Xuan Dieu / Tay Ho District / West Lake
This is a good one for Saturday afternoons. With the Sofitel Plaza behind you, have your cab drive slowly up Nghi Tam, better known as Dyke Rd. This road is raised high on a steep verge, on either side of which are various ‘antique’ and ‘souvenir’ shops featuring enough concrete, ceramic and faux bronze Buddha statues to fill an entire temple. Across the road at #199a is Hai San Ngon (see Street Eats/Quan An Ngon) serving delicious seafood. Keep going and take the left fork for Xuan Dieu. This expat nabe is all about the food... but beware of the confusing street numbering. Dive into Hoa Fashion at #1a (see Adv. Shop.), and totter on up for coffee and cake at #5 Saint Honore / 3933 2355, then over the road and down alley 28 is the Yakushi Center (see Spa) for good-value basic massages. Post-rub, retrace to Xuan Dieu then scoot into Lane 40 to refuel with one of the city’s best cups of joe at yummy kaff #7a Kitchen (see Coffee), or for something more substantial either stay on Xuan Dieu and head to #72 to for refined bites at Mandarin (see Rest./Club de L’Oriental), or follow the lake to scenester Don’s at #16/27 (see Rest./ Smart). Carry on along Xuan Dieu for a pamper at #112 Santal Spa (see Spa), then it’s ever onward! Gals, top up your wardrobe at #33 L’Atelier / 3718 6758 / ateliervietnam. com / before pootling down to #51, where you’ll find the Syrena Plaza is more out of place than a tarantula in a teacup, but houses nest featherer fave La Casa (see Shop./ Nha Tho). At #55, nip into Pure Heaven / 3718 6290 / for wellpriced Scandi-esque kids’ clothes, but if you’re after more food, La Salsa at #53 (see Bars) has a quaint courtyard for paella, tapas and a tipple, or another 150m up is Bobby Chinn at #77 (see Rest./Smart). For a final shop, trundle up to #83 Module 7 (see Adv. Shop.) just before the turn off to To Ngoc Van, then proceed down to #26 Love Chocolate (see Coffee), or if it’s that time, make haste to Sunset Bar (see Bars) for outdoor sips. Cheers, dears!