For our upcoming trip, we were trying to figure out what is the best area to stay in Ho Chi Minh City. During our previous visit, we were not happy with the hotels and areas we decided to stay in. So after tons of research combined with our previous experiences, we decided to share this guide with you.
The best areas to stay in Ho Chi Minh City are District 1, District 2, and Cholon. District 1 and Cholon are busy areas full of attractions and restaurants. District 2 is a safer and more relaxed area, but there are also less restaurants and attractions in the area.
To help you decide where to stay, we will go into detail on the different advantages and disadvantages the three areas offer. We will also give you some tips to help make your stay in Ho Chi Minh City more comfortable.
What Is the Best Area to Stay in Ho Chi Minh
Depending on your budget and how much chaos you can handle, the best area of Ho Chi Minh City to stay will vary from person to person.
If you enjoy busy streets and chaos, District 1 and Cholon will be great options for you. District 2 on the other hand, is a relaxed and safe area of the city, which will be a huge plus for many.
District 1 is the main area tourists flock to once they arrive in Vietnam. This area is full of life and travelers in all classes.
The main disadvantages of this area are heavy traffic congestion and higher crime rates. If you can get past this, you can have a great time in District 1.
Let’s have a look at the most popular streets.
Bui Vien and Pham Ngo Lao
If you are a backpacker visiting, you will most likely love Bui Vien and Pham Ngo Lao. These two streets run one after the other.
Both areas offer some of the cheapest accommodation in all of Ho Chi Minh City. Here you can find a dorm room as cheap as USD 5 per night, or a private room as expensive as USD 50 per night.
These two streets are infamous for their sleaziness and keep the parties going long into the night. Bui Vien is one of Ho Chi Minh Citys two walking streets (check out our article for a detailed comparison).
Unfortunately, Bui Vien is the more sleazy of the two. There are quite a few dangers to watch out for. There is a lot of crime happening in these streets. Pickpockets, and people trying to sell you illegal stuff are present at night. Be careful.
There are lots of bars and very good restaurants here. You can also find massage parlors and anything else you may be looking for here. Since these are budget-friendly streets, you will generally find cheap meals and drinks around here.
However, we found the street food to be cheaper outside these streets.
Personally, I would compare this street to a less safe version of Khao San Road in Bangkok. Since the parties. run long into the night, it is a nice place to visit, but not a nice place to stay if you want to sleep well.
Nguyen Hue and Dong Khoi Street
If you want to dial down on the madness a little, while still staying in District 1, Dong Khoi Street, and the other walking street Nguyen Hue are both good options.
Dong Khoi Street offers a lot of history and culture. You can walk the old french-inspired streets that is now blended with modern Vietnamese skyrises. Or sit down and have a Vietnamese coffee in one of the many trendy restaurants and cafes.
If you are on a budget, the streets also offer a large variety of street food. Have you tried Pho or Bahn Mi back home? Well then be ready to try another 20 dishes served fresh from the street vendors carts.
We wrote a guide to the costs of street food in Saigon here.
You will find many of Saigon’s attractions in this street, like Saigon Opera House, Notre Dame Cathedral, and People’s Committee Building.
One of the many advantages of this street is that there is considerably less crime here. But we recommend that you stay a bit vigilant, especially when dealing with money (purchases, ATM withdrawals and such).
Nguyen Hue is one of my favorite streets in Ho Chi Minh City. This is Bui Viens slightly shorter, and much wider sister.
This walking street is considerably much safer and easier to walk than Bui Vien. This street is more of a large plaza than a traditional Vietnamese street, and you are surrounded by flowers and the will see a statue here and there.
Since Nguyen Hue is in the more affluent part of District 1, you will see lots of large businesses and more high-end hotels in this general area.
You can still find the same good deals around here as you will anywhere. But if you want to stay in close proximity to Nguyen Hue, you will need to shell out considerably more (Agoda affiliate link). We found a great value hotel Sanouva Saigon Hotel (Agoda affiliate link) a little away from the street.
What we loved most about this street, is that it is easy to move around here. Also there are considerably more locals hanging out here at night, than there are over in the other walking streets.
There are tons of apartments that are converted into great bars, restaurants, cafes on both sides of Nguyen Hue.
(Plugging our comparison of Ho Chi Minh Citys two walking streets again!)
District 2 is Best Place to Stay in Ho Chi Minh for Families
If you are not up for the madness of District 1, then District 2 is the place for you.
Right over the river from District 1, you will find District 2. This area used to be the poor part of town in the past but has seen a great increase in popularity after they got a proper bridge connecting them to the bustling downtown area.
These days District 2 is one of the nicest parts of Ho Chi Minh City. You will find that many ex-pats and affluent Vietnamese lives around these parts.
Compared to the chaos of District 1, District 2 will feel like a zen-garden. While the area lacks some of the charms of District 1, it certainly has its own beauty.
Since this is a more affluent and less busy part of Saigon, it’s a great option for families traveling with children. You will see many other families staying in the area as well.
District 2 is more of a melting pot when it comes to restaurants and bars than its neighbor across the river. You will find tons of international restaurants and bars scattered throughout the area.
If you are in the mood for street food, you can also find stalls tucked in between the other establishments.
District 2 has a great art scene, and while there is not as much to see in terms of history over here, you can easily make your way back over to the other side of the river. Just keep in mind that sitting in traffic for an hour is not fun.
Consider looking into newish “Saigon Waterbus” to get across the river.
Cholon, Ho Chi Minh City’s Chinatown
Stepping it up a notch again. Cholon is located a good 15-20 minutes from District 1 in Saigon (In Ho Chi Minh traffic!)
Cholon is HCMCs very own Chinatown. It is the closest you will get to experience the “old Vietnam”.
For some, this will be a great option to stay, but for those who prefer to stay in the two more traditional tourist parts of the city, we strongly recommend at least coming down here for a look.
Cholon literally translates to big market, and you will see why once you make your way down to the busy streets. Around here you can find everything from Chinese dumplings to questionable nature remedies for your ailments.
Cholon is quite a busy place, and there is a huge selection of restaurants, shophouses, street food, and everything in between right at your feet.
While the drinking aspect of nightlife in the Cholon is lacking compared to District 1, you can still enjoy the bustling life, and explore all the markets and Buddhist culture of the area.
The most popular attractions in Cholon are the Binh Tay Market, full of street food and other trinkets. Followed by the temples Thien Hau Pagoda, Quan Am Pagoda and church Cha Tam Church.
Best Place to Stay in Ho Chi Minh for Nightlife
For those looking for some fun nights out in Ho Chi Minh, two options come to mind.
The most obvious answer to the question is to stay NEAR Bui Vien Walking Street. Like we mentioned above staying in the actual street itself can be quite an annoy experience if you decide you would like to get some rest.
Bui Vien is an excellent option for nightlife though. It has the cheapest beers we found in Ho Chi Minh City. The average prices for a beer ranged from 15,000-30,000 VND for a little bottle.
There are tons of bars all around the street and plenty of likeminded people to share the night with. You can also find everything from reasonably cheap street food, to high-end dining along the streets.
Just bear in mind that this street is one of the most sleazy places in Saigon. And con-artists, thieves, and others that don’t have your best welfare as a priority are present in Bui Vien, and it’s neighbor street.
Nguyen Hue is another excellent option for where to stay in Ho Chi Minh City for the best nightlife. While staying along the actual street itself isn’t really an option, you can find lots of reasonably priced hotels nearby.
Keep reading until the end for a few hotel recommendations.
Nguyen Hue is a much safer area to enjoy a night out than the previous suggestion. There is plenty of options for having a great night out here as well.
On both sides of the walking street, across the roads, you will wind these apartment buildings that have been converted into bars and restaurants.
From these apartment buildings, you can either sit in one of the many restaurants on each floor, or you can make your way up to the top of the roof for an even better view.
We found that the prices overall in Nguyen Hue was higher than those in Bui Vien. But it is a great experience. If you have the time available, you should check out this walking street as well.
Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh for Backpackers
For backpackers looking to mingle with other backpackers, your best choice is definitely the more touristy parts of District 1.
Bui Vien, Pham Ngo Lao, and perhaps Nguyen Hue/Dong Khoi Street are all good options. You will also find various hostels for a very reasonable price around these parts.
In general, Bui Vien and Pham Ngo Lao will offer most of the budget options for day-trips and around the region. You will also have easy access to the bus station, and many backpacker-friendly bars and restaurants.
Like we have mentioned there are certain safety concerns in the areas, so if you decide to stay near Bui Vien you should be extra careful. Especially at night.
But if you are looking for other backpackers to spend your time with, staying around here could be the right option for you.
Best Hotels to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City
To end this article, we want to share a few recommendations for what we consider the best hotels to stay in during your visit to Ho Chi Minh City. For all our recommendations here, we use Agoda affiliate links. If you decide to use the links, we get a small commission on each booking you make.
Also please note that the prices are just pointers, as they will vary greatly depending on demand and season.
Bui Vien & Pham Ngo Lao
USD 5: Saigon 1979 Hotel is a great budget option for backpackers looking to stay near Bui Vien. A minimart is two minutes away, and you can buy a very cheap breakfast in the hostel.
USD 15: Duc Vuong Hotel offers great value for your money if you are looking for a private room. Please note that this hotel is located in the actual Bui Vien street though.
USD 40: Mayfair Suites – WMC Tower is a great option if you want to avoid the noise from Bui Vien while still being close to the action. This is a serviced apartment as well, so you get a lot more space and amenities.
Nguyen Hue & Dong Khoi Street
USD 14: Lela Homestay SaiGon is a two minutes walk from Nguyen Hue walking street. This shared dormitory offers some a lot privacy compared to other dormitories since you have your own little sleep box with a curtain to close the world out.
USD 30: Diamond Luxury Ben Thanh is located conveniently between Nguyen Hue and Bui Vien. This apartment-style hotel will give you a lot of value for your money.
USD 85: Silverland Charner may be the option for you if you are looking for a more luxurious option. This hotel is located right next to Nguyen Hue, and you will have access to a beautiful swimming pool. And an included breakfast and afternoon tea is always a nice bonus!
USD 20: Greenwood Villa Saigon is located a little outside the action, but you get a clean and comfortable room for a great price. The staff here are very friendly.
USD 50: Glenwood City Resort offers free breakfast, a decent pool, and is located in the middle of District 2. This is a great option for those looking for a good location in District 2. There are bars and restaurants around the hotel.
USD 150: Villa Song Saigon (Saigon River Villa): We’re throwing in a great luxury option here as well. This hotel is right on the river and offers everything you can expect from a 4-star boutique hotel. You can easily make your way over to District 1 on their scheduled speedboat trips. So you get both the calmness of District 2, and the action of District 1 if you decide to stay here.
USD 20: The Common Room Project is a great hostel located between Cholon and the backpacker area of District 1. Here you can get a very comfortable bed in a nice dorm for a great price.
USD 70: Windsor Plaza Hotel is a comfortable hotel only a 5-minute drive from Cholon. While it is not the best value hotel out of the ones we have listed, it is a good option if you want to stay near Cholon.
To stay safe during your stay in Ho Chi Minh City, check out our article on 7 Ways to Get Around in Ho Chi Minh City (And Stay Safe) here.
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