Kate Crofton Atkins, founder of Cochine, a range of luxury home fragrances inspired by Saigon has lived abroad for almost a decade. With a business based partly in Vietnam, she is our go to person for top tips on South East Asia. Here, she shares her favorite finds.
Whenever I go to Saigon I head straight for dinner at The Deck. This beautifully designed restaurant sits right on the banks of the Saigon river and serves delicious Asian-fusion food. There’s not much better than a Lemongrass and Ginger Martini and some Chili Salt Squid here to kick your night off perfectly. Or, if I’m feeling like really good Vietnamese, I head to Cuc Gach Quan, also known as The Brick. Housed in an old villa in District 1, you climb up a ladder to dine in the rafters. The soft shell crab and Thien Ly flower are amazing.
L’Usine is a café and concept store tucked away off the main drag of Dong Khoi in an old garment factory. Great for a lunch stop, they stock all sorts of Australian and South East Asian brands. I always find something there I didn’t know I wanted.
I’m a sucker for a market – and Ben Thanh market in the centre of Saigon is one of the best Southeast Asia has to offer. Great for rattan, ceramics, lovely mother of pearl knick knacks and linen napkins, it makes for a brilliant Christmas shop up! I like to recover from my shopping frenzy with a massage at the Park Hyatt nearby afterwards.
La Verticale is a French restaurant that applies Vietnamese techniques to traditional French food with really unusual and delicious effect. Set in a four story 1930’s villa, it’s got a spice shop on the ground floor which is well worth a visit, and make sure you have a pre dinner drink on the roof terrace.
I love to head out of Hanoi to the Van Phuc silk village about 20 km away. They sell amazing quality handmade silk in beautiful traditional patterns.
The Metropole Hotel in Hanoi is my oasis of calm in a very busy city. Walking into their Bamboo Bar is a bit like stepping back in time, and there’s even a lovely vintage Citroen on hand to ferry guests around after a cocktail or two.
I’d always start my evening with drinks on the rooftop of the Peninsula for one of the best views down The Bund. Mercato by Jean Georges at Three on the Bund is a new Italian restaurant that does great sharing dishes. I just ate there on a trip with my husband and would go back for their lobster and shrimp ravioli any day.
My friend Qing Gu has a shop called Luxe Vintage in Xinle Road that sells vintage clothes, fabulous sunglasses and these incredible umbrellas in a peacock print that are mad and rather wonderful.
Ferguson Lane in the French Concession is a little tucked away leafy street with a courtyard at the end of it packed with art galleries, delis and fantastic shops. Base yourself at the French café Franck for a coffee and croissant before having a wander.