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By Jean Wethmar
We continue our visit in Saigon today, with shopping, food information, and hotels. A girl can’t live on Colonial Architecture alone now can she? Last time we looked at the French buildings.
Today, we take a stroll down Dong Khoi Street, its previous name was Rue Catinat. This street is the oldest and most central of streets in Saigon. Get your purses out girls… we’re going shopping!
Roads names change, but the gorgeous Kapok trees remain the same. Starting from the ol’ Continental Saigon Hotel side, made famous of course by Graham Greene, The Quiet American, etc, etc, but hey, Saigon of the now, is much more than Graham Greene of the old, so let’s move on already.
One of the most glamorous streets, lined with cafes, and small silk boutiques, is Dong Khoi Street, but progress is happening around this part of Saigon! Slowly this street is being taken over by the big chains, Vertu, Bally, Burberry, Bulgari, Cartier, Chanel, Polo Ralph Lauren, Rolex, Salvatore Ferragamo, and Tumi. And the old building are being replaced by huge big high-rises/office blocks. Guess this is progress? Or is it going backwards? Somehow I think I preferred the ol’ silk stores. The alley ways with their propaganda poster shops, the amazing artist displaying their really good copies of Monet, Van Gogh, and the likes. But let’s continue on our walkabout.
There are still plenty of great shops to choose from down Dong Khoi Street. Get there soon though!
We stop for some delightful lacquer ware. Colors to match any décor. “Oh I must have that bowl” – ‘it will look stunning on my dining room table!’ One store I totally recommend is Saigon Crafts.
Amazing lacquer ware on display, makes choosing just one piece almost impossible! Arts and décor… silks and posters… and this is just the start of our journey! And handbags, and if your feet are tiny enough a zillion pairs of stunning shoes at bargain prices!
We find ourselves heading to Ben Thanh Market. Ooh every girl loves a market! Built in 1914, this market is a popular one for tourists and locals alike. “Oh gosh, this pair or those ones? Oh I love the new Dior ones. They suit your face shape so well! “Take them both! “
Eventually we make our way out of there; laden with more golf shirts than we need, more new sunnies, more silk, oh wait… What about another small coffee brewer? No paper filters needed, no big machine setup or cleaning needed to brew a simple cup of delicious coffee! And amazing coffee every time! Hey, talking about coffee…
Right across Vietnam you’ll experience iced coffee like none tasted before. Called a Ca phe da or cafe da? What’s that? Well a nice big dollop of condensed milk in a tall glass, a shot of strong espresso coffee, topped up with ice cubes and enjoy! Beats the heat of Saigon for sure!
While we’re talking food – Did you know Vietnamese food is one of the healthiest in the world? Ingredients such as fish sauce, shrimp paste, soy sauce, rice, freshest of herbs, lemongrass, mint, long coriander, basil, Vietnamese mint, etc., with minimal use of oil. All over Vietnam you’ll get to try the freshest of salads. So I thought I’d include one for you to try at home. Get your taste buds ready!
Green Papaya Salad Recipe – Goi du du
Finely shred or coarsely grate the papaya, place in a bowl of cold water for 10 minutes and then drain. Mix with the shallots and fresh herbs. Add lime juice, fish sauce and sugar, to achieve that sweet-salty-tangy taste. Transfer to serving dish and garnish with crisp onion/garlic and the peanuts and chilli.
A few of my favorite restaurants in Saigon?
And must stay hotels?
While we’re talking about splurges… what about a spa treatment?
Next time? We wrap up Ho Chi Minh with more must see/must do/must buy info.
Read Jean’s previous article in this series:
Learn More About Jean Wethmar and Cape Lux Travels.