Mark Gustafson might be the most popular man in town right now. Everywhere he goes he keeps getting thanked. Thanked for helping bring craft beer to Ho Chi Minh City, thanked for opening up a location in Thao Dien, and thanked for giving an opportunity to new brewers. It’d be sickening if he didn’t deserve it.

Walking into TAPS is impressive. The place is huge, like, airport-hanger huge. Open for around six weeks on Truong Dinh by the time you read this, TAPS is about carving out a middle ground between the beer clubs and the high street.

Providing a home from home for many a long-serving outlander, Polite Pub is something of a rarity in the frenetic bustle of the Old Quarter.

Mojito at Rumours

Situated on West Lake, Rumors is one of those places I’ve walked past many times on my way to other bars and idly wondered about.

Hien & Bob's. Photo by Francis Xavier

In the hurly burly of a developing city, change is part of the daily routine. So sometimes it’s nice to have some constants. In Ho Chi Minh City, where for the last 22 years towers have risen, urban rail systems have been commenced, stalled and re-commenced, and heritage buildings have been demolished in favour of the latest thing, Hien & Bob’s has been an oasis of the same. Surviving in the same central location it’s always been at, serving the same drinks it’s always had, and giving the same sassy attitude over the bar it’s famous for, it’s one of those places that people who’ve been coming here for years always come back to. It’s a touchstone and is unwavering in its simple philosophy. As owner Hien puts it, “Cold beer and good music, that’s it.” 

I’m not much of a karaoke gal, and I certainly value a glass of cold ruou vang over a brewski any day, but luckily there’s something for everyone at Moto Saigon’s new haunt.

I’ve been to Spy Bar once before. I stumbled in through the heavy iron shutters after all the other bars in the Old Quarter had closed. It was a long, dark hole in the wall, packed to the brim with glassy-eyed revelers, and it reminded me of so many of my favourite dingy dives in New York City.

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