Lifestyle in Ho Chi Minh City
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Expats moving to Ho Chi Minh City will soon find that the city is packed with entertainment options and caters for all tastes and budgets from couture clothing and flashy malls to quaint arts and local handicrafts, or theatre groups, pub quizzes and Hash House Harrier weekend meets.
Shopping in Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City has a number of shopping districts and is a fun place to shop, especially for bargain hunters.
District 1 and the markets are the best places for those wanting variety and bargaining power. Anh Dong Market and Ben Thanh Market are great places to hone bargaining prowess. Each has an assortment of products ranging from kitchen spices to silk scarves and beyond. It is always best to browse a bit before buying as vendors will mark up their prices for Western customers.
Large department stores can also be found in District 1. These house all sorts of things, such as the latest CDs and DVDs, perfumes, colognes and more.
Diamond Plaza is a popular shopping choice for designer wear, leather goods and interior decor materials. As far as clothing is concerned, most expats prefer to make use of one of the numerous, incredibly skilled and cheap tailors around town. However, traditionally the best tailors are found in Hoi An in central Vietnam.
Nightlife and entertainment in Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City is packed full of clubs and bars which range from small, dark pubs to very upmarket music lounges. Expats will find that most of the nightlife in Ho Chi Minh City centres on District 1.
Party-goers will soon become aware that imported drinks sold in more exclusive bars tend to significantly more expensive than local beverages. The dress code at bars and nightclubs in Ho Chi Minh City is generally pretty relaxed with no restrictions on jeans or sneakers.
Sadly, expats looking for around-the-clock entertainment in Ho Chi Minh City will be disappointed as most places close soon after midnight.
For those that enjoy cultural activities, Ho Chi Minh City is steeped in history. It is home to a number of fascinating museums which document various elements of the country’s history and diverse culture. Expats with children should be sure to catch a traditional Vietnamese water puppet show, which is great fun for the whole family.
Eating out in Ho Chi Minh City
Expats in Ho Chi Minh City tend to head to Pham Ngu Lao Street for nightclubs, restaurants and bars. Ly Tu Trong Street in District 1 is another popular late-night spot. HCMC has a wide range of restaurants catering to all palates, and expats may find that Vietnamese street food is often just as good as the food found in the more expensive restaurants.
For authentic street food, it's best to hit the markets and ask Vietnamese friends what their favourites are as word-of-mouth always wins. Some dishes to try include pho bo (beef noodle soup), Saigon nem (fresh spring rolls) and bun cha (barbecued pork with noodle soup). Saigon is a port city and the seafood dishes, particularly seafood spring rolls, are mouth-wateringly delicious.
Coffee culture in Ho Chi Minh City
Last but not least, Vietnamese coffee is potent and tasty. Coffee shops abound and it is easy to see where the Vietnamese get their zing from. The best way to have coffee, according to the locals, is served with condensed milk over ice.
There are coffee shops or kiosks on just about every street corner and the coffee served is cheap and strong.