I spent my first days in Saigon (or Ho Chi Minh City, depending on who you ask) feeling a bit down.
While I was excited to start my third month of travel and explore Vietnam, the novelty and thrill of it all was waning down.
Familiar doubts, anxieties and questions were creeping back up.
Mostly things like:
What should I do with my life?
Am I making the right decisions?
But also crap like:
If the universe is expanding, then what is it expanding into?
Why do men have nipples?
Basically, I needed a drink.
So one night I made my way to Chill Sky Bar, a glamorous rooftop bar in Saigon.
It’s not the kind of place I’d usually go for. When I budgeted for this trip, I sadly didn’t factor in martinis at overpriced bars.
But that night, I really wanted a cocktail and it was happy hour, so that was that.
Located on the top floor of the AB Tower, with a panoramic view of the city, Chill Sky Bar is where Saigon’s nouveaux riches come and mingle.
It’s swanky, it’s chic, it’s the place to be seen.
Mere mortals like myself go there for a different reason: to stare at the craziness of Saigon from above, with a drink in hand.
But it’s easier said than done. Chill Sky Bar has a strict dress code. No shorts. No flip-flops. In other words, no backpackers.
Luckily, Gilles and I managed to beat the system. We did our best not to look too scruffy for once, and it worked.
This Isn’t Your Typical Rooftop Bar.
Once you get to the 26th floor, you immediately understand why Chill Sky Bar is so popular.
The view of the city is out of this world.
Saigon can feel a little overwhelming at times. There’s so much chaos, and it’s not the organised kind.
You’re constantly on edge, holding onto dear life whilst dodging motorbikes and mini-buses that couldn’t give a damn whether they run you over or not.
But from Chill Sky Bar, you see the city in a completely different light.
And when it comes to making you feel like an A-lister, the staff are pulling all the stops.
Waiters attend to your every need, serving drinks on futuristic-looking furniture. The music is great. Cocktails are mixed to perfection and taste delicious.
At $6 a pop, I was quickly sipping away my daily budget, one Passion Martini at a time. What can I say – they were just too good to resist.
Chill Sky Bar Is The Brainchild of Capitalist Saigon
The existence of Chill Sky Bar, and the many other places like it, speaks volumes about just how much Vietnam has evolved since the fall of Saigon in 1975, which marked the end of the Vietnam war and the re-unification of the country under a Socialist regime.
Saigon wasn’t meant to be the capitalist emblem that it is today.
This article from New York Times describes to what extent Saigon has thrived after the collapse of the Soviet Union, effectively taking a U-turn to embrace capitalist principles.
Love them or hate them, venues like Chill Sky Bar reveal just how much Saigon has changed.
I might have blown my budget, but it was definitely worth the splurge.
I liked Chill Sky Bar for the delicious cocktails, I liked it for the amazing view.
But I also liked it because it made me think about Saigon and its incredible transformation.
Chill Sky Bar represents everything the Vietnam government has once fought to destroy. But not only is it here to stay – it’s a sign of more things to come.