Dong Khoi has been mentioned most about becoming HCM City's first pedestrian street, but it is Luu Van Lang, a small street on the side of Ben Thanh market, that has that distinction.
Officially called Luu Van Lang Shopping Street, this street is decorated with ornamental trees and special lighting systems. From 6p.m. to 10p.m. from Monday to Friday, and from 5p.m. to midnight on Saturdays and Sundays, all vehicles are banned on this street.
Only 140 meters long, or about two minutes' walk, Luu Van Lang connects Nguyen Trung Truc Street with Phan Boi Chau Street. But the street's short length is in contrast with its fame among those Saigonese who are fond of fashionable clothes and footwear.
The street is lined with shops, from one end to the other. Named Ta Thu Thau before 1975, the street was a place for imported high-end clothes, cosmetics and footwear. It is also a favorite name remembered by overseas Vietnamese who return to HCM City. Of the old names of shops that still exist, Hoa Loi and Thanh The are among the most well-known.
Hoa Loi (No. 47 Luu Van Lang) has a history of almost five decades-since 1958-as one of the best confectionery and biscuit shops in Saigon. Hoa Loi also sells processed food such as dried fish and shrimp, prawn crackers, and milk crackers. In the 1980s, Saigonese frequented Hoa Loi if they wanted to have a gift for relatives abroad. Nowadays, Hoa Loi has lost its "monopoly" but it remains a reliable address.
Thanh The, on the corner of Nguyen Trung Truc and Luu Van Lang, used to be a luxury restaurant for the well-to-do and elite Saigonese before Vietnam reunited in 1975. Thanh The's specialty is bun suong tom (rice vermicelli with shrimp), which can be eaten with French patâ€š chaud (hot pie). Thanh The Restaurant is part of Thanh The Plaza where jewelry is sold. Therefore, gentlemen, just a few more steps and you'll be able to choose a gift that most women long for-but it'll be expensive!