I have to admit, when we first arrived in Ho Chi Minh City, I had mixed feelings about it. Ho Chi Minh City seemed like a busy, hot city. We stayed in Ho Chi Minh City for four nights, and I’m glad we did because we discovered many interesting things in this city.
Discovering the history is both interesting and disturbing. Exploring the streets and discovering the food became some of our favorite things to do. Ho Chi Minh City is certainly a place which leaves a mark, in the best possible way. If you’re planning a trip to Ho Chi Minh City, you inevitably have to decide where to stay in Ho Chi Minh City.
To make this as complete and as useful a resource as possible, we have also included some recommendations from people we know and whose opinion we trust.
Ho Chi Minh City is divided into 24 districts each with their own charm, offering different experiences and accommodation options. However, only a handful of them are good for travelers. Therefore, deciding on where to stay in Ho Chi Minh City may seem like a challenge. Below is a short guide on the best districts where to stay in Ho Chi Minh City…
District 1 (Downtown)
The area of District 1 has a delightful mix of old and new. It’s an area famous for colonial architecture. Established by the French Government in 1859 as the center for government office buildings, this is the main commercial, cultural, and business hub.
This district has all the city landmarks, so it’s convenient to walk around and see them. All the restaurants and coffee shops are here too. Also, this is the best area for nightlife. With so many things to do in Ho Chi Minh City, this is a great area to base yourself for your first visit.
Things to do in District 1 (Downtown) area:
- Get a chilling feel at the War Remnants Museum
- Bag a bargain at Ben Than Market
- Be impressed by the collection at the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum
- Take a stroll at Le Van Tam Park
- Head to Bitexco Financial Tower to enjoy the sweeping views of the city from the Saigon Skydeck
- Take a day trip out to the Cu Chi Tunnels
- Send a postcard to friends and family from the iconic Saigon Central Post Office
- Snap a picture of the incredible architecture of the City Hall building, formerly the Hotel de Ville
- Feast your eyes at the Notre Dame Cathedral’s stunning facade made from imported materials from France
- Learn about the history by touring the Reunification Palace, a place frozen in 1975 complete with the tank that crashed through the gates, ending the Vietnam War
- Grab an inexpensive Bia Hoi at one of the many bars lining the street
Where to stay in Downtown area:
Hotel Majestic Saigon – This 1920’s landmark building sits overlooking the Saigon River and has an art deco theme. Hotel Majestic Saigon is closely located to points of interest such as the Opera House, Notre Dame Cathedral and Ben Thanh Market. There is a charming courtyard on-site as well as amenities that include a casino, pool, Sky Bar, buffet breakfast and more.
The Reverie Saigon – The Reverie Saigon is perfect for a luxurious stay. It’s beautifully furnished with Italian designs and artistry. It offers amazing services ranging from the helpful staff to the swimming pool and the glamorous spa. The rooms are elegant, spacious and equipped with AC, flat-screen TVs and private bathrooms. Guests can dine and drink in one of the four in-house restaurants and bars, that serve a variety of Asian and Western cuisines.
Rex Hotel – Stay in the heart of the city with this luxury accommodation that won’t leave you disappointed. On-site you’ll find a rooftop restaurant, casino, a full spa, a gym and a pool. Not to mention the available activities such as tennis, yoga, aerobics and even dance classes. The location is ideal for travelers who love nightlife, museums, shopping or all three.
Paradise Saigon Boutique Hotel & Spa – Strategically located in District 1, Paradise Saigon Boutique Hotel is within 300 m from Ben Thanh Market and 350 m from the Reunification Palace. It operates a 24-hour front desk and provides free Wi-Fi access throughout the property. Offering views of the city, the modern air-conditioned rooms come with a wardrobe, minibar, a flat-screen cable TV and seating area. Rooms have an en suite bathroom equipped with shower facility, hairdryer and free toiletries.
Lief Mojo Saigon – Within easy walking distance of the neighborhood’s major sights, the hotel offers free-use computers and free Wi-Fi. Guests can dine in the on-site restaurant, that specializes in International cuisine and also offers vegetarian options. Rooms are en suite and each has a flat-screen TV, telephone, bar fridge and safety deposit box.
Alagon Saigon Hotel & Spa – Located in the heart of the vibrant Ho Chi Minh City, Alagon Hotel & Spa features elegant and modern rooms with free Wi-Fi. The hotel is within a short 10-minute drive to most majors’ landmarks of the city. Rooms are air-conditioned and come with turn-down service. Each room is equipped with a flat-screen satellite TV, seating area, and tea and coffee making facilities. The private bathroom includes a shower. The hotel also provides airport transfer, laundry and dry-cleaning services at an extra charge.
The Hideout – It is a very social hostel and known for its party vibes. Amenities include a rooftop bar, nightly events and games, happy hour with free beer daily, plus this hostel runs the largest pub crawl in the city. There’s fast Wi-Fi, free breakfast and individual power outlets for each bed. All rooms at the property are equipped with air conditioning and fans, while free linen is provided. Computers and tour booking services are available at the on-site reception. There is an air-conditioned lounge area, fully equipped with a 50-inch TV with various movies and comfortable bean bags and sofas.
Willhome Hostel – This is the best budget hostel in Pham Ngu Lao. They have dorm beds for as little as $5 USD per night. They also offer free breakfast, a beer at happy hour for each guest, and the longer you stay the more discounts you get such as free laundry and airport shuttle service. The rooms are clean and it’s in a quiet location. It’s a great budget option when staying in Ho Chi Minh City.
The Dorm Saigon – Is the best hostel choice around Ben Than Market. It’s new, modern, and has excellent staff. There’s a common area both inside and on the roof where guests can hang out and mingle. It’s surrounded by delicious restaurants and some of the most popular sites in the city. This is a perfect choice when staying in Ho Chi Minh City.
What is the catch:
- The area can get very Crowded
- Congested traffic
District 2 (Thao Dien)
Up until recently, this was one of the poorest areas of the city as it was cut off by the river, but thanks to development and urbanization, District 2 has become quite exclusive, popular with expats and locals alike.
This locale is filled with high-quality apartments, villas, and houses as well as international schools, commercial offices, bars, and restaurants. Located along the Saigon River, there are many restaurants, cafes, boutique shops and tree lined parks in District 2, as well as Saigon Outcast, a vibrant creative space for artists.
Things to do in District 2 (Thao Dien) area:
- Have cocktail along the Saigon River
- Check out The Factory Contemporary Arts Center
- Rock climb at Saigon Outcast
- Get Some Air at Jump Arena Trampoline Park Vietnam
- Play some bar games at Buddha Bar
- Pamper yourself with a day at Thao Dien Spa
- Go ice skating at the Vincom Mega Mall
Where to stay in Thao Dien area:
Somerset Vista Ho Chi Minh City – This property has a spacious outdoor swimming pool and spa pool. It offers elegantly furnished apartments with free Wi-Fi access and air con. Apartments are equipped with a sofa seating area, a flat-screen TV and DVD player, ironing facilities and a kitchen. The bathrooms include shower facilities, a bath and free toiletries. There is a fitness center, an outdoor tennis court and a luxurious lounge to unwind. Guests can also relax by the sauna and steam bath. The 24-hour front desk can assist with laundry, airport shuttle, and use of meeting facilities.
Villa Song Saigon – Stay classy in the city at Villa Song Saigon. Located on the Saigon River, all the rooms at this boutique style hotel come with a view of the river, pool, or garden. Breakfast is included and guests can easily get downtown thanks to the complimentary two-way shuttle, or by speed boat to the city center. This is an ideal hotel for those wondering where to stay in Ho Chi Minh City.
Common Inn Thao Dien – Situated within 5 km of Jade Emperor Pagoda and 5 km of Vietnam History Museum, this modern hotel offers accommodation with free Wi-Fi. All rooms feature a flat-screen TV with satellite channels and a private bathroom.
Saigon Riverside Retreat – Away from the bustling city center, Saigon Riverside Retreat is perfect for those looking for peace and quiet. It’s a lush oasis reachable by boat. Guests can enjoy free breakfast, free Wi-Fi and free use of bicycles and kayaks. An array of activities are offered in the area, such as cycling and fishing. Rooms feature cable TV, AC and private bathrooms. Some rooms include balcony views of the lake, river or garden.
Greenwood Villa Saigon – With garden views, Greenwood-villa Saigon has accommodation with a kitchen, situated away from the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City. Free Wi-Fi is offered throughout the property. Featuring a balcony, particular units are air conditioned and feature a dining area and a seating area with a flat-screen TV. There is a private bathroom with bath and free toiletries in each unit, along with a hairdryer. Guests at the home-stay can enjoy an American or a à la carte breakfast.
What is the catch:
- Far from the city center
- Lack of historical landmarks and attractions
- Nightlife is limited
District 5 (Chinatown)
Ho Chi Minh City’s Cholon is Vietnam’s largest Chinatown, with roots dating back to 1778; it’s also a place of great historical and cultural importance. The area today is a popular site for those on the tourist trail and also attracts many Taiwanese and Chinese visitors.
Cholon is an interesting place to see classical Chinese architecture, reminiscent of years gone by with plenty of Chinese restaurants. The Binh Tay market at the center is busy, crowded and messy with small aisles selling all manner of goods.
Things to do in District 5 (Chinatown) area:
- Explore the Chinatown
- Admire the Shrine at the Tien Hau Temple
- Experience the cyclo ride around the district
- Have fun at Dai The Gioi Waterpark
- Reflect on life while enjoying the reflections in the pond at Quan Am Pagoda
- Wander through Binh Tay Market admiring all the things for sale
- Visit Tam Son Hoi Quan to see the interior is loaded with beautiful ornamental figures
- Visit Cha Tam Church to see where the first president of Vietnam – Ngo Dinh Diem – was arrested
- Shop at An Dong Market
- Admire the ornate decorations on the walls of the Phuoc An Hoi Quan, a Chinese Taoist Temple
Where to stay in Chinatown area:
Windsor Plaza Hotel – The luxurious Windsor Plaza Hotel towers 25 stories above Cholon District (Chinatown) in central Ho Chi Minh City. Guests can enjoy complimentary breakfast and Wi-Fi, the rooftop swimming pool, the fitness center and spa and three on-site restaurants. The hotel also offers shuttle bus services to the city center. Rooms are modern and feature AC, private bathrooms, flat-screen TVs and views of the city.
Hotel Equatorial Ho Chi Minh City – Hotel Equatorial is conveniently located in Cholon. It’s an elegantly designed hotel with an outdoor swimming pool, a fully equipped fitness center and an on-site casino and restaurant. Guests can enjoy free Wi-Fi access, breakfast and a shuttle bus service to the city center. The rooms are large and include a flat-screen TV, AC and private bathroom.
Valentine Hotel – The hotel has its own restaurant and coffee bar for guests, Vietnamese and Asian cuisines are served at the on-site restaurant. All rooms have a flat-screen cable TV, minibar, sofa and desk. Private bathroom includes a shower and free toiletries. Guests have access to a shared lounge, ticket service and tour desk.
Signature Boutique Hotel – The modern and elegant Signature Boutique Hotel is located 2 km from Ben Thanh Market. All rooms feature a private bathroom, flat-screen cable TV with internet access. 24-hour reception service is available.
The Common Room Project – This is a 48-bed modern boutique hostel offering private and dormitory rooms with free Wi-Fi. All rooms are air-conditioned and provide plenty of natural lighting. Private rooms include a private bathroom with shower and toilet. Guests staying in the dormitory have access to a shared bathroom. Towels and linen are provided for all rooms. There is a shared kitchen where meals can be prepared.
Sakura Hostel Cholon – Located in the District 5 district of Ho Chi Minh City. Among the various facilities are a terrace and a shared lounge. A tour desk can provide information on the area. The Hostel is clean and comfortable offering air-conditioned shared and private dormitory rooms. Guests can enjoy free Wi-Fi and access to the terrace and shared lounge.
What is the catch:
- Not many pubs and bars in the area
- Congested traffic during peak times
- Not many choices in terms of accommodation
Each of the districts offer something unique. We hope that this short guide will help you decide where you’ll stay in Ho Chi Minh City.