You probably know that we produce CoAqua coconut water in Vietnam or maybe you didn't... but you do now.
We spend a lot of time in the city and have some tips for you if you're headed that way. It's a bustling, busy, vibrant city and you better have your 'crossing-the-road' head on when you start making your way around. You'll see what I mean when you get there :)
Early morning walk- Công viên Tao Đàn Park
Vietnam is an early rising country. People get out before the sun gets up, probably because the heat in the middle of the day or afternoon is intense which makes exercise or walking a little sticky. Do yourself a favor and get up with the locals take a stroll down to Công viên Tao Đàn as the sun comes up. If you've just arrived from the US or NZ, Aus you'll more than likely be awake anyway. Lovely large old trees and pathways, people exercising, dancing, doing Yoga or Tai-Chi in the middle of the city. It's a great way to ease yourself into Saigon.
Breakfast - L'Usine
It might be sacrilegious suggesting L'usine as the place for breakfast in Saigon but it's our go-to spot. There are two outlets - one on Dong Koi and one on Le Loi...we prefer the Dong Koi outlet because I guess this is where we first went and being creatures of habit...we haven't changed.
It was started by some super talented friends of ours in Saigon - in a beautiful old French Colonial building in the middle of district 1. L'usine does great coffee & food in a wonderful setting - all the heavy industrial furniture and fixtures are also designed and made in Saigon by District 8 design - which was started by one of the founders. It's not only a great food, coffee place but the lifestyle store is a great place to browse...the team at L'usine have curated a wonderful collection from some of the world's best designers as well as local brands that you'll most likely not have heard of.
Shopping - Ben Thanh Market
Ben Thanh market is no mystery to people making the trek to Ho Chi Minh City, it's most definitely on every guide and recommendation but that doesn't make it any less worth a visit. The interior is hot, crowded and fun and you'll need to hone your bargaining skills if you're planning on buying.
One tip; First timers are often not hardened bargainers and seem agitated or rushed...the best method is to be slow, chatty and preferably funny. Get the vendors smiling and you'll have a much better luck. Also don't be unrealistic. Figure you should be able to talk them down 30-50% if you're good, patient and not hurried. Also make sure you wander into the side streets that surround the market - there's shoe streets, bag streets, watch streets and loads of great street-food.
Lunch - Propaganda
We're not historians but anybody who has spent some time in Vietnam will have noticed the hand-painted propaganda posters around the country. They're totally unique and cool.. During the war from 1959 to 1975, these posters were hand-made and hung up on the streets to propagandize the fighting spirit of Vietnamese people.
They're colorful and awesome. Propaganda is a stylish bistro serving great Vietnamese food and the interiors of the place heavily reference this style of propaganda art. It's slightly hard to find so make sure you google map it. Also if you search around Saigon hard enough you'll find propaganda posters to buy, take home and frame.
Relax - Thao Dien Village
At the end of a long hot day in District one we often jump in a taxi or an Uber and head out to District two, to Thai Dien Village. The districts don't border each other so this ride is about 20 - 25 mins but it's worth it.
Thao Dien Village sits right on the banks of the river in a leafy, quiet section of the city. A grand old building that's been converted into a boutique hotel. It's great place to stay but if you're busy in District one it's a little impractical however the pool is available to non-guests and this is our usual plan. Head out about 3pm , get a deck chair by the pool or on the banks of the river, order a drink and relax until sunset. There's a load of restaurants in District two also - about 15 mins walk from the hotel - so when you're done chilling - make a left out of the hotel and wander back up to the little main street and find dinner.