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Vietnam will definitely shock many visitors, when coming for the first time. The skyscrapers of Ho Chi Minh (formerly Saigon) and sprawl of Hanoi, are tributes to the determination of the Vietnamese people, and the dollar of opportunity from foreign investors. The mass of mopeds or motorbikes alone will overwhelm most senses especially in Saigon. Here one could quite easily spend a Saturday evening watching most of Saigon's population all dressed up, and whizzing around literally in circles, looking for their future girlfriend, wife or to simply chat (whilst driving) to friends. This is Vietnam. We have some pictures of Hanoi available here.
However you may not want to sit looking at this motorbike spectacle in disbelief, on stools so small you wonder who they were made for. Instead you may feel that a nice refreshing drink accompanied by live music, or even a night of disco would be more appropriate. Then fear not; Ho Chi Minh has a lot to offer, with many new discos and bars being added to the already large supply. Having said that Hanoi, is by no means quiet, just quieter, and there are still some great restaurants, bars and discos to visit.
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Bars in Ho Chi Minh (Saigon)
Modestos Currently one of the more popular bars is "Modestos" which is located on the ground floor of Me Linh Point Tower (next to Renaissance Hotel). It has live music nightly and is particularly popular with the Singaporean community and Vietnamese ‘yuppies’.
Saigon Saigon on the 10 floor of the Delta Caravelle Hotel, has some of the best views of Saigon. Built on a corner you have three different views of HCM. It is the place to meet and tends to receive a fair number of earlier after work drinkers. They also have a live band, which attracts quite a crowd, although it is nothing like back home, the bartender kept insisting that it got better. Great bar. Now with Happy Hour from 4pm to 8pm "Buy one Get one free" on all standard drinks and also Carlsberg beer. Go for it !!
Apocalypse Now Do not go here unless you want a quiet game of pool, before 22:30 as it only really starts to get busy from then on. This is more of a disco come bar with one pool table thrown in. It is very popular at the weekends with expats and locals alike. Good music, inexpensive drinks, and a novel decor have made it famous within Vietnam. They even have another outlet of similar style in Hanoi.
Shark 2000 is the latest addition to the disco scene. One of my friends raved so much about it, that I could not resist. Therefore I offer a word of caution, because it is very easy to forget where we are. This is Vietnam and when the locals rave about somewhere, they are raving on local terms, so do not forget where you are and let your imagination run wild. It is a good disco, and definitely the best I have seen in HCM, but I am surprised the owner, was not a little more imaginative with the decor. Still a great place to dance with all the latest music, and a very good place to mingle. Dance anyone ?
Cheers is worth going to see only if you have lots of spare time on your hands, and have seen everything else. It is an unusual type of disco/nightclub/hostess bar. The girls, all dress up in au dai (traditional Vietnamese dress) or other very nice outfits, and do not as far as I know work there. At least officially. Interesting place worth a peek.
Gecko Bar Hai Ba Trung St, D1 - early in the evening a quite spot for darts and a beer. Later it hots up as a popular spot for a bit of dance on the tiny dance floor. Your host Dragan is a charm. Famous for their chocolate vodka shots. (reviewed by HL)
Bars in Hanoi
Apocalypse Now is very similar to the one in HCM, above. It starts late around 23:00 has one pool table, good loud music and all the last ones for the road that you need.