Ho Chi Minh has about 24 main districts for you to visit. Choosing where to stay is not that difficult since there are only a few popular districts that most travelers end up staying in. So in this guide I wanted to give some brief info about Ho Chi Minh city, and let you know about the best places to stay as a traveler. Choose the right areas based on your budget, preferences, and the type of vibe you are looking for.
The good thing is that this city has plenty to offer for all types of travelers. Another amazing thing is that Vietnam is undergoing rapid development. And Ho Chi Minh city is at the forefront of this modernization plan of the country.
Ho Chi Minh city is also known as Saigon. It is Vietnam’s business capital and also the most populated — around 3.5 million people. And because of this, it has many points of interest to experience for every type traveler. From the hip bars and nightclubs, to the scenery and landmarks, there is plenty to keep you entertained. It also has red light districts which are popular among male tourists.
Check out these areas where you can stay in Ho Chi Minh city:
District 1 is also known as the downtown of the city. It is the central hub, and the most popular among tourists when they first experience Ho Chi Minh city. The reason being is that it has beautiful colonial architecture, a great vibrant nightlife, and close to many of the cities best restaurants and attractions.
For most first time travelers District 1 will suffice as you can find many well-known hotels and accommodation. It has luxury hotels for great prices (relative to most other international cities). If you want the best 5 star hotels then stay in Dong Khoi Street.
It also has many hotels in the mid-budget range for very low prices, especially during the low season.
For backpackers it would be best to stay in Pham Ngu Lao and Bui Vien, these are the streets that are very popular among that backpacker crowd. Check the map a bit further into the article for more info.
District 1 is perfect for people travelers who want to be right int the middle of the action and close to the nightlife scenes. It is usually the best place to stay in Ho Chi Minh for nightlife.
But like anything else, it has good and bad points. Check them out below:
- Many restaurants, bars, and nightclubs
- Lots of transportation options (and easy to use)
- Plenty of sight-seeing options
- Traffic can be bad
- Can be crowded (for the people who prefer a relaxed vibe)
For most short time tourists it is better to stay in District 1 because the traffic can be very bad at certain times of day. It is also good for exploring everything within the area without having to worry about venturing to other areas.
Where Should Backpackers stay in Ho Chi Minh City?
The area of Bui Vien and Pham Ngu Lao is a full-time dedicated backpacker area catering to the desires of many foreigners that frequent Ho Chi Minh city. If you want cheap hotels, hostels, food, and beer, then look no further. This is the place to be.
The great thing about this area is that is also attracts many of the young locals who come to chill out here. And due to the cheap hotels and accommodation it also attracts many other foreigners who want this type of vibe. So even though it is known as a backpacker area, you will still find all sorts of travelers from around the world.
About a 20 minute drive from District 1, District 2 in Ho Chi Minh city is another well-known area for foreigners. However, this area is even more popular for the expat crowd, or foreigners who live here more long-term. It has a more relaxed vibe (compared to District 1). It is also very popular with the locals who are more foreign oriented. There are nice condos and apartments that are built here which cater to the expats and locals who can afford them.
And due to the recent developments, this area is not as relaxed as it once used to be. There are plenty of shops, restaurants, nightlife and boutique shopping options for you to enjoy. As the downtown is getting more congested year by year, more crowds are starting explore this area. It is now a very popular tourist spot.
District 2 can be described as a more “upscale” area compared to the District 1, which is known as the downtown. So this should give you an idea of the vibe. There are also many parks with intriguing scenery since the Saigon River runs all along this area
- Considered a better area than downtown (higher standard)
- More relaxed vibe, less traffic
- Many foreign oriented restaurants, and shops
- Not as many options for hotels and accommodation (compared to downtown)
- Not as authentic as downtown
- Nightlife and partying is limted
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh
I think for first time travels to the city it might be a good idea to stay in District 1. The reason being is that it give you a more authentic experience and it is very convenient for most visitors to explore the different areas. The hot-spots in District 1 are not that far from one another and it makes it less of hassle for most travelers.
It also has the advantage of having more options for hotels and accommodation. And even though District 2 is getting more developed as of late, District 1 still has great value hotels and luxury 5 star hotel. It has the most variety. Another good advantage of District 1 is that it has a better developed nightlife scene.
I think District 2 is great as well and is a great place to stay, especially if you want to get some relief from all the traffic congestion of District 1.
So if you want to be in the middle of the action, where most of the nightlife and tourists are, District 1 is for you. If you want a more relaxed experience, and experience more of the expat vibe, District 2 might be a better option.