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Ho Chi Minh City High Five

Published 27 January 2011   

As the second fastest growing city in the developing world, it’s getting hard these days to keep up with Vietnam’s largest metropolis, Ho Chi Minh City. Here’s FRV TRavel’s take on the best 5 options while visiting this vibrant city.

Text by Katie Truman

1. Shop

If time is of the essence, a fabulous one-stop shop is lifestyle emporium, Gaya, Vietnam’s first bona fide designer showroom. Gaya tastefully showcases innovative designs of contemporary lifestyle, fashion, furniture and home accessories over four floors.
Highlights are embroidered Chateau Panignon bed linens, sand molded aluminum-cast chairs, prêt a porter Cambodian silk and organza fashions by Romyda Keth and brightly coloured lacquer tableware.
Gaya, 1 Nguyen Van Trang Street, District 1, tel: +84 (0) 8 3925 1495

2. Sleep

The InterContinental Asiana Saigon is aimed at the savvy business traveller and located downtown. The 21-storey hotel contributes big time to modern-day Saigon’s ‘bold modernisation.’ 305 open-plan rooms and suites feature floor-to-ceiling windows with superb city views, deep soak bathtubs and walk-in rain showers, plus hi-tech amenities. Don’t miss the Champagne Sunday Brunch at gourmet Market 39 restaurant. Rates start from US$280 per night.
InterContinental Asiana Saigon, Cnr Hai Ba Trung and Le Duan streets, District 1/ tel: +84 (0) 8 3520 9999 / www.intercontinental.com/saigon

3. Spa

HCMC’s frenetic energy may drive you to distraction, so jaded souls should flee to the heavenly confines of La Maison de L’Apothiquaire. This traditional French day spa is housed in a colonial 1950s Art Deco villa and set in bougainvillea-clad gardens. Opt for their indulgent ‘Haute Couture’ packages, like the five-hour Detox treatment and reserve the VIP suite with claw-foot bath tub and private Jacuzzi. You will also be entitled to complimentary use of the pool, spa cuisine and pick-up transfer in a restored vintage automobile.
La Maison de L’Apothiquaire, 64A Truong Dinh Street, District 3/ tel: +84 (0) 8 3932 5181/ www.lapothiquaire.com

4. Eat

Shri is among an increasingly number of swanky new restaurants; the height of good taste (literally), Shri offers jaw-dropping views of Saigon’s glittering skyline from its 23rd floor rooftop garden terrace and glass-encased interiors. Be sure to catch the sunset with a reserved al fresco table tottering on the terrace edge or inside, especially in the separate, all-glass VIP dining room, seemingly suspended in mid-air.
Shri, 23 Flr, Centec Tower, 72-74 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street, District 3, tel: +84 (0) 8 3827 9631

5. Drink

Park Hyatt’s ultra-glam 2 Lam Son raises the bar in sophistication. It’s as smooth as its signature cocktails (try Chi Chi or Cosmo Katie), yet manages to stay surprisingly informal. Contemporary sleek interiors of warm walnut timbered floors, black marble square bar and intricate metal lattice screens contrasts with traditional Vietnamese touches. Live DJs Thursday to Saturday. 2 Lam Son is strictly non-smoking.
2 Lam Son Bar, Park Hyatt Saigon, 101 Hai Ba Trung Street, District 1, tel: +84 (0) 8 3824 1234/ www.saigon.park.hyatt.com