Five great rooftop bars in South-East Asia

23rd July 2014 | by Guest author

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Rooftop bars provide a brief, delicious respite from the rapid pace and endless buzz of South-East Asia’s cities and coastlines. They are lofty pockets of peace to recoup and catch your breath after a day packed with sightseeing.

Ascending above the humdrum of the street, you’ll leave the city behind and enter a heady haven flanked by priceless panoramas on all sides. Take a scenic perch, order a Cosmopolitan and feel, well, thoroughly cosmopolitan.

Altitude Gallery and Bar - Singapore

This chic rooftop retreat quite literally takes the top spot. Altitude-1 is the world’s highest al fresco bar, towering a whopping 282 metres above the squeaky clean streets of Singapore. The spectacular 360° views over the city skyline are officially second-to-none. Yes, the drinks may come at a dizzying price, but the panorama really is priceless. It guarantees to be the cocktail-of-a-lifetime and completely worth the expense.

Stepping gingerly out onto the knee-wobbling gallery, you can see no less than 20 of Singapore’s landmarks dwarfed below. As darkness begins to descend over one of the world’s most sophisticated cities, you’ll see a twinkling blanket of lights slowly spread out beneath you, like a vast, busy switchboard bursting into life. It’s something quite magical to behold and somewhere quite impossible to forget.

The small print: there’s an initial cover charge of $18 per person for Altitude-1. This includes one drink that you’ll need to collect from the bar yourself. Subsequent orders qualify for table service. The dress code is simple: no shorts for men and strictly no flip-flops allowed.

SkyBar - Kuala Lumpur

The SkyBar is an exclusive spot for an extraordinary tipple in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. Set high up on the 33rd floor of the Traders Hotel, it offers a breathtaking bird’s eye view over the bright lights and the famous twin Petronas Towers of the city. If you arrive early for a signature cocktail at sunset, you’ll be in for a truly unsurpassed sip in seriously scenic surroundings.

Try a sparkling Kiwitini or a Selangor Sling as a warm breeze ripples through the open windows and moonlight spreads over the metropolis. Settle into one of the sunken cushioned alcoves for sunset viewing in complete comfort and seclusion. It’s sure to be a decadent holiday highlight, and it’s a must-do if you’re passing through Kuala Lumpur.

The small print: the SkyBar operates a smart casual dress code. Apart from this, anything goes! There’s no cover charge and the bar is open from 10am daily. The bar is hugely popular, so it’s best to either arrive well head of sunset or call and book ahead.

Moon Bar - Bangkok

Reach for the stars in Bangkok with a sultry sunset cocktail at Vertigo Restaurant and Moon Bar on the 61st floor of the Banyan Tree Hotel. Bangkok is famed for its cluster of top-class rooftop venues, and the Moon Bar is up there with the very best, offering romance, refinement and remarkable views. If you’re booked in for a meal at Vertigo, you’ll simply saunter over the connecting sky bridge to find your table! It’s head-spinning stuff.

The Moon Bar is a feat of cutting-edge design with an unusual stretched oval-shape, so you’ll feel as though you’re sailing through the sky while you sit back on a comfy sofa and admire the cityscape. You’ll need to get here well before sunset to snag the best seats, but as dusk falls your efforts will be rewarded. Blazing rays of sun will bounce off the buildings below and snake between the skyscrapers, ensuring that you end your day on an unbeatable high.

The small print: the Moon Bar opens daily at 5pm, and while no cover charge applies, the drinks here do come with heady price tags. The dress code is smart casual, ruling out flip-flops, athletic apparel, sleeveless vests for men, denim shorts for ladies, open-toed sandals and backpacks. Bear in mind that an additional 7% for service charges and 10% for tax fees will be added to your final bill.

Rex Hotel - Ho Chi Minh City

The Rex is a rooftop cocktail institution right in the beating heart of Ho Chi Minh City. The luxury hotel is a landmark dating back to the early 20th century that, quite incredibly, started life as a French garage! Over the years, the Rex has cultivated a quirky, kitsch charm and watching the sun go down over sprawling Saigon from its al fresco terrace is something not to be missed.

The unashamedly overblown rooftop garden offers a tempting menu of cocktails served with a twist of Vietnamese history. On this very rooftop, foreign correspondents covering the Vietnam War and US military personnel gathered for official press briefings - a practice that they famously dubbed their ‘Five O’Clock Follies’. Nowadays, it’s an eccentric hangout full of ceramic elephants, rotating crowns and miniature neon pagodas, making it a bizarre-but-brilliant spot for a Gin Fizz or three.

The small print: the Rex Hotel is refreshingly relaxed in terms of a dress code, asking only that you leave your flip-flops and tank tops (for men) in your hotel room. There is no cover charge, Happy Hour lasts from 5pm to 10pm, and live bands play from 8pm on most evenings.

Nick says: "the Bitexco Tower has a more modern bar with a better skyline for those not so interested in the nostalgic side of the Rex".

SOS Supper Club - Seminyak, Bali

The SOS Supper Club is the last word in beach sophistication. Overlooking the sweeping sands of Seminyak Beach, the chic epicentre of Bali’s southern coastline, this is a thoroughly hip hotspot for trendsetters, romantics and sunset-chasers alike. Here, you can nibble on tapas and tipple on designer cocktails as the sun slips into the crashing waves of Seminyak’s best surf. It’s tropical rooftop territory with no holds barred.

The innovative contemporary design divides the breezy rooftop into three separate zones, each with their own unique ambience. You can dance the exotic evening away, cosy up on a bed of cushions or stay for at atmospheric sunset dinner. The slanted glass roof holds heavier winds at bay, ensuring that you enjoy your signature cocktail in comfort. It’s imaginative, thoughtful and sensational for a sundowner.

The small print: like Bali itself, the SOS Supper Club is very laid back. No dress code is stipulated, although it’s a great excuse to get spruced up for sunset. Drinks are reasonably priced, with 11% added tax and a 10% service charge to keep in mind. The bar opens daily at 5pm and there’s free wifi if you need to stay connected.