A capital in the grand Southeast Asian tradition, Ho Chi Minh City is alive, chaotic and pulsing with energy. By Carmen Allan-Petale.
The streets of Ho Chi Minh City are an assault on the senses. Yet stroll through one of its many parks, or step inside a temple, and you’ve stumbled into a tranquil pocket in the heart of the metropolis.
Best for brunch
Kick off your first morning with brunch at Au Parc, housed in a Colonial-era house. You can choose between a Turkish or New York-style brunch and take in a view of the street as you dip into homemade jams on the terrace.
An insight into the past
To delve into the darkness of the Vietnam War, head to the nearby War Remnants Museum. The walls of the museum, which shares tragic stories from lives affected by the devastating conflict, are hung with shocking images.
Feast gourmet fare
Take a taxi to District 2 to feast on the best of French fine dining at Trois Gourmands. Located in a Colonial villa complete with large outdoor space and swimming pool, the restaurant offers a degustation menu in its romantic garden.
Check-in to historic digs
Connect with French tradition at the Hotel Continental. The first hotel in Ho Chi Minh, built in 1880, this historic building was made famous by the Graham Greene novel The Quiet American and its film adaptations. Sip coffee in the gorgeous Colonial inner courtyard, framed by frangipani trees.
Zoom around on a vintage Vespa
Explore the city on an old-school Vespa with Vietnam Vespa Adventures. You’ll be taken to Tao Dan Park where elderly men gather with caged birds each morning and the breathtaking Temple of 10,000 Buddhas.
Sample authentic street food
All that adventuring works up an appetite, so check out Hong Hoa Banh Mi for the best street food in the city. The stall opens in the afternoon and the fresh baguette sandwiches known as banh mi sell out quickly. Take yours to a nearby park like the locals.
High tea delights
If you’re after something a little more civilised, enjoy high tea at the Villa Royale. Crammed floor-to-ceiling with antiques sourced from around the world, this homely café features speciality teas and homemade cakes.
Hit the flower market for some fresh blooms
Venture out to District 10 early the next morning and enjoy the buzz of locals surging amongst the blooms at the flower market. If you know how to haggle you can pick up a large bunch of roses for a few dollars.
Take a walking food tour
If you want a real taste of the best Vietnamese food, indulge in the Saigon Street Eats Tour. Sample hearty pho, amble through markets and enjoy the best of Vietnamese desserts, while learning about local culture and food traditions.
Put on your dancing shoes
Top off your three days with a night out in one of the city’s many rooftop bars. Sip a cocktail and hit the dance floor at OMG bar, or visit the upmarket Chill Skybar for the best views.
SEE ALSO: One Perfect Day in Ho Chi Minh City