Cheap hol­i­days

From over­seas bar­gains to thrifty week­ends away

Time Out (Sydney) - - Inside - By James Wilkin­son

See and do

Thanks to new direct Jet­star flights from Syd­ney and sale fares as low as $249 re­turn, Ho Chi Minh City has never been cheaper to visit. Start any visit to the for­mer Saigon (cap­i­tal of South Viet­nam un­til 1975), with a guided tour of the city. You will start at the Re­uni­fi­ca­tion Palace, as­so­ci­ated with the fall of the city in 1975 when Com­mu­nist tanks crashed through its gates. It’s as if time has stood still since, and walk­ing around you’ll see the old cab­i­net war rooms with fur­ni­ture still in­tact, the bunker­like com­mand rooms un­der­neath and es­cape tun­nels still in­tact. 135 Nam Kỳ Khởi Nghĩa, Bến Thành, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Viet­nam. Then it is on to the Cen­tral Post

Of­fice, de­signed by Gus­tave Eif­fel and opened in 1891, where in­side you’ll find painted maps of Saigon and South Viet­nam lin­ing the walls. 2 Công xã Paris, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Viet­nam. Across the road is the Notre

Dame Cathe­dral, which re­mains one of South East Asia’s best ex­am­ples of neo-Ro­manesque ar­chi­tec­ture. 1, Công xã Paris. A short drive away is the old­est Bud­dhist tem­ple in Ho Chi Minh City, the Giac Lam Pagoda. 565 Lạc Long Quân, Phường 10, Tân Bình, Hồ Chí Minh, Viet­nam. The War Rem­nants Mu­seum, which is lined out­side by old tanks, he­li­copters, troop car­ri­ers and fighter jets, brings home hard the atroc­i­ties com­mit­ted dur­ing the ‘Amer­i­can War’ – it’s one of the most pow­er­ful mu­seum ex­pe­ri­ences around. On the ground floor there’s also an ex­hi­bi­tion ded­i­cated to the an­ti­war move­ment glob­ally. 28 Võ Văn Tần, Phường 6, Quận 3, Hồ Chí Minh, Viet­nam. One of the more out-there ex­pe­ri­ences in the city can be found at the Fito

Mu­seum, which is ded­i­cated to tra­di­tional Viet­namese medicine, with some reme­dies that date

back to the Stone Age. Hoàng Dư Khương, Phường 12, Quận

10, Hồ Chí Minh, Viet­nam. When it comes to cheap shop­ping, the

Ben Thành Mar­ket is the place to go for Viet­namese bric-a-brac, bags, clothes and ac­ces­sories – be pre­pared to bar­gain hard. Đường Lê Lợi, Bến Thành, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Viet­nam. For a shop­ping cen­tre ex­pe­ri­ence, head to Saigon Cen­tre, where big brands like Chanel, Mango and Nike have stores. 65 Le Loi, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Viet­nam.

Eat and drink

For de­cent Viet­namese fare in town, head to Hoi An restau­rant. There are clay­pots, rice pa­per rolls, grilled chicken, crab meat soup, sautéed tofu, friendly ser­vice, beers by the bot­tle and Leeuwin Es­tate Chardon­nay. 11 Le Thanh Ton St, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Viet­nam. +84 8 3823 7694. www.face­book. com/ Ho i An Restau­rant Saigon /.

Stay

French colo­nial ar­chi­tec­ture is show­cased in the rooms of one of the city’s new­est ho­tels, Hô­tel des

Arts Saigon, part of Ac­corHo­tels’ MGallery Col­lec­tion. Cus­tom de­signed fur­nish­ings are by Viet­namese artists. There are pe­riod art­works, rose­wood floors and floor-to-ceil­ing win­dows in the rooms. Atop the ho­tel is the high­est out­door in­fin­ity pool in the city along with a great rooftop bar. 76-78 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City, Viet­nam. +84 28 3989 8888. www.hotelde­sarts­saigon.com.

Get there

Busi­ness Class on Jet­star’s Dream­lin­ers that serve Ho Chi Minh City is one of the best value cab­ins in the sky: you’ll get top qual­ity food and wine; seat back en­ter­tain­ment; pil­lows, blan­kets and amenity kits; in-seat power; and leather seats with a 96cm pitch and 48cm width. www.jet­star.com. ■

Ben Tanh Mar­ket

Re­uni­fi­ca­tion Palace

Hoi An

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