Rendezvous with Luxury at Saigon(Ho Chi Minh City)

I often felt the pangs of jealously while watching some of the popular travel shows. The show host stays at the best hotels, visits the most exquisite restaurants and the best that destination has to offer. I always wondered how nice it would be to experience such luxury,specially when you don’t have to pay for it, rather you are getting paid for.Aren’t all of us dream of replacing those travel show hosts! Alas! Seldom does such dreams materialize.

Well last year I got an opportunity to be a part of such a trip to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam .3 days trip organised as a part of the Reward and Recognition program,by the company I work for. Being a part of the event organising team, I represented India and that’s when all this started.

My rendezvous with Luxury!

The beautiful view of the Ho Chi Minh city from Hotel Pullman

To be honest, Ho Chi Minh City (Also popularly Known as Saigon) or Vietnam was never a part of my dream destinations list. Infact when the destination was announced, I had to take help of Google to know about this place.I had only read about Vietnam in history textbooks and visited a near by Vietnamese restaurant before. Never the less I was excited at the prospect of visiting an unknown place and adding one more stamp to my Passport.As a trip organiser, I had to reach 2 days before the rest of the group. There is no direct flight to Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon, as it’s popularly known. I had to fly  Bangalore via Bangkok .Being my first trip all alone, I was little anxious about reaching the Hotel on my own and meeting other organisers for the first time. But this trip turned out to be so much fun and a new experience all together.

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View of the city from Hotel Room, Saigon

We stayed at Intercontinental Asiana, a 5 Star luxury Hotel at the City Center. The famous landmarks of the city are at a very short distance from this place.After 2 days of preparations for the award night, where we worked through the day and relaxed during evenings exploring local restaurants.It was time for action to begin!

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Intercontinental Asiana, Ho Chi Minh City

Before the arrival of Indian delegates, one of major task, I has in hand was to find an Indian restaurant and organise lunch for the group. To my surprise I found an Indian Restaurant “Tandoor”, very near to our Hotel and I must admit the place was economical and food here was quite good.

Our formal trip started with a welcome cocktail dinner at Pullman Hotel Rooftop bar and Terrace. Located on the 30th and 31st floor, the Cobalt Restaurant and Bar offers an amazing view of the City. Perfect for a romantic evening or fine dine experience. This place offers modular cuisine with delicacies like nitrogen ice-cream, oxygen foam cocktail etc.

Night view of the city from Hotel pullman, Saigon
Pullman Hotel, the ultimate Luxury experience
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Loved the interiors of the Bar

Second day it was time for Saigon traditional Shopping tour at Ben Thanh Market. This market is one of the earliest surviving structures in Saigon and one of the city’s liveliest areas. Here you can get any thing and everything that Vietnamese use. This is the place to buy suviniours, local handicrafts etc. So if you are a shopping enthusiast, you can spend hours at this place. Do not forget to Bargain as much as you can !


Ben Thanh Market, best place to shop in Saigon

After spending almost all the money at Ben Thanh market, we visited the Cho Lon Market in China Town, yet another market where you can shop and off course Bargain.
After the tiring day of Shopping, it was time for Dinner at yet another beautiful Restaurant called Cham Charm gallery. The first impression of this restaurant is a pure white color castle, which is highlighted by the green trees leading to stairs. Build on the concept of “preserving the traditional Champa Culture”; Cham Charm is almost a mini-museum of artifacts and sculptural works .The highlight of this upscale restaurant is the Cham Charm special seafood buffet .Errazuriz wines are also included in the buffet at Cham Charm. You should definitely visit this place just to get a different feel all together.


Cham cham gallery

Day 3 in the invite was called as “Saigon Rolling Adventure tour” and true to the name it was a city tour on 2 wheeler bikes and rickshaws the most popular mode of transportation here.

Morning started with a visit to Independence Palace; also know as Reunification Palace, which is a landmark in Ho Chi Minh City. Independence Palace was the home and workplace of the President of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. The Palace offers an intriguing spectacle, ground floor is arranged with meeting rooms, while upstairs is a grand set of reception rooms, used for welcoming foreign and national dignitaries .In the back of the structure are the president’s living quarters; check out the model boats, horse tails and severed elephants’ feet.

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Front view of Independence Palace
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Interiors inside the Independence Palace, Ho Chi Minh City
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Huge carpet on display
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All set for the ride
City tour on Rickshaw

From Independence Palace, it was time to get the feel of Local transportation, Yes, the two wheelers and Rickshaws, we had an option to choose either of them. Off course I choose Rickshaw as they are different from what we have in India. Once you sit on them it feels like you will fall upside down. But it was fun!

Rickshaws took us to our next destination, Golden Dragon water puppet theatre. A must visit to get the feel of traditional Vietnam. You will see no puppeteer, no machines or instruments, and even no controlling strings and poles. You only watch the puppets on a shimmering water surface. This was one of the memorable experiences.

Golden Dragon water Puppet show

After the puppet show, it was time for Lunch. We were welcomed by local Vietnamese children dressed in traditional attire singing in their language. To our surprise, Lunch was arranged at the deck of Bonsai, a large cruise sailing in the Saigon River. You can see the city while enjoying your lunch at the cruise.

Our Special welcome
Elisa, yet another Cruise on Saigon river
Many cruise options across the river
Special Music program
from the Bonsai, enjoying the view
Learning chopstick skills

As the trip was coming to an end, we made most of the time available by strolling through the streets of the city, tasting the local delicacies sold by street vendors, purchasing suviniours etc.

Our Farewell Dinner was arranged at a place called The Deck. I must admit this is one of the most beautiful and romantic restaurants I have visited so far. Situated along the Saigon River, the Deck has amazing view especially during Sunset. You can reach here either by the road or through the Ferry. There are glass doors and an outdoor wooden deck where tables can be set up for meals as well. Highly recommended place for an unforgettable fine dinning experience.

The deck, one of the most beautiful restaurants I have ever been to
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Bar at the deck
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Beautiful Sunset, the Deck

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Enjoying the evening

Beautiful interiors at The Deck, SaigonWell this was all about my Rendezvous with luxury.A truly delightful experience that I would remember for years, all thanks to the company I work for. Although I missed out on some of the must visit places but that can be planned during my next visit some time.

Tips :

As informed to us by the hotel, don’t carry your phone and purse in your hand ,as there are lot of pickpockets here.

The official currency is the Vietnam Dong (d), which comes in denominations of 500d, 1000d, 2000d, 5000d, 10.000d, 20.000d, 50.000d, 100.000d, 200.000d and 500.000d. Again its very confusing!

Happy Travelling

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Saigon-Ho chi minh city

50 thoughts on “Rendezvous with Luxury at Saigon(Ho Chi Minh City)

  1. What a lovely place! It looks so fancy and luxurious – you must have had such a wonderful time. Your photos are really beautiful – love the one of you with chopsticks! I always find eating with chopsticks so difficult particularly when I have rice!

    1. thanks so much Abbi, i had an amazing time :). The chopstick pose is the victorious one, i could manage to pick at least something using chopstick, otherwise i cnt use it at all :))

  2. Looks like an amazing trip, you got to see so much in just three days! Can’t believe all that luxury in the Independence Palace too, somehow it reminded me a bit of the Parliament of Romania in Bucharest!

  3. Wow, it looks you had a great trip. I loved a hotel and a ship just looks wonderful. And all the experiences. I have been just in northern part of Vietnam so I will borrow some ideas from you from my future travel inspiration!

  4. Great trip and busy schedule 🙂 Loved the sunset at the Deck, the hotel looks amazing, as Saigon by night! Ben Thanh Market seems like a great pace to get rid of your money, bet you felt lighter as you walked away! Saigon looks amazing (I also prefer this name don’t know why)

  5. I love Vietnam, although Saigon is not exactly my favorite city… Btw, next time you visit Vietnam, if you gotta find a different Indian restaurant, I would recommend Baba’s Kitchen. It’s somewhere around District 1, the restaurant is not so big but the food there though… They’re just great! 😀

    1. thanks so much Marya.. i haven’t explored Vietnam yet but would love t visit Halong bay some time. thanks for indian restaurant suggestions, i am always looking out for them during my trips abroad.

  6. I get your feeling! I watch way too many travel shows an wish to have a job in the travel industry. I have been on a couple of work-related trips and like you mentioned, it feels good to enjoy some perks on another’s person tab. I would like to visit Vietnam one day!

  7. Oh wow I didn’t get a chance to enter the Independence Palace. Upto now I’m still torn whether I like Hanoi or HCMC better..

  8. So jealous you got to do this. I do have a travel show host dream as well 😛 I went to HCM a couple years ago and stayed near Ben Thanh Market. This brings back so much memories! Looks like you had a wonderful trip! 😀

  9. What an amazing experience! The hotel looks wonderful and you got to see so much out and about in Saigon. Those flowers at the finale dinner are really something. Very beautiful.

  10. I’m the same, Vietnam wasn’t on my dream destination list. However, I did enjoy my visit. I also stayed in that hotel. It’s amazing, wasn’t it? I never get to go inside the Independence Palace, so it’s nice to see some of your pictures. When I did the city tour on Rickshaws, I was a bit shy and awkward. I felt like everybody is looking at me. lol

    1. oh that great, i enjoyed the hotel and the palace too. Actually you are right rickshaw tour was kind of awkward, but then we were in the big group so some how we had fun 🙂

  11. Haha, it’s always so comfortable to stay in a luxury hotel. It always implies best locations and best services. Although until some years ago, while we where still students and have a limited budget for travels, we always searched for the most affordable options, lately we also started to opt for comport and pay more. It comes with age I guess:)) and not wanting to get so tired after each and every trip::)

  12. Love your post and you are lucky to experience the luxurious travel. I am a budget traveller who has to penny pinch all the way! But i guess we have our own ways of travelling! Love your photos too.. gives me serious goals 😛

  13. We are hoping to visit Vietnam next year. This will serve as a useful guide for us!

  14. This looks fantastic!! And nothing like being pampered as a reward for your hard work 😀 Although given my severe motion sickness I am not sure if I would like to do a cruise. But always wanted to see Saigon!

  15. What a lovely place it is ! Cruise would be fun. The hotel is luxurious and it seems they pampered you to the hilt. So now you’d have learnt how to use chopstick. 🙂

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