Saigon nightlife is so much fun that people from neighboring countries such as Singapore, China and Malaysia fly to Saigon for the weekend just to party. It is one of the few cities that is fairly lawless whilst remaining very safe. Petty theft is rampant, however there is minimal violent crime towards tourists. Locals are extremely friendly, particularly after a few drinks, and love interacting with tourists.
Having said all that here are some tips to ensure your party night goes smoothly:
Get Yourself a Local Sim Card So You Can Use Uber / GrabTaxi
For a couple of dollars you get yourself a simcard from any Mobifone. Charge it up with 100k ($5) and you have unlimited 3G for a month. Now you are sorted. With UberMoto you can cross town for under $1 and regular Ubers $2-3. No more getting ripped off by taxi drivers taking you to the wrong location. The simcard will pay for itself in one night.
Secure Your Belongings
One of the unfortunate aspects of Saigon is the petty crime, the most notable one that affects tourists is pickpocketing and bag snatching. It mostly occurs in the streets and once you are inside a venue you are pretty safe. So the big thing is for girls to have their handbags wrapped securely over across their body and hold on to it – or even better don’t take a handbag out. Avoid using your phone too much out in the street. For guys, keep your phone and wallets in your front pockets and preferably deep pockets. If a girl starts getting touchy-feely with you, be on high alert for a hand down your pocket.
Tipping is not normal procedure in Vietnam, however with the influx of tourists and expats, it is catching on. In very local establishments, the vendor’s response to a tip can range from gratitude to surprise/confusion and they might even hand your tip back to you, as it really is not expected. In the more expensive westernized clubs and restaurants, the trend has caught on and tipping is very familiar.
Tourists react differently to alcohol in Vietnam, however nearly everyone comments that the effects are different to getting drunk back home. Some discover they can consume many more drinks than they normally would be able to, believing the alcohol is weak, and others experience the exact opposite and find themselves on the floor after a few potent drinks.
Beer is fairly consistent across the board, but when you are ordering mixed drinks from the bar, the truth is that you never really know what you are getting, and the potency of drinks is not consistent. This is because fake alcohol is rampant and some (not all) can contain higher levels of methanol (the stuff that leaves you with a splitting hangover the next day).
If you are being offered Jager shots for $2 then you know you are not getting the authentic stuff, but it still may be fine to dink. Even in the higher-end clubs where you pay $8 for a mixed drink, fake alcohol is commonly served. You can’t really avoid it unless you drink at known reputable establishments. It’s not the end of the world, you just need to be slightly more wary of the affect the drinks are having on you and your fiends. You can always switch to beers if you are not getting a good vibe.
The Vietnamese are not subtle when it comes to staring. Culturally this is not considered rude, so you will get stared at, particularly in the more remote regions. All you need to do is smile, give them a wave and say hello! Not only will they appreciate it, but they will probably want to engage you for a chat after this, and you can enjoy the experience of sharing a beer with some locals – what travelling is all about!