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Xo Tours Saigon Review

Beers & free frames

by Charles Snowdon @ The 10 latest reviews on HCMC.COM

Banana bar is in a good location in D.7, it is an unimposing enterprise with a few seats available outside. I have ventured here on a few occasions & it has never been overly crowded. I like this as the main reason I go is to take advantage of the free pool table. It’s not a bad table & serves its function well although there are better tables elsewhere.

Price wise, Banana bar is a bit cheaper than alternatives in the city centre, a Heineken is 35,000đ & Beer Saigon is 30,000đ. It has a good range of beverages including some on draft such as Tiger. There is a happy hour starting at 5.30pm when draft beers go as low as 25,000đ. Snacks are also available & during happy hour these are priced as low as 40,000đ.

With regards to décor, it is fair to say that this place needs sprucing up. It just feels like it is lacking some TLC & a general polish or a coat of paint would certainly raise the whole feel of the establishment. The original owner was certainly on the right track but it seems that the current proprietors did not inherit his passion.
The service is fine, nothing great & no reason to complain. The staff are gracious enough & seemed to enjoy gawking as we played pool. That’s fair enough but I did find it rather invasive, although it meant that the replenishment of drinks was never delayed. If you are in the vicinity of the bar & need a drink with the chance of free pool then Banana bar is the place to go.

Twenty reasons to visit Ho Chi Minh City

Twenty reasons to visit Ho Chi Minh City


Ho Chi Minh City has exotic food, colonial architecture, and memories of war, writes Guy Wilkinson.

Terrific Asian-fusion

by Ouassini Fertas @ The 10 latest reviews on HCMC.COM

Located right in the center of the city, Aura is a new restaurant that specializes in Asian fusion food. Opened by the owner of the well-known (and by the way excellent) Ciao Bella and Saffron, Aura has some prestigious older sisters to make proud! So, let me tell you that my expectations were high…

From the moment we entered there we knew we would be well taken care of. The very welcoming staff offered us a complementary glass of sparkling wine and appetizers while waiting for our other friends, which I truly appreciated as a good customer service is not common in Saigon…

The menu is appetizing and you would probably not find anything alike elsewhere in the city. Actually I had the feeling I could not really make a wrong choice… However, on the manager advice I chose a Salmon tartar and a five-spice Salmon while my friends ordered other house’s specialties. From the starters to the mains including drinks, not a single thing went bad, everything was perfect! Even more, they managed to surprise me with a mix of tastes I had never experienced before.

Aura has all the ingredients to become a star on Saigon dinner’s stage and hopefully I will be lucky enough to eat there one more time before coming back to France for a few months. At least it will surely be the first restaurant I will go to when I come back.

Book Review + Giveaway: Why LA? Pourquoi Paris?

by Mimi McFadden @ The Atlas Heart

*EDIT* We have a winner!! CONGRATS to Toni! You’ll be receiving your book in the mail within a couple of weeks. It has been so long since I’ve hosted a giveaway on this blog, but when I got an email in my inbox about an artsy new coffee table book about LA and Paris, I […]

The post Book Review + Giveaway: Why LA? Pourquoi Paris? appeared first on The Atlas Heart.

Experiencing Saigon by Motorbike with XO Tours - The Atlas Heart

Experiencing Saigon by Motorbike with XO Tours - The Atlas Heart

The Atlas Heart

XO Tours only made me appreciate the foodie scene and nightlife in Saigon even more, it was one of the best tour experiences in Vietnam! Read about it here.

Appropriately Unspectacular

by Joe Buckley @ The 10 latest reviews on HCMC.COM

Tân Định market is a large market selling a vast array of different things, as you’d expect from any market. The outside of the place is lined with food stalls, selling an impressive variety of dishes, so it’s easy to combine a trip here with lunch.

Although the market is a great place to go if you’re in the area or live locally, there’s nothing particularly exciting or exotic about the place – although it is housed in an unusual building with a unique façade – so you do not need add it to your must visit list, or make any special effort to go there.

The really interesting thing about Tân Định market, though, is its history. In the late 19th century, the market (then known as Phú Hòa Market) was one of the most important markets in Northern Saigon. The current building, however, was constructed by the French colonial government in the 1920s – partly to improve hygiene, and partly to increase the state’s revenue. And it is in this unusual building that the market is still housed today (minus the roof, which has been replaced).

So, the market is worth finding out about for general interest, but, despite being a great local place, if you don’t ever find yourself in the area, you’re not actually missing much.

Zoom With A View

by Charles Snowdon @ The 10 latest reviews on HCMC.COM

Zoom has been a haunt of mine for years & has been the venue for many reunions. I have a personal fondness for the place but shall remain impartial for the sake of a beneficial review.

Set on a busy corner near Bùi Viện, Zoom does suffer from road noise & a fairly steady flow of hawkers which can at times become testing. However, the well selected music which is played at an appropriate volume does well to counteract the traffic din. In addition the staff here are always friendly & seem to be very content in their roles as Zoom staff.

When eating here, I usually go for a burger as they are consistently good & from 115,000đ with a free beer, the price is certainly competitive. The menu is broad with everything from Mexican to all day breakfasts. I have never been disappointed with the servings here & am yet to meet anybody that has been.

It is also worth noting that there is a happy hour from 7pm to 10pm when Huda or Saigon Green beers are a mere 10,000đ. After 10pm further offers are available. The owner of Zoom also conducts Vespa tours which has proved to be very popular with tourists visiting Saigon. The appreciation for Vespa is further proven by nostalgic Vespa items adorning the walls.

Zoom gets 4 stars, really I cannot fault any aspect here, it’s a shame that there is no longer outdoor seating but that is something that is certainly beyond the bars control. I recommended a visit for an evening drink or meal whilst enjoying decent music and watching the, at times, frenzied traffic.

Saigon Street Food – XO Tours

Saigon Street Food – XO Tours

Mr & Mrs Lemon

At 6pm we wandered downstairs from our Hostel to be greeted by our 2 tour guides kitted out in traditional Vietnamese dress waiting by their mopeds ready to speed us through the city to the first s…

A lovely place

by Joe Buckley @ The 10 latest reviews on HCMC.COM

When I first heard about this market, I was excited to visit – Vườn chuối means ‘banana garden’, and I thought that I’d be entering into a world combining The Secret Garden with banana plantations (minus the labour exploitation).

I was quickly put right however, as friends told me that it’s not a garden or particularly related to bananas. It is, however, a market. Disappointed, I went online to see what other people thought about the market, and was met with a tidal wave of positivity – some people even declared it to be Saigon’s best market. My enthusiasm was renewed, so I set off for a snoop around.

If it isn’t Saigon’s best market, it certainly comes pretty close. Housed in a nice building, the market combines all the best bits about other markets – some busy areas, some quiet areas, some pedestrianized areas, some areas with motorbikes whizzing through, some dark areas, some light areas… the list goes on. The stalls, range from nearly looking like real shops, to nearly looking like wandering street sellers. All this diversity and variety – amazing given the market’s relatively small size - makes visiting the market a really fun experience, made even more so by the jovial and helpful people who work in the market.

The stuff for sale is just as varied – ranging from clocks and gold to raw meat and vegetables, via cloth, bakeries, tinned food, health and beauty, etc. etc. One of places to go when you want to by something, but you’re not quite sure what.

A peaceful park

by Charles Snowdon @ The 10 latest reviews on HCMC.COM

Tân Cảng Park is located in Bình Thạnh District, not far from District 2. It is within fairly reach of Thảo Điền Pearl Building so it is an ideal respite for residents living there.

On approaching the park, I was struck firstly by the quietness of the area then by the abundance of bright flowers. The park is not far from a main road but it does not overly suffer from the constant hum of the traffic. It is also bordered by the Saigon River. In addition to the masses of beautiful flowers, there are tennis courts, tables & ‘huts’ that I presume are used for cooking & serving food. They are quite ingenious looking & would not be out of place on a tropical island. The eating area & general layout suggest that this is a popular spot for wedding receptions and the setting for wedding photographs. Indeed the trees & flowers would undoubtedly provide a lovely back drop for a memorable occasion.

The palm trees, greenery & water features all tended to by devoted gardeners make this a peaceful place that is well worth a visit. This is the type of park that is ideal for laying back & diving into a good book, the tranquillity & lovely grounds will surely enable even the most stressed person to unwind.

Due to its location I would not make a special trip, however if passing by, it certainly deserves a stop & a meander. Five stars for Tân Cảng Park & next time I shall return with a book & a picnic.


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