Formerly and still commonly referred to as 'Saigon', Ho Chi Minh City combines culture with commerce to give a mesmerising mix of old world charm and modern bustle. From street hawkers to elegant restaurants, preserved colonial structures and war relics to glistening towers, the city's attractive qualities are aplenty. But don't just take our word for it. Below, the good folk over at InterContinental Hotels & Resorts show us five ways to fall in love with Ho Chi Minh City.
1. Pick up a rare tome at one of the city's outdoor bookstores
Across the road from Notre Dame Cathedral is Nguyen Van Binh Street, a charming pedestrians-only street lined with over 30 small outdoor book stores, cafes and trinket stores. You can spend a lazy afternoon browsing vintage books and rare literary finds ranging from old songbooks to classic Vietnamese novels, with trees providing lush foliage and shade as you walk down the street. There are also regular live music performances, author talks and book signings, giving you the perfect reason to take a break from technology and rekindle the love for hardbound books and paperbacks.
2. Wake up and smell the coffee
Coffee-aficionados, take note. The Vietnamese take immense pride in their national beverage, and with good reason. First imported by the French, locals soon began growing their own beans in the highlands, giving Vietnamese coffee its seductively rich aroma and full-bodied flavour. The national classic, ca phe sua da, which translates literally to "coffee, milk, ice", is a robust dark roast brewed in a special press pot, served over ice with lashings of sweet condensed milk. To enjoy this simple yet invigorating drink, kick back at one of the city's many local cafés. For those craving a tranquil retreat from the rush-hour, The Library at InterContinental Saigon offers personalised service in a plush, comfortable oasis right in the city's heart.
3. Feast like a king
Rivalling the city's coffee scene is its venerable food culture. With the majority of its produce sourced from the fertile low lands of the Mekong Delta, fresh ingredients are a guarantee at most of the city's eateries. Enjoy a rich array of food options from street vendors whipping up delicious bowls of pho (noodles in fragrant broth). Ho Chi Minh City has truly mastered the way to one's heart, through the stomach.
4. Discover the romantic charms of the city
Christened the "Paris of Asia", it's hard to miss the allure that Ho Chi Minh City exudes. Best explored by foot, the city offers a lovely backdrop of elegant colonial French-style architecture, quirky boutiques and quaint cafés. Stroll down the wide, tree-lined boulevards and lose yourself in the city's timeless beauty.
5. Knock back a few drinks with the locals
Come sundown, the city lights up with renewed energy. From swanky rooftop clubs offering panoramic views of the glistening city, to boisterous street bars that pack a light-hearted vibe, Ho Chi Minh entices and delights with an impressive selection of nightlife venues. Wind down in style and enjoy the best that Ho Chi Minh City has to offer at District 1, known for its trendy clientele. For the best views of the city, head up to Chill Sky Bar.