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Saigon’s New Bar District

By: Tim Russell Posted: August-06-2009 in
Tim Russell

Vietnam may have many qualities as a tourist or expat destination, but traditionally nightlife hasn’t been one of them. A handful of seedy pubs or bland hotel bars, local nightclubs playing naff techno, and everything shutting down at midnight. And in the last couple of years it’s often felt as if there was a concerted plan to make Saigon’s nightlife even worse, with popular venues such as Why Not and No5 (in its Ly Tu Trong incarnation) closing down, and flash, ephemeral “lounge bars” opening and closing every few days.

Thankfully, the last few months have seen something of a turnaround in the city’s nightlife, all thanks to a clutch of cheap rental properties in the Ton That Thiep/Pasteur area. New bars have opened, defunct bars have reopened, and the area has been given a real shot in the arm. Wander into any of these bars any night of the week, and they all seem to be packed. Recession? Well, if there is one, Saigon seems determined to drink its way through it!

Here’s my guide to Saigon’s new bar district…

Cantina Central
51 Ton That Thiep
Cantina can probably lay claim to having kickstarted the transformation of this area, being the first bar to test the waters when it opened in 2007 on the corner of Ton That Thiep & Pasteur. It’s a stylish Mexican restaurant/bar, offering great value food and a wide range of beers, wines & cocktails, including its legendary Margaritas and infamous Micheladas (beer with tabasco & lime - sounds horrific, tastes fantastic!). The upstairs room hosts DJ nights, with yours truly occasionally spinning soul & funk on the wheels of steel (OK, on the laptop).

40 Ton That Thiep
A new venture from the former management of popular Aussie bar Cafe Latin, Phattys is a lively sports-oriented bar with cheap beer, great pub food and plenty of big screens. The bare brick walls and wooden tables give it a real pub feel and it’s a welcome change from the usual Saigon bar format.

110 Pasteur
Relocated from its former home on Dong Du, it seems as if the original bar was simply picked up and dropped into its new home, so little has it changed. A small, cosy, stylish joint with a wide selection of wines. Not my cup of tea to be honest but, as they say, if you like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing you will like…

Moon Bar
50 Pasteur
One of many bars established by ex-No5 staff, Moon Bar adheres to the tried & trusted Saigon formula of long narrow bar, pool tables, darts, big screens and flirtatious, scantily-clad barmaids. A friendly place to stop off for a couple of after-work beers; would be improved if they realised that people who like watching football like to hear it as well!

No5 Bar
40-44 Pasteur
Swiss owner Heinz Bronnimann has been running bars in the city for over a decade now, with No5 in its third incarnation after successful stints on Ly Tu Trong and Mac Dinh Chi. In truth this latest venue isn’t as welcoming as the previous versions, but that hasn’t stopped it being packed to the gills on a nightly basis. A very lively, convivial atmosphere, pool & darts, and occasional golf tournaments.

92 Ho Tung Mau

Arguably the nicest of Saigon’s new bars, Voodoo offers the usual Saigon ingredients but does it with a bit more flair and organisation than some of its competitors. Cheap beer, live sport, darts, great music (mostly British indie) and some of the friendliest service in town mean that Voodoo is busy every night.


So finally, Saigon has a genuine bar district. And with the daddy of the city’s bar scene Underground shortly to reopen very near its original home, things look good for Saigon’s nightlife. Let’s hope that landlords don’t get greedy and we have more upheaval in a couple of years’ time…

user avatar Anonymous

Luki sportowe

This article is very interesting, keep us posting..


Glad to know that Qing, my

Glad to know that Qing, my fave wine bar, has a great new home. Will definitely be going there on our next visit to Saigon.


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