The drinking scene in Bui Vien and Pham Ngu Lao is legendary. This is the backpacker district of Ho Chi Minh City, and it never sleeps, although every morning it looks a little post-apocalyptic after all the crazy partying. Both sides of the street are lined up with bars packed tightly, each offering cheap beer, delicious finger food, loud music and fun, drunk tourist crowds. This street is equivalent to Khao San Road in Bangkok.
Even if cheap party places are not your thing, it’s worth checking it out, especially if you are with a group of friends. Some bars here are quite decent, like Thi café, and there are even great clubs such as Republic. Besides that, there are plenty of restaurants that offer late-night bites that are so hard to pass on when you are under the influence of all that 30-cent beer.
The Ho Chi Minh City skybar scene is fantastic, with plenty of options for you to choose from. These include Chill Skybar, Air360, Heli Bar, Glow, Saigon Saigon, and Broma, Not a Bar. Each of these has their own styles and attracts certain crowds.
These skybars usually offer classy cocktails, mellow lounge music, comfortable sofas and a great vantage point from which to watch the sun set over the bustling metropolis down below. Some even have a dance floor for you to let loose after a couple of drinks until the early hours of the morning.
Ho Chi Minh City has a great live music scene as well. From smooth jazz at La Fenetre Soilel to heavy rock at Fang Pub, you are spoilt for choice. Sing along, dance or just enjoy watching the show. On open mic nights you can even go up and sing, but we don’t blame you if you need a little liquid courage in you first!
Karaoke is a favorite Asian pastime and Vietnam has taken it to a whole new level. You will find giant lounges, decorated so lavishly as if they are expecting royalty. Rooms can be booked for as low as USD$30.00 per group, which includes drinks, finger food and hours of loud music. Want to sing some Backstreet Boys, Avril Lavigne or even Guns ‘n’ Roses and Outkast? No problem. The playlists are endless. Check out King Karaoke, one of the most popular karaoke bars in town.
Just like there are great rooftop bars, live music bars, and karaoke spots, there are also great nightclubs to dance the night away. Lush and Apocalypse are two of the favorites, along with Republic located right in Bui Vien. Here you will have to dress to impress and not be afraid to spend a little cash — do not expect to be let in with a pair of shorts and flip-flops.
This is for those looking for something a little more romantic to do with a significant other. Take a leisurely evening dinner cruise down the Saigon River, far away from the honking cars of the city. There will be a sumptuous feast, live jazz performances, fire dancing, and gorgeous night views to make the night comfortable and memorable. Check out Bonsai River Cruise or Les Rives, the two most popular and best-rated options.
Street food vendors in Ho Chi Minh City are like vampires — they come out at night. You will find so many individual and groups of stalls scattered around the city. Locals love sitting on the sidewalks and enjoying a hot bowl of soup or dish of rice after a hard day’s work. Check out Co Bac and Co Giang, two of the most popular street food alleyways. Most dishes here will cost you around a dollar.
Ben Thanh Market is an emblematic symbol of Ho Chi Minh City and opens in the wee hours of the morning. When the doors to the main market close after a hard day’s trade at 06:00 p.m., the night markets on the side streets open. Here you will find similar items being sold, from clothes, bags, electronics and souvenirs to plenty of food. The road becomes a pedestrian zone till midnight so you can stroll about leisurely, do some shopping and eat to your heart’s content.
A favorite activity of the locals is to drive their motorbikes around at night. Roads are a little less crowded, giving more freedom, which is much better than being stuck in traffic during the day. Plus the wind is much, much cooler. Many parks are open 24 hours too, so you can grab yourself some street snacks, sit at a park and enjoy it by yourself or with a friend. Or you can head over to the riverside where there are plenty of benches for you to sit on and enjoy the breeze. If you head away from the center to the neighboring districts, you will find roads all to yourself to explore.
Walking around Ho Chi Minh City is the best way to get around, especially at night. If you head over to the city center, around Nguyen Hue Boulevard, you will have easy access to other spectacular attractions such as the City Hall, Notre Dame Cathedral, Post Office and Opera House. All these buildings are so beautiful at night when the flood lights come on.
Wandering through the maze of alleyways is also fun. You will get to watch as people pack up their daily life and head inside to get a nice night’s sleep, while others come out, ready for their night shifts.