Jun 16 2011
Soon after we moved to Hanoi, the film Avatar was released. We were keen to see it and heard about the Megastar Cinema in Hai Ba Trung district, south of Hoan Kiem. Without high expectations we headed along to Vincom Towers — home to a shopping centre, spa, apartments, eateries and the cinema.
These things aren’t top of the must-sees in Hanoi if you’re here on a holiday, but if you’ve been away for a while and are in need of some home-style luxuries (the concept of “luxuries” being quite different when you’ve been travelling round Asia for six months on a budget) or just arrive to find you’ve forgotten your trainers / toiletries / underwear, a trip to Vincom might be just what you need.
The shopping centre is quite high-end by Hanoi standards: it’s full of Western brands such as Nike, Clarins, Levis and Converse and is bright, shiny and peaceful(ish). While most stores are in the first tower you come to — from Ba Trieu — there are also some shops in the second tower, including La Senza (to the joy of most expat women with anything larger than a B cup) and FCUK. Don’t go expecting a bargain though — prices are on par with what you’ll pay in the West, perhaps even more expensive. But with a lack of clothes to fit the average Western visitor elsewhere, spending money is sometimes a necessity.
After all that shopping you might be in need of a massage. Luckily the not-so-exotically-named “Vincharm Spa”, at the top of Tower B, offers just that. It’s a huge place so I’m guessing you can just turn up, but call in advance if you want to be sure of a spot. It’s not cheap: expect to pay around US$50 for a massage. Of course, it’s a lot cheaper elsewhere in Hanoi.
Finish off your day with a visit to the food court and Megastar complex on the 5th floor. Annoyingly you have to get a lift up from the 4th floor as the escalators don’t go up that far: I say this is annoying because there aren’t many lifts, they’re over full and they’re slow. Leave plenty of time.
The food court offers Pizza Hut, Kichi Kichi Hotpot and some local options and the cinema is like any other cinema anywhere else in the world (I’m guessing): yes, you can even buy popcorn. There are around 10 screens, one being 3D, and ticket prices range from 100,000 VND to 470,000 VND for a couples’ VIP 3D seat. Go on “Happy Wednesday” if you can: standard screenings are 60,000 VND and 3D are 100,000 VND. Tickets can be booked in advance on their website but you need to set up a log in so it’s probably easier to just turn up, assuming you’re not trying to see a hit movie during its first week out. Seats are comfortable and the sound isn’t bad — just be prepared for the Vietnamese habit of taking phone calls through the movie (after all, they can read the subtitles).
Take a taxi from Old Quarter for about 50,000 VND each way or catch the No. 31 bus from Le Thai To (to the west of Hoan Kiem Lake) to right outside. To get back, walk to Pho Hue (it runs parallel to Ba Trieu) and pick up the 31 back.
191 Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung District, Hanoi
5th Floor, Vincom Towers
T: (04) 3974 3333
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