Saigon’s Nightlife: Our Top 10 Bars
Life as an expat in Saigon to put it simply… is awesome. People living here are so spoiled with the bars, restaurants, and clubs. Most people traveling here get stuck in the bright lights, cheap booze, and party scene at Pham Ngu Lao. Which is GREAT, we’ve spent plenty of nights drowning away in buckets in the backpacker’s district… but here’s a list of some other great bars around district 1 that are worth checking out and going beyond the bumping music and street hawkers at Bui Vien.
1. Pacharan, 97 Hai Ba Trung
A jug of sangria on the roof top is one of my favorite things to do and places to be at in Saigon. This Spanish tapas restaurant/bar has buy one jug, get one jug of sangria on Friday’s during their happy hour. Surrounded by the Opera House and fancy hotels, the sounds of the city traffic muffled below, you can almost pretend you’re in some other Western city and far away from the pollution of Saigon!
2. Rum Bar, 13 Phan Van Dat (right next to Black Cat)
Well, we call it rum bar.. but it doesn’t exactly have a name. It’s homemade rum, and about $2 for a big bottle of it at this little street bar. It’s right next to Black Cat, and is operated out of someone’s house. It is just red chairs lined up on the street with matching plastic tables. The rum creeps up on you and since it is one of the cheapest places you can drink in the city… bottle after bottle, you’ll leave their with a big smile on your face! Super cheap, really fun, always buzzing with locals, definitely offers a real feel to the city and a look into the love Vietnamese have with drinking in baby plastic chairs.
3. Lion’s German Brewery, 11C Lam Son Square
A 1 minute walk away from Pacharan, lion’s brewery is also one of our favorite places to drink in the city. Let’s face it, Asian beers aren’t the greatest and there’s only so much Saigon Green and Tiger you can drink before you want a nice dark or light brewed beer. Sitting outside at a picnic table the bar looks onto the Opera House and is very well priced considering the massive mug they give you to drink out of.
4. Vasco’s & The Refinery, 74/7D Hai Ba Trung
Vasco’s is extremely popular with all of the expats in Saigon. You can sit downstairs and have a nice fancy drink sitting by candle light, or venture upstairs to the dance scene. Vasco’s get some decent DJ’s in and on any night will be packed with people. It’s a little more expensive and $3 for a bottle of beer and about $5 for a spirit. Great place to go after you’ve got the night started at Rum Bar.
5. T&R, 42 Do Quang Dau (between Pham Ngu Lao and Bui Vien)
“I love this bar, it’s my kind of place, just walking through the front door put’s a big smile on my face.. no cover charge, come as you are, I love this bar…” The song sums this place up perfectly. It’s a total dive, with smoke build up a foot thick from all the cigarettes and lack of ventilation over the years– but that’s what gives it it’s charm. It’s a little hole in the wall, sitting between Pham Ngu Lao and Bui Vien and a go to place any night you’re drunk at 3am with no where to go but the need for a beer and some music. The computer sits out so everyone can choose their own music to blast from the speakers. I love this bar. A night ending at T&R is always a good night, but makes for a terrible morning.
6. Apocalypse Now, 2 Thi Sach
It’s been in the city literally forever, during the Vietnam War soldiers would gather here for their drinks and their women. The downstairs can be pretty seedy, but I love the upstairs. It plays all the typical club music from back at home, with you and your friends dancing around a metal barrel to sit your drinks on. Again, it’s another place I always go to with a good buzz on because the drinks are more expensive, but any night ending at Apocolypse is always a great freaking time. Weekends there is a $5 cover, but your first drink is included.
7. Blanchay’s Tash, 95 Hai Ba Trung
Another high-end bar, it is next door to Pacharan and a great place to go after having a few jugs of sangria. Blanchay’s Tash is really nice, newly remodled with the upstairs opening up to a roof top setting with a DJ keeping the crowd happy. Drinks are little more expensive at $4-5 for a beer, but again this is a great place, really funky and upbeat.
8. Ladies Night at Cloud 9 or Lush
Tuesday nights are primetime for the ladies! Free drinks until midnight at both Cloud 9 and Lush. Lush is a club and is packed full of people every Tuesday, while Cloud 9 is really relaxed and a beautiful high-end bar. Sitting on Cloud 9′s rooftop overlooking the city sipping away on fancy cocktails, or jumping into the club scene at Lush where ladies also sip on cocktails for FREE. Sorry guys, Lush has a $5 cover for you on Tuesdays and both bars are around $4-5 for a beer. Cloud 9 address: Floor 6, Hai Nam Building, 2 Cong Truong Quoc Te, District 3 Lush address: 2 Ly Tu Trong
9. Spotted Cow, 111 Bui Vien
Another one on Bui Vien, but the cow’s roof top terrace makes it stand out against all the other bars dotted around the backpacker’s district. Friday happy hour 5-7pm has buy one jug, get one jug of cocktails or beer. So many Friday’s we jet staright from work to the cow to forget about our whining students from the day and celebrate the weekend! It has a great atmosphere to it, broadcasts all the important sporting events, and has great specials on food and drinks every night of the week. Tuesdays are buy one burger, get one free– can’t beat that either!
10. Plastic Chair Joints
Anywhere you see a bunch of plastic chairs on the street will sell beer for less than .50 and is a great way to mingle with the locals and learn the Vietnamese cheers , “Mot, Hai, Ba… YOOOO!” We’ve had some of our best, most random nights because we plopped down at a random place with red plastic chairs on the street. You’ll have a laugh with the locals as you try to talk to each other, realize you’ll never understand each other, and drink away the confusion!
There are 2 expat magazines in Saigon. They both have websites, and are a great place to check and see what’s going on in Saigon on any given night. They will list food specials, DJ’s, exhibits, live music, whatever is going on will be listed here. I think The Word is better when it comes to looking for a goodtime, but AsiaLife is also helpful.