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An Insider’s Guide to HCMC

Sailing into Saigon for business trip? Mixing the energy of modern Vietnam with French chic, these tops spots are your go-to’s for work and p-leisure.

Before the day’s meetings kick off, book a breakfast river tour with either Saigon Boat ( or Les Rives ( The perspective of the city from the river is amazing – you get to see the gleaming metropolis while avoiding the insane motorcycle rush-hour chaos.

Hottest new venues

L’Usine, Ho Chi Minh’s most influential concept store, has opened a fantastic new four-storey flagship shop on Le Thanh Ton in District 1 ( Vietnamese chocolatier Maison Maru has opened a cafe on Calmette Street in D1. It’s an elegant French setting where you can enjoy the signature single-origin chocolate, pastries and drinks ( Walk off the calories afterwards browsing the shops on Le Cong Kieu Street (Antique Street) and visiting the Fine Arts Museum (97A Pho Duc Chinh Nguyen, D1), both of which are close by.

Where the business crowd meets

There are several venues with a discreet and calm ambience that are ideal for lunch or dinner meetings. For a Vietnamese lunch with a side of sophistication, try Hoa Tuc( or hidden rooftop restaurant SH Garden (; both are terrific culinary experiences.

The Deck is always a winner for dinner with its elegance and on-the-river setting ( The excellent Japanese restaurant Sorae has its own whisky bar (; alternatively, head to either Social Club at M Gallery ( or Shri (Level 23, Centec Tower, 72-74, Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D3) for after-dinner drinks with city-wide views.

Eat, stay, play

Hôtel des Arts Saigon, MGallery: Parisian- style dream of creamy, elegant abodes with claw-foot baths and leafy D3 vistas. Lounge by the sky-high pool, sip at Café des Beaux Arts, graze at Saigon and shake it down at Social Club. Trés chic. (

Villa Song: Book a four-poster suite at this cute riverside hotel with 23 individually designed rooms and deck. (

Hum: Try this stylish vegetarian eatery for its winning combination of dimly lit, sensual interior and sophisticated meat-free menu. (

Propaganda: Bright and lively bistro where the new-wave plates are as bold as the colourful fitout. (

Craig Thomas Gallery: Saigon’s leading art gallery spotlighting emerging talents and established mid-career artists via expertly curated permanent exhibits. Rotating shows introduce artists from other parts of Vietnam. (

Harmony: Dazzlingly original, impeccably made European-Asian jewellery in silver, leather, wood and jade. By appointment or shop from the collection at Sofitel Saigon and Ginkgo Concept Store. (Call +84 9 0805 8112;

This article originally appeared in the Australian Financial Review’s Boss Magazine

For more insider tips, insights and itineraries, nab a copy of the LUXE Ho Chi Minh Guide…

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