BootsnAll Travel Network

the fabulous madame cuc!


madame cuc!, originally uploaded by maliayosh.

if you’re on a budget (and even if you’re not!) you MUST visit one of madame cuc’s hotels in the pham ngu lao area of ho chi min city (saigon) if you gt the chance. she is wonderful! this was definitely my favorite of all the places i’ve stayed in the past three months, and we’ve been allllll over the place, so i think i can be considered somewhat of an expert by now.

madame cuc is already listed in lonely planet as an “author’s pick,” which i sometimes avoid because it makes them more crowded. this time, kariena was staying there already and i couldn’t find a cheaper dorm bed in the area, so we checked into a twin room to save some cash. $15 a night for the two of us, when i’ve not paid much more than $5 for the past few months, so i felt like it was a little bit of a “splurge” but it was totally worth it!!

first, the staff does everything they can to make you feel comfortable and the rooms are extremely clean. although the singles/twins at $15 are a little small, they had all that we needed (i.e. two beds and a bathroom) plus luxuries like hot water, cable tv, and air conditioning! once i dumped my bag in the room, i was already happy with our choice, but then the extras started rolling in…

when you wake up, you’re treated to your choice of coffee, tea, or fruit juice, plus a steaming hot baguette with butter and fresh strawberry jam. in the evening, you can again enjoy the freebies. this time, freshly made spring rolls and a bowl of noodles. there’s a computer in the lobby with free internet, and don’t forget to grab a banana on your way out on the town!

one night, kariena and i were in the lobby waiting to meet our friends for dinner. madame cuc herself came up to us and introduced herself and asked why we weren’t eating dinner! after promising her that we were going to eat later, she started making small talk and asked how old i was. so i told her that yesterday was my birthday and she immediately called over the receptionist and started speaking hurried vietnamese to her. the girl looked at me and said, “i’m so sorry, i forgot, i’m so crazy!” which made me laugh! i didn’t expect them to remember my birthday! but apparently, if you have a birthday while you’re there (they get your passports when they check you in) they normally bring you a cake or something! i couldn’t believe it.

then madame cuc asked what we were doing the following day. no big plans, we said. so she invited us to her other hotel location because she wanted to cook us some soutern vietnamese food! the following day, we showed up to all of this:

madame cuc's special lunch

i know it looks like she’s trying to feed an army, but it was just for kariena, myself, and a woman from the UK who had been staying at the other hotel. madame cuc kept coming over to make sure everything was ok, and trying to get us to eat more… we were completely stuffed when we left, and she wouldn’t take any money for it – she just wanted us to try some “real” vietnamese food. my favorite was this braised pork dish with hardboiled eggs (sort of like okinawan shoyu pork), but we also had a mountain of fresh spring rolls, a pumpkin soup, a lemony-garlicy fish dish, and a plate piled high with stir fried veggies. for dessert, a delicious fresh mango! yum!

what an amazing experience, and an amazing woman. she’s already got three hotels in saigon, and is working on opening a resort in nearby mui ne in 2009. you can visit her website at

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One response to “the fabulous madame cuc!”

  1. Mom says:

    So cheap too for soooo much! The pho alone yesterday at Bale was $7.75 plus tax?!

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