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The best restaurants in Ho Chi Minh will amaze you with bold flavors, fresh ingredients, perfect balance – and super cheap prices. We lived in Ho Chi Minh for several months and ate out almost every meal.

There are literally thousands of Ho Chi Minh restaurants worthy to visit. Keeping this list short enough to be useful was really tough. We included some better-known places, but we tired to focus on hidden gems that most tourists never visit.

Of course, it’s really subjective, but here are our picks for the best restaurants in Ho Chi Minh.

Banh Canh Ghe – Muoi Ot Xanh 

Bahn Canh Ghe is one of the best-kept secrets of Vietnamese cuisine. It was love at first sight with this gorgeous soup, and it tastes even better than it looks. If you enjoy crab, this is your soup. And this restaurant serves up the best bowl in Ho Chi Minh.

Their secret is home-made noodles, produced daily in the restaurant.

Price: 65,000VND ($2.75USD)

484 Nguyen Tri Phoung St,
P 9, Q 10, Ho Chi Minh

Pho Le  

Pho is the classic Vietnamese dish. It mixes savory broth, delicate rice noodles, meat, and piles of fresh herbs. Honestly, you can find excellent bowls on every street, but the best Pho restaurant in Ho Chi Minh is a hotly debated topic.

After sampling countless worthy contenders, Pho Le is our favorite. Their broth is special. Other places make a delicious bowl, but seem to take shortcuts.

Pho Le’s broth is made in the traditional way. It takes hours of painstaking preparation, and we can taste the difference. Pho Le also offers the widest variety of meat to add to your soup.

Prices at Pho Le are a bit more expensive than other places, but worth every penny.

Price: 75,000VND ($3.25USD)

2 Locations run by same family

305 Vo Van Tam St,
P 5, Q 3, Ho Chi Minh

415 Nguyen Trai St,
P 7, Q 5, Ho Chi Minh

Pho 2000 

We add Pho 2000 more for its fame than for its food. Pho 2000 is the most famous restaurant in Ho Chi Minh, because President Bill Clinton ate there. The moment is commemorated on the wall and at the table where he sat. This bit of history is the main draw.

The Pho here is decent, but not great. Pho 2000 is conveniently located in the main tourist area. Unlike like many Pho restaurants, they have a good selection of other dishes too.

Price: 30,000-75000VND ($1.5-3.25USD)

3 Phan Chu Trinh St,
P Bến Thành, Q 1, Ho Chi Minh

Bun Bo Gahn 

This restaurant serves up our favorite bowl of Bun Bo Hue (Vietnam’s second most famous dish). Like Pho, Bun Bo Hue has a savory beef broth with citrus notes from the lemongrass. Unlike Pho, the noodles are thicker and denser.

Bun Bo Hue is typically a bit spicier, but not by much. The soup at Bun Bo Gahn is delicious and authentic. The desserts called Che are also very good here.

The restaurant has a lovely setting and great location. Bun Bo Gahn is a few blocks from the main pedestrian street, Nguyen Hue.

Price: 15,000 – 48,000VND ($0.75-2.25USD)

88 Ho Tung Mau St,
P Ben Nghe, Q 1, Ho Chi Minh

Quan Bui 

Quan Bui is one of the prettiest restaurants in Ho Chi Minh. The food is awesome and authentic too, but the beautiful décor and atmosphere is what really brings us back.

The walls, furniture, and even menus are decorated with iconic images of Vietnam and it’s people. And the food is fantastic as well.

Our favorites are the steamed Seabass and the sautéed Squid. Prices are very reasonable for such a classy spot with a range of quality dishes.

Price: 59,000-99,000VND ($2.5-4.5USD)

3 Locations

17A Ngo Van Nam St,
P Ben Nghe, Q 1, Ho Chi Minh

8 Nguyen Van Nguyen St,
P Tân Định, Q 1, Ho Chi Minh

39 Ly Tu Trong St
P Ben Nghe, Q 1, Ho Chi Minh

Banh Mi Huynh Hoa 

A Banh Mi is a Vietnamese sandwich that looks deceptively simple. A Banh Mi is a flavor bomb that changed the way we think about sandwiches. They combine perfect baguettes with savory pork, fresh herbs, and magical, secret sauces.

There are Banh Mi stalls all over Ho Chi Minh, but “Banh Mi Huynh Hoa” is the clear champion. Even late at night, there’s always a long line of locals.

This is even more impressive because the prices here are double what a normal Banh Mi costs. These locals are not rich folks.

If they’re willing to pay double for these, they must be worth it. And in our opinion, they’re a bargain.

Price: 30,000VND ($1.25USD)

26 Le Thi Rieng,
P Ben Thanh, Q 1, Ho Chi Minh

Quan Com Me Kong 

This is the best restaurant in Ho Chi Minh for a big hunk of grilled pork. It’s totally delicious and surprisingly cheap. We were randomly walking around District 1 when we found this hidden gem.

The fantastic smell is what drew us here. We followed our noses and discovered this place packed with nearby office workers.

As reflected in our list, noodle soups are huge in Vietnamese cuisine. They are wonderful, but sometimes you just want a slab of smoky pork. They serve them up here with a pile of fresh rice for a hearty, filling meal at an incredible price.

Price: 60,000VND ($2.5USD)

136 Suong Nuyet Anh St.
P Ben Thanh, Q 1, Ho Chi Minh

Bahn Duc Nong Ba Gia 

You’ve probably never heard of Banh Duc Nong, but this soup is as tasty as it is unique. The combo of pork and wild mushrooms gives it a blend of savory and earthy flavors, with hints of sweet and salty in just the right balance.

Banh Duc Nong also combines a variety of textures like creamy and crunchy. It’s a real treat that most visitors never get a chance to try.

The best (and cheapest) restaurant in Ho Chi Minh for this dish is Banh Duc Nong Ba Gia.

Price: 15,000VND ($0.65USD)

76 Cuu Long St.
P15, Q10, Ho Chi Minh

5KU Station 

This is one of the best restaurants in Ho Chi Minh for groups. It’s a grill-your-own meat type of place. Pick a few proteins and few veggies. Then everyone grills and shares.

The fun, festive atmosphere make 5ku wildly popular with locals and visitors. And all the grilling meats create fantastic aromas.

Beef, chicken, and pork are available, but our favorites are the variety of snails, seafood, and frogs.

Price: 80,000-150,000VND ($3.5-6.5USD)

27 Lê Thánh Tôn St.
P Ben Nghe, Q 1, Ho Chi Minh

The Secret Garden 

Finding a hidden, back-alley restaurant is an experience every Ho Chi Minh visitor should have. Many of the best restaurants in Ho Chi Minh are off the main roads. And the Secret Garden is one of our favorites.

It’s not that difficult to find, but you have to venture down a couple alleys, make a few turns, and climb several flights of stairs to get here.

When you finally arrive, the rooftop garden terrace seems like an oasis of calm in the chaotic city.

The menu is a collection of delicious “home-style” Vietnamese dishes. For detailed directions, check our full review of Secret Garden.

Price: 50,000-80,000VND ($2.25-3.5USD)

158 Pasteur St.
P Ben Nghe, Q 1, Ho Chi Minh


Propaganda is one of the coolest restaurants in Ho Chi Minh. The art work is beautiful, colorful, and highly symbolic of the new culture of this city.

The murals are the most outstanding features, covering several large walls. The same images decorate the upholstery and other knick knacks. All this art was created by local artists.

The food is what they call “twisted Vietnamese cuisine.” The fare is mostly classic Vietnamese dishes with new looks and new flavors. There’s an a la carte menu, but we prefer the “set lunches” and “discovery menus.”

These are a bit pricey for Ho Chi Minh city, but we found them worth every penny.

Price: 190,000-230,000VND ($8.33-10USD) for set lunches
480,000-550,000VND ($21-24USD) for “discovery menus,” wine included

21 Han Thuyen St.
P Ben Nghe, Q 1, Ho Chi Minh

Muoi Tieu Chanh

Muoi Tieu Chanh has some of the most delicious crab in the city. It’s the kind of place where you get to pick your own crabs fresh. There are many great seafood places around Ho Chi Minh, but this is one of our favorites.

It’s only visited by locals, and it has a beautiful, wooden interior designed to look like ship. And since few tourists ever visit, the prices are fair for fresh seafood of this caliber.

Price: 100,000-200,000VND ($4.5-9USD)

Chim Cut Chien Bo 

Chim Cut Chien Bo is quail fried in butter. We never liked quail before we tried this dish, but now we eat it all the time. It’s crispy and flavorful, without being overly greasy.

Order some gizzards on the side (also fried in butter), and wash it down with some Nuoc Mia (fresh sugarcane juice).

Price: 25,000VND ($1USD)

54 Dong Nai St.
P 15, Q 10, Ho Chi Minh

Ut Dieu 

Ut Dieu is classy little restaurant set back in an alley. The décor is a lovely mix of classic Vietnamese style and modern influences. The best time to visit is lunch.

They have a big set menu lunch for only a couple bucks. The specific offerings change daily, but we’ve always been happy here.

Price: 49,000VND ($2.25)

44C Bui Thi Xuan St.
P Ben Thanh, Q 1, Ho Chi Minh

Chi Hoa 

Chi Hoa prides itself on serving up dishes that remind you of granny’s cooking – if you had a Vietnamese granny that is.

Dishes range from classic spring rolls to things that you’ve never..

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Cheap massages abound in Saigon (aka Ho Chi Minh city). It’s a real perk when traveling here, but the quality and “reputability” of the massages varies greatly. If you’re looking for high quality massages at spas that are 100% legit (no hanky panky), these are the 3 best Saigon spas.

Our Favorite Saigon Spas

We can’t resist a good budget massage from time to time, but when we want to splurge a bit, these are the spas we use. They’re relatively expensive for Vietnam, but compared to prices in North America, they’re still a bargain for such luxury. Their professional service and hygiene are impeccable and totally worth every penny.

All 3 are located within walking distance of the main tourist area of Saigon.

Check out the 3 best legit Saigon spas (no hanky panky)Click To Tweet My Spa

My Spa is a traditional Vietnamese day spa. They offer a wide range of services including facials and other skin treatments. We’ve only tried the massages, but they were outstanding. The spa is beautifully decorated in a classic Vietnamese style.

Filled with bamboo and rattan, the warm colors are really soothing after a day in chaotic Saigon. My Spa is so legit that most treatments (even massages) normally occur in a common room. Private rooms are available too.

We always book a private room for our couples massage, but we like that this place has a completely professional vibe. Private rooms are limited, so it’s better to book in advance. We’ve had more luck booking in person or over the phone, than online.

320,000VND ($14USD)  for a 60 minute, full body massage. A 10-15% tip is customary here.

15C4 Thi Sach St
District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

098 997 33 09

Operating Hours:
10 AM – 1130 PM

Golden Lotus Spa

The Golden Lotus is a Korean-style Spa. They also offer a full suite of treatments and a sauna. The Korean style saunas are fun. The saunas are communal and very relaxing.

You enjoy the sauna fully dressed in spa-provided clothes, so men and women share the sauna. We really prefer this set up. At many places, the saunas are separated by gender. We understand that too, but we’d rather enjoy our spa experiences as a couple.

The massages here are also outstanding. One of the best things about this spa is that the tip is included price. We love this. No guess work. No awkwardness. And in our experience the quality of the massage is always high despite the tip being a forgone conclusion.

Menu prices are a bit higher than My Spa, but since they include the tip, they are actually more reasonable overall.

375,000VND ($16.5USD) for a 60 minute full body massage (tip included).

‪15 Thai Van Lung St.
District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

08 3822 1515 

Operating Hours:
10 AM – 11 PM

Temple Leaf Spa

The Temple Leaf Spa may be our favorite spa by a hair. The décor is very Zen and peaceful with lots of Buddhist inspired art. The spa is also very clean. We always feel comfortable here.

Like the Golden Lotus Spa, tips are included in the prices. This one fact makes the whole experience much more relaxing. We know exactly how much we’ll pay. And the quality of the massages we’ve had here have been very high.

The masseuses follow a general routine with the massage, but also adjust to your knots without being told. Many times they don’t speak much English, but that’s never been a problem. They cover everything, but focus on the spots that need the most attention.

340,000VND ($15USD) for a 60 minute full body massage.

74/1a Hai Ba Trung St.
District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

08 6291 3656

Operating Hours:
10 AM – 1130 PM

Tips on Dealing with a Bad Massage

We’ve had mostly great experiences in these 3 spas. Occasionally, you’ll get a bad masseuse or one who’s having a bad day. If you’re masseuse is talking on the phone, neglecting you, or is unsatisfactory in anyway – stop the massage and talk to the management.

The masseuse may not speak English, but the management at these high quality places do. Even the most polite complaint will ensure you the best service possible. If this happens, make sure to clarify what the new end time should be after the interruption caused by bad service.

Bad service is really rare at these 3 spas, but if it happens, use this simple solution to ensure you get the experience you paid for.

Have you been to any of these Saigon spas?

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The post 3 Best (Legit) Saigon Spas appeared first on The Travel Ninjas.

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If you want to experience Saigon like a local, spend a morning in Tao Dan Park. It’s a large, public park in the heart of the city. It’s NOT a trendy attraction for most visitors, but it’s an offbeat and original thing to do in Saigon. Every morning, locals come in droves to exercise and socialize. And it’s easy to join the fun.

It's so much fun hanging out with the locals!Click To Tweet Why Visit Tao Dan Park?

There are 5 main reasons to visit.

The park is a big, beautiful, green oasis in the city. It’s home to over 1000 trees and a refreshing break from the concrete and chaos of Saigon.

Refreshing Green Space in Saigon

You can glimpse an authentic slice of local life. Tai Chi, badminton, dancing, (and more) are common daily activities.

Fun Side of Local Life

You can overcome the language barrier and interact with locals through simple play and participation. Join in without words – do some Tai Chi, play some badminton, maybe even challenge someone to a game of chess.

Opportunity to Mingle with Locals

You can have coffee and a light breakfast in the park. Great food and coffee are everywhere in Saigon, but Tao Dan Park is a peaceful, pretty, and refreshing place to eat.

Lovely, Relaxing Setting for Breakfast

The park is FREE. Breakfast isn’t, but everything else won’t cost a penny.

Tao Dan Park Highlights

We lived in Saigon for several months and Tao Dan was our favorite park. It’s gorgeous, and there’s always a vibrant mix of activities in the mornings. Here are some highlights of the park’s beauty and the interesting things that happen.

On any given morning, you’ll see locals practicing a variety of marital arts.

A Marvel of Balance and Coordination

At Tao Dan, pairs or groups perform most martial arts. Occasionally, you’ll get lucky and be dazzled by a solo master, like the one pictured above.

Community Tai Chi

As with Tai Chi practice everywhere, it’s very communal and open to all at Tao Dan Park. It’s fun to watch the graceful movements. And even more fun (and welcomed) to join in.

Fencing Practice in Tao Dan Park

You’ll often see more specialized martial arts too. Like the sword fighting practice in the above photo. Or the stick fighting practice below.

Escrima Stick Fighting

Dancing practice is also very popular here. You can see large group rehearsals, like these fan dancers.

Waltzing through Tao Dan Park

And even ballroom dance lessons are a common sight.

Fan Dancing Rehearsal

“Regular” exercise is also a mainstay at the park. If you want to workout alongside locals, Tao Dan Park offers lots of free exercise equipment and wide running/walking paths.

And, of course, you can just enjoy a refreshing break from the city streets.

King Hung Temple and grounds

Among all the lush greenery, there are a number of fountains, sculptures, topiary, and even an active temple.

In short, Tao Dan Park is lovely, leafy, and local. If you’re seeking original things to do in Saigon, Tao Dan Park is great way to spend a morning rubbing elbows with locals in a beautiful setting.

Other Info and Tips on Tao Dan Park

* Tao Dan Park is located in Saigon’s District 1, behind the Independence Palace. The northwest corner is at the intersection of Truong Dinh St. and Nguyen Thi Minh Khai St. The southeast corner is at the intersection of and Truong Dinh St. and Nguyen Du St.

* Early morning, right after sunrise, is the best time to visit. Cooler temperatures make it the most interesting and active time of day. If that’s not possible, the community uses the park throughout the day for a variety of purposes.

* Tao Dan Park is the meeting spot for Saigon bird lovers. On some mornings (especially on weekends), bird owners congregate with their birds and the park is filled with birdsongs.

Do you like to relax or exercise in public parks when you travel?  Please also make sure to check out 10 Unique Things to Do In Saigon, Vietnam.

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The post Tao Dan Park – Why it’s an Authentic Place to Meet Locals in Saigon appeared first on The Travel Ninjas.

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Looking for original things to do in Saigon? After several months exploring this city, we have some unique ideas to round out your itinerary.

Some suggestions are hidden gems, known only to locals and expats. Others involve popular attractions but in novel and entertaining ways. Maybe you’re on a package tour and seeking to fill a “free day” in Saigon.

Maybe you’re an independent traveler and seeking the offbeat. Either way, we hope these tips help you have a better, richer, more individualized experience in Saigon.

What About the Classic Things to Do in Saigon?

You can read our list of standard highlights in another post.

This is a supplementary list of lesser-known things to do in Saigon.

Have a better, richer, more individualized experience in Saigon.Click To Tweet 1. Adventure Eating

Vietnamese food is absolutely delicious 99.9% of the time, but it can also be extreme and exotic. If you want to push your culinary limits, try adventure eating at Bo Cap Lua Restaurant.

They serve tarantulas, scorpions, lizards, live worms, fried worms, and other “unspeakable” items. You can see more of the disgusting things we ate at Bo Cap Lua.

Bo Cap Lua
17B 11th Street
Go Vap District
Ho Chi Minh City

2. Jade Emperor Pagoda “Secret” Canal Walk

The Jade Emperor Pagoda is one of the popular things to do in Saigon. But few know about the lovely canal, only a few hundred feet away.

After you visit the Jade Emperor Pagoda, take a stroll along the canal. It can turn this common attraction into an uncommon experience.

You’ll glimpse an unseen side of Saigon. Quiet streets, quaint neighborhoods, and several other temples line the canal.

You can simply enjoy the peaceful beauty of the canal or use it to structure a “temple crawl.” There are many temples on the canal to explore, but we recommend visiting Vinh Nghiem Pagoda (Mahayana Buddhism) and Wat Chantaransay (Theravada Buddhism).

Combined with the Jade Emperor Pagoda, which is Taoist, you’ll see 3 radically different styles of spirituality (that exist in the same small community). AND you’ll enjoy a scenic walk, away from the chaotic streets of Saigon.

You can see more photos and read the full details of this canal walk here. It includes directions to the canal and info on why this canal is the biggest environmental accomplishment in Saigon.

3. Suoi Tien Buddhist Amusement Park

Suoi Tien is the craziest amusement park in Vietnam (maybe all of Asia). It’s actually a combination culture park/amusement park.

Suoi Tien has a sprawling waterpark, the longest roller coaster in Vietnam, and all the fun stuff you’d expect. But the massive Buddhist monuments and active temples (next to the rides!) make Suoi Tien a unique travel experience.

It’s a surreal mash-up of deep Buddhist culture AND superficial amusements. Even if you’re not interested in the rides, the gargantuan sculptures and monuments are worth the price of admission (which is only $5USD).

Suoi Tien offers some of the most spectacular sights and is one of the most unusual things to do in Saigon.

Check out more photos of the amazing park here.

Hours: 8am – 530pm

120 Hanoi Highway
Tan Phu Ward
District 9, HCMC

4. The Amazing Viet Show

The Amazing Viet Show is a fun way to unwind after a day of sightseeing. Saigon has many entertaining shows, but this is the wackiest. It features “extraordinary people” with “unusual talents.” Or you could call it a Vietnamese freak show – with a difference.

The headline acts are contortionists, sword swallowers, and the like, but between those acts are song and dance performances featuring Vietnamese music and costumes.

Vanessa had her first cyclo ride at the Amazing Viet Show. A man put these contraptions in his eyes and pulled a cyclo full of people across the stage! You can read more about that crazy story here.

Tickets start at 640,000VND ($28US). The best place to buy tickets is at the theater because they often offer in person discounts.

The Amazing Viet Show is performed at the V Show Theater.
147 Cach Mạng Thang Tam Street
District 3, HCMC

5. Binh Quoi Tourist Village

Binh Quoi Tourist Village is a rural oasis in the heart of the city. It looks like a Traditional Village on the Mekong Delta. It’s a staged reproduction, but it’s beautiful, peaceful, and entrance is free.

Binh Quoi Village feels like entering a different world and different era. You can relax in bamboo huts that line the many waterways. You can paddle a boat on the lake. You can scramble across monkey bridges. And more.

There are even restaurants and a hotel if you desire. The best time for a peaceful visit is on weekday mornings. There’s a large, traditional buffet on weekend evenings, but it’s more crowded (and you can’t see the scenery in the dark).

Find out more about Binh Quoi Tourist Village in this post.

Binh Quoi Tourist Village
147 Binh Quoi Street
Binh Thanh District, HCMC

6. AO Show at the Saigon Opera House

The Saigon Opera House is one of the most historic landmarks of the city. Every Saigon visitor comes to the Opera House for sightseeing, but few actually watch a performance.

Take your Opera House experience to the next level by catching the AO Show. Often called “Bamboo Cirque,” it’s like a Cirque du Soleil show about contemporary Vietnamese culture. The AO Show combines acrobatics, dance, and dazzling choreography.

It’s not only a great show that’s fun and amazing. It’s also a great travel experience that meaningful and gives insight into the culture. The central theme is how rapid modernization and urbanization is changing Vietnam (for better and worse).

Tickets start at 630,000VND ($27US). It’s best to buy tickets at the Opera House. Check for package deals that include dinner at a local restaurant too. These are often a bargain.

Saigon Opera House
7 Lam Son Square
District 1, HCMC

7. Live it Up in Phu My Hung

Speaking of rapid modernization and urbanization, visit Phu My Hung to see a different (wealthier) side of Saigon. Located just 15 minutes from downtown, Phu My Hung is an upscale neighborhood that offers high-end dining, shopping, and entertainment.

An evening here can be both fun and enlightening. You’ll have a high-end experience, and you’ll see how Vietnam’s growing middle-class lives.

There are many easy options here. We recommend visiting the Crescent Mall, but not really for the shopping. There’s a pretty lake behind the mall and a picturesque walkway around the lake. Several fine restaurants line the walkway. And at the end, there’s the Starlight Bridge.

At night, this bridge doubles as a water fountain and puts on a lovely light show. For dinner, we recommend Cham Charm Restaurant. It’s a rather expensive seafood buffet, but the décor is beautiful. The theme is the ancient Cham civilization of Vietnam.

Much of Saigon (and Vietnam) is rather poor, but that’s not the whole story. The temptation is to make the poor rural farmer the symbol of Vietnam. That’s still partially true, but a complete picture must also include Vietnam’s growing middle class.

You can glimpse their changing lifestyle and values in Phu My Hung.

Crescent Mall
101 Ton Dat Tien Street
District 7, HCMC

8. Mix with Locals at Tao Dan Park

Tao Dan Park is a big, beautiful park in Saigon. It’s one of the few green spaces in Saigon, and it’s a great place to mix with locals. Early morning is the best time to visit. The whole community comes out to enjoy the cool morning air. Locals of all ages and from all walks of life meet here to socialize and exercise.

The whole community comes out to enjoy the cool morning air. Locals of all ages and from all walks of life meet here to socialize and exercise.

You’ll see people practice a wide variety of martial arts, including Tai Chi. Dancing is another popular activity at Tao Dan. You’ll see everything from Asian Fan Dancing to Waltzing to group Line Dancing.

Most of these are open and communal. So it’s your chance to conquer the language barrier through physical activity and play. Know a little Tai Chi or a bit of line dancing, join in. Why not?

It may be one of your most memorable moments in Saigon. Read more about Tao Dan Park here.

Tao Dan Park lies along Truong Dinh Street, between Nguyen Du Street and Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street.

9. Traditional Culture Show at the Golden Lotus Theater

If you want to taste classic Vietnamese culture, check out the Golden Lotus Theater. It’s the most enjoyable “traditional” dance and music show in Saigon.

This is a fun show with all the elaborate costumes, vibrant dances, and soulful music you’d expect and few things you wouldn’t. Like a 1000-year-old water puppet show that ends with fireworks.

We stress enjoyable and fun because authentic performances of ancient culture can drag on. Let’s be honest, as interesting as they may be culturally and historically, they tend to get boring for the average visitor.

At the Golden Lotus Theatre, the show maintains a quick, entertaining pace. You can read more about this show here.

The Golden Lotus Theatre is inside the Rex Hotel.
141 Nguyen Hue Street
District 1, HCMC

10. La Fênetre Soleil– For a Quirky  and Cross-Cultural Evening

By day, it’s a mild-mannered café. By night, La Fênetre Soleil is quirky hub for cross-cultural encounters. This Vietnamese club has a French name, serves Indonesian food, specializes in live Jazz music, but has weekly Salsa dancing on Wednesdays and weekly Swing dancing on Sundays. And that’s not all.

They also host a variety of special events too. One of our favorites was a presentation by the “Saigon Storytellers” group – where some locals and expats told true but well-crafted stories from their lives (kinda like The Moth podcast).

So if you’re looking for a different kind of nightclub in Saigon, try La Fênetre Soleil. Contact the club for what’s happening during your visit.

Phone: 08 3824 5994

44 Ly Tu Trọng
District 1, HCMC

There are many other unique things to do in Saigon. Of course, the best will be the ones you create. Hopefully, this list helps with both specific tips and ideas to spark your own imaginative itinerary.

Enjoy Saigon!

Which things to do in Saigon interest you? If you’ve been to Saigon, we’d love to hear your unique tips?

The post 10 Unique Things To Do In Saigon, Vietnam appeared first on The Travel Ninjas.

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Binh Quoi Village is one of the best-kept secrets in Ho Chi Minh City. It looks like a traditional bamboo village on the Mekong Delta – except it’s in the heart of the city.

This beautiful recreation offers thatched huts on the river, giant water lilies, monkey bridges, a towering bamboo waterwheel, and more. Binh Quoi Village is like a postcard come to life!

For us, it was love at first sight.

Binh Quoi Village – Iconic and Beautiful

If you’re visiting Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon) and seeking something offbeat and original, consider Binh Quoi Village. It offers beauty, relaxation, and the iconic Vietnamese scenes that visitors dream about. And entrance is FREE.

Binh Quoi Village is like a postcard come to life!Click To Tweet

You could think of Binh Quoi Village as a sightseeing attraction/public park that features scenes from traditional Vietnam.

This visit is more about what you’ll see than what you’ll do, but there are a few interesting amusements. You can:

  • Row a paddleboat down the “mini-Mekong” river
  • Go fishing off a bamboo bridge
  • Relax in a bamboo hut by the water
  • Stroll the traditional village and the park/gardens
  • Enjoy a meal at a floating restaurant
  • Snap lots of pictures (the scenes are irresistibly photogenic)

There’s even a hotel if you want to spend the night in a bamboo hut with all the modern luxuries.

Located just 20 minutes from downtown, Binh Quoi Village is a great way to spend some free time in Ho Chi Minh City. Here are some its highlights.

Binh Quoi Village Highlights: The “Mini-Mekong” River

 The largest body of water in the village is a mini recreation of the Mekong River. Actually, a large pond fed by the Saigon River, vintage scenes line the banks of the “Mini-Mekong.” A few of the best are:

Fishing Nets

Bamboo Huts

The bamboo huts are beautiful, charming, and open to the public. They’re an ideal place to chill out.

Bamboo Bridge

This long, winding bridge spans the “Mini-Mekong” and connects the village area to the park.

Bamboo Waterwheel

Beware – this waterwheel is literally mesmerizing. The beauty of the bamboo, the flowing water, the rhythmic motion, and the soothing sounds melt away stress.

Paddle Boats

You can rent these boats for less than $2USD and paddle yourself around.

Giant Water Lily Pond

The Giant Water Lilies are an impressive surprise. Luckily, the monkey bridge lets you stand right over them for a closer look. They’re the biggest leaves we’ve ever seen in person. Some are 2 meters in diameter!


Sprawling Park

Binh Quoi Village Park

A lovely park lies at the center of Binh Quoi Village. It’s a huge green space loaded with flowers and fountains. Paved walkways make strolling easy and there are many shady spots to enjoy.

Waterfall Fountain – Our Fav Shady Spot

There’s even a big wooden swing set (great for the kids).

Playtime at Binh Quoi

Floating Village

On the other side, a floating village sits on the water with several bamboo huts and multiple bridges. Much of this is restaurant seating but some are public gazebos. Eating at the restaurants is totally optional.

The whole site is owned by the Vietnamese government and was created for the purpose of tourism. However, enjoying some Vietnamese coffee, fresh fruit juice, or a meal is especially nice in the beautiful setting.

The restaurants are open everyday but there is a special buffet dinner on the weekend nights. It offers a wide variety of classic Vietnamese dishes and costs 290,000VND ($13USD).

Is Binh Quoi Village Worth Your Time?

Travel preferences vary greatly, but we think most visitors would enjoy Binh Quoi Village. It offers a few fun amusements, but the most outstanding feature of Binh Quoi Village is its rustic beauty. We also recommend this place as an oasis of relaxation.

Most visitors reach Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) at the beginning or end of their trip. At the beginning, you’ve just flown across the world and have a bit of jet lag. At the end, you’ve just had a couple weeks traveling south from Hanoi.

It was fantastic, but also fatiguing. Either way, Binh Quoi Village is a great way to relax, recharge, and still experience a wonderful side of Vietnam. And entrance is FREE. The only costs are food/drinks or boat rental. And those are really cheap.

Other Info and Tips:

Getting the right contact info for Binh Quoi is tough. Their website has not worked in several months, and the phone number posted on Google and TripAdvisor are wrong. Below is the correct address and phone number.

Binh Quoi Village
1147 Binh Quoi
Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City
08 355 658 91

  • Open 9am – 11 pm everyday.
  • Weekdays mornings are the best time to visit. It’s whisper quiet, and you’ll have
    the place to yourself.
  • A taxi from downtown should be around 100,000VND.
  • Using the Grab App is the best way to get here. They have set fares and are cheaper/better than taxis or Uber in Vietnam.
  • Binh Quoi Village is great for solo travelers, couples, and families.
Saigon is Very Affordable! Check Out the Current Roundtrip Airfare and Hotel Rates Below:

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The post Binh Quoi Village – Bamboo Oasis in the City appeared first on The Travel Ninjas.

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With so many great Vietnam destinations, choosing is tough. After more than a year here, we haven’t seen it all, but we can help narrow down your choices. We think these 11 Vietnam destinations are the very best, for your precious vacation time.


Too Many Vietnam Destinations?

Vietnam is surprisingly large and bursting at the seams with majestic landscapes, natural wonders, and vibrant culture. You can’t see it all in a typical 2 or 3-week vacation, but no worries. You can definitely have an amazing and unforgettable experience in that time!

Halong Bay

Halong Bay mesmerized us. It has the impossible beauty of a fantasy world. Pure emerald waters, 2000 jagged pinnacles, hidden caves, rolling mists, and magical sunsets. Cruising through the thousands of islands is a once-in-a-life experience.

If you only visit one Vietnam destination, make it Halong Bay!

Located 112 miles west of Hanoi, Halong Bay is most often reached via a 4-hour car ride.

Why Visit?

Visit Halong Bay to be overwhelmed by surreal natural beauty. It’s one of the most unique and stunning spots on earth! This karst seascape is unique because of its immense vastness. Similar limestone formations exist in Laos, Thailand, and China, but the scale and number in Halong Bay

Similar limestone formations exist in Laos, Thailand, and China, but the scale and number in Halong Bay dwarfs them all. That’s why it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Cruises also offer lots of fun excursions like kayaking, cave exploring, rock climbing, swimming, and more.

When to Visit?

The best weather occurs in March – April and September – October.

How Long to Stay?

3 days is the best length in our opinion (and of most other visitors).

Many cruises are available. These are from ultra-budget to luxury, and from 3-hour boat tours to 3-day luxury cruises. We took a 3-day luxury cruise with Indochina Sails and highly recommend them.


Sapa is famous for mountain landscapes, spectacular rice terraces, and traditional hill tribes. We found the magnitude of the rice terraces mind-blowing. They cover whole mountains and valleys, and they span for miles.

Sapa town is a former, French hill station in the remote northwest of Vietnam. It’s near the China border about 200 miles northwest of Hanoi. There are many hotels and restaurants, but spend as little time in Sapa town as possible.

Sapa town is best used a gateway to explore the surrounding countryside. Time is best spent on trekking tours led by local guides. The best guides are women from ethnic minority villages scattered around the mountains.

Many guides offer real homestays too. The most authentic experience is trekking through the terraced mountains by day and staying at your guide’s family home at night.

Why Visit?

Visit Sapa to trek gorgeous mountains, marvel at stunning rice terraces, and meet the hill tribes that built and work them. There is also a new cable car system that connects Sapa to the top of Mt. Fansipan, the highest peak in Vietnam. It provides fantastic panoramic views never before possible.

When to Visit?

The best weather occurs in March – April and September – October.

How Long to Stay?

We think 3 days is just about right.

Tam Coc (Ninh Binh Province)

Ninh Binh Province is in the north, less than 2 hours from Hanoi. It has limestone karst formations similar to Halong Bay, except on land. While not as large or dramatic as the karst seascape, these are still quite stunning to experience. They can be enjoyed on foot, on bicycle, and on a sampan boat.

The Ngo Dong River winds around the jagged pinnacles, past rice fields, and under a few water caves. Local ladies row the boats. The ride lasts about 2 hours, and the ladies often row with their feet!

Why Visit?

Visit to enjoy a traditional boat ride down a lazy river, while you marvel at the epic scenery.

When to Visit?

April – June is the best time to visit.

How Long to Stay?

Less than 1 day. Tam Coc is an easy day trip from Hanoi.

Hoi An

We think Hoi An is the most charming town in Vietnam. Hoi An has picturesque canals, colorful locals, and an “ancient town” district that has been preserved for centuries. Hoi An’s “ancient town” district is so well preserved it’s a UNESCO world heritage site.

You can explore original structures like temples, family homes, and community halls.

Hoi An is also very fun and festive. Every night, silk lanterns line the streets and canals of Hoi An. Every month, the town hosts a full moon festival. All other light is extinguished. Only silk lanterns illuminate “ancient town” with their magic glow, just like they did centuries ago.

Why Visit?

Visit Hoi An to glimpse a bygone era. Walk under silk lanterns and along canals. Ride a traditional sampan boat at sunset. And visit water buffalos in the nearby countryside.

Hoi An is also famous for numerous tailor-made clothing shops.

When to Visit?

March – May has the best combination of dry weather and moderate temperatures.

June – August is usually dry as well, but it’s very hot and humid.

Beware October – December. It’s monsoon season and Hoi An is prone to flooding.

How Long to Stay?

2-3 days is optimal. If you’re short on time read about what to do in Hoi An on a short visit.

Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park 

Most people have never heard of Ke Bang National Park, but it’s one of the most special places on the globe. This UNESCO site has:

The biggest cave in the world – Son Doong Cave.

This one cave has a jungle, river, and is big enough to fit a 40-story skyscraper!

The largest system of caves in the world.

There are hundreds of massive caves, many unexplored.

The longest underground river.

You can explore part of the river on a regular tour of Phong Nha Cave

Many caves accessible to regular folks, and some for advanced explorers.

Son Doong Cave is fittingly the most difficult and expensive to visit. Prices start at $3000USD, and there is more than a year-long waiting list.

Luckily many other awesome caves are cheap and easy to visit.

Why Visit?

Visit to explore a truly magnificent, natural wonder that is accessible and affordable for ordinary travelers. Stroll through inspiring Paradise cave, float down the world’s longest underground river at Phong Nha cave, and spend a night camping in Hang En cave.

When to Visit?

October – May is the best time to visit.

How Long to Stay?

3 days will satisfy most travelers. Longer expeditions are available for cave enthusiasts.


Dalat holds a special place in our hearts. Located in the central highlands, Dalat is one of the most romantic destinations in Vietnam. We came chasing waterfalls and romance, but we also found adventure and culture.

Dalat city has some interesting attractions, but the surrounding countryside is the star attraction. Dalat is surrounded by scenic highlands filled with fragrant pine forests, vast lakes, picturesque waterfalls, and green rolling hills for as far as you can see.

With an elevation of around 1500m, the climate is much cooler and more pleasant than most of Vietnam. We didn’t believe we were still in Vietnam. We felt magically transported to an alpine region of Europe.

Why Visit?

Visit Dalat to enjoy beautiful countryside. The waterfalls, lakes, and pine-covered hills are great for everything from romantic getaways, to adventure sports, to family outings.

When to Visit?

November – March is dry season for Dalat, and the best time for most visitors.

How Long to Stay

2-3 days is will give you a good taste of Dalat.

Check out our full travel guide for Dalat.

Mekong Delta

The Mekong Delta is the southernmost region. Called the “fruit bowl” of Vietnam, it has the richest farmland in the country. The Mekong Delta has the vintage scenery that you’d recognize from films. It’s a maze of interweaving waterways, lush farmland, and floating markets.

Key experiences here are simple strolls through gorgeous scenery, discovering exotic fruit, sampan rides through tropical mangroves, and witnessing the spectacle of a floating market.

If you’ve never seen a floating market, you won’t believe your eyes. You’ll wonder at the diversity of produce,  (trying to identify fruits and vegetables that you’ve never seen before). Then, you’ll marvel at the effortless grace of the local farmers.

Even the elderly have no trouble standing on boats, walking on boats, and moving from one to another. It’s like a rural cirque du soleil on water.

Can Tho city is a very convenient base to explore the Mekong Delta. We recommend getting out of the city and staying at an authentic homestay – at a real farm.

Why Visit?

Visit to experience the “real” Vietnam while you can. Vietnam is modernizing quickly, and old traditions fade everyday. Today, a floating market is the real deal, not just a show for tourists. Tomorrow, it could be just another modern grocery store.

When to Visit?

January – March is a great time to visit. There is no real “best” time here. Any month can be a great time to visit with different advantages, even monsoon season (May – October).

How Long to Stay

1 day – for floating markets and a bit of the farmlands.

2 to 3 days – to include a homestay and more local life.

Phu Quoc Island

Phu Quoc Island is the kind of tropical paradise we all dream of visiting. Crystal blue waters. Powdery beaches that stretch as far as you can see. Rugged mountains. Lush tropical plants.

Phu Quoc’s beaches are growing in popularity, but many remain secluded gems. Phu Quoc’s interior is an untouched and protected rainforest that is as wild as it is mysterious. Since the rest of Vietnam faces east, Phu Quoc has something unique in Vietnam – spectacular beach sunsets.

Phu Quoc is only a cheap 45 min flight from Ho Chi Minh City.

Why Visit?

Visit Phu Quoc for a tropical island getaway. The natural beauty of Phu Quoc Island is stunning and seductive. It makes relaxation and romance easy.

When to Visit?

The best weather on Phu Quoc is the dry season from November – March.

How Long to Stay

2-3 days, depends on how much you want to relax on a lazy, remote island.


We think Danang is one of the most underrated destinations in Vietnam. Danang is located in central Vietnam. It’s Vietnam’s third largest city, has all the modern luxuries, but still has a quaint, small-town atmosphere.

Danang is a beach town with white beaches that stretch for miles. It’s actually home to the famous China Beach, from the TV show. The beach area is well developed for visitors – but not over-developed. There are plenty of hotel, food, and drink options – but no McDonalds. There’s even is a paved boardwalk along the beach that extends almost the full length.

There are plenty of hotel, food, and drink options – but no McDonalds. There’s even is a paved boardwalk along the beach that extends almost the full length.

Danang is a river town with the coolest bridges in Vietnam. The Dragon Bridge spits fire and water at 9pm, every weekend night. There’s a scenic, fun, and convenient riverwalk that extends for longer than you can walk. And there are various dinner and sightseeing cruises by day and night.

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The AO Show is one of the coolest things to do in Saigon. It’s a rich experience with layers of enjoyment. First, the venue is the historic Saigon Opera House. Second, it’s a thrilling, acrobatic show that’s fun to watch. And third, the show is culturally enlightening.

You’ll learn about Vietnamese culture on a deep, symbolic level while being entertained. The AO Show strikes a rare balance between being fun and being meaningful.

The AO Show Has a Historic Venue

The venue of the AO Show is itself an important and popular landmark. Built in 1898 by the French, the Saigon Opera House has served many purposes during its turbulent history. It’s even housed Vietnam’s National Assembly for a time.

Today, the Saigon Opera House is a sightseeing hotspot. Almost every Saigon visitor comes to gaze at the Opera House, but few actually watch a show here. While it’s a lovely building to see, it was made for performance.

Sightseeing is wonderful, but the AO Show is an opportunity to enjoy the Opera House in the way it was intended.

The AO Show is Amazing and Amusing

The AO Show is fun. The scenes are action-packed and visually stunning. They combine acrobatics, dance, and an ingenious choreography with bamboo sets. It’s as impressive as it is gorgeous. The AO Show also has a great sense of humor.

The AO Show is Meaningful

The show dramatizes the contrast between traditional Vietnam and modern Vietnam, as well as rural Vietnam and urban Vietnam. If you know anything about Vietnam, you know that these are the main, contemporary issues in the country.

For example, some scenes highlight the communal nature of rural life. Even in “water” scenes, everyone stays connected. All their efforts are highly coordinated and synchronized.

Other scenes symbolize urban settings. People lead modern, separate lives. They’re suspended in bubbles of individuality, surrounded by tattered traditions, but optimistic about the future.

The cultural achievement of the AO Show is perhaps even more amazing because it never ceases to be entertaining. The AO Show is for everyone, not just die-hard theater fans.

Watching this show is perfect for travelers. It provides a deeper understanding of Vietnam and a framework for the contradictions you’ll find during your travels. And don’t forget how fun it is at the same time!

So if you’re in Saigon and wondering how to fill an evening after your tours are over, consider the AO Show. It’s fun, amazing, and meaningful.

Other Info


No photography is permitted during the show. The performance photos in this post were courtesy of Lune Productions, owners of the AO Show.

Tickets begin at 630,000VND ($27USD). Relatively expensive for Saigon, but a bargain for such world-class entertainment. Buying tickets in person, at the Opera House is the cheaper option. (Also check with the Opera House for special deals. They often offer package deals that include dinner at a local restaurant.)

Tickets are also available online through typical sources, like Viator. They’re a bit more expensive, but it includes roundtrip hotel transfer and you can order tickets before you even arrive in the country.

Saigon Opera House
07 Cong Truong Lam Son
District 1, HCMC

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Located in Ho Chi Minh City, Suoi Tien is Vietnam’s wacky Buddhist wonderland. It’s Vietnam’s weirdest amusement park and maybe the strangest in all of Asia. Suoi Tien is one of the coolest, most unusual, and most unique things to do in Ho Chi Minh City.

There are lots of rides and roller coasters, but the massive spectacles and displays make Suoi Tien special. The entrance fee to this sprawling theme park is less than $5 USD. And Suoi Tien is located only 40 minutes from the main tourist area of Ho Chi Minh City.

Suoi Tien is Vietnam’s wacky Buddhist wonderland Click To Tweet Superficial Fun and Deep Cultural Heritage

This Massive Spectacle is just an ordinary decoration at Suoi Tien.

Suoi Tien mixes the superficial fun of an amusement park with the deep cultural heritage of Vietnam. In the spectacular and surreal mash-up of Suoi Tien, you’ll find:

  • Frivolous Roller Coasters, Carnival Games, and Junk Food
  • Serious Monuments to Ancient Vietnamese History
  • Tacky Harry Potter and Disney Knock-off Attractions
  • Inspiring and Original Buddhist Works of Art
  • Gaudy Haunted Houses and Waterparks
  • Real Functioning Buddhist Temples
  • Mini Ziplines
  • Giant Mythological Creatures

Suoi Tien may not make sense to us westerners, but it wasn’t designed for us. Suoi Tien was made by the Vietnamese for the Vietnamese. That’s the best thing about this theme park. It’s not the Vietnamese putting on a show for foreigners, appealing foreign tastes.

Suoi Tien is the Vietnamese putting on a show for other Vietnamese, appealing to Vietnamese tastes. The park is hugely popular. Millions of Vietnamese visit Suoi Tien every year. And that’s why it’s a cool lesson on contemporary Vietnamese culture, as well as a good time.

Best of all, you can enjoy some fantastic spectacles alongside locals. We try to give you a taste of its uniqueness in our photos. We leave out most the typical amusement park stuff.  In our photos, we focus on the cultural and spiritual

In our photos, we focus on the cultural and spiritual spectacles but remember that all the temples and monuments are in the setting of a raucous amusement park.

Massive Buddha Sculpture

Avalokiteshvara Buddha at Suoi Tien

This Avalokiteshvara Buddha is 118 feet tall high, 59 feet wide. The statue has 15 faces and dozens of hands, symbolically posed. It is a very dramatic Buddhist monument, but there is a serene Bodhisativa atop the statue. He looks tiny up there but is almost 7 feet tall.

The Avalokiteshvara is sitting on the mythological Golden Turtle God of Vietnamese folklore.

Golden Turtle God with Magical Sword

The Golden Turtle God plays a decisive role in Vietnam’s founding myths. The Turtle God came from heaven and gave Vietnam’s founders a magical sword that won them victory over their enemies.

The Serene Side

This solemn Buddha is on the other side of the massive sculpture.

Meditating Buddha

Suoi Tien is an Amusement Park

Harry Potter Knock-off, Rock Wall, and Bumper Cars

Quick reminder. Suoi Tien also has typical rides and games in addition to awesome monuments of Buddhist and Vietnamese heritage.

Golden Unicorn Plaza

Mythic Golden Unicorns

Suoi Tien features many massive statues of mythological creatures. The Golden Unicorns are some of the best. Yes, these huge golden creatures are the “unicorns” to the Vietnamese.

Are they Growling or Laughing?

The plaza is designed to be a fun meeting place. The prime seats are right on and under the Golden Unicorns.


These fountains are fun to play in, on hot Vietnamese days. There also many shade trees and pretty statues to enjoy while relaxing.

Gold Maitreya

At the other end of the plaza is a Maitreya Buddha on a gold boat. That space is often used for concerts and dance performances.

Dragon Dance Performance

Dragon Head Temple

There’s a Real Temple in this Dragon Head.

Long Hoa Thien Bao Pagoda is largest and most impressive temple at Suoi Tien. It is a functioning temple where park visitors come to pray, light incense, and sometimes chant.

Elaborate Gate to Dragon Head Temple

The gate to the temple is as elaborate, beautiful, and symbolic as anything inside.

Temple Grounds

Resting by the Dragon

The temple grounds are full gorgeous Buddhist art that serve a spiritual purpose.

The Altars of Dragon Temple

The temple is vast. There are 3 large altars, 2 small ones, and numerous relics. The ceiling is a large dome painted to look like the heavens.

Hip Buddhist Statues – View From Dragon’s Mouth

Dozens of statues fill the temple, including several monks with interesting poses and facial expressions. The view looking out the dragon mouth was very cool, especially the way the tip of the tongue comes up.

Zodiac Palace

Us Sitting On Our Zodiac Animals – Rat and Tiger

The Zodiac Palace was beautiful and eerie. The 12 animals of the Asian zodiac are arranged in a big circle. We couldn’t resist getting pics of ourselves on our representative animals.

Vanessa was born in the year of the Tiger. Steve was born in the year of the Rat.

Dragon, Monkey, and Pig

3 of the coolest looking statues were the dragon, monkey, and pig.

Bodhisattva Square

Bodhisattva Buddha made of Pure Granite

This Bodhisattva Buddha monument is 89 feet tall, including the globe and stand. The Buddha alone is 40 feet tall and weighs 628 tons. It is made of pure white granite.

The reverent yet carnivalesque atmosphere is clear in these photos. The white building is the hokey snow castle.

Massive Mythological Creatures of Vietnam

400 meter Dragon – Dragon Eggs

The dragon is the central figure of Vietnamese mythology. There are several around Suoi Tien. This is the largest. It’s 400 meters long which represents the 4000-year history of Vietnam.

This dragon winds around the park. You can see the green scaly body in many other photos here. At the dragon’s tail, there are eggs representing the prosperous future of Vietnam.

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