Thursday, September 10, 2015

Travel Tips...Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

I have lived in Saigon for over three years. During that time, I have collected business cards, travel books, written notes, picked up recommendations and the list goes on. Now is as good a time as any to share the love...for Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon. 

People often ask for my recommendations for things to see and do in Saigon. In turn, I ask what they hope to achieve. We travel for different discover, to look for answers.  If you are travelling to Saigon, chances are you have just a few days, possibly less than 24 hours. I have compiled a list to direct you, with a few of my favourites ** and ones recommended to me. 

Above all else, my recommendation for Saigon is to wander slowly and with care, absorb the sights and sounds, feel the beat of the city and enjoy. In fact..hold that throughout your time in Vietnam. It is a pretty special place, you will see...

My list starts with a list of books and movies, many I have read or viewed and others have been recommended. If you see two red stars **, it means it is tried and true by me. I have provided links for everything else, where possible.  It is a start... 

Last updated: September 10, 2015
NOTE: Restaurants, shops etc.. have a habit of moving and closing frequently. You should double check the address online before setting off.




Recommended Tours-
Sophie's Art Tour (Vietnamese art history)**
Saigon Treasure Hunt-Furniture/fashion/lifestyle/tours**
Vietnam Vespa Adventures**


Le Thang Ton St.
Song (fashion) 76D Le Thanh Ton St. D1
Vietnam Quilt (bedding and home) 26/1 Le Thanh Ton St. D1

Ton That Thiep St.
Michele De Albert (Vietnamese laquerware) 30 Ton That Thiep St, D1
MH Craft  (handcrafted Vietnamese) 33 Ton That Thiep St. ** Nice selection of laquerware
Celadon Green (handcrafted Vietnamese)  51 Ton That Thiep
Saigon Kitsch  (Vietnamese kitsch)  43 Ton That Thiep St. D1**
Duy Tan  (handcrafted Vietnamese) 47 Ton That Thiep St. ** nice selection handcrafted souvenirs

Dong Khoi St.
Alphana Jewelry 159 Dong Khoi St D1
The Vietnamese Refinement (handicraft) 141 Dong Khoi St. D1 **
Khai Khai Silk 81 Dong Khoi
Ipa-Nima (fashion) 77-79 Dong Khoi,  D1
Sapa (fashion and home) 47 Dong Khoi St. D1
Precious Qui 29a Dong Khoi
ArtBook ( art books) 43 Dong Khoi D1 **
Therese Jewelry  (popular jewelry store with local expats) 9 Dong Khoi St
Nguyen Freres (ethnic home and fashion) 2 Dong Khoi, D1 **

Mac Thui Buoi St.
It Happens to be a Closet (fashion) 89 Mac Thui Buoi

Nguyen Thiep St
Therese Jewelry (jewelry) 9 Nguyen Thiep St., D1
My Way Deco (laquer/home) 13 Nguyen Thiep St, D1

Le Thanh Ton St.
Villa Anupa (fashion accessories) 17/27 Le Thanh Ton 
Catherine Denoual Maison (luxury linen) 15 Thi Sach St, D1** beautiful linens

Le Loi St.
Kim Phuong (home linen, embroidery) 98 Le Loi St D1**
Orchid Taylor  84 Le Loi St D1**
Ben Thanh Market (food, fashion, home)  Le Loi St. **

Fahasa Bookshop 40 Nguyen Hue, D1**
Minh Hahn (fashion couture) 128 b Hai Ba Trung
Minh Khoa (fashion formal) 81 Ly TuTrong, St, D1
Verlim Interior Design 152 Le Lai St, D1**
Anupa Boutique (fashion/accessories)  9 Dong Di, D1** 
Gaya (fashion and home)  1 Nguyen Van Trang St. D1**

Kenly Silk 132 Le Thanh Ton, D1
Khai Silk 107 Dong Khoi St, D1
Huong Fabrics 57 Thu Khoa Huan, D1
T M Silk Boutique 155 Dong Khoi St, D1
Hoang Silk 201 Dong Khoi, D1
Bao Silk 223 De Tham St, D1
Tan Binh Market 171M Ly Thuong Kiet, D3
Thanh Thuy Cotton House 230 Le Thanh Ton, D1

TAILOR (and fabric)
Orchid Taylor  84 Le Loi St D1**
Khai Silk 107 Dong Khoi St
Dung Tailor  221-223 Le Thang Ton

Ben Thanh Market (food, fashion, home)  Le Loi St. **
Saigon Centre 60 Le Loi St, D1**
An Dong Wholesale Market  35-36 An Dong Vuong St. D5
Binh Tay Market 578 Thap Muoi St, D6
Cho Ben Thanh Market intersection Le Loi, Ham Nghi, Tran Hung Dao Avenues and Le Lai
Russian Market ( fashion) 225 Ben Cguong St, D1**
Dan Sinh Market (war surplus market) 104 Yersin St**
Saigon Square Intersection Le Duan and Hai Ba Trung
Cho Lon  Market Tran Hung Dao St, D5**
Le Cong Kieu St (vintage and antiques) **
Camera Street ( Huynh Thut Khang, Ho Tung Mau, Nguyen Hue Le Loi)

TuDo Gallery 53 Ho Tung Mau, D1**
Ben Thanh Art & Frame 7 Nguyen Thiep St, D1** off of Dong Khoi St.
Galerie Nguyen 139 Dong Khoi St, D1 **
Galerie Quynh 65 De Tham, D1
Craig Thomas Gallery 27i Tran Nhat Duat, D1
Dogma 1st floor, 43 Ton That Thiep, D1
Galerie Lotus 67 Pasteur St 
Lac Hong Gallery 1A Le Thi Hong Gam St, D1
Duc Minh Art Gallery 31C Le Quy Don, D3
Phuong Mai Gallery 213c Dong Khoi St, D1
Tara & Kys Art Gallery 48 Dong Du St, D1 

Temple Club 29-31 Ton That Thiep St, D1**
Hoa Tuc 74 Hai Ban Trung St, D1 **
The Refinery 74 Hai Ba Trung, D1
Au Parc 23 Han Thuyen St, D1 ** funky and fun cafe
L'Usine First Floor 151 Dong Khoi St, D1** enjoy for Sunday brunch and lunch, thru the Art Arcade
An Vien 178A Hai Ba Trung D1
Restaurant 13 13 Ngo Duc Ke St. D1
Lemongrass 4 Nguyen Thiep St. D1
Square One Park Hyatt  2 Lam Son Square D1
Opera Park Hyatt 2 Lam Son Square, D1**
Carmague  74/7D Hai Ba Trung, D1**
Hoi An 11 Le Thanh Ton, D1
Mandarin 11a Ngo Van Nam, D1
Quan An Ngon  138 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, D1
El Gaucho Saigon 5D Nguyen Sieu, D1 **
Lucca Cafe 88 Ho Tung Mau St, D1 **great coffee
Fanny Ice Cream 29-31 Ton That Thiep, D1 ..** gelato..passionfruit sorbet
Grand Opus Saigon 12 Phan Ke Bing Str. Dakao Ward, D1
Song Ngu Seafood Restaurant 70 Suong Nguyet Anh St, Ben Thanh Ward, D1
Cuc Gach Quan 10 Dang Tat St, Tan Dinh Ward, D1
Propaganda Restaurant 21 Han Thuyen Street D1
The Deck 38 Nguyen U Di, D2 **
Mekong Merchant 23 Thao Dien, D2 ** family favourite
Pho Pasteur  260 Pasteur St,  D3
Tib Restaurant 187 Ter Hai Ba Trung St. Ward 6, D3

Hoa Tuc/ Saigon Cooking Class  74/7 Hai Ba Trung,  D1 **great cooking!
Vietnam Cooking Centre 362/8 Ung Van Khiem, D1** on the floor, recommend
Overland Club 36 Bis Huynh Khuong Ninh, D1
Saigon Culinary Art Centre 269 Bis Nguyen Trai St, D1
Caravelle Hotel 19-23 Lam Son Square, Di

Reunification Palace Museum 106 Nguyen Du St, D1
Women's Museum of South Vietnam 202 Vo Thi Sau, D 13
War Remnants Museum 28 Vo Van Street, D3
Ho Chi Minh City Museum 65 Ly Tu Trong St D1 **
Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum 97A Pho Duc Chinh, D1**
Vietnam History Museum 2 Nguyen Binh Khiem, D1
Ho Chi Minh Museum 1 Nguyen Tat Thanh, D4
Military Museum 2 Le Duan, D1
Opera House Lam Son Square, D1
Notre Dame Cathedral Han Thuyen, D1**

Refer to my blog sidebar
Vietnamese Tourism online assistance
Saigon Tourist Information Centre 4G-4H Le Lot St at Nguyen Hue

As with all recommendations, I am constantly seeking out new ones. If you have any you would like to recommend, please leave a comment or write to me...
Thank you for reading along!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Ebb and Flow...of life in Saigon

Daydreaming...along the Saigon River

It is hard to believe that I last wrote on this blog at the beginning of June. I had good intentions of writing a few posts before leaving for a summer trip to the USA but like all good intentions, something else seemed to take precedent. But I am back, after a ten week visit that was all consumed with building a house...and visiting family and friends and relaxing at a cabin along a mountain ridge between trips to the local pond where I magically disappeared from all reach as I glided along in my kayak. It was on the pond, between the strokes, that I thought of my travels along the Saigon River. I wished I could take my kayak and glide along as effortlessly on the Saigon River as I did on the pond in the mountain region of New Hampshire. I will hold that thought for a maybe someday, if the conditions are right...and I can find a kayak. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

"A Happy Life Begins with a Healthy Life"...Saigon Fitness

Saigon Fitness...
I have been asked to write a testimonial for my personal trainer in under 200 words. I am going to guess that is an impossible task as there are too many positive things to say about him. Seeing that many of my readers live in Saigon or have plans to move here in the near future...I thought I would make this post for you!

Danny Duong of Saigon Fitness

Enter Danny Duong of Saigon Fitness. Danny and I have been working together, three times a week for two months and I am only too happy to spread the good word. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


Afternoon light...Saigon
I was recently asked what I will miss about living in Vietnam. It seems a strange question because our time here has yet come to an end, but at the same time, this is not our forever home and it will end in the not to distant future.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Soul of Saigon..Notre-Dame Cathedral

Not every Sunday, but most Sundays, you can find me
in the 9:30am English mass at Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral. 

The official name is
Basilica of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception
and for many, this is the soul of Saigon.

If you travel to Ho Chi Minh City, you will most likely
find it on your list of  "must see" attractions.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Working and Volunteering in Vietnam...

Views to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Readers often write to me for advice on living and working in Vietnam. Unfortunately many of the question are out of my depth and knowledge base.

I did a little investigative research to get you started. I will add to this list as my research continues. If there is a link you would like to recommend. Please write to me at

Happy Searching!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Life in Vietnam...questions and answers

When I was told we were moving to Vietnam I went into full Google search mode. Who, what, where, when, how...lay it on me. I searched out other expat bloggers living in Ho Chi Minh City, sent my list of questions and waited patiently. One person answered and I was grateful to her for taking the time. It was a start.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Hanoi in the Pink, Vietnam

I was in Hanoi this past weekend.
Grey and rainy weather could not overshadow
the beauty on nearly every street corner, shop and home.

The Vietnamese are getting ready for the Tet holidays.
 Commencing February 15, 2015

Pink peach flowers are the celebratory flower in Hanoi,
the first sign of spring and symbol of good luck.

It was wonderful to see...Hanoi in the pink.

On bicycles..

Friday, November 14, 2014

A love affair...with Vietnam

It is so easy to have a love affair with food in Vietnam. Since moving to Vietnam nearly two and a half years ago, we have had it at least five out of seven nights of the week. All your senses are on full alert from the moment you first contemplate a menu. Walk through a Vietnamese market and you will fully appreciate the feeling. The sights, sounds, scents, touch, taste..they are all there, some exhilarating..some surprising...and all of them unforgettable. Just give me a stick of lemongrass, a whiff of lime, a crunch of Vietnamese mint and I will be beside myself with joy at the possibilities.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Atmospheric Saigon

Le Duan Street, behind Notre Dame Cathedral, Saigon

Atmospheric is one of the things I love about Saigon. 
You never know how the light is going to catch you. 
It is magic to behold.

images by Jeanne Henriques

Friday, September 19, 2014

Wellness and jet lag... #saigon

They say that to fully recover from jet lag you should allow one day for each hour of difference between time zones. For me, an eleven hour time difference between Saigon and Boston means I should be hitting my usual stride...about now. It has been ten days since I returned to Saigon.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

From where I stand...USA to Vietnam

I count the days and months by the sun, 
the moon and rainbows.
It is a glorious thing to watch, 
no matter where I stand in the world.

Sunrise over Chateau Mango in Vietnam.

 I have been away these past four months, 
doing what many expats do during the summer months,
spending time back in their home countries with family and friends.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Foodie Tour- Saigon, Vietnam

Image via XO Tours

Like many other expats, I have escaped the heat and rain of a Saigon Summer for a few months. I have been back nearly a month in the USA and I have to say, Vietnam is always on my mind. I miss Vietnamese food in a big way and am already planning my TO DO list for when I return in September.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

When parasites come calling...Vietnam

It took me a while to find an image that would convey my message in the nicest and simplest way possible. Trust me, when you are diagnosed with a species of parasite, which is somewhere in your body, and then go on a google search of said parasite, you are in for a shock. With a case of information overload, I backed out of the image search as quickly as I could and decided to stick with text.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Two birds taking flight at Chateau Mango

From my favourite chair...
From my favourite chair,  I caught it out of the corner of my eye, a little flash of motion and a chirp...then silence. I was so involved with what I was writing that I thought it must have been my imagination. It could not possibly been a bird, not in a house that has barely seen the crack of a window in months.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Finding beauty in Vietnam...

I love looking through Asian fashion magazines. 
I do not understand a word but that's ok.
The images speak for themselves.

In a recent issue of

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

In Expat Book Club

Hotel Majestic in 1940 where Graham Greene frequented
the rooftop bar to enjoy the "cool winds off the Saigon River".
I am double dipping today with about my experiences about my expat book club in Saigon. You will find the post on both Collage of Life and Expat Diary Viet Nam. It is my way of keeping track and recognising that there are different readers between the two. If you are here solely for the expat journey in might enjoy this story.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Lone Chateau Mango

Shortly before we moved into our home in Vietnam, a tropical storm swept through and uprooted a large fruit bearing mango tree on our property.  We were left with a large stump about 5 ft tall supported by beams to keep it upright.  We took one look and suggested removing it and replacing it with another. From our estimation, there was little hope.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Ben Thanh Art & Frame and Galerie Nguyen HCMC, Vietnam

When the heat starts to rise in Saigon you will find me dipping in and out of galleries around the city. It is a cool respite from the steamy days that are rolling in and a chance to catch up on wonderful Vietnamese art. If you live in Saigon or plan to visit, I would put Ben Thanh Art & Frame and Galerie Nguyen on your list. Two galleries, around the corner from each other, owned by the same person. Any one of the many sales assistants that greets you will be only to happy to assist you. I think they are among some of the best in Saigon.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Gardening at Chateau Mango...Vietnam

Every once in a while, I wander to the front of our yard 
and snap a pic of the front of our house.
I then go to my computer to compare photos to previous pics....
just to see if the colour has changed.
It never does and I always seem to hope that it will. 
Shades of mango continue to shine.