Travelling the world as we do is of course a privilege and one that we don’t take for granted, but as you can imagine, these visits are pretty intense and one city hotel or airport after another, can leave the traveller a little jaded..

Despite all that, there was a certain sense of anticipation about our brief visit to Ho Chi Minh City given it’s wartime past and huge French influence. Just the very name ‘Saigon’ is evocative and it didn’t disappoint but not quite as you’d imagine..

Right from the moment you leave the airport, the streets are packed with motorcycles and scooters, hundreds and hundreds of them. They show no fear as they weave between the cars and even walking on the pavement is not for the faint hearted. There are few tourist sights in Ho Chi Minh and these could be accomplished in just a couple of hours – everything is close at hand but the soaring heat and humidity takes its toll. Everywhere is a curious mix of local Vietnamese culture, French Colonial and a hint of GI Joe – from when the Americans used Saigon as a base back in the 1970’s.

It certainly feels a safe city and there are plenty of restaurants and cafes and surprisingly it was one such café that was the absolute highlight of our forty-eight hour visit.

Just a few paces from our hotel is the fabulous Khahncasa Teahouse.
Imagine if the store Anthropologie opened a teahouse what would it be like? Well, exactly as you’d imagine – a sumptuous fusion of vintage meets present day with a splash of quirkiness - modern day retailing par excellance!

Hummingbird ceiling

Inside, the walls are mostly painted to resemble concrete with some areas highlighted in a striking mulberry wash. Tiled floors abound, a kick-back from the French era (used a lot here in Saigon) and on some walls and on the faux-concrete ceilings, there are hand-painted murals of birds and flowers, a theme which is repeated on all the fabrics and lampshades. There’s a living wall covered entirely in plants and guests are seated in comfortable old Berber style chairs with rustic tables, surrounded by antique dressers and quirky artifacts. Fresh flowers set in tea-cups adorn each table and teas of every sort are sourced from around the world and all served in unmatching vintage-style china. It’s a feast for all the senses.

Upstairs there’s a boutique selling the teas and an eclectic mix of all the tableware. Everything is displayed to perfection – it’s pure Anthropologie style.

Indochine tableware

When we discovered this oasis, protected from the soaring heat and bustle of downtown HCM, we felt we’d died and gone to a little bit of retail heaven..

‘Une tasse du the si’l vous plait..’

N&D