Top 10 Nightlife Experiences in Ho Chi Minh City
Best Places to Go at Night in Saigon
At Night in Saigon
Nightlife in Ho Chi Minh means very different things depending where you are in the city. Downtown in District 1, rooftop bars, high rolling casinos and smooth jazz bands are the choice forms of nightlife entertainment in Saigon. But move a few kilmoetres west into District 3 and the backpacker street of Pham Ngu Lao, with its boisterous street bars, cheap eats and good time vibe, is certainly the place to be when night falls.
Whatever your idea of the perfect night out in Ho Chi Minh, with our top 10 guide to the very best of nightlife experiences we’re sure you can find something to suit your style... and then some!
1. Cocktails at a Rooftop Bar
Sky Bar Saigon
Ho Chi Minh has one of the greatest collections of rooftop bars in the world. From the colonial charm of Saigon Saigon to the chic and modern style of the Chill Skybar there is a rooftop spot to suit any mood in Saigon. Sit back with a cocktail and soak up the stunning view of Ho Chi Minh City from sunset until late into the night.
2. Get Lucky at a Casino
Several of the best hotels in Ho Chi Minh have casinos within so you can hit the roulette table, play some mah-jong or get lucky on the slot machines. Two of the biggest casinos in Saigon are located in the Caravelle Hotel and Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers. Casinos in Ho Chi Minh City are not on the scale of Las Vegas and some games, such as hold ‘em poker, are available on a computer screen only, but having a flutter is still an enjoyable way to spend a few hours.
3. Beer Hoi on Pham Ngu Lao
Beer Hoi on Pham Ngu Lao, Saigon
The street drinking scene along Pham Ngu Lao in District 3 of Ho Chi Minh is legendary. It is the backpacker hub of the city and welcomes a mix of foreigners and local Vietnamese who mix freely and chat the night away, drinking cheap beers on small plastic stools all along the street. There are many cheap restaurants here too and several nightclubs if you want to hit the dance floor later in the night.
4. Dinner Cruise down the Saigon River
Dinner Cruise down the Saigon River<
For a romantic night in Ho Chi Minh there is nothing better than taking a leisurely cruise down the Saigon River. The Bonsai Dinner Cruise combines a slow river journey aboard a beautiful wooden barge with a sumtious feast of western and Vietnamese favourites. Along with dinner and the views of the HO Chi Minh City at night, there is a live jazz performance on board and a traditional Vietnamese dance to enjoy.
Cruise aboard a traditional wooden barge along the Saigon River. During dining on an extensive selection of Asian and Western cuisine, enjoy a mix of live western jazz, classical and traditional Vietnamese music as well as a dance performance.
5. Live Music Bars
Live Music Bars Saigon
Live music fans are spoilt for choice in Ho Chi Minh City. From smooth jazz to heavy rock and everything in between, whatever your choice of tunes there is probably a bar or club playing exactly that. Live music are fairly well spread out across the city so you should never be too far from some singalong fun, and if you are staying in the popular areas of District 1 or 3, then you will be spoilt for choice. Here are five of our favourite live music bars in Ho Chi Minh.
Live music in Ho Chi Minh is never far away. Whether you are looking for relaxing background melody or a rip roaring rock session, Vietnam’s largest city has a place for you. Of course, most of the major hotels have live music entertainment, with Rex Hotel and Carravelle Hotel having rooftop bands every night of the week, but if you want to get out of the hotel and see what kind of musicians are entertaining the crowds in Ho Chi Minh then check out our five recommendations of the best live music bars in the city:
1) Acoustic Bar
The Acoustic Bar in Ho Chi Minh is the venue of choice for Vietnam’s up and coming rock musicians. This is the place where legends never die and you can hear amazing renditions of – amongst others – Jimi Hendrix, The Doors and John Lennon. But it’s not limited to the classics; the international roster of musicians is free to rock on with anthems from any era. The place itself is part bar, part cafe, with plenty of sofas for chilling with a coffee in the early evening and standing room for when it heats up at night – there is no food served at The Acoustic Bar though so be sure to fill up beforehand. This place is packed practically every night with a pleasant mix of Vietnamese and foreigners so if you only have one night for live music in Ho Chi Minh we recommend The Acoustic Bar. You’ll have no trouble finding the bar, just look out for an artistically upturned VW Beetle to guide the way.
Opening Hours: 18:00 – 24:00 (live music from 21:00, except on Sunday).
Location: 6E1 Ð Ngo Thoi Nhiem, District 3.
Tel: +84 (0) 8 3930 2239
2) Sax n’ Art Jazz Club
Dark and smoky, this live jazz bar is unique in Ho Chi Minh – somewhere to listen to contemporary jazz with subtle Vietnamese influences thanks to the talented owner who plays several traditional instruments on stage. Sax n‘ Art is more expensive than most bars in the city, and some people are put off by the $5 entry free added to their first drink, but that is the price you must pay to listen to Vietnam’s best jazz band in a compact and personal space. The house band weaves between jazz standards and into some more avant-garde compositions, and many touring musicians have been known to frequent the club owned by Vietnam’s foremost jazz saxophone player. This bar is easy to find on Le Loi, not far from Ben Thanh Market, with live music every night of the week.
Opening Hours: 19:00 – 24:00 (live music from 21:00)
Location: 28 Le Loi, District 1.
Tel: +84 (0) 8 3822 8472
3) Hard Rock Cafe
Hard Rock Cafe is a bar that needs no introduction – creative cocktails, huge portions of tex-mex favourites, memorabilia on the walls and a kick ass live band to entertain you after dinner. It’s a formula that has won plaudits from New York to New Deli and keeps tourists returning again and again. The live bands at Hard Rock Cafe in Ho Chi Minh are technically excellent and play a varied and middle-of-the-road selection of rock ballads and a few anthems to get people out of their chairs and singing along. Hard Rock Cafe Ho Chi Minh is tourist and family-friendly with a bar menu of Western classics that could quell the hunger of a wildebeest. Particular favourites include the intimidating barbeque rack of ribs and their legendary burgers. The bar is easy to find in Kumho Asiana Plaza, a sparklingly new lifestyle mall with several other restaurants and shops, close to the Botanical Gardens.
Opening Hours: Weekdays 11:00 – 24:00, Weekends 11:00 – 02:00 (Live music from 21:00)
Location: 39 Le Duan street, District 1
Tel: +84 (0) 8 6291 7595
4) Yoko Bar
A short moto-taxi out from Ho Chi Minh’s tourist centre, Yoko Bar plays host to an assortment of bands playing rock and acoustic jazz pop in a smallish bar with a unique ‘lived in’ style. This is a true live music bar so there are bands playing every night of the week with a regular crowd of Ho Chi Minh scenesters and expats. Expect to hear some classic rock tunes along with some singer/songwriter type songs – and if the feeling grabs you, you are free to go up and sing with the band! There are plenty of comfy sofas and a small upstairs space with a great view of the performers. Yoko Bar is an authentic Ho Chi Minh venue that doesn’t rely on tourism so it’s the perfect place to sit back with a beer or cocktail and see how the cool kids have fun.
Opening Hours: 19:00 – 24:00 (Live music from 21:00).
Location: 22A Nguyen Thi Dieu, District 3.
Tel: +84 (0) 8 3933 0577
5) Seventeen Saloon
Picture this: a Filipino band line dancing in Stetson hats and cowboy boots in a wooden, saloon type bar in Ho Chi Minh City. Sound interesting? Then you have to check out Seventeen Saloon: a two storey live music hall with rock and roll on both floors and a mostly Vietnamese crowd. Bands play all night at top volume so this isn’t the best place for quiet chat but if you’re in the mood for some U2, Bon Jovi and other heavy rock standards then this corner bar across the park from the famous New World skyscraper will give you an amazingly fun – if not slightly surreal – night out. This is an easygoing bar where waitresses are dressed up in sexy country and western garb and the bands play late into the night. Its location halfway between the backpacker part of town and the central tourist area means the foreigners who do make it here are always an eclectic and interesting bunch.
Opening Hours: 19:00 – 02:00 (live music from 21:00).
Location: 103A Pham Ngu Lao Street, District 1.
Tel: +84 (0) 8914 0007
6. Lush Nightclub
Lush Nightclub Saigon
Lush Nightclub is the premier nightclub in Ho Chi Minh. It is the place to see the young and beautiful of Saigon, dressed to impress and not afraid to spend a little cash. The venue is kitted it out in an industrial chic style, with space to dance and an upstairs area with seating. Music ranges from house to hip hop and a bit of mainstream party pop depending on the night.
Lush Nightclub in Ho Chi Minh is a sleek and fashionable nightspot where the young and beautiful party the night away to different styles of music, depending on the evening. On Fridays and Sundays Lush is taken over by some of the best hip hop DJs in the city while Saturday night is the real highlight of the week with International funky house ensuring Lush is packed by a crowd of locals and foreigners. There is an amazing ladies night on Tuesday when the fairer sex drink free until midnight and on Thursdays there is a buy one get one free deal on beers and mixed drinks that lasts until closing.
Following a renovation in 2012, the decor of the club is modern and playful with steel and concrete creating a masculine, almost industrial feel, but the use of neon strip lighting and Manga style animations add some fun to the surroundings. One thing is for sure: Lush is certainly the coolest nightclub in Ho Chi Minh. In front of the club there is a small garden which offers a great place to relax and perhaps grab a bite to eat and behind there is an outdoor bar – we recommend you start the night here before moving inside as the party heats up.
Lush Nightclub is located on Ly Trong Street in District 1, close to the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens. Doors open at 20:00 but we wouldn’t advise arriving before 21:30. The club is open seven nights a week and is consistently busy. For a modern, funky and fashionable nightclub in Ho Chi Minh, Lush is the obvious choice.
Address: 2 Ly Tu Trong, District 1.
Tel: +84 (0) 9 1863 0742
7. Ben Thanh Night Market
Ben Thanh Night Market
Ben Thanh Market plays a central role in Ho Chi Minh from early morning until late at night. Although busiest during the day, night time brings many food vendors onto the streets serving a wide variety of seafood, as well as many fashion stalls and souvenir type stalls. The night market is setup alongside the market on Phan Boi Chau Street and becomes a pedestrian zone from 19:00 until 23:00 so you can browse at your leisure. Be aware that prices start very high here and bargaining is a necessity.
Situated in downtown Ho Chi Minh City, bustling Ben Thanh Market in District 1 is a great place to buy local handicrafts, branded goods, Vietnamese art and other souvenirs.
Here, you’ll find eating stalls inside the market where you can get a taste of hawker-style Vietnamese cuisine or simply cool off with a cold drink when the bargaining becomes too much.
The market is big, difficult to navigate at times and certainly best avoided during the hottest part of the day but all the same its well worth a look. When night falls, restaurants around the perimeter of the market open their doors creating a vibrant street side scene filling the air with the scents of wok-fried noodles, barbecued fish and meats.
One of Saigon’s oldest landmarks, Ben Thanh offers a great atmosphere that is absolutely authentically Vietnamese.
Ben Thanh Market Highlights
Real street style local food around Ben Thanh Market.
Save your appetite and head to Ben Thanh Market in the evening where you can be served some real street style local food at one of the 20 or so eateries that surround the market building. Chefs will cook in front of you with an endless array of cuisine choices including vegetarian noodles, fresh seafood, crispy rice pancakes and steamed cakes. You will be in great local company as most of the places thrive with locals enjoying a bite to eat and a quick drink on their way home from work.
For shopping heaven head to the market preferably early morning to pick up some bargains including lacquer ware, bamboo goods, arts and crafts. Also on sale are clothes, textiles, luggage, watches and an assortment of electronic goods. Spices, nuts and local fruits heavily scent the air which is also filled with the chatter of tourists and locals haggling for bargains. Do note however that some items will be strictly fixed price.
Good to Know about Ben Thanh Market
Ben Thanh Market is situated in District 1 in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City at the intersection of Le Loi, Ham Ngh, Tan Hung and Le Lai streets. Shops close late afternoon with shopping best done in the morning before the heat of the day hits.
The market is one of Ho Chi Minh’s most famous landmarks and is known by all taxi drivers, although if you are staying downtown check first to see if you can walk to it from your hotel as it’s very centrally located.
8. Apocalypse Now
Apocalypse Now is a legendary nightclub that is very popular with backpackers, expats and many Vietnamese ladies too. Set over two floors, it isn’t the most sophisticated of clubs, but its lots of fun, with cheap drinks promotions, western pop tunes and plenty of space for dancing or chilling out with a few drinks and playing some pool. Open until 04:00, it is also one of the last places to close at night so Apocalypse Now is a great place when you’re in the mood for that one more drink. Address: 2B-C-D Thi Sach Street, District 1, Tel: (+84 8) 3825 6124.
9. Saigon Opera House
Saigon Opera House
The Saigon Opera House is a beautiful colonial building in the centre of Ho Chi Minh with a stunning facade of ornate winged statues and curved window frames. Inside the opera house the culturally inclined are able to witness the best of the fine arts that visit Vietnam seasonally, and although there is no consistent performances, events are common. The range of performing arts on show includes ballet, musical concerts, Vietnamese traditional dance and live theatre. Tickets can be bought from Saigontravel Travel Agents opposite the opera house.
The Saigon Opera House in Ho Chi Minh is an elegant colonial building at the intersection of Le Loi and Dong Khoi Street in District 1, very close to the famous Notre Dame Cathedral and the classic Central Post Office. The restored three-storey 800-seat Opera House was built in 1897 and is used for staging not only opera but also a wide range of performing arts including ballet, musical concerts, Vietnamese traditional dance and plays. Performances are advertised around the building and information can be found in the state-operated tourist information centre Saigontravel close by.
The exterior has the appearance of polished pearl and makes a great place to photograph – especially at night when bathed in a soft, orange light. The entrance is through a vaulted archway that is kept in immaculate condition; inside, expect swathes of red velvet, classical friezes and hardwood floors. Although the official name of the building is The Municipal Theatre of Ho Chi Minh it is by far more commonly known as the Saigon Opera House and after the restoration work in 1995, the building is just as it was at the turn of the 19th Century.
10. Sax n' Art Jazz Club
Sax n' Art Jazz Club, Saigon
Sax n' Art Jazz Club is an institution in Ho Chi Minh, with Vietnam’s most celebrated musicians performing here as well as international guest artists. Located on Le Loi Street in the centre of District 1, there is a cover charge which comes with a free drink which is a great deal considering this place offers some of the finest live jazz in the city, but drinks prices are higher than most other places in town to compensate. With a dark, cave-like interior, all effort is made to keep the focus on the musicians on stage./.