In November I spent one week in Ho Chi Minh City, also known with its previous name of Saigon.
This city was a big surprise for me and I really enjoyed my time there: it’s a metropolis with a cozy feeling that will give you adrenaline rush every time you’ll cross the street.
In the nights there, between fabulous Vietnamese coffees and Phó noodle soups I of course went out checking the local Salsa scene – and this is what I found.
The first thing I noticed is that quite some people are on2 dancers, me like it!
The second thing I noticed is that, contrary to Thailand, here local men do dance. And some are real good!
The third thing I noticed is that parties are starting and ending shockingly early, at least compared with European standards.
Most of the parties are done by 11.30pm, so make sure you’re showing up early enough.
Here the active social parties you can find in Ho Chi Minh City.
Wednesday: La fenetre Soleil
9,30pm – 11,30pm. 44 Ly Tu Trong (D1), HCMC
Drink price: from 40,000vnd++
La Fenetre Soleil, located at first floor, is a unique coffee with French colonial architecture designed by Japanese. Beside that, this place is famous with beautiful view to main street and lovely Indonesian, American food.
Wednesday nigh is always crowded with on 2 dancers challenging the old wooden floor. As they said:” if you can dance with this floor, you can dance everywhere”.
When I was there the DJ (from Xsalsa dance school) played an impressive set of really enjoyable Salsa songs, from NY mambo to super-classics. The songs everyone loves to dance on!
The atmosphere was friendly and girls were outnumbering the guys, so I had nothing to do but waiting the next dancer to invite me. The only problem was the temperature, the room was quite hot and every three songs I had to turn down a lady to go stand in front of the airco while sipping some Saigon beer!
Thursday: The Cube
9pm-12am. 131 Ly Tu Trong (D1), HCMC
Web: Facebook page
Drink price: from 40,000vnd++
The Cube is new but become popular quickly. It’s close to La Fenetre Solei and easy to be found in crowded street.
The Cube is famous for the live Latino band which play all kind of music from Salsa, bachata, meringue… because of that, this place attracts more non Salsa dancers than Salsaholics.
The small dark room and some folks smoking inside are the biggest disadvantage of this place, but well compensated by the super smooth floor and the happy atmosphere.
Like in other parties in Saigon, girls outnumber men and my friend Susanne, traveling there soon after me reported that locals were a bit shy about inviting for a dance, most likely because of the language barrier. Always frustrating for European ladies used to have hordes of men after them!
Friday: UHouse beer
No 1, Cong Truong Quoc Te Street (Turtle Lake) (D3), HCMC
Entrance: fee 80.000 VND (about $4 USD) including 1 beer or soft drink.
This is a beer club located in the city center and known as the largest dance floor of Saigon.
Friday is the best night with all type of music: Salsa, bachata and sometimes Kizomba. It gathers all types of dancer from on1, on2 to Cuban. Never miss this night when you’re in Saigon!
Saturday: La Salsa Club
9.30pm – 12:00am. 212 Nguyen Dinh Chieu (D3), HCMC
Web: Facebook page
Entrance: free, consumption is obligatory
Drink price: from 70,000++ VND
In this club you’ll find a mix of L.A. style, Cuban Salsa and bachata music.
It features a nice wooden floor and parties are pretty popular, probably the best ones after Wednesday “La fenetre Soleil” according to what I experienced and what people told me there.
This is the social party from La Salsa dance school. You’ll find most on1 dancers, the floor here is so smooth that girls can dance on sport shoes and make unstoppable spins.
The club owner is very nice and friendly, if you go dancing there your photo of the night will be easily found on the Facebook page the next day.
Sunday: Khói Thom
9.00pm – 11.30pm. 29 Ngô Thoi Nhiem, HCMC (D3)
Drink price: from 20,000++ VND
Khói Thóm is the most famous Mexican restaurant in town, with a nice patio and a good selection of dishes.
I had dinner there and after the initial shame of having burritos in Vietnam I stopped being skeptical and enjoyed my meal.
In a room with windows close to my table some couples were following a Salsa lesson, learning the on2 basics.
By 9.30pm the lesson was over and the social dance begun. Maybe 10 couples in total, but the atmosphere was friendly and I danced with every girl around. I was the new guy in town so everyone was inviting me, it was fun.
The dance floor is small but full with colorful decoration, so it’s really lovely place to end the night. It used to be promoted as a beginners party but it now attracts more and more good dancers.
As you can see there’s no lack of options for a decent Salsa night (or better say evening) in Ho Chi Minh City!
If you’re planning your visit, I recommend always always always joining the Facebook group Salsa Saigon where you’ll find very helpful people with up-to-date information.
Thanks to Anh and Susanne for the help writing this post