Back for the fourth time within 2 years.
What is it about Vietnam that enchants me so?
I used to be obsessed with the food and Vietnamese coffee. But once I have had my fill over a few trips, I begin to question if that is all there is to Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi. One thing that I was constantly disappointed with my Vietnam trips was shopping.
I love shopping, but haven’t been able to score any good buys in both HCMC and Hanoi. I’ve heard of Vietnam being a big garment manufacturer, but I’ve not come across any shops or factories.
Fortunately for this trip, my stay in District 5 unveiled more of what Ho Chi Minh has to offer!
Also known as “Cholon“, District 5 is Vietnam’s largest Chinatown with roots dating back to 1778 where Chinese migrants sought refuge from oppression, eventually settling down and inter-marrying locals.
The assimilation brought about cross-cultural dynamics evident in daily life, religious pursuits, cuisine and the arts, at the same time maintaining the distinctive authentic Vietnamese culture.
Sounds a bit like our Melaka Baba Nyonya story yes? 🙂
As for the districts, if you are puzzled of its references, trust me, I was too.
I kept thinking of The Hunger Games when I heard the word “district“.
Apparently, HCMC comprises of 5 districts designated as rural and 19 districts considered urban or suburban. Although HCMC is only 0.6% of the country’s land area, it is the economic centre of the country. Some of its major districts include:
District 1: where administrative offices, consulates and the CBD are located, making it the busiest district with the highest living standards.
District 2: now being developed from one of the poorest parts of HCMC to become a new economic centre with a completed connecting bridge, tunnel and an upcoming metro.
District 5: it is the known as the Chinatown of the country due to its large Chinese-descendent population, a vibrant district full of culture and history.
I hope the above gave you some clarity as I’ll be talking a lot about being in District 5 and its surroundings.
But first, the hotel.
THE HOTEL: WINDSOR PLAZA HOTEL
As far as 5 stars hotels goes Windsor Plaza Hotel ticks all the right boxes.
Attentive staff who are efficient to accommodate guests’ requests was one of the more memorable occasions I remembered from my stay.
I had issues with my power adapter and wasn’t able to plug into any of the 8 powerpoints in my room. Tuan (if I recalled correctly) assisted me and though it took him nearly 40 minutes, he was thoroughly patient and ensured that I could get all my devices charged.
And yes, you read right. There were about 8 powerpoints in the room.
Newly refurbished, the amenities and facilities were more than adequate for the modern traveler.
The colors in the room were kept demure but pops of green from the bed headboard and 2 sofas gave the spacious space an overall fresh feel.
The bed was firm and great for a deep sleep, the furniture new and polished, the restroom contemporary thanks to the use of marble and the water pressure glorious for a long relaxing shower after a long day out.
Targeted at both leisure and business travelers the amenities within the hotel offer almost everything a guest would need. The young and old and the children were seen often at the pool. There is even a supervised kids’ corner with educational toys and games to keep the young occupied within the hotel.
Amenities within the room lived up to the expectations of a 5 star hotel; we have the ironing board, laundry service, safe, extra pillow, complimentary water and coffee as well as shampoo, shower gel and the works are all in place.
Mine was the room category so you can choose to upgrade to suite for better perks such as access to the Club Lounge where free-flow liquor and refreshments awaits.
Club Lounge: Complimentary WIFI, sweet and savoury refreshments and a wide range of beverages. I certainly didn’t mind a few glasses of wine as I typed away furiously at my laptop. And yes, more of that prawn cocktail please.
THE BEST BUFFET IN HCMC: BBQ Seafood Buffet
Cafe Central An Dong on the 4th floor of Windsor Plaza Hotel feeds not only hotel guests but is equally popular with the locals.
The reason is simple – it offers one of the largest breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffets in town and it is a Winner of “Certificate of Excellence” from The Guide Magazine over three consecutive years; a testament to its consistency and quality of food.
But its star attraction lies in its seafood buffet offering excellent selection of seafood plus a wide spread of international fare. Guests can pick and have them cooked ala minute by the chefs from the many live stations.
The buffet is priced at VND853,000 or approximately USD40/pax with free flow beer and sparkling wine. Here’s a sneak peek of what to expect, and this is only 70% of the buffet!
Video: Here, watch this quick clip to have an idea of the extravagance that awaits you.
As depicted from the video, the spread is truly value for money.
And on weekends diners can look forward to lobsters! But even the weekday buffets are crazy with the bounty of the sea – crabs, prawns, quail, frogs, clams, cockles, fish and oysters.
Special themes are also occasionally introduced to keep the dining experience fresh.
WEEKEND SPECIAL: Lobster thermidor.
Choose your seafood and get them cooked for you.
LIVE STATIONS: Get your dishes cooked on request!
Western, local, international, desserts – this is the buffet of the city for a reason!
But of course, I enjoyed the daily buffet breakfast during my stay too. For breakfast, there are a few live stations as well as local and western fare – bacon, eggs, noodles, fresh bakes, cakes, salads and cereals.
The recreational facilities include a fitness centre, sauna and a 1.2 – 1.8 metre deep pool plus a separate jacuzzi pool.
For more serious pursuits, there are 6 meeting rooms fitted with internet connectivity, audiovisual equipment and provision of personalised service. A banquet hall complete with center stage, wooden dance floor, balcony seating and dark lacquered bar is ideal for weddings and large functions. The Jade Ballroom is flexible and can be divided into 3 sections to accommodate events of any size.
Windsor Plaza Hotel is currently the tallest building in District 5, standing at 70 metres high with 26 floors.
On the 26th floor itself is Top of the Town Bar & Restaurant, the only venue in town that affords guests the rooftop and al fresco experience accompanied by a 360 degrees view of Saigon.
The view is breathtaking at night, but on the evening we were scheduled to enjoy our BBQ here it rained heavily so we had to shift back indoors. Nonetheless, dinner was fantastic as the BBQ lamb, seafood and the ice cream were great.
The Windsor Plaza Hotel boasts of proximity and accessibility to Tan Son Nhat International Airport (25 mins), Saigon Exhibition & Convention Centre (25 mins) and District 1 (20 mins).
Airport transfer is available upon request and there are frequent complimentary shuttle service from the hotel to top tourist spots in town.
Recognised as one of the ‘Top 10’ 5-Star Hotels in Vietnam by the Vietnam Tourism Association, guests can expect to enjoy authentic Vietnamese hospitality with a mix of commercial, retail, entertainment, and cultural experiences.
I certainly enjoyed my stay here.
In my next article, I’ll show you the sights around District 5, as well as some shopping tips! Stay tuned! 🙂
WINDSOR PLAZA HOTEL
18 An Duong Vuong Street, District 5
Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon, Vietnam.
Tel: +84 28 3833 6688
Sales: +84 28 3920 9520
Email: [email protected]zahotel.com