Is this Ho Chi Minh City's trendiest neighbourhood?
Historic cultural landmarks stand side-by-side with chic boutiques and cool restaurants in the colourful District 1 area of Dong Khoi.
- March 2019
The name “Dong Khoi” means “total revolution”, which pretty much sums up the transformation this area has experienced since French colonial times (from the late 1800s to early 1900s). Now known as a bustling shopping strip, Dong Khoi Street is also the perfect place to see how Ho Chi Minh City has changed over the years with historic French architecture alongside modern high-rise office towers. Visit these places to get an insight into the city’s past and present.
Fine Arts Museum
Housed in a massive colonial-era mansion, the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum is one of the country’s most famous. Spanning three floors, the gallery is chock-full of paintings, lacquer work and sculptures created by Vietnamese artists.
14 Ton That Dam
From the outside, 14 Ton That Dam just looks like an ageing apartment block but hidden inside are cafés, restaurants and boutiques. On the weekends, local teens fill the maze-like building, snapping selfies in the derelict yet picturesque hallways. On weekdays, it’s eerily quiet and prime for exploring. For excellent city and river views, head to the fourth floor and order a cocktail at Utakata Bar.
As the name suggests, L'Apothiquaire Spa takes its cues from the French and offers a long, luscious list of pampering body scrubs, wraps and massages. Their soothing After Sun Remedy for Body treatment is perfect following a day in the city’s scorching heat.
Layla Eatery & Bar
Hidden at the top of a dark and dodgy stairwell inside a run-down colonial building is one of the city’s most stylish bars. Layla serves tasty tapas but their innovative cocktails are the reason young professionals and expats flock here after work. Expect topnotch renditions of all the classics but if you’re feeling adventurous, you can always opt for a Nutella Negroni or wasabi-vodka oyster shooter.
Saigon Opera House
The area of Dong Khoi is known for its French-influenced architecture dating back to the colonial era. Built in 1898 by French architect Eugene Ferret, the magnificent Saigon Opera House is one of the city’s most extraordinary buildings but it isn’t all about good looks, of course – you can also catch a show there during your visit.
Quan Bui Bistro
If you don’t want to slurp your pho at a street-side food stall, Quan Bui Bistro is an upmarket alternative. The unique menu features authentic home-style dishes from northern Vietnam, including grilled fish with dill, tangy pork soup and fried spring rolls with crab and prawn, as well as plenty of southern Vietnamese classics to sample, too.