When Madonna sang La Isla Bonita — meaning ‘the beautiful island’ in Spanish — she sang of a place of her dreams, a place where she longed to be. San Pedro isn’t a real island, but it didn’t matter, the yearning was there.
The first time I met Luong Van Mao, we were outside his bar on Ta Hien. Until then, I’d believed that Mao’s Red Lounge was named after the historical figure. But this man in angular glasses and a beret, shaking my hand with a wide smile, had little in common with the other Mao.
When the clock ticks over to the wrong side of midnight, the culinary options in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City begin to dwindle. But don’t worry about starving: the dark city alleys hide a plethora of choices for the hungry night owl, whether you’re craving a warm plate of banh cuon, creamy vodka penne or a banh mi stuffed with chili-egg goodness. We dug up all our favourite late-night haunts.
As soon as Cu “Owl” Nguyen and her groupie-and-drummer contingent enter the room, she heat-seeks the computer and its limitless song archive. Dismissing the guidebook, she queues up five Pink songs and three Adele songs. David Moses Haimovich of Space Panther had been singing some Kylie, and she perhaps got the wrong idea.
Ladies’ Night at Lush Nightclub is one of the biggest parties in Ho Chi Minh City, and it draws in over a thousand partiers week after week. The dance floor is consistently packed shoulder-to-shoulder, swaying and shifting to soundtracks by some of Vietnam’s biggest DJ names alongside the occasional international superstar. Lush has been one of the most popular nightclubs in the city for nearly a decade, continuously raising the bar in clubbing with every new phase of development.