When the sun goes down, Saigon becomes irresistible with its energy and tons of people who are finding their way through the city. As a Saigon insider, my articles will list some of the activities for your wonderful night in Saigon. Even though rooftops and bars are here for you to have some drinks and make some new friends, those activities sound like very Westernized. In this article, forgive me when I skip all of the Western-like activities and jump to only-the-local ones. Below are the top 9 local things to do in Ho Chi Minh city at night.
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Coffee after 3pm sounds like in the not-to-do list for most people. But you can go to this Ca Phe Bet park, which is next to the Cathedral for this interesting local thing. This park is located between two main roads of District 1, Le Duan and Pasteur and has the name Ca Phe Bet, which literally means “coffee on the flat ground”. There, from 5pm you will witness the locals from 15 to 25 years old sitting in a large or small groups to chat the night away. Some bring their musical instruments like acoustic guitars, others sing. The young energy of the country makes you optimistic about the future of the country.
Like I said, if coffee is not your thing after 3pm, grab some local food here. Street vendors are popular in the park, willing to give you some newspapers or cardboard to lay down on the concrete. You can sit on them then order a drink or stir-fried corn or grilled rice paper.
– If you’re sitting in the park then man approach you to offer the shoes cleaning services, just say no. It’s a common scam in Vietnam. They will clean your shoes then charge you with the big bill.
– Local food at Ca Phe Bet park is often less than 50,000 vnd per item. Check your local currency carefully.
If you haven’t heard of 30 cent beers, this is the place you can try. Order Saigon Special beer and have some fun with your group of friends might be an interesting idea. The streets in this area are also full of street food vendors. It’s easy for you to find the fry squids hanging down on the charcoal fire with bottled chili sauce, the egg balut Hot Vit Lon or the fried corn Bap Xao which is very popular in the local street food. Having a beer watching people passing by in front of your eyes, immersing yourself in this non-stop Saigon city and respecting for all the differences you’ve seen on the way you travel to finish your day. One more thing, there are plenty of restaurants that offer late-night bites that are so hard to pass on.
– Be mindful of your belongings seems like a typical advice when traveling in Southeast Asia. Prepare yourself sandals or a good pair of shoes to walk around.
– Wanna challenge yourself with a budget of two dollars per night to survive? The good news is: Yes, one Saigon Special beer, one street food, challenge done!
Nguyen Hue Street is a broad walking promenade in the middle of District 1 city center. This pedestrian area is flanked by some beautiful French colonial architectural wonders like the People’s Committee, the Rex Hotel, and a luxury shopping mall. In front of the People’s Committee you find a statue of Uncle Ho Chi Minh and a fountain show by night. At the other end of the promenade, you will find the Saigon River from where you can enjoy a nice view with a breeze. Walking from one end of the street to the other takes you around ten minutes and you will find some nice bars and restaurants along the way. It is nice to walk on Nguyen Hue Street, or take a seat on one of the benches, to have a look at the daily life and routine of the locals.
Ho Chi Minh city is busy as you can see, this place is a great idea for the locals to get fresh air and watch some street performances. Parents love taking their kids here and buy them some toys from the vendors.
Unlike other districts which offer the buzzling lights and sounds, District 7 is more tranquil and peaceful. A prefect getaway to recharge, breathe and take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city. A perfect night can be strolling by the Crescent Lake which is an attraction of the area. Walking in an open airy space is extremely relaxing.
At night, the place becomes even more charming as the Starlight Bridge turns into a light spectacle making you feel like walking amongst the stars. The pedestrian bridge is a perfect romantic setting for an evening stroll, as long as you don’t mind sharing the moment with crowds of other smitten couples holding selfie sticks.
Music is great. Listening to a local band playing songs in English can make your night an exciting and soulful one. There are hundreds of coffee shops in town and those places are not only about the coffee but also the environment and the unique atmosphere that each cafe offers to their guests. From my observation over the past years, those can be categorized into three types: garden cafes, vintage cafes and “modern” cafes. And some of them provide live music at night besides the candlelights with violins, guitars, talented singers.
Some live music coffee shops:
+ No. 7 Cafe House– 7 Ngo Thoi Nhiem, Ward 7, District 3, HCMC
+ Gu Cafe – 145 D3, Binh Thanh District, HCMC
+ Cõi Riêng Cafe – 334A Nguyen Trong Tuyen, Ward 2, Tân Bình District, HCMC
Street food vendors in Ho Chi Minh city are like vampires — they come out at night. You will find so many individuals and groups of stalls scattered around the city. Locals love sitting on the sidewalks and enjoying a hot bowl of soup or dishes of rice after a hard day’s work. Check out Co Bac and Co Giang, two of the most popular street food alleyways. Most dishes here will cost you around one or two dollars.
– If you are a street food fan, check it out our top street food paradise in Ho Chi Minh city. The famous one is Co Bac street, Co Giang street in district 1
– Vietnamese street food is yummy, but make sure you leave some space for the next dishes so that you can try a little bit of everything.
– Eat the local street food, use the local transport if possible too, which is the motorbike.
Karaoke is a favorite Asian pastime and Vietnam has taken it to a whole new level. You will find giant lounges, decorated so lavishly as if they are expecting royalty. Rooms can be booked for as low as USD$30.00 per group, which includes drinks, finger food and hours of loud music. Want to sing some Backstreet Boys, Avril Lavigne or even Guns ‘n’ Roses and Outkast? No problem. The playlists are endless. Check out King Karaoke or Nice karaoke, those are the most popular karaoke bars in town.
– Vietnamese love singing. Even if you are not confident with your singing voice, give it a try. Don’t be shy. When in Vietnam, do as the Vietnamese do.
– Go with at least one of your local friends if possible. Although the song lyrics is shown on the Karaoke television screen but the seeing your local friends sing can make you want to join the fun.
Motorbikes rules the city
Although a scooter tour to hunt for the food and the hidden gems of the city is fun, you don’t need an English speaking driver/tour guides all the time. In this case, using Grab is amazing when the app gives you the chance to use the local transport.
Same with Uber, Grab offers you not only taxis but also bikes. Walking on the pedestrians of the city and wonder why the green jackets and helmets are so popular. Here is the answer for you: they are Grab drivers. Since Uber can’t compete with the local insight advantages in Southeast Asia with Grab, Uber was sold to Grab and withdrew from Vietnam in 2018.
Just around 5 to 10 minutes after you confirm your ride with the app, your driver will be at your place for the pickup. If you are lucky to find a driver who can speak a little English, ask them some simple questions like where they are from, do they love their job, you will see their effort in happily trying to have the friendly conversation in English and want nothing in return except for your company.
– Since most of Grab drivers don’t speak English. Sometimes the driver arrives very nearby but hesitates to make you a phone call to know who is his guest. In this case, please kindly help them by looking around for the green jacket and helmets, he will be grateful for your effort.
– Although tipping is not popular in Vietnamese culture. A gratitude of 10,000 vnd or 20,000 vnd will make them more than happy. Those sum of money is equivalent to less than 1 dollar, be generous and support the locals.
– Going for a night drive is fun when the roads are a little less crowded, giving more freedom than during daytime.
Above is the best local things to do in Saigon at night I want to suggest when you travel to our city. Feel free to ask questions and leave comments. It’s good if you choose to explore the city on your own. But in case you want an in-depth experience, you can check out the Saigon Evening Street Food Tour by Scooters, provided by the #GirlPower female rider of Saigon Kiss Tours.