This weekend, the Saigon Soul Pool Party smashes back on to the Ho Chi Minh social scene, marking the end of the rainy season and start of the party season. Taking place from 10am – 10pm at the New World Saigon Hotel in District 1, entry costs 150,000VND and there are a range of drinks and food stations to keep you going while you soak up the sun and the house music.
Head to Boomarang Restaurant in District 7 for a relaxing Sunday stroll around Saigon’s original vintage flea market. Selling clothes, accessories, home ware, food and wine, there are plenty of creative bargains to be found.
Cut some Latino shapes on Monday night at Cuba la Casa del Mojito in District 1. The venue offers a free salsa class every Monday evening from 9pm, followed by freestyle dancing until late. Grab your girlfriends and head down for a Sangria or ten to keep the weekend going.
Start the weekend early with Ladies Night at Lush in District 1. Every Tuesday Saigon’s bright young things gather to hit the dance floor. Ladies drink for free until midnight – deals don’t get much better than that.
Every Wednesday Thao Dien’s coolest bar offers free food made by guest chefs when you buy a drink. Think graffiti, vibey music and creative types in an industrial open-air space, with a good selection of quirky cocktails and craft beers. Free food starts at 8pm – make sure you get there on time as its first come first served.
If you’re looking for an alternative Friday night, why not check out the Sounds of the World Piano Concert, featuring Maciej Grzybowski, a Polish pianist and chamber musician, and Nguyen Tuan Manh, a Vietnamese soloist of the Asian Symphony Orchestra and a ‘30 Under 30’ FORBES Vietnam 2016 recipient. Tickets cost 180,000VND and the performances run from 6.30 – 9pm.
As Ho Chi Minh City grows up, so does it’s selection of rooftop spots to suit all tastes. Saigon offers historic heights which became famous for the role they played during the war, and brand new shiny skyscrapers providing panoramic views and party vibes. Unlike other cities, rooftop drinking is affordable in Saigon, especially if you take advantage of the happy hours and offers that most of the bars listed offer. This is an introduction to five of the top spots in the center of town to enjoy sunsets and glittering night views of Ho Chi Minh.
Rooftop Garden at the Rex Hotel
A Saigon institution, the roof bar of the Rex Hotel is a spacious corner terrace overlooking the colonial City Hall. This is one of the more historical watering holes; the now-famous hotel bar was popular with military officials and international correspondents covering the Vietnam war during the 60’s. The 5th floor roof bar retains plenty of the right kind of old-school charm, but also has a little of the wrong kind; being rather kitch and dated, despite a renovation in the early noughties. The background music tends to be bizarre array of pop tracks, from the Vengaboys to Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’…(in May). Get there early to avoid the cheesy live band which play on a stage flanked by plastic elephants and a giant illuminated crown. Despite a few tacky touches, this old-fashioned joint is a must-visit for a taste of Saigon’s past in a fantastic rooftop setting.
Soaring above the HCM skyline, Level 23 is a much higher view over the city stretching into the distance. Perfect for sundowners, the bar is semi-enclosed, but with large open windows facing towards the sunset. Given the staggering view, the bar has surprisingly never been particularly busy when I’ve visited, but apparently gets more lively as the evening goes on. With a wide selection of drinks, this roof bar also has the best complimentary beer snacks – generous bowls of wasabi peas, nuts and rice crackers. Level 23 is an understated bar with no pretension and a really great view, so definitely worth a visit to escape the hustle and bustle of street level.
Across the road from the Rex, and equally historic, Saigon Saigon at the Carvelle is a fantastic spot for an early evening gin & tonic. Slightly more elevated than the Rex, this was the highest spot in the city during the 60’s and was also popular with journalists swapping stories and drinking heavily during the war. After 9pm, there is a very loud live band which for me ruins the ambiance of the bar, so I would recommend early evening for a pit stop here, and avoid 10pm when you risk having to watch 20 elderly tourists performing a synchronized dance to a Ricky Martin song. Despite that, it has remained a great spot for stunning views over the center of the city whilst sipping a cold one.
Caravelle Saigon, 19 – 23 Lam Son Square, District 1, HCM City, Vietnam
Phone: +848 3823 4999
It’s full on glamour at Chill Skybar, the poser’s choice of roof bar in Saigon. The clientele are young and stylish in this vibrant spot. Chill is also high up on the 26th floor, so the views are magnificent. The concept is more modern, with the bar marketing itself as a place for Saigon trend-setters to be seen. In stark contract to the Rex or Caravelle, Chill Skybar is unashamedly flashy, and a better rooftop spot if you are looking for a late night party. Good news for my fellow Ho Chi Minxes; Chill put on a great ladies night every Wednesday, offering a free bottle of sparkling Rose to a group of 4 or more ladies.
Level 26 AB Tower, 76A Le Lai Street, District 1, HCM City, Vietnam
Phone: +848 6253 8888
Shri Restaurant & Lounge
With more of an emphasis on food than many of its rooftop counterparts, Shri overlooks many of the key landmarks in the center of the city and its glass railings provide clear sweeping views over wider Saigon. Shri has also recently introduced a happy hour offer; 50% off drinks from 3-7pm. The bar has regular live music, lunchtime menu offers and other events. Shri is far from pretentious and, without anything kitch about it either, it provides a happy medium between the likes of the Rex and Chill Skybar.