City Breaks

A woman having a sundown drink at Saigon Saigon on the roof of the Caravelle by Aaron Joel Santos Take me there

Vietnam’s vibrant urban hubs beckon travellers in search of contemporary art, fine dining, superb shopping and much more. For those looking to tap into the local zeitgeist, a city break is the best way to uncover what’s happening right now. The country’s main centres of culture and commerce, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, are radically different, equally intriguing metropolises. Much has been made about the supposed rivalry between the two, but the truth of the matter is that each has its own distinct appeal and more than merits a visit.

Those travelling to the capital will be charmed by the French-Colonial architecture and leafy boulevards of the Old Quarter, as well as the pagoda-lined shores of Hoàn Kiếm Lake. Hanoians know how to slow down and enjoy life. The French left behind an appreciation for artisanal breads and a café culture that rivals that of Paris. Upscale and informal nooks serving both Western-style espresso drinks and sweet, creamy Vietnamese-style iced coffee made with dark-roasted beans from the highlands are abundant. At any time of day, you’ll spot Hanoians, many sporting stylish duds from local fashion designers, stopping to sip a cuppa and watch the world go by.

Ho Chi Minh City, meanwhile, moves at a breathless pace. Young, hip locals flock to the country’s largest city, drawn by its entrepreneurial spirit, buzzing nightlife and boundless energy. Everywhere you look, something is happening. Glittering skyscrapers are rising up next to historic architecture by the day; street vendors crowd onto corners and into shophouses hawking traditional delicacies; and trendy new bars and restaurants keep cropping up downtown.

Whether you’re planning to stay a day, a week or a lifetime, there’s much to discover. Hop on a scooter, a bicycle, a taxi or simply start walking and get ready to experience something new.

City Breaks