A list of the top casinos (or gaming centers, as they like to be called) in Ho Chi Minh City, as of May 2015
Before we get into the nitty gritty of what casino beat out the competition for the top spot in our list of top casinos in Saigon, 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 outlawed 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 along with you – the exchange rates you’ll get from Vietnamese Dong to USD are varied at best. Minimum bets start from 5 cents for slots and $10 for blackjack. In this article we’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, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Source: Chats Slots Club
Opening hours: 24/7 | Phone: +84 28 3824 3760
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 $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 $300 minimum buy-in to sit. The game is Texas Hold’em only, though.
2) Palazzo Club
80 Dong Du, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Opening hours: 24/7 | Phone: +84 28 3824 7576
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 $750 in bets). Slots players can get to 50 points simply by betting $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 $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, Ben Nghe, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Opening hours: 24/7 | Phone: +84 28 3914 0777
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 $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, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Source: Club Royale
Opening hours: 24/7 | Phone: +84 28 3822 1888
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 $50 back.
5) Galaxy Saigon Club
Rex Hotel Saigon 141 Nguyen Hue, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Operated by the same group that runs Club 9 at the First Hotel, this is the more refined of the two locations – with ample floor space and a variety of table games and slots. The latter are extremely loud, so if you like your gaming experiences free from bells and whistles, you may need to look elsewhere.
The main game here is roulette, with a special table dedicated to VIPs and high rollers – plus two large games for regular punters. There was also a roulette tournament advertised for later in the month, but when I asked for more details the attendant seemed totally bemused.
A free bottle of water appeared quickly when I sat down, and I was able to order additional drinks without fuss. The free wifi didn’t appear to be working when I tried it.
The blackjack minimum bet is $20US, which may make it too rich for some people’s blood.
Located in the Rex Hotel Saigon, one of the most luxurious hotels in Ho Chi Minh City, I was a little surprised to see the European floor manager admonishing one of his staff in full view (and earshot) of the tables. One wonders if a quiet word out of sight might have been a better way of preserving both the staff morale and the upscale atmosphere.
Standout: The spacious layout and classy decor at the Galaxy Saigon Club sets it apart from some of the others in this list.
6) M Club
1 Dong Khoi, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
The M Club is situated on the mezzanine floor of the Majestic Hotel and boasts roulette, baccarat and slots – but no blackjack tables. Players get a free water when they sit down and can order extra beverages from the bar at no cost.
Traditional Vietnamese music plays in the background, a change from the din of slot machines and Western pop that tends to dominate the senses in most Saigon casinos. Smokers will be pleased to hear that as with most of the clubs on this list there are ash trays at each gaming station – non-smokers will be pleased to find out that the air remains clear and fug-free throughout.
If I had one gripe it’s that I lost $10 when a machine locked me out and let a previous winning bet ride for the next spin of the roulette wheel. In all honesty I would probably have lost it anyway, but the clunky interface on the electronic roulette console didn’t help!
Standout: I changed some Vietnamese Dong into dollars here and am pleased to announce I got a very decent exchange rate – something of a rarity in Saigon, a city notorious for its scams.
7) OV Club
242 Tran Binh Trong, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
The OV Club at the Hotel Equatorial is a little far out of the centre of the tourist district and with limited options for play it’s probably not one that you have to visit. Comprised of two rooms, the main game here is roulette, with 24 terminals all facing one central wheel. Around the fringes you can also play baccarat but there is no blackjack to played here. At $1 per bet this is the higher end of the roulette spectrum, and the spins come thick and fast. On the plus side, having so many players focused on one wheel (and every seat was full on our visit) adds a palpable group excitement to the atmosphere.
Despite taking my order as I sat down, the drinks service was quite slow. Still, free drinks are free drinks, and I later found out that the bar was located in the other gaming room. We’ll give them a pass.
For high-rollers there’s a VIP room which also offers roulette but at higher stakes.
Standout: If you’re looking for the casino which most closely apes the outrageous gaudiness of Las Vegas then this is the one for you. Between the huge wall murals depicting tropical beach scenes, the ‘gold’ columns and dubious framed oil paintings of the parochial european countryside, this place has casino-kitsch down to a tee.
The recently rebranded Eastin Grand Hotel Saigon rents out a small amount of space to a casino operator. The room is small and dominated by slot machines, with a couple of tables for e-gaming, but if you’re looking for a casino near Ho Chi Minh City airport then this may well be your best bet.
With slots costing just 5 cents per spin and $5 per hand this is the cheapest blackjack in Ho Chi Minh City, if a little remote from the centre for most visitors.
There are excellent food and beverage facilities within the hotel property so you won’t have to go far for a good meal after leaving the tables.
Standout: The proximity to Tan Son Nhat International means it’s not unusual to see flight crews checking in at the hotel reception – you may even find yourself playing baccarat with the flight attendant who served you on the plane into Vietnam!
9) Club 9
18 Hoang Viet Street, Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Opening hours: Reopens in June 2015 | Phone: +84 283 811 1128
Currently under refurbishment, Club 9 is located to the north of central Saigon and mostly frequented by expat Chinese and Koreans. It is due to reopen in June 2015 and when it does, based on the floor space alone, will be one of the larger venues for gaming in the city.
When we visited, the entrance to the casino was unmarked, making it really tricky to find if you don’t know what you’re looking for. It’s to the right of the main lobby entrance and the door is blacked out.
Standout: With a dedicated kitchen promising Western, Chinese and Vietnamese food – all free for members – this seems to be an alluring place to spend a few hours.
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.
11) Grand Club
Grand Hotel Saigon Dong Khoi Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
If we were measuring casinos by speedy, free drinks service alone (and sometimes that’s all that really matters) then the Grand Club would be the winner by a long chalk. No sooner is one drink on its last ebb than an attentive waitress is there proffering a new one.
With only one table each for blackjack and baccarat (both minimum bet $10US) you may find yourself battling to grab a seat at the busiest times, but there’s plenty of roulette action to be had and a whole bunch of slot machines if you feel like chasing those big jackpots. Speaking of jackpots, the Grand Club offers roulette jackpots to spice up the play – if you hit the same number twice in a row the game pays out on your stake and an additional bonus ten times your wager. A $2 stake pays $92 back if you hit the same number on the second spin.
Another thing to note is that the Grand Club has a slightly unusual payout policy – you can swap your winnings for cash, but it may be paid out in a mixture of currencies. When we cashed out $74 we were paid $70 and 74,000 VND – this isn’t the worst exchange rate in the world but you’re still losing 50 cents on a $4 transfer. Be wary of this and try not to switch too much between currencies.
Standout: A single roulette bet at the Grand Club costs just 25 cents, making it by far the cheapest game in town.