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 sitting at one of the places you can soak up the local lifestyle and culture. You can shop, dine and party on Bui Vien Street. For those who love it, Bui Vien is a spectacle of vice that makes for some of the best entertainment. For others, it’s a testament to all that is depraved and ugly in humanity. Regardless of your moral stance, Bui Vien is a name that elicits strong reactions from anyone who has spent even just one night here.
The total ‘backpackers area’ consist of roughly four streets and some small interconnecting alleys. To have dinner here is very affordable. It will cost you around VND 100-200.000 (US$ 4-8), for this amount you will have a decent meal including a drink. The options vary from Vietnamese, Indian, Italian to Chinese and Western. On Bui Vien street 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 10.000 to VND 80.000 (US$ 0.5-3). Besides this there are many souvenir shops that sell affordable gifts ranging from paintings, statues to clothing and bags. It gets busiest from early evening, around 18:00, with the many bars and pubs popular until 02:00 or even later.
Nothing can compare to walking down Bui Vien around midnight—dozens of shops hiding behind metal security gates, crowds in tiny plastic chairs on the sidewalks, and music vibrating your organs with overlapping beats from all the pubs, bars and clubs lining the street. Below you, strewn garbage and filth. Above, an orange sky and schizoid power lines. Bui Vien feels like a powder keg, full of people either about to unleash some primal desire, or those who stand to profit from the transaction.