Best Date Night Ideas in Saigon

By: Angee the Diva

Romantic rooftop drinks

An intimate speakeasy lounge bar

Quiet coffee date

A local Vietnamese outdoor experience

Tropical riverside views

Climb your way to the top

A relaxing escape

Quality craft beer

Hot & steamy dance session

 

Dating in Saigon is hard enough without the headache of finding where to go. Our list of Best Date Night Ideas in Saigon will make it a little easier for you.

Dating in Saigon can be tricky. If you’re one of the rare people in an actual real life couple (congratulations and you make me sick), date night is an integral part of maintaining a healthy relationship. If you’re riding the Tinder rollercoaster like most of us, and you successfully finesse a person worth meeting, kudos! In either situation, success may be short lived if you can’t find the perfect place to have your next date. 

Best Date Night in SaigonImage source: ctfassets.net

The perfect date in Saigon is elusive though. Perfect is subjective, and there are thousands of places to choose from in Ho Chi Minh City. Plus, in this changing social climate, a boring dinner and movie date isn’t going to cut it. While some like the traditional rom-com date night, others may want to do something that’s going to have that Instagram feed popping. 

Lucky for you, dear readers, I’m a dedicated dating researcher and I’ve compiled a list of varied date spots for every sensibility and budget. Here’s Angee the Diva’s List of Best Date Night Ideas in Saigon. 

Social Club Saigon - $$$$

MGallery - Hôtel des Arts Saigon, 23rd and 24th Floors, 76-78 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, District 3, HCMC

hoteldesartssaigon.com

+84 28 3989 8888 

7 days 9:00 am - 1:00 am

Perfect for: Rooftop city views & dreamy sunsets.

Best Date Night in SaigonImage source: Hôtel des Arts Saigon

Impress your date with a night out at one of the most beautiful sky high restaurants in HCMC - Social Club Saigon. Romance abounds with expansive views of the city skyline, comfortable seating, custom crafted cocktails and gourmet dining with excellent service. On select nights, they even have a DJ or live jazz band to get your toes tapping. Social Club Saigon is the perfect place to get cozy with your date, with one of the best vantage points to watch the sunset in Saigon. 

The Library at Shri Restaurant & Lounge - $$$

23rd floor, Centec Tower, 72-74 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, District 3, HCMC

shri.vn/hcmc

+84 28 3827 9631

Selected Saturdays 7:00 pm - Late

Perfect for: Secret themed parties in an instagrammable speakeasy.

Best Date Night in SaigonImage source: Shri Restaurant & Lounge

On select Saturdays, enter the secret room at Shri Restaurant & Lounge for The Library - a unique concept party series in Saigon. DJs, performances, specialty cocktails and elaborate decorations swirl together for an upscale party experience that isn’t stuffy or pretentious. Get a few drinks and cut a rug with your date among the trendiest party goers in HCMC. Or take a few IG-worthy photos with the eclectic decor. When you need a break, be sure to take in the spectacular views from the 23rd floor rooftop restaurant.

Era Coffee - $

58 Tran Quoc Thao, District 3, HCMC

+84 28 3932 0703

Perfect for: Incognito dates.

Best Date Night in SaigonImage source: Era Coffee

Escape the noisy crowds and usual brightly lit cafes of Saigon and escape to this secret gem. Era Coffee is dark, quiet, and can be a bit of an adventure to find. There are comfortable sofas, soothing jazz music, all the coffee shop staples and a few simple cocktails as well. Inconspicuously flanking a craft beer bar, you’re not likely to see anyone you know here, but it is a good spot to get to know your date without shouting over the music. 

“Top of the Tunnel” - $

Thu Thiem Area, District 2, HCMC

Perfect for: Low key Vietnamese hangouts with a view.

Best Date Night in SaigonImage source: vnexpress.net

A typical and authentic Vietnamese pop-up arrangement of plastic chairs and street food vendors, this place makes our list for the picturesque unobstructed views of Saigon River. It’s located in the Thu Thiem area of District 2 near the Thu Thiem Tunnel, just across from Empire City. This isn’t a fancy spot by any means, but it’s the charm of true local Vietnamese living that makes it so much fun. Enjoy a few snacks and some cheap beers while gazing into the eyes of your date alongside the romantic riverfront.

Schiller River Club - $$

28 So 10, Hiep Binh Chanh, Thu Duc, HCMC

+84 90 909 3910

Tuesday - Friday 5:00 pm - 11:00 pm | Saturday 5:00 pm - 12:00 am | Sunday 5:00 pm - 11:00 pm | Mondays CLOSED

Perfect for: Chilled out river views from a tropical oasis.

Best Date Night in SaigonImage source: Schiller River Club

Schiller River Club is the spot for fresh air and lush green space on your next date. It’s located just 20 minutes north of District 2 in Thu Duc. Chill out on a blanket in the courtyard by the river or lounge on the comfy sofas and cushions on the patio. Order some drinks and make your own wood-fired pizza while you enjoy the slower pace just outside of the city. Schiller hosts events regularly, too! From music festivals to holistic markets to international headliner concerts -- you can choose to go when there is entertainment that both you and your date will enjoy. 

Saigon Climbing Center - $ to $$$

168/42 Nguyen Gia Tri (D2), Binh Thanh District, HCMC 

saigonclimbing.com

+84 88 822 2045 | +84 96 622 1822

7 days 9:00 am - 10:00 pm

Perfect for: The actively inclined.

Best Date Night in SaigonImage source: Saigon Climbing Center

If you’re the fit type, why not take your date on an activity that is challenging, somewhat competitive, and loads of fun? Saigon Climbing Center in District 2 fits the bill. There is an array of climbing walls, ropes, rings to impress your date with your strength and stamina. Or, it could be a great way to check out your date’s muscle definition from various vantage points. Defy gravity and get your blood pumping with a fun and active date at Saigon Climbing Center. 

Khai Hoan Spa Massage - $$

624 Lac Long Quan, District 11, HCMC

khaihoanspamassage.vn

+84 83 975 6420 | +84 83 975 6421

Perfect for: Stress-relieving date night

Video source: Khải Hoàn Spa & Massage

Couples massage, mani and pedi, hair wash, ears cleaned, foot rub, body scrub and soaking pools. What more could you ask for? How about 24-hr service and 12-services all inclusive for only VND500,000? Get the ultimate in relaxation with a date night at Khai Hoan Spa Massage. It’s prudent to book a car for this one because you’ll be way too relaxed to drive home afterwards.

Kurtz by Heart of Darkness - $$

97 Xa lo Ha Noi, District 2, HCMC

Heartofdarknessbrewery.com

+84 90 397 7596

Monday - Friday 4:00 pm - 12:00 am | Saturday - Sunday 11:00 am - 12:00 am

Perfect for: Craft beer enthusiasts.

Best Date Night in SaigonImage source: Kurtz by Heart of Darkness

The craft beer market has exploded in Saigon, and at the forefront of the game is Heart of Darkness Brewery. The brand has been steadily expanding all over Asia, and the newest addition in Saigon is the rooftop digs of Kurtz by Heart of Darkness Brewery. Just off the highway into Thao Dien, Kurtz by Heart of Darkness has arguably the best sunset view in District 2. For a low pressure date any night of the week, Kurtz has you covered with an array of cold (and sometimes STRONG!) microbrews and finger-licking bar food. It’s also a good spot to catch some live music or an international comedy show. You don’t have to get dressed up to have a good time at Kurtz by Heart of Darkness Brewery.

Saigon Outcast

188/1 Nguyen Van Huong. Thao Dien, D2, HCMC

090 236 57 80

Thursdays 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm | Free

Perfect for: Netflix and Chill, for real.

Best Date Night in SaigonImage source: Saigon Outcast

Saigon Outcast transforms into an outdoor cinema on Thursday nights, screening different classics every week under the stars of the District 2 sky. Entry is FREE, with full bar and food menu options available. Thursday Outdoor Cinema nights start at 8:00 pm at Saigon Outcast. Grab your date, snuggle up, and enjoy an ice cold beer whilst watching your favourite film up on the big screen.

Salsateka Dance Studio - $$

63 Tran Quang Dieu, District 3, HCMC

+84 93 216 40 58

Monday - Friday 9:00 am - 1:00 am | Saturday 10:00 am - 2:00 am | Sunday 10:00 am - 1:00 am

Perfect for: Turning up the heat!

Best Date Night in SaigonImage source: Salsateka Dance Studio

If you need to add some spice to your date night, why not try getting up close and personal whilst learning some sensual dance moves with Salsateka Dance Studio! International teachers with decades of combined experience guide couples through salsa, bachata, afrochic, and other Latin and Afro dance styles. You can take full 2-hr classes at the studio, or if you need some liquid courage first, shimmy into the dance party at Cuba La Casa del Mojito on Mondays and Thursdays from 9:00pm. With a range of classes for beginners and beyond all week long, there are many options to turn up the heat on date nights!

Planning a good date in Saigon can be difficult, but hopefully this list makes it a bit easier to have a good time when you do. Have I missed a spot? Is one of these your favourite? Let us know what you think! 

#iAMHCMC APP 

Find your perfect date location on The #iAMHCMC App!

Now, you can waste less time scrolling through endless Facebook pages to find something to do. Download the new #iAMHCMC App now to stay notified of the hottest events and explore the latest in food, drink, nightlife and more!

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Banner Image source: Hôtel des Arts Saigon


Chinese Medicine: Ancient Hero or Modern Villain?

By: Chris Baker

On a trip to Cat Ba Island a few months ago I got chatting to a very charming and energetic local Vietnamese man who I guessed was around 40 years old. In fact he turned out to be in his mid-50s. I’m sure that you will have had similar experiences of being impressed by Vietnamese people’s ability to delay the ageing process. He put this down to 2 things: eating monkey meat for strength (flexing his impressive muscles to prove this) and drinking snake whisky to maintain a healthy spine.

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) tells us that monkey brain can make you more intelligent and tiger penis enhances sexual virility

There was no doubt that this guy was in great physical shape. Monkey, like all meat, contains a lot of protein which helps to build muscle. Coupled with regular exercise this could contribute to staying strong. Drinking snake whisky to keep a healthy back was less easy to explain. I asked more about it. Pointing to his spine he fetched a bottle containing a coiled specimen surrounded by brown liquid. But I was still confused. Where could such a belief stem from? I came up with an explanation on the way back to my hotel - snakes are basically one long spine with a head plonked on the end. The logic being that the snake’s spinal flexibility was absorbed by the whisky and then transferred to the drinker. Using the same thought process, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) tells us that monkey brain can make you more intelligent and tiger penis enhances sexual virility.

Photo by: Victoria Reay

A number of doctors in the UK have slammed the Prince of Wales’ proposal, saying it would add credibility to an unproven pseudoscientific version of medicine

TCM is believed to have originated about 3000 years ago, refined by trial and error to take a basic version of its current form 1,000 years later. It is becoming increasingly popular in the UK, even gaining positive academic attention from Middlesex University (ranked as number 75 in The Guardian’s list of top UK universities for 2013) that now offers a 4-year BSc course in the subject. The study, in partnership with the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, includes placements in UK government-funded hospitals. The Prince of Wales, Britain’s next king, is a keen supporter of alternative medicine and has called for it to be regulated in the same way that mainstream medicine is. So, TCM is backed by significant support, but does that mean that it works? After all, a number of doctors in the UK have slammed the Prince of Wales’ proposal, saying it would add credibility to an unproven pseudoscientific version of medicine.

Not only might some TCMs not work, a number are known to contain toxic substances such as heavy metals. These could actually cause harm to the patient and complicate the recovery when used alongside effective medicine or speeding up the decline when used alone. Sweet berry is commonly prescribed by herbalists to patients as an anti-rheumatic. Although painful, arthritis is not a life threatening illness. However, methyl salicylate is found in sweet berry and if taken at high enough doses it can be fatal. So, taking too much of what might seem like a harmless holistic medicine could do you serious damage. But take an overdose of the most common modern drugs found in a home’s medicine cupboard and you could die, too. Whilst this is true, we know how much of a modern drug to take because toxicologists test it in clinical trials and the resulting safety information is displayed on the label. TCM products are not regulated so strictly. In the name of safety rather than credibility, perhaps Prince Charles is right in calling for regulations to be tightened on holistic medicine.

 

Photo by: egorgrebnev

During its 3000 year development, TCM has found lots of plants that do have healing powers. Indeed lots of modern medicines, including the world’s most important malaria drug, have been developed from ancient Chinese remedies. We owe a lot to the early herbalists who discovered the medical properties of Chinese sweet wormwood (the plant from which is extracted), particularly given that UNICEF lists malaria as the largest killer of children worldwide.Modern medicine has found the active ingredient and packaged it into handy pill form, thus rendering the previous version redundant. It would be even better if the scientists could synthesis rather than simply isolating it and so end the need for expensive extraction processes. This has been done for acid (UDCA), a chemical used to treat hepatitis C that was developed from TCM. By synthesizing UDCA in the laboratory, pharmacologists have shed the need for the raw material – bear bile.

Bear bile farms are some of the most horrifically cruel places imaginable

Bear bile farms are some of the most horrifically cruel places imaginable. Asiatic black bears (otherwise known as moon bears due to the yellow patterning on their chest) are kept in cages just a little bigger than their bodies for up to 25 years. Often these are “crush cages”, designed to be so short that the bear is pinned to the base thus giving farmers easier access to its gall bladder. Bears are milked for their bile twice a day through a permanently open wound in the abdomen. Apart from the mental trauma inflicted, physical damage includes liver cancer, blindness, necrotic ingrown claws, infected ulcers and missing teeth from either biting the cage bars or because the farmer has removed them to make the bear less dangerous.

Photo by: Matteo X

Bear farms were made illegal in Vietnam in 1992 and China hasn’t issued a license since 1994, but current estimates suggest that there are 12,000 farmed individuals in these two countries alone, with more in Korea and Laos. One might expect that because we can now sythesise the active ingredient found in bear bile demand should be decreasing. In fact, as with the general popularity of TCM, the opposite is true. Bear bile is expensive, costing around US$3,000 per kilogram. With the growing number of rich in Asia, more people can afford it. There’s an element of showing off here, with some of the new social elite taking bile to prevent a hangover, mirroring the increased use of rhino horn for the same reason. It is also claimed to be an aphrodisiac, as so many TCMs are. But for these claims there is no scientific evidence.

But here, efforts are being made... We no longer depend on TCM but a future for endangered species depends on its demise

It seems like an impossible task to change attitudes based upon a belief system that has been part of Asian culture for three millennia. But here, efforts are being made. Vietnam banned massage oil containing bear bile and authorities have acknowledged a need to get rid of the misconception that rhino horn cures cancer. Such steps, if continued, will lead to the eventual demise of this dated discipline. If you want to get stronger, lift weights and drink protein shakes. If you lack sexual virility, consult a legitimate doctor who may prescribe Viagra. We no longer depend on TCM but a future for endangered species depends on its demise.

Header photo by: Spot Us


Weather in Saigon: The Best Time to Visit South Vietnam's Megacity

By: Fabrice Turri

People keep asking me: when is the best time to travel to Saigon? When to visit Vietnam? If you, too, want to know what the climate is like in Ho Chi Minh City before you take the plane, here's all the information you need about the weather in South Vietnam.

Average rainfall and humidity in Saigon

The climate of South Vietnam is subequatorial, meaning there are high year-round temperatures and two seasons – rainy and dry. So when is the best time of the year to travel to Saigon and Mekong Delta?

The offical dry season lasts from December to April. Temperatures are temperate at first but can climb up to 40°C at the end of April while remaining very humid. The rainy season in turn, which runs from May to November, is characterized by violent but brief showers.

The best time to visit Saigon runs from December to March

In Saigon, the annual average temperature is 27°C and never falls below 15°C. The best time to visit the city runs from December to March when it is dry and sunny. February is the month when it rains the least of the year while March and April are the hottest months with an average of 36 to 38°C.

Average temperature in Saigon through the year

temperature in Saigon thought the year

If you are generally interested in the climate of Vietnam, check out our article about the best time to visit Vietnam. We also have a section about the weather of Hanoi, for those among you who are more into the North. Check it out!

The wettest period is from July to September

It’s not all doom and gloom though, as the rain can bring a welcome drop in temperature. The heaviest rains occur between mid-August and mid-September and many of the streets in the city will be flooded at this time.

Rain in Saigon

Average rainfall and humididy

Average rainfall and humidity in Saigon

This problem is exacerbated by the gradual sinking of the most populous city in Vietnam.

Research has shown that Saigon is slowly sinking due to mass urbanization and excessive pumping of groundwater, with some places sinking up to 20 millimeters per year.

But the greatest threat comes from the coastline. 90% of the Mekong Delta and more than 20% of Ho Chi Minh City will be flooded by 2100 if the sea water level rises 1 meter.

If you don't have the choice about your holiday dates, we still recommend you to come to Vietnam, but you should prefer visiting areas such as Nha Trang where the rain is much lower. 


Top 5 tips to rent a motorbike in Vietnam

By: Vinh Dao

Renting a motorbike is a great opportunity to get off the beaten track and discover Vietnam on your own. That is if you are able to deal with the manic traffic and less than stringent road rules.

There are many places in tourist areas such as Pham Ngu Lao in Ho Chi Minh City and the Old Quarter in Hanoi that rent bikes to foreigners. You will need to fill out a form to rent the bike along with leaving your passport as a deposit and most places offer a selection of manual shift and automatic shift motorbikes. The rentals will also come with a helmet and remember that helmet use is mandatory in Vietnam.

So if you have the intestinal fortitude to get on the open road, we have compiled together a few tips for you to make your experience a bit smoother.

Here are my top 5 tips:

1. Check your bike

Test the your turn signals and lights and take a quick test drive around the block. Finding out that your front brakes are a bit dodgy a mile down the road isn’t ideal so check it out first.When parking in a public lot, don’t lose that ticket. If you lose it, you will need to verify the ownership of the bike, which means contacting the place you rented the bike. Which brings me to number 3.

2. Get the rental agency’s contact details

This could be a lifesaver if your bike breaks down.

3. Make sure your helmet is in good order

If you feel it’s a bit dodgy, request a new one. If they refuse, head down to the next shop.

4. Anticipate your surroundings

Vietnamese drivers don’t really use their wing mirrors so watch out for the traffic ahead of you. Also, slow down through intersections as stopping at a red is more like a guideline as opposed to a rule.


Local insight:
While manual shift bikes go for VND100,000/day (~$5/day), automatics will run you a bit more at around VND120,000/day (~$6/day).

If you need some tips and advices to help you choose the right motorbike for you, you can also read our guide: Tips for Renting or Buying the Right Motorbike in Vietnam.


If you liked this blog, you might like those:

Are you insane enough to drive in Saigon

Top 5 tips for crossing the street in Vietnam

The art of bargaining in Vietnam


We've Been Duped About Vietnam Travel for Too Long

By: Patrick Gaveau

Travel is my field, with 64 countries under my belt. Those who know me well enough would also say that I am a cosmopolitan individual, for good reason.

My dear mum was born and raised in India. My hunting dad lived 45 years across Africa. My beloved grandmother was sent across the globe with her parents and diplomat husband. As a professional athlete, I covered five continents. I also followed two masters degrees in tourism, one in sociology and one in economy.

My research and the consulting work that resulted focused on marketing and sustainable developments for tourism destinations. Upon arriving in Vietnam, I began as a sales and marketing director for a local travel operator. Three years later, we launched the City Pass Saigon Guidebook. Today, Citypassguide.com carries over 100,000 pages of relevant content about Vietnam. So with all that I have learned over the years, let’s clarify the true meaning of travelling in Vietnam.

Most people imagine that Vietnam is scenic north to south, overwhelmed with exquisite landscapes and attractions. I challenge these basic ideas, and for me, travel is in fact a lot more than gazing at poorly managed attractions. The traveller is active, he searches for people and experiences, while the tourist is passive and expects interesting things to happen to him.

With passive tourists, there continues to be too many who still sense Vietnam as being so unique, preserved and authentic that it will impart its effects automatically on them, leaving an everlasting impression. They persist in being blind to the realm of a crushing modernity that erases rapidly most traces of a distant past.

When travelling, let's remember that a foreign country is not designed to make us comfortable. It is conceived to make its own people at ease. And trust is that what makes Vietnam a remarkable place to be, is its humanity, first and foremost. We all travel for some sort of fulfillment, right? It is often the result of combined experiences and emotions often filled by the human encounters and its attached simplicity - something common in Vietnam’s daily life. It is an excellent feed for our souls and well-being. Preserving this part of the local culture is essential for the industry and the generations to come.

What is in fact so prized, but unrecognised, is its appealing cuisine. Vietnam is a country with rich cuisine, unique to each region. “Why can’t Vietnam, with its reputation for rich, diverse culinary cuisine, and a plentiful food source, become a kitchen or a food warehouse for the world?” says Philip Kotler. How can we strive to unify the rustic dishes under a single national identity so that the world begins to value Vietnamese cuisine for what it is worth?

Mr. Sang Ly who sponsors the Golden Spoon Awards stated that, “we as a country have not yet properly introduced the world to the versatility of our food. It’s already recognised that other culinary giants like Italy, France, China or Thailand have different types of food per region. Vietnam is very much the same, but I don’t come across many people who know this.” Yes, street food is acclaimed but fine food has a long way to go. And most continue to miss this essential part of the travel experience that makes Vietnam so special.

At Citypassguide.com, we aim to present an authentic voyage of discovery, created with extensive help from local residents and experts. This voyage not only consists of seeking new landscapes, but casting new eyes on the destinations you probably know already. It’s a re-envisioned way of travelling Vietnam.


Understanding the Ecosystem that is Saigon’s Nightlife

By: Sivaraj Pragasm

Some cities around the world are well known for their nightlife culture and history. Berlin is known for its techno clubs and crazy parties, Amsterdam is popular for its trance events, and you can find some of the craziest marathon parties in Ibiza.

Although Asian cities have their fair share of popular events such as the legendary psytrance parties in Goa or the full moon parties in Koh Phangan, it wasn’t until recently that nightlife was established as an institution and a pull factor for tourism for some parts of Asia.

When “nightlife” is mentioned in Southeast Asia, many would point you towards the scene in Bangkok which has blossomed over the years, ranging from the infamous ladies’ bars to franchised international music festivals. However, not many would have realised by now that on the other side of the Southeast Asian peninsula, Vietnam, especially Saigon, is quickly gaining a reputation for providing the region with one of the most diverse nightlife scenes, with an increasing number of international DJs and producers performing live shows of various genres and subgenres in an increasing number of clubs and rooftop bars across the city.

And this is even before mentioning the home-grown, high-energy Vinahouse scene.

But when did it all start?

The evolution of the city’s nightlife scene is as dramatic as the history of the city itself. During the American War, the city saw a sizeable population of foreign journalists residing here as correspondents. They mostly frequented hotel bars, sipping on cocktails while churning out news reports pertaining to the war. Hotel Majestic, The Rex and The Caravelle were some of the most popular with the latter subsequently becoming the unofficial American media headquarters, as described in a journal written by Steve Somerville, a former correspondent for Reuters based in Vietnam.

evolution nightlife in saigonImage source: The Rex Hotel

However, nightlife in that era wasn’t just limited to foreign journalists. Back when Dong Khoi Street was still known as Rue Catinat, and subsequently Tu Do Street, there was a buzz developing in that area. Live music acts dominated stages across the stretch and one of the venues that achieved iconic status among the in-crowd was Tu Do Nightclub, at the junction of the present Dong Khoi and Dong Du Streets.

Tu Do Nightclub was the nightlife institution of that era. The club brought together American and Vietnamese patrons looking for great live music courtesy of legendary performers like Tuan Ngoc and Khanh Ly, among many others.

However, the facade and ceiling of Saigon’s nightlife was blown off unexpectedly in September 1971 when a bomb went off inside the club, killing 15 and injuring 57 others. This sounded the death knell of the music scene and nightlife in the city.

As post-war Vietnam grappled with economic sanctions and poverty, priorities were shifted towards survival and not much information has been recorded nor revealed about nightlife before the Doi Moi era.

Sowing the seeds

With Doi Moi, Vietnam embraced a free market economy in the late ’80s and early ’90s, effectively marking its growth as a nation. It also saw an increasing number of foreign businesses setting up base here. The city saw the return of establishments catering to music, alcohol and entertainment. One remnant from that generation that is still going strong is Apocalypse Now.

evolution nightlife in saigonImage source: Apocalypse Now

As the 2000s rapidly streamed past us, technology started shrinking things and music production tools got condensed into computer software programs. Young Vietnamese musicians eager to create their own sound began producing their own brand of electronic music designed to give you that extra pump in life and soon enough, Vinahouse was born. Its polarising reach did not stop beer clubs from popping up all across the city, much to the delight of young locals with a penchant for loud music and towers of booze.

Electronic music had, by 2010, become a global trend and Vietnam embraced it wholeheartedly. This also coincided with Saigon’s magnificent economic growth resulting in an increasing number of foreigners living and working here. In what could be seen as a genuine exchange of culture, they brought along their favourite music to the city. Clubs, lounges, bars and rooftop bars started opening across the city, providing a diverse range of music, both mainstream and underground.

According to Dan Bimong, founder of The Observatory, “I started The Observatory with the idea of having a venue where we can invite artists from all around the world that fit with my musical perspective that is clearly focused on a wide range of house, disco, techno and affiliated sounds”.

evolution nightlife in saigonImage source: The Observatory

At the turn of this decade, those genres were still only limited to small parties within common circles, mainly among expats.

“The idea was also to have a place that is fully dedicated to that activity with a decent sound system and a programme with international guests every weekend in order to give the opportunity for the city to see artists that never had the chance to come to play in Vietnam”, he added.

A thriving ecosystem

While clubs like Envy, SkyXX, Kasho and Chill SkyBar serve those who are looking for the mainstream EDM club experience, venues like Lush and Piu Piu go one step further by organising themed events featuring specific genres of music like hip hop and bass music. The Lighthouse and Arcan cater to those who are looking for purely underground electronic music genres like techno, house, drum & bass and psytrance with plenty of independently organised events featuring international DJs.

evolution nightlife in saigonImage source: Arcan

Teams like The Beats Saigon, dOSe, Jetlag, Heart Beat, Techno.vn and many others have been responsible for most of the movement in the city’s underground electronic music scene.

There has also been a massive increase in the number of young Vietnamese DJs and music producers in the city mainly due to a rising level of awareness and interest, with DJ academies run by organisations like Pioneer Music catering to them. This has created a revolving door of talented DJs playing in clubs across the country, performing alongside experienced foreign DJs currently living in Saigon, and even touring the region.

Locally produced music festivals have also brought big-name DJs and producers like Deadmau5, Ferry Corsten, Armin van Buuren, Hardwell and Steve Angello to the city, playing to large crowds.

Beyond the flashing lights and pulsating basslines, other components of nightlife have also started to gain traction here, from speakeasy bars to craft beers. Establishments like Drinking & Healing, Snuffbox and Firkin have provided residents and tourists with bespoke cocktails created by skilled bartenders and mixologists, all accompanied by specially curated music.

evolution nightlife in saigonImage source: Drinking & Healing

Homegrown breweries like Heart of Darkness, East West, Te Te, Winking Seal and at least a dozen others have opened more than just venues for beer aficionados. They have also created a scene that’s slowly gaining global recognition.

How far will it go?

Since nightlife is constantly evolving in Saigon, it has already started playing a significant role in the tourism industry with music lovers from across the continent travelling here to check out the increasingly vibrant nightlife scene in the city.

“We have noticed it at The Observatory while talking to our customers. Almost every weekend, we meet people from Hong Kong, Singapore or Bangkok just to name a few cities, who come here to enjoy our vibrant nightlife. It’s definitely growing, so let’s see what will happen in the next few years”, added Dan Bimong.

From the chaotic backpacker-filled bars of Bui Vien Street to glossy speakeasy bars, EDM clubs and rooftop bars, Saigon’s nightlife can be described as an ecosystem catering to almost everyone—locals as well as foreigners.

evolution nightlife in saigonImage source: zing.vn

However, whether the city’s nightlife evolves into a global institution or not will still heavily depend on factors such as its reputation, safety and security, quality of music, the people to keep it running and of course, the authorities.

But as of now, it’s back to being one of the most vibrant in Southeast Asia.

Banner Image source: shutterstock

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