Vietnam Travel Guide
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.
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.
The most stirringly beautiful of the Royal Tombs in Hué, Vietnam's most historic city.
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.
Headquartered in Ho Chi Minh City, this tour company organizes custom trips to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, and Bali. In addition to a variety of set itineraries, the company also designs personalized tours based on budget and interests, such as history, philanthropy, or cooking.
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.
Locating Villa Anupa, hidden down a slender lane off Le Thanh Ton Street, is a challenge; even harder is deciding which of Anupa Horvil's butter-soft leather bags should come home with you. Will it be the white hobo with tourmaline beading ($250)? Or the metallic-gray clutch ($160)?
Bespoke couturier Nguyen Cong Tri fashions runway-worthy satin and silk frocks at ready-to-wear prices (a floaty, turquoise chiffon dress for under $300). But don't expect a quick turnaround: it will take up to 10 days and a couple of fittings (shipping is available).
Head here for faithful copies of Western styles.
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.