A few years before my recent trip to Vietnam, I started hearing murmurs of Saigon’s speakeasy scene. Let me tell you—it didn’t disappoint. To find the best cocktail bars in Saigon, you’ll find yourself wandering through dark hallways in Indochine-era buildings and asking the security guard for directions. In true speakeasy fashion, there wasn’t a single cocktail bar in Saigon with a ground-level entry that I visited. Even when in the building, many of these spots didn’t have any, or minimal, signage at the door!
Saigon may not be known for its mixology yet, but still boasts several craft cocktail lounges with interesting menus and atmospheres to match.
Pro tip: Bars in Vietnam tend to have really generous happy hour deals (think 50% off; buy one, get one; 99k drinks, etc.). Happy hour in the country tends to be happy 3-4 hours, making it really easy to get a good deal. Unlike in Western countries, happy hour is embraced even by high-end, popular bars and lounges. Pay attention to the hours you go and research happy hour deals in advance if you’re looking to save money!
Best Cocktail Bars in Saigon
14 Tôn Thất Đạm, Phường Nguyễn Thái Bình, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh
Snuffbox is the best cocktail bar in Saigon, hands down. I’ve had Snuffbox on my list for years prior to this trip, and it didn’t disappoint. Snuffbox is almost a true speakeasy—you’ll definitely think you’re in the wrong place when you get there. After you go in through the tunnel, up the stairs, through the curtain, and down the hall, you’ll realize you’re exactly where you should be. Stepping into the dimly lit space is like removing yourself from reality for a couple hours.
Dimly lit is putting it lightly—we needed to use light from our phone screens to read the menu. That being said, if the space was more lit, it just wouldn’t have the same effect.
Drinks are definitely solid, but not necessarily outstanding. The cocktail list bridges classic and creative, matching the space perfectly. What makes this lounge so special is definitely how everything works together, from design, to atmosphere, to menu, to entertainment.
Snuffbox is cozy, intimate, and definitely the best date-night spot in the city. We were seated in the loft area which gave us a cool view of the space from above.
When we were there, Snuffbox had a band playing popular English and Vietnamese live music. The singer was phenomenal! We ended up staying much longer than we thought we would because we loved the bar so much.
If you’re looking for a deal or something special, Snuffbox not only offers a happy hour like many of the other lounges on this list, but also “Blush Night” on Tuesdays with free-flowing drinks for ladies, and “Mixology Night” on Thursday featuring special cocktails. I really hope to get back for Mixology Night someday. The cocktails on that menu tend to use more Vietnamese ingredients and be much more innovative than the regular menu.
Second Floor, 77-79 Lý Tự Trọng, Phường Bến Thành, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh
Summer Experiment is the younger sister to Layla (scroll down for more on Layla!). While I enjoyed both of them, Summer Experiment edges out Layla for its more experimental menu. I thoroughly enjoyed both of them and honestly, they’re different experiences.
Some of the cocktails at Summer Experiment are unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, thanks to their use of ingredients unique to Vietnam. I’m glad they did—of the cocktail bars I went to in Vietnam, few used ingredients common in Vietnamese cuisine, outside of a few common fruits such as passionfruit and lychee (which honestly, are both really popular in the global cocktail scene right now anyway). The menu itself matches the playfulness of their cocktail list, with bright, fluid illustrations.
I tried the Spiced Plumy Gimlet and the Viet Spirit. The Viet Spirit was light and refreshing (main ingredients included jasmine, lotus, and rose, so this made sense), while the Spiced Plumy Gimlet packed a little more punch (the Vietnamese plum and shrimp salt rim made this a great take on a gimlet). We were full from all the eating earlier that day, and by the time we went out stalls were closing down, so I also couldn’t resist ordering what would be one of the gooiest grilled cheeses I’ve ever had.
Summer Experiment has a rooftop terrace overlooking District 1 in Saigon, which is perfect for those looking to do some people-watching or just take in the street view.
The only con I do have for Summer Experiment is that service was abysmally slow. We waited probably 45 minutes for a cocktail to come out (despite another one we ordered at the same time coming out 15 minutes earlier), and it was really difficult to flag down staff at all. Given the ultra-high reviews, and that we went later in the night when the bar was quiet, I’m guessing we went on an off night.
138 Đ. Nam Kỳ Khởi Nghĩa, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh
Rabbit Hole was another speakeasy at the top of my list and wow, did we have a tough time finding this place (totally our fault). After pushing past the velvet curtain and heading down the staircase, we entered into a chic, Art Deco-inspired lounge that frankly, reminded me a lot of my favorite cocktail lounges in New York.
The physical menu at Rabbit Hole is one of the most well-designed and conceptualized I’ve seen. Alice in Wonderland-inspired, each page turn leads you down a cutout rabbit hole. The cocktail list matches the space, featuring creative takes on classic cocktails. Reading through the menu, I wasn’t sure if it was in example of excellence in simplicity or if I’d be bored, but it was definitely a case of the former.
Like Snuffbox, Rabbit Hole also had live music, but instead of a cover band, opted for jazz. I’m a sucker for a lounger with live music, so this was a welcome surprise.
Service at Rabbit Hole was the best of any cocktail bar we went to in Vietnam. Staff went so far as to apologize not once, but several times for the large, loud group next to us (they made a reservation for 8, and showed up with 16 if I remember correctly! It sounded like the bar doesn’t usually take reservations for that size).
That brings me to my next point—Rabbit Hole is definitely a refined, romantic space. It’s best enjoyed by yourself, your significant other, or a few good friends. If you’re spending the night with a group larger than 4, Summer Experiment or Layla are probably a better fit.
Make sure you don’t get Rabbit Hole confused with The Rabbit Hole, which is an Irish sports bar in the city.
Layla – Eatery and Bar
Second Floor, 63 Đông Du, Quận 1, Saigon
Layla is just two blocks from our first hotel in Saigon (The Myst Dong Khoi), so it was an obvious choice after a long day and a long nap (a downpour was involved). I’m glad we went. As mentioned above, Layla is the sister restaurant to Summer Experiment. Think of Summer Experiment as the younger spot more willing to take risks, and Layla as the more established bar with creative favorites that shine. Both bars are recommended by World’s 50 Best on their local guide to Saigon.
Cocktail highlights ranged from the refreshing flavor of butterfly pea to rich, indulgent chocolate (like an alcoholic milkshake). I ordered a lychee martini here and was greeted by the biggest, juiciest lychees I’ve ever seen on a lychee martini. I’ll order a lychee martini whenever I can (longans are my favorite fruit and lychees are very similar), but have found them to be very hit or miss. This one was by far my favorite that I’ve ever had, and I couldn’t have been happier!
I’d describe the menu here as ultra-drinkable. There’s something here for everyone, and no ingredient is too alienating. The bar pushes creativity in a way that isn’t too daring or daunting for those less experimental, making it a great spot to take a group.
Like Summer Experiment, service was slow and waitstaff was difficult to flag down. Service here was definitely an improvement to Summer Experiment, and in all fairness, although the bar wasn’t too busy when we got there, it was quickly bustling.
More Amazing Cocktail Bars in Saigon
Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to make it to these cocktail bars in Saigon, but they still made my Google Maps pins as great nightlife spots in Vietnam.
Krystalini Hidden Cocktail Bar
42 Đ. Nguyễn Huệ, Street, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh
Located at the trendy Cafe Apartments, Krystalini is truly a hidden cocktail bar in Saigon. Guests describe the bar as being hard to find, and Krystalini takes pride in that. If you manage to find the entrance, you’ll be asked for a password. No password means no entrance, so contact the bar in advance to get it!
Like one of my favorite bars in New York, Attaboy, Krystalini bartenders make drinks to match your mood. Tell the bartender what you’re feeling that night, and they’ll make something special just for you.
I really wanted to try this spot, and it’s definitely high on my list for my next trip.
The Alley Cocktail Bar & Kitchen
63/8 Pasteur, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh
The Alley has a reputation for having a standout happy hour in Saigon. 50% off all drinks, for three hours. In addition, The Alley is also know for its food menu.
The Alley focuses on classic cocktails, fitting their western menu at night (think grilled fish, steak, and kitchen). If you’re looking for a solid, down-to-earth cocktail, the Alley is a great fit for you.
Unfortunately, I came close to going to The Alley multiple times while in Saigon, ultimately deciding against it each time because their menu isn’t vegetarian-friendly whatsoever. It’s worth noting that the Alley serves Vietnamese food for lunch, and Western food for dinner.
If you do eat meat, this is a great option for dinner, a drink, and live music (9-11pm Thursday and Saturday, 8-11pm Friday), and comes recommended on World’s 50 Best local guide to Saigon.
20 Mạc Thị Bưởi, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh
Firkin Bar is a dimly lit bespoke cocktail and whiskey bar inspired by the whiskey bars of Tokyo (and it shows). The star of the show here is truly Firkin Bar’s whiskey collection. If you’re not a whiskey fan, I’d probably opt for elsewhere.
The cocktail menu features a limited number of classic cocktails and bartenders can add their own spin on any of them. If you’re interested in something else, just ask! Guests say that the bartending team was able to execute requests for other whiskey cocktails perfectly.
I wouldn’t go to Firkin if your stomach is running on E—the food menu is light bites to nibble on rather than actual dishes, but this isn’t the type of cocktail bar where you’d want to be cutting into a steak or eating a sandwich anyway.
The ATM Cocktail Bar & Kitchen
27/10 Nguyễn Bỉnh Khiêm, Đa Kao, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh
It’s not hard to guess why The ATM Cocktail Bar & Kitchen got its name—the front door is an ATM. The ATM Cocktail Bar has a vibe unlike another on this list. It’s cozy, down-to-earth, and almost reminiscent of being in a historic home in the States.
Guests cite the ATM Cocktail Bar as being a great spot to take groups of friends, as it has comfy lounge areas, and larger tables available. Additionally, it also features live music.
41 Nguyễn Văn Tráng, Phường Phạm Ngũ Lão, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh
If you’re tired of wandering through dimly lit Indochine-era buildings trying to track down a speakeasy, Telephone Bar is for you. The entrance could not possibly be more obvious, with bright red British telephone booths making up the doors.
Another World’s 50 Best recommendation for Saigon, Telephone Bar doesn’t have a menu—you’ll just tell the bartender what you’re feeling that night, and let their mind run wild (my favorite type of bar).
CLIMB – Hidden Cocktails Bar
15 Phan Văn Đạt, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh
CLIMB is half-indoors, half-outdoors, and all hidden (like many of the bars on this list). Guests love the rare whisky selection here, and bespoke options for cocktails. CLIMB also has a reputation for super-friendly staff who love to chat, making it perfect if you’re a solo traveler.
57 Đ. Nguyễn Du, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh
Irusu Lounge is a sleek, dual-level Japanese kakurega bar. The star of the show here is definitely the rooftop—it overlooks Notre Dame Cathedral.
I’m disappointed I missed this one, but have it on my list for next time. Of the rooftop bars I’ve seen in Saigon, this one definitely has the best design. It’s more refined and sexier than other options.
Lost & Found
19/6 Đ. Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh
Located in District 1, Lost & Found is a cocktail bar inspired by the early colonial days of Saigon (based on the design, I’m assuming they’re referring to the colonial days of Indochine, not China).
The design is unique to other bars on this list, featuring bold floral upholstery and bright green walls. The bar is cozy and features a small list of classic cocktails in addition to a few refined signature drinks.
Broma Not a Bar
41 District, 41 Đ. Nguyễn Huệ, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh
A bar that’s easy to find! Like CLIMB, Broma Not a Bar is also located on Nguyen Hue Street. Broma Not a Bar was recommended to me by my cousin who lived in HCMC for a few years, for their rooftop overlooking the popular pedestrian street.
It’s a chill spot with a lot of seating, and definitely a place suited for groups of friends. Based on my personal taste, I’d probably opt for a different spot on this list for date night.
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