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.
While beer and imported spirits are drunk throughout Vietnam, the traditional tipple is ruou can or rice-distilled liquor. Until recently, ruou can be regarded as decidedly downmarket, the preserve of labourers, farmers and ethnic minorities. Nowadays, it’s becoming popular among the middle class as city-centre bars and restaurants begin to offer better-quality ruou can.
Roughly forty years ago technology for making bia hoi (draught beer) was introduced from Czechoslovakia and it is now quaffed in vast quantities, particularly in the north. Bia hoi may taste fairly weak, but it measures in at up to four percent alcohol. It’s also ridiculously cheap, and supposedly unadulterated with chemicals, so in theory you’re less likely to get a hangover. Bia hoi has a 24-hour shelf life and the better places sell out by early evening.
Bia hoi culture is all about enjoying a few beers with a group of friends – it’s still an almost completely male activity, though in the cities you’ll see a few local women (and female travellers won’t be judged for joining in). The Vietnamese rarely drink alone and rarely drink without eating, so many places serve a range of snacks and more extensive dishes.
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.
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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.
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.
Situated in Ho Chi Minh City, within 4.2 km of the Saigon Exhibition and Convention Center and 4.9 km of the Fine Arts Museum, La Galerie Hotel features accommodation with a terrace as well as free private parking for guests who drive. With free WiFi, this 3-star hotel offers a 24-hour front desk and room service. The hotel has family rooms.
Located 3.1 km from Tan Dinh Market, The Art-Tina Hotel and Apartments provides accommodation with a shared lounge, a garden and a 24-hour front desk for your convenience.
Each unit comes with a sofa, a seating area, a flat-screen TV with cable channels, a well-fitted kitchen with a dining area, and a private bathroom with a hairdryer. A balcony with garden views is offered in all units.
Set in Ho Chi Minh City in the Ho Chi Minh Municipality region, with Tan Dinh Market nearby, Felix Alley offers accommodation with free WiFi and free private parking, as well as access to a fitness room.
The trend for speakeasies has taken off here: the Alley Cocktail Bar and the Kumquat Tree are both 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 Vietnam bars.
A must-visit for any first-time visitor to Hanoi, Bia Hoi Junction is widely regarded as the quintessential nightlife spot in Hanoi. Bia hoi stalls or shophouses generally open from mid-afternoon to mid-evening, and serve fresh draught beer poured straight from the barrel – just look for the tell-tale metal barrels, and patrons sitting on stools and clutching greenish glass tumblers.
Situated 4.2 km from Vincom Center Nguyen Chi Thanh, Modern Apartment near National Conventional Center features accommodation with a restaurant, a garden and a 24-hour front desk for your convenience. Free WiFi is offered throughout the property.
Featuring a bar, garden and views of the city, Chủ Nhật Cafe & Homestay is located in Hanoi, 3.4 km from Vincom Center Nguyen Chi Thanh. Boasting family rooms, this property also provides guests with a terrace. The accommodation provides a shared kitchen and room service for guests.
Providing lake views, 22HOUSING VINHOMES SKYLAKE in Hanoi provides accommodation, free bikes, a bar, a garden and a terrace. Free WiFi is provided.
If you don’t fancy kicking off your shoes, take a seat in the 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.
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Azura Resort features a restaurant, bar, a shared lounge and a garden in Phu Quoc. Featuring family rooms, this property also provides guests with a barbecue. The accommodation provides a 24-hour front desk, room service and currency exchange for guests.
Situated in Phu Quoc, 600 m from Long Beach, M Resort Phu Quoc features accommodation with a restaurant, free private parking, an outdoor swimming pool and a bar. 3.2 km from Sung Hung Pagoda and 25 km from Vinpearl Land Phu Quoc, the property provides a garden and a terrace. The resort has family rooms.
Sailing Club on Tran Phu Street has been a favourite spot for an eclectic group of party animals for some years. DJs and swing chairs on the beach draw a well-heeled expat crowd and hordes of tourists to its refined beachfront bar, which gets progressively less refined as the night wears on. Try one of the signature cocktails, infused with goodies such as rose petals, ginger and chilli.
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.
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Located 200 m from Hon Chong Beach, Moonlight House & Apartment Nha Trang provides accommodation with a garden, a terrace and a 24-hour front desk for your convenience. Free WiFi is provided.
Set in Nha Trang, 300 m from Nha Trang Beach, DTX Hotel Nha Trang offers accommodation with a restaurant, free private parking, an outdoor swimming pool and a fitness centre. With free WiFi, this 4-star hotel has a bar and a shared lounge. The accommodation features a 24-hour front desk, room service and currency exchange for guests.
Dragon Beach has an outdoor pool and a huge dancefloor where you can work up a sweat to local DJs 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 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.
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Situated in Mui Ne, 600 m from Ham Tien Beach, Nostress Guest House features air-conditioned accommodation and a garden. The property is set 2.3 km from Ong Dia Rock Beach, 6.8 km from Fairy Spring and 12 km from Sea Link Golf Course. The property is 46 km from Ke Ga Lighthouse and 47 km from Ta Cu Moutain.
Set in Mui Ne, 100 m from Ham Tien Beach, Hiep Hoa Resort offers accommodation with a restaurant, free private parking, a shared lounge and a garden. Featuring family rooms, this property also provides guests with an outdoor pool. The accommodation features a 24-hour front desk, room service and currency exchange for guests.
E-Village is the most urbane place to drink on the north bank of An Hoi Islet, with lovely decorations, quiet music, and cocktails such as the MGM (like a mango, gin and mint shake). Decent food too.
Three Dragons sports bar is the place to head if you want to catch a live football game, an F1 Grand Prix or other sporting events. There’s a well-stocked bar and meals available too.
Market Bar is indeed set into elevated flanks of the grimy market, though it’s surprisingly elegant. You’ll have to choose between the restaurant and wine sections, though you’ll get the same stuff at either; Latin American snacks like empanadas and queso fundado augment a drinks list including some quirky G&T options, including blue pea flower. Pleasingly off the tourist radar, at least for the time being.
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Mui Ne at sunset © Nevskii Dmitrii/Shutterstock
Featuring pool views, Babylon Villa in Hoi An features accommodation, a restaurant, free bikes, an outdoor swimming pool, a garden and a terrace. Complimentary WiFi is available.
Boasting a bar, Backhome Hostel & Bar is situated in Hoi An in the Quang Nam region, 700 m from Hoi An Historic Museum and less than 1 km from the Japanese Covered Bridge. Among the facilities of this property are a restaurant, room service and a shared lounge, along with free WiFi throughout the property. The accommodation features evening entertainment and a tour desk.
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 of a cafe than a bar, it's open well into the evening. Join the locals for drinks under a constellation of neon and twinkly LED lights.
Since its opening on Christmas Eve 1959, Caravelle Saigon has gained renown for being at the heart of everything important in this great city. Located in the very heart of the city centre, the hotel is a short walk to iconic landmarks and locations, such as the Opera House, Notre Dame Cathedral, historic Dong Khoi Street, Nguyen Hue walking street and the legendary Ben Thanh Market. Modern shopping is just around the corner at Vincom Center and at the nearby Saigon Center.
Konklor Hotel is located in Kon Tum. Free WiFi access is available. Each room here will provide you with a TV, air conditioning and a minibar. Featuring a shower, the private bathroom also comes with free toiletries and slippers. Extras include a seating area and cable channels.
Located on top of a 300 m sand dunes hill, Mui Ne Hills Backpackers offers accommodation with free WiFi access throughout the property. It features an outdoor pool and 24-hour check-in service. The hotel is just a 10-minute walk away from the nearest beach.
Phong Nha Farmstay has a restaurant, free bikes, an outdoor swimming pool and a bar in Phong Nha. Boasting a garden, the resort is close to several noted attractions, around 1.4 km from Giáp Nhi, 1.7 km from Cuong Ha and 1.7 km from Hà Môn. The accommodation features a spa centre, evening entertainment and family rooms.
A historic luxury landmark since 1901, Sofitel Legend Metropole offers pampering spa services, 24-hour room service and a heated swimming pool. It is located in central Hanoi, near the Old Quarter. The 5-star Sofitel Legend Metropole is just 160 m from the famous Hanoi Opera House. The scenic Hoan Kiem Lake is less than 500 m from the hotel.
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Top image: Beach drinks © Song_about_summer/Shutterstock