Ho Chi Minh City may still have a way to go to match the glittering skylines of nearby Bangkok or Singapore. But with the recently completed Landmark 81 (the world’s 14th tallest building at 461m), change is afoot. You can appreciate the city’s skyline from its many rooftop bars, which often pair great views with innovative ales from the city’s burgeoning craft beer scene.
And Vietnam’s most populous city has a unique appeal, with modern buildings rising above quaint tree-lined boulevards and hundred-year-old French colonial-era heritage buildings. Here are some of the best rooftop bars in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).
It's situated on Pasteur, Ho Chi Minh City’s so-called ‘Wall Street’, but Rogue is all about the beer. While its covered outdoor terrace is only on the third floor, patrons can enjoy more than 30 beers (representing seven local craft breweries) on tap, while looking out over the stately 300-year-old National Bank building across the street and the Bitexco Financial Tower in the distance.
The crowd here skews young, probably because of the happy hour beer, which starts at just VND 40,000 for a small glass. The American bar food menu has a good selection of gourmet burgers; wash them down with the Saigon ginger cider or the passion fruit wheat ale from Pasteur Street Brewery.
Air 360 Sky Lounge
True to its name, the calling card of this trendy rooftop bar, 22 stories above Saigon, is that you can walk completely around it for views in every direction. The best view, however, is over Ben Thanh Market, one of Ho Chi Minh City's liveliest areas. There’s a DJ from 9.30pm every day, and Saturday nights feature performances including fire dancing and bartender shows. The crowd is a mix of tourists and after-work expats. Signature cocktails start at VND 250,000, including the air mojito made with a splash of champagne.
Saigon Saigon Bar
Looking out over the heart of downtown from the 9th floor of the Caravelle Hotel, Saigon Saigon Bar is arguably the city’s most historic drinking hole. During the war, journalists were able to see the front line from their bar stools in what was the tallest building in Saigon at the time.
Nowadays, Saigon Saigon plays up its storied past through vintage décor featuring old photos, pretty original floor tiles and coasters with hand-drawn sketches of 1960s-era HCMC. Don't miss The Caravelle Terrace Draft — a full-bodied malt brewed exclusively for the bar which re-creates the beer war correspondents drank back in the day. Happy hour offers great drink deals to go along with excellent bar bites, and an enthusiastic Cuban band plays most nights.
Located on the 9th floor of the Duc Vuong Hotel, the View is the highest rooftop bar on Bui Vien, the backpacker enclave which turns pedestrian-only on weekend evenings. This part of town has no high buildings, so views are over residential homes and mini-hotels, with the skyscrapers of downtown in the distance.
The View also houses a restaurant which serves up excellent Vietnamese food, including a stellar tiger prawn salad in a sesame rice cracker bowl. With the option to order a full meal served out on the outdoor rooftop lit by pretty lanterns, the View is popular with families and groups. Try the Vietnamese mojito, a delicious blend of Cacacha 51 with local notes of lemongrass, mint and red chillies.
At the top of the trendy Myst hotel on Dong Khoi, Saigon’s ritziest shopping street, lies Bar Bleu. On the smallish side, this 14th-floor rooftop bar shares half its space with a lap pool, illuminated by coloured lights. Wade through the water to the two plush cabanas or go for a dip (permissible for bar patrons) with a cocktail in hand. While there’s a DJ on Friday and Saturday nights, the real reason to come is for its views over the Saigon River as well as its all-you-can-drink specials on select days when women get a discount.
Social Club Saigon
Named one of the best hotel bars in Asia-Pacific, Social Club Saigon atop the Hotel des Arts is where the well-heeled come to see and be seen. Almost always crowded, the close proximity of tables means there’s little dancing other than where you stand, but the dimly lit space 23 stories above street level is known for its creative drinks and gourmet bar bites. The Mon Paris blends fresh raspberry and cinnamon syrup with Absolut vodka and prosecco while the french fries with truffle dip are always a hit. Check the website for events including pool parties and guest DJs.
Shri Restaurant & Lounge
Connected to Social Club Saigon via a glass sky bridge, Shri offers one of HCMC's best mixes of food, booze and ambience. The outdoor rooftop bar overlooks leafy District 3, known for its many heritage buildings, while the restaurant serves some of the best Spanish tapas in the city. The highlight of the drinks menu is the amazing 41 vodka-based cocktails inspired by various Saigon neighbourhoods. Expect innovation and theatre with every drink, including, for instance, notes of cherry (red) and almond (yellow) to represent the Vietnamese flag, and the Ba Son Shipyard cocktail, served in a huge model boat with a liquid nitrogen flare.
Anan Restaurant & Rooftop Bar
Head up to the sixth floor of Anan (meaning 'eat, eat'; press elevator button 3) for great outdoor views over the Cho Cu wet market, just a stone’s throw from the Bitexco Tower. Anan is famous for putting a twist on local flavours, including the excellent phojito, a take on Vietnam’s beloved noodle dish, complete with a charred stick of cinnamon. The tra da is also excellent, an alcoholic version of the iced tea served everywhere, here with Dalat black tea and honey with a splash of gin and lime soda. One floor down, NHAU NHAU is a more upscale, speakeasy-type space with its own curated menu of food and drink accompanied by music played from a vintage record player. Arrive early to snag a seat on the outdoor terrace.