Sometimes southern Vietnam can get a little steamy – Saigon in particular – and heading up high to beat the crowds and look down on the masses can be a nice way to get a bit of ‘me time’. Luckily, Saigon has the Bitexco Financial Tower, a very modern skyscraper, that was opened in the summer of 2011 and doubles as a tourist attraction – perfect if you want to get your head in the clouds!
The Bitexco Financial Tower is the tallest building in Saigon and third-tallest in the whole of Vietnam. It has a mixed-use purpose, with offices, restaurants, a shopping mall in the basement, and of course the SkyDeck on the 49th floor, which is the main reason tourists will want to visit. When I visited, tickets could not be purchased online, so they must instead be bought at the base of the tower at the SkyDeck Ticketing Office. Double-decker elevators, which I was told are the fastest in South East Asia, take you up the 49th floor ready for your great views of the city – and yep, they sure do travel fast!
It costs $10USD per person to enter the Bitexco SkyDeck, which is reasonable, although you might not like to spend that amount of money in Vietnam just for admission (drinks not included!), so it will depend on your love of heights and skyscrapers as to whether you think this is worth the cost. For me, I was fascinated to see Saigon from above. The city takes on a whole new perspective when you are so high up – even makes you respect the city a bit more, strangely – and I was lucky that it was not too busy this early in the day (would be a different story at the weekend, I am sure).
As is the case with most skyscrapers, there is always a gift shop to entice visitors to part with more of their cash! The shop at Bitexco Tower is rather discreet and not as ‘in your face’ as some other gift shops I could mention, although there is nothing really here to interest the average traveller (save your Dong and get something more unique from the local markets around the city). There is, however, a nice bar and lounge area on the 51st floor, and a fine dining restaurant and nightclub on the 52nd floor (also accessible from the helipad for distinguished guests). The bar (or Helibar, as it is known) is a great place to enjoy reasonably priced drinks while sitting in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows, looking down at the concrete jungle of District 1, Saigon.