hirerob sullivan



» Welcome to Ho Chi Minh City (Otherwise Known as Saigon)
» Things to See in Ho Chi Minh City (A-Z): Chợ Lớn
» Churches
» Cao Dai Temple
» Chu Chi Tunnels
» Pagodas
» Park Life
» Reunification Hall
» Saigon Zoo
» Street Markets
» War Relics
» Water Puppets

» Things to Buy: Vietnamese Modern Art
» Things to Eat in Ho Chi Minh City: Restaurant Guide
» Places to Party in Ho Chi Minh City: Bars and Clubs
» Places to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City: Saigon Hotels
» Getting There: Ho Chi Minh City's Tan Son Nhat International Airport
» Further Afield: Phu Quoc Island
» Buying Real Estate in Vietnam?
» Learning Basic Travel Vietnamese
» Media in Vietnam

VIETNAM MIGHT HAVE ITS SUPERMARKETS THESE DAYS, BUT FOR MANY FOLK GROCERY SHOPPING STILL TAKES PLACE OUTDOORS. In Ho Chi Minh City there are big centralized markets like that at Ben Thanh and Binh Tay in Cholon, and there are tonnes of suburban markets. Vietnamese markets are often noisy, boisterous, and muddy if it has rained. Even if they are not actually on their motorbike at the time, shoppers seem to like leaving their helmet on. It is kind of a fashion statement here. One of the more colorful street markets in Ho Chi Minh City is on Huynh Thuc Khang Street, right in the heart of District 1 in the Dong Khoi area. It used to be known as the electronics black market back in the days when it was illegal.

Nowadays Huynh Thuc Khang Street Market is legit, and has expanded its merchandise to include anything a modern city dweller might need to pick up on his/her way home from work. Meatware is more common than hardware. Surrounded by gleaming corporate towers, the market seems to exist on the interface of two worlds (transnational capitalism and the village.) Eating animals in between seeing animals was sort of difficult for me to reconcile, but The Astronomer had no qualms about it. He commented that the texture was nice and crispy."

For the full electronics black market guide, click here!

br> Bien Xanh Hotel US$15 Check rates online

Bo Resort: Ong Lang Beach.
Bo Resort on Ong Lang Beach, Phu Quoc Island Tam Xuan (Wild Rose) hotel US$10 Check rates online Thang Long - Phu Quoc Hotel US$17 Check rates online Thanh Quoc Hotel US$18 Check rates online RESORTS
Gecko Jacks: On Bai Sao Beach.
Most Vietnamese websites are crap, but the homepage of this resort (click here in case you missed the link above) is cool. With its slick design and innovative code, the site serves a good introduction to Phu Quoc Island in particular. One of the designers (Captain Jacks) who flew from Noose on Australia's beautiful Sunshine Coast, to the even more beautiful Bai Sao Beach, wrote of his assignment: "As I promised, a little about my trip to Vietnam, I went there to help in the set up of Geko Jacks, this will be a small resort on the island on Phu Quoc which is off the coast of Cambodia, although the island belongs to Vietnam. The beach in the picture is called Bai-sao and is with out doubt one of the most amazing beaches i have ever seen. We spent the time clearing the jungle and putting up a wall around the block to keep it from being moved in on by the fisherman, the rest of the time was enjoyed by drinking the local rum which at $1.50 a bottle was not to bad at all... Well from what i can remember it was not. Over time i will post more pics from the island.. and keep you posted as to when you can come over and enjoy the white sand crystal clear water and very cheap local rum for yourself."

Thien Hai Son Resort: US$44.
Thien Hai Son is located in Ba Keo area, Duong Dong town, just take 10 minutes from Phu Quoc Airport and 35 km far from An Thoi Port.
Phu Quoc Island is only 50 minutes by plane from Ho Chi Minh City, where the average temperature is 27 C degree. Phu Quoc is very rich in natural resources and there are many white sandy beaches are unspoiled. Moreover, rivers, streams, channels are found nearly everywhere in the islands.

Receptionists are ready to serve visitors with pleasure. Saigon Phu Quoc Resort: 1 Tran Hung Dao, Duong Dong Town, Kien Giang,Phu Quoc Island, Kien Giang Province.
Phone: 84 77 846 999. Fax: 84 77 847 163.
Saigon Phu Quoc Resort. Saigon Phu Quoc resort is the first Vietnam's three-star island resort with 90 well-equipped bungalows and apartments of international standard. The Phu Quoc Island and resort offers pristine beaches and forests to all nature lovers and travellers, making the your stay there a memorable time.
Saigon Phu Quoc Resort is only 50 minutes by plane from Ho Chi Minh City, where the average temperature is 27 C degree. Phu quoc island is very rich in natural resources and there are many white sandy beaches are unspoiled. Moreover, rivers, streams, channels are found nearly everywhere in the islands. Located on the hill of coconut palm trees occupied around 3.5 hectares, Saigon Phu quoc is a beautiful seaside resort in a quiet place and plenty of sunshine. Just 10 minutes from the airport, the resort is an ideal haven for relaxing, fishing, trekking snorkeling and scuba diving. The resort provides a perfect balance between relaxation and excitement. Visitors can enjoy special seafood, cocktails by the pool bar or on private balconies while watching sunset over the ocean.
90 rooms and bungalows of the resort equipped with AC air-con, safety box, private bathroom, in-house Internet, IDD telephone, satellite TV, mini-bar, decorative plant and Balcony.
Restaurants: Saigon restaurant with 150-seat offer international and local dishes, specializes in sea food. Pool bar and Beach bar offer barbecue dinner. Facilities: Swimming pool; Beauty salon and Health club: body, foot & hand massage & sauna parlor; Jacuzzi; Badminton and Foot ball field; Karaoke club. Water sports: water-skiing, snorkeling and scuba diving.
Services: tour desk for fishing, hiking, snorkeling, scuba diving, camping, eco-tour, sightseeing tour, car and motor-bike rental.

Thousand Star Resort US$18 Check rates online Thuan Thien Hotel US$12 Check rates online Tropicana Resort US$25 Check rates online Yen Phuong Minihotel US$8 "In another story, Tran Minh Phuong, 23, an accountant at a toy-making company in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) says she earns VND1.8 million ($113) a month and has to pay a third of that in rent for her little one-room apartment.

Being a wholesale market, this lacks the aggressive vendors of Ben Thanh Market in the center of town. There is a food court in the market. On the nearvy Yersin St rises the Dan Sinh Market, which specialises in hardware. "They all dream of owning their own apartments but with property price sky-rocketing that is simply impossible.

"Not only locals but about 81,000 expats in Vietnam have also suffered from soaring rents and greedy landlords, even though their income is much higher..."

(For full story click here.)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Sedona Suites (Executive Apartments)

I WAS WALKING AROUND HO CHI MINH CITY THIS MORNING AFTER ARRIVING BACK IN THE CITY LAST NIGHT, FOR MY FIRST VISIT IN MORE THAN 10 YEARS. What struck me more than anything, after so long an absense, was the plethora of hotels and executive living arrangements which have sprung up, particularly in the Saigon district. One development which is already up and running and attracting attention from the Ho Chi Minh City expat community, is Sedona Suites. Located on Le Loi Boulevard within walking distance to many banks, airline offices and entertainment options, Sedona Suites is a sanctuary of elegance and style that combines the comforts of home with the convenience of hotel facilities (that's a lift from Holiday City.) There are 89 one to three-bedroom units; room facilities include: satellite television, local & IDD telephone, bathroom with long bath and separate shower compartment, wardrobes, Intercom, laundry machines, water filtration system, VCR and Hi-Fi System, 100% electricity back-up and safes & security surveillance. King-sized beds are draped with 100% cotton duvets. The fully equipped kitchen boasts electric cooker hood, cabinet and oven.


"In the near future we should see the completion of more high rise luxury apartments, shopping centers and hotels. The $265 million Kumho Asiana Plaza project finally resumed in October after being delayed for 10 years. It sits on the site that used to be Saigon Square, and is due to be completed in 2009. Saigon Happiness Square is a massive development underway that I mentioned before in D5. It's costing its Taiwanese investors $468 million, containing offices, shopping and a hotel. Saigon's tallest building is also under construction...

"On top of this newly shaped city center, the construction of the Saigon Metro system should finally have begun. As the widely read International Railway Journal stated in September 2004:

"'Feasibility studies for two metro lines totaling 21km in Vietnam's largest city, Ho Chi Minh City, are due to be submitted to the government in October. If all goes well, construction could start by the end of this year and the metro could open by 2008'...

"The new International Airport at Long Thanh is scheduled to have phase 1 finished by 2010, as this Wikipedia page says, with further development planned into 2015 and beyond. This will allegedly include a high speed road link to the site 40kms from the city.

"Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Dang Hung Vo joined many economic experts in expressing optimism for the real estate market in 2007 after a two year freeze period.

"The Deputy Minister explained that the newly felt optimism was based on several factors such as Vietnam's WTO accession, the US ratification of Permanent Trade Normal Relations (PNTR) with Vietnam and a record of official development assistance (ODA) capital pledged by international donors for 2007.

"He said these factors enhanced Vietnam's attractiveness for foreign investment, including investment in real estate.

"Vo also said that high participation of foreign investors would help to reduce the prices of houses in Vietnam, which in recent times, have exceeded the financial capabilities of most of the population..."

l o c a t i o n + l o c a t i o n + l o c a t i o n

AS IN ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD, LOCATION IS A VERY IMPORTANT FACTOR IN CHOOSING WHERE TO BUY OR RENT IN HO CHI MINH CITY. If you are new to this place, then perhaps a geography lesson is not out of place here. According to Easy Property, one of Vietnam's largest real estate agents, there are certain parts of town which are favored by expatriates. They include the CBD (Central Business District) of Districts 1 & 3 (for the convenience, naturally), and the greenery and clean air of the An Phu, Thao Dien, Binh An Wards of District 2 (just over the Saigon Bridge @15-20 minute drive). Other increasingly popular areas are in Tan Binh (around the airport @20-30 minute drive); and around the ever developing Saigon South area of District 7 (20-30 minutes drive)." If you are an expat attempting to establish yourself in Saigon, perhaps you ought to check out these places first.

A little more information about District 2, again from Easy Property: "The area on the far side of the Saigon bridge is, by Saigon standards, a green & pleasant land. Though still true, more and more of the green land plots (and they have all, frequently, been sold many times over by speculators) are now being developed into houses, with a few of the larger plots turned into apartments or more residential compounds. Several hundred expats (most with families) live in the area and there is the usual assortment of expat spin-off services and facilities: a supermarket, sports, leisure & recreation clubs. Most of the villas are two storey and from 700sqm to 1,500sqm gross, with usable areas range from @250sqm upwards, and many with swimming pools. Inside the various compounds, sizes are smaller but with the benefit of communal facilities and landscaping & security. Consequently, for those expats with above average budgets and a longing for some peace and quiet, amid what must be the noisiest city in the world, or with children, An Phu has deveoped a reputation since it still has some large properties with walled gardens or in landscaped compounds, that no longer exist elsewhere in the city."

And regarding District 7: "The formation of the Saigon South urban area on 2,600 hectares is meant to create conditions for urban and rural districts in the surrounding areas of District 7, District 8, Nha Be and Binh Chanh to develop. With the (at long last), construction of a couple bridges, Saigon South is no longer only accessible via the inadequate Kinh Te bridge by the Saigon Port. It is now possible to travel from the Phu My Hung (PMH) New Residential Area (often referred to as Saigon South) to the CBD in 15 minutes. After years of relative inactivity, the 600 hectare @USD$250m PMH Joint Venture have started construction of the first of many planned apartment buildings and houses. Several international schools; the Franco Vietnam hospital; RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) University; and other such ancillary service suppliers & facilities have also committed to a future amongst the landscaped greenery. The government have now also approved the construction of the 1,950m long USD$114m Phu My bridge, that ill connect the city ring road (that runs through PMH) with the CBD via the 770 hectare USD$632m Thu Thiem New Urban Area of District 2. Apartments are being sold from @USD700/sqm and appearing on the secondary market to rent from USD$500/month upwards. Villas cost upto USD$500,000 and rentals start from USD$1,500/month."


o n l i n e + r e a l t o r s

Bat Dong San:
BẤT ĐỘNG SẢN is of course Vietnamese for real estate, and from a SEO perspective at least, this site has the market cornered. Viewable in English and Vietnamese, the site includes a law library, news feed and brokerage service. As the site reads: "You have properties and want them to be sold out or rent out quickly?
"You are very busy to sell or rent them?
"Let us do that for you.
"With reasonable fees 1% of total value for each sold property or 1 month rental for each leased property or you allow us to earn the markup value if you donft want to pay the above fees.
"Just fill out the Form then send to us with 1 – 8 photos of your property to:"

Chao Co: Phone: 84-913-804-550. Web: Email:
This website, written in English and Japanese, prvides a full range of services for expats in Vietnam -- from real estate to car rental and travel plans, to business investment consultancy.

Craig's List:

Like other invaders from the past, Craig is on his way to conquering Vietnam. Well, at least the classified real estate market in Vietnam (and they say that land equals power!) For the latest offerings from Ho Chi Minh City, hit Craig up.

Easy Property: Phone: 848/840 7962. Web:
This website touts itself as Vietnam's premier real estate services network. It is a big claim to make, but the listings at Easy Property are in a word, exhaustive. A huge range of properties are listed, ranging from serviced apartments in District 3 (the rent is between US$1100 to $2100 a month) to potential golf course sites in Dong Nai Province, to the entire Hoa Binh Towers in the capital Hanoi, to "possibly the best villa in An Phu" (that one is going at US$6000 a month in rent.)
Along with all the listings, Easy Property has realms of important information about the state of the rental and real estate market in Vietnam. There are nuggets of information like this, concerning international standard serviced apartments: "Ho Chi Minh City only has a combined stock of serviced apartments of about 2,000 units, an inadequate number relative to the ever increasing demand. Thus rentals have almost doubled in less than 5 years to the current levels. However, local investors have recently seen the investment opportunities available and are thus now rapidly filling the supply gap with a wide variety of new developments, both big and small. By the end of 2006, it is estimated that the number of units available will have doubled to over 4,000 units with several thousand more under construction. Though many of these are being built for sale on the local market (foreigners are unable to buy or sub-lease), many are being bought to rent to expats, at prices ranging from USD$800 – USD$2,700 per square meter, with a view to obtaining rentals from USD$10 – 30 per square meter per month.
"However, given the relatively stable number of expats living in Vietnam, coupled with strict new foreign employment registration stipulations, and the dramatic increase in stock, one can foresee rentals falling to levels more in line with those of ASEAN regional competitor cities over the course of the next few years.
"The largest and best located serviced apartment buildings with the widest range of facilities and services were constructed in the mid to late 1990's by foreign developers with deep pockets – typically USD$20+ million Joint Ventures. Since then, very few foreign investors have ventured into the domestic market. These established buildings have all had average occupancies of over 90% since @2002 and so are able to command premium rentals. Some offer short term accommodation (at up to USD$50/sqm per month) but many have waiting lists and so are only interested in minimum 12 month contracts. The majority of these are in the downtown area but some are a 20 minute commute."

"There are similar developments in the central region around Dalat, and in the north, particularly in Hanoi. We intend to expand these pages over time to cover the nation."
" The site boasts a section called Monday in Saigon, a photographic database of developments in the business capital over the years. Monday in Saigon promises: "Many people interested in Vietnam, both those living here and abroad, enjoy photos of boys on water buffalo, women in conical hats of straw, street vendors hawking almost everything, the polychrome vistas at outdoor markets, and the fast-moving motorized traffic, peppered with ox-drawn carts.
"Foreign and Domestic visitors to HCMC rarely lift their heads up to see all the new signs of economic growth. Most are too busy running and dashing about, looking forward. Particularly when driving or crossing the streets of this bustling metropolis, rarely do we lift our eyes to see what has grown around us.
"The V V G Staff began taking photos for these pages in December 1997. We are constantly updating them to keep up with developments. The most recent photos were taken only days before this page was last updated.
"Here are photos of vertical construction. We want potential investors to see the City of today and tomorrow, not just yesterday. Every new building pictured has been completed in the past four years. We also show buildings in which construction waits to recommence, and sites where it has not ever begun. A few older structures recently renovated are also shown simply to retain the flavor of what is still Saigon."

h i g h r i s e + d e v e l o p m e n t s

ONE OF THE AMAZING THINGS ABOUT VISITING HO CHI MINH CITY REGULARLY IS NOTICING JUST HOW FAST THE SKYLINE OF THIS CITY CHANGES. New buildings go up all the time, transforming this once low-rise sprawling tin shack kind of city into another Oriental supermetropolis -- another Bangkok or Singapore. Inside those high-rise steel and glass needles are often where foreign residents prefer to live. If you want to know about coming developments of a high-rise nature, you are in the right subdirectory.

Before we start, here is a word from San Francisco architect Mel Schenck, who wrote: "Most of the housing in Ho Chi Minh City, like all of the other cities in Vietnam, is four or five stories tall. This is true for new middle-class houses even in the smaller villages. I understand there is some new high-rise housing in Hanoi in the new suburban new urban areas, but I did not get out to see them. In HCMC, some Taiwanese investors built a new high-rise apartment complex in the Cholon (Chinese) area of Saigon. Very few of these apartment or condo units have been rented or sold. In speaking with some HCMC citizens, they felt that they had not sold because the units are too expensive compared to normal units in Saigon, and the Vietnamese much preferred the walk-up four-story houses to the elevatored high-rise housing. This is certainly counter to the Chinese pattern of replacing low-rise housing in all of their cities with high-rise housing. Interestingly, the density of population per hector or acre for these high-rises is about the same as low-rise housing since these new high rise towers are usually towers in the park with a lot of space (usually wasted, in my opinion) around them. I vote with the Vietnamese -- I prefer my density in active low-rise units rather than sterile units in the sky, unless the high-rises are as dense as in Hong Kong."

<< Picture copyright Robert SullivanDiamond Plaza: 34 Le Duan St (corner of Pham Ngoc Thach St), District 1. Phone: 848 825 7750. Email: Web:
When I first noticed this huge green building during my most recent visit to Vietnam, my thought was: "Is that whole building dedicated just to diamonds?", especially because there seemed to be a gem shop visible on the first floor. Of course, Vietnam is not really a player on the diamond front, and the Diamond Plaza is not a glorified Bangkok style stone ripoff joint. In fact, it is reportedly one of the hottest addresses in town and is like a city within a city as well as a retreat from the mania of the streets, a little enclave of internationalism. As its managers claim, Diamond Plaza is an integrated development, the largest in Vietnam, with entertainment, shopping, apartments and offices all under the same roof:
"Our landmark building overlooks many of the City's famous sites, including the Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral and April 30th Park, the City's most mature green space.
"Diamond Plaza's one, two, three and four bedroom fully furnished, serviced apartments are amongst the most spacious in Vietnam, having internal net areas of between 83-240 square meters. The size and luxurious finish to these apartments, together with the fantastic views of the city they offer, have quickly allowed Diamond Plaza to achieve the status of Ho Chi Minh City's premier residential address.
"All apartments are fully air-conditioned and free internet access is now offered to all Tenants. For convenience, parking is located in the basement of the building. To complete the total sense of well being associated with residence at Diamond Plaza, membership to the executive fitness club and 14th floor terrace swimming pool is provided at no charge, as a part of the tenants' package."

<< Picture copyright Hoang Quan Plaza: 34 Le Duan St (corner of Pham Ngoc Thach St), District 1. Phone: 848 825 7750. Email: Web:
Plaza seems to be the buzz word of the decade in Vietnam, it creeps up in development names as insidiously as "Hills" does in Tokyo, Japan. There are any number of "plazas" in Ho Chi Minh City and greater Vietnam at the moment, none of them true plazas in the Italian sense of the word. It doesn't matter, because Tokyo doesn't really have any real hills (unless you count tall buildings as hills.) In Asia these days English or Italian or French words are only used for decoration, the same way westerners cook Asian dishes at home without comprehending the cultural matrix from which they sprung. Postmodern, but potlatch it ain't.
This particular non-plaza is located in the going off south of Ho Chi Minh City, near the Nguyen Van Linh highway.
Comforts: - The apartments are designed luxuriously, modernly, and warmly. - Restaurant, health care center, swimming pool, recreation-shopping center, kindergarten, park, basement garage, c - Professional management board and security staff make sure 24/24 security. - Intercom/Video phone systems help the hosts to easily identify their guests. - Elevators and stairs are set up reasonably to make sure thorough and safe transport. - Central gas and American technological Notifier automatic fire alarm systems are installed at each apartment. - Intelligent cool and light systems.

The Panorama.
The Panorama tọa lạc trong khu Kênh Đào (được mô phỏng theo Khu Kênh Đào tại Mỹ) vốn dĩ từ lâu như tự hữu một �chiếc máy điều hòa khổng lồ�Etừ thiên nhiên cảnh quan bao quanh. Trong đó, tự nhiên sắp sẵn những hình khối theo �tone�Exanh chủ đạo với nhiều biến tấu: gam xanh của dòng sông cảnh quan dọc theo thế đất, bên kia sông là mảng xanh dự kiến quy hoạch sân Golf 36 lỗ; trên là bầu trời trong vắt nối liền hai mảng xanh ấy như một đường chân trời xa xa mà khoảnh khắc nào trong ngày cũng có thể tận hưởng; gần hơn là hai mảng xanh công viên đô thị rộng với diện tích cộng gộp gần tròn 16ha gần như viền gọn ôm Khu Kênh Đào ở giữa. Có ví von Kênh Đào là một �thành phố của cảnh quan và gió�Ethì cũng chẳng có gì là quá bởi sự giao hòa của thiên nhiên hoa lá, sự kết hợp mặt nước, bầu trời, sự gặp gỡ của nắng, của gió và bản hòa tấu của những âm thanh tự nhiên như tạo nên một bức tranh đẹp đưa luồng gió mát ùa vào từng ngôi nhà trong Khu Kênh Đào. Trong cảnh sắc ấy, The Panorama sang trọng với 6 building kiêu sa vươn cao ngay cửa ngõ phía Tây vào Khu Kênh Đào.

Saigon Pearl DevelopmentSaigon Pearl: 92 Nguyen Huu Canh Street, Binh Thanh District. Phone: 848/821 9999. Web:
According to the promotional material, Saigon Pearl, a high-rise apartment complex on Saigon River, represents "the largest, most elaborate development ever created in Vietnam." Due to come online from 2007 to 2009, Saigon Pearl incorporates eight 37-storey apartment buildings, a lavish clubhouse, two office towers and a large-scale shopping mall. Quoting from that promotional material again: "Picture living right beside the enchanting Saigon River, surrounded by a tropical paradise of natural and landscaped gardens. Watching clouds of mist swirl across the water as you prepare for the day ahead. Here, secluded from the rush and roar of daily life, the natural beauty of the scenery constantly seduces you..."
The following properties are available for sale: two-bedroom unit, three-bedroom unit, and penthouse. Visit the website listed above to find about pricing and other details.

<< Picture copyright Chaocom Real EstateZen Plaza: 54-56 Nguyen Trai Street, District 1.
Zen Plaza is a 14-storey tower in the heart of Saigon consisting of an 8-storey shopping complex, five floors for offices and a penthouse for events. Hit Chaocom if you are interested in hiring some of that office space. You will also be able to see floorplans and a price list. The building itself is something of a landmark with its distinctive black and white facade, and is a popular meeting place. I myself was due to meet Jennette, a local Chinese lass, outside the front of Zen during my visit back in March 2007, but the venue was changed to Ben Thanh Market. True to the Japanese sounding origin of the tower's name, on the 7th floor of the Zen Plaza you will find the Sushi Bar, whose motto is "not only tasty but funny". In fact, this whole building is like a little chunk of Japan dropped into the heart of Vietnam, and thriving in its new environment. At Zen Plaza, the emphasis is on fashion.
According to the Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee: "In August 1999, Nhat Nam Shopping Center was put into operation as a joint venture between Vietnamese and Japanese partners. In August 2002, the Ministry of Planning and Investment endorsed the plan to turn the joint venture into a 100% Japanese-owned project, and in October 2003, Zen Plaza came into being.
"The difference between Nhat Nam and Zen Plaza is that Zen specializes in fashion. 'We see Vietnam's potential in this industry,' Fukukawa says. 'First, many more Vietnamese are interested in fashion as the economy develops.' Another reason for Zen to be a fashion center is because this 12-story building is on the part of Nguyen Trai Street dubbed Saigon's fashion street. A third reason is that Vietnam has a strong garment industry and a contingent of young and talented designers.
"However, these young designers are encountering difficulties in developing their career. 'They lack professional training, lack materials to realize their creations, lack a stage to make the public know about their designs and lack capital for start-ups,' Fukukawa says.
"One of Zen Plaza's ambitions is to help bridge these gaps by providing young designers with finance and space so that they have a place to show their creativity. Zen is one among a few organizations in Vietnam to hold regular fashion shows. These shows always feature young designers. 'We were a co-organizer of the Vietnam Collection Grand Prix 2004, the biggest stage for Vietnam's young fashion designers,' he says.
"In 2005, Zen Plaza will push its plan to produce garments under the Zen brand. Japan and some other countries are the target markets. 'Some foreign customers are interested in Vietnamese designs for sale at Zen Plaza,' he says. 'But sizes are a big problem. We all know that measurements of Europeans are quite different from those of Vietnamese. Therefore, we must pay attention to this difference...'"

c o m i n g + d e v e l o p m e n t s


<< Asiana Plaza: 39 Le Duan Boulevard, District 1.
If you think the name of this 13,600 square metre complex has a vaguely Korean sound, you would be right: it was developed by a partnership including Kumho, the 8th largest conglomerate in South Korea and the owner of Asiana Airlines. As with all great developments there has been a lot of controversy with the development of Asiana Plaza, but at the start of 2008 I did a walkby of the site with my new Vietnamese girlfriend, and it seems to be coming online. Surrounded by Le Duan, Hai Ba Trung, Nguyen Du and Le Van Huu streets, Asiana Plaza when finished will comprise a luxury apartment building, a five-star hotel and retail stores.
As VietnamNet reported: "As planned, Asiana Plaza, invested in by Asiana Plaza Saigon, a member of the Republic of Korea's (ROK) Kumho Group, has the total investment capital of $223mil. The complex will cover an area of 13,632 sq m at No 39 Le Duan street in district 1, the most advantageous position in the city, which many investors have been eyeing.
"The complex will consist of three buildings, including a 21-storey office building, a 21-storey international hotel, a 32-storey apartment building, and a trade centre area.
"The complex will be situated near other high-grade buildings of the city, including Diamond Plaza, Sofitel Hotel, Prudential's office building, Saigon Tower and Metropolitan. It will also not be far from the buildings of the US and French General Consulate, Cathedral and the city's Post Office. Located in such a position, the complex will be especially valuable and it is hoped will bring a new face to the city.
"Bok Sang Chang, Director General of KumhoAsiana Plaza Saigon, is optimistic about the business performance of the project once it becomes operational. He said that the demand for accommodation and apartments will increase sharply when more and more foreign investors come to Vietnam in the coming time. InterContinental Hotels, which is well known in the world for hotel management, will manage Asiana Plazafs hotel and apartments.
"Mr Chang said that the operation of the complex will serve as an opportunity to develop tourism in Vietnam. Kumho is planning to set up a golf course in HCM City, and cooperate with Kumho Airlines and Korea Airlines to carry passengers from the ROK and China to HCM City.
"In the immediate time, the construction of the project will generate big demand for services, while creating several hundred jobs for city residents until 2009..."

River Garden: Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), District 2.
This development, which is anticipated to be completed in April 2008, will feature 36 two and three-bedroom units overlooking the Saigon River. The facilities will include: outdoor swimming pool, tennis court, badminton court, basketball court, handball court, children’s playground, open restaurant, bar-cafĂ©, bowling, gym & health club, steam bath & sauna, beauty salon and multi-purpose hall. For more details, click here.

<< Thu Thiem Peninsula: Major development plan.
Earlier this year (2006) the HCMC Government unveiled plans to turn the Thu Thiem Peninsula across the Saigon River into a new center. The Thu Thiem new urban area will be HCM City's center for finance, commerce and services, officials said at a press conference on the announcement of the detailed plans for Thu Thiem. "Thu Thiem will be a modern center, an extension of HCM City's existing downtown," said Vu Hung Viet, head of the Thu Thiem Investment and Construction Authority, or Thu Thiem ICA.
Thu Thiem will be divided into five zones: a central zone, a multi-functional zone along the East-West Highway, a northern residential zone, an eastern residential zone, and a swamp zone to the south.
The central zone, which will become a commercial and financial centre, will house multi-storey office buildings, a convention centre, and a central plaza and public park. This area is expected to be complete by 2010.
The central zone is expected to employ the largest number of people and house 40,000 residents.
The so-called swamp zone to the south will eventually house a botanical garden, an aquatic park, a sports centre, an arena and a resort hotel.
The existing mangrove swamps in the area will be preserved as part of the cultural heritage of Thu Thiem and Ho Chi Minh City.
Public transport will include a subway line and station in the central zone, and bus and waterbus services that would link the area with District 1.
Five bridges over the Saigon River will be built, including the Thu Thiem and Ton Duc Thang bridges, a bridge to link the peninsula with district 2, and another to connect the area with District 7.
A pedestrian bridge over the river will link Me Linh Square in District 1 with Thu Thiem.
The eastern residential zone and most of the central zone will be built during the first five-year phase.
The second phase, from 2010-2015, will develop 180ha of the central zone and the multi-function zone along the East-West Highway.
The third phase from 2015 to 2020 will develop 87ha, and the fourth phase from 2020 to 2025, 120ha.

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