Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) + The South

Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) + The South Travel Guide

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

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

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.

The shop's two rooms abound with perfectly curated antiques and Art Deco reproductions such as a sexy, low-slung mahogany club chair for just $400. If you fall for any of the tasteful settees, or can't live without an oversize glazed-ceramic lamp, the shop arranges shipping.

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.

Along with the Archbishop’s Residence, this ranks as perhaps the most graceful and visually arresting colonial building in Saigon, full of rococo flourish and wonderful wedding-cake detail.

Saigon’s main public market sells everything from dried spices and live chickens to cheap clothing and plasticware. And while it may be chaotic and crowded, it’s always entertaining to explore—and especially good for a quick snack from the many food vendors here.

Saigon’s largest selection of English-language books, travel guides, and magazines is also a good bet for postcards, maps, and hard-to-find international newspapers.

The white-on-white Modernist building that houses Gaya makes a dramatic first impression (yes, those are giant fountain-pen nibs on the façade). Inside, you'll find the best haute souvenirs in all of Saigon.

Parents of little girls thank heaven for Than Thuy, an unassuming shop packed to the rafters with adorable gingham dresses with Peter Pan collars, plaid jumpers, and eyelet nightgowns—all meticulously embroidered, stitched, and smocked by hand.

One of the most appealing lanes in Saigon is also the favorite for foreign travelers: three tree-shaded blocks of quirky tube houses and colonial-era shop-houses. Take a walk along the row of cool fashion and home-design boutiques.

Since the “Five O’Clock Follies” (the U.S. military’s daily press briefings during the Vietnam War) were held downstairs, the rooftop garden—with its wacky Dr. Seussian topiary—became a beloved journo hangout, and remains an essential tourist stop to this day.

Irony comes to Ho Chi Minh City at this perfectly named boutique that trades in Socialist-themed ephemera: Communist Party T-shirts, Uncle Ho coffee mugs, key-chains emblazoned with NVA tanks, and more.