Our favourite spots in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City
Eat – Cuc Gach Quan
Inspired by the countryside cuisine of his youth, architect and designer Binh Tran’s Cuc Gach Quán restaurant in central Ho Chi Minh City draws upon Vietnam’s vibrant rural vernacular in a deft reflection of the nation’s changing fortunes in the 20th century. Hidden beneath the unassuming colonial facade lies an immaculately designed interior dotted with antique curios custom-picked to give off an unmistakable sense of homecoming. The menu, which revolves around fresh fruit and vegetables, changes daily to match the local market’s morning offerings and ensure that the restaurant’s reputation for top-notch home-cooked Vietnamese cuisine lives up to the promise of the premises.
Drink – Broma: Not A Bar
Despite its name, Broma: Not A Bar most definitely is. Standing just four storeys above the simmering street life of Ho Chi Minh City, Broma’s intimate rooftop is the ideal place to lie back along a comfy bench with an ice-cold cocktail and enjoy the mix of live music and DJs from both Vietnam’s flourishing electronic music scene and across the world. Be sure to swing by on Thursday nights for a taste of the city’s swinging jazz. Tucked away from prying eyes up three flights of hidden stairs, Broma’s exclusive blend of relaxation and raucous wonder promises to please.
Wander – Notre Dame Cathedral
An island of faith at the crossroads of Ho Chi Minh City’s bustling boulevards, Notre Dame Cathedral literally stands as a monument to the lasting French influence on Vietnam’s culture and institutions. In the shadow of the cathedral’s red brick façade, the famous statue of Peaceful Notre Dame raises her eyes to the horizon. It was these eyes, which have watched over the city’s transformation for more than half a century, that were rumoured to have filled with tears at the turn of the 21st century, drawing pilgrims from across the world to this last vestige of the Catholic church in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
Browse – Dogma Gallery
As its name suggests, Ho Chi Minh City’s Dogma Gallery is devoted to the manifold expressions of a single ideal. Its extensive collection of 20th-century propaganda works captures the sheer intensity and variety of the revolutionary spirit that launched Vietnam from a protectorate under French dominion to a sovereign nation capable of overcoming attacks from the world’s titans. From watercolours of native flowers blossoming through the rusted remains of a Western military helmet to bold visions of Vietnamese troops charging into the fray, Dogma Gallery’s collection offers a rare insight into the violent rebirth of a nation.
Sleep – The Alcove Library Hotel
Cleanly minimalist ± but no less inviting for it ± the snugly named Alcove Library Hotel greets its guests with an expansive collection of books and nooks perfect for a quiet afternoon away from the sound and fury of the city once called Saigon. An elegant white tower overlooking the main avenue to Ho Chi Minh City’s largest airport, the hotel’s rooftop bar and restaurant offers a blend of Western and Vietnamese cuisine accompanied by a sweeping view of the skyline. The complimentary bedtime reading waiting by your pillow upon checking in is just the right touch to stand out in an increasingly homogeneous hotel industry.