“I love Saigon because it’s so alive: the rapid development of the city in recent years has made it so dynamic,” says Dang Trung Truc, the Chief Concierge at The Reverie Saigon. And who could argue, considering the impressive array of cultural attractions, fantastic food finds and buzzing energy? “It’s as though you can actually feel people’s hope and excitement in the air for what’s to come next. At the same time, its history and traditions remains palpable.” Trung Truc shares his favourite haunts in the city – from the expected to the surprising.
When your friends are in town, where do you take them for a drink?
If they’re beer lovers, I’ll usually introduce them to Rogue, a hidden away craft beer bar. It offers 16 different brews on tap so it’s a great place to linger for long-overdue catch-ups.
What’s a great place for a business meeting?
At The Reverie Saigon, we have 15 multi-purpose function spaces great for business meetings of any size, from a global conference to an intimate board meeting.
Which restaurant best shows off your city?
For guests seeking an authentic dining experience and some of the best seafood in town, I would suggest Ốc Oanh in District 4. The place is quite famous and extremely popular amongst locals. The Roasted Sea Crab Claws with Pepper Salt is a favourite but be prepared to dig in with your hands! Another popular dish is the fried octopus.
Is there a restaurant that is a real hot spot for locals right now?
Vietnam House recently re-opened after a major renovation and it’s presently one of the hottest dining destinations in Ho Chi Minh City. It now has Australian-born Vietnamese celebrity chef Luke Nguyen spearheading its culinary concept. The menu reflects his contemporary take on traditional Vietnamese. Favourites include a version of the local noodle soup phở with premium Wagyu beef and incorporating lobster into Vietnamese fried spring rolls.
If I want to kick on after dinner, what's a nice club to go to?
Chill Skybar remains the go-to place for locals and visitors alike who want to dance and party the night away. It was the first sky bar to debut in Vietnam and is located at the top of AB Tower in District 1 and has spectacular views of Saigon from its 26th-floor home. It very much attracts a dress-to-impress kind of crowd.
Where’s the best brunch served?
Au Parc, a Mediterranean café just a short stroll from the Independence Palace, does an authentic Turkish-style brunch on the weekends with menemen (Turkish-style scambled eggs), creamy hummus and flat bread, thick home-made yoghurt, as well as strong coffee. Parents will also be particularly appreciative of their supervised kids’ corner.
Where can we find the best coffee in your city?
The Workshop is a favourite that’s located literally just around the corner and across the street from The Reverie Saigon. Only a tiny sign hanging above an otherwise non-descript alleyway used for motorcycle parking indicates the coffee house’s location three floors above – in a renovated loft that’s now a lively gathering place for those who can appreciate the work of award-winning baristas who take their craft very seriously.
Where are the markets in your city?
For market shopping there are two places unique to the city that are worth exploring –Bàn Cờ Market in District 3 sells everything from clothes to crockery and then there’s Tân Thành Market in District 5, the biggest motorbike accessories market in Vietnam. There you can find any kind of motorbike part you could imagine.
Where’s the perfect gift or memento shop?
The concept store L’Usine sells cool items such as a version of Monopoly mapped out based on historic Saigon, interesting coffee table books and products by premium local brands Marou (chocolate) and Indochine (candles and essential oils).
What’s a great museum or gallery?
The Duc Minh Private Art Gallery & Museum is a real gem. Housed in a colonial mansion in District 3, it’s home to what are probably some of Vietnam’s most precious art pieces including significant works by the founder of Vietnamese lacquer art Nguyen Gia Tri. There are three floors to explore but the space is intimate in size – I would recommend setting aside at least 45 minutes to visit.
What’s the best day trip out of your city?
Luxury speedboat tour company Les Rives offers scenic daytrips along the Saigon River and up the Mekong Delta to discover its maze of canals. It’s a fantastic way to explore areas otherwise not visible from road. It offers you the chance to witness the city’s river-based economies, as well as catch a glimpse of rural, small-village life. The tour group size is a maximum of 15 passengers.
What’s the city's most exciting outdoor experience?
Our guests always return from the ‘Saigon After Dark’ tour by Vespa Adventures saying what a marvelous time they had. The 4.5-hour introduction to Saigon takes you and your group on an exhilarating, food-centric excursion around some of the city’s most popular districts on a chauffeured (and lovingly restored) vintage Vespa.
SEE ALSO: One Perfect Day in Ho Chi Minh City