Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) + The South

Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) + The South Travel Guide

What was once Vietnam’s hippest nightspot—in the mid-1990s pioneer days—has lost a bit of its edge: the new décor is too flashy, the lighting distracting, and the clientele more corporate than cool.

Specializing in Art Deco furniture (both reproduction and antique), this densely packed multistory shop may have a corny name but it’s been a favorite of expats looking to outfit their villas since it opened in 1998.

If time allows, consider a half-day excursion northwest of the city to these fascinating, albeit touristy, sights. A network of hidden passageways and underground lairs dug by the Viet Cong during the war form the amazing, if claustrophobia-inducing, Cu Chi Tunnels.

Pick up a Vietnamese ao dai (a woman's costume of tunic and flowing pants) reinvented by Minh Khoa, Ho Chi Minh City's edgiest couturier.

Racks of candy-colored Indo-chic dresses (from $120) fill the sleek pink-and-black space. Traditional Asian silhouettes are modernized and delivered in unusual fabrics such as houndstooth or nubby wool.

Peeling ocher walls, sun-bleached curtains, musty corridors, a fountain full of pond scum: Saigon’s oldest art museum is atmosphere incarnate, like Miss Havisham’s parlor gone tropical.

This friendly store—one of many similar cotton shops on Le Thanh Ton—ranks as one of the street’s best. The accommodating staff, which speaks halting but comprehensible English, will make simple embroidered cotton or linen sheets, pillowcases, duvet covers, and napkins to your specifications.

Tucked away in the landmark Eden Mall, right off busy Dong Khoi Street, this centrally located sleek salon and spa is a favorite of well-heeled Saigonese.


The temple is topped by a colorful gopuram bedecked with Hindu gods and goddesses.

For dapper menswear—think Seize Sur Vingt—look for the unfortunately named Massimo Ferrari, a narrow boutique in treelined District 3.

The vintage ‘60s soundtrack (from the Fifth Dimension to the Shangri-Las), lengthy cocktail list, and fabulous skyline views from this sprawling ninth-floor terrace bar draw plenty of American tourists and expats.

Inspired by the sumptuous textiles, rich palettes, and hotels of the 1940s, owner-designer Lim Du Mihn stocks a well-curated and eclectic trove of French, Chinese, and Vietnamese Deco furniture and accessories, including outsize teak-framed mirrors, paneled screens, and low-slung armchairs.

The delirious pastiche of the former presidential palace, completed in 1966, calls to mind the lair of a Bond villain crossed with Austin Powers’s pad. Yes, this is where the National North Vietnamese Army crashed its tanks through the fence in April 1975 and effectively ended the war.

One of the city’s premier shopping destinations, Zen Plaza is a retail center containing several floors of shops, including designer brands like Diesel, as well as a food court with options like Pho 24 and a photo studio.