Hidden beyond dragons dancing from ornate pagodas into the night sky, down narrow streets where half-clothed children run wild, and around slithering bends in the canal, vibrant nightlife of all varieties can be found in District 3. This is an area just 2 kilometers north of the lunacy of Pham Ngu Lao that operates at a more relaxed pace.
Acoustic Bar is one of Saigon’s best live music venues, home to amateurs belting out tunes from Dylan to Madonna and everything in-between. If you arrive past 9, expect standing room only, as a trendy mix of youthful locals, tourists, and expats pack this dimly lit joint 7 nights a week. The drinks are quite expensive by Saigon standards, yet the lack of cover charge, electric atmosphere, and diverse set of acts more than make up for it.
Rock Fan Club (RFC) is another animated addition to Saigon’s music scene. It’s an establishment not afraid to mix it up, featuring a pop band one night and a hardcore metal act the next. This smoke-filled two-story joint is usually not as crowded as Acoustic Bar, but with a capacity of only 60 people, it’s still a good idea to show up early. Music generally gets going around 8:30.
POC POC is one of the newest additions to Saigon’s constantly growing list of open air beer gardens. This sprawling establishment with its DJ, strobe lights, and scantily clad dancers has more of a party vibe going for it than other bars around. The beer list is extensive and prices are just a tad above average.
With stunning panoramic views of Saigon’s kaleidoscopic skyline, SOHY’s rooftop is the most stylish lounge in District 3. A champagne garden, sky bar, dining area, and cigar room spread across three floors of the Centec Tower offer patrons an inventive new spin on the rooftop scene. Dress to impress; this one is a pricey, intimate experience.
Sophisticated and brimming with culture, Yoko Cafe plays host to some of Saigon’s best live music. There’s a bit of a hipster vibe that radiates throughout this joint —and decor to match. Drink prices are a notch below Acoustic Cafe, yet there’s a small cover charge of 50,000 VND (a little over 2 USD). Frequented by Saigon’s thriving bohemian community, Yoko doubles as a coffee shop during the day.
BiaCraft may have more craft beer on tap than anywhere else in Vietnam. From their own home-brews to local favorites like Heart of Darkness and Fuzzy Logic, from crisp to fruity, this District 3 staple has something for everyone. With a convenient location down a quiet side street, just off Cach Mang Thang Tam and an expansive shaded terrace, BiaCraft is a great place to slip away from the midday Saigon heat.
Tattoos, mohawks, and not a foreigner in sight. May Cafe is the plastic chair dive to go to immerse yourself in the burgeoning alternative Vietnamese scene. Have a beer, drink a smoothie, and for once in your life, act cool.
A stone’s throw from Acoustic Bar, B3 is the spot to go before checking out the live show next door. This trendy, modern hangout plays host to an eclectic mix of expats and locals. B3 Beer, with its open walls and a concrete backsplash, is a nice airy addition to the list.