A local’s guide to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Dec 1, 2016

TA THI HONG NHUNG, passenger sales agent at Singapore Airlines’ Vietnam office, shows how her home city blends style with tradition.

BRIC-A-BRAC TO BESPOKE

You can find most souvenirs – from traditional outfits to lacquerware and other handicrafts (above) – at the iconic Ben Thanh Market (Le Loi, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1). Don’t forget to bargain.

I love the unique, locally designed handmade clutches, satchels, bucket bags and more from Ipa Nima. Its shops around the city are definitely worth visiting.

When looking for a quality bespoke suit that’s affordable, I go to H&D Tailor for a private consultation with the master tailor. The store has three generations of tailoring experience and you can choose from a wide range of fine fabrics.

LOCAL DELICACIES

Enjoy an authentic Vietnamese meal at Cuc Gach Quan, which is housed in a retro colonial villa. The restaurant, located in a quiet alley in the city centre, is great for those who want to catch a glimpse of Vietnamese life in the old days. This is reflected in its features – from the tableware to the decor, and down to the little drink straws made from the stems of the morning glory plant. If you don’t know what to choose from its diverse menu, the courteous waiters can explain the ingredients. Dishes include sauteed pumpkin flower, fried fish with green mango and boiled pork with shrimp brine.

Banh mi, the Vietnamese baguette with fillings, is one of the most convenient yet nutritious snacks here. Banh mi vendors can be found at any corner of town. For less than US$1.50, you can get a sandwich stuffed with sliced meat, pate, pork floss, cucumber, onions and other ingredients.

I frequent Banh Mi Huynh Hoa (26 Le Thi Rieng, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1, Tel: 84 83 925 0885), the city’s most well- known banh mi shop. You know you’re at the right place when you see a big crowd of people.

SEE ALSO: How to cross the road, and more tips for navigating Vietnam

STUNNING VIEWS

Bitexco Financial Tower is the highest building in Ho Chi Minh City. Enjoy panoramic views of the city from the observation deck on Level 49. The building is shaped like a lotus bud and can be seen from the rooftop of the famous Chill Skybar (above), which also boasts breathtaking vistas at night – plus classic cocktails with a twist.