Ho Chi Minh City: The city that never sleeps

Watch from a distance as the city wakes up from its daytime slumber

Taking a dinner cruise is a perfect short escape from the hustle, bustle and loudness of Ho Chi Minh City. This way, you’ll get to enjoy floating down the Saigon river on a luxury boat with a five-or-so course meal and a glass of wine as you watch comfortably from a distance the traffic and crowds you are avoiding. Plus, you can also watch the sunset in style. 

If you have the budget, go with Bonsai Dinner Cruise that has a bit of a tragic history, but with a happy ending. This premium cruise offers a relaxing experience in a luxurious and romantic atmosphere, making a great opportunity for a date if you are visiting with your beloved. Along with your dinner and the beautiful views of Ho Chi Minh City, there will be traditional music and dance performances, and to top it off, a live jazz performance!

Stimulate all your senses at once

Ben Thanh Market is an iconic emblem of Ho Chi Minh City and is open all the way from 5:00 AM unti llate at night. This iconic market is not only a popular tourist attraction or a place to buy daily goods, but is actually a place to eat, a popular rendezvous point, and also serves as a background for beautiful photo ops. 

The main market is open to the public from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM and once those doors close, the night market wakes up. The streets that run parallel to the main structure, Phan Boi Chau and Phan Chu Trinh, get packed with locals and foreigners alike, browsing stalls that get set up in what seems like the blink of an eye.

You’ll be able to buy various items such as handicrafts, clothes, accessories, jewelry and even electronics. The best part, though? The food! From hawker-style diced and fried meats, to noodle soups topped with a handful of fresh leaves, Vietnam’s favorite pancake (banh xeo), and aromatic grilled seafood, you’ll undoubtedly find something to your liking. 

The market is also nearby September 23 Park, which is perfect for a stroll afterward. From there, you can walk to Ho Chi Minh City’s backpacker district which is full of bars and clubs. We will get to that later. 

Dance to some live music

A live music fan? Lucky you – Ho Chi Minh City does a great job in this department. From heavy rock to smooth jazz, a bit of the blues, and a lot of pop, you will be able to find a bar that specializes in your preferred genre. Besides these live music bars, plenty of hotels offer live music nights – for example the Caravelle Hotel and the Rex Hotel. 

You can check out Yoko, Sax N Art Jazz Club, Acoustic Bar and RFC for some awesome weekly live music performances. Grab a cocktail or a beer (cheap!) and dance the night away. Sitting is for the weak!

A classy cocktail at a rooftop bar, perhaps?

Ho Chi Minh City has plenty of rooftop bars. However, we recommend you avoid the popularly mentioned ones such as Chill Sky Bar and Air Saigon. Check out instead Sohy, Sky XX or Saigon Saigon. These classy bars have awesome cocktail selections for very affordable prices, and along with your drinks you can enjoy music and dance performances. The DJs behind the turntables seem to know exactly what tunes to play to keep the crowds dancing throughout the night.

If you prefer to stay closer to the ground, there are a bunch of awesome cocktail bars as well. Check out Qui, which ends up becoming almost club-like, or The Alley Cocktail Bar & Kitchen, which is similar to a speakeasy. You won’t be disappointed.

Join all the backpackers

Khao San Road of Bangkok, The Walking Street of Pattaya and Lan Kwai Fong of Hong Kong have a contender in Vietnam: Bui Vien Walking Street. It is part of the backpacker district that is comprised of two parallel streets: Bui Vien and Pham Ngu Lao, connected by a perpendicular street, De Tham and a few others.

The area is full of cheap and expensive bars, clubs, restaurants, cafes, hotels and hostels. It is full of people, especially after the sun sets. On certain days, the pedestrian traffic gets so bad that you can barely walk through! On Fridays and Saturdays, cars and motorbikes are not allowed in, so people use this as an excuse to get wasted and stumble around. 

Walking down this street is an experience in itself. What you should do is walk the whole street once and then on your way back, dip into a bar that tickled your fancy the most out of them all. Try the brand new Ice Bar. You’ll get to enjoy an ice cold cocktail or two in a container where everything is made up of ice, including your seats and tables. With your ticket you are given a giant fur coat so don’t worry, you can stay warm inside… for like 10 minutes. If you get cold, head back to the lobby and once you feel your fingers and toes again, go back in and finish your drink. 

Bui Vien street stays up till dawn. You’ll find yourself getting easily drunk, dancing the night away, and then going for breakfast here the next morning. It’s really convenient.

Sing your heart out!

I’m obviously leaving the best for last… the Vietnamese love karaoke. And I mean LOVE with capital letters.

Karaoke isn’t something that happens only on special occasions. While it is definitely a feature of weddings and birthday parties, it may also happen during ordinary family meals and simple gatherings with friends.

You’ll find that karaoke bars dot every corner of the city, and many middle-class families even have karaoke rooms built into their homes! Your next door neighbor may even feel like setting up a makeshift karaoke corner in front of his doorstep and sing (unfortunately, not so well) till 3:00 AM. Even if you have work the next morning. 

Locals really do love gathering up with a bunch of friends and taking part in this activity. Many head to karaoke bars – multifloor establishments with various soundproof rooms. Pool in some cash and book a room, order in some food and drink, select your favorite songs and get ready to belt those lyrics out loud. Most bars have selections of English songs too, especially ones from our favorite boy bands in the 90s. You know who I’m talking about. 

So there you go, that’s Ho Chi Minh City’s nightlife for you. With so many fun activities and even more fun people, it’s really hard to have a boring night here. If you ever have the chance to visit Ho Chi Minh City, we highly recommend you spend more than a couple days so you can really take in all the crazy.

Want to travel across the land and sea?

Get inspired with more stories by travelers, for travelers