Dong Khoi Street

    Looking up Dong Khoi from Saigon Saigon

    This is one of the smartest and most prominent streets in the cite of Saigon’s District 1. It runs from the junction with Nguyen Du by the Notre Dame Basilica right down to the Riverfront by the Majestic Hotel. It is a lovely boulevard with trees lining parts and superb architecture springing up all the way. At the northern end it is mainly financial institutions like the Baoviet Financial Centre, as you head south you pass the Vincom Centre with it’s beautiful gardens out front. This is a high end shopping mall, the largest in the city, and cinema complex.

    The impressive Vincom Centre, home to 250 shops

    As the road crosses Le Loi the magnificent Opera House comes into view on the left hand said of the road. This is an area with much construction work being done at the moment as the government are building the new transit system and a station is going in here. It will be a shame if it destroys what was a truly beautiful area. Many of the cities finest hotels are congregated here, the Caravelle, The Rex and the Continental, all vying for custom in a superb part of the city.

    Hotel Continental Saigon with the Parkson shopping centre behind it

    As Dong Khoi passes the junction with Dong Du, there is a well-used Trung Nguyen Coffee shop on the corner. This is a popular haunt for business people in the mornings getting their much needed caffeine intake before a hard day at work, though in many cases, they work here all morning. AT the weekends expats and holiday makers mingle with middle class locals here.

    Trung Nguyen Coffee, busy all day long

    The shops at the lower end of the street tend to be smaller more intimate affairs. Quaint expensive shops selling kashmir, jewellery and accessories. This is a very nice up-market area. There are two German Beer houses on this stretch of Dong Khoi. It is the smaller, less well known one that I like towards the bottom end of the street, near the Grand Hotel, opposite “Lucky Mall”. Gartenstadt beer house, sells terrific German beers and has an enviable menu offering some delicious German food. As we reach the end of Dong Khoi the famous Majestic Hotel appears on the right hand side of the road. This 175-room opulent masterpiece is one of the most famous hotels in the city. Built by the French colonists in 1925 it was here that Graham Greene wrote The Quiet American.

    The Opera House and the Caravelle hotel behind it

    There is no doubt about it, Dong Khoi really is a boulevard that typifies Saigon. These are the main roads that make the centre the fascinating beautiful city that it is today.

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    Following a highly successful 25-year career as a singer/songwriter and musician, Keith pulled out of the rat race and moved to Southeast Asia in 2008. First living in Thailand, he moved to Cambodia and then relocated to Ho Chi Minh City in early 2013. Keith has had work published in magazines and websites in the UK, Europe, USA, Australia and Asia. He has written for the BBC and has appeared on TV and radio in many different countries. His great loves are music and travel, but he writes on a whole range of subjects.