9 Truly local things to do in Ho Chi Minh at night

local things to do in ho chi minh city at night food tour

A corner of Nguyen Hue walking street - Photo: internet

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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.

Things to do in Ho Chi Minh city at night

1. Ca Phe Bet near the Notre Dame Cathedral

“Ca Phe Bet” means sitting on the flat ground to drink

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.

local things to do in ho chi minh city at night saigonkisstours.com xo tours food bike tour

Ca Phe Bet

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.

Pocket tip:

– 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.

2. Discover Pham Ngu Lao area and drink Saigon beer

things to do in Ho Chi Minh city at night: Pham Ngu Lao street

Pham Ngu Lao backpacker area

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.

local things to do in ho chi minh city at night food tour

Saigon Special beer

Pocket tip:
– 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!

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3. Nguyen Hue walking street at night

things to do in Ho Chi Minh city at night

A corner of Nguyen Hue walking street

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.

4. District 7 and the Starlight bridge

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.

Things to do in ho chi minh at night

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.

6. Enjoy live music in coffee shops at night 

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.

local things to do in ho chi minh city at night food biike tour saigonkisstours.com

Cafe Ngoi Nha So 7

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

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7. Dine along the streets

eating local food in Ho Chi Minh city

Another version of Banh Mi

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.

thing to do in Ho Chi Minh city at night

Scooter food tour with the female bikers

Pocket tips:

– 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.

8. Sing your heart out at karaoke in Ho Chi Minh city at night

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.

local things to do in ho chi minh city at night food biike tour saigonkisstours.com

Karaoke is fun

Pocket tips:

– 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.

Read more: Places to visit in Ho Chi Minh city in daytime

9. Getting around the city at night with the green bikers Grab

local things to do in ho chi minh city at night food tour

Grab takes over Uber

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.

Pocket tips:

– 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.

food-tour-motobike-ho-chi-minh-city

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.

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Natalie Vo
Natalie Vo
100% Vietnamese, my passion is traveling and running projects related to tourism. I'm here to share what I know about Vietnam for travelers.

4 Comments

  1. Stephen says:

    Thank you Natalie. Very informative. Prepping for my first trip to VN.

    • Natalie Vo says:

      Hi Stephen, glad that you love my post. Anything you need with the itinerary you always have the help of my team. Feel free to reach us hi@saigonkisstours.com or +84901006844 (WhatsApp/Telegram/iMessage) for any questions.
      All the best!

  2. Malou Aralar says:

    Hi Natalie,
    It will be my first trip to Vietnam… but not for pleasure but mainly for work. I have some free time though. I arrive in Ho Chi Minh City at about 9am on a Monday and booked in a hotel near the airport as I have to fly to another place in Vietnam the next day for my work. On my final day in Ho Chi Minh before flying home at around 3PM, I hope to also explore more of the city. I am not much into night life but would love night sceneries, aside from the daytime activities (shopping and of course visiting famous spots). Which would you suggest the best way to get around the city and maximize my time. Calling for the green Grab motorbike guys or could I hire a similar service for the day to take me around as I finish in one place to save time in booking Grab motorbike each time. I am not a motorcycle rider and my only experience in riding in tandem in a motorbike was in Malaysia and Thailand (I am from the Philippines). Or would it be better to hire a car with driver to take me around? Although it might be a problem due to traffic. Your suggestion will be helpful. Thanks in advance.

    • Natalie Vo says:

      Hi Malou, the green Grab bikers is good if you know exactly what you want, get the route map in mind and only need the transportation. By telling the Grab drivers your destinations and where you head for the next, he will do good with that. No cheating, no scams, just go and pay.
      Traveling for work with limited time, I understand that you want to take advantage of free time for a good time. From what you shared, my suggestions is you do a customized tour with a local guide, either with car or local transport which is scooter. It’s all your choices.
      – For the Daytime: do shopping tour or half day tour. Normally it’s 3-4 hours for one experience. I don’t suggest that you do a whole day tour because it would be a bit overwhelming under the hash sunshines of South Vietnam.
      – For the Night time: do a bit sight-seeing combining with street food. Better go to the local spots which is not touristy.
      The key is the tour guide. She or he should speak good English and know the city really well so that you guys can talk like friends. For solo travelers, I think the connection between travelers and the tour guides must be put in top priority.
      Let me know what you think.

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