The pandemic has changed the world forever. Even a decade after all these, we will always, in one way or another, look back at this moment, when humanity is challenged to its core and societies are proven to be unequal but connected.
But it is these present hardships that made us all realize that there is beauty everywhere — in the resilience of humankind, in the hands that extend help, in the ways we use what we have and what we are to adapt, build and innovate.
In its third annual edition, TIME lists the World’s Greatest Places to pay tribute to the people and enterprises who have shone light on “ingenuity, creativity, revitalization and reopenings in destinations across the world”.
And of course, Vietnam — with all its glorious landscapes and incredible traditions — takes a well deserved spot on the list. TIME hailed the capital city of Hanoi, the bustling commercial city of Ho Chi Minh and the idyllic paradise island Phu Quoc as part of the ‘greatest places’ in the world, along with specific businesses that make these three spots worth exploring when the time is right.
Hanoi: Renewed life in the Old Quarter
Vietnam’s 1,000-year-old capital is embracing change while maintaining a strong sense of identity, reads the TIME article. While modernity and economic progress are evident, Hanoi has largely kept its traditional and laidback lifestyle. Its architecture reveals its history, and its people keep a sense of pride rooted in their undying resilience and grand aspirations.
Hanoi’s glory is exemplified by the new Capella Hanoi, a 47-room hotel designed by master architect Bill Bensley. The hotel “pays homage to the opera of the Roaring ’20s, while the city’s more flamboyant side is showcased in another major hotel opening: Dolce by Wyndham Hanoi Golden Lake, a glimmering building billed as the world’s first gold-plated hotel.” The 5-star property resembles a little palace, which holds stories of the actors, opera singers, composers, stage and costume designers and spectators who supposedly passed through Hanoi over the last 150 years, according to Bill Bensley in an interview with Vietcetera in February.
Pho Gia Truyen
Hanoi has also started carving its name as a sought-after culinary destination, with its lively street food scene and a plethora of traditional dishes travelers would regret not tasting. “Lovers of pho, the city’s signature dish, were gratified when Pho Gia Truyen—one of Hanoi’s most legendary vendors—was recognized in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants ‘Essence of Asia’ list in 2020, a collection of storied venues that represent the spirit of gastronomy in the region,” writes TIME.
Ho Chi Minh City: Taste of Vietnam
This commercial capital in the southern part of the country boasts not just bustling highways and a modern skyline. It is also home to Vietnam’s most incredible food loved by locals and foreign visitors alike. It’s no wonder why some of the city’s most notable restaurants are especially highlighted by TIME.
Vietnamese-American chef Peter Cuong Franklin’s Anan Saigon became the first venue in the country’s southern hub to earn a berth in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. Chef Franklin’s inspired take on classics like pho and banh nhung is indicative of the culinary creativity at play in the city. Each dish created in this beloved restaurant is a love letter to the original, embodying the spirit and integrity of what Chef Franklin believes to be the underrated beauty and complexity of Vietnamese cuisine.
“On behalf of the ANAN SAIGON team, I am proud and honored that our restaurant has been featured as one of TIME’s World’s Greatest Places. It is wonderful to receive such positive news in these challenging times. This is testament to the hard work and dedication of the entire team and feels even more meaningful in the context of such a challenging period. This recognition is also a vote of confidence for the great progress that has been made by the hospitality industry here in Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam,” said Chef Franklin in an interview with Vietcetera on this latest recognition.
A notable addition to the local dining scene, Monkey Gallery merges Vietnamese, French and Japanese techniques and flavors. Its owner and chef, Viet Hong, uses his incredible palate to weave Vietnamese ingredients into an entirely new taste experience. The Monkey Gallery, which has already cemented itself as one of the city’s most adventurous spots, was a runner-up in Vietcetera’s Vietnam Restaurant & Bar Awards 2020 - Brand to Watch category.
A self-described “modern Asian eatery” with an ever changing, expansive menu that runs the gamut from smoked-eel pate to veal sweetbreads. Located on a residential street, nestled away in a quiet corner of District 1, Esta explores and experiments with the beauties of nature for inspiration — using the country’s varied landscapes and ingredients to transform Vietnamese cuisine.
Ivoire is a bakery that “specializes in picture-perfect Vietnamese interpretations of classic French pastries, including small cakes and macarons.” This tiny shop is sophisticated in every way, from the look and feels of its interiors to the dazzling confections enclosed in glowing display cases.
Phu Quoc: Idyllic paradise
This teardrop-shaped resort and fishing island holds magic and grandeur that have just been recently recognized by the world. Phu Quoc has become a top tourist spot since 2014 when Vietnam started allowing foreigners visa-free entry for 30 days. After more than a year of barring entry of foreign travelers, the island is getting ready to reopen to vaccinated international visitors in the fall.
New World Phu Quoc Resort
A new, expansive 375-villa resort boasts a private stretch of beach and lush landscaped gardens, New World exudes opulence from every corner. Akin to a luxury beach village, the resort is a fitting home base to explore the natural wonders of the island.
Phu Quoc United Center
A massive entertainment complex featuring a theme park, golf course and casino and a series of hotels, the 1000-hectare Phu Quoc United Center offers infinite leisure that “never sleeps”. The mega complex welcomed its first visitors on April 21 this year, setting the first stepping stone for the 24/7 entertainment industry in Vietnam.
Regent Phu Quoc
A new ultra-luxury hotel with five swimming pools and floor-to-ceiling beach-facing windows, Regent is a tranquil sanctuary that is sure to delight guests who want some moments of peace and calm. This beachfront haven is set to open by December.