam Son, D1 | 028 3823 4999

The sounds of Cuba will grace Saigon’s skyline from the Caravelle Hotel’s rooftop bar. Live band Living Cuba will be playing through the night to a crowd awash in craft cocktails. For a small VND280,000 cover charge, you can be in the caribbean this holiday.

christmas newyearImage source: facebook.com/caravellesaigon

The Myst Dong Khoi’s Christmas Eve Buffet Dinner

6-8 Ho Huan Nghiep St., D1 | 028 3520 3040

Christmas eve dinner here will feature a foie-gras stuffed turkey, baked salmon and lobster. Enjoy with a complimentary flute of champagne or a cocktail for VND1,550,000++ per adult or VND655,000++ per child.

christmas newyearImage source: facebook.com/themystdongkhoi

Vien Dong Hotel’s Christmas Party and Anniversary

28-29 Hung Phuoc 3, D7 | 028 3836 8941

From 6 p.m. onward, enjoy a buffet party soundtracked by Christmas music at the District 7 hotel. It’s both a holiday celebration as well as an appreciation of Vien Dong Hotel’s customers.

christmas newyearImage source: facebook.com/viendonghotel.phumyhung

Hotel Equatorial’s Christmas Eve Dinner at The Cafe

242 Tran Binh Trong, D5 | 028 3839 7777

Besides a special visit from Santa Claus and their Christmas choir, The Cafe’s extensive buffet includes sushi, sashimi, a selection of patés made in-house… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re after a nice steak, you can get a fine New Zealand strip here, or even some New Zealand lamb. For dessert, save room for a medley of cakes, pies, pumpkin-spice cheesecake, a chocolate fountain and, of course, Christmas pudding. Adults pay VND1.488 million++ per person, and it’s VND774,000++ for the little ones.

christmas newyearImage source: facebook.com/hotelequatorialhcmc

Santa’s Buffet at Food ConneXion, Pullman Saigon Centre

148 Tran Hung Dao Boulevard, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City (on 3rd floor) | 028 3838 8686

Celebrate Christmas Eve this year with an international take on a Christmas buffet dinner at Food ConneXion! Enjoy a roasted Christmas turkey, seafood ice bar, Spanish serrano ham, homemade traditional French terrine, Japanese corner as well as a dessert and chocolate corner!

Pair your dinner with free flow Champagne, wine, and beer to make Christmas Eve with your loved ones even merrier!

VND 1,900,000 NET per adult and VND 850,000 NET per child.

christmas newyearImage source: pullman-saigon-centre.com

Mad Cow Wine & Grill - Christmas Eve Madness

148 Tran Hung Dao Boulevard, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City (on 30th floor) | 028 3838 8686

Celebrate the Madness of Christmas Eve above the city at Mad Cow Wine & Grill with our Christmas themed 4-course dinner & wine pairing at VND 2,100,000 NET per person

From 4PM to 11PM on 24 Dec 2017.

christmas newyearImage source: facebook.com/madcowsaigon

New World Saigon

76 Le Lai, D1 | 028 3822 8888

New World is famous for taking Christmas decorations to new heights, so be sure to stop by to get an eyeful. When you’re hungry, take your pick on Christmas Eve between Parkview, offering an internationally buffet for VND2.4 million per person, and Dynasty, specialising in Cantonese flair for VND888,000 per person.

eventImage source: saigon.newworldhotels.com

Intercontinental Saigon

Corner of Hai Ba Trung & Le Duan | 028 3520 9999

Intercontinental takes the holidays seriously! A veritable smorgasbord of Christmas delicacies await at its three restaurants, including a Christmas Eve dinner at Market 39 and a “bubbly” Christmas brunch the next day, an all you can eat Christmas Eve dinner at Yu Chu and a Christmas Eve dinner at Basilico. With discounted prices for children, and a visit from Santa Claus on Christmas Day, Intercontinental’s various offerings are perfect for a family.

eventImage source: facebook.com/intercontinental-saigon

Christmas Day

Hotel Equatorial’s Christmas Day Brunch & Dinner

242 Tran Binh Trong, D5 | 028 3839 7777

Celebrate Christmas Day with an all-day breakfast feast featuring dishes like eggs benedict, french toast flambé and smoked salmon. Enjoy a roast turkey and trimmings with cranberry sauce, and keep a lookout for Santa. Tickets start at VND1,288,000++ per person or VND645,000++ per child. House wine, mulled wine and beer will flow freely during this meal.

Dinner features a seafood feast with turkey. Entry starts at 1,488,000++ per person and 744,000++ per child.

christmas newyearImage source: facebook.com/hotelequatorialhcmc

T & R Saigon’s Christmas Party

57 Do Quang Dau, D1 | 028 4838 9839

Head out for a dance party this Christmas evening. VND70,000 gets you a Wild Turkey shot for a quick boost of that holiday feeling.

christmas newyearImage source: facebook.com/tnrsaigon

Nineteen Buffet Restaurant

19 Cong Truong Lam Son, D1 | 028 3823 4999

Nineteen Buffet Restaurant invites you to a special Christmas lunch or dinner. Dine on fine food as in-house carolers do their thing. We hear that Santa may make an appearance. Lunch starts at VND2,690,000++ and dinner at VND1,980,000++.

BOOK NOW

christmas newyearImage source: facebook.com/caravellesaigon

Café Cardinal’s Christmas Season Menu

22-36 Nguyen Hue Boulevard, D1 |028 3823 6688

Through December, indulge in an assortment of seasonal favourites in a sumptuous, six-course French-themed set dinner. This holiday feast features a selection of fresh seafood including lobster and oysters, USDA first choice beef, and a traditional ‘Noel Baba’ yule log dessert. It’s available from 1 to 30 December (excluding 24 December) for just VND1,488,000++ per person.

eventImage source: The Reverie

Café Cardinal’s Festive High Tea

22-36 Nguyen Hue Boulevard, D1 |028 3823 6688

For a touch of refinement this Christmas, the Festive High Tea offers a delightful selection of sandwiches, pastries, tartlets and scones served with cream, strawberry jam and whipped cream, paired with a choice of Christmas punch, mulled wine or Christmas tea. Available from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., 27 November until 1 January for only VND548,000++/person.

eventImage source: The Reverie

The Royal Pavilion’s Cantonese Set Dinner

22-36 Nguyen Hue Boulevard, D1 |028 3823 6688

Celebrate Christmas and New Year with a set menu of classic Cantonese recipes, a perfect choice for unique holiday gatherings with family and friends. This delightful six-course set dinner features The Royal Pavilion Appetizer platter, braised bird’s nest with crab meat in chicken broth, braised whole abalone and Japanese-style pan fried codfish. Available on 24, 25, 26, 31 December and 1 January for just VND1,988,000++ per person.

BOOK NOW

eventImage source: The Reverie

R&J Italian Lounge & Restaurant’s Festive Set Menu

22-36 Nguyen Hue Boulevard, D1 |028 3823 6688

From 1 December 2017 to 30 December (excluding 24 December), gather the family for this bountiful set menu dinner of traditional Italian dishes prepared with love and care. Featuring mouth-watering classics as salmon and cream cheese involtino, scallop ravioli and USDA grade beef tenderloin medallion with foie gras. It is not to be missed at just VND1,288,000++ per person.

eventImage source: The Reverie

The Deli

22-36 Nguyen Hue Boulevard, D1 |028 3823 6688

Stop by for a festive treat including a delicious selection of festive-themed cakes and pastries from 27 November to 1 January.

eventImage source: The Reverie

Le Méridien

3C Ton Duc Thang, D1 | 028 6263 6699

Starting 8 December, this celebrated hotel will enjoy the start of the holiday season with a traditional Christmas tree lighting ceremony in the hotel lobby, followed by a spirited rendering of “Unlock the Passion”. Exclusive holiday gift baskets will be available in the hotel’s store, starting from VND900,000++, and amazing deals will be available at their two restaurants, Latest Recipe (VND1.45 million++ per person) and Bamboo Chic (VND1 million++ per person).

eventImage source: facebook.com/lemeridiensaigon

R&J Italian Lounge & Restaurant’s Christmas Feast

22-36 Nguyen Hue Boulevard, D1 |028 3823 6688

Celebrate this most special of occasions with fine Italian fare that is both hearty and delicious. Some of the stand-out offerings include a foie gras terrine with toasted brioches, squid-ink lasagne, Wagyu beef cheek, and a cinnamon, apple and raisin puff pastry. Available on 24 and 25 December for VND1,880,000++ per person, or VND3,288,000++ with wine pairings.

eventImage source: The Reverie

Café Cardinal’s Christmas Buffet Dinner

22-36 Nguyen Hue Boulevard, D1 |028 3823 6688

On Christmas Eve, from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., delight in a Christmas buffet of holiday favourites paired perfectly with a three-course set menu of hot dishes freshly prepared from the kitchen. The buffet feast includes free flow sparkling wine, house wine, and draught beer for just VND2,188,000++ per person.

eventImage source: The Reverie

Bay Hotel

7 Ngo Van Nam, D1 | 028 3829 6666

What better way to enjoy Christmas than in the luxury of a premium hotel? Take a mini vacation in the heart of the city starting from VND1.590 million++, and take advantage of Propeller Rooftop Bar’s exclusive Christmas party, as well as the weekly live music night every Friday and Saturday.

eventImage source: facebook.com/bayhotelhcm

New Year’s Eve

SOHY

72-74 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D3 | 090 330 5999

A great choice if you want a glitzy venue to bring in the new year. If you’re feeling peckish, there’s a VND2.5 million++ set dinner for two, with, of course, a complimentary bottle of champagne. On the Sky Lounge, you can enjoy the night while listening to DJ Cazzette.

BOOK NOW

christmas newyearImage source: SOHY

Rex Hotel

141 Nguyen Hue, D1 | 028 3829 2185

Here’s how to do New Year’s Eve right. At the Rooftop Garden Bar, for VND3.7 million, you’ll enjoy a buffet menu, a free flow of house wine, beers and soft drinks, and will dance the night away courtesy of a DJ and an in-house Flamenco band. Plus, during the countdown party, be sure to take advantage of the non-stop champagne toast!

BOOK NOW

christmas newyearImage source: Rex Hotel

InterContinental Saigon

Corner of Hai Ba Trung & Le Duan | 028 3520 9999

Here you can pick from a variety of New Year’s Eve extravaganzas. Our recommendation? Check the party at InterContinental’s pool. VND490,000++ per person will get you a glass of champagne and a beautiful buffet. However, if you eat dinner at any of the hotel’s three restaurants, you’ll get free entrance to this elegant pool party.

christmas newyearImage source: facebook.com/intercontinentalsaigon

Nineteen Buffet Restaurant

19 Cong Truong Lam Son, D1 | 028 3823 4999

Toast with a dinner of Canadian lobster, king crab and green mussels at Caravelle Hotel. If seafood isn't your thing, how about a spiced lamb leg or bourbon roast ham? A free-flowing champagne and cocktail upgrade is available, but you do what’s right for you. An early evening dinner will be served from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., starting at VND1,490,000++. A late evening dinner starts at VND2,490,000++.

BOOK NOW

christmas newyearImage source: facebook.com/caravellesaigon

Harmony Saigon Hotel & Spa’s New Year’s Eve Party

32A-34 Bui Thi Xuan St., D1 | 028 3925 4666

Check out this 4-star hotel and its luxuriously done dining room overlooking District 1. A VND890,000 ticket gets you a cocktail, a dinner complete with smoked salmon and roasted tenderloin, a seat for a violinist’s performance and, of course, a glass of champagne to toast with at the first minute of 2018.

christmas newyearImage source: facebook.com/harmonysaigonhotel

Reflections Restaurant

19 Cong Truong Lam Son, D1 | 028 3823 4999

Executive Chef Darren Watson continues the holiday feast where he left off on Christmas. For New Year’s Eve you’ll get smoked beef tartare, roast duck liver flavoured with sweet orange and roasted French wood pigeon. Stay for the hand-rolled chocolate truffles and coffee. Entry starts at 2,380,000++ per person.

BOOK NOW

christmas newyearImage source: facebook.com/caravellesaigon

Saigon Saigon Rooftop Bar

19 Cong Truong Lam Son, D1 | 028 3823 4999

The sounds of Cuba will once more come from the Caravelle Hotel’s rooftop New Year’s Evening. Entrants are asked VND990,000 for an evening package that includes a welcome drink and live Cuban music.

christmas newyearImage source: facebook.com/caravellesaigon

Caravelle Hotel’s New Year’s Masquerade 2018

26th floor 19 Cong Truong Lam Son, D1 | 028 3823 4999

From 9 p.m. onward, masked guests atop the Caravelle Hotel will be wined, dined and serenaded by a live band until the first hour of 2018. Admission starts at VND2,990,000 per person.

christmas newyearImage source: facebook.com/caravellesaigon

New Year’s Eve Buffet at Food ConneXion, Pullman Saigon Centre

148 Tran Hung Dao Boulevard, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City (on 3rd floor) | 028 3838 8686

Welcome 2018 with an International buffet featuring many international favourites to enjoy with free flow Champagne, wine, and beer. Bring your loved ones and celebrate the beginning of a new year!

VND 2,250,000 NET per adult and VND 950,000 NET per child.

From 6PM to 10:30PM on 31st December 2017

Add VND 800,000 NET and reserve your ticket for the countdown party on the rooftop!

christmas newyearImage source: pullman-saigon-centre.com

Mad Cow Wine & Grill - Mad New Year's Eve

148 Tran Hung Dao Boulevard, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City (on 30th floor) | 028 3838 8686

Finish on a high and celebrate the end of 2017 with a 4-course feast paired with wine at Mad Cow Wine & Grill. Seats are limited so reserve your table today!

Available at VND 2,500,000 NET per person

Add our Rooftop Countdown Party for only VND 800,000 NET

From 4PM to 11PM on 31 Dec 2017

christmas newyearImage source: facebook.com/madcowsaigon

New Year’s Eve Dinner Buffet at Latest Recipe Restaurant at Le Meridien

Mezzanine Floor, 3C Ton Duc Thang, D1 | 028 6263 6688

Celebrate New Year’s Eve in style! VND1.65 million++ will get you a free flow of non-alcoholic beverages, and VND2.35 million++ will have you drinking Prosecco (or a variety of other drinks) all night.

BOOK NOW

christmas newyearImage source: Le Meridien Saigon

New Year’s Eve Set Dinner at Bamboo Chic, Le Meridien

9th floor, 3C Ton Duc Thang, D1 | 028 6263 6688

Bamboo Chic will be pulling out all the stops for New Years. For VND1.2 million++, you’ll get a delicious meal plus a glass of champagne. For VND1.5 million++, a glass of champagne and a free flow of a variety of drinks. And for VND1.7 million++, an even more deluxe line-up of different drinks.

BOOK NOW

christmas newyearImage source: pariscityvision.com

Pre-Cocktail party at Latitude 10 Bar + Lounge

9th floor, 3C Ton Duc Thang, D1 | 028 6263 6688

Before the new year kicks off, enjoy a drink or two here. An entry fee of VND700,000 will get you all the canapes you want, plus wine, craft beer and festive cocktails.

christmas newyearImage source: Le Meridien Saigon

Poolside Countdown Party at Le Meridien

9th floor, 3C Ton Duc Thang, D1 | 028 6263 6688

Raging until 1:00 a.m., VND300,000 will let you enjoy the sights and sounds, with a great view of the fireworks, along with a welcome glass of sparkling rose.

christmas newyearImage source: Le Meridien Saigon

Lush

2 Ly Tu Trong, D1 | 091 863 0742

Party in style this New Year's Eve without the lavish price tag at Lush, with tables ranging from VND5 to 15 million. Always a fun place to be when the clock strikes midnight. Packages and Belaire specials all night.

eventImage source: Lush Bar

R&J Italian Lounge & Restaurant’s Swinging New Year

22-36 Nguyen Hue Boulevard, D1 |028 3823 6688

Make it a New Year’s party to remember on 31 December with a special five-course menu, and groove the night away to the “Colours of Jazz” countdown with Kate Bowen. The five-course set menu includes highlights such as imported Mediterranean scampi, Prosecco and oyster risotto and a slow-cooked veal shank with truffle potatoes. The five course menu is VND1,888,000++ per person, or VND3,388,000++ per person with wine pairings.

eventImage source: The Reverie

The Long’s 2018 Countdown

22-36 Nguyen Hue Boulevard, D1 |028 3823 6688

Revel in the New Year at the venue featuring the city’s longest bar, with live musical entertainment from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. followed by a DJ set all the way through to 2 a.m. The Terrace will apply a minimum charge of VND1,300,000 per person from 8 p.m. to midnight.

eventImage source: The Reverie

Café Cardinal’s New Year’s Countdown Buffet

22-36 Nguyen Hue Boulevard, D1 |028 3823 6688

Join a spectacular celebration on 31 December from 7 p.m. to welcome the New Year with a buffet feast and countdown party. Enjoy sweeping views of the New Year fireworks, live music from 7 p.m. until midnight and the extensive New Year’s Eve buffet including a three-course set menu freshly prepared from the kitchen, as well as free flow of house red and white wine and draught beer, which is priced at only VND2,788,000++ per person.

eventImage source: The Reverie

The Spa

22-36 Nguyen Hue Boulevard, D1 |028 3823 6688

Give yourself a gift this festive season with one of The Spa’s relaxing and reinvigorating treatment packages. Each package features four separate treatments, and range from 90 to 210 minutes. Prices start at VND2,800,000++ per person.

eventImage source: The Reverie

The 1,200-square-meter spa and recreation center reflects a sophisticated lifestyle and modern design philosophies. The facility is positioned on floors 6 and 7, and is one of the largest and most comprehensive lifestyle centers in the city, incorporating outdoor swimming pools, 24-hour fitness center, a luxury spa with high-end beauty services, boutique retail choices and innovative thermal experience areas.

Saigon NYE Dinner @ Café EON

Level 50 Bitexco Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, D1 | 028 6291 8750

Coming to Café EON this New Year’s Eve Buffet Dinner, you will have an opportunity to become the one and only owner of their VND 2,000,000 Food and Beverage Voucher. Buffet ticket starts at VND 1,350,000 per adult and VND 700,000 per child.

eventImage source: EON51

NYE Dinner @ EON51 Sky Dining

Level 51 Bitexco Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, D1 | 028 6291 8751

At the highest restaurant in the heart of Saigon, with panoramic views over the city, enjoy the New Year’s Eve special 6-course set menu for VND1,950,000++. You will also have a chance to win “Sweet Treat Pass”, a privilege to enjoy complimentary desserts for a whole year.

eventImage source: EON51

Heli Countdown Party @ EON Heli Bar

Level 52 Bitexco Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, D1 | 028 6291 8752

Enjoy the very last moments of 2017 at the iconic EON Heli Bar, with live music performance from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., and DJs and games from 10 p.m. Grab your ticket at VND349,000 per person, including a great drink.

eventImage source: EON51

New Year's Day

Kara Spa

7th Floor 19 Cong Truong Lam Son, D1 | 028 3823 4999

After all that partying, you’re due for a little relaxation. Enjoy a 60-minute body massage for VND1,175,000 throughout January. Finish with a cup of tea and a little swim in their pool.

christmas newyearImage source: facebook.com/caravellesaigon

The Very First Brunch at Food ConneXion, Pullman Saigon Centre

148 Tran Hung Dao Boulevard, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City (on 3rd floor) | 028 3838 8686

Start 2018 the right way by splurging on a New Year’s Day brunch at Food ConneXion! Enjoy your seafood fresh on ice or grilled a la minute. We have plenty of oysters, crab and lobster awaiting you.Complete your New Year’s Day brunch with free flow sparkling, wine, and beer!

Available VND 1,500,000 NET per adult and VND 800,000 NET per child

From 12PM to 3PM on 1st January 2018

christmas newyearImage source: pullman-saigon-centre.com

Banner image source: VNSplorer.com


The Saigonese Art Scene

By: Vinh Dao

The art scene in Ho Chi Minh City has evolved greatly over the last ten years, from only commercial galleries, copying Western artworks, to real representatives of the contemporary Vietnamese creation, with curators, private spaces, and regularly organised exhibitions, in an attempt to reach the public while also managing to create overseas binds which will also benefit the artists.

The Vietnamese art scene initially lacked regular programs, exhibitions, art events and talks, residency programs, research, and network building. Vietnamese people didn’t really take stock in art production throughout the country for quite some time, as they had other matters to deal with, especially thriving after the war.

Galleries now play an active role in promoting the development of a vibrant domestic art scene in Vietnam through ongoing efforts to support talented young Vietnamese artists and via hosting regular exhibitions. This new interest is also about making a difference in the local art scene by expanding activities beyond gallery exhibitions and also encouraging the flow of information in and out of the country (more and more artists have the opportunity to exhibit their works abroad, mainly in Singapore, Hong Kong, and the United States, thanks to sponsorships and exchange programs). In the mid 2000s, there was a high level of traffic in and out the country, but little information was reaching a majority of the artists living in the city. Now, talks and gatherings work to bring the community together in a context of artistic challenge and engagement, from both artists and the public (all of which is still in need of further development).

The main actors have managed to develop stronger relationships with artists, curators, and mid-career Vietnamese artists to provide them with a platform to present their work to a wider audience. They also intend to show and explain the role of visual art and creative practices in contemporary life, through platforms (San Art can be considered the leader of this medium) for the development of visual art and creative practices through a range of art-related activities that are much needed in the context of Vietnam.

To name a few, the most active and recognised, we advise art amateurs to visit Galerie Quynh, San Art, Craig Thomas Gallery, Zen Collection, Saigon Outcast, Decibel, the Fine Arts Museum, or even small exhibitions happening in well-known local restaurants. The afore mentioned are the main centres in which art is initially set, allowing the public to easily appreciate past and present creations, whilst also discovering its evolution in Ho Chi Minh City.


Not another hidden Gem - Ninh Thuan province

By: Mark Gwyther

If you read a great deal about traveling in Vietnam, you are bound to hear so much about “hidden gems” that you might think going to Vietnam is one big mining expedition. Many of these “gems” are difficult to reach, take you far from your other objectives, and provide so few amenities that the effort and hassle spoil the entire experience.

Not another hidden Gem - Ninh Thuan province

Ninh Thuan is an exception. The province is located in the middle of the south central tourism triangle of Phan Thiet/Mui Ne, Dalat, and Nha Trang. In the heart of the province are the adjoined cities of Thap Cham and Phan Rang. Thap Cham is the historical capital of the Cham people. Phan Rang, the capital of Ninh Thuan, is a mid-sized modern city near the ocean. From Saigon the drive is only an hour or two longer than traveling to Mui Ne, and it is two hours closer than Nha Trang. If you are flying into the Cam Ranh Airport, it is the same drive time as if you were going north to Nha Trang. Nearly all the visitors to this area stay at Ninh Chu Bay, which is five kilometers from Phan Rang.

Ninh Chu Bay

Ninh Chu Bay is considered one of the nine most beautiful beaches in Vietnam. Prior to 1974, the ten kilometer crescent was used as the exclusive beach for the President of South Vietnam. Since that time, it has remained relatively unknown to those outside Vietnam. Seven resorts of various quality and character line the area between the wide roads and the beach and several more resorts are being developed. The city of Phan Rang is located far enough away from the coast so the area near the ocean is uncongested.

Ninh Thuan MuseumWhat makes the area a true “hidden gem” is the unique balance of traditional Vietnamese life combined with modern conveniences for travelers. It is a gateway into seeing how contemporary Vietnamese live outside the major tourism destinations, while also providing all the services tourists need. Two large metered taxi companies offer reliable transportation to visitors, ATMs and banks line the streets, and high-speed internet access and international TV are available in all the resorts. Near the bay is one of the most modern buildings in Vietnam, an arrow-head shaped museum which is part of a large park that is now the unofficial community center. However, it is not unusual to see cattle being herded down the wide, six-lane road that connects the beach to Highway 1. If you have travelled around Vietnam for any length of time, you will notice several unusual things about this area that make it a welcome change. You will not be approached by people asking you to buy things or give money. You can walk on the sidewalks without the fear of motorbikes. Crossing the street is not life-threatening. The temperature is not humid and the ocean breeze cools you down. Getting in a taxi is safe, and the traffic is light. It is one of the easiest places in Vietnam to relax and just experience Vietnamese people as they truly live now and not how they lived in the past.

When to Go

If you want good beach weather almost guaranteed, then Ninh Thuan Province is for you. The province has the least amount of rain, the most sunny days, and consistently warm temperatures throughout the year. In fact, 95% of all grapes produced for wine are grown in this province.

The raining season is officially from mid-September to mid-December. However, when it rains it usually rains for about 15 minutes and stops. Phan Rang has 20% less annual rainfall than Nha Trang and Phan Thiet. Exceptions, like when a typhoon is near, are rare.

Getting There

As the city is directly in the middle of major tourist destinations, you have several options of travel. The train is a safe and reliable method to travel to Phan Rang on a budget (but spend a little extra for a cabin bed). Almost all the north/south trains stop at Thap Cham Station, which is about a $7 taxi ride from Ninh Chu Bay. Metered Mai Linh taxis are usually waiting at the train station.

Taking a bus is also an easy alternative. Most tour buses going to Nha Trang are happy to drop you off and pick you up in Phan Rang. If you are planning on arriving in the middle of night, make sure they drop you off where you can find a taxi to take you to your hotel.

Ninh Thuan Coastal HighwayPhan Rang is nearly the same distance from the Cam Ranh Airport as Nha Trang is, only south instead of north. The taxi ride will be more expensive since fewer taxis are willing to make this trip. You can expect to pay between $20 and $30. Once the new coastal highway is opened, the trip from the airport to the beach is going to be spectacular. The views from this highway are some of the best in the world. It is schedule to open in the first half of 2013.

Taking a van, taxi, or bus from Phan Thiet, Nha Trang, or Dalat will take about 2 hours. A taxi from Nha Trang will cost approximately $50.

Before the war, a railway connected Phan Rang to Dalat. The government plans to re-open this route in the next few years, which means Phan Rang will be the gateway into the south central highlands.

Where to Stay

It is highly recommended you stay at one of the seven resorts located on Ninh Chu Bay. Mini-hotels in the city are an inferior alternative.

The seven resorts range in price and service. Two-star options are available for $20 per night, but you will get what you pay for. Thai Binh, and Con Ga Resorts are the best of these. For a slightly higher price, you can stay at Bau Truc (formerly known as Den Gion) which has both three and four star facilities. Bau Truc is a nicely designed resort in the center of the bay with an open, outdoor restaurant right on the beach. They also have one of the largest swimming pools in Vietnam that they keep very clean.

Beds have new mattresses and linens that conform to western standards. Moving up in price, the next option is the Saigon Tourist owned, Ninh Chu Hotel. It is 8 floors and has many rooms with ocean views, as well as some beach bungalows. The Saigon Tourist hotel also has the most facilities such as a spa, game roomand a beach bar. Unfortunately, like many Saigon Tourist hotels, the service is subpar and the staffing is kept at a bare minimum.

Bau Truc resortFor a surreal experience that will make you feel like you are in a Scooby Doo mystery, stay at Hoan Cau resort (really, don’t). The resort mixes Vietnamese folklore and Disneyland design, only it looks like it hasn’t been maintained for the last decade. But, if you feel like staying in a “tree trunk”, then by all means check it out (don’t).

If you are traveling with a group, the new Aniise Villa resort recently opened and they have several beach villas with kitchens that can easily accommodate up to ten people.

Finally, the world famous Aman Resort Group is opening a resort on the cliffs above Vinh Hy Bay. The Aman Resort Vinh Hy Bay is set to open in the first half of 2013 and will be one of Vietnam’s most prestigious hotels.

Banner Photo by: Khánh Hmoong

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