Watching a full-throttle Ho Chi Minh City at night from one of the famous rooftop bars of five-star hotels like the Rex remains a standard tourist activity in Vietnam. However, checking out the nighttime cityscape from the Saigon River banks in District 2 is a relatively new and more relaxed alternative for visitors.
Not only do you see an unobstructed, electric view of HCMC’s well-lit skyline, but also you soak up the local energy — especially on a Sunday night. Vietnamese families and couples gather to gaze at the river reflecting the city lights, eat ice cream and socialize. You may even hear an impromptu karaoke session.
District 2, which for many years was an impoverished, rundown area, is seeing its better days now. Thanks to the underwater Thu Thiem Tunnel, which opened in 2011, District 2 is accessible from District 1, the heart of the city.
Who needs a rooftop when you can feel the breeze off the river, watch the Saigon Times Square building change from blue to hot pink and listen to the tinny soundtracks of the ice cream vendors' bicycle carts?