Bui Vien walking street

Bui Vien walking street
Buu Vien walking street

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.

Bui Vien in the year 1967

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.

Bui Vien corner 30 years ago

To serve their demands, hotels and restaurants began to establish themselves more and more. In 1993, the famous travel guide book “Lonely Planet” introduced Bui Vien street and brought it to global travelers, they came here as the first place of their trip in Vietnam before moving to other places. It was a life-changing milestone brought everything here to a whole new level within 20 years and turned the street into a multicultural area filled with noise and endless parties.

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.

Pham Ngu Lao street  in the old day

Today, Pham Ngu Lao has become a nice street with plenty of travel agencies, restaurants and coffee shops located on one side of the road. The other side is a large public park with a newly built complex of shopping mall, food court and outdoor stage for live performances. De Tham offers plenty choices of bus companies and bars, pubs opened by both locals and Westerners. And lastly is Bui Vien, the busiest, most bustling and dynamic with tons of bars and boozing street vendors dotted along the road. So what’s fun there, isn’t it a street for boozing?

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 street today

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.

a activity at Bui Vien street

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:

  1. Hide your valuables. Seriously. Every day people lose cameras, phones, etc…
  2. The men selling drugs on the corners are all notorious cheats.
  3. If anyone starts getting aggressive, get out of there. Things escalate quickly on Bui Vien.
  4. Discuss prices beforehand.
  5. Ignoring the sellers is the best way to say no. A smile will keep them there even longer.
  6. Watch your drinks, especially in the dance clubs.
  7. Be nice to the staff and they’ll have your back if things get wild.
  8. There are undercover police, so be at least a bit discreet.
  9. Marijuana is technically illegal, but people smoke it openly.
  10. 10.Pay as you go. Surprises on the bill at the end of the night are common.




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