Many people travel to Saigon, Vietnam just to experience the exotic flavors of this bustling megacity. Saigon is known to have a delicious food culture – from the streets to the stores. You will have a wide array of diverse dishes, catering to every need and taste. But the exciting drinking culture still remains somewhat a mystery. In this article, I will unveil the curtain for you so you can take a peek to see what it looks like behind the bar entrance.

drinking in saigon culture
Mot- hai – ba – dzooo!!!

Drinking Trends in Saigon

A typical night out for the Vietnamese people is having food and drinking coffee, milk tea, or beer. In Saigon, out for the night means the same thing. Vietnamese drinking culture will always be about toasting beer. For liquor, wine, and cocktails, it’s a different story. Since these fancier beverages only made it into the scene a few years ago, we are developing our own culture around them.

What locals are drinking 

In general, beer has always been a fast-moving trend of drinking in Saigon, on par with the drafts and crafts trend in the US. On the other hand, liquors, cocktails, and other high-end drinking amenities like cigars are getting more popular in the average income market. I think it’s safe to say that the Vietnamese actually spend more money on drinking than eating.

Drinking in Saigon nightlife ho chi minh city
It’s time to bottom up!

Men have been dominating Vietnam’s alcohol consumption market, but women have started to drink more in recent years. In Saigon, the country’s most cosmopolitan and modern city, gender equality in alcohol consumption is reaching an even ratio for many younger members of the new middle class. It’s rare to see middle-aged women hanging around bars and pubs, but young Vietnamese girls frequent these places, even in upscale venues. For food, Vietnamese consumers mostly purchase according to value-for-money considerations. But they are willing to spend more on drinks, seeking for experience rather than looking at the price tag.

Places for drinking in Saigon

Known as the city that never sleeps, Saigon lives up to its name. There are ever-expanding choices when it comes to places for drinking in Saigon that are open until late without a specified closing time. Vietnam does not have detailed policies for alcoholic consumption, and the legal drinking age is 18. The alcohol limit for motorbike driving is equivalent to 1.5 ounces of strong liquor or 12 ounces (1 can) of regular beer, and 0 for car drivers.

There are incredibly popular choices for a beer at every price range. Saigonese consumers, especially youngsters, are all-in for a good combination of beer and atmosphere, from sidewalk plastic table vendors to beer clubs and craft taprooms. Yet for me, personally, with a bartender background, I prefer a more classy option: quieter yet delicious cocktail bars.

I will narrow down the best choices in Saigon. I will briefly touch on common bars and clubs, then beer craft taprooms, and finally I will end on the exciting trend of mixology bars, cuisine, and cocktail pairing bars, and specialty bars later on in part two. Stay tuned!

From Streets to Dance Floors – Popular Places to Hang Out with All Kinds of Drinks

There are hundreds of places to hang out, open past midnight and even to early morning. Usually, with these places, you will want to get the most bang-for-your-buck, so I will share a few of my personal favorites. All of them have a vibrant atmosphere, cool city breeze, and appealing live music performances with kicking drinks.

Bui Vien Walking Street

If you want to hang out on a budget, Bui Vien – famously known as the backpackers street – is your top choice. This is a bustling, lively area for drinking in Saigon, with numerous roadside seats where you can get cold beers and decent snacks for surprisingly cheap prices. Bars and pubs on this street always offer phenomenal deals during happy hour so don’t expect to wake up early the next day.

Bui Vien Drinking Street
Bui Vien walking street

50-cent beer and two-dollar cocktails are the keywords. The whole street is also a stage for street performers, singing, dancing, and spitting fireballs.

Open-mic Acoustic Bars

These are places to go if you like to meet up with travelers and locals alike, to socialize in a nice music-filled environment. Awesome new friends, great performances, and cheap beer await every time you get on the stage! And there are many social events and live guest performances that happen all week-round to keep you checking in every night.

Thi Bar & Café
Address: 224 De Tham, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1, Saigon
Opening hours: 5:30 PM – 2:30 AM
Price: average 70,000 VND for beers and drinks

Here you can meet up with the Christina’s team and fellow travelers, share experiences, and get to know locals and travelers like yourself – guaranteed free beers for singing on the stage! Check our Facebook page for more info on our latest events.

Karaoke bar in Saigon
Karaoke in style

Broma Not-a-bar
Address: 41 Nguyen Hue, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Saigon
Opening hours: 5:30 PM – 2:30 AM
Price: average 100,000 VND for beers and drinks

Broma Not-A-Bar is right off the Nguyen Hue pedestrian boulevard of Saigon. Located up high, featuring a breezy rooftop view, this place offers fair prices for the location with wide selections. There is live jazz every Thursday night starting at 9 PM and occasional guest performances make this place a great choice.

Let’s move it, move it – Night Clubs!

Drinking in Saigon should not be without partying in nightclubs. The best clubs are mostly found within the tourist accommodation area – perfect for travelers wishing to party right-away after arriving in the city, and of course, to get home easily after drinking a little too much. Every nightclub has its own theme, and should never be the same, ranging from downtown luxurious rooftop establishments to hidden clubs dedicated to young Saigonese culture. With an extensive list of beers and mixes, impressive DJ playlists, vibrant atmospheres, and best of all, no specified closing time, these places offer an all-night fun time.

Lush Saigon
Address: 2 Ly Tu Trong, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Saigon
Opening hours: 8:00 PM till late (usually 3:00-4:00 AM)
Price: 200,000 VND ++

Lush Nightclub has been famous for being one of the best clubs in Saigon. Party-loving crowds with impressive outfits, dance around a spacious floor surrounding a center bar counter. There is also a deck above to better enjoy the stage performances. The music themes change nightly, from hip hop, deep house mixes to reggae and sometimes even old rock. Ladies get free drinks until midnight at the counter every Tuesday night!

nightclubs in saigon
Source: Lush Saigon FB page

Envy Club
Address: 74-78 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Nguyen Thai Binh Ward, District 1, Saigon
Opening hours: 8:00 PM till late (usually 3:00-4:00 AM)
Price: 200,000 VND ++

envy club saigon lush
Photo: Instagram @envy.club

Designed as a theatrical nightclub, Envy provides an unforgettable experience – The Art of Nightlife – with an emphasis on their sound and light systems. The club offers a super spacious environment with high tables for ordinary folk and sofas for the VIPs. Since this place is known for luxurious and upscale services, mind the dress-code and your behavior upon entering. You’ll be greeted by a reception host and escorted in by a group of security guards, more expensive tickets get you better services. Nonetheless, you will surely get the most amazing experience possible.

Exotic Flavors at Craft Breweries

Beer drinking culture nowadays is no longer about finding your favorite lager of choice and sticking with it for life at a classic beer pub. It is more about getting a flight of different crafts and comparing flavors, as well as pairing with food, for example, pitted olives, cheese, and cold cuts. Craft beers provide you with such a dynamic experience, in which the season, the time of the day, the weather, the food, and even your mood all blend together. Anytime in Saigon is good for getting crafts, brewed from local products like fruits, herbs, spices, and even Marou’s cocoa beans – one of the world’s best chocolate companies founded in Vietnam, we recommend their chocolate as the top souvenir to get.

Before the dawn of genuine craft beers in Saigon, here existed draft German and Czech beer houses such as Hoa Vien Brauhaus and Lan Anh Beer Club since 1995. It was not until 2014 when people started to get bored with lagers, that Platinum Beverages was founded. Their premium ales have been good sellers and available in more than 50 outlets throughout the city.

Craft beer saigon
Czech beer house since 1995 – Source: Hoa Vien Brauhaus FB page

Another is Pasteur Street Brewing Company, having made its debut in Saigon in 2015. Pasteur Street Brewing Company has ever since been the flagship of craft beer culture in the city. Nowadays, craft brewing is surely a well-established trend here, for expats, travelers and locals alike. Check out my three breweries of choice and how they are leading the culture of drinking in Saigon.

Pasteur Street Brewing Company – The Birthplace of a Cultural Revolution in 2015

Address: 144 Pasteur, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Saigon
Opening hours: 11 AM – 12 AM
Price: 100,000 VND ++

It was a rainy evening when I visited Pasteur with my close friend. Nestled in a hidden alley off Pasteur street lies the first dedicated craft beer spot in the city. For the last three years, it still remains as a bold symbol of brewing arts. Memorable brand logo with iconic award-winning flavors of American hops, European malt, and exotic Vietnamese ingredients in a glass, PSBC brought me one of the most unforgettable beer experiences. With a wide range of beers with playful flavored infusions and a rustic petite environment, the brewery remained in my heart after I left.

Beware of their Cyclo Imperial Chocolate Stout, which is brewed from the best chocolate of Marou. It earned itself the World Beer Cup Gold Award in 2016. I dare you to “hop” into the flavor.

Craft beer in Saigon - Pasteur Street Brewery
Award-winning Cyclo Imperial Chocolat Stout – Source: Pasteur Street Brewing Company FB page

Heart of Darkness Craft Brewery – Building an Asian Craft Beer Empire in 2016

Address: 31D Ly Tu Trong, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Saigon
Opening hours: 11 AM – 12 AM
Price: 95,000 VND ++

While the craft beer scene in Vietnam was still in its embryonic stages after the revolution in 2015, in the fall of 2016, Heart of Darkness came into play. I still remember the lingering hype of waiting for a blockbuster brewery, and I feel like it was just yesterday that Heart of Darkness made their premier. I made my way to the place after a long work day and decided to treat myself to something extraordinary. And that is exactly what I got.

best bars in saigon
Heart of Darkness’ Flagship Beer – Source: Heart of Darkness Craft Brewery FB page

It is like a journey, an exploration of an uncharted wilderness that comes to life, as you take your first sip of beer. The crafts are masterful blends of the finest imported essences from every corner of the Earth, rather than just local ingredients. Every edge is polished to the extreme, through the appeal, the fragrance, and the synthesis of flavor, as a pursuit of revolution in all their products. Therefore, Heart of Darkness is thriving to become a leading brand of Asia, exporting their crafts across the world.

Kurtz’s Insane IPA and Eloquent Phantom Imperial Stout are going to drive your taste-buds crazy in a good way.

East-West Brewing Company – Connecting Cultures through Craft Beers in 2017

Address: 181-185 Ly Tu Trong, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1, Saigon
Opening hours: 11 AM – 11 PM
Price: 75,000 VND ++

East-West is truly the ice-breaker in the craft beer culture in Saigon. I knew from the first time I stepped inside. It is not a regular taproom that you can find in any nameless city, but a huge restaurant with a shining steel brewing system in the back. Rest assured that every drop in your glass is being made just a couple of meters away from where you sit. Well, if you have a slick restaurant-esque taproom with an attentive staff, it is not going to make it far without good beer, right? Surprisingly, the crafts are very subtle and easy to drink!

Craft beer in Saigon - East West Brewing Company
Restaurant-esque Taproom – Source: East West Brewing Co. FB page

I am Vietnamese, and while I do appreciate flavors from around the world, at the end of the day, I do prefer something that suits Vietnamese palates, and East-West nails it. You can see the local Vietnamese drinking here more than any taproom around the city. While other breweries are trying to achieve something big and world-class, locals find their crafts a bit hard to savor. East-West acts as a bridge, connecting and introducing the Vietnamese to the world of premium craft beers, as you can perceive from the name. In other words, East-West Brewing Company is becoming a local brewery down to its heart with authentic local flavors.

Their signature crafts are all easy to drink with bitterness not higher than 68 IBU. Because of this, you will always have room for another beer after your first, so you can sit, relax, and chat with your local friends for many hours.

That’s all for now to keep you on your toes to spend your funky nights drinking in Saigon. For my next installment of the nightlife scene, read: Top-notch Experiences in Cuisine & Mixology Bars and Specialized Single-Spirit Bars in Saigon.

If you enjoyed reading this article and would like some more fun info about what to see, do, and eat (and a bunch of interesting cafes!) in Vietnam, follow us at The Christina’s Blog!

23 COMMENTS

  1. I can’t believe you don’t have Malt (24 taps) or Rogue or BiaCraft. (50 taps) That’s where you get to try a selection of the amazing Craft Beers &, in the case of Malt, play a shuffleboard and darts into the wee hours.

    • I wrote about what I have tried only 😀 yet I chose these places because they were the flagships in their time of appearance, leading the trend forward 🙂

      Thank you for your recommendation, I will definitely try them later on ^^

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