There's a sense of charm that's exclusive to Hong Kong, that's for sure. If you've already read our top picks for the must-visits in Hong Kong, you're sure to agree with this in a heartbeat.
But that's not to say Saigon, the vibrant and progressive city in the south of Vietnam, does not hold an enchanting allure. In fact, if you're dreaming of experiencing the Hong Kong vibe but is fully aware that it's impossible right now because of the pandemic and travel restrictions, you are sure to enjoy the different places and things Saigon has to offer. Ready?
I am yet to meet a seasoned Asia traveler who does not love a good market, and fortunately both Hong Kong and Saigon do not disappoint. For those needing a Hong Kong fix while in Vietnam's commercial capital, one cannot go wrong with a trip to Cholon in District 5.
A fixture of Saigon’s Chinatown since 1778, Cholon will help scratch the itch of those missing a visit to Hong Kong as well as provide many great products and architectural sights. For those not looking to buy, the market is still a great choice for browsing and a general good time.
If you're looking to satisfy your Dim Sum cravings, a trip to Cholon will also yield a panopoly of worthy options.
While Saigon does not yet have anything quite the same as SOHO’s sloped streets and bustling locales, for a temporary fix visit SaigonSipCity’s favorite up-and-coming neighborhood, PVC (Pham Viet Chanh).
We have written about the area before, and wine bars like Lozzi or a cocktail house like 3 Monkey’s are great places to begin and/or end the night.
Location: District 5, 6, 8, 10, 11
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Similar to M+ museum in Hong Kong that plays a key role in introducing contemporary local arts to the world, Galerie Quynh is often regarded as one of the pioneers representing Vietnam’s contemporary art practice.
Established in 2003, Galerie Quynh, comprises a diverse group of distinguished artists and curators, featuring a variety of exhibitions, lectures and publications to promote the sustainable ecosystems for the arts of Vietnam.
Location: 118 Nguyen Van Thu, District 1.
San Art is a non-profit art space established in 2007 in Ho Chi Minh City by Vietnamese-American artist Dinh Q Le and three Vietnamese contemporary artists.
San Art has, for more than a decade now, maintained a pioneering position in its efforts to support local budding artists in bringing art closer and more accessible to general public.
Not only challenging perspectives and trails of visual arts through exhibitions and critical dialogue, it is also a venue for artists’ educational and accommodation programs.
San Art has a dedicated gallery, reading room and studio for non-profit exhibitions - creating spaces for artists to experiment, cultivate new perspectives, and share with a network of curators and learners.
Location: Millennium Masteri B6.16 & B6.17, 132 Ben Van Don, District 4.
Chua Chan Mountain
After a day indoors, there’s nothing better than getting out and about. Fortunately, much like Hong Kong, the city of Saigon also offers an underrated menu of outdoor activities.
If there is one thing experienced hikers know about Hong Kong, it is that the city and its surroundings are far from “flat”.
A hike to the picturesque Chua Chan Mountain will be an excellent warm up for the more challenging and steeper slopes around Hong Kong (even in the city), as it is not tremendously challenging and can be done without a guide.
The hike will take about 2.5 hours and features numerous fun stops such as the Buu Quang Pagoda about halfway to the top. Though we’re sure you’re up for the challenge, there is a cable car that covers about half the distance as a backup option.
Location: aka Gia Ray mountain or Gia Lao mountain, Xuan Loc District, Dong Nai.
Pack Your Bags! (Soon)
We hope our brief overview has given some insights into where one can get a taste of Hong Kong while in Saigon, as well as brought Hong Kong itself to the forefront of your destination list once we again can travel.