I am back living in District 2 and I like it a lot. It’s a pleasant place to live; there are great shops, quirky cafés and the air quality alone makes the trip over the Saigon Bridge worthwhile. There is though one massive drawback. The bars here are so badly run it is getting increasingly too much effort to bother going out.
I have both owned and managed bars in England, Thailand and Vietnam and the most important thing that a bar needs to give its customers is consistency. The only thing consistent in District 2 is the inconsistency. There isn’t one late night watering hole that I know, where I could safely agree to meet a group of friends to, for example, watch a football match.
There are really four bars that claim to be “sports bars” or at least a bar for watching your favourite sport. That they all get it so wrong it’s incredible. The formula is easy; you let your clientele know that if there is a big game on, you will be showing it. Once your patrons know that they are guaranteed to get their game, they will become loyal customers. The best bars in Saigon now for watching sport, if you live in District 2, are all in District 1.
Probably the smartest bar in District 2 would be The Fan Club. With it’s multiple screens, greater area and a comfy lounge area, this would be my first choice for watching sport. There is however one draw-back. It shuts at midnight. That’s just great for the late night football and the current Rugby World Cup, isn’t it?
Then we have Buddha Bar. This has been so shambolic for as long as I have known it, that you never can guess when it will be open, what they will or won’t show, if they will put the sound on or even if anyone will be there to operate the TV system. How damned hard can it be to work a schedule out in advance, advertise it and stick to it? On Saturday night we went in to watch the Man City game (least said the better). I was told it would be on the big screen and got myself settled in, then it wasn’t on the big screen, so I had to move. Then when the United game started which we also wanted to watch, we were told it was only on at a different part of the bar, we moved only to be told that they were putting on in the main bar. By this time we had lost our seats at the bar, and simply left.
We went to D2 Sports Bar to watch that game, the late night Newcastle v Chelsea game and then the England v Wales Rugby. They had Aussie Rugby and South Africa’s world cup match on so we got wedged at the end of the bar. That was no problem, first come first served; I get that. The rugby finally finished and we had to watch the football with no commentary, whilst listening to inane after match analysis of the Rugby blaring through the sound system. We had to ask for the sound, which finally we got for the last ten minutes. Then as we all settled in to watch the rugby, they closed the bar. “Sorry there are not enough people in to justify staying open.” Unbelievable! So the new way in bar management is now “If they come we will build it.” I’m sorry but that is not how it works.
Finally we have BMV. What can I say about this place? Nobody ever seems to know the current status of this place. At the time of writing it was shut for “repairs.” I believe it is to open soon, and I will go in and report as soon as I can.
Anyone with a bit of money and a sensible approach to bar ownership, could open a Sports Bar here and absolutely clean up. Until then, it’s D1 as that is where all the best bars in Saigon are for watching sport. Come on guys, get it together please, when it’s good it’s really good in D2 but when it’s bad, it’s awful.