What makes for the best bars after work? Of course, this varies according to the needs of the individual. Some people like to chill out in a quiet space and get those work related stresses out of their heads. Others want something livelier to give them a lift. Some people prefer a crowd with which to engage whilst for others, it’s a space for quiet contemplation that floats their boat. Whatever you like to do, Saigon has venues in abundance to get work out of your system and catch some much needed R&R. I have tried to give a list with as much variety in the types of bar. Here are some bars that are perfectly suited to end the day and begin the evening.
Qui Cuisine Mixology
22 Le Thanh Ton, Ben Nghe Ward, D1
Qui Cuisine Mixology, the new bar and restaurant on Le Thanh Ton, is the perfect venue for meeting up with friends after a hard day in the office. The stylish decor promotes a great ambience in which to chill out with the amazing cocktails, or delve into the delights of the well thought out fusion menu. The venue has several different areas and is well design, keeping sections almost separate. It you want to stand at the bar in order to unwind then that’s fine. However, if quiet, comfortable seating is more your thing, Qui has plush booths as well as a VIP area. The venue gets an eclectic after work crowd that provides the perfect atmosphere for early evening drinks.
70 Pasteur, D1
For those who simply want a few cheap pints and some great company Vinyl takes some beating. Owned and run by four friends who are also regular customers, this place gets it dead right. They have the cheapest Happy Hour in town with free flow beer for two and a half hours for an amazing VND100,000. The girls are great, always smiling and keeping everyone happy. It has two long bars providing loads of space for guys who like to sit at a bar or indeed prop one up. Power sockets along the bar mean you can plug your laptop in and finish off any outstanding work that you may have.
The Wine Embassy
13 Ngo duc Ke, D1,
This is one of the finest wine bars you will ever wish to visit. The brainchild of owner, sommelier Francois Carteau, this is a wine drinker’s dream. The bar is set over two floors in the heart of the city; just where Ngo Duc Ke crosses Dong Koi. The wine list in Wine Embassy is mind-blowing. Some 230 wines in stock at any given time. Twenty four wines are kept in nitrogen replacement dispensers, meaning that it is possible to buy a glass of the more expensive wines, rather than just the cheaper house wines. Others are available by the bottle. The decor is modern and stylish and the staff are well trained and welcoming.
30th and 31st Floors, Pullman Saigon Centre, 148 Tran Hung Dao Boulevard, D1
For those who wish to get “high” after work, this is the place to be. Perched high above the city, Cobalt is a swish, modern bar and restaurant serving amongst others things: oxygen foam cocktails, spilled homemade lemonades and their very adult ice blocks. This is a very trendy spot in which to see and be seen. Obviously placed at the high end of the market, it is nonetheless, a great place in which to unwind.
R2/24 Hung Gia 3, Bui Bang Doan, D7
The Tavern is something of an institution among the expat community in Phu My Hung. Very much a local pub type establishment, it has a hardy group of locals who meet up in the early evenings. The pool table and dart boards are a great way of relaxing after work, if that’s your thing. The bar is well stocked and the kitchen serves exceptional pub food. There is a small outside deck and the bar covers two floors, in what is one of the smartest areas of the city.
The Dublin Gate
19 Thai Van Lung, Ben Nghe Ward, D1
Formerly known as Bernie’s this has recently changed its name and undergone a complete refurbishment. I have to say, they have done a great job. I liked it before, but I like it even more now. It has a classier look to it. It has always been a busy bar and particularly in the early evenings. The bar has what must be the largest selection of malt whiskies in the city; it’s really impressive. It is situated in the Japanese area of the city and is a great place to start an evening.
The Racha Room
12-14, Mac Thi Buoi, Ben Nghe, D1
Whilst known as a great Asian fusion restaurant, the downstairs area of this fabulous place is an extremely relaxing well stocked bar. It’s a delightfully converted old shop house in the heart of the business district. The high ceilings and beautiful brickwork all lend a relaxing feel to the general ambience. Many business people come here to relax after a hard day in the office, it’s a cool place to enjoy a drink or maybe grab some terrific Thai fusion food.
147 Hai Ba Trung, D3,
Formerly known as Plan B this has recently been taken over by the people who own the original Wabar in Phu My Hung. It’s quite a large space and is smartly laid out and decorated. It has quickly attracted the five o’clock business clientele and is a great place to hang out whilst the notorious D1 traffic dissipates.
32 Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Đien Ward, D2
One of the more eclectic bars in Districts 2’s Thao Dien area is Snap Café. It’s part family fun pub, part restaurant and part bar. It’s a large space and the three elements all get along nicely. They have a terrific laid back music playlist and owner Dan manages to find some interesting cover versions of well-known songs. The seating is a mixture of wooden benches and comfy sofas making it a great place to either sit with a group of friends or just kick back and relax.
Hops Beer Garden
43 Nguyen Dình Chieu, Da Kao Ward, D1
This is a terrific beer garden and an oasis of calm right in the middle of Saigon’s hustle and bustle. It’s a great place for a group of friends to gather. They serve beer by the tower including Saigon’s new real beer Platinum, from those lovely people in CuChi. The food is terrific as well and they have some really quite excellent platters for friends to share. If you like your beer al fresco, this is the perfect venue.
Hoa Vien Brauhaus
18 bis/28 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, D1
What better use for a former Czech consulate could there be than to convert it into a Czech style beer house serving amazing real ales and authentic food from Eastern Europe? This is a huge bar with seating for a couple of hundred. The beer is brewed on the premises in the huge coppers that are right in the middle of the bar. The atmosphere is boisterous and fun, with large parties of Vietnamese often drinking far more than they should. It remains happy and friendly though and is a great place to head straight from the office.