Learn where to stay in Ho Chi Minh City – the pearl of the far east
Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, is slowly becoming one of the world’s most beloved destinations. The city combines the colonial French influences with authentic Vietnamese culture and Vietnam War remnants, so it’s no wonder it is the most visited city in the whole of Vietnam. Its rich culture, iconic landmarks, and vivacious nightlife make the so-called Pearl of the Far East both an ideal traveling destination and a fantastic place for living.
Photo credit: hoaiqua
Transportation in Ho Chi Minh
Although Ho Chi Minh is huge, it is not that hard to get around the city. The bus system is well-developed and covers all major areas of the city. If you want to move around in a more local way, you can always use the Xe Om, the city’s famous motorbike taxi. There is no subway system yet, but it is under construction.
Photo credit: VisitHoChiMinhCity
5 best neighborhoods to stay in Ho Chi Minh
Ho Chi Minh is a large city so picking the right neighborhood is essential. If you stay too far away from the city center, you’re likely to spend most of your visit stuck in public transport. To help you out, we have picked the best areas to stay in:
- District 1
- Cholon (District 5)
- Dong Khoi Street area
- Pham Ngu Lao area
- District 3
Our evaluation of all neighborhood was based on several criteria:
- The cultural and historical value
- Fun things to see and do
- Cost of staying
- The overall vibe of the area
- How close and connected it is to the city center
|Where to stay in Ho Chi Minh City|
|Best for nightlife||District 1||The downtown area filled with bars, pubs, and clubs|
|Best for bohemians||Cholon (District 5)||Chinatown district with predominantly oriental culture|
|Best for first-timers||Dong Khoi Street area||Historical center with major sights, restaurants, and shops|
|Best on a budget||Pham Ngu Lao area||The so-called “backpacker district”, known for affordable bars, restaurants, and accommodation|
|Best for expats||District 3||A calm and peaceful area close to the city center|
Photo credit: cara_nation_
Where to stay in Ho Chi Minh for nightlife—District 1
District 1 is the central city district and the best place to stay in for nightlife lovers. Since the district is big and consists of many neighborhoods, you can easily pick the area that suits your preferences best. If you’re a fan of high-end places, we recommend the eastern part of the district. It is known for clubs, casinos, cocktail bars, and posh rooftop bars. If casual nights in authentic Vietnamese bars are more to your liking, the western part will suit you perfectly.
Where to party in District 1
If you’re not sure which bars and clubs to go to, check out these places:
- Beer Hoi
- Chill Skybar
- Apocalypse Now Bar–Cafe
- Voodoo Bar
This fashionable cocktail bar is one of Ho Chi Minh’s top nightspots. If you feel like sipping a delicious cocktail and dancing all evening while enjoying the view of the whole city, this may be the best place for you.
Photo credit: chill_skybar
Where to stay in District 1
District 1 offers various accommodations, ranging from cheap to lux. Check out our top picks:
Budget option: this exotic but affordable private room.
Midrange option: this spacious studio.
Luxurious option: this fantastic riverside apartment.
Where to stay in Ho Chi Minh for bohemians—Cholon (District 5)
District 5, also known as Cholon, is a fantastic place for anyone who wants to experience the authentic, oriental culture of Ho Chi Minh. Cholon is the city’s Chinatown and Chinese influences are quite obvious. Still, you will get to see the genuine Vietnamese lifestyle as well. History buffs and lovers of Buddhism especially appreciate this diverse area as it is filled with pagodas, temples, and historical sights. District 5 is also the best place to stay in if you visit Ho Chi Minh during the Mooncake Festival and Chinese New Year, as it is where major celebrations take place.
What to do in District 5
Whether you want to explore the historical side of the city or the modern Vietnamese lifestyle, you will find something to your liking in this area. Here are some ideas of places to visit:
- Temple of Ten Thousand Buddhas
- Binh Tay Market
- Nguyen Trai
- Church of St. Joan of Arc
- Thien Hau Temple
Temple of Ten Thousand Buddhas
Chua Van Phat, better known as Temple of Ten Thousand Buddha’s is a place every culture vulture should visit. The magical atmosphere of this temple will swipe you off your feet. Believe or not, the name of the temple is not an exaggeration: there really are thousands of Buddha sculptures, each with a name and serial number.
Photo credit: vicki_lim
Binh Tay Market
Although Saigon is full of markets, Binh Tay Market is by far the most popular. It is the largest market in the country and the best place to experiment with Vietnamese food. There are hundreds of vendors so you will easily find fascinating gifts and souvenirs.
Photo credit: glennsuki
Where to stay in District 5
Accommodations in District 5 are incredibly affordable. The average price per night is around $30. Have a look at our best picks:
Budget option: this affordable room – Drop By Saigon Hostel
Midrange option: this cute studio with a balcony.
Luxurious option: this amazing apartment with AC and a smart TV.
Where to stay in Ho Chi Minh for the first-timers—Dong Khoi Street area (District 1)
First-time visitors usually prefer to stay in the downtown area as it is close to most sights. We recommend the neighborhood around Dong Khoi Street which is the historical center of the city. This area showcases the rich history of Ho Chi Minh and you will see the influences of its major historical eras, including the colonial period, the Vietnam War period, and the post-war period. The area is vibrant and crowded and there are plenty of historical sights, bars, pubs, restaurants, and shops to enjoy.
Photo credit: kimuyuka15
What to do in Dong Khoi Street area
With so many sightseeing and entertainment options in this neighborhood, it’s hard to decide where to go first. Here are some suggestions:
- Notre Dame Cathedral
- Reunification Palace
- Ben Than Market
- Saigon Opera House
Notre Dame Cathedral
Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon is one of the most notable remnants of the French colonial reign in Vietnam. Constructed in the 19th century, the cathedral has two bell towers and a beautiful flower garden.
Photo credit: janniceleann421
Where to stay in Dong Khoi Street area
Since Dong Khoi is the central area of the city, accommodations are not as cheap as in other areas. Here are our top picks:
Budget option: Lela Hostel Saigon
Midrange option: this gorgeous house at the very center.
Where to stay in Ho Chi Minh on a budget—Pham Ngu Lao area (District 1)
If you want to stay in Ho Chi Minh without breaking the bank, the area between Pham Ngu Lao Street and Bui Vien Street may be the best place for you. This neighborhood, known as the “backpacker district”, as a favorite among budget travelers because of its numerous bars, markets, and plenty of affordable accommodation options. What makes it even better is that it won’t take you more than 20 minutes to get to the center on foot. It is also ideal for foodies as there are lots of vegetarian and international restaurants, as well as Asian food stalls.
Photo credit: jcwl.scenery
What to do in Pham Ngu Lao area
Since Pham Ngu Lao is extremely lively, you won’t get bored for one second. Here are some places we recommend you visit:
- Museum of Ho Chi Minh City
- Seventeen Saloon
- Ho Chi Minh Fine Arts Museum
- Thi Bar
Ho Chi Minh Fine Arts Museum
Ho Chi Minh Fine Arts Museum is a place that every culture vulture will adore. It is the major art museum in the city and the second-biggest in the whole country. The museum offers all sorts of artifacts, including sculptures, paintings, wood carvings, and archeological exhibits.
Photo credit: marionkirbis
Where to stay in Pham Ngu Lao area
Pham Ngu Lao offers a wide range of accommodation options, from high-end to extra affordable. We have decided to focus on the budget and mid-range apartments, and here are our picks:
Budget option: this super comfy private room.
Midrange option: this cute studio.
Luxurious option: Liberty Central Saigon Citypoint Hotel
Where to stay in Ho Chi Minh for expats—District 3
Although District 7 is famous for its expat community, our pick for the best Ho Chi Minh long-term stay is District 3. It is close to the city center but more affordable. It is also full of green spaces, which is not something you can easily see in the city. The area is peaceful, well-connected, and far from downtown’s hustle and bustle. Still, there are plenty of things to do here and you will soon fall in love with its interesting bars and restaurants. It is known as the ideal place to live in, even among the Vietnamese.
What to do in District 3
District 3 offers many options both for daily entertainment and nightlife. Here are some places that are well-worth visiting:
- Yoko Bar
- Nhieu Loc–Thi Nghe Canal
- War Remnants Museum
- The Tan Dinh Church (the Pink Church)
- Turtle Lake
War Remnants Museum
Photo credit: sighmaan
Where to stay in District 3
District 3 is full of hotels, hostels, and apartments to rent. Take a look at our favorite places:
Budget option: this beautiful hotel room with an affordable price.
Midrange option: this cute and cozy private room.
Luxurious option: Hotel des Arts Saigon
Stylish lodging offering 2 elegant restaurants & 3 bars, plus a rooftop pool, a spa & a gym.