Now in south Vietnam where the food is supposed to be the best! The shopping rocks as well.  We were only there for one and a half days but we managed to do some damage – shopping saigon style.

FYI: Crossing the street is a bit easier here than in Hanoi as there are more traffic lights but the shopping is more intense.

Ben Thanh Market covers about six square blocks and it is filled to the brim with goodies – legal and not: get a fake Hermes watch for $40 or Chanel scrunchies or Chinese silk or Vietnamese spices or sit down for a Pho. It is a wonderland of stuff and can take either a few minutes or a few hours to get through it – depending on your patience. The key here is to bargain HARD!

There is also a market in Cholon but that is for the more adventurous.

Make sure you walk down Dong Khoi Street. There are loads of nice shops here and some of them I have cited below.

BEST STUFF:

The following are some great shops we loved:

SAIGON KITSCH
43 Ton That Thiep, Dist. 1 – 08.3821 8091
Fun recycled bags & other creative knick-knacks

GAYA
1 Nguyen Van Trang, corner of Le Lai, Dist. 1 – 08.3925 1495
www.gayavietnam.com
A fab new location, new designers of clothing and interiors

NGUYEN FRERES
2 Dong Khoi, Dist. 1 – 08.3823 9459
Old furniture, embroidered goods, a little bit of everything. Bought almost all my gifts here. There is one in Hoi An but I didn’t see it.

NGA ART & CRAFT
49-57 Dong Du Street, Dist. 1 – 08.3823 8356
www.huongngafinearts.com
Very high end lacquer and wooden accessories. Beautiful to see.

GINKGO BILOBA
20 Le Loi, 241 Pham Ngu Lao, 56 Bui Vien, all Dist. 1
www.ginkgo-vietnam.com
Great T-shirts to take back home – loved these!

BEST EATS:

MAXIM’S NAM AN
13-15-17 Dong Khoi, Dist. 1 – 08.389.6676
We were taken here by our Vietnamese friend, Phuong. It is truly beautiful and cheesy all wrapped up into one. It was filled with tourists but we adored it! I quote another website: Large and lavishly decorated, Maxim’s Nam An restaurant serves Vietnamese cuisine in style. The carved wooden booths, complete with silk curtains, are a romantic hideaway for couples or small groups. Whether ensconced in a booth, at the center of the grand dining room or in the upstairs gallery. You cannot help feeling you’ve walked into a scene from the film “The Lover”, set in 1920s Saigon.

QUAN AN NGON
138 Nam Ky Khoi (near the Rue Pasteur)
This is a sister restaurant to one in Hanoi. The concept is that the owner loved stall food, so he asked his favorite stalls to move into one place and he created a restaurant around them. You can order from their huge menu or go around to the different stalls and point and choose.

BEST BEDS:

THE REX HOTEL
141 Nguyen Hue Blvd, 84.8 38292185
www.rexhotelvietnam.com
We stayed at the REX HOTEL which was in the perfect place for everything – I highly recommend it. Just make sure you ask for a room in the new wing! There are fancier and/or more corporate hotels but there is nothing like the Rex rooftop bar to bring back memories of the Fall-of-Saigon Five O’clock Follies. It is hard to enjoy your mojito when you know that the journalists sitting here were watching the death and destruction of so many people.