Ho Chi Minh City, also known by its former name of Saigon, is Vietnam’s major financial hub. A thriving, surprisingly modern city that rivals Hanoi for history, culture and food, Saigon has 24 districts which can make it hard to know where to stay in Ho Chi Minh City for the best experience.
If you’re travelling south to north, this city could be your first experience of Vietnam – the intense sights, smells and sounds will shock the senses, as will the millions of scooters speeding around every corner! The centre of the city, in Districts 1, 2 and 3 are at the centre of the action, home to significant cultural attractions, the best dining in town and a great range of accommodation.
Staying centrally ensures you won’t miss important sights such as Notre Dame Cathedral, Independence Palace and Benh Thanh Market.
Wherever you stay, the city’s beautifully contrasting local neighbourhoods, French-influenced architecture and modern skyscrapers make for an eclectic mix, and you’re just as likely to enjoy a streetside pho and beer as you are a delicious Japanese barbecue or fine French dinner.
- Where To Stay In Ho Chi Minh City
- District 1 / Downtown HCMC
- Pham Ngu Lao / Bui Vien
- District 2 / Thao Dien
- District 3
Where To Stay In Ho Chi Minh City
District 1 / Downtown HCMC
District 1 is certainly the best place to base yourself if you’ve never visited Ho Chi Minh City before.
This neighbourhood is where most of the city’s major attractions sit, such as the Imperial Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral and Ben Thanh Market, so you’re never far from something exciting.
This area has the best range of accommodation – while there isn’t really such a thing as expensive in Vietnam, you’ll find a good range of both upmarket hotels, budget options and hostels.
On top of this, there’s excellent nightlife, although you can easily find somewhere away from the noise and incredible food.
Street food markets, both local and high-end restaurants are literally tumbling out of doorways here, and not just Vietnamese food but every international cuisine imaginable.
Where To Stay In District 1 / Downtown HCMC
Luxury – M City Hotel Saigon
If you’re set on luxury in Ho Chi Minh, then M City is the only hotel to consider.
You’ll find beautiful, modern rooms which have kitchenettes, flat-screen TVs and luxury toiletries, plus a rooftop pool, fitness centre, room service and onsite restaurant.
An Asian breakfast is served daily, and the hotel is less than 500m from Ben Thanh Market.
To really splash out you can even book their penthouse suite which sleeps four and has panoramic city views.
Mid-range – The Myst Dong Khoi
The Myst is the perfect mid-range option in Saigon just 350m from the city’s stunning Opera House.
The hotel has super cool wooden interiors and amazing rooms, complete with living areas, ensuite bathrooms and fluffy bathrobes.
There’s a rooftop pool and terrace with views over the whole city, a spa, fitness centre and a tour desk.
The best part? If you book a room you also get complimentary afternoon tea!
Budget – Adora Art Hotel
Adora Art Hotel is a fun budget option in the heart of the city for those who aren’t quite ready for a hostel.
It’s less than two minutes walk from Ben Thanh Market and a bit further from Bui Vien – so you won’t hear the noise.
Rooms have city views, minibars, flat-screen TVs and ensuite bathrooms, plus an outdoor pool and car or scooter rental services.
Pham Ngu Lao / Bui Vien
Pham Ngu Lao and Bui Vien aren’t areas in themselves, but major streets within District 1.
They deserve their own section because they hold the city’s wildest nightlife and even if you’re not staying in the area, walking around here is a rite of passage when visiting Saigon.
Cheap drinks, cheap accommodation, plus plenty of bars, clubs and restaurants make it a backpacker’s paradise to rival Khao San Road.
If you don’t mind the noise at night and are looking to travel cheaply, these are great areas to stay in, as both hotels and hostels are extremely affordable, there’s plenty of street food and as you’re already in District 1, all of the sights are close by.
However, this won’t be for you if you like peace and quiet, so for families and those who’ve experienced the chaos before, there are other nice areas to choose from.
Where To Stay In Pham Ngu Lao / Bui Vien
Luxury – Pullman Saigon Centre
Pullman Saigon is a refreshingly wonderful luxury option that’s just a stone’s throw from Bui Vien Walking Street but also Ben Thanh Market and other District 1 sights.
Super modern rooms with skyline views, flat-screen TVs and minibars compliment the stunning rooftop restaurant and bar, and 6th floor infinity pool.
There’s also a fitness centre, sauna and spa, daily breakfast and a show kitchen along with another bar in the lobby.
Mid-range – Phan Anh Hotel
Sitting right on Pham Ngu Lao Street, this mid-range option is right in the midst of the buzzing day and nightlife.
It’s a hotel and hostel rolled into one, so although you’ll find some backpackers, there are also clean, modern rooms with minifridges and flat-screen TVs.
Laundry and tour booking are both available, along with a daily breakfast, and you’ll only be 10 minutes from Notre Dame Cathedral.
Budget – Full House Hostel
If you really want to experience Ho Chi Minh then a hostel on Bui Vien Walking Street is where to stay.
Full House is the best of both worlds, in the middle of the nightlife district but with spacious and clean private rooms.
They offer tour booking, airport transfers and rooms have a fridge for keeping the beers cold before you head out.
You’ll also be a short hop from Ben Thanh Market, Bitexco Tower and other fun attractions.
District 2 / Thao Dien
Thao Dien, also called District 2, is on the other bank of the Saigon River and although you might think this means it’s away from the action, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Easy to navigate, far more peaceful and family-friendly, Thao Dien has become expat central in Ho Chi Minh.
There are modern high rises, a mix of local and international restaurants, cool cafes and co-working spots and many places to make new friends.
Although it’s around a 20-minute Grab ride from downtown HCMC, Thao Dien is optimal for those who’ve been to the city before, are looking to stay a while or are travelling with kids.
There are a couple of nice attractions here, such as the Hue Nghiem Pagoda and Landmark 81, and it’s also useful when kids (or yourself) just want some Western cuisine – vegan, veggie and European restaurants are abundant, as are coffee shops selling freshly baked pastries; you won’t find noisy nightclubs or backpacker hostels here.
Where To Stay In District 2 / Thao Dien
Luxury – Amanaki Thao Dien
You can find plenty of luxury in Thao Dien but without the prices to match, and Amanaki is a perfect example.
The gorgeous rooms here are decorated with wood and have king-sized beds, city views and ensuite bathrooms.
There’s an indoor pool, sauna, restaurant and free bike rental plus a delicious a la carte breakfast.
It’s around 6km from the central Post Office, so you can be in the city centre with just a quick Grab ride.
Mid-range – Glenwood City Resort
Glenwood City is one of the best places to stay in District 2, an area which primarily features apartments and aparthotels.
This one has clean, modern units and is hidden inside a private Japanese garden, plus it has an onsite restaurant, outdoor pool and room service.
The hotel has a bus stop right outside, meaning you can be at Ben Thanh Market in less than 30 minutes.
Budget – Mezcosy Apartel
Mezcosy is just the place if you want to stay in this quiet neighbourhood on a budget.
It’s amazingly modern, clean and stylish, and each apartment comes with a kitchen, dining area and ensuite bathroom.
It’s also in a prime location not far from the city’s main bridge, making it easy to get into town.
For more things to do in Vietnam, read:
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- Vung Tau Travel Guide
- Vietnam River Cruise
- Hanoi vs Ho Chi Minh City
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District 3 can be a hit-or-miss area depending on where you stay because it borders District 1, meaning some of the best attractions cross over between the two, as does the nightlife, restaurants and shops.
However, District 3 is fairly large and staying on the outskirts can offer peace and quiet, but can also mean a long taxi journey into downtown thanks to heavy traffic jams.
On the other hand, if you stay around the edges of both districts, District 3 is a very peaceful neighbourhood popular with local students thanks to its affordability and green spaces, such as Tao Dan and Le Van Tam Park.
There’s also a plethora of excellent coffee shops, perfect for trying Vietnam’s range of amazing blends, great shopping centres and local shopping streets, mixing both high-end brands with Vietnamese clothing.
Within District 3, the moving War Remnants Museum, and the popular Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre are two educational and fun experiences, respectively, for both adults and kids, both of which are a short stroll from District 1.
Where To Stay In District 3
Luxury – Au Lac Legend
A property that is more like an ultra-luxe Balinese treehouse than a hotel, Au Lac is kitted out in sleek wood, coming with an open-air pool, deck area, restaurant and bar.
The sleek rooms are just as beautiful, and have free-standing bathtubs, ensuite bathrooms and city views.
You can also rent bicycles and book day trips, or walk just 10 minutes to city centre attractions.
Mid-range – Orchids Saigon
Only 500m from the War Remnants Museum, Orchids Hotel has elegant, modern rooms featuring minibars, ensuite bathrooms and flat-screen TVs.
The hotel itself also has a fitness centre, restaurant, bar and swimming pool, along with a sun terrace, airport transfers and a daily breakfast.
Budget – Leaf Signature Hotel
This could be the coolest budget hotel in Saigon.
A natural yet modern hotel with funky interiors, the rooms here are kitted out with wooden beds, hanging lights and swinging chairs.
There’s also a garden, lounge and coffee shop on the ground floor – perfect for working from, and it’s just around the corner from Saigon Central Post Office.
Cholon, also known as District 5 or Chinatown, is possibly the most underrated place to stay in Ho Chi Minh City.
Around a 15-minute scooter ride from downtown Saigon, it’s relatively central with plenty of its own character.
The huge influx of members of the Chinese community here means that the food scene is second to none; in fact, Cholon literally means ‘Big Market’, referring to the district’s Binh Tay Market which is the largest in the city.
Here and around the district, you can enjoy an amazing blend of both Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine at cheap prices.
There are also a few beautiful sights such as Thien Hau Pagoda, Quan Am Pagoda and Cha Tam Church.
District 5 is slightly below District 1, so it’s by no means far away from the action, however, it is full-on in its own way.
This is the place to stay if you’re on a budget, love trying new food and don’t mind not staying right in the centre.
Where To Stay In Cholon
Luxury – Hotel Equatorial
If you thought luxury hotels would be confined to District 1 then think again; Hotel Equatorial is a huge, modern hotel with a massive outdoor swimming pool in the middle of District 5.
The spacious rooms have flat-screen TVs, iPod stations and DVD players.
Elsewhere you’ll find another children’s pool, fitness centre, aerobics studio, steam room and hot tub, plus a spa, salon and free shuttles into the city.
There’s also an award-winning restaurant, cafe and bar- what more could you need?
Mid-range – Windsor Plaza Hotel
A super luxe yet affordable hotel, Windsor Plaza towers 25 floors above Chinatown and offers a rooftop pool and an award-winning Chinese restaurant.
The elegant white rooms also have sweeping city views, living areas and flat-screen TVs.
There’s a fitness centre onsite, and you can arrange massages, day trips and more.
Budget – Zazz Urban
An absolutely beautiful budget option, Zazz Urban features a stunning outdoor pool with views across the city, a fitness centre, terrace, restaurant and room service.
The huge rooms come with flat-screen TVs, living space and ensuite bathrooms.
You can fill up on an Asian breakfast each day, and the hotel is around 3km from the War Remnants Museum by tuk-tuk.
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