It might not be known as one of the world’s nightlife trailblazers, but Vietnam likes to party – and it's home to an ever-growing crop of craft beer tap-rooms, rooftop bars, speakeasy cocktail lounges and sociable beach bars. Here are our top Vietnam nightlife spots for after-dark entertainment.
Go sky-high in Ho Chi Minh City
Things are looking up for nightlife in Vietnam’s honorary capital (still known as Saigon to many locals). Flocks of people take to the skies each night, at one of the city's rooftop bars. Dress to impress at Chill Skybar, the most fashionable place in town with its neon lights and cabaret dancers. The highest bar in Ho Chi Minh, Eon Heli Bar, has undisputedly the best views.
Techno-heads should make for The Lighthouse, in District 1, which has a roster of both local DJs and international acts.You might be lucky enough to see a big-name DJ at super cool Blanchy’s Lounge – Pete Tong and Grand Master Flash have both played here before. Ladies' Night means free Mojitos for women on Wednesdays.
The view from Eon Heli Bar, Ho Chi Minh City © Stephane Bidouze/Shutterstock
Craft beer is also having a moment in Ho Chi Minh. Biacraft has around 50 different brews on tap. Pasteur Street has pumped out over 200 different brews since 2014. And it's worth a trip to the Heart of Darkness for the beer's arty branding alone. And to escape the busy backpacker places in Bui Vien, drop into the stylish oasis Whiskey & Wares.
If you're on a budget, join in the fun in a streetside bar along De Tham street (drinks in the upmarket Dong Khoi street will cost five times the price). Additionally, you can always economise downtown by taking advantage of early-evening happy hours.
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Vietnam nightlife: beer and Buddhas in Hanoi
For a capital city, Hanoi goes to bed pretty early. Luckily, the authorities seem to be gradually relaxing their midnight curfew. The nightlife scene here is all about cool cocktail lounges.
Track down the quirky Bar Betta near the Fine Arts Museum. Retro decor and a cosy rooftop terrace make this a top spot. On a budget? Make the most of the free beer happy hour from 8-9pm on Wednesdays and Sundays.
Funky Buddha is one of Hanoi’s most popular places. You'll find pulsating lighting, a brilliant sound system playing dance music and lounge lizards of every nationality.
The trend for speakeasies has really taken off here: the Alley Cocktail Bar, the Mad Botanist and the Kumquat Tree are all atmospheric. If you've still got life left in you after knocking back those spirits, finish your evening on Ta Hien. This busy street is packed with lively, dimly lit bars.
A mixologist in action at the Mad Botanist, Hanoi © Mad Botanist
Beach bars in Phu Quoc
Settle into island life on Phu Quoc off Vietnam’s west coast. Rory’s Beach Bar on Long Beach is a great place to start. Pull up a lounger to the beach bonfire, or join in a game of beer pong. This Aussie-owned venue often stays open later than advertised.
If you don’t fancy kicking off your shoes, take a seat in elegant Le Bar inside the colonial-style La Veranda Resort on Duong Dong beach. Enjoy sea views from the comfort of Art Deco chairs and sip cocktails from the bartenders' fresh and original recipes – this is a nightlife experience with a decidedly relaxed vibe.
Duong Dong beach, Phu Quoc © Asia Travel/Shutterstock
Party hard in Nha Trang
A lively stretch of coast on Vietnam's mainland, Nha Trang has buzzing nightlife scene. It's a backpacker favourite.
Join in the raucous fun at Booze Cruise (now rebranded as The Blue Fox Sports Bar) on Nguyen Thien Thuat street, or at Crazy Kim – a long-running bar whose atmosphere is kicking most nights. Order the three-litre beer tower if you dare. Thankfully, there are plenty of other “normal” beers available too, as well as fruity cocktails.
A couple of restaurants in Nha Trang are also great for evening drinks. La Mancha offers shisha to go with your cocktails, or try the sampler beer set at Louisiane Brewhouse on Tran Phy Beach – which combines pilsner, dark lager and seasonal ales.
Seaside sundowners in Mui Ne
It’s all about the beach bar nightlife along this popular stretch of seafront in southeast Vietnam.
Dragon Beach has an outdoor pool and huge dancefloor where you can work up a sweat to local DJ's playing electro and deep house.
For more of a chilled atmosphere, join the local surfing and kitesurfing community at Jibe. The bar has a watersports centre attached. What better way to unwind after a day on the waves than with by flopping on the comfy sofa seating with a decent, cheap drink in hand?
Backpacker Village Ca Na hostel is a great watering hole, whether you’re staying here or not. They don’t so much have a happy hour as an entire happy evening. And if you can find some time between sipping cocktails, get a game going of pool or try your hand at ping pong.
Sankara, although rather pricey, is the trendiest-looking place in Mui Ne. Surrounding an open-air pool, the whole joint is illuminated with gentle lighting in the evening.
Mui Ne at sunset © Nevskii Dmitrii/Shutterstock
Dreamy drinking in the Central Highlands
You'll probably head to the hills for the pine forests, waterfalls and lakes. But it's still possible to find a great drink here in the Central Highland cities.
Start in Da Lat. For a different type of rooftop drinking experience to the swanky 'Sky bars', 100 Roof Bar has seven floors including a wonderland-like rooftop garden. It can get quite loud some evenings with folks drinking cheap shots. Down the road, seek out the nightly live music at the tiny bar inside the rainbow-painted hostel, Beepub.
Move on to the region's capital, Buon Ma Thuot city, where Cafe Thung Lung Hong is snuggled at the base of a steep valley. Although more cafe than bar, it's open well into the evening. Join the locals for drinks under a constellation of neon and twinkly LED lights.
Top image: Beach drinks © Song_about_summer/Shutterstock