For many locals and expats, Thao Dien is seen as a place where people with more money than sense go to live in an overpriced bubble — to hide from the real Vietnam. But, in reality, Thao Dien is a thriving community filled with amazing restaurants, boutique shops, nightlife and all the creature comforts of a modern city – when it’s not flooded, of course.
Have Cocktails Along the Saigon River
Thao Dien is bordered on three sides by the Saigon River, and while most of the waterfront property has been swallowed by glitzy developments, there are still places where you can watch as debris floats by in the murky river current. And conveniently enough, some of those places also serve great cocktails. For the best, try The Deck, BoatHouse or Villa Song.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Rock Climb at Saigon Outcast
As the name suggests, the Outcast is on a far-flung stretch of the Nguyen Van Huong loop, hiding next to luxury villas and expensive high-rises. Saigon Outcast has a kind of earthy hipster vibe, filled with graffiti art, industrial decor and a giant rock-climbing wall, which is operated by Push Climbing. They welcome people of all skill levels and have training for newbies. Ladies climb for free on Wednesdays, men on Thursdays.
Play Some Bar Games at Buddha Bar
Buddha Bar is our favorite nightlife spot in Thao Dien. You’ll meet quite the assortment of people at Buddha: grizzled old expats, Vietnamese ex-wives, local professionals, Korean businessmen trying to figure out darts, tourists who’ve strayed over from District 1, serious pool players and an ever-changing cast of teachers. If bar games aren’t your thing, Buddha is also a great spot to relax and chat. They serve all your favorite drinks — even craft beer — and their staff are wonderful people. Whenever we’re unsure of where to go in District 2, Buddha Bar is our default option.
Go Ice Skating at the Vincom Mega Mall
If you have no idea where Thao Dien even is, look for the giant Vincom Mega Mall on the Hanoi Highway. They have men’s and women’s clothing, home decor, jewellery and so much more. But, for some real fun, head to the top floor, and skate on the only ice rink in Ho Chi Minh City. Even if you’ve never skated before, the feeling of ice on your bottom is a nice change from the never-ending heat outside.
Pamper Yourself with a Day at the Spa
It’s never a bad time to spoil yourself. There are a lot of spas to choose from, but Thao Dien Spa has it all. Treat yourself to a massage, facial, assorted skin treatments and even some time in their sauna. Life in Ho Chi Minh City never seems to slow down, so book yourself into the spa and escape the madness for a while.
Get Some Air at Jump Arena Trampoline Park Vietnam
Believe it or not, there’s actually a trampoline park in Thao Dien. They have basketball nets for super dunks, a giant inflatable bag for high flying stunts and enough foam padding to keep even the clumsiest people safe. There’s also a high-intensity fitness class for those of you who need some airtime in your workouts. This is a popular spot for birthday parties, but it’s also an interesting place to go on a date.
Visit The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre
As soon as you see the exterior of The Factory, you know that whatever is inside has to be interesting. There are upturned shipping containers, murals and a constant stream of hip young Vietnamese posing for photos outside. For the artists in the city, a trek out to The Factory is an absolute must if they want to maintain their credibility. They’ve featured exhibitions on light, poetry, self and philosophical questions. Keep an eye on their website so you don’t miss out.
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I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
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Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
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