I went to take a look at the brand new Vincom Mega Mall Thao Dien in District on Boxing Day and I have to say the overall feeling was one of being completely underwhelmed. Normally when I write these pieces I try and stay optimistic and list all the positives with maybe a couple of â€ścould do bettersâ€ť at the end. This will have to be the other way round. They have go so much wrong here, I donâ€™t know where to start.
Where to Park at the Vincom Mega Mall Thao Dien
Hereâ€™s the first thing they have wrong. The bike park was rammed full when I arrived. Incredibly they have ONE ticket booth for the entire parking lot.The bikes were queuing to the ramp to get in. I managed to get a spot. Walked through to the escalators and awaited the obvious crush inside. The whole place looked deserted. If weâ€™re queuing to get in when itâ€™s empty, what would it be like if it got busy?
I thought Iâ€™d go up to the top and make my way down. It all seemed nice and sparkly, but offered nothing that would separate it from any of the other hundred or so that appear to beÂ opening up all the time. All the usual suspects were here, including a few designer shops. They have obviously decided to make this the go to place for beds. I lost count of the bed stores. When you think that there is a huge Index store here as well, it is a matter of time before the closures start.
Travelling up to the top, the first thing you notice is the utterly ridiculous placement of the escalators. You canâ€™t get off one and get on another. You have to take a stupid detour passed concessions whoâ€™ve obviously paid a lot of money to guarantee foot flow. That the foot flow is made up of people who are utterly pissed off with their store being in the way, seems to have escaped them. On the way down between floors 2 and 1, this detour is about 100 yards. It really is moronic.
Food and Entertainment at the Vincom Mega Mall Thao Dien
The top two floors of the Vincom Mega Mall Thao Dien are given over to the ubiquitous food courts and eateries. All the same ones as everywhere else. Bland generic chains, serving bland generic food. With one notable exception for me. They have an MK Restaurant. This Thai brand is usually really good. They were a regular for me when I lived in Bangkok. I for one, really welcome this one.
Also on the top floor is yet another cinema, I donâ€™t know where they think all these cinema bums on seats are coming from. I have lived in Ho Chi Minh City for three years and have lost count of the multiplex openings in that time. It will no doubt be busy for a week or so, then just become another cinema. At the opposite end to the cinema is the other only real plus about this place. Putting an ice rink in was a great idea. It was the only concession in the entire place apart from the food vendors that had customers. The kids in particular looked to be having a great time.
Within 20 minutes I had seen everything really. I never saw one person carrying any evidence of having spent money. The food courts, cinema and ice rink were busy, the rest completely deserted. This is Boxing Day, a Saturday afternoon at 2.00pm in a newly opened mall. The omens are not good. We have Cantavil already opened. The Thao Dien Pearl centre is gearing up. There will be a brand new mall at the Lexington Residences when completed and another one at Estella Heights. The Pearl Plaza just over the Saigon Bridge opened a couple of months ago. Do Vietnamese people do anything else but shop? Well when I say shop, I mean window shop.
I called at the supermarket on the way out to pick up some household stuff and left without spending. I just couldnâ€™t be bothered. Then I got to my bike and had to queue for ages to get out, as Vietnamese people kept trying to push in. Is it only Westerners that will ever say anything to stop them?
Sorry Vincom, but the Vincom Mega Mall Thao Dien offers nothing new or exciting really.