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Things to do in Ho Chi Minh City

Beat the heat and hit the water slides

When the Ho Chi Minh City heat gets too much, head to the Dam Sen Water Park (tel: + 84 8 3858 8418; www.damsenwaterpark.com.vn/en/). Set in lush landscaped gardens, it has giant water slides, a river ride and wave pool. Avoid the weekend crowds, though, when you indulge your childish side.

Check out the market stalls at Ben Thanh Market

Situated in District 1, Ben Thanh Market is a one-stop shop to fulfil all your shopping desires; you’ll be able to buy clothes, antiques and typical Vietnamese souvenirs. Food lovers will find themselves in heaven - over 20 street food stalls line the outside of the buildings, filling the air with the sweet smell of barbecued meat.

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a day

Get away from the hustle and bustle of the city to this popular resort located outside the city on the Saigon River. The Binh Quoi Tourist Village hosts regular traditional music and dance shows for visitors, fishing trips and the opportunity to take part in cultural events. At the weekend there is a traditional buffet in the waterside restaurant which is atmospheric after dark when floating lanterns drift past.

 

Get your diving wings with a PADI course

Ho Chi Minh City is a surprisingly good place to get an entry level PADI course under your belt. Rainbow Divers (tel: +84 908 781 756; www.divevietnam.com) is the place to take the plunge, so to speak, and will help get you ready for a future of underwater exploring.

Head underground at the Cu Chi Tunnels

Underneath Ho Chi Minh City is a vast, snaking network of tunnels utilised by the military during the Vietnam War. Nicknamed the ‘black echo’ by American soldiers, it has several entrances from which you can take a tour around a section of the tunnels. If you want to avoid the crowds, venture out a little further to the Ben Duoc entrance. Cu Chi Tunnels (tel: +84 9 1237 9189; www.cuchitunnelstours.com) will get you there in one piece.

Make like the natives and cook like a boss

Vietnamese cuisine is as intricate as it is delicious, so take a course at the Saigon Cooking School (tel: + 84 8 3825 8485) and own the hob like a local. You’ll head to the market to buy the fresh ingredients then work with the chef back at base, before eating the fruits of your labour.

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Grand Hotel

Hulking ex-Yugoslav monolith with a cavernous interior, stay at Pristina's famous Grand Hotel for a retro trip down Eastern Bloc's memory lane. Blessed with the most central location in Pristina on Nënë Tereza.

Windsor Plaza Hotel

A perfect place for those who want the comfort of a luxury hotel without the pain of paying for it. Located in Cholon, this 25-floor hotel has stunning views across the city and the rooms are large and smart with excellent facilities. The bustling streets of Ho Chi Minh City's Chinatown surround the hotel and the hotel itself has its own shopping plaza and nightclub. On request services include airport transfers, 24-hour in-room dining, a 24-hour business centre and a 24-hour multilingual concierge.

Caravelle Hotel

The Caravelle Hotel is located in the heart of the commercial and entertainment area and offers 335 large and stylish rooms. It is one of the most famous addresses in Ho Chi Minh City as it was one of the gathering places for war correspondents during the Vietnam War and the rooftop Saigon Saigon Bar is still popular for its bird's eye views of the city.

Elios Hotel

A good-value, 3-star hotel located in the Pham Ngu Lao area, which has excellent facilities, including free wireless internet throughout. The rooms are smart and comfortable. There is a rooftop restaurant and bar with fabulous views across the city and the staff can help with tour and transport reservations.

Lavender Hotel

One of the few boutique hotels in Ho Chi Minh City, the Lavender is located behind Ben Thanh Market. As the name suggests the theme is lavender and the rooms are modern and stylish with excellent facilities. It has an excellent 8th floor restaurant and bar with outside terrace with views across the city.

Intercontinental Asiana Saigon

This hotel in Ho Chi Minh City is a new gleaming landmark with stunning views across the city and ideally placed close to the colonial Notre Dame Cathedral and the old Post Office. Its smart 305 rooms form part of the Kumho Asiana Plaza where guests can browse in the luxury retail outlets. The hotel features a refreshing outdoor swimming pool, 24-hour gym and a business centre.