street corner local hangout: try bia hoi
Bia hoi is Vietnam’s answer to tap beer. In Saigon, it is served in plastic pitchers with a big block of ice floating in it. This sounds odd but in this hot climate, it is almost necessary to keep the brew cold. One big advantage of this besides the beer being fresher is the how cheap it is compared to bottled and canned suds. At only 5000 dong (less than thirty cents)per liter, it is an offer you can’t refuse. They do not serve their own food, but you are allowed to bring food with you and there are always lots of places nearby to accommodate you. At this particular place, snack girls made the rounds too. We got peanuts (1000 dong) from one and another had these huge flat rice cakes, seasoned with poppy and sesame seeds for only 2000 dong. These were quite tasty and a perfect accompaniment to the refreshing if watered down brew.
Dress Code: It is a very casual affair and a great place to meet locals, how are only too happy to have a chat. Buy a round, it's cheap!Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Beer Tasting
Hard Rock Cafe , Saigon: Not the real thing
My Hubby's French Colleague wanted to go this place after the French Lonely Planet proclaimed that it was worth checking out. Even though it was not the real thing, sigh. Well, we went there by cab and I'm quite sure I could hear his french jaw drop with a dull thud when we reach there. The place was completely empty and this was TGIF!
"Zees, iz the right plaze? "
Oui, it was. The shop came complete with fake Hard Rock T-shirts. Well, since we were there, we decided to humour the disappointed French sod and sit with him for a round of drinks. Of course, we scooted off immediately after we finished. Particularly me, because I saw more than one amused cockroach scuttling around the premises and checking us out. C'est Abominable! We'll never rely on the French edition of Lonely Planet any more after this.
To see more night haunts, click on b'packer's hcmc page
Dress Code: Come with bug spray, they have lots of itchy-looking roaches here.
Go 2 Bar: Good spot day or night
This place was opposite our hotel. So we started our day off at this place every morning with the little Vietnamese silver coffee pots, watching the comings and goings of the locals, kids on bikes off to school, vendors dragging around barrows full of vegetables, buses, motos etc.
It also came alive at night, though we were not there clubbing, we could hear the hum of the music most of the night, although it didn't bother us.
Le Lio Avenue
I took a walk around Rex Hotel, Contienental hotel and all that central area. I found it very busy and alive in the evenings (from 19h) but what surprised me most was the amazing number of motorcycles (mostly couples) riding around that area... not going anywhere, just hanging around, I never saw so many motorcycles together, seemed like a race!Related to:
- Budget Travel
Trung Nguyen: LOCAL CHAIN OF COFFEE SHOPS
There are more than 10 Trung Nguyen coffee shops just in down town, but I myself usually choose the one which locates on Nguyen Van Chiem Street cause of its nice decoration and good location (next to Diamond plaza). Let find a dark and quite place to sit and order a cup of cafe den (black coffee) or cafe sua da (coffee + condensed milk + ice, Vietnamese coffee, to be liked by every local or foreigner). If you are afraid that you cannot sleep after drinking coffee, then get a glass of me da (tamarind juice). How do you think?
Other Trung Nguyen coffee shops are at:
1. 114 Ly Tu Trong St, Dist 1
2. 44B Chu Manh Trinh St, Dist 1
3. 32 Mac Dinh Chi St, Dist 1
4. 1 Tran Hung Dao St, Dist 1
5. 349 Hai Ba Trung St, Dist 3
6. 150D Ly Chinh Thang St, Dist 3
7. 10 Nguyen Thong St, Dist 3
and many more...Related to:
- Business Travel
- Budget Travel
The hidden night spots
Well, like any other city, HCMC has their own style of partying the night away. There are quite a few night clubs in HCMC. To name a few: Spaceship, Liquid, 131, Number 1 Bar and Apocalypse Now. These night spot varies in function some are dances clubs and others are just bars with a DJ or live music performance. However, most of these spot close at 12 am except for a very few. Nonetheless, there are other night spots worth heading to, if you happen to know some local friends. There are plenty of restaurants open until the break of dawn. These spot are very popular with young and hip Vietnamese and also older locals. The food from these restaurants are usually very good and tasty, but the main purpose of these venues is to drink the night away (alcohol of course). HCMC is truly the city that never sleep if you know where to go. Visit www.elephantguide.com (good for address info only, nothing beat tips from VT members with first hand experience) for the nightclubs and bar's addresses and check with your local vietnamese friends for the locations of those late night drinking venues.
Sheridans Irish House: The luck of the Irish
The only Irish bar in town, in fact probably the only real pub in town. Great grub, good atmosphere with a load of "interesting" locals. Live music most nights and Whiskey in the Jar, with Mike and Irish Vietnamese musicians, every Saturday.
One Note: the lonely planet still has a listing saying that there is a free shuttle bus from here to Mui Ne, this stopped 4 years ago.Related to:
- Food and Dining
- Beer Tasting
Universal bar.: Great little bar with live music.
Universal bar is a relatively new bar in Saigon that has become one of my favorite hangouts.
The main reason why i like it is that they have really good live music there on most nights.
The musicians are a wide range of people from around the world but they usually put on a good evening there and i really like the place.
It's not a big posh place, but a nice little hole in the wall bar with a lively scene.Related to:
- Beer Tasting
Alto Heli Bar (Bitexco Financial Tower): Cocktails in the sky!
The Alto Heli Bar is located on the 52nd floor of the Bitexco Financial Tower in Ho Chi Minh City.
We visited the bar during our visit to the Saigon Skydeck observation deck (on the 49th floor) in May 2013. Having spent some time admiring the panoramic views of the city and the Saigon River below us, and with sunset fast approaching, we decided that it would be nice to watch the sun go down while sipping on cocktails.
As luck would have it, Alto Heli Bar operates a "Happy Hour" each evening between 5pm and 8pm where selected cocktails, beers, wines and spirits are half price. That means that cocktails go from being ridiculously overpriced to only moderately overpriced; it was too good an opportunity to miss!
The bar wasn't very busy when we first arrived, so we settled down at a table by the window and studied the Happy Hour menu.
There were 3 half price cocktails that we could choose from:
"Saigon Skyline" (Johnnie Walker Platinum 18, Martini Rosso and Angostura Bitters);
"Saigon Fizz" (Tanqueray No. Ten Gin, Crisp Mint, Lime Juice and Sparkling Wine); and
"Citrus Tini" (Ciroc Vodka in a frozen cocktail glass with Cointreau and Flamed Orange Zest).
The first two were priced at 145,000 VND (£4.80) each – down from their usual price of 290,000 VND (£9.60) each – while the Citrus Tini was slightly cheaper at 130,000 VND (£4.30), down from its usual price of 260,000 VND (£8.60).
The half priced beers were Saigon Export (60,000 VND / £2 a bottle) and Peroni (75,000 VND / £2.50 a bottle). Even at these reduced prices, they were still several times more expensive than they would be at ground level.
The half priced wines (M. Chapoutier "Marius" and Errazuriz Carmenere) were 90,000 VND (£3) a glass, while shots of whisky, gin and vodka were reduced to 80,000 VND (£2.65) each.
All of the above prices were further subjected to a 10% tax and a 5% service charge.
We had decided that cocktails were the most apt drink for watching the sun set, so I ordered a Saigon Fizz and Emma ordered a Citrus Tini. Both were well presented, albeit in fairly small glasses, and came with bowls of complimentary nibbles (salted almonds, popcorn, green and black olives and cloves of garlic).
We sipped slowly on our refreshing cocktails as the sun descended below the horizon. It was an enjoyable way to end our visit to the Saigon Skydeck and Alto Heli Bar.
The bar doesn't appear to have a dress code. I was wearing shorts, t-shirt and flip-flops, which seemed fine when we arrived, but when we left after darkness the arriving clientele were in much smarter attire.
Watch the sun go down with Happy Hour cocktails on the 52nd floor of the Bitexco Financial Tower!
Crazy Buffalo Saigon: Prime Location in District 1
You can't miss this place ..its lights are the brightest...with the blazing red buffalo. This has got to be the best spot to sit at a sidewalk table ( and there are many) to watch the excitement of Saigon. We enjoyed a cold Tiger beer here in the last hours before we head to head to the airport to begin our trek home.
The food is pretty good here too!Related to:
- Budget Travel
Allez Boo: Vietnamese Boogie
Although this place is overflowing with tourists, it has great food and is in the perfect spot to sit and watch the real Vietnam go by.
Also has great cocktails after a hard day dodging mopeds!!!!
Dress Code: Only one way to dress in Saigon.....for the heat!!!
COFFEE SHOPS IN HCMC
When Saigonese got free time at night, except book lovers and TV addicts, 85% of them go to coffee shops.... How many coffee shops you have ever gone to in Ho Chi Minh City? 10, 20, 50 or …. 100? Not bad, but do you want to try more? There are over 500 coffee shops in this city for you to discover. I cannot put all of them in my HCMC page, but I know them quite well. Just let me know your style, I will find the right one for you ;)Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Business Travel
Go Go Go: Open All Night
This was our go to place. It was across the street from our Hotel An An and was open at all hours of the night, which was good for us since jet lag was still wreaking havoc on our broken sleeping. One night at 4 a.m. while sitting out watching people go by on motorbikes, a little boy and his mother were out trying to sell gum and I was the target but the kid was so adorable, I could not refuse. Photos are below. We met many interested people here.
Dress Code: Wear whatever you want.
Rainforest: The best club in town
Rainforest could be in any other city around the world, and it is a vast contrast to the rest of the city. Latest equipment, lighting as well as great DJ's make this a great night out.
Service is great and the drinks menu offers a number of cocktails.
Dress Code: Casual dress code... as you would dress in any nightclub around the world.
Go2 Bar: Located in the Pham Ngu Lao backpacker’s area
The Go2 Bar is a very popular nightspot for both tourists and locals located in the Pham Ngu Lao backpacker’s area. This bar has 2 levels with the bottom level playing mainly rock tunes and upstairs playing dance, pop, hip hop and rnb tunes. The 2nd floor is the nightclub and therefore the drinks are slightly more expensive than downstairs. This bar is one of the few bars that stays open late. Normally until about 4:00-5:00am.
Open: 9:00am until 4:00-5:00am
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