Discover Thao Dien As A Tourist With Vince Nguyen

Welcome to the Vietnam Is Awesome podcast. We’ll help you discover the real Vietnam with awesome experiences.

My guest today is Canadian Vietnamese, and also worked in the nightlife scene there for over 10 years. He moved to Vietnam in 2019 and has since then opened up three food and beverage businesses. The latest one is in Thao Dien which has changed dramatically post-COVID and is now a destination for tourists who want to see a different side of Saigon.

I’m Niall Mackay, your host. I’ve lived in Vietnam since 2016, and I’m the host of A Vietnam Podcast, A comedian, and now a brand ambassador for Vietnam is Awesome. I came to Vietnam for a two-week vacation in 2015 and was immediately taken by the beauty, friendliness, energy, and even all the quirks of Vietnam.

We’ll talk about some venues worth your visit:

Cocktails and cool vibe

  • Brix
  • Clay
  • 86 Proof
  • Zumwhere
  • Le Cafe des Stagiaires
  • Racha Room
  • Dram


  • Pendolasco
  • Pasta Fresca

Craft Beer

  • Pasteur Street Brewing Co.
  • BiaCraft
  • Belgo

Sports Bar

  • The Avenue

Great Food

  • Ut Ut
  • Bep Vo
  • Tinto

Craft Chocolate

  • Marou


  • Indigo


  • Ice Skating at Vincom Mega Mall
  • Yoga Pod
  • Skating at Outcast
  • Rock Climbing at Outcast
  • Festivals at Outcast

Related Article

Niall Mackay: 1:09

Welcome to the Vietnam Is Awesome podcast. We’ll help you discover the real Vietnam with awesome experiences. I’m Niall Mackay, your host. I’ve lived in Vietnam since 2016, and I’m the host of a Vietnam podcast, A comedian, and now Brand Ambassador for Vietnam Is Awesome. I came to Vietnam for a two-week vacation in 2015 and was immediately taken by the beauty, friendliness, energy, and even all the quirks of Vietnam. My guest today is Canadian Vietnamese and also worked in the nightlife scene there for over 10 years. He moved to Vietnam in 2019 and has since then opened up three food and beverage businesses. The latest one is in Thao Dien on Chan Ngoc Nghien.

Vince Nguyen: 1:58

Close enough. Yeah, that sounds good.

Niall Mackay: 1:59

That was pretty good, okay, thank you. it’s now one of the most thriving streets in Thao Dien. So today we’re going to be talking about Thao Dien. And if you’re coming here wondering as a tourist, why the hell would I go to Thao Dien? We’re going to explain to you how much Thao Dien has changed in the last few years, especially post-COVID. And if you’ve had a day out in the Mekong Delta, you’ve done the Cu Chi tunnels, you’ve already walked around Walking Street in the baking sun, and you’re looking for something to do in the evening, well we’re going to explain what there is to do. First of all, share your experience coming to Vietnam as a tourist for the first time.

Vince Nguyen: 2:36

Well the very first time I came here was 2001 and, you know, I went with my family. I didn’t like it, I was 16 at the time, it was very poor, very, you know, ghetto. And then I came back in 2018 for vacation. I went to Hong Kong, Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok, and Tokyo. And out of the four countries or cities, I liked Ho Chi Minh City the most. And it was my, you know, where my parents are from, so I said, Okay, like, yeah, why don’t I quit my job and move to Vietnam and see how it is, give myself a year. And yeah, it’s been four years and, you know, no turning back at all.

Niall Mackay: 3:14

And obviously we’re in a post COVID world. How have you seen Vietnam change in terms of tourism?

Vince Nguyen: 3:19

The crazy thing was, you know, Vietnam actually did pretty well during COVID. Like we had a three week lockdown in 2000 and then yeah, there was no in and outs for anyone. And after COVID, I think, you know, within Taodian business picked up, but, you know, if you looked outside of Thao Dien, a lot of F& B businesses and other businesses closed down. We go toward, you know, D1, close to Butexco, there’s a lot of empty streets. So that’s the crazy thing about Thao Dien, it’s like, it’s a bubble of its own, it’s its own city within a city, or a town or community within a city.

Niall Mackay: 3:52

So Thao Dien is in District 2, which is about 20 minutes outside the city these days. I read a blog today and it said, oh, it’s like less than half an hour. It’s, it’s not that long at all, about 20 minutes from, from District 1. And if you are visiting as a tourist, you might think, well, why would I go out there? And I think most tourists are spending the time in District 1. Thao Dien is traditionally known as the expat area. There’s District 2 and District 7. District 7 is in the south. We won’t get into that today, but in District 2. Thao Dien is known as the expat bubble and that was primarily because there was a big compound there so a lot of the Executives when people came here before there was as many expats as there is now if they were somebody was placed here by the company they were given a house in this fancy compound by the river and it’s beautiful it’s still there and it’s beautiful and then also so from that a lot of the international schools started to open to service the children of those executives. And so from there, it became like a little bit of an expat bubble. There was some nice, there was some Western restaurants, which, well, I mean, some of them are still around, and they’re not particularly,

Vince Nguyen: 4:56

Petalasco was one of the first ones, or Alfresco has been there like, since 97 or something like

Niall Mackay: 5:02

And these were most, mostly primarily for that, those small groups of expats. And so I’ve been here seven years. And even when I first came here, there was really nothing in Thao Dien. There was a few restaurants. If you wanted to come out and go to Snap Cafe and have a bit of an experience of even that kind of Western experience and maybe some Western shops, you would come out to Thao Dien. There was very much the expat bubble back then, but I was an unfair label because when I first came out to Thao Dien, I was like, Oh, it’s super local. Like, back then, maybe not so much now, but back then it was super local, not many high rise buildings and loads of like, local food which you can still get as well. Now fast forward to today, I think Thao Dien has completely changed.

Vince Nguyen: 5:47

now. It’s, you know, it’s developing so much. It’s a lot of it construction projects, you know, mastery has like two projects going, going on right now. Yeah. Towards like second outcast, which is, you know, a pretty popular spot. Yeah, lots of development there, and the Metro is being built, you know, one station in Thao Dien by Vincom Mall, so there’s gonna be a lot of, you know, growing up, or what is it, expansion there. And, yeah, a couple years ago, Ho Chi Minh City announced that District 2, District, uh, Vin, uh, Thu Duc, and District 9 would be Tu Duc City. So I think Thao Dien will be, you know, kind of like one of the hubs of, of the new city within a City,

Niall Mackay: 6:29

And again, if you’re visiting Vietnam and you’re, you’re doing your research and you’re looking into it and you get confused by reading that. So Thao Dien is now technically not part of Ho Chi Minh City. Now, don’t worry, it hasn’t moved anywhere. It’s still in the exact same, same place. It’s just like a zoning law that changed to kind of help give it a more economic boost.

Vince Nguyen: 6:47

Yeah, CBD, you know, commercial business development, or whatever it stands for, like, yeah, Thao Dien would be part of Thu Duc City, Thu Duc, uh, Thu Duc, Ho Chi Minh City. So yeah, it’s not District 2 anymore, technically. Yeah,

Niall Mackay: 7:00

yeah. yeah. Oh, it’s not even District 2 anymore?

Vince Nguyen: 7:02

Yeah, technically, on paper, like, my business on paper is technically, uh, Thao Dien, uh, Thu Duc City, Ho Chi Minh City.

Niall Mackay: 7:10


Vince Nguyen: 7:11

imagine writing the, you know, the postcards for that.

Niall Mackay: 7:13

yeah. yeah, I personally would recommend, if you’re visiting Vietnam and you do want to get out of the District 1, You’re not going to get an authentic Vietnamese experience. So I’m not, I’m not advocating that if you come to Thao Dien, you’re going to get that authentic Vietnamese experience, but you’re going to get an authentic Saigon experience. This is a big bustling city. Every district’s different.

Vince Nguyen: 7:33

different. Yeah.

Niall Mackay: 7:35

I don’t even know what that means really, like an authentic Vietnamese experience.

Vince Nguyen: 7:38

you’re a tourist, you’re gonna be hanging around Bui Vien in District 1, you know, the party street. But if, you know, if

Niall Mackay: 7:44

that an authentic experience as well, right?

Vince Nguyen: 7:46

party. It’s kind of like, uh, what’s that street in Bangkok? Yeah. So, you know, if you’re here for a few, a few days, yeah, that’s where you go. But if you’re here for… you know, a month, a year on contract or work, or if you’re living here, then I think Thao Dien is where, you know, a lot of the expats would go if you’re missing food from back home or, you know, some nightlife culture or some groceries, like Annam Market is always busy because Sometimes I’m missing, so some stuff from back home.

Niall Mackay: 8:14

Yeah. Iron Brew,

Vince Nguyen: 8:16

Iron Brew? Iron Brew, yes, yeah, Scottish, yeah, I don’t know, when

Niall Mackay: 8:19

I remember when I first came here and I could find Iron Brew. I don’t drink it very often, but just the fact that I could find it,

Vince Nguyen: 8:24

I don’t know if the audience would know what Iron Brew is.

Niall Mackay: 8:26

is. If you don’t know what Iron Brew is. you are missing out. It’s the most popular soft drink. In Scotland, it’s the only country in the world where Coke is not the number one soft drink.

Vince Nguyen: 8:34

in the world. And also the best cure for the hangover.

Niall Mackay: 8:36

And I need one today, yeah. So tell us about why did you move your business recently to

Vince Nguyen: 8:43

So we were still in District 2, about 10 minutes away from where we are now, in an apartment complex, Sun Avenue. We were there for about a year and a half, and then COVID happened, and the landlord saw how well we were doing, and he wanted to double up the rent. You know, that’s kind of the whole, that’s the… Uh, bad thing about, you know, Vietnam where property laws, contract laws and everything favors the landlord and not the tenants. So yeah, he wanted to double up our rent and we said, you know what? We’re going to move to Thao Dien where it’s a bit cheaper and there’ll be more customers. So yeah, we moved there about two months ago and… Yeah, it’s been going well. Deliveries is, you know, going through the roof. People walk into getting, uh, getting better. And yeah, you know, we haven’t looked back since, and…

Niall Mackay: 9:33

And so the name of your venue is The Avenue. And tell our listeners what massive distinction award that you’ve now won twice.

Vince Nguyen: 9:42

Yeah, we won the best burger in Saigon at Saigon Outcast. We won it twice last year and this year. This year was the people’s choice. Yeah, it’s, it’s such an honor. Like we weren’t aiming for, you know, being the best burgers. We just wanted to have good food and we were doing pastas and breakfast and stuff like that. But yeah, we got our best, uh, the best burger

Niall Mackay: 10:03

And I think this is, again, it’s surprising for people coming to Vietnam and, you know, a lot of people have the expectation of rice fields and water buffaloes and, and that those all exist, but then you come to Saigon and it’s, It’s this massive bustling city with so much going on and I’ve seen the change within seven years when getting a burger was not difficult but getting a good burger was, you know, you had to seek it

Vince Nguyen: 10:27

7 years ago, there was probably only like Chuck’s Burgers and maybe Soul I think.

Niall Mackay: 10:32

something like that. Yeah, exactly. And then, but whereas now we have like, when we can mention Saigon Outcast in a minute, Saigon Outcast has like a burger festival and there’s hundreds if not thousands of people there.

Vince Nguyen: 10:43

it’s like about 1400 people

Niall Mackay: 10:44

Fourteen hundred.

Vince Nguyen: 10:45

the one a few months ago.

Niall Mackay: 10:47

And how many vendors?

Vince Nguyen: 10:48

Uh, 7.

Niall Mackay: 10:49

Yeah, and that’s not all of them. And so now you can get a really good worker. What I want to stress is, when you come to Saigon, and I often say Vietnam, but Saigon is not Vietnam, Saigon is Saigon, and you come to Saigon, there is so much here for you, and obviously we still want you to come and have that authentic Vietnamese experience, whatever that means to you, whether that’s Boi VN or not, but if you do want to do something Authentically Saigon. That might not mean going for some pho. You can get that anywhere. You can go and get a burger. You can go get a pizza. That’s like some of the pizza and pasta here is like,

Vince Nguyen: 11:24

pho. At any rate, you can go and get a burger, you can go and get like some pizza and pasta here. I’m saying, you know, the beef back in Canada and, you know, America is better than the beef in Vietnam.

Niall Mackay: 11:37


Vince Nguyen: 11:37

So we’re going to have better quality pho, in my opinion, you know, don’t at me, don’t attack me. But yeah, no, the pizza here, like, you know, Four Peas has amazing pizza and, you know, Japanese, Italian pizza. Like it sounded weird before I tried it, but now, like, I love it.

Niall Mackay: 11:52

And so, yeah, there’s so much of that kind of fusion as well. I know that’s kind of wanky world, but there’s so much of that fusion, like Japanese pizza and, but also like modern Vietnamese food. Like Vietnamese food is so much more than just pho. One of my favorite places is Betvo. And that’s not Fusion, but it’s just like really good, modern, clean, fresh.

Vince Nguyen: 12:13

Very good. Very affordable.

Niall Mackay: 12:14

I mentioned earlier that Thao Dien has completely changed since Covid, so within just three years. And I think maybe before Covid I wouldn’t really say to tourists, oh you should go check out Thao Dien, there’s a couple of restaurants, but nothing really. Now, when I drive through Thao Dien, you can just tell you like, oh yeah, that’s a tourist, like you can just tell somebody, you know, camera around the neck or whatever it is, you’re like, you, you know, and I’m seeing more and more people coming out to Taodian. So what has changed so dramatically? I

Vince Nguyen: 12:45

I think, I think just a bunch of businesses showing up, you know. You know, you look at Plan K just, just opened up a huge location right at, you know, on Salo Hanoi, the main street, uh, Zoomware, you know, two big, uh, sorry, a very big franchise for, for, you know, party food and drinking opened up on the same street, Baozi, and then you look at Clay, who, you know, Clay and Brick, same owner, but, you know, they’re probably 200 meters apart. And yeah, both of them were doing well. And yeah, just a lot of places opening up. Even though the rent is pretty high, so I don’t know how they’re justifying it, but everyone’s slowly, you know, coming in to Tout Inn.

Niall Mackay: 13:23

and what I’ve noticed, you just mentioned two of my other favorite places to, so bricks and clay. I was in clay last night, and these places are such high quality.

Vince Nguyen: 13:34

Yeah, it’s way nicer than some of these, actually most of the establishments back home, like, you know, it’s wood interior, right by the river. Amazing service, good cocktails, affordable

Niall Mackay: 13:44

Mm. And this, again, again, we’re stressed that tourists coming to Vietnam. You can come out and you can go to these beautiful places. Like the interiors, like the interior design is just stunning. And I think it’s what you wouldn’t expect. You come to Vietnam and you do get, you do find it. I go there, the little plastic stool places with a disgusting bathroom. And you know you’re gonna get a, a beer for

Vince Nguyen: 14:03

Disgusting bathroom. You know, you’re going to

Niall Mackay: 14:05

Yeah, totally normal. Really? Yeah. That’s a cockroach and no worries. But now there’s also. And again, I’ve noticed this difference in seven years. Seven years these places did not exist and now they’re popping up and they’re such good quality. You mentioned the service as well. I think another stereotype of Saigon and definitely seven years ago this was true. The service was not great and that was fine. You understood that like we’re in a developing country. They don’t have the same background of 20, 30, 40, 50 years of service culture.

Vince Nguyen: 14:34

Could also be the, you know, the, the, the language barrier, right? They’re not used to, you know, they can only say basic stuff, and right now, a lot of them are learning English, and, and. Yeah, the service here is amazing compared to back home and back home, you know, in Canada and US you have to tip even if it’s bed service, you know, and now I heard that tip is 20% back home. That’s that’s standard over here. There’s no tipping culture yet. The service is amazing. You know, there’s always staff standing right by you or looking at you and Waiting for you every move. And yeah, it’s, you know, it’s, it’s pretty good here. As soon

Niall Mackay: 15:06

as soon as that glass is empty, there’s somebody right over like one more beer and you’re like, this is why I’ve got a hangover today. It’s not my fault. But so these, these, these places are outstanding quality, beautiful design. And still affordable, which makes them so appealing, and that’s kind of my point, is if you do want to come out to Taodian, these places have like, well, so, Clays by the River, beautiful, beautiful setting, Bricks has got a pool built in, you can hang out in the pool if you want, if you’re not, you can sit on one of the beds, or the couches by the, by the pool.

Vince Nguyen: 15:36

you’re looking at Clay and Bricks, you know, the average cocktail is probably what, like 240k,

Niall Mackay: 15:41

Ah, yeah, probably,

Vince Nguyen: 15:43

is about 11, 12 US dollars, you know, for a nice cocktail. And then Happy Hour, a lot of the places have half prices. Like, you look at 86 Proof on Suntory, a very popular bar, they have half price from like 4 to 7 p. m. it’s like five, six, yeah, five, six dollars and it’s packed and the vibe is good. And, you know, probably in Taodian, that’s probably my favorite bar. They have really good cocktails there. Make sure you you ever been here as a pool? Yeah, the whiskey sours are the best in the city.

Niall Mackay: 16:10

And we’re trying to get the owners of 86 proof on this podcast. So Rochelle and Jason, if you’re listening, come on. the podcast. We want you on here to talk about your amazing cocktails. And the other one that gets me is, uh, so like be a craft is a craft beer bar. Obviously, well, maybe not obviously, but as a craft beer bar from the name, be a craft. And when I first came to Thao Dien, I’ve still got the pictures. I still, I was looking at them actually just in preparation for this. It was a tiny hole in the wall. Little craft beer bar with about 10

Vince Nguyen: 16:42

So it’s not the same size as it was now, oh it is

Niall Mackay: 16:45

not the same size as what it was about 10 seats.

Vince Nguyen: 16:48

Oh, wow. It

Niall Mackay: 16:48

was tiny! And that was one of the reasons why we came to Thao Dien. We’d never been here, we lived in District 4 and we were like, Oh, let’s go, it’s like a day trip.

Vince Nguyen: 16:56

very local, District 4.

Niall Mackay: 16:58

Yeah, Yeah, that was a totally different experience So we came out basically just to go to be a craft because we love craft beer There was no 86 proof no pastel street brewing like there’s one tweet the main street There was like nothing on there apart from local places. And so we went out there now In the same spot, Beercraft must have like 200 seats, 40 50 taps, maybe not that many, 20 30 taps of beer. There’s the Maroo chocolate above.

Vince Nguyen: 17:25

and that’s actually pretty good chocolate too.

Niall Mackay: 17:27

Maroo chocolate is unbelievable, yeah. It’s, you know, barbers

Vince Nguyen: 17:29

It’s, you know, ethical chocolate made in, in Vietnam using, yeah, it’s. Ethical, which is good. Whereas, you know, in Africa, you know, a lot of the farmers don’t have never tasted chocolate in their lives.

Niall Mackay: 17:40

chocolate in the guy, Vincent, who owns Maroo and started it, and… It’s essentially organic, but they don’t have the official organic label, because they have to go through so many hoops and Paperwork and all of this, and they’re like, we know it’s organic, like it’s locally sourced, all their ingredients are locally sourced, so they don’t promote it as organic at all, but from what I’ve heard, it’s essentially organic, because it’s

Vince Nguyen: 18:03

it’s it’s very

Niall Mackay: 18:04

the farm up the road.

Vince Nguyen: 18:05

It’s high quality stuff. I always, you know, every time I have friends that visit, I bring them to Maru and they love it. The packaging’s nice. You know, the, the venue looks nice too, so, yeah. How do you suggest Maru as well?

Niall Mackay: 18:17

So, we me, so let’s go back to your venue ’cause we haven’t even talked about that. So your venue is the avenue? Yes. So what kind of venue is yours?

Vince Nguyen: 18:24

It’s, uh, basically a sports bar because, you know, I. Basically, you know, every guy I think grows up wishing that they had a bar. And for me, yeah, it was to open up a bar and watch sports all day. And yeah, so that’s why I opened up the first location. And the second location became more sporty with, you know, jerseys on the wall. And yeah, we had, you know, Western food because I was, you know, there was some… Right now, actually, one of our best sellers is jerk chicken, which is a Jamaican dish, which I think only one or two other people sell it in the whole city. And yeah, it’s one of our best sellers now. People, you know, introducing Jamaican food to locals and expats. Actually, you know, it’s pretty fascinating. And yeah, you know, we have cocktails and sports on all day, you know, so, but NBA, NHL, UFC, all that, World Cup right now.

Niall Mackay: 19:11

and what I’ve noticed and I just, I absolutely love these craft beer bars, sports bars like yourself. I think because, especially in Thao Dien, but all over the city, but especially Thao Dien, it’s known as an expat place. So, I know for a fact when the first Craft Beer Bars opened here, it was all expats. Now, I mean, last time I was in Beer Craft, there must have been about 50 or 60 people there. I was the only expat.

Vince Nguyen: 19:34

Yeah, it’s actually, you know, a lot of Vietnamese are enjoying the craft beer scene and, you know, maybe they got sick of Tiger and

Niall Mackay: 19:41


Vince Nguyen: 19:42

or beer Saigon or 333, you know, I’ve actually never drank a 333

Niall Mackay: 19:46

still was,

Vince Nguyen: 19:46

Is it?

Niall Mackay: 19:47

terrible, yeah,

Vince Nguyen: 19:48

But yeah, they like to craft beer scene. They like the whole, and you know, the craft beer companies are doing a lot of, you know, Asian flavors like pomelo, dragon fruit, jasmine, which other ones? Lemongrass, yeah, just basically any Asian fruit. There’s probably a crappier company making it, and it’s good.

Niall Mackay: 20:07

and so again, I think as a tourist, if you want to come out and again, go back to that authentic Vietnamese experience, you’ll be surprised’cause you’re going to this craft beer bar, but you’re getting local flavors that you won’t get in any other country. And you’re surrounded by local people, and I think, again, this is the stereotype of all Vietnamese people are working in a rice paddy.

Vince Nguyen: 20:25

That was actually my impression, you know, before coming here in 2018, so imagine like five years ago, I was like, you know, it’s probably just a bunch of rice patties and cows walking around and everything. I came here, I’m like, oh wow. It’s like a modern city. It’s kind of like Singapore, but dirtier radio, Hong Kong. Right. And that’s why I hope one day that, you know, Ho Chi Minh City becomes like Hong Kong or Singapore one Day

Niall Mackay: 20:46

Oh, it’s without a doubt it’s coming. And I guess what I’m trying to stress, because I keep almost repeating myself is come to Vietnam for all the stereotypical reasons. It’s beautiful, I’ve travelled the whole country and it is absolutely breathtaking and stunning. But I think there’s, especially now, there’s so many different reasons to come here and I think a lot of people will be surprised. to see Saigon especially and be like, Oh, there’s so much to offer. Cause my feeling is that most people come to Saigon and I don’t think there’s that much to do. Unless you, like, listen to a podcast like this, because they’re gonna go to the, gonna go to Coochee Tunnels, Day Trip to the Mekong

Vince Nguyen: 21:26

The Cathedral, the Post Office, which I don’t get at all.

Niall Mackay: 21:29

don’t get it either, yeah. I did it when I first came as well, like, we gotta go to the post office, the cathedral’s been under scaffolding for about five years now, you can’t even see it. Uh, you’re gonna go to Reunification Palace, you’re gonna check out the War Remnants Museum. And again, you should absolutely do all of this stuff, but then past that… I don’t see, I know what there is to do, but I don’t see if, I don’t know if tourists know what there is to do.

Vince Nguyen: 21:52

Yeah, that’s the thing. A lot of them look on YouTube and, you know, they find a lot of people making videos and, you know, a lot of them try to go for very local foods, whereas, you know, we have good high quality Vietnamese food as, you know, local food as Western food. So there’s a lot of variety that are not shown on. YouTube or TV because they want the shock factor of eating worms or cockroaches, you know, and that’s you know Like I don’t know anyone that in Vietnam has eaten the cockroaches, but you know, you look at a very famous guy on YouTube You know, he’s eating all this, you know weird stuff Vietnamese dishes and you know good for him. But yeah, it’s more than just bugs and Fall and yeah,

Niall Mackay: 22:29

and that’s what gets clicks, right? Like, the most shocking food you’ve ever

Vince Nguyen: 22:33

you know millions of views just because you know, Yeah,

Niall Mackay: 22:35

Yeah, so come out, and get a burger, like, you know what I mean? I know it’s not, it’s not authentic Vietnamese.

Vince Nguyen: 22:41

pastas, you know, there’s good sushis like a lot of place for Wagyu beef too because we’re so close to Japan so Yeah, we get, you know, good quality beef coming in. There’s a lot of nice sushi restaurants opening up.

Niall Mackay: 22:51

and I think again, that’s the difference is from when I first got here seven years ago, you couldn’t really get a good burger. The pizza was pretty terrible. It was hard to get, cheese was expensive.

Vince Nguyen: 23:00

cheese is still expensive. Even I live

Niall Mackay: 23:01

Well, Cheese is always, Even I lived in New Zealand, cheese was bloody expensive, but do you know what it was like? Difficult to even find the, the correct cheese. Whereas now all the pizza’s like, oh my, they’re so good. So TA and so much good food so much. Good alcohol, good cocktails, good beer, great coffee as well. What else is there to do in Taodian?

Vince Nguyen: 23:22

in Taodin there’s a lot of things to do, you know. Saigon NowCast usually has a festival every weekend, you know. Just… The past one had a beer festival, which we attended, had maybe almost a thousand people. There’s a skating rink, you know, in a country where that’s 40 degrees in Vincombe Mall. Ice skating rink. Yeah,

Niall Mackay: 23:38

ice skating rink. Yeah,

Vince Nguyen: 23:40

ice skating rink. Yeah, a lot of like, you know, bike trails. You can go canoeing, I think, right by the river by, what’s that place? Cafédes

Niall Mackay: 23:48

Stagiaires. Cafédes Stagiaires. Yeah,

Vince Nguyen: 23:50

I, you know, I’m not French, so yeah.

Niall Mackay: 23:53

But that’s another great recommendation. Café

Vince Nguyen: 23:55

Oh, one of the

Niall Mackay: 23:56


Vince Nguyen: 23:56

yeah, one of the best views of the city from that cafe.

Niall Mackay: 23:59

So you have a rooftop there, go at sunset, it overlooks Landmark 81, which if you don’t know Landmark 81, what are you doing listening to this podcast? Go and find out what Landmark 81 is. No, Landmark 81, tallest building in all of Southeast Asia, I believe.

Vince Nguyen: 24:15

in the world, I

Niall Mackay: 24:16

14th in the world, I think. 14th 81 floors, incredible building and The Rooftop of Cafédes Stagiaires overlooks Landmark 81.

Vince Nguyen: 24:25

river, so it’s very like romantic looking. It’s nice.

Niall Mackay: 24:27

it’s nice. Yeah, beautiful, beautiful spot. They’ve just opened a park up there, which is another thing that’s, I’ve noticed changes in Saigon. They’re starting to value more green spaces, which before it used to just, a lot of places were just dumping grounds or concrete, Cafédes Stagiaires again, happy hour, go at sunset, check it out. That’s all great around there, but then even Saigon Outkast. Yeah, it’s definitely one of my favorite places. It’s Again, maybe not a big tourist attraction, but if you’re coming out to Saigon, I would absolutely, sorry, if you’re coming out to Thao Dien, I would absolutely go to Saigon Outkast. There’s got rock climbing there. So if you want to, if you’re a rock climber,

Vince Nguyen: 25:03

festivals are

Niall Mackay: 25:04

little mini skating park that, uh, will be full of skater kids. But if you want to go out and do some skating, there’s like, look up what festivals are on. So they do a burger fest. They just had a beer festival, taco

Vince Nguyen: 25:16

they’ll do it. Yep,

Niall Mackay: 25:19

Yeah, and almost every Saturday is a different festival and they’re all packed and has a great atmosphere. They normally have live bands on, things like this. So that’s a definitely a good one. And even if you’re into things like yoga, there’s the yoga pod, which is down this small street. I’ve been here for years and never even knew there was anything down there. It’s like past where there’s pasta fresca, which again, great pizza. And you go down and it’s this beautiful, tranquil, leafy, green little haven with little offices and a pond. And then like this yoga pod in the back and loads of yoga studios, gyms as well. I doubt if you’re a tourist you’d probably want to go to the gym. Second

Vince Nguyen: 26:00

Yoga Pod in the back. Loads of yoga in

Niall Mackay: 26:04

But the point is as well, it’s not just expats anymore, because now you go and it’s the, when you see the traffic in Thao Dien, it’s all Vietnamese people, and this is one of the things that’s changed with Thao Dien, the secret got out, so it used to be the expat bubble, and it was the expat community. would hang out there, and that’s what you expected to see, but now, with these restaurants, or like I mentioned, Be A Craft, it’s all Vietnamese people, who are coming from outwith Thao Dien, to visit all these venues, so, it’s a completely different atmosphere now, and the biggest change for me, was when a nightclub opened.

Vince Nguyen: 26:40

Which one was that, X8 or Indigo? Indigo? Yeah.

Niall Mackay: 26:43

That’s when, now there’s three nightclubs, apparently.

Vince Nguyen: 26:46

Yeah. And then beside the Nigo, they’re opening up like, kind of like,,which is like, you know, a beer drinking place for locals. So this Belgo opening up a

Niall Mackay: 26:55

Belgo’s opening up

Vince Nguyen: 26:57

Belgo is opening up? beside, What’s it, uh, Highland Coffee Area, like where Oot Oot is. Oh, that’s another good venue too, Oot Oot for American barbecue. Uh, but yeah, Se Bagac, which is like a very, it’s a very Vietnamese brand. And yeah, they’re opening up now to hiring staff. So that’s going to, again, the locals are going there now because they know, like you said, it’s kind of like a secret that’s revealed now and people are coming there because that’s where it’s, you know, fun and safe and not too busy and not too trashy like Bouvian

Niall Mackay: 27:30

Well, and that’s, I guess, a really good point to make. And that’s the difference. So if you are looking for something to do in the evening… There’s so much to do in District 1, obviously, but it’s a bit more spread out. The only place that’s concentrated, really, is Beau Vienne. And That’s

Vince Nguyen: 27:45

I think that’s basically it for nightlife or if things to do,

Niall Mackay: 27:48

And don’t go to Beau Vienne. Like, go check it

Vince Nguyen: 27:50

Yeah, just walk down the street, five minutes, you know, get deaf. And then, Yeah.

Niall Mackay: 27:55

Cause even that… And I hate to sound like… Cause I know… If I tell you my experience from seven years ago, there will be somebody who’s been here for 14 years that will tell their experience from seven years ago. It’s always things. Sometimes some things always get washed, right? And your experience is your experience. But even when I first got here, Bui Vien was pretty chill. It was open late, cheap beer. You could hang out till six in the morning, which we did a couple of times. Bit dangerous. But it was kind of fun and chill. Now, it’s just like, it’s tried to mimic kinda Khao San Road, but gone too far, so now it’s full of like nightclubs that all compete to see how loud they

Vince Nguyen: 28:33

decibels, basically like you’ll be deaf after 10 minutes there and you know, there’s a lot of poor kids begging and fire breathers and you know, balloons and drugs going around. So, yeah, not my cup of tea.

Niall Mackay: 28:47

Yeah, not my cup of tea that is, but it must be somebody’s. but if you are looking for something to do in the evening, and again, I don’t know, I mean, I don’t read all the blogs in the world, there’s like 600 billion blogs in the world or something like that, I’m not,,but I’m not sure if Taodian is on the tourist map yet.

Vince Nguyen: 29:02

That’s a good question. Yeah. I don’t see many people talking about TA in when you look up YouTube or Google or, you those travel shows. Right.

Niall Mackay: 29:10

And it’s got the reputation of being the expat community, which I don’t think is true.

Vince Nguyen: 29:16

like you said. Yeah. You know, any travel show would tell you to go to the, the cathedral and the post office. But yeah, I don’t see many of them talking about Thao Dien,

Niall Mackay: 29:24


Vince Nguyen: 29:24

maybe internationally. It’s kind of still hidden.

Niall Mackay: 29:27

And there’ll be a video definitely of somebody walking down Boyvian and being like, Oh my god, this place is so loud, Boyvian, like,

Vince Nguyen: 29:32

Yeah, but you know, you probably won’t get the same kind of a tech of views walking downtown in it’s, you know, it’s nice and quiet, but, you know, that’s the way, you know, I like it. Oh, we like it, right?

Niall Mackay: 29:41

exactly. So that’s kinda my point. You could definitely spend if you’re in Saigon for more than a few days and I, I, I feel like most tourists come to Saigon just for a couple of days.’cause there isn’t a huge amount to do in the city unless you really know what to look for. But go do the local tourist stuff. You have to do the cathedral and all of that stuff that we’re kind of talking shit about. But you still have to do it because it is worthwhile seeing. But if in the evening you’re looking for something a little bit different or if you’re here for a few days, And you’ve got the time, head out to Towdy Inn, have a day there, you can go and do anything, there’s

Vince Nguyen: 30:13

spend a nice evening there, you know, like have dinner at. Tinto, Amazing Food, or Okra,

Niall Mackay: 30:18

is my favourite maybe, shout out to okra.

Vince Nguyen: 30:21

and then, you know, after that you go for after dinner drinks at, you know, 86 Proof, Rasha Room, Pastor’s Treat, which other ones, Dram, you know, there’s a lot of good places, and then, yeah, nighttime, one, go to one of the three nightclubs in Thao

Niall Mackay: 30:35

You won’t see me there, but you might see Vince. And if you don’t wanna hit up the nightclub, go to check. Go check out that avenue on. Let me see if I can say it right. Jen

Vince Nguyen: 30:44

Dien, 18 Tran Ngoc Viet,

Niall Mackay: 30:46

Gen. Yep. Yeah,

Vince Nguyen: 30:47

Yeah, with an N, but yeah, that’s good, that’s good.

Niall Mackay: 30:49

not too bad. And uh, you can try the best burger inside. Gone there as well. Watch some sports. And my favorite thing is you have a Tom Brady jersey on the wall, which, which I love.

Vince Nguyen: 30:59

And you know, he is the GOAT, unfortunately.

Niall Mackay: 31:01

know, he’s a cult,

Vince Nguyen: 31:03

Deservedly fine, yeah, deservedly.

Niall Mackay: 31:05

really smart he’s a really… Thank

Vince Nguyen: 31:10

for having me.

Niall Mackay: 31:10

me. Yeah,

Vince Nguyen: 31:11

Always, good day. You too.

Niall Mackay: 31:16

I’m Niall Mackay. I’m your host of the Vietnam Is Awesome podcast. We are here to help you discover the real Vietnam with awesome experiences. So make sure you go check out our social media pages. Vietnam is awesome, and go to the website. Vietnam is so you can see more about tools. Read the blog, see pictures, give you everything you need to know about your trip to Vietnam. If you have enjoyed this podcast, don’t forget to follow. Subscribe, all of that good stuff. Share it with people. Send us any questions that you have, and we’ll be more than happy to help you.