The Australian celebrity chef and new Global Cuisine Ambassador for Vietnam Airlines gives us the lowdown on his second home…

What was your first impression of Ho Chi Minh?

I went to Ho Chi Minh City for the first time when I was 18 years old. When I arrived I was so amazed at the energy of the place – it was busy, it was bustling, it was loud… I really enjoyed the fast-pace of the city. I had street food for the very first time and it was incredible. I loved sitting there on the kerb and just watching all the locals go by on what looked like millions of motorbikes. I had never been there before, but I felt like I arrived home.

A post shared by Sophie (@oxaliza22travel) on

What are your three favourite restaurants to visit in Ho Chi Minh?

My first restaurant would have to be one called Oc Oanh – they serve a lot of snails and grilled seafood. I like it because they serve everything fresh. You can see everything being grilled in front of you. The atmosphere is very exciting. Big groups of people eating, chatting, drinking beer and enjoying the culture. My second would have to be Vietnam House, which is my own. It's one of the best fine-dining restaurants in the city. What we do is what I’ve been doing Vietnam Airlines - elevating Vietnamese dishes. And my third would have to be no one particular place – I love to eat banh xeo or pho from any of the street food places.

A post shared by Luke Nguyen (@lukenguyencooks) on

Where is the best place to have a cocktail?

XU bar – I’ve been going there for over 20 years now. I believe they have the best cocktails because they use the best ingredients and they have a really good balance of flavours. And QUI Lounge – I love their Negroni cocktail.

Where is the best place to buy coffee?

Shin Coffee – you can find it in District 1 and District 2. They use Vietnamese coffee beans of course, from the highland area. They do different blends of coffee depending on what you like. I buy my coffee from there because I like to try coffee beans from different areas of Vietnam.

A post shared by Shin Coffee (@shincoffeehcm) on

Best place to shop for ingredients?

I love to go to Chợ Cũ Market, which is an old market on Ton That Dam. It always fresh – it’s one small street and has been there for many, many years now. Great butcher, very fresh herbs and vegetables and fruit. It also has all the dry goods, noodles and sauces you need. You don't need to walk around a big market, you can get it here all in one street.

A post shared by Luke Nguyen (@lukenguyencooks) on

Best place to shop for kitchen buys?

Chợ Lớn in district 5 (China town). I would buy woks, knives, sharpening stones, ladles, chopsticks, bowls there and they are all very affordable. It’s fun to go to District 5.

What souvenirs should you take home from Ho Chi Minh?

I always tell people to buy a local coffee. Take that back to your country and that will always remind you of Vietnam. We are one of the biggest coffee producers in the world and have a big coffee culture.

Follow Luke Nguyen on his travels

A post shared by Luke Nguyen (@lukenguyencooks) on

Suggested Itineraries
China, Hong Kong harbour, Oriental sailboat

From $2,850 pp

A Long Weekend in Hong Kong

Hong Kong China Asia

  • Witness the beauty of Hong Kong from the top of Victoria Peak

  • Savour traditional cuisine including Hong Kong’s famed dim sum

  • Cruise the harbour in a traditional sampan boat

  • Marvel at the Hong Kong skyline from Kowloon’s Avenue of Stars

  • Go on a shopping spree of designer brands at the Citygate Outlet Mall

When to go:

J F M A M J J A S O N D
ideal length 3 nights
Grape wineland landscape lin Constantia valley, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa.

From $3,740 pp

Best of Food & Wine in South Africa

South African Winelands Cape Town South Africa Africa

  • ​​​​​​Explore Cape Town’s food scene, sample cuisine and meet local artisans
  • Drive to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve via Chapman's Peak
  • Enjoy winetasting and an award-winning meal in Franschhoek
  • Taste the local delicacies of Stellenbosch
  • Take in the local San Rock Art

When to go:

J F M A M J J A S O N D
ideal length 8 nights
Lake Hooker, New Zealand

From $7,480 pp

Luxury Lodge Experience In New Zealand

Bay of Islands & Northland Napier & Hawkes Bay Queenstown, Milford Sound & Southern Lakes New Zealand Australasia

  • Experience three of New Zealand’s top luxury lodges

  • Play a round of golf on two of the world’s top golf courses

  • Enjoy scenic flights over some of New Zealand’s most stunning landscapes

  • Meet the kiwi, New Zealand’s rare and endangered national bird

  • Discover the beauty of Milford and Doubtful Sounds on South Island

When to go:

J F M A M J J A S O N D
ideal length 8 nights
Destinations Featured in the Article
The Golden Bridge is lifted by two giant hands on Ba Na Hill in Danang, Vietnam

Vietnam

Visit Vietnam for exciting cities, stylish luxury retreats, French colonial history, lush green jungles, beautiful beaches, delicious street food and smiling locals.

Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica on a sunny day in Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City

Welcome to Vietnam’s high-octane southern metropolis. From tantalizing street food, striking historical landmarks, bountiful shopping options and a dazzling nightlife, Ho Chi Minh City is a city that has it all.

Similar Articles
Choose Lightfoot Travel
  • Knowledge
  • Expertly Crafted
  • Value
  • Peace of Mind