Villa Song Saigon
A beautifully restored 23-room French colonial mansion, now a luxury boutique hotel, in expat enclave Thao Dien on the Saigon River. If you can’t stay, come for an alfresco brunch.
With a metro line under construction, a boom in luxury flats and yachts bobbing by Thu Thiem Bridge, Ho Chi Minh City is Asia’s most ambitious city. See it in evolving District 2, home to box-fresh residential complexes, restaurants and hipster bars.
This pedestrianised street is the core of the city, running past the banana-yellow colonial City Hall and the glossy Bitexco Tower. Look down on it from the rooftops of The Rex and The Caravelle hotels, which housed foreign embassies and journalists during the Vietnam War.
During the holidays, women take to the streets in their finest ao dai, Vietnam’s traditional dresses. Select silk from the fabric market and have one custom made at Nha May Chi, a specialist tailor in District 3.
Vietnam’s favourite noodle soup is being reinvented in cocktail bars across Ho Chi Minh City. Try the spicy, savoury shots of beef pho at District 2’s Fat Shaggys.
The city has been crazy about coffee since the French introduced it in the late 19th century. Drink it at warehouse-style L’Usine – part café, part gallery, part boutique selling fashionable local brands – on District 1’s Dong Khoi Street.