It’s never been a secret: Apocalypse Now, Saigon’s most iconic club, has always been an establishment of ill repute. A few years ago, my girlfriend Sarah used to slug ex-pats for feeling up her friend, who these salacious foreigners assumed was a prostitute because a) she’s Vietnamese and b) she was at Apocalypse Now.
I recently ended up at Apocalypse Now with Sarah and her TESOL friends, and it turned out to be a fairly PG-13 affair. This was mostly thanks to the addition of an expansive, second-level dance floor. While the downstairs bar and outdoor patio are overwhelmed by throbbing dance music (and peppered with paunchy ex-pats in polos and shorts), the second-floor DJ spins lighter tunes like “The Twist.” There are regular injections of salsa and reggaeton and a few (awkward) spots of early-90s grunge rock.
Apocalypse Now was also once the epicenter of gay Saigon, but the opening of additional gay bars around town has distilled its significance. Still, it’s a fairly reliable meeting place for gay men.
Despite all this, one thing’s the same: Apocalypse Now remains grossly overpriced. Expect to spend VND 50,000 for a Saigon Beer (about 15,000 elsewhere). The bright side is there’s no cover for foreigners, so you have the option to pre-game and boycott the bar.