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Thursday 24 November 2016

Is this most stylish way to discover Saigon?

I receive, quite literally, hundreds of emails a day. 

They might be asking me to write about the five most unusual places people have illicit sex (no thanks), or offering me a trip to somewhere amazingly exotic if I can guarantee a double-page spread in the Sydney Morning Herald (almost certainly not). 

Some might be asking if they can send a bottle of new-release wine (yes, please) but most simply talk about new travel experiences. Many are generic "a new luxury hotel in Thailand" but this one caught my eye as it sounds innovative and fun. 

I'm sharing it on that basis, having not sampled it myself, although I would certainly not say no to an opportunity next time I am in Vietnam. I offer this as news only, without a recommendation. 

The new experience, launched earlier this month, is called "Cruising Saigon" and offers a chance to explore that city's streets and waterways "by boat, by scooter and by luxury motor car". 

Anyone who has visited Saigon (or Ho Chi Minh City as it is more usually called) will be aware how frustrating the traffic snarls can be. 

But this one-of-a-kind package by The Reverie Saigon, a luxe high-rise member of the Leading Hotels of the World group, dispatches hotel guests with a personal butler in tow on a private two-hour sunset cruise on the Saigon River, then switches gears at sundown for a city-chic adventure on a chauffeured vintage Vespa.

The cruise includes a picnic hamper of sweet and savoury choices, with five menus to choose from and paired with a bottle of Taittinger champagne.

Leaving from a riverside pier near the hotel, the sunset cruise takes in the landmark Dragon Wharf built in 1863 and the Gustav Eiffel-designed ‘Rainbow Bridge. 

As the sun sets, Cruising Saigon abandons waterways for roadways for an after-dark adventure that is billed as "part night excursion, part street food fest".

A chauffeured transfer to your Vespa follows with visits to a popular local, street-side eatery, a ride through Chinatown and then into the busy streets and alleys of District 4 for street-side snacks, including banh xeo (savoury Vietnamese pancakes) and cold drinks. 

Along the way, the four-hour tour also makes a stop at a tucked-away coffee house for a taste of live Vietnamese music, before concluding at a lively club with a local cover band.

The Cruising Saigon package also includes round-trip airport transfers via a choice of a Mercedes-Benz S-class or BMW 7 series, breakfast daily at CafĂ© Cardinal, as well as access to the chic Reverie Lounge on the hotel’s uppermost floors.

Package rates start from $US1,152++, based on a minimum three-night stay. 
The hotel is one of only seven hotels in Asia on the CondĂ© Nast Traveler Hot List this year). 

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