Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Once a small fishing village of Cambodia and later the capital of the French Cochin-China, today’s Ho Chi Minh City is a diverse and dynamic capital. Expansion in recent years has attracted the attention of international talent, and the restaurant and fashion scenes are now more vibrant than ever. Explore Dong Khoi street for Ho Chi Minh’s premier upscale shopping experience, with après-shopping drinks at one of the area’s chic rooftop bars. If your pockets are feeling substantially lightened, Ben Thanh Market will revive you with a steaming bowl of traditional pho bo and ‘designer’ jeans at a quarter of the price. Outside of the centre, visitors can catch their breath and explore the rich culture at the pagodas of Cholon, or simply float idly down Saigon River and watch as local life passes by.

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When to go

Hot year round, Ho Chi Minh reaches peak temperatures in March and April. The best time to visit is during the dryest months from November to March. To experience the festivities of Tet, Vietnam’s largest national festival, visit in late January to early February.

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Getting there

  • Planes

    Fly into Tan Son Nhat International Airport, 15km from the hotel (www.hochiminhcityairport.com).
  • Trains

    Saigon Railway serves Hanoi and Danang.
  • Automobiles

    Saigon, the closest major city, is a 30-minute drive away.

Vietnamese views

Vietnamese views

Vietnam’s hinterland cradles ruins of old empires, captivating Unesco-listed sites and fertile terraces of verdant paddy-fields. River-straddling Hoi An charms with an intoxicating mix of 19th-century merchant houses, ancient temples and alluring stretches of sand. Ho Chi Min City is the South’s pulsing metropolis, replete with labyrinthine streets, boutique-lined boulevards and unbeatable eats. Slow the pace down on serene white sands – untouched and authentic Phan Thiet gets our vote – or commune with nature on out-of-the-way Con Dao; secluded beaches, lush green mountains and rare wildlife make this archipelago one of the country’s best kept secrets.

Find out more about Hoi An
Vietnamese super-stays

Vietnamese super-stays

Beachfront Fusion Maia Resort has stylish lodgings and smart dining down pat. Set within tropical gardens, its day spa is the largest in Hoi An and, irresistibly, all pampering sessions are included in the rate.

An Lam Saigon River is a quiet sanctuary of leafy gardens, river-watching rooms and zingy Vietnamese food. Make your lantern-lit entrance at dusk; the boat can whoosh you back to central Ho Chi Minh City in just 15 minutes.

Rustic but undeniably luxurious, Six Senses Ninh Van Bay’s boulder-perched villas are set in a secluded crescent-shaped bay; dive, spa or simply laze at this dreamy eco-friendly Nha Trang getaway.

Anantara Mui Ne Resort & Spa spawls across three heavenly seafront hectares; expect angelic masseuses, vanilla-infused cocktails and endless white sands at beachy, off the radar Mui Ne.

Find out more about Anantara Mui Ne Resort and Spa
Vietnam's hidden hotspots

Vietnam's hidden hotspots

Vietnam’s the kind of place where you can happily flop down on a glittering beach or strap yourself in for all manners of hillside and aquatic adventures. Nha Trang’s mountain-backed bays are the jumping-off point for diving adventures; in Mui Ne, set your surfboard to the waves, or tackle the startling red-sand dunes. Pick up Ben Thanh market bargains or boutique buys in sartorial capital Ho Chi Minh, or measure up for tailor-made togs in Hoi An’s Yaly Couture; Tran Phu Street and Luong Van Can Street stock gorgeous silks and graceful ao dais. Salute the sunrise at the jungle-set temple ruins of My Son; putter past paddy fields on a two-wheeled tour of the Mekong Delta; or go bar-hopping between the soaring skyscrapers of beachside Danang.

Find out more about Nha Trang
Vietnamese dining delights

Vietnamese dining delights

Vietnam’s sea-plucked produce, French heritage and remarkable street food make it a strong contender for one of the best places to eat in South East Asia. Fragrant pho, bulging banh xeo crêpes and fresh banh mi sandwiches are a good start, but for the tastiest banana flower salads or charcoal-smoked bun cha, make a beeline for the roadside stall with the biggest crowd and briskest service. Nobu graduate Martin Brito mans the culinary reigns at ambitious Blanchy’s Tash; you’ll want to order everything on the menu at Bobby Chin (the tea-smoked duck and sticky coconut rice pudding are memorable). Strong, dense and aromatic, Vietnamese coffee is the stuff of barista worship; hot or iced, don’t skimp on the generous glug of sweet condensed milk for an instant afternoon pick-me-up.

Find out more about Bobby Chin