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Hanoi and Saigon - what to do in the evening?

Hanoi and Saigon - what to do in the evening?

Jun 3rd, 2004, 03:50 PM
  #1  
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Hanoi and Saigon - what to do in the evening?

I will have a couple of free evenings in Hanoi and Saigon and want to experience interesting cultural entertainment and great food - preferably without too many other tourists. Any tips? I don't mind travelling a bit but really am interested in a great experience. Thanks (my question got lost in the Asia category instead of Vietnam?)
jahlie is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2004, 06:56 PM
  #2  
 
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Hanoi has some wonderful restaurants. A couple I'd recommend: Bobby Chinn's - great fusion food, and the most expensive place we dined in Hanoi; Club Opera - wonderful Vietnamese food in white tablecloth surroundings. A third place we really enjoyed was Brother's Cafe, a lovely buffet located in the courtyard of an old monastery, wonderful atmosphere and great food (US$10 per person, no credit cards).
Kathie is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2004, 09:09 PM
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Hi jahlie - the best meal we had in a recent trip to Vietnam was in Asian Reflections restaurant in Caravelle Hotel in Saigon. Truly interesting fusion food. The Saigon Bar on the hotel's roof gives terrific views of the city at night. Over the road the meals at the lovely old Continental are also good - both Italian and Vietnamese dishes - the Italian isn't bad, but the Vietnamese is better.

Just about anywhere in the country has delicious, cheap, local food - the only thing I'd be wary about is Western style hotel buffet.
pat_woolford is offline  
Jun 4th, 2004, 01:13 AM
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jahlie, see the Water Puppets in Hanoi - you won't regret it, but they're very popular and I think you should book ahead. The theatre is full of tourists, but don't let that put you off. You can combine this with a good meal. There's a nice place in a courtyard setting whose name escapes me (for heavens' sakes, someone bring me another glass of red!! - can someone help me out here?) It recruits and trains street kids for the hospitality industry, a very worthy cause and the food, a choice of Vietnamese or French, is pretty good. It's right next door to an excellent patisserie that supplies the desserts. The only downside was that I had to drink French wine - it seems that news of superior New World products has yet to reach Vietnam, but you can't have everything

Wine is one drink that isn't cheap in Vietnam, by the way. That rather 'ordinaire' French rubbish set me back about US$4 a glass, about what I'd expect to pay in Australia for something drinkable. Beer goes better with Vietnamese food, but I was eating French. It's surprising how after a few weeks of admittedly excellent Vietnamese cuisine you can find yourself hanging out for a western meal and a glass or three of red.

Enjoy your trip!
Neil_Oz is offline  
Jun 4th, 2004, 05:01 AM
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Go to www.luxecityguides.com and order a copy of both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. They were the best investment I made. In Hanoi - go to Wild Rice for amazing Vietnamese food, Vine for bistro food, Meditteraneo, Brothers Cafe and Bobby Chinn already mentioned, No Noodles. Def make a trip to the metropole - tho ambience is better than food. I second the water puppets reco - your concierge shd be able to org tkts. In case you are very lucky see an opera .
Sameera_Anand is offline  
Jun 4th, 2004, 07:08 AM
  #6  
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Everyone, thanks so much. I'll definately look for the place that trains hospitality employees - sounds interesting. I have a feeling I won't go hungry while in VN but I second the wine concerns. Oh well, it's a small price to pay. Again, thanks
jahlie is offline  
Jun 4th, 2004, 07:22 AM
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On second thought, do any of these restaurants also have music and/or dance? I'm as interested in atmosphere and culture as I am in food. We will go to the water puppets but is there something else? Opera - western? Chinese? Vietnamese? A venue for performance art? Thanks so much
jahlie is offline  
Jun 4th, 2004, 09:28 PM
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Neil - we went to that restaurant in Hanoi where street kids are trained too, had forgotten its name but a check of Lonely Planet reveals it as Hoa Sua, where there's also live classical music on Saturday evening and Sunday lunchtime. There's another one named Koto near the Temple of Literature, food appears to be more westernised.

Jahlie - in Hanoi, there was also live traditional music with the players in brilliant national costume at the Temple of Literature. Admission free with very obvious sign smack in front of the stage above a box marked "tips for performers".

You will encounter tourists mostly wherever you go in Vietnam, after all, they're there for the same reason as you. Sometimes you may not even know they are tourists, there's a massive amount of them from mainland China who especially come to pay homage to Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum in Hanoi. Tourists won't all come from the same part of the world as you, and can be interesting in their own right. Well, I did encounter one who was haggling over the price of a 30c French pastry - they do make you want to hide!
pat_woolford is offline  
Jun 4th, 2004, 11:50 PM
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Thanks, Pat, you're 100% right. We also went to KOTO, which is run by a Vietnamese-Australian guy named Jimmy Pham and supported by an Australian charitable foundation. When I was there the relieving chef was moonlighting from that flash French hotel with quite disgusting prices in a Vietnamese context - a nice touch, and I'm sorry the hotel's name escapes me, but I do remember pressing my egalitarian nose against the glass to watch wealthy tourists from Paris and New York disporting themselves in the manner to which they were accustomed (as children may be reading, I will spare you the details, and in any event I was quickly driven off by the hotel's security minions and had to repair to my normal table at the Cafe Au Lac across the street).
Neil_Oz is offline  
Jun 6th, 2004, 02:37 PM
  #10  
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Pat and Neil - KOTO and the traditional music in the Temple of Literature are just the kind of things I'm looking for. Thanks so much - I'll certainly check both out and I always post a trip report here when I return.You'll know how it turns out. You've all been so helpful.
I've just posted another question about the Hanoi area - maybe you can help with that too?
jahlie is offline  
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