A.K.A Saigon

Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon, Vietnam, Rooftop Bars, Street Food

Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon as some still know it as, is the capital of Vietnam and the heartbeat of this amazing country. Having recently had the opportunity to travel this vast city, I can finally provide some insight into where to enjoy sundowners and some amazing rooftop restaurants. Although my partner-in-crime wasn’t with me on this trip, I was lucky that my good friend and fellow blogger, Aarti aka Madamviand, The Experimental Chef was in Vietnam at the time. She is also an avid traveller, foodie and loves a good night out, so it gives us both the perfect opportunity to share our experiences with you…

 

Oasis Saigon  

Before coming to Vietnam, I had booked myself a room at the Common Room Project in Ho Chi Minh, a hostel situated in District 5 and home to the Oasis Rooftop. The hostel itself was hip and had a great vibe with a mix of travellers backpacking Asia. Upon check-in I was keen to find out more about the hostel’s rooftop and what it has to offer. After being taken up what felt like 20 flight of stairs, I finally made it! A cool bar area stood before me with a great lounge area and a further flight of stairs led me to another area of the bar which caught a small glimpse of the city’s skyline. The bar staff were great with not only their drink creations such as the passion fruit margarita (which is a must try) but also at giving tips on where to eat and drink and how best to enjoy the city. Since opening, the bar holds weekly moonlight cinema nights up on the roof as well as regular BBQ nights, for which more information can be found here. The most exciting and interesting thing about this place is its leadership in becoming one of the most eco-friendly and sustainable bars in town. They pride themselves on growing their own herbs such as mint and rosemary which they use in the drinks, and not using the dreaded plastic straw. Personally I’ve become a lot more conscious about the use of plastic and have made several adjustments in my daily life, which was one of the main reasons why I loved it here.
If you are looking for great place to dine under the stars, then this is the place to go. The authentic Vietnamese cuisine is to die for, it’s super affordable and with their generous portions, you will not be left empty or disappointed. I opted for a variety of dishes to get a taste of everything that there was to offer. The tofu, which I normally find a hard dish to flavour myself, was mouthwatering and had a great crispy outer layer. The chicken pot had the right amount of spice and flavours, well combined with the ginger rice. The restaurant was located off the Main Street …. through a courtyard and up again a large flight of stairs, but once you get up to the roof, you’ll see the stripped back decor mixed with authentic Vietnamese decor giving it a cool hippy and chilled out atmosphere. It’s best to book in advance as it is a very popular spot but don’t fear, if you don’t mind gate crashing large sharing tables then you can just head on up.
Now for the wild person within yourself, Ho Chi Minh is a crazy place to party into the night. So with that said I forgot most of what happened on my nights out. So I’ll let The Experimental Chef take it from here …  

Chill Bar

After a long day learning about the Cu Chi Tunnels, we ventured out. First stop, Bui Vien Walking Street, I had never come across a place like this before… all the bars/clubs were open onto the street, chairs and tables strewn across the wide path and completely full of locals and tourists, drinking and smoking shisha. As we walked down the path, trying not to bump into anyone and avoiding the wheeled carts of dried squid (well… at least that’s what I thought it was) we could hear different music being blasted from all the different venues, each of the hosts trying to entice to stay by offering $1 cocktails and free shots upon arrival. We chose a bar called Amazon in the end which was playing some familiar commercial pop just soaking in the atmosphere of this crazy street. A few drinks later .. I had the urge to dance.. and luckily we found that Chill Skybar was right around the corner. As we were getting closer we kept checking our maps because this skybar wasn’t in a hotel as we had expected but a commercial office building??? But low and behold upon entering the building we were met with a vast red carpet and two bouncers who led us to the lifts. When those lift doors opened we were met by the sound of Drake, people dancing on every surface and shades of blue and red light shining over us directing us to the bar. They had a separate gin cocktail menu and that was it for me, I was presented with a giant Copa glass full of rose petals and cucumber rind – heaven! We walked towards the edge of terrace and that’s where we stayed the entire night, drinking in the view of Saigon, aglow with the million lights scattered across the city.

Social Club

We returned to Saigon from Siem Reap for one more night before flying back to London, and this time we stayed in the Hotel Des Arts, which was in a different part of the city to where we had stayed last. A stunning hotel, wonderful service and soon we were to discover – a seriously cool and lavish rooftop bar. We had come back from dinner at Den Long (it’s a must!) and rather than heading out elsewhere we decided to get back to our hotel and have a drink there instead, we were certainly not disappointed. The lift took us up to the top floor, opening up over the pool, we saw people were already dancing the night away, and the bar beautifully decorated. I was immediately given a table overlooking the city and handed a couple of menus which were lit up .. LIT UP – hello 3018! The place was incredibly modern and had this superior feel to it, everyone was dressed to impress. The menus (yes, multiple!) were extensive and for a while I sat there befuddled until I opened up the Gin menu – after rejoicing with a quick victory dance, I got myself a lovely gin cocktail and proceeded to unpack a deck of cards… it was one of those nights. Some may find it weird but we usually take a pack of cards if we are having a chilled evening, this night wasn’t about dancing (although the music was incredible! R’n’b, hip hop – you name it!) this night was about reflecting on our last 2 weeks in Vietnam and taking in the last views of this crazy cool city.

For more on Vietnam’s great food and places to go then check out The Experimental Chef!