Vietnam’s sleepless city lacks night-time entertainment services

Travel Guide

Vietnam, known for its vibrant culture and bustling cities, is taking steps to address a surprising issue: the lack of night-time entertainment services in its largest metropolis, Ho Chi Minh City. While this city is often referred to as “the city that never sleeps,” the reality is quite different. Authorities recognize the need for more nightlife options to cater to both locals and tourists. In this article, we will delve into the plans to enhance night-time activities and revamp the night economy in Ho Chi Minh City.

A New Initiative

Under a new project launched by the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, various tourist destinations, including Ho Chi Minh City, are set to develop more nighttime tourism products by 2025. This initiative aims to address the current lack of diversity in night-time activities within the city.

The Current Scenario

Huynh Phan Phuong Hoang, the deputy general director of Vietravel, has pointed out the glaring issue of insufficient night tourism products for a cosmopolitan city like Ho Chi Minh. Currently, the options for tourists looking to explore the city at night are limited to double-decker bus services, dinner boat tours on the Saigon River, boat services on Nhieu Loc canal, and a few nighttime experiences on Nguyen Hue and Bui Vien pedestrian streets. However, these services mostly close by 10 p.m., which hardly qualifies as a thriving night economy.

Unmet Demand

According to Hoang, the demand for entertainment after 10 p.m. among international tourists is substantial. Many foreign visitors are willing to spend generously on midnight services, creating a significant opportunity for the city’s economy. Comparing Ho Chi Minh City to other popular destinations like Bangkok, Pattaya, and Singapore, it becomes evident that the city is lagging behind in terms of offering vibrant night-time experiences.

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In Bangkok and Pattaya, art performances are held every night, and several shopping streets and entertainment venues remain open until the early hours of the morning. In Singapore, bars and nightclubs close at 1 or 2 a.m., after which revelers can continue their night at “after-hours” pubs that stay open until 3 a.m. Ho Chi Minh City, in contrast, has much room for improvement.

Untapped Potential

Hoang emphasizes that Ho Chi Minh City has the potential to organize large-scale art shows and cultural events. The recent success of the city’s circus play, “A O show,” which attracted millions of spectators, demonstrates the appetite for such entertainment. However, a single show, no matter how popular, is insufficient to tap into the full potential of this bustling metropolis.

A Bold Proposal

To address this issue, Hoang proposes that the government extend the operating hours of night-time services until 4-5 a.m. However, this extension should come with stringent measures to ensure the safety and security of visitors enjoying pedestrian streets and night markets in Ho Chi Minh City.

A Promising Future

Bui Thi Ngoc Hieu, the deputy director of the municipal Department of Tourism, highlights several factors that make Ho Chi Minh City an ideal candidate for a thriving night-time economy. These factors include its rich culture, unique cuisine, high degree of globalization, pleasant night weather, and a large young population. According to Hieu, tourists’ spending needs at night account for about 70% of their expenditures, while daytime spending makes up only 30%. This underscores the importance of bolstering the city’s night-time economy.

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Economic Impact

In 2009, foreign tourists visiting Vietnam spent an average of $1,000 per person per visit. Surprisingly, this figure has barely increased over the past decade, despite rising expenses for food, travel, and shopping. Entertainment and sightseeing activities have seen little growth in spending. In comparison, Thailand, which welcomed 40 million international visitors in 2019, saw foreign tourists’ spending nearly double that of Vietnam, reaching $2,400-2,500, with a similar average length of stay.


Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City is embarking on an exciting journey to revitalize its night-time economy and offer a wider range of entertainment options to both locals and international visitors. As the city leverages its unique cultural assets and youthful population, it is poised to become a thriving hub for night-time activities. By extending the operating hours of night services and ensuring safety, the city can unlock its full potential and provide unforgettable experiences to those who seek the vibrancy of a city that truly never sleeps.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why is there a need to develop the night-time economy in Ho Chi Minh City?
    • The current offerings for night-time entertainment are limited, and there is a high demand among tourists for more diverse and extended night-time activities.
  2. What initiatives are being taken to enhance night-time activities in the city?
    • The Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism has launched a project to develop more nighttime tourism products by 2025, aiming to address the lack of diversity in night-time offerings.
  3. How does the spending behavior of tourists at night compare to daytime spending in Ho Chi Minh City?
    • Tourists tend to spend about 70% of their expenditures at night, highlighting the economic potential of a thriving night-time economy.
  4. What are the challenges in extending the operating hours of night-time services in the city?
    • Extending the operating hours must be balanced with ensuring the safety and security of visitors enjoying pedestrian streets and night markets.
  5. How does the night-time economy in Ho Chi Minh City compare to other popular destinations like Bangkok and Singapore?
    • Ho Chi Minh City currently lags behind in offering vibrant night-time experiences, while cities like Bangkok and Singapore have thriving night-time scenes with a wide range of entertainment options.
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