By Laura Nalin
When I first moved to Ho Chi Minh City, my landlord - a New Zealand national - referred to it as “the world’s most underrated party city.” I was a bit taken aback by this statement as that wasn’t exactly why I moved here. However, after nearly 10 months of living here, I can confirm there is a lot of truth to his statement.
While the insanity is isolated to Saigon’s notorious Bui Vien street, there are plenty of places to get a civilized drink - both alcoholic and without. Due to the fact this city is so vast and mysterious, I’m can only speak for myself when it comes to my favorite spots in town. From kitschy cafes to elegant speakeasies, here’s my personal drink tour of Ho Chi Minh City.
Layla: Go here if you want superb cocktails and a killer happy hour
Not only does Layla serve what is arguably the best Moscow Mule in town, but this hip gem provides an unmatched atmosphere. Located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, this trendy cocktail bar is great for a date night or a happy hour catch up with friends. The staff is friendly and the bartenders make the drinks stiff and delicious. The outdoor patio is also a nice touch!
→ Address: Second Floor, 63 Đông Du, Quận 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Mockingbird Coffee: Go here if you want to feel secluded from the city
Tucked away on the fourth floor of Saigon’s first-ever apartment building lies one of the city’s best kept secrets. Seriously, I was a bit hesitant to include it on this list. I’m not sure if it’s the fresh cut flowers on each table or that the exterior resembles a woodland cottage, but this cafe gives me all the feels. The dreamy space is perfect for anyone wanting to get a glimpse of the history of Ho Chi Minh City.
→ Address: Fourth Floor, 14 Đường Tôn Thất Đạm, Quận 1, Phường Nguyễn Thái Bìn, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh
Snuffbox: Go here if you’re feeling glamorous
A few flights below the Mockingbird Cafe sits a modern-day speakeasy that takes patrons back in time - in both sights and sound. Hidden away within the walls on the mezzanine-level of the former apartment complex is, in my opinion, the city’s coolest watering hole. Patrons can sit back and relax as talented singers croon tunes from the 1920s. Snuffbox boasts a well-stocked bar, offering classic 1920s-era cocktails such as highballs and whiskey sours. Happy hour runs every day from 6 to 8 PM and women can enjoy free-flow cocktails each Tuesday from 8 to 10 PM. Since this place is designed as a proper speakeasy, it would be sacrilegious to give any more details as to how to get in!
→ Address: 14 Đường Tôn Thất Đạm, Quận 1, Phường Nguyễn Thái Bìn, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh
Vintage Emporium: Go here if you’re wanting a refreshing detox drink
Not only is this restaurant my favorite brunch spot in town, but the smoothies and juice options are to die for. This kitschy, eclectic restaurant is strides ahead of others in the area regarding environmental issues; the drinks are served with metal straws and paired with reusable napkins. The juice options are refreshing, revitalizing and an excellent way to start the day.
Shri: Go here if you’d like a one-of-a-kind rooftop experience
Out of all the rooftop spots in town, Shri has got to be my favorite. I can’t think of a better way to end a busy week than by winding down with a signature cocktail in hand and watching a Saigon sunset. The cocktails are themed and well-presented; think a miniature zen garden for a wasabi-infused drink. The extensive menu doubles as a side project of Shri’s general manager Richie Fawcett - a coffee table book, Cocktail Art of Saigon. This is an excellent restaurant to bring visitors as the menu also provides a brief history on the city. Daily happy hour runs from 3 to 8 PM, where cocktails are half off.
Laura is a 29-year-old serial expat who left the states in 2013 in search of a fresh perspective - a decision which opened more doors than she could’ve imagined. She’s a lover of mountains, spicy food, stand up comedy, and will never turn down a pizza. Laura is one of ITA's Writing & Content Ambassadors.
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