A few decades ago, Ho Chi Minh City’s Thao Dien area in District 2, home to La Villa French Restaurant, was little more than a poor, underpopulated swampland separated from the city centre by the Saigon River. Today, it’s one of Ho Chi Minh City’s most thriving wards – a high-end city within a city where quality of life reaches new heights.

From Swampland to Wonderland

The area that now comprises Thao Dien was originally established as Ich Phu in 1852. Since then, it was renamed several times before it got its final denomination we use today. It was only when the Saigon Bridge was completed in 1961 that residents could commute to the city centre by other means than boat.


In the 1970s, the area was covered by fields, mangroves and canals. It remained of little interest to the higher-income earners as it was easily flooded and lacked a convenient road network into the city centre. The highway we enjoy today had yet to be built.

So the land was dotted with dwellings of the poor and the poorest, as well as a small number of settlements for people working for the government. In the following decade, the An Phu Superior Compound, a villa compound that forms the heart of Thao Dien until today, was built. This was when the first foreigners settled in the area, and it became the dawn of today’s prosperous Thao Dien ward.


However, until the 2000s, Thao Dien was still little more than a quiet enclave off the city centre with only one shop, the supermarket attached to the An Phu Superior Compound, and surrounded by undeveloped land and paddy fields inhabited by those who couldn’t afford to stay in the central districts. The few remaining houses dating back to those modest times before the turn of the millennium can easily be recognised: they’ve visibly sunk into the ground because of their unstable foundations!


What followed was the perfect example for Vietnam’s construction frenzy of the past 15 years: with the rising number of wealthy expatriates coming to live in Vietnam, there was demand for an upper-class residential neighbourhood close enough to Districts 1 and 3 to not leave residents cut off the centre but also far enough away to provide a more peaceful, laid-back lifestyle.

What used to be an underdeveloped scrubland and living space for the poor was reborn as the modern, literally high-rising Thao Dien ward we know today. With the expatriates came the amenities, with the amenities came more expatriates. The result is an area that mixes the Western art de vivre with the luxury of our Southeast Asian climate, and shows very different demographics from the rest of the city.


Forty percent of Thao Dien is French, while another 30 percent are made up by Westerners from other parts of Europe or America. The remaining 30 percent mostly contain highly educated local residents and Vietnamese who have grown up in the West – called Viet Kieu in Vietnamese – as well as a smaller number of Japanese and Hong Kongers.

Come to Stay

While Bui Vien in District 1 caters to backpackers and short-term travellers, Thao Dien provides a Western-standard haven for deluxe expatriates. Thao Dien is infamous for creating “D2 people”, residents who rarely ever leave their district except for work. The reason is simple: Thao Dien has everything they need.


Thao Dien’s sophisticated lifestyle shows first and foremost in its luxury housing offer. The ward comprises Ho Chi Minh City’s most magnificent villas with large garden areas and luxurious swimming pools as well as extravagant serviced apartments with all the amenities a high-end resident could possibly dream of: parks, children’s playgrounds, roof gardens, gyms, saunas and much more.

The area gives residents room to breathe and space to stroll in a safe, clean, lush, quiet, healthy and family-friendly environment. Large, peaceful streets covered in greenery invite residents and visitors alike to take a walk through an area full of architectural gems; and the relaxation comes with the full entertainment package: fun nightlife activities, a wide range of deluxe shopping opportunities and, last but not least, the most outstanding restaurants in town.


La Villa French Restaurant is proud to be in the vanguard of Thao Dien’s abundant offer of five-star leisure venues. Read in our next blog what makes the area a mecca for top-of-the-line entertainment, how District 2 and Thao Dien are going to further evolve in the years to come, and how La Villa adds to the delights of a perfect location.