Where better to be an expat or traveler then Ho Chi Minh. The city is popping with incredible bars and food venues for about a QUARTER of the price you will find anywhere in the Western world. Below is a whistle-stop tour of my favorites.
Buddha bar, District 2. It’s gorgeous and homely. Located in District 2 it’s the ultimate expat hangout. I actually went here on a date and as I walked in it was like being in a pub at home. There was a warm, friendly atmosphere and its layout meant you could find a secluded spot to have a natter. There is also pool, a foosball table, and darts. If you go on Friday you’ll be treated to live music and on Wednesday there is a quiz night. Food is ok and reasonably priced too. Ideal meeting friends/date location.
The View, Bui Vien, District 1. This is a rooftop bar located at the bottom of the infamous Bui Vien walking street. It’s a little oasis of wine, beer and good music before you spend the rest of the night below on tequila and balloons. The views over the city are incredible and the walls are peppered with pretty lanterns – best of all its never really that busy. You can also buy food here but not recommended (how do you even ruin garlic bread?)
Layla Eatery and Bar, District 1: Realllllly good cocktails on happy hour (apart from Sunday) 5pm-8pm. The menu covers numerous bases, from healthy vegetarian options, seafood, comfort foods and the most delicious flatbreads. The service and hospitality are second to none – if at times the servers being a little too over attentive. There is no smoking indoors but the restaurant boasts a pretty wooded courtyard. If you’re looking for a classy start to your night or need somewhere to impress visiting parents or friends – I’d say bring them here.
Hungry pig, District 1: The best brunch/ best hangover debrief spot from the night before. The whole placed is based around pig puns – the walls are decorated with pictures of Sir Francais Bacon, Henry Bacon and of course, Kevin Bacon. The menu contains classics like ‘Piggy Rascal’ ‘Notorious P.I.G’ and the food is unreal. It’s here you can get a decent full English breakfast if you are so craving.
Secret garden, District 1. My new housemates who’d traveled Vietnam previously banged on about this place since we first met. When we arrived I was led down a dirty side street with an antiquated door for the entrance – surely they bought me here to be murdered? We proceeded to go up 4 smelly flights of stairs and it has to be said, the restaurant didn’t disappoint. It’s packed. Lanterns steam the walls and wine is flowing. The cuisine is all Vietnamese but tailored slightly to western taste buds. Everything we ordered was delightful and we left full and with barely a dent in our wallets. 10/10. Definitely parent-friendly. Getting a table on arrival is hard though – be sure to book in advance.
Bia Craft, District 3. For those who like craft beer. With apparently ‘the most extensive collection of craft beers in Vietnam’ it’s a perfect place for a drink, burger and a chinwag. The inside area has a very chic feel while the outside is lined with wooden benches and fans that makes it perfect for any social event.
Benthanh Street Food Market, District 1. Lastly, if you’re in a big group and everyone has a different opinion of what they want to eat – a good fallback is the food market. It has every cuisine you could possibly want and a lovely seating area to enjoy it. My personal favorite has to be the Indian food which has the world’s best garlic naan bread (in my humble opinion).