Drinking in Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon) is a true joy. It offers a surprising mix of ultra-luxe rooftop scenes, intimate lounges, secret cafes and – my personal favourite – street corner mom and pop shops hawking their own homemade rum. Ho Chi Minh City bars are plentiful, with enough choice to satisfy any drinker’s vibe.

While there are a seemingly endless number of spots to imbibe, new shops are popping up all the time and likewise, many sadly go out of business creating ever constant turnover. Here are my top Ho Chi Minh City bars at the moment:

Ho Chi Minh City Bars: Luxe Experiences

There is no shortage of expensive rooftop patios and pool scenes in HCMC, some of which try desperately, and nearly succeed, at rivalling a Vegas pool party. Most are located atop expensive five star hotels in the downtown core (District 1) such as The Caravelle, The Rex Hotel, and Saigon Skydeck sitting atop the iconic Bitexco Financial Tower. I’ll admit, I love the over the top scenes for a good photoshoot, but truth be told you don’t need to spend a ton to enjoy the best of these bars.

Ho Chi Minh City Bars - Luxe

Never pay admission to access the viewing decks of large buildings as you can often grab a cocktail on an adjacent floor and get the views for free. Boasting 360 degree unobstructed views from Vietnam’s tallest building, the Saigon Skydeck charges for entry to the enclosed observation deck located on the 49th floor. Instead, take the elevator to the 50th through 52nd floors to their cafe or Eon Heli Bar for drinks, and skip the 200k VND admission fee – there is a minimum one drink purchase required upon entry to the bar but they didn’t seem to fussy when I visited. Be prepared to pay 200k VND for cocktails and 100k for a beer, which is comparatively outrageous in South East Asia but well worth it for the view and photo op. Be sure to consider the weather to ensure you’re enjoying the clearest views possible.

‘Wine Not Thursdays’ at New World Saigon Hotel straddles both the luxe and good value categories as it boasts free flow wine and champagne, with more than ten international labels to choose from and all you can eat charcuterie buffet from 5 to 8pm from just 350k VND per person. Need I say more? Reservations are highly recommended. Although the live music isn’t anything to write home about, you’re sure to have a great time with friends thanks to the lax policy on holding two drinks at once and the massive chunks of parmesan. [76 Le Lai Street, D1, HCMC]

Ho Chi Minh City Bars - New World

A few floors up at the same hotel are the rooftop pool parties of Saigon Soul, in full swing once the weather is reliably dry from late November to May. Certainly not as pretentious as Vegas, parties are only on Saturdays from 10am to 10pm. Admission’s a mere 150k VND, beer starts at 50k, and scoring one of the VIP booths or loungers with bottle service won’t break the bank. Theme parties change regularly but there is always a good stock of inflatable pool toys on hand no matter what the occasion. Check out their Facebook page for details.

Ho Chi Minh City Bars - Saigon Soul pool party

If you’re willing to invest the extra time and cab ride out to District 2, The Deck Saigon in An Phu is a must visit for those with a pension for champagne, caviar, riverside dining, and the option of arriving via private boat. It ranks amongst the most delicious and expensive meals I’ve enjoyed in Saigon at $25 to $100 USD per person depending how much damage you’d like to do. I suppose I’m one of those people who is a sucker for a deal such as buy-one-get-one on bottles of Moet & Chandon and $1 oysters during their popular Sunday brunches. Cocktails will run you 175k VND and up, and a premium champagne bellini 490k. Luckily drinks are half price during happy hour from 4 to 7pm and 9 to 11pm. Worth a visit for special occasions. [38 Nguyen U Di Thao Dien, D2, HCMC]

Ho Chi Minh City Bars - Luxe

Feeling extra classy? Open for just over a year, The Reverie Saigon is the city’s only six-star hotel, and amongst the various high priced dining options is a stunning jazz lounge, an extension of R&J Italian Lounge & Restaurant. A three-piece band backs up the singer (who is also originally from the Toronto area and I’ve totally befriended), from 8:30 to 11:30pm, Tuesday to Sunday. Cocktails are pricy but worth it, the wine menu is 21 pages long, and the crowd is a decidedly discerning group of business travelers and consulate staff making this the ideal place to meet some very interesting people. [The hotel can be accessed from two streets, 22 – 36 Nguyen Hue Blvd. & 57 – 69F Dong Khoi St., D1, HCMC]

Still haven’t managed to spend everything in your bank account at the above Ho Chi Minh City bars? This last spot will do the trick. Glow Skybar offers phenomenal rooftop views, an impressive DJ schedule, and cocktails that you won’t soon forget – nor will your wallet. Thankfully the 5 to 8pm daily happy hour offers temporary financial relief in the form of half priced deals on a wide selection of drinks. The décor and vibe is very much like that of a W Hotel, and so is the crowd. [Located in D1, kiddy corner to the Reunification Palace at 93 Nguyen Du, Bến Nghé, D1, HCMC]

Ho Chi Minh City Bars: The Unique Spots

These next Ho Chi Minh City bars nearly bring me to tears – such great vibes and people, stunning scenery, and absolutely none of the pretension one may expect to find in equivalent ‘hipster’ bars in other cities.

Launched in 2014 Pasteur Brewing Co., Saigon’s first real micro-brewery, has quickly found a strong following. With a range of hoppy IPAs and ever growing list of rotating seasonal brews – approximately 15 taps total – offered at their flagship tasting room, they’re also carried at 80+ restaurants around major Vietnamese cities. It’s relatively expensive versus standard beers like Tiger, but well worth it. With a small food menu, a ‘beer to go’ store out front, and online delivery options, this place is magic. A 500ml growler will set you back 148-159k VND, but when you bring back your empty you get a free pint. I’m fond of the six glass tasting flight that rings in at 250k VND. Big with the expat community of 20 and 30 somethings, it’s quite small so can be a challenge to get a seat at times. [Tasting room is open daily 11am-10pm, tucked up a flight of stairs in an alley located at 144 Pasteur, D1, HCMC]

Ho Chi Minh City Bars - Pasteur Street Brewing

If you’ve had your fill of rice and noodles and are craving something different, why not try authentic Mexican. Rico Taco is located in D3 and may be the highlight of your day, nay, month. This quirky and incredibly colourful Mexican restaurant and bar serves up exceptional frozen margaritas, wood fired pizzas, and has a very affordable set lunch menu at only 145k VND that certainly merits repeat visits. While the food is four-star, the bright atmosphere, spectacular drinks available by the jug, and impressive social calendar is what make it a five star experience overall. Swing by on Wednesdays for salsa lessons, Thursdays for taco specials with a live Cuban jazz band, or any number of other fun social events throughout the week. Find the latest details on their Facebook page.

Ho Chi Minh City Bars - Rico Taco

The First Bar offers an intimate whisky experience that is a real treat. With a ten seat bar, the cozy and private environment is ideal for dates, solo travelers, or close friends. Drinks are on the higher priced end, but deservedly so when you’re having something served with a massive chiselled ice cube and prepared by ‘the master’. Sadly, the intimate, and often smoky, environment is no longer a secret – a year ago the place didn’t exist on Google maps, but now it’s full for lunch and many nights there is insufficient room at the bar so you’re ushered upstairs to the Japanese restaurant instead, which offers the same great drinks, but is lacking in atmosphere. [Located at 23 Huynh Thuc Khang Street, D1, HCMC, closed between lunch and dinner from 2 to 5pm, Monday to Saturday, so plan accordingly if you’re a day drinker]

Located in the heart of D1, across from the Park Hyatt, Piu Piu opened in April 2016. With three floors each with distinct music and decor experiences, it has become a big hit with locals and expats alike. Whether you want deep house on the first floor, or slightly more mellow oldies on the rooftop patio, the 50k VND cover is well worth it. Theme events and weekly programming keep a solid base of regulars coming back including ‘Big Beats and Beer Pong Tuesdays’, ‘Mundo Lingo’ (language exchange event) on Wednesdays, or Thursdays for Magners Ladies night – free entry and free drinks for ‘homegirls’ nine to midnight. The tempo increases on Friday and Saturday nights with various high profile guest DJs. Drinks are on the pricy side – 130k VND for specialty cocktails, 100k VND for basic mix drinks – but given the central tourist location, one can’t complain. [Open 9pm to 4am – earlier for some weekend theme parties – and located at 97 Hai Ba Trung, D1, HCMC, visit their Facebook page for the latest event news]

Ho Chi Minh City Bars - Indika

I wanted to save Indika Saigon for a separate beer guide, but couldn’t help myself. Literally tucked 40 meters back, only accessible after walking through two other BBQ and patio restaurants that merit a visit on their own, Indika is a mix of eclectic musicians, artistic community, an honest to god secret garden, and of course great beer and food. If you’re into chocolate, book exchanges, or the circus, there is quite literally a theme night for you. My fave? ‘Free Flow Beer Fridays’ from 8 to 11pm is all you can drink craft beer for 200k VND. They regularly rotate special guest food purveyors for theme nights, all of which are exceptional.

Let’s be honest, twinkly lights make everyone’s heart flutter. If you’re looking to get cozy with your travel partner look no further than The Refinery courtyard. No less than four shaded patios await you in this former opium manufacturing site, each touting compelling happy hour drink specials. With slightly more expensive than average cocktails given its central tourist location, the ability to patio hop makes up for it. Highlights include The Refinery, Camargue, Vasco’s Restaurant & Bar (French/Continental), and Annz (Japanese), although the latter doesn’t have equal patio presence. Happy hour runs 5 to 7pm at most of the restaurants. If you really want to impress your partner, sign up for a delicious three hour afternoon cooking class at Saigon Cooking Class by Hoa Túc, located just one floor above the courtyard. You’ll be well fed and done the experience around 5pm, just in time for happy hour below! [Follow the yellow archway reading ‘The Refinery’ at 74 Hai Ba Trung, D1, HCMC, and you will enter the courtyard where all of these (and more) patios await.]

Like beer? Like cake? Try Cakes & Ale for a literal plethora of baked goods and Belgian Trappist ales. Side note – this place could also easily be called “Cat Café”, as numerous cats roam the property with pretty free reign. Though it still manages to feel very hygienic, I’m just not really a cat person and wish they had puppies running about instead. Definitely worth it though for the stories you’ll tell your friends. [Located at 6B TP, Cong Truong Quoc Te, phuong 6, D3, HCMC.]

Ho Chi Minh City Bars: The Dives

Affectionately known as ‘Rum Bar’ amongst my sister and her friends, the family run street bar located beside Black Cat Restaurant at the intersection of Phan Van Dat and Mac Thi Buoi (because you’ll need some point of reference) owns a huge piece of my heart. With minimal signage, no fixed operating hours, and stacks of little plastic chairs, it’s ideal for late nights after visiting one of the above mentioned more expensive places. It’s conveniently located for nearby street hawkers to sell you food or even have whatever you want delivered using vietnammm.vn, the local food delivery service. This place is real Vietnam. A bottle of rum, served in a heavily recycled bottle of course, costs 150k VND plus a bit more for your choice of a few small bottles of Coke or 7Up, and a group of four can drink their faces off for under 200k VND – or about $9 USD. Don’t be afraid to squirt the little citrus fruits into your drink (a cumquat of some sort?) and mow down on the spicy roasted nuts provided free of charge. Warning, if you want more ice or another bottle, you may have to give the owner a nudge to wake him from his nap, but don’t worry he won’t mind.

Ho Chi Minh City Bars - Rum Bar

One of the most iconic restaurant and bar visuals of Vietnam (indeed a lot of Southeast Asia) seems to be the local seafood restaurants; large open air halls located along the street offering cold beer and fresh seafood to anyone willing to sit on miniature red or blue plastic chairs. Let’s be clear, the feature here is the food and a glimpse into Vietnamese culture, where they say life is truly lived on the streets, and not the beer. However, cheap, cold Tiger or 333 (pronounced bah-bah-bah) is perhaps best enjoyed in such authentic environments. If you have a sensitive stomach, stick to packaged product versus draught, and more of the fried food versus fresh. There are dozens of such restaurants along Vĩnh Khánh in D1 between Hoàng Dieu and Tôn Dan. I’ve had a brilliant time at 662 Vĩnh Khánh, which also happens to be a stop on the ‘Saigon After Dark’ tour operated by Vespa Adventures.

‘Beer Street Saigon’ located along Bui Vien St., west of De Tham St. is situated amongst the seedier backpacker district of Pham Ngu Lao in D1. Dozens of local street side bars each offer hordes of little plastic chairs for you to consume seemingly endless amounts of local beer. The beer is shall we say, unique. Bia hoi beer is made locally, and daily, at about 3 to 4% ABV and 10k VND per jug. It’s not winning Monde Selection brewing awards any time soon, but it certainly gets the job done. Due to its 24 hour shelf life, it sells out fast so visit during the day if you’re looking to give it a try. While these places stay open quite late, it gets busier as the night progresses and, arguably, more dangerous with cars, food hawkers, travelers and pickpocketers whizzing by one another. Definitely a place to meet new people as your plastic chairs are literally jammed together, it’s about a 50/50 mix of foreigners and locals. Worth a visit for sure, but for the love of god, please don’t let this be the beer or cultural apex of your trip to Ho Chi Minh.

Ho Chi Minh City Bars - Rum Bar

Expat pubs are an option, though this is cheating a bit as it’s a broad term for a type of bar rather than giving you an exact spot. Most expat pubs in HCMC tend to be located in more suburban districts where expats actually live like D7 or D2 versus downtown D1 or D3 where they work. In virtually all cases the actual owner is working the bar or walking around and will immediately introduce themselves, there are various team’s jerseys hanging off the walls, multiple TVs playing multiple sporting events, and menus are printed in English only. What makes them special is the loyal crowd of regulars that you’ll find who will welcome you in, offer you a seat at the bar, and eagerly swap stories with you. Food is usually nothing to write home about but who needs food when you’ve made a new friend willing to open their doors at 7am to stream a Team Canada hockey or NFL playoff game for you? That’s true friendship. Okay, thanks to the fairly superficial liquor laws in Vietnam, it’s also smart business.

That’s it for now on my top Ho Chi Minh City bars. Add any of your favourites below!


Ho Chi Minh City bar images by Madeline Burch and Saigon Soul


 

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Madeline Burch

Madeline Burch

Madeline was born and raised in Toronto Canada, educated in marketing, and has worked in brand management and the alcohol industry for nearly a decade. In search of great drinks, stories and photos, she has travelled to South East Asia multiple times including a recent eight month stint based in Vietnam. From luxe travel to volunteer missions, she’s interested in it all.

Departful is a full service travel agency for busy professionals seeking unique and transformative custom travel experiences. We create memorable holidays that are 100% tailored to our clients, saving them time and energy by handling all of the little details while providing value by leverage our expertise and network of travel partners. We are based in Toronto.

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Departful is a full service travel agency for busy professionals seeking unique and transformative custom travel experience. We create memorable holidays that are 100% tailored to our clients, saving them time & energy by handling all of the little details while providing value by leverage our expertise and network of travel partners. We are based in Toronto.

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Departful is affiliated with TravelOnly.

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