In Saigon, there’s certainly no shortage of places to unwind and have a drink after a long day—the real question, though, is just where to begin. To help you navigate the overwhelming landscape, we’ve put together a list of our top picks, from spaces that set you apart to spots that let you disappear into the city. For the first month of the year 2020, here are some favorites from Bliss Saigon editorial team.
A tiny cafe and bar tucked away in District 3, Era Coffee takes on a new identity when night falls. Made up of just a single smoky room lit only by candles, it’s almost invisible from the outside—but what it lacks in frills it more than makes up for in the form of cheap, strong cocktails and a steady playlist of jazz standards.
Era Coffee – 58 Trần Quốc Thảo, Phường 7, Quận 3, HCMC, Vietnam
Saigon is a city of contrasts, and few bars (or, in this case, groups of plastic tables) better illustrate this than Rum Bar. Positioned deep in District 1, alongside glossy hotels and the commercial draws of the city center, Rum Bar (Vietnamese name Quang Sanh Long) lets you take in city life from the ground level. Order a bottle of house-made rum to share then watch the night melt away.
Rum Bar – 19 Cong trinh lien doanh, Mạc Thị Bưởi, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, HCMC
The options when it comes to rooftop bars are many, but they don’t all have to be fancy. For me, it’s all about the casual stops making the most of a space and doing things their own way. Cipherz Rooftop is just that. After climbing a precarious set of stairs, take in a panoramic view of the canal bisecting Tan Dinh and Phu Nhuan over a beer or cocktail then, come night time, go back to a time where all-vinyl DJs and breakdancers reigned supreme.
Cipherz Rooftop – 379 Hoàng Sa, Tân Định, Quận 1, HCMC
Banana Mama is one of the coolest “summer-breeze” bars in Saigon. Although Bui Vien is just a stones throw from the WMC Building in which Banana Mama calls home, the rooftop is all about summer vacation with cool cocktails, beach umbrellas and wait staff that look like they should be on St Barts! Although the decor pulls its inspiration from beach lounging and island hopping, at night the modern vista of the Saigon Metropolis is second to none! With fries done “three-ways” and a name sake cocktail with rum, malibu and pineapple, nestled in a sunny yellow and white decor, you’ll no doubt be busy googling your next trip to the beaches throughout the evening.
Banana Mama – 102 ABC Cong Quynh, Quân 1, HCMC
Still a die hard fave among local expats, XU is undeniably “cool”. Xu in D1 is still a favorite bar even with an ever-changing roster of new chic bars on offer. The drinks menu is extensive, the service is fast and super friendly and the relatively strict dress code ensures a perpetually chic vibe. The drinks prices seem to have been capped and so a night out here, although relatively expensive, is not even close to the potential damage done to the finances at the newer establishments. Happy hour runs to 8 pm. Frock up for the cool crowd!
Xu Bar – 58 Đường Huỳnh Thúc Kháng, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, HCMC
Thao Dien probably isn’t a mecca for nightlife for anyone living outside of the Thao Dien bubble. However within this expat hamlet is a bar helmed by industry veteran Maggie Puchalski who has managed to create what is essentially a sports bar that possesses a casual warmth and friendliness. The bar’s menu caters to a growing, conscious community who still enjoys a drink or two. With one of the best mushroom burgers in town and a rooftop that overlooks Xuan Thuy street,you’ll find local expats and Vietnamese that frequent. By the second visit Maggie is bound to have remembered your name!
Flying Pig – 97 Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien, Quân 2, HCMC
Turning an old apartment on one of the unassuming streets of Saigon into a stylish old Hong Kong bar is a stroke of genius. There is nothing more appealing to creatives than a reprocessed space which still features touches of the original Vietnamese place combined with the 80s style of Hong Kong. And the Apt 852 did this with flair. The atmosphere and decoration of the space is easily the main draw, but the Apt 852 is also a place for conversations even over the eclectically selected music. This is definitely the kind of place where you want to settle in for a while with your best friends with a good cocktail in hand.
Apt 852 – 4th Floor, 31 Lê Thị Riêng, Bến Thành, Quận 1. HCMC
I like the 1930s, a lot, and that’s one of the reasons I love Snuffbox so much. While the fancy cocktails they serve may not be so cheap (but hey, they’re worth it), the atmosphere will quickly hook you in. After stepping few floors and open an unmarked thick black door, you enter in a cozy room with vintage furniture, with a huge bar counter, and an art deco lighting that make you feel like you’ve stepped back into the roaring twenties. The perfect speakeasy for a relax after-work hangout at happy hour with a supreme cocktail in hands.
Snuffbox – 14 Tôn Thất Đạm, Phường Nguyễn Thái Bình, Quận 1. HCMC
The River cottage has been one of the best-kept secrets in Saigon, and for good reason. It takes a while the first time to find it. The place is located in a little street going to the Saigon river in District 2, but the calm atmosphere, the view, and prices are more than worth it. Opened 2 years ago with the idea of being a small hotel, the River cottage today is an Indochina-style charming hotel and so much more. It has a wide-open terrace with a bar and restaurant looking out over the Saigon river that makes you decide when the night is falling to have your cocktail al fresco a no-brainer.
River Cottage – 18 Đường Số 6, Thảo Điền, Quận 2. HCMC
Kệ is a beer bar and great place to go hear classic rock. Especially classic British rock. Think Stones to early Oasis. There is no other place in Saigon where you can go hear music like this all night. The rock-inspired decor totally fits the place too. Super cold cheap beer and loads of Vietnamese customers having fun too – which is awesome. Kệ can get crowded and sometimes customers spill out onto relatively quiet the street but that is part of the fun and a great way to mix it up with the crowd.
2A Hoa Hồng, Phường 2, Quận Phú Nhuận, HCMC
Flamingo is a legit massage place right in the heart of naughty land. But around midnight it turns into a music-themed bar run by the fabulous Ms. Thuy who has been at the same location 18 years. Small and cosy with great drinks and, believe it or not, electric guitars for guests to play. It’s only a late night place, though, so come before midnight and it may be totally empty. At four or five AM you never know who may walk in. Stays open past sunrise so remember to bring sunglasses.
13B Lê Thánh Tôn, Bến Nghé, Hồ Chí Minh, Bến Nghé Quận 1, HCMC
Eck Street Bar at Tân Định market
Eck is a street pop-up bar that opens up around 9 pm. It’s literally a sidewalk cart selling super cheap booze to people sitting on small plastic chairs by the side of the road. The clientele are mostly young hip Saigon kids. Eck is absolutely fantastic for people watching but not limited to its patrons. Being right on Hai Bà Trưng and across the street from one of Saigon’s oldest markets you see everything under the sun. It’s a great slice of city that most people never take the time experience.
Eck Street bar
300 Hai Bà Trưng, Quân 1, HCMC