How to nhậu without drink driving in Vietnam


how to avoid drink driving
How to avoid drink driving in Vietnam
Image adapted from: @highway4vn and @bactrack

Vietnam’s new laws that involve fines for drink driving have been discouraging many beer or alcohol lovers from a fun gathering with their nhậu mates after work – after all, no one wants to get fined by traffic policemen for failing their alcohol breath test.

Still, it’s torturing to watch a football game with your friends or unwind at a get-together without a glass of beer or two. We’ve got you covered – here are a few tips on how to have fun at your nhậu dinner while abiding by the law and avoiding drink driving in Vietnam at the same time.


1. Livestream to your friends with an online Facebook watch party


nhau livestream watch party
Image credit: @joker_31.5

The use of technology is highly common in Vietnam nowadays – and so are Facebook accounts from which you can host a live streaming watch party for your friends to join. Live streaming lets everyone in your friendlist see and comment on the same video at the same time. 

All you have to do is to fix a time with your friends, who can wait for you to go on air. Simply find the video URL, post a watch party in your Facebook status, and watch your friends join you online. If it’s a football night, ask your friends to watch with their homemade dinner and beer.

Since the essence of nhậu is talking about your favorite topics and drinking at the same time, this method will do in case you and your tribe can’t leave the house because you don’t have late-night transportation to take you home. Plus, if you’re staying at home to reduce your chances of catching the COVID-19, hosting a watch party will cure your need for socialisation too.


2. Alternate beers with mocktails


choose mocktail over beer
Image credit: @Isquarednoms

This is an oddly specific suggestion, but hear us out. The alcohol content of beer is around 5%, tops, so alternating beers with mocktails can give you the experience of trying new drinks at a bar, but also lets your alcohol levels have time to level out before it’s time to drive off.

Ginger- and lime-based mocktails are widely available in Saigon bars, as are sweeter mocktails featuring cherries, lychees, and tropical fruit. Or you can ask your bartender to make you one – so they can express their creativity in a concoction you can’t get anywhere else. Just remember to give yourself an hour or more between your last alcoholic drink and turning the key in your car’s ignition.


3. Host a nhậu gathering at home, or rent a hotel room after a nhậu sesh


make dinner at home
Image credit: @miys0980 

If you’re in the mood to nhậu to your heart’s content or overnight without worrying about the consequences, do it at someone’s home where you can lie down and rest safely until your hangover is over. 

You might think this sounds far-fetched, but think about it: 5 hours in your friend’s home are nothing compared to the penalty you’ll have to pay, or worse, the accident you might get yourself or others into once you’re too impaired to drive. 

All you have to do is get your friends together, buy a box of beer bottles, set up a giant hot pot or BBQ pit, knock yourselves out, and sleep through your hangover. 


4. Drink beer with 0.0% alcohol content


0% content beer
Image credit: @rawrrr_dinosaur

Alcohol-free beers are those that contain less than 0.5% alcohol beer volume (ABV), which is not enough for you to feel woozy. In the wake of the newly issued law against drinking and driving, Tập đoàn Bia Sài Gòn Bình Tây Sabibeco, a local beer brand, has recently released its new beer line, Sagota Alcohol Free Beer, to satisfy drinkers’ need to have fun without getting fined.

Ingredients in this beer include water, malt, rice, hops, and 0.5% ABV, giving you the same beer flavor as the regular can but with a very low level of alcohol.

This beer was awarded a Bronze at the World Beer Awards 2018, though it had not been promoted much in the past since there was little demand. Now thanks to the new law, more people are looking for low-alcohol drink options, so you can find it more easily at bars, pubs, or supermarkets in town now. You can try to order Sagota when you’re in a beer bar or pub, or buy your own Sagota carton just in case you have a nhậu gathering at home.

You can buy Sagota beer online here.


5. Get your own breathalyzer


breath analyzer track 1
Image credit: @bactrack

Frequent drinkers who nhậu for fun and people in jobs that often require them to entertain guests with alcoholic drinks can invest in a breathalyzer. There are many local breathalyzer brands on the market, and all will let you know when your BAC level hits zero and you can start driving – so in the meantime, wait for your blood alcohol to go down before you drive. Find them online here.

breath analyzer track 2
Image credit: @bactrack

The BACtrack breathalyzer (USD99-USD149) device integrates a smartphone app and breathalyzer to track your blood alcohol content (BAC). If the result shows that you’ve had too much to drink, call a Grab, GoViet, or Be. Since the device is small and portable, it also helps you to know whether your alcohol content exceeds the legal limit of any country you are visiting.


Avoid drink driving in Vietnam altogether


Whether or not you are with the government on this new drinking and driving law, there’s no denying that it has significantly decreased the number of road accidents these days.

Nhậu is a wholesome dining culture among Vietnamese people in itself, and there’s nothing wrong about blowing off some steam over drinks. But be a responsible nhậu-er. The only way to truly stay out of trouble is to not drink and drive, to keep yourself and your fellow commuters safe.

Remember to grab a meal before drinking. Here’s where to get your next eats in Hanoi and Saigon: