YOUR INSIDER'S BARS GUIDE
IN HO CHI MINH CITY 🇻🇳 SINCE 2008
SAIGON INSPIRATION GOING OUT BARS C-BREWMASTER: MAKING CRAFT BEER TRULY VIETNAMESE
Craft beer in Saigon began in 2014 with Platinum and Pasteur Street as pioneers.
But these are Western-style lagers made by foreigners. Sometimes the ingredients are even imported. The owners of craft brewery Tê Tê reportedly import 95 percent of their ingredients.
Hanoi-based C-Brewmaster 2016 was the first entrant with a totally local focus: Vietnamese ownership using Vietnamese ingredients.
At first, “We were just thinking we can brew on a small scale, just for friends,” Le Cong Vinh, National Sales Manager for the expanding Hanoi brewery, said. Le spoke to Citypassguide.com at C-Brewmaster’s newly opened taproom at 52B Nguyen Binh Khiem in D1.
A marketer who worked with Heineken and Anheuser-Busch InBev, Le co-founded the brewery with Nguyen Van Cuong, owner and lead beersmith. Coung is a trained brewer who worked with beer giant Carlsberg Group as a manager of one of its plants. Between them, the two have over 30 years of experience in volume beer.
Travelling throughout the world in their respective careers, they said they bumped into more and more craft breweries. They got the idea to try something new and started brewing during Tet in 2016. Their first beer was a citrusy, smooth, blonde ale that used Vietnamese mandarins. Soon they began selling it and, with the help of investor backing, got to work building their first brewery. They opened a second in October 2016 and today sell their portfolio of 40 craft beers throughout Vietnam.
A Passing Fancy?
In their Saigon taproom, the beer menu consists of a grid of color-coded, numbered posters: number 12 is a zesty lemongrass beer; number 7 is the Pharaoh Whiskey Beer that carries a pleasant bite due to aging in a liquor cask; number 1 is the first beer, the Queen Blonde.
In some respects, the impact of craft beer—which has been called a “phenomenon,” a “wave,” and a “fad”—is a bit like the foreigners who gravitate towards it. No one is quite sure what to make of them, or how long they’ll be around.
Hanoi-based C-Brewmaster’s strategy bets on the only constant in the consumer equation: the Vietnamese. There’s a perception that Vietnamese consumers are passing on craft beer, but Le said that’s changing. The high-quality ingredients and higher-quality products are beginning to gain a foothold amongst the increasingly affluent native population. “They feel the difference,” he said.
He added that the image of a group sitting on low, red stools drinking foamy amber out of a glass tumbler is becoming less and less fashionable. He cited a growing demand for craft beer in neighboring China: 10 percent of beer sold there was from a craft brewery. Le said rising incomes and just plain old curiosity are driving the thirsty to wander from the little stools.
It’s an argument that, conveniently, is immediately verifiable. On the afternoon Le talks to us, a pair of Vietnamese men pass a lazy afternoon in the taproom sipping the beer at roughly the same speed that one sips the minutes over the course of a lifetime.
SAIGON INSPIRATION GOING OUT BARS FINE BARS IN DISTRICT 2
Craft beer, high-class wine, skillfully mixed cocktails – District 2 might be newer than some of the other parts of the city, but the bars running along Thao Dien and Xuan Thuy are as good as any you will find in Districts 1 or 3. For some alternative destinations for nightlife in Saigon, District 2 is one of the reasons why Saigon is known as one of the best drinking cities to visit in the world. With its rapidly expanding population and increasing value as both a residential and commercial area of town, it is no wonder that District 2 is fast becoming a new afterhours haven for Ho Chi Minh City’s partiers. This is reason enough for us to take you on a tour through D2’s best bars and party locations. Bottoms up!
Biacraft is a well-established craft beer chain restaurant in Saigon, with a broad selection of local and imported craft beer. Here you’ll enjoy a cozy, hole-in-the-wall atmosphere. The beer taps sit neatly in a row on the back wall and a few high tables and stools make up the rest of the bar. In addition to their great selection of draft beer, they also sell about a dozen different types of bottled beer. Beers range from light, easy-to-drink pale ales, to the heavier, dark style of beers like porters and stouts.
This is one of the older and more well-established bars in Saigon. It can be unpredictable at times, as it never seems to have a hard-and-fast closing time and arriving late can be something of a lottery. It is, however, one of the best afterhours spaces in the whole city. This gem features a great layout with two pool tables and live music on the weekends. It also has a large screen TV and several monitors, ideal for watching sports.
Soma Art Lounge
Soma Art Lounge is a cozy cafe and bar that frequently hosts unique art-centric events, from lego sculpture exhibitions to “drinking and drawing” to one of Saigon’s most popular drag shows, Saigon is Burning, hosted by GenderFunk. Their eclectic events calendar is sure to have something that piques everyone’s interest. Apart from special events, Soma Art Lounge is a cute space tucked away in a quiet street, perfect for weekend brunch or a classical cocktail recipe at any time of day.
D2 Sports Bar
The D2 Sports Bar is owned by the Al Fresco Group, but it has a much more “local pub” feel than the popular Al Fresco chain restaurants. It’s an excellent place to catch up with all the latest in sports, while enjoying decent Western food and a terrific drinks selection. It is also a no-smoking venue, which makes a pleasant change for non smokers. Be sure to check out their weekly specials, including a full-sized Sunday Roast for 200k.
A delightful bar/restaurant, Cafe Evita is further into Thao Dien than the others and sits on a bend in the road by The British International School. Indeed, at lunchtime it is generally filled with both staff and pupils. At night they describe what they do as “bistronomie”, combining the feel of a comfortable, chic bistro with classic delicious offerings from the kitchen. This is a lovely bar with comfy sofas and a regular expat clientele. The arrival of a pool team gives it more of a bar feel on certain evenings.
In 2012, three shipping containers were deposited on a grassy piece of land in District 2. That this has developed into a premier venue in HCMC is the stuff of legend. Music venue, cafe, bar, restaurant, film theatre and space for art exhibitions and workshops, Saigon Outcast almost defies definition. It even has a climbing wall! It’s a quirky, folksy, alternative lifestyle venue that has a capacity for 400 people and regularly fills it. Over the last few years it has carved out a great reputation as one of the best of Saigon’s entertainment scene.
The Snap Café
Snap Café is like several bars in one, coupled with a small group of shops and businesses. Hugely popular at the weekends and in school holidays because of the children’s play area, it’s a busy bar/restaurant with a folksy feel to it. It’s eclectic with a great laid back music playlist. A popular venue with pool teams and the largest monthly quiz night in town, it switches between family fun bar by day, to a laidback venue for grown ups at night.
This is a very upmarket restaurant/bar that really could not have a better location: The Deck sits right on the southern bank of a long sweeping curve in the Saigon River. It’s a terrific place to sit and relax, have a few drinks and enjoy choices from an extensive menu. It’s quite expensive, but the location and quality of the food are mostly worth it. This place is best for expats who wish to indulge in some fancy cocktails while enjoying a scenic view not available at any other venue.
Saigon’s restaurant and bar scene is constantly developing, so be sure to check back here again for the latest updates on our favorite bars in District 2!
Fans are drawn to events like Formula 1, the Champions League games, the World Cup, the Olympic Games, the NBA finals, the Baseball World Series, and more. Luckily, Ho Chi Minh City has a great infrastructure of after-hours joints to cater to those crowds. If you’re a new ex-pat in Saigon, watching sports in bars is one of the best ways to meet new people and make friends, and if you don’t like people or friends then no worries – just grab a beer and watch the game.
Ready to find your crowd? We’ve searched Saigon for the best people, drinks, and flat-screens so you don't have to.
D2 Sports Bar
Opening: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m., weekend: 8:30 a.m. – 1 a.m.
The latest addition to the Saigon sports bar scene is D2 Sports Bar. The best part of this bright, clean space is that no matter where you sit you’ll be in front of a screen showing your favourite team’s latest games. Great menu and cold beers.
Champion Sport Bar
Opening: 7 a.m. – 3 a.m.
Champion Bar shows live world sports matches simultaneously from different screens set up around the bar. There is a good sound system and a menu featuring all kinds of draft beer, an array of appetizers, and Asian-European food. Additionally, you can play billiards, table tennis or even darts in the bar.
Opening: 11 a.m. – 12 a.m.
Phatty’s Sports Bar & Grill
Opening: 8 a.m. – 12 a.m.
At Phatty’s, they set up a weekly sports schedule with a wide variety of events (depending on the season). They can also offer you a tasty variety of western food, including pub grub, burgers and bar snacks.
The Orient Pub Saigon
Opening: 7 a.m. – 1 a.m., weekend: 8 a.m. – 1 a.m.
A pub for both locals and foreigners. The Orient has a big TV to watch a wide range of games from football to rugby as well as a pool table to keep you occupied while you’re waiting for the next event.
The Tavern Phu My Hung
Opening: 9 a.m. – 12 a.m., close lately in the weekend at 2 a.m
These propositions were last checked in June 2022. If you notice something to be improved, please send us your details. Thanks.
Compiling a list of the best rooftop bars in Ho Chi Minh City isn’t easy.
This wonderful Southeast Asian city is a crazy mix of old and new, cheap and expensive, traditional and quirky. Many hotels and bars have taken to the rooftops to sell their wares. Of course, a personal view of what makes a great rooftop bar is exactly that, personal. However, there is no doubt that if you want to get “high” in Ho Chi Minh City, there is no shortage of venues.
Sipping cocktails as the sun goes down in one of the best cities in the world need not be beyond most people’s budget. Try a similar experience in London, Paris, and New York and you’d be breaking the bank, here just about everyone can afford it. From modern glass towers to history-laden French colonial buildings, Ho Chi Minh City offers a fantastic choice for rooftop bars and restaurants.
Social Club Rooftop Bar – Hôtel Des Arts Saigon
Go to Social Club Rooftop if you’re looking for a panoramic view of the sparkling Saigon skyline, top-notch cocktails, and some of the hottest DJs in town. Social Club Rooftop, designed by the highly sought-after Japanese design team Super Potato, mixes the feeling of a modern beach resort (the rooftop infinity pool is out of this world) with the kind of glamourous good looks you might find along the French Riviera. Saigon’s hippest glitterati crowd is there every night to dance the night away under the stars. Don’t miss the party.
Air Saigon Sky Lounge is the newest addition to the Capella Entertainment family. The venue has a more adult vibe about it and a more laid-back atmosphere, making it an ideal after-hours hangout for white-collar professionals. The view is outstanding, and the drinks are inventive and enjoyable. The multi-level setup ensures that you won’t easily get bored as you navigate from the sky deck to the bar area to the stylish lounge. A pool level is available for private parties.
Shri Restaurant & Loundge
Perched high above the Saigon traffic and chaos, Shri sits on top of the modern Centec Tower on one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares. The location is just outside the very middle of the city, so, therefore, the views are spectacular. It is worth booking an outside table if the weather suits you, you won’t be sorry. It sits slightly towards the higher end of the price range as one would of course expect.
Last Call Rooftop
Opening Hours: 4pm–Midnight daily
Featuring a creative menu of speakeasy-style cocktails, LastCall is a rooftop bar located at the heart of Ho Chi Minh City—right beside the metropolis’ historical and scenic turtle lake park. With a great urban green canopy lake view and breezy under-the-moonlight lounge-style seating, bring both small and big groups for alcoholic drinks crafted by its team of seasoned mixologists.
This and other thirst-quenching delights such as mocktails and house-pour Hoegaarden beer make for a memorable occasion, especially with the tasty gastropub-style bar food that LastCall has to offer. Check out LastCall’s Facebook page for amazing daily events and promos.
The Rooftop Garden Bar
If it’s history that you are looking for, the rooftop bar at the Rex Hotel was the venue of what became known as the five o’clock follies, during the Vietnam War. This was the place from where foreign journalists held their propaganda laden press conference. It’s a high end smart restaurant bar with terrific views of the very heart of the city. Live music and good service help to provide the unique ambience of this most famous of all rooftop bars.
While the popularity of craft breweries in Saigon shows no sign of stopping, the popularity of wine bars across the city is growing steadily. I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite wine bars in Ho Chi Minh City, each of them offering a great experience for wine lovers in Vietnam.
Fine Wine Bars & Lounges in Saigon
Hôtel des Arts Saigon
The lavish Saigon Social Club Rooftop Bar and Lounge at Hôtel des Arts Saigon regularly receives rave reviews for its Sunday brunch, it should also be recognized as a top-notch destination for wine connoisseurs. The boutique hotel’s international wine list is as luscious as its atmosphere, which is why it is such a popular hotspot for ex-pats and tourists alike.
If you haven’t checked out the weekly wine and cheese event, The Delicatessen put it on your ‘to-do’ list. Every Wednesday evening, guests can enjoy a buffet of top-notch charcuterie, imported cheeses from France, Spain, and Italy, and free-flow wine from 6:30 to 8:30 PM. With a jazz band setting the tone for the night, this is a must-visit stop on any wine tour of the city.
Cork & Bottle Wine & Grill
A combination of cosy wine bar and wine store that offers a wide selection of imported wines from around the world, and even better, provides the option to take your purchases home! With a selection of tapas also available Cork & Bottle is sure to please even the most discerning oenophile. With elegant and timeless decor, Cork and Bottle can be a perfect place to wind down after a long day. However, keep an eye out for their special events, which do tend to be a little more lively than usual!
Shri Restaurant & Lounge
23rd floor, Centec Tower, 72-74 Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai, District 3, HCMC, Vietnam / Facebook
Another location that boasts fantastic views of the city along with an exceptional wine list, Shri Restaurant and Lounge is certainly worth a visit if you enjoy a glass of wine or two. With around 340 wines currently on the Shri Wine list, and that number is ever-growing, you would be hard-pressed to find a more extensive range anywhere in the city.
Whilst that may appear an overwhelming selection, never fear! A key part of Shri’s appeal is the approachability of the staff who are always ready and willing to make a suggestion to suit your tastes. With a calendar of regular events and promotions, be sure to add a trip to Shri into your diary.
Park Hyatt Saigon’s Cellar Door
Boasting one of the most exclusive wine lists in town, this wine bar in Ho Chi Minh City also provides top-notch service. The elegant bistro uses the Coravin Wine Preservation System, allowing guests to sip on as much wine as they’d like without removing the cork. The state-of-the-art apparatus preserves the quality and longevity of the wine, which is ideal for the Cellar Door’s Vin à la Ficelle policy. For those who are unaware, Vin à la Ficelle means customers only pay for what they drink – so ideal!
Restaurant with excellent wine selection in Saigon
This Binh Thanh-based Japanese wine bar is a top choice for wine enthusiasts as it provides an extensive wine selection catering to a variety of preferences. Helpful staff are always on hand to help pair wine choices with your meal which can be taken from the menu of Japanese dishes and Western fare. It’s a cozy spot perfect for a date night or a relaxed evening with a few friends.
Hidden just off the busy thoroughfare of Hai Ba Trun, this charming, French-inspired wine bar in Ho Chi Minh City is definitely one of the most beautiful spots in all of Saigon. Not only is it located in an old opium manufacturing space, but being hidden away from the hustle and bustle of the city makes it incredibly alluring. The wine list is outstanding and guests have the option to purchase by the glass, bottle or carafe. The restaurant also comes equipped with an enomatic wine dispenser, designed to eliminate waste while also improving guests’ experience as the preservation system ensures their wine will be fresh. This wine bar is a perfect option for brunch, after work chats or a romantic date night.
What makes for the best bars after work?
Of course, this varies according to the needs of the individual. Some people like to chill out in a quiet space and get those work-related stresses out of their heads. Others want something livelier to give them a lift. Some people prefer a crowd with which to engage whilst for others, it’s a space for quiet contemplation that floats their boat.
Whatever you like to do, Saigon has venues in abundance to get work out of your system and catch some much-needed R&R. I have tried to give a list with as much variety in the types of bars. Here are some bars that are perfectly suited to end the day and begin the evening.
Qui Cuisine Mixology
The institution bar and restaurant on Le Thanh Ton is the perfect venue for meeting up with friends after a hard day in the office. The stylish decor promotes a great ambiance in which to chill out with the amazing cocktails or delve into the delights of the well-thought-out fusion menu. The venue has several different areas and is well designed, keeping sections almost separate. If you want to stand at the bar in order to unwind then that’s fine. However, if quiet, comfortable seating is more your thing, Qui has plush booths as well as a VIP area. The venue gets an eclectic after-work crowd that provides the perfect atmosphere for early evening drinks.
The Wine Embassy
This is one of the finest wine bars you will ever wish to visit. The brainchild of owner, sommelier Francois Carteau, this is a wine drinker’s dream. The bar is set over two floors in the heart of the city; just where Ngo Duc Ke crosses Dong Koi. The wine list in Wine Embassy is mind-blowing. Some 230 wines are in stock at any given time. Twenty-four wines are kept in nitrogen replacement dispensers, meaning that it is possible to buy a glass of the more expensive wines, rather than just the cheaper house wines. Others are available by the bottle. The decor is modern and stylish and the staff is well-trained and welcoming.
For those who wish to get “high” after work, this is the place to be. Perched high above the city, Cobalt is a swish, modern bar and restaurant serving amongst other things: oxygen foam cocktails, spilled homemade lemonades, and their very adult ice blocks. This is a very trendy spot in which to see and be seen. Obviously placed at the high end of the market, it is nonetheless, a great place in which to unwind.
The Tavern is something of an institution among the ex-pat community in Phu My Hung. Very much a local pub-type establishment, it has a hardy group of locals who meet up in the early evenings. The pool table and dart boards are a great way of relaxing after work if that’s your thing. The bar is well stocked and the kitchen serves exceptional pub food. There is a small outside deck and the bar covers two floors, in what is one of the smartest areas of the city.
The Racha Room
Whilst known as a great Asian fusion restaurant, the downstairs area of this fabulous place is an extremely relaxing well-stocked bar. It’s a delightfully converted old shophouse in the heart of the business district. The high ceilings and beautiful brickwork all lend a relaxing feel to the general ambiance. Many business people come here to relax after a hard day in the office, it’s a cool place to enjoy a drink or maybe grab some terrific Thai fusion food.
The Snap Café
One of the more eclectic bars in Districts 2’s Thao Dien area is Snap Café. It’s a part-family fun pub, part restaurant, and part bar. It’s a large space and the three elements all get along nicely. They have a terrific laid-back music playlist and owner Dan manages to find some interesting cover versions of well-known songs. The seating is a mixture of wooden benches and comfy sofas making it a great place to either sit with a group of friends or just kick back and relax.
It may not be the birthplace of the cocktail, but Ho Chi Minh City is certainly making its mark in the creative drinks scene. Rooftop bars, up-class cocktail lounges, and hidden speakeasies are continuing to pop up all over the southern capital, with a number of talented mixologists at the helm. Deep at the heart of many of these watering holes lie innovative and fresh recipes that have a good dash of Asian flair as well as traditional flavors and pairings.
The Main Players
There are a number of contenders, offering good quality cocktails in relaxed or lively atmospheres. Most recently, the city hosted the opening of the cocktail bar The Alley on popular Pasteur Street. It serves up a selection of Mekong Delta-inspired cocktails, with a number of classics also available.
Another relatively new entrant is the swish Qui – Cuisine Mixology, which sits towards the high end of the market. This is another bar that prides itself on its Vietnamese-influenced cocktails. “We are able to use local ingredients that only can be found in Vietnam so our cocktails are unique and different compared with the ones found in Europe,” says Qui bar manager Le Thanh Tung.
Room With a View or Secret Hideaway?
HCMC has scenery to suit every mood, whether it’s a room with a view or a secret venue that you have to hunt to find. Speakeasy. The Alley is one such hidden place. Ring the doorbell to enter this little hole in the wall and you will be greeted with old-fashioned decor and chilled-out vibes. Another hidden hideout is Snuffbox, a 1920s-themed speakeasy that serves reasonably priced classic cocktails all night long in a vintage setting.
If you’re after something a little more out in the open, however, HCMC is fast becoming known for its rooftop bars with superb views.
The super-slick Anan Saigon is one such place, serving Vietnamese-inspired cocktails and food in a stylish setting. Dress to impress at Social Club Rooftop Bar, a venue that has become a bit of an institution among HCMC’s elite. Boasting a high-class restaurant, private rooftop dining, and a pool, this is the place to drink cocktails in executive style. Shri Restaurant & Lounge, which opened its doors in 2010, is another well-established rooftop bar. Head over here to sip a cocktail with one of the best views in the city.
If you’d rather your feet were placed firmly on the ground, there are a number of other bars across the city.
Vietnamese mixologists draw from a number of different inspirations when creating their cocktails, such as local ingredients or dishes. Mekong Delta-born and raised Pham Minh Tam uses regional influences on his drinks menu at The Alley. One cocktail on the menu, named Mekong Delta, mixes infused whiskey with the tropical flavours of banana syrup and lime leaves. Other mixologists even go so far as to base their drinks on Vietnamese dishes, like Qui’s Le Thanh Tung, who says, “70 percent of [my] cocktails are created from Vietnamese food.”
One of his cocktails, Nha Trang Calling—which is a twist on the classic White Lady—infuses gin with clams, lemon basil, green chili, lemongrass, and ginger. He then adds lime, Cointreau, smoky scotch, and sea salt to get the finished result. Subtler influences can also be found in drinks like Shri’s Old Fashioned—Saigon Style. This is made with the familiar whiskey and Angostura bitters but instead of brown sugar, Shri adds regional sugarcane juice for a sweet finish.
Flavour isn’t the only thing that Vietnamese mixologists are experimenting with.
An interesting twist on technique is the introduction of the Vietnamese brewing method, which Le Thanh Tung at Qui says is often used in HCMC. Mixologists making up cocktails that require a touch of coffee or tea may use a traditional phin filter, which sits on the top of a cup, allowing the coffee to drip through. Typical brewing time for a phin filter takes a little longer than your average western-style machine, which can result in a richer taste. These interesting and innovative creations are getting HCMC mixologists noticed and the city is fast becoming a cocktail lover’s mecca.