Crawling through Ho Chi Minh City

Aug 21, 2023 3:03:30 AM | Travel Crawling through Ho Chi Minh City

You may not know it, but Ho Chi Minh City has the best craft beer scene in Asia. Here's how I think you should sample the local brews.

It was over 30C/85F at 11PM, just like Houston. The traffic on the other hand: unreal. I guess that's also just like Houston. Come to find out, they also have a great local beer culture.

Want to skip to the good stuff? Click the links below

📍 My map of pins in HCMC

🍻 The Pub Crawl Route

🍜 Finish your crawl here with amazing street food

melting hair in front of beers at Heart of Darkness

So, you're sold and have planned your trip to Vietnam. Skip paying for a guide if you're reading this blog. It will be ok. I'll fill you in on what's really important in Ho Chi Minh: drinking beer.

*PS, it's hot and humid here. If you have curly hair, you can expect that it will melt like mine. 

While the craft beer movement is relatively new, the love for beer itself has a long history dating back to the 19th century. Brands like Bia Hanoi, 333 beer, Saigon Red, and the widely known Bia Huda (Huda beer) have been integral to Vietnamese culture for decades. Even international brands like Tiger beer and Biere Larue have managed to carve a niche in the local cerveza landscape.

This is how you'll have the best day crawling through Ho Chi Minh City. PS, It includes drinking alot of craft beer in Ho Chi Minh!

My suggestion: Start at Heart of Darkness. Nestled amidst the chaos of HCMC, the original Heart of Darkness offers an exceptional introduction to the world of craft beer in Vietnam. As you step inside, you'll blink a few times because the brewery is... dark. It's a welcome respite from the direct sun and omnipresent muggy heat.


At Heart of Darkness, you'll find a diverse range of brews that pay homage to both traditional styles and modern experimentation. From refreshing wheat ales to rich and robust stouts, their selection caters to every palate. I seriously have never had a bad beer here. I'll even give some anecdotal evidence to "prove it."

A couple years ago I was sitting here and started talking with the guy next to me. We were comparing notes on the selection and how I was too much of a wimp to drink the chili beer. Turns out he worked at the place as a brewer.

The sample was free, it wasn't my taste, but still absolutely delicious. Since then, HOD is always my first beer stop the moment I get into Saigon. So what should you order? It's hot, the cucumber pils is always my top choice due to the heat.

IMG_4994This is a great spot to grab a bite as well. They have amazing food specials including a 1kg tomahawk on Sundays for 999VND (about $40USD). Lunch specials also cost >10$.

Once you've finished your flight, the next logical step is to walk 5-10 minutes and head to the OG Pasteur Street Brewing. Pasteur Street is a true pioneer in the city's craft beer movement. The name is a nod to the iconic Pasteur Street where the OG brewery stands. However they now have several tap rooms in HCMC (plus one in Hanoi), and others are definitely nicer.

For the sake of this blog, I'm imagining you walking down Pasteur Street. You'll see a sign right outside an alley. You want to duck inside there. Walk down the hall and look for the space on your right, then head up the stairs.

IMG_5008As you walk through the 2nd floor doors, the vibrant and laid-back vibe immediately welcomes you. It's no surprise that this place has become a local favorite and a must-visit for any beer enthusiast. Beers on tap range from a refreshing passion fruit-infused wit to a handful of IPAs and Stouts.

Taster pours are relatively small, but if you check in on social media they'll give you a free one. I usually hit a flight here with whatever they have new on tap. Once you've downed that, it's time to move on.

IMG_5028If you're a fan of complex flavors and artisanal brewing techniques, Belgo is sure to captivate your taste buds. At Belgo, you'll encounter a wide array of handcrafted Belgian-style ales that pay homage to the centuries-old brewing traditions.

The original Belgo is a bit out of the way. My rec: head to the new location that is only a 5 minute walk away from the OG Pasteur Street. Unless you are a glutton for punishment and simply like walking in the heat. I'll leave that up to you.

Belgo balances the intricate fruity, spicy, and malty notes of typical Belgians. It's a testament to the dedication of their skilled brewers. Personally, I can't pass a blind taste test between a pint here and an off-the-shelf brew. Pro-tip, you can also buy bottled beers here for takeaway!

IMG_5018Belgian style beers can hit hard, Belgo's are no exception. This is not a flight type of brewery. Pours are "traditional" meaning if you order a chimay clone, it'll be a 33cl. If you didn't eat at Heart of Darkness, now is the time to grab a bite so you can keep trying out all of the beers.

Next stop: Hit up East West Brewing Co. This is a fitting finale to your craft beer crawl. Located in the relatively close to Ben Thanh, you'll find an enormous tap room. It's almost closer to an Instagrammable brunch spot than a brewery.

PS: If you miss East West in HCMC, they also have a location in central Vietnam (Da Nang).

As you sample their offerings, take a moment to appreciate the fusion of flavors that embody the essence of East West. From local ingredients like dragon fruit to international inspirations, each beer tells a story of cultural exchange and collaboration. This brewery truly exemplifies the modernity of Vietnam's beer scene, while paying homage to its roots.

If you're like me, you probably had more than one beer at each stop. As you stumble back to your hotel, it's likely that Ben Nghe Street Food Market is on the way. I cannot suggest a stop here highly enough. You'll probably need to drink a Heineken, but you may find a Winking Seal here (an honorable mention that no longer has a tap room).

Mike Lee

Written By: Mike Lee