Once the sun begins to set and the heat abates, Ho Chi Minh City comes alive with people seeking some relaxation and fun. Downtown in District 1 is where you’ll find most of the action, with a few standout spots in District 3. Whether it’s swanky nightclubs, glitzy rooftop bars, casual watering holes, live music venues, or a night of karaoke that you’re in search of, there’s something for everyone in the bustling metropolis. But while you’re out and about, beware of your belongs as pickpocketing is, unfortunately, a common occurrence in Ho Chi Minh City. Otherwise, enjoy an evening out on the town and be prepared to party until the early hours of the next morning.
Whether you’re looking for somewhere easygoing to just grab a beer and people watch, a rooftop spot with great views, or a swanky place for a great tipple, Ho Chi Minh City has it all. At many of the smaller venues and roadside bars you'll find bia hoi, or “fresh beer.” Bia hoi is a draft beer brewed daily that’s a local favorite and easy on the wallet, costing about 50 cents for a glass. But if you’re looking for a cocktail—and the city’s scene has really come up this past couple of years—expect to pay much more.
Here are a few bars to check out when you’re in town:
- Rabbit Hole: This self-proclaimed avant-garde cocktail bar offers polished service in a sophisticated setting. If you’re looking for an expertly crafted classic cocktail, this is the place to be.
- Qui Cuisine Mixology: They don’t just have some of the prettiest drinks in town—they’re well crafted, too. It can turn into quite the party scene on the weekends, so if you want something a little quieter go early on a weekday. Don’t forget to dress to impress.
- Chill Skybar: Regarded as the best rooftop bar in Saigon for its exceptional views of the city. It’s a great place for sunset drinks and is fairly laidback until around 10 p.m. when the DJ arrives to turn things up. They have a dress code that’s strictly enforced so avoid tank tops, athletic shorts, and flip flops.
- Firkin Bar: Whiskey lovers, rejoice, Firkin has the most extensive whiskey selection in town and their bartenders can make a bespoke cocktail for you on the fly.
- East West Brewing Co.: Craft beer is the name of the game here. They also offer Sunday brunch if you want to do some day drinking.
- Saigon Saigon Rooftop Bar: On the top floor of Caravelle Hotel, Saigon Saigon is a historic spot and another popular rooftop bar in the city. Plus, there’s live music every night.
- Pham Ngu Lao Street and Bui Vien Street: Also known as Backpacker Street, this busy thoroughfare on the western edge of District 1 is packed with roadside restaurants and bars. Pick one that appeals to you, grab a plastic stool, and people watch as you throw back some bia hoi.
If you’re ready to dance the night away, Ho Chi Minh City has no shortage of nightclubs. The hottest and swankiest venues are always packed to the gills and largely cater to table service-seeking patrons, which ranges from standing-only high-tops to sofa seating, so be ready to pony up and dress to impress. (And don’t be shocked if you receive a fruit platter with your bottle—it’s customary in Vietnam.) The more relaxed clubs typically have a bigger dance floor and no cover charge if you show up on the earlier side, but drinks are still relatively pricey. Either way, be prepared to pay if you choose to imbibe.
Most clubs are in District 1 and keep the music pumping and lights flashing until 2 a.m., with a few that stay open a little later.
Here are some of the best to party at in Saigon:
- Lush: One of few nightclubs that has been open for more than a decade, Lush is popular amongst partygoers in the city. It’s also favored by international DJs, making it a hot spot in Saigon. Music ranges from house to hip-hop.
- Envy Club: Dubbed as a theatrical nightclub, Envy combines thumping music with performance dancers and acrobats. It’s an exhilarating atmosphere that’s sure to leave an impression.
- Candi Shop: After 11 p.m., this speakeasy lounge turns into an underground nightclub. Hip hop and R&B are the music of choice and the venue mostly consists of tables.
- Apocalypse Now: A little more relaxed, Apocalypse Now also has a fairly big dance floor. It’s also open until 4 a.m. if you’re looking to stay up late.
- Commas Saigon: Having just opened in 2019, this intimate venue is one of the newest clubs in Ho Chi Minh City. It has an impressive lighting system with a kinetic installation. Dance to hip hop until 4 a.m.
- Canalis Club: If you’re looking to get out of District 1, Canalis Club in District 3 provides just as fun of an atmosphere as its downtown counterparts with flashing lights and non-stop Vina House beats.
The Vietnamese love good music and as a result, Ho Chi Minh City offers several venues catered to live entertainment. It’s the perfect alternative if you want to skip the bar hopping or club outing. Here are a few spots to check out live music in the city:
- Yoko Café: This cozy café/bar in District 3 draws in a mix of artists and is one of the most popular places in Saigon for live entertainment. The line-up changes regularly, ranging from open stage nights to performances by local bands.
- Acoustic Bar: A cult favorite of locals, Acoustic Bar brings in a variety of musicians every night. Classic and modern rock make up the bones of this place, but you’ll hear other genres from time to time, too.
- Sax N’ Art Jazz Club: Drinks are a little pricier than other bars and there is a cover charge, but it’s a great spot if you want to listen to contemporary jazz with a Vietnamese influence. The house band usually plays and is supplemented with appearances by owner and saxophonist Tran Manh Tuan as well as the occasional international guest.
- Hard Rock Cafe: Sure, it’s a chain, but there’s no denying that Hard Rock Cafe is good and fun when it comes to live music.
- Thi Bar: If you’re looking for something on Bui Vien Street, Thi Bar has a Filipino band covering pop hits starting at 10 p.m. On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights they have a buy two, get one free drink deal.
Part of loving good music is also singing it and no trip to Vietnam would be complete without some karaoke. It’s such a huge part of the culture that many locals have their own set-ups at home to enjoy with friends and family. Even on Bui Vien Street you’ll frequently see people dragging around a karaoke machine as entertainment or for paying guests to use. But if you’re looking for somewhere a little more comfortable karaoke bars like King Karaoke and Kingdom Karaoke offer plush private rooms for you and your friends to channel your inner Mariah Carey. Plus, you’ll have a dedicated waiter to make sure that your glass never goes empty in case you need some liquid courage.
Tips for Going Out in Ho Chi Minh City
- Partygoers in Ho Chi Minh City stay up late, even on weekdays, so prepare to be awake until the early hours of the next morning.
- Like much of the rest of Southeast Asia, Grab is the predominant ride-hailing app in Ho Chi Minh City. It works much like Uber and Lyft and is a great way to avoid any transportation schemes or language barriers.
- If you do choose to grab a taxi off the street, make sure it’s from a reputable company and that the drivers turn on their meters once you step into the car.
- Unfortunately, bag and phone snatchings are not uncommon in the city. Make sure to keep a close eye on your belongings and avoid pulling out your devices to film your surroundings when you’re walking around. Losing your smartphone over an Instagram just isn’t worth it.
- Traffic is no joke in Ho Chi Minh City, so while you head out for the evening make sure you add in some extra time for any unexpected delays. This is particularly the case if you happen to be in town on New Year’s Eve when road closures are ubiquitous.