Peter Cornish gets up close and personal with the lowest rooftop bar in town. Photos by Romain Garrigue.
There’s something unique about In SaiGong. For a start, topping the first floor of a one story building it’s got to be the lowest rooftop bar in the city. And secondly, while ‘strayan-themed bars are a dime a dozen, this is perhaps the only Wollongong-themed bar in the world. Well, in Ho Chi Minh City at least.
Formerly known as Amore, the newly-named bar sits above the corner of Huynh Thuc Khang and Ton That Dam, in the heart of District 1’s sports and girly bar enclave. With a change of ownership this summer, Amore changed its name and made minor adjustments to its interior, although being open to the elements on two sides, the interior is in many ways the exterior, and that’s a large part of its charm.
This bar is a welcome addition to this little pocket of drinking holes in the city centre, yet there are some things on which we should be clear. Despite having some attractive wait staff, In SaiGong is not a girly bar. And despite having TVs and a big screen, In SaiGong is not a sports bar.
You are of course welcome to buy the young ladies working there a drink, and if you want to watch the English Premier League, boxing, cricket, rugby or NFL, the screens will be turned to your choice. But this place is more about creating a relaxed space with a no nonsense, no pretence vibe in the city centre, where we can enjoy a beer in the open air rather than in a dimly-lit bar, enveloped by clouds of smoke.
Situated just a couple of minutes’ walk from Nguyen Hue and Bitexco Tower, the bar’s entrance is on the side of the building and up a short flight of stairs. Turning back on yourself, a central horseshoe shaped bar on the open terrace provides a social focal point to meet others and chat with new friends. There’s no dress code, and Wollongong native Jaime Tuckwell is a welcoming and hospitable host.
As the sun sets and evening falls, lanterns light up around the edge of the bar and the Reverie Hotel on Nguyen Hue provides a colourful backdrop to the rooftop view. Happy hour kicks off at 5pm attracting an after work crowd, and tourists wander in from the nearby walking street looking for a beer before heading back to their hotel.
Tiger beers are priced at VND30,000 from 5pm till 8pm and Pasteur Street’s IPA comes in at a reasonable VND90,000. Happy hour cocktails are affordable at just VND100,000, and the food menu offers a varied choice of pizza, burgers and more starting from a little over VND100,000.
Sunday afternoons with live acoustic are planned from the start of dry season, and weekly trivia night quizzes are in the pipeline.
Until then, In SaiGong is on our list as somewhere to swing by when we fancy an outside beer with a pleasant breeze in the city centre.