There are few places in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City where you can walk in with not much money and walk out with an undeserved small fortune.
Take the mirrored gold elevator doors at the Pullman Saigon Centre, which take visitors down to Club V. The doors open and the lucky guest finds 62 slot machines standing at attention in rows, each with a cream-colored, high backed leather chair receive a player.
Big Chances at Regular Prizes
The player vies for prizes from his or her individual slot machine as well as for a chance at the larger prizes, which are given to gamers randomly and regularly. In addition to the payouts from slot machines, just being in the building gets visitors a chance at a handsome prize, usually in the thousands.
Let me state that more clearly: not thousands like the cost of your coffee—“thousands” as in a bevvy of Unites States greenbacks. Prizes worth tens of thousands of US dollars are given away in contests regularly.
Written in neon marker is the previous bounties teasing visitors with past prizes. Just a few days before I visited, the gaming club gave away three prizes in total worth nearly US$40,000.
The size of the prize wows almost as much as the interior. The club’s four main games—blackjack, baccarat, roulette and slots—are housed in a spacious, carpeted facility comparable to something you’d see in the club’s namesake US city, gaming capital Las Vegas. The facility’s evocative decor—like the light that spans nearly the entire roulette room ceiling—and novel, polished interior are a break from the Ho Chi Minh City that you know.
Food While You Play
Attendees are treated to the well-stocked bar and restaurant conveniently located inside Club V to minimize breaks between gaming sessions. The restaurant specializes in Chinese and Korean food. Players at rest can dine on Korean Gimbap—a bit size sushi-like dish—or baked ribs served in a sweet and sour sauce with a side of rice.
To keep spirits high, Club V serves a selection of wines and beer including Japanese import Asashi.
The Membership Program
Clients who play at Club V and wish to make it part of a regular thing are invited to become members. The clubs membership program offers members perks like free rooms at the Pullman Saigon Center hotel, airfare and spa service when they do well. Membership and rewards are offered at levels with incentives of different size. If you’re on a winning streak, you’ll get access to higher membership status and bigger prizes.
Before I get into the nitty gritty of the rest of the casinos on our list, it’s important to establish a few things about gaming in Vietnam...
Firstly, all the games mentioned (roulette, blackjack, baccarat, poker) are electronic versions – table games with real croupiers are strictly forbidden in Saigon. There is one exception to this, the Grand Ho Tram Strip mentioned at the end of the list. Technically, it’s outside of Ho Chi Minh City and is purpose-built for Asian and Western players used to playing in Las Vegas and Macau. As such, the rules are a little more relaxed and there are live table games including blackjack, roulette and baccarat.
You should also note that you can only gamble in US dollars, so bring some with you – the exchange rates you’ll get in the casinos from Vietnamese dong to USD are varied at best. Minimum bets start from 5 cents for slots and US$10 for blackjack. In this article I’ll just be talking US Dollars to avoid confusion.
It’s also essential to bring along your passport or other proof of your nationality – there are strict laws against Vietnamese citizens gambling and only foreigners are allowed to step foot in a casino.
Finally, good luck and happy gaming!
1) Chat Slots Gaming Center
New World Hotel
76 Le Lai, D1
Opening hours: 24/7 | Phone: 028 3824 3760
Image source: Chats Slots Club
Also known as the International Tourist Club, this is a great spot for social gamers – the roulette tables have a minimum bet of 50 cents and there are free drinks (although the floor staff will skirt around you unless you purposefully flag one down to make an order). Another bonus is that with a full minute between spins of the roulette wheel you won’t find yourself deep in a hole before your first Johnny Walker appears.
This is one of the more spacious casinos in Ho Chi Minh City, with ample room dedicated to slots. What’s nice about the way things are arranged is that the constant chirruping of slot machines is far enough away to act as background noise, rather than the main soundtrack to your evening.
The attendants at the blackjack tables are friendly and professional, and at US$10 this is as cheap as you’ll find in a downtown casino in Ho Chi Minh City. You can also try your luck at baccarat.
Standout: This was the only casino I visited offering video poker, with a US$300 minimum buy-in to sit. The game is Texas Hold’em only, though.
2) Palazzo Club
80 Dong Du, D1
Opening hours: 24/7 | Phone: 028 3824 7576
Image source: vietnamcasinoclub.wordpress.com
The Palazzo’s staff are nothing if not efficient: a free bottle of water was brought to my seat before I had a chance to put any money into a machine.
Most of the casinos in Ho Chi Minh City have a membership programme, although they are sometimes hesitant, even reluctant, to offer this to tourists.
Seasoned gamblers know that these memberships rarely pay off, with players losing far more than they ever gain back, but the Palazzo Club (inside the Sheraton Saigon) is a refreshing exception, with rewards for players who accrue as few as 50 points (the equivalent of placing US$750 in bets). Slots players can get to 50 points simply by betting US$250 over the course of an evening.
The downside of this is that there are no free alcoholic drinks and you’ll also have to pay for meals.
There’s a special area reserved for Gold and Platinum members (my membership is a lowly Bronze), with higher table limits and more attentive staff. If you want in, you’ll have to bet big: only members with 20,000 points (or US$300,000 worth of blackjack hands or roulette spins) in a single month qualify to upgrade.
Standout: The Palazzo Club offers some of the friendliest service I’ve received in a Ho Chi Minh City casino. It seems that along with higher minimums come wider smiles.
3) Monte Carlo Saigon Club
101 Hai Ba Trung, D1
Opening hours: 24/7 | Phone: 028 3914 0777
Image source: vietnamcasinoclub.wordpress.com
Under the same ownership (and in the same building) as the Park Hyatt Saigon, this four-floor casino reflects the Hyatt’s knack for refined service, making it one of the more inviting casinos in the city.
It’s not as roomy as some gaming centres in Ho Chi Minh City, and the multi-floor layout feels quite cosy. The space is full of games like Western and FaFaFa slots, baccarat, blackjack and roulette. Unfortunately, there’s no poker. Luckily, Monte Carlo Saigon Club more than makes up for this with free beverages and free dining for all loyalty members.
The accommodating atmosphere doesn't end with just freebies: the staff is helpful and will explain any questions you may have about the games or the current jackpot. Staff members speak English, Korean and Chinese.
The minimums are reasonable: two cents for slots (10 cents for the VIP slots); 50 cents for roulette; and US$50 for baccarat and blackjack. VIPs get some spectacular perks: free food from Park Hyatt's fine dining restaurant, the ability to set a minimum at a table and more.
Standout: Definitely the service and the abundant jackpots. And you can't ignore the free food and drinks.
4) Club Royale
1 Ngo Duc Ke, D1
Opening hours: 24/7 | Phone: 028 3822 1888
Image source: Club Royale
The luxurious gold and black decor of Club Royale sets it apart from the competition, while the speed and efficiency with which you’re provided with a membership card makes it possible to start collecting loyalty points as soon as you begin playing.
Note that there’s a separate entrance to Club Royale, so you can’t access it from the main Renaissance Riverside reception.
Free drinks are available as long as you’re playing, with an extensive list of teas, coffee, soft drinks, beer, wine or spirits.
Standout: The Club Royale membership programme offers some the best benefits if you’re only in the city for a short time. You need to accrue 3,000 points in the space of a calendar month to get US$50 back.
5) The Grand Ho Tram Strip Casino
Opening hours: 24/7 | Phone: 0254 3788 888
Image source: thegrandhotram.com
The Grand Ho Tram Strip Casino is a two-hour drive by car or free shuttle bus from Ho Chi Minh City. The reason I include it here is because it’s by far the best casino in the country.
Marketed as the only Las Vegas-style casino in Vietnam, this luxurious gaming room lives up to its billing. With live roulette, blackjack, baccarat and hold’em poker games, complete with croupiers and dealers, it’s the real deal. Drinks are free and plentiful, with an army of attentive and good-natured staff on hand. There’s an expansive poker room, floor-side restaurant and VIP area for high rollers.
From the airy atmosphere and live music on weekends to the restrained (at least by casino standards) decor, this is a place you will enjoy spending time, win or lose.
Standout: Its distant location is more than compensated by its style and fun factor. Whether you’re a seasoned gambler or just looking for a good time, you need to book a night in the hotel and try your luck here.