Many travellers agree that one of the single best ways to enjoy the beauty of a metropolis is to visit rooftop bars there. They provide great ways to see a city’s skyline, take in the scope of its nightlife scene (or daylife scene, if you’re part of the “it’s always 5 o’clock somewhere” camp), and get a feel for the lay of the land upon which the city sits. You get to do this while relaxing with friends and while enjoying the breeze that generally comes with the high altitude of rooftop bars. And all without leaving your seat.
Saigon is especially well-known for its rooftop bars, as it is a particularly vibrant (and therefore fun to observe) city, and it has some of the highest-up rooftop bars in Asia. Several of the city’s best are quickly profiled below.
Chill Skybar — 76A Le Lai, District 1
Kicking off the list is probably the most upscale, and also the most expensive, rooftop bar in Saigon. Exquisite decoration made mainly from glass and ambient lights in a rainbow of hues create a plush atmosphere in the outdoor bar, but the main attraction is the utterly breathtaking view of the city’s skyline. Chill is located on the 25th floor of AB visitors can soak up the city lights from the center of the action. Drinks will normally cost you quite a bit, between 15 and 20 dollars, but half-price happy hours run from 5:30 to 8:00 every day and a live DJ comes out at 10:00.
Saigon Saigon Rooftop — 19 Lam Son Square, District 1
This place is also one of Saigon’s nicest rooftop hangouts, although it is a bit more formal and and traditionally cultured than Chill Skybar. Saigon Saigon was established in 1959 and served as a favorite meeting spot for correspondents during the Vietnam-America war. The place is more of a cafe than a bar, with wooden rather than glass furniture, a ninth floor view of Lam Son square, and cozy decoration that creates an intimate atmosphere rather than a party-oriented one. Located on the roof of the Caravelle Saigon hotel, Saigon Saigon’s happy hour goes from 4:00 to 7:00.
EON Heli Bar – 2 Hai Trieu, District 1
EON takes the crown as Saigon’s highest rooftop bar, and it does it by a long shot — it is located on the 52nd floor of Bitexco, up until recently Saigon’s tallest building. Maybe it is because the bar is so high up that the owners felt the need to make it indoors. Picture windows that make up the walls still allow for phenomenal vistas of practically the entire central city, but you may not feel quite so “at-one” with the city as in a rooftop bar where you can feel the outside air on your skin. Perhaps making up for that fact, though, is a huge drink menu that includes all manner of wines and cocktails. There are also popular DJs and live acoustic acts that pay at EON regularly. The prices aren’t as stratospherically high as the bar itself, but they will run you at least $10 per drink unless you go during the happy hour at 1:00 to 4:00 PM.
The View — 195 Bui Vien, District 1
The view is definitely not as upscale as the other entries on this list, partly because of the fact that the rooftop it’s on is only four floors above the touristy Bui Vien Street. The decor is not as elegant and the atmosphere is much more casual. The big upside, though, is that the drinks are good and as wonderfully inexpensive as much of the Saigon eating and drinking scene. Beers cost less than 2 USD each and cocktails only cost a few bucks, meaning that couples or groups can spend the entire evening relaxing there and walk out without having done too much damage to their wallets.
Breeze Skybar — 1 Dong Khoi, District 1
Whereas most of Saigon’s rooftop bars are smack-dab in the middle of the bustling city, Breeze is closer to the edge of the hustle and bustle and, consequentally, offers a uniquely pristine view of the Saigon river in all its glory. That is not to say you will have to travel out into the boonies to get there, as the Hotel Majestic, at which Breeze is on the fifth floor, is located on one of Saigon’s more metropolitan and upscale riverside thoroughfares. Prices at the skybar are middling, and watching the sun set over the river or the city lights reflecting off the darkened water while sipping a cold drink is an experience the likes of which you’ll be hard-pressed to find elsewhere in the city. Breeze Skybar is also open 24 hours, for all those night owls )or jetlagged tourists) out there.
Level 23 Wine Bar — 88 Dong Khoi, District 1
Level 23 wine bar is located on (surprisingly) level 23 of the Sheraton Hotel, but a more accurate description of it than “rooftop bar” might be “classy wine bar with amazing views.” The establishment is completely indoors, although planters that decorate the spaces between the wide windows give it a very charming, airy vibe. A bistro-like European atmosphere makes it a good venue for both a date and a business meeting, too.
The bar caters to the city’s most upscale clientelle, with top-notch interior decor, furnishing, and service. However, the prices are not too high, running about six dollars for most wines.
Rex Rooftop Garden — 141 Nguyen Hue
The rooftop garden at Rex hotel is a good choice for a few reasons. First, it is located on Nguyen Hue, a fairly recently constructed walking street with a large pedestrians-only section. Secondly, it hosts a talented Filipino band every single night at 8:00. Third, customers get some great views of the surrounding colonial French architecture. The drinks aren’t too expensive either, and you’ll get an additional 20% off most of the menu from 5:00 to 7:00.