Lam Thuy Nhan

Lam Thuy Nhan on Ho Chi Minh City | Insider's Guide | Travelshopa

Ho Chi Minh City bears an intriguing contrast of old and new — a fury of sights and sounds that begs exploring. Still, there’s only so many bowls of pho to be had or war relics to view before one is left wanting. Take Lam’s lead and be guided through Ho Chi Minh’s scrappy pavements and French colonial buildings to experience daily life beyond the tourist centres. Stylist, fashion designer and lifestyle blogger, Lam Thuy Nhan is a woman of many talents. She takes us on a stylish jaunt through the city of Ho Chi Minh.



Ho Chi Minh’s vibe…

The first things that come to mind are the million motorbikes (all sizes, colours and brands) that fill the roads.


Favourite thing about Ho Chi Minh…

Most Ho Chi Minh residents are really nice and kind folk. Besides that, I’m glad to be able to hunt down my favourite bowl of Cơm Tấm — only in Saigon.


Least favourite thing about Ho Chi Minh…

Pickpockets. Also, we don’t have many communal spaces to explore or visit. Trends catch on very quickly in Ho Chi Minh. If vintage cafes are trending today, you can be sure another ten will pop up in no time at all!


Fun fact about the locals…

Nobody takes any notice of red lights here, particularly when there is a traffic jam. I’d recommend you do the same, unless you want to get yelled at for holding everyone up. Besides that, the yellow light is understood as a signal to speed up and drive fast!


Best time to visit…

Excluding the rainy season between June to August, any time is a good time to visit!


What to pack…

There’s nothing you can’t buy cheaply in Ho Chi Minh so bring your passport and money and you’re all set. But watch out for pickpockets!

Lam Thuy Nhan on Ho Chi Minh City | Insider's Guide | Travelshopa

Lam Thuy Nhan on Ho Chi Minh City | Insider's Guide | TravelshopaL: Draco Coffeeshop, R: REN boutique


Ho Chi Minh Black Book



Ben Thanh Market — The sprawling market is frequented by locals and tourists alike. Local handicrafts, textiles, ao dai, coffee beans, fruits or even raw produce can be purchased here.


Pham Ngu Lao Street — “Khu Pho Tay” or Western town in Pham Ngu Lao Street is Ho Chi Minh’s backpacker district. You’ll find street food stalls, pho eateries and live music bars scattered around the area. It’s the best place to grab a drink on the cheap!



For me, District 1 is always the best. “Khu Pho Tay” in Pham Ngu Lao Street has plenty of cheap accommodation for those on a budget. The streets of Dong Khoi and Mac Thi Buoi are studded with famous 5-star hotels like The Rex and The Intercontinental Saigon. Staying here will put you within walking distance of most of the city’s main attractions.



District 4 is famous for good street eats and I head there just for “oc” — a Vietnamese delicacy. You can find them at the stalls lining Vinh Khanh Street.

I always recommend Hoa Tuc restaurant as a great introduction to contemporary Vietnamese cuisine. It’s situated in the courtyard of a former opium refinery, and boasts a wonderful ambience.

The Vietnamese drip coffee at Café Runam on Mac Thi Buoi Street is a must-try.




Rue Des Chats

THUY Design House


For items at wholesale prices, head to Districts 5 and 6.


You can’t leave Ho Chi Minh without…

Taking a stroll along Nguyen Hue.

Find out more about Lam Thuy Nhan at and follow her on Instagram @lamthuynhan

Images courtesy of Lam Thuy Nhan.

Nguyen Thu Thuy, Thuy Design House

Nguyen Thu Thuy on District 1, Ho Chi Minh City | Insider's Guide | Travelshopa


The shady tree-lined boulevards and dainty roadside cafes of District 1, Ho Chi Minh City may fool you into thinking you’re in Paris, but make no mistake, the pulsing heart of HCMC is unmistakably and uniquely Vietnamese. Just ask Nguyen Thu Thuy, the prolific designer behind Vietnamese fashion powerhouse Thuy Design House. Thuy’s boutique on the ritzy Dong Khoi specialises in modern brocade and sees amazing footfall all year round! Whether you’re finding inspiration for your next stay in Ho Chi Minh City or digging for the best places to shop – there’s surely something to add to your itinerary.



The style/vibe of HCMC

HCMC is a city founded in chaos that now struggles to bring order and efficiency. The energy that many people love comes from the excitement of a sprawling city rapidly changing and growing with a vibrant street life. That energy and an entrepreneurial spirit create a unique style.


The thing that sets HCMC apart from other cities in the region…

HCMC has done a better job of balancing the excitement and density of a vibrant growing city while still creating open spaces and a healthier environment than alternatives like Jakarta or Bangkok. Although there are still many big malls and towers, so much of what makes HCMC great comes from the shophouses lining the streets. With shops, cafes and restaurants all spilling out into the streets, you always feel like you are experiencing the city’s nature.


Favourite thing about your city…

I love to sit in a cafe on the street laughing with friends while watching the world go by.


Least favourite thing about your city…

Eventually you need a break from the chaos and energy. The traffic, noise, and danger are elements that come unappreciated.


One quirk you’ve observed among the local people…

They are funny and sincere but easily upset.


Best time to visit your city…

I am not sure. Its always sunny here, although people do avoid rainy season.


Where do you go to be inspired…

I like wandering the streets.


Best bit about your neighbourhood…

I love District 1. It’s convenient, gives me easy access to almost anywhere and is full of nice coffee shops.


A local phrase one should know…

Ăn Phở ở đâu?


It means “Where can I get pho?”


Your favourite local shopping area…

District 1


Three local shops in your black book…

Vietnam Designer House




One site a tourist should definitely visit…

Ben Thanh market


Best place to stay in HCMC…

Park Hyatt


Thuy Design House

132-134 Dong Khoi Street,

District 1,

Ho Chi Minh City

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