Looking for a great long weekend destination but tired of Bangkok and longing for Paris? Try Ho Chi Minh City! Full of buzz (and not just from the two-wheelers) and colonial architecture, you won’t be disappointed.
If you’re hankering for a Euro-trip but want to avoid jet lag (and the pricey plane fare), head to Ho Chi Minh. With it’s brick-lined boulevards and colonial architecture, you could fool yourself into thinking you are in Paris —only with many more two-wheelers. But Vietnam’s largest city (which the locals still call Saigon) has one thing Paris never will: the freshest spring rolls on the planet.
Skip Starbucks and start your day with a coffee at a local chain like Trung Nguyen Coffee—the locals take it strong, milky-sweet and on ice. Let the caffeine kick in and propel you to the frenetic but friendly aisles of Ben Thanh market for fresh and dried produce, wacky textiles and general bric-a-brac. Be ready to bargain, because the motto here is that no price is final.
Lunch at the ubiquitous Pho 24 chain is mandatory, but so is an afternoon spent soaking in the harrowing history of the Vietnam War at the War Remnants Museum in District 3.
Try to squeeze in a massage every chance you get, they’re cheap (an hour is around $20 or 32,000 Vietnamese Dong) and generally pretty good.
Spend the evening in true Saigon style—on the back of a vintage Vespa enjoying a food and nightlife tour run by Vespa Adventures. Zip between streetside seafood stalls and speakeasies while savouring local delights and meeting lots of new friends.
With the low airfare and reasonable food, you can afford to pull out all the stops when it comes to accomodation. Look no further than opulent 286-room The Reverie Saigon. Designed to contrast the more minimalist offerings around the city, this is a high-gloss experience that makes sure to tick every single box when it comes to all-out luxury.
Take the time to pamper yourself at The Spa, a sprawling sanctuary with views over the magnificent city. And you’ll be forgiven if you make this more of a staycation, because along with a stunning rooftop pool and ridiculously delicious foodie options, the rooms (all with floor-to-ceiling windows)are lavishly decorated and designed for maximum comfort. The only problem? Returning to your desk job on Monday.
- A camera With so much to see and do, you’ll find that your smartphone may not be able to cope.
- An actual, physical map You are constantly warned to keep mobiles stowed away (they’re a popular target for theft), so you’ll wanna skip the GPRS and go old-school.
- Daily flights on low-cost airlines like Vietjet or Air Asia are around $115. Rooms at The Reverie Saigon start at around $350 per night, with breakfast inclusive.
- Book in advance for the Vespa tours. Booking can be done through Paypal on vespaadventures.com.
For more great long weekend trips, click here!
By Divya Menon, Cosmopolitan, October 2015