Saigon Gay Travel
wolfyy’s Saigon gay travel recommendations for where to stay, rooftop bars, gay nightlife, things to do & exploring Ho Chi Minh City gay life.
The Gay Travel Experience: Saigon, Vietnam
I had one of the most memorable local experiences my first night in Ho Chi Minh, even while super tired from the day’s air travel. I started my Vietnam gay travel journey by venturing out to find some Pho on the street.
A man sat me at a table along a busy road next to a local. When I tried to order, I realized we could not communicate given he spoke no English and I definitely can’t speak Vietnamese.
The man across from me helped me get my Pho and some iced tea. We then started talking for the next half hour and it turns out that he frequents the US for work; his Hospital in Ho Chi Minh works with a local university in Alabama.
He told me his name is Mỹ, which means “America” in Vietnamese! As you may be able to guess given the history of the Vietnam War, his father loved America. We had a brief, but enthralling conversation about what it’s like living in Saigon.
The nightlife district thumps with bass while hundreds of locals sing karaoke in the streets. Gay travelers should absolutely not miss out on a visit to Saigon.
Gay Saigon: Hotels & Where to Stay
Saigon is all about local alley life! Locals tuck themselves away in narrow alleys all throughout the city. Staying in an alley will be a bit quieter and it’s fun to observe the local activity going on outside.
Quan 1 is the main central district of Saigon. Quan 3 is just to the west of Quan 1. Both these areas are great for accommodation locations. If you prefer to be right in the center of the busiest action, then Quan 1 hotels will be best for you.
Alley life is a huge part of the Saigon experience as I mentioned earlier. If you want one of the most authentic accommodations, experience alley life for yourself by booking a central Saigon VRBO rental. They’re quite budget friendly, too.
Better yet, you won’t have to skimp on luxury with VRBO stays in Saigon. So many apartments are newly renovated and have a clean, modern feel. They’re just perfect for Asia travelers!
Saigon Gay Travel Experiences
The area west of Thu Thiem Bridge is certainly the most authentic local area in Saigon. If you want to be in an area where there are no tourists around, spend some time in this neighborhood. It is a haven for street food, so come hungry!
Catch the best views of the Saigon skyline midway across the Thiem Bridge at one of the lookout points. The lights are wondrous at night. Note that to stop here you will need to be riding a motorbike since there is no dedicated parking area.
Saigon Food Markets
Service at Ben Thanh is excellent and the locals are very welcoming. You must try the sweet rice pudding with fried banana and peanuts! My absolute favorite.
Head over to Uncle Park’s for delicious Korean food. I absolutely loved everything, including the pork belly wraps. The interior is not too fancy, so it is best for a casual lunch.
Lastly, don’t miss out on some classic Vietnamese Pho (pronounced “fuh”). Cheapest and still delicious right on the street, just walk up to a food vendor and point to this delicious soup. They will know what you want.
The Vietnam War: Cu Chi Tunnels & Remnants Museum
Tours of the Cu Chi Tunnels are quite cheap and the tour will take care of all the logistics of getting there. I would not attempt to get there on a motorbike since it can be treacherous and not the safest.
The War Remnants Museum in Quan 3 is another absolute must. A somber experience, the museum displays the harsh realities of the Vietnamese suffering. Make sure to explore the airplanes and tanks outside first, as you probably won’t be in the mood after seeing the morbid exhibits.
Saigon Gay Bars
Thi bar is located in the main nightlife hub of Bui Vien Walking Street. It was packed! If you’re looking for gay bars in Saigon, this is it.
I passed by The Tipsy Unicorn on my motorbike to check out the Tipsy Unicorn. Since it seemed quite empty, I skipped this spot.
Sahara Club is not specifically a gay bar, but its a club where gay travelers would certainly fit in.
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Saigon Gay Travel: Rooftop Bars
Broma: Not a Bar is another stunning rooftop with amazing service. The ambiance is top notch on both the roof and indoor bar on the upper level.
Saigon LGBT Travel Tips
Traffic in Saigon is extremely hectic. With many millions of people riding around on motorbikes, driving is intense. If you have never rented a motorbike, then I would not try your luck for the first time in Saigon.
Download the Grab application on your smartphone and hop on the back of someone else’s motorbike. It’s so fun!
Many travelers feel much more at ease booking travel to unfamiliar countries when they insure their trip. A provider like Travelex Insurance can offer protection in case of medical issues abroad, theft and even delays or cancellation of your trip! They have multiple plan tiers starting at $20.
I had to use my headphones with Google maps directing me where to go because it’s definitely not intuitive.
I recommend comparing flights to Vietnam with Skyscanner. They have an awesome interface and make it super easy to optimize your route. Plus, they offer flexible ticket options in light of the pandemic.
How to Get a Vietnam Visa
Obtaining the Vietnam tourist visa was the most difficult process I have experienced of any country I have visited. The process is extremely disorganized, so make sure you follow these tips.
When you enter passport control, go directly to the left where you will need the printed visa application form, two printed passport photos and $30 USD cash. Here you will need to pay a second time for them to actually give you the Visa.
I don’t understand why, but they are not privy to answering any questions there. Worst case, if you forget your photos, they will take some there for you, but you will wait.
Vietnam Gay Life
In Vietnam, same-sex sexual activity is not illegal, and has never been specifically criminalized in the country’s history. However, LGBT people in Vietnam are not afforded the same legal rights and protections as the straight community.
Transgender individuals also received more rights in the past five years. Gender reassignment surgery is now legal in Vietnam. In 2017, law went into effect allowing transgender individuals to register under the sex with which they identify.
Vietnam Gay Pride Events
Hanoi held the first Vietnam gay pride in 2012. The city has recently held their fifth consecutive gay pride event, a great channel of visibility for LGBT Vietnamese people.
Although the country has gained significant traction in the past decade, there is still much to be done in protecting the LGBT people in both the workplace and in general.
Now, Saigon gay pride parades are enjoyed each year. The VietPride parade video above, produced by Saigoneer, shows the beautiful community that has come together to celebrate Saigon gay pride!