Bui Vien Street is the main street of the so called ‘backpackers area’ of Ho Chi Minh City. Here you find a wide variety of inexpensive restaurants, bars, souvenir shops and hotels/hostels. While being seated at one of the places you can soak up the local lifestyle and culture. You can shop, dine and party on Bui Vien Street.
On Bui Vien street, in Ho Chi Minh city, you also find many bars that offer drinks with a view of the busy city life. Depending on the location you can have a beer for VND 15.000 to VND 100.000 vnd. Besides this there are many souvenir shops that sell affordable gifts ranging from paintings, statues to clothing and bags. As this is the heart of the city centre it can easily be reached by foot or taxi and almost all locals in here speak English. It gets busiest from early evening, around 18:00, with the many bars and pubs popular until 05:00 am next day or even later.
History of Bui Vien
It’s hard to remember before Bui Vien street was the busy, bustling area as we see today, even for residents. Before the 1990s, there was nothing special about these streets, they were common roads where people lived. Since the ‘Renovation’ in 1986 when the government allowed international commercial trade, thus opening Vietnam more towards foreign investment and tourism – this is when the first tourists started visiting the street.
In the past, Pham Ngu Lao and De Tham street were owned by travel and bus companies like The Sinh, Phuong Trang, Hanh tourist, etc. This backpacker district was filled with restaurants, cafe, hotels, bars and pubs. All these businesses have filled all the roads and even taken over the alleyways and apartment buildings.
When Vietnam began encouraging tourism, after it opened its economy in the late eighties, foreigners showed up with more cash in their pockets than a Vietnamese farmer made in an entire year. Families converted the bottom floors of their homes into places catering to tourists. Since then, the business model of Bui Vien hasn’t changed much—just brighter signs and different owners.
Bui Vien is reality TV without any producers or censors. It’s unabashedly real in the most unreal way possible. But, like everything does in due time, Bui Vien is changing. Every year brings new fluorescent convenience stores and garish beer clubs pushing out the old scene that made the street famous. As Vietnam’s market economy matures, companies and officials will eventually purge anything that even hints of risk. Bui Vien is ugly and dangerous—but it wouldn’t be famous if it was any other way.
Tips to keep safe in Bui Vien waliking street
There’s no place like Bui Vien anywhere else in the world, and probably for good reason. Here are a few tips to keep you out of trouble: