Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City: 5 Best & Safest Neighborhoods

where to stay in ho chi minh city

Located on Vietnam’s southern tip, Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, stands as the bustling metropolis and economic powerhouse of the country, boasting a population exceeding 9 million. Once the capital, this vibrant city pulsates with a unique blend of cultural richness and historical significance, drawing travelers from far and wide to explore its dynamic streets.

Renowned for its warm hospitality and captivating allure, Ho Chi Minh City beckons with a tapestry of attractions, from French colonial architecture to modern skyscrapers and jasmine-scented temples. Visitors are enthralled by its chic rooftop bars, lush botanic gardens, and vibrant nightlife, making it a destination that never sleeps, resonating with energy day and night.

Comprising 24 districts, each with its own distinct charm, the city is divided by the majestic Saigon River, with the western half hosting 21 smaller districts and the eastern half featuring larger districts like 2, 9, and Thu Duc. While some districts are known by numerical designations, others boast unique names, each contributing to the city’s diverse landscape.

For travelers seeking the quintessential Saigon experience, districts 1, 2, 3, and 5 emerge as prime destinations, offering an array of attractions, accommodation options, and vibrant neighborhoods waiting to be explored. Whether wandering through historic streets or indulging in modern luxuries, Ho Chi Minh City promises an unforgettable journey through its captivating districts and eclectic neighborhoods. Discovering Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City is just the beginning of an adventure waiting to unfold.

Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City for Nightlife & Backpackers: Pham Ngu Lao (District 1)

Why Stay in Pham Ngu Lao?

Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City: 5 Best & Safest Neighborhoods -

Looking for a vibrant nightlife scene and budget-friendly accommodations in Ho Chi Minh City? Pham Ngu Lao, also known as the backpacker district, is your go-to spot. Situated in District 1, this area lures in budget travelers with its wallet-friendly prices for food, drinks, and lodging. Parallel to Bui Vien Street, Pham Nhu Lao boasts a network of charming alleyways teeming with spas, delectable eateries, and numerous hostels, reminiscent of Bangkok’s Khao San Road.

Here, you’ll discover a plethora of backpacker-friendly accommodations, and with competitive pricing, it’s easy to snag a sweet deal. But it’s not just about saving money; Pham Ngu Lao is the epicenter of nightlife in Ho Chi Minh City. Along its bustling streets, you’ll encounter a diverse array of bars, restaurants serving global cuisines, and an abundance of street food carts.

Whether you’re seeking pulsating beats or delectable street eats, Pham Ngu Lao offers an unbeatable atmosphere for partygoers and budget-conscious travelers alike. So, if you’re ready to immerse yourself in the vibrant energy of Ho Chi Minh City’s nightlife without breaking the bank, Pham Ngu Lao is the place to be.

Things to See and Do in Pham Ngu Lao

  • Sample authentic Vietnamese cuisine with a bowl of Pho at Pho Quynh renowned for its flavorful broth.
  • Discover the historical significance of the Cu Chi Tunnels on a guided tour, learning about the village’s wartime defenses.
  • Embark on a thrilling Vintage Vespa Tour to explore the vibrant streets of Saigon on two wheels.
  • Treat yourself to affordable spa treatments like massages and pedicures.
  • Arrange your onward travel plans conveniently at one of the numerous budget travel agencies dotted along the street.
  • Groove to live music and enjoy affordable cocktails at Thi Bar Saigon, soaking in the lively atmosphere.
  • Relax with a cup of coffee and a good book at Highlands Coffee, a cozy spot perfect for unwinding amidst the city’s hustle and bustle.
  • Experience the local nightlife scene by sipping on inexpensive Bia Hoi at one of the lively bars along the street.
  • Unleash your inner party animal at Crazy Buffalo bar, where you can enjoy dinner and then dance the night away.
  • Learn about Saigon’s troubled past at the Museum of Ho Chi Minh City.

What’s the Catch in Pham Ngu Lao?

While Pham Ngu Lao offers an exciting nightlife scene and budget-friendly accommodations, there are a few downsides to consider. One notable drawback is the area’s tendency to become noisy and crowded, particularly during the evenings. If you prefer a more tranquil environment for your stay in Ho Chi Minh City, Pham Ngu Lao might not be the ideal choice for you. The bustling streets and vibrant nightlife can be exhilarating for some, but for those seeking peace and quiet, it’s important to weigh this aspect before booking your accommodation in this lively district.

Where to Stay in Pham Ngu Lao

Best Hostel in Pham Ngu Lao – Long Hostel

Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City: 5 Best & Safest Neighborhoods -

Long Hostel was our go-to place while in Ho Chi Minh City. Situated in the vibrant Pham Ngu Lao area, it offers a welcoming atmosphere and convenient location. It’s praised for its proximity to major sights and a bustling day market, as well as being ideal for nightlife. Guests highlight the dedicated and knowledgeable staff who create a family-like ambiance, going above and beyond. The hostel receives high ratings on Hostelworld, with many travelers expressing a desire to return.

Best Party Hostel in Pham Ngu Lao – Hideout Hostel Saigon

Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City: 5 Best & Safest Neighborhoods -

Hideout Hostel Saigon, voted the most popular hostel in Ho Chi Minh City in 2016 and 2017, offers the ultimate party experience in Pham Ngu Lao. With a prime location in District 1, it boasts superb staff, fantastic cleanliness, and a social atmosphere. The hostel provides ultra-clean dormitories with amenities like air conditioning and lockers. Guests enjoy free Wi-Fi, hot showers, and a daily free beer during happy hour. The movie room with a 65″ TV offers relaxation after exploring the city. With its central location, guests have easy access to dining, shopping, and entertainment options.

Best Hotel in Pham Ngu Lao – Jan Hostel Central Point

Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City: 5 Best & Safest Neighborhoods -

Jan Hostel Central Point, located in Ho Chi Minh City’s Pham Ngu Lao area, offers well-appointed air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi and parking. Less than 1 km from the Fine Arts Museum, the hostel provides a lift, sun terrace, and a 24-hour front desk. Rooms feature a kettle, private bathroom with shower, slippers, hairdryer, and free toiletries. Bed linen and towels are provided. Guests can unwind in the on-site bar or lounge. Sightseeing tours are available, and a baby safety gate is provided.

Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City for First Time Visitors: Dong Khoi Street (District 1)

Why Stay in Dong Khoi Street?

Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City: 5 Best & Safest Neighborhoods -

Located in the heart of District 1, Dong Khoi Street serves as the epitome of Ho Chi Minh City’s rich history and vibrant present. Formerly known as Rue Catinat during the French colonial era and Tu Do (“Freedom Street”) during the Vietnam War, this historic thoroughfare has evolved into a bustling commercial hub. For first-time visitors to Vietnam, Dong Khoi Street offers an unparalleled introduction to the city’s diverse offerings.

Strolling along Dong Khoi, you’ll be captivated by the charm of its colonial-era architecture and the echoes of its storied past. The street’s transformation into a haven for stylish cafes, international brands, and local boutiques makes it an ideal base for exploring Ho Chi Minh City’s cultural and shopping scene.

From sipping coffee in chic cafes to indulging in world-class dining experiences, Dong Khoi Street provides a quintessential Vietnamese experience within a compact and accessible area.

Things to See and Do in Dong Khoi Street

  • Take a leisurely stroll through the 30-4 Park, named after Vietnam’s Liberation Day, April 30th, and enjoy its serene ambiance.
  • Experience the nostalgia of old-world charm at the Saigon Central Post Office, where you can send a letter or souvenir to loved ones.
  • Explore the Reunification Palace, a historical landmark frozen in time since the Vietnam War, offering insight into the country’s tumultuous past.
  • Ascend the Bitexco Financial Tower and take in panoramic views of the city skyline from the Saigon Skydeck.
  • Capture stunning photos of the historic City Hall building, formerly known as the Hotel de Ville, showcasing impressive French colonial architecture.
  • Indulge in an evening of culture and sophistication at the Saigon Opera House, where you can enjoy opera performances and classical music concerts.
  • Marvel at the intricate facade of the Notre Dame Cathedral, adorned with materials imported from France.
  • Embark on a thrilling Jeep tour around the city, discovering hidden gems and local hotspots off the beaten path.
  • Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of Ben Thanh Market, where you can sample delicious street food and browse a plethora of goods for sale.

What’s the Catch in Dong Khoi Street?

While Dong Khoi Street offers a captivating blend of history and modernity, it’s important to stay vigilant, especially amidst its bustling shopping scene. The area’s popularity for shopping may attract scammers and con artists, although overall safety remains high. To avoid potential pitfalls, keep a close eye on your belongings, particularly when engaging in transactions or using ATMs.

Additionally, being situated in District 1, Dong Khoi Street reflects the district’s reputation for higher prices. Comparable to New York City, expenses tend to be elevated here. From a cup of coffee to daily market fare, you may find prices significantly steeper compared to other districts in Ho Chi Minh City.

Where to Stay in Dong Khoi Street

Best Hostel in Dong Khoi Street – Meander Saigon

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Meander Saigon, the latest addition to the Meander family in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, offers a unique blend of co-working space, accommodation, cafe, and rooftop bar. Situated just a 2-minute walk from Japan Town and 10 minutes from attractions, it’s an ideal base for exploring the city. Guests enjoy perks like free city tours on Sundays, access to co-working space, game nights, and tours to CuChi Tunnel & Mekong Delta. Additionally, there’s an OHQUAO local art shop on-site.

Best Mid-Range Hotel in Dong Khoi Street – Little Saigon Boutique Hotel

Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City: 5 Best & Safest Neighborhoods -

Little Saigon Boutique Hotel, located in the shopping district of Ho Chi Minh City, offers rooms with city views, flat-screen TVs, and free Wi-Fi. Within a 10-minute walk to downtown District 1, attractions like the Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica, Saigon Opera House, and the War Remnants Museum are easily accessible. The hotel features rooms with wooden flooring, cable TV, tea/coffee making facilities, and minibars. Private bathrooms come with hairdryers, ensuring a comfortable stay for guests.

Best Luxury Hotel in Dong Khoi Street – Au Lac Charner Hotel

Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City: 5 Best & Safest Neighborhoods -

Au Lac Charner Hotel, located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City’s Dong Khoi Street, offers luxurious accommodation inspired by French colonial-era tea houses. Within walking distance to vibrant shopping and entertainment areas, it’s close to iconic landmarks like the Opera House and Notre-Dame Cathedral. The hotel features stylish rooms with wicker furnishings, pastel colors, and modern amenities including a 32-inch TV and safety deposit box. Guests can enjoy free WiFi, an in-house restaurant, and afternoon tea. Additional services include massage treatments, tour arrangements, and airport transfers.

Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City for Digital Nomads & Families: Thao Dien (District 2)

Why Stay in Thao Dien?

Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City: 5 Best & Safest Neighborhoods -

Located in District 2, Thao Dien offers a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City’s city center, making it an ideal haven for digital nomads and families alike. Formerly one of the city’s poorest areas, Thao Dien has undergone a remarkable transformation into a sought-after residential and expatriate community.

Compared to the frenetic pace of District 1, Thao Dien exudes a quieter, more suburban ambiance, making it perfect for those craving a serene living environment. With its abundance of green spaces and parks, Thao Dien beckons with a promise of tranquility amidst nature’s embrace.

The district boasts a plethora of modern apartments, villas, and gated communities, offering upscale accommodations for an extended stay. Moreover, Thao Dien’s vibrant dining scene showcases an array of international restaurants, cafes, and bars, catering to diverse tastes.

For those seeking picturesque vistas, accommodations along the scenic Saigon River provide a serene backdrop for relaxation. Additionally, with convenient access to health and fitness classes, as well as the newly opened metro station in 2019, Thao Dien stands as a gateway to both wellness and exploration in Ho Chi Minh City.

Things to See and Do in Thao Dien

  • Unwind with a craft beer and live music at Saigon Outcast, a popular spot for mingling with diverse clientele in a relaxed ambiance.
  • Beat the heat at Vincom Mega Mall by ice skating, offering a refreshing break from the tropical climate of Southeast Asia.
  • Embark on a scenic boat and dinner cruise along the Saigon River, offering breathtaking views of the city’s skyline.
  • Indulge in a pampering spa treatment at Cam On Spa, rejuvenating your mind and body amidst tranquil surroundings.
  • Explore retail therapy at Thao Dien Pearl Plaza, satisfying your shopping cravings with a wide range of stores and boutiques.
  • Unwind with a refreshing cocktail by the Saigon River at renowned rooftop spots like Le Café des Stagiaires or La Moon Rooftop.
  • Energize yourself with a massive iced coffee from Hue Cafe Roastery, providing a delicious pick-me-up for your day in Thao Dien.
  • Challenge yourself with rock climbing adventures at Push Climbing, perfect for improving your upper body strength and agility.
  • Immerse yourself in thought-provoking exhibitions at The Factory Contemporary Arts Center, showcasing innovative works of light, poetry, and philosophy.
  • Bounce into action at Jump Arena Trampoline Park, where you can showcase your dunking skills and enjoy exhilarating trampoline fun.
  • Escape the urban hustle at Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens, a tranquil oasis boasting lush greenery and diverse wildlife.

What’s the Catch in Thao Dien?

While Thao Dien offers a tranquil retreat from the city center, it’s not the most budget-friendly option in Ho Chi Minh City. The limited availability of hostels contributes to higher accommodation costs compared to other areas. Additionally, its location slightly farther from the city center means a longer commute, albeit accessible via taxi or ride-sharing services, taking around 15-20 minutes to reach District 1, depending on traffic conditions.

Moreover, Thao Dien’s serene environment comes at the expense of limited entertainment options. For those craving vibrant nightlife or dynamic activities, the district may fall short in providing ample options for evening entertainment. So, while Thao Dien offers a peaceful residential setting, potential residents should consider their preferences for convenience and nightlife accessibility before making their choice.

Where to Stay in Thao Dien

Mid-Range & Family Friendly Hotel in Thao Dien – Mecozy Apartel

Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City: 5 Best & Safest Neighborhoods -

Mecozy Apartel in Thao Dien offers comfortable and family-friendly accommodation with city and quiet street views. Amenities include free WiFi, a 24-hour front desk, and a lift. The apartments feature air conditioning, fully equipped kitchens with dining areas, flat-screen TVs, and private bathrooms with walk-in showers and complimentary toiletries. Guests can also enjoy the convenience of a fridge, stovetop, kitchenware, and a kettle. Bed linen and towels are provided in each unit.

Best Luxury Hotel in Thao Dien – Mia Saigon – Luxury Boutique Hotel

Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City: 5 Best & Safest Neighborhoods -

Mia Saigon – Luxury Boutique Hotel in Thao Dien offers upscale amenities including an outdoor pool, fitness center, garden, and terrace. Guests can enjoy dining options at the on-site restaurant and bar, as well as room service. The hotel provides air-conditioned rooms with modern features such as a coffee machine, minibar, safety deposit box, flat-screen TV, and private bathroom with bidet. Free WiFi is available throughout the property.

Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City for the Coolest Experience: Cholon (District 5)

Why Stay in Cholon?

Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City: 5 Best & Safest Neighborhoods -

Immerse yourself in the vibrant tapestry of culture and commerce in Cholon, Ho Chi Minh City’s renowned Chinatown located within District 5. Aptly named “big market,” Cholon is home to Binh Tay Market, the largest market in Vietnam, bustling with a kaleidoscope of goods and flavors. Since its inception in 1778, Cholon has been a melting pot of ethnic Chinese heritage, shaping it into a thriving commercial center teeming with historical significance.

Throughout the district, ornate temples and pagodas stand as testaments to the enduring Chinese influence, offering a glimpse into the area’s rich cultural heritage. But perhaps the true highlight of Cholon lies in its culinary delights, with delectable Chinese and Vietnamese dishes awaiting exploration at every turn. Whether savoring street food from bustling vendors or indulging in culinary adventures within Binh Tay Market’s food court, Cholon promises an unforgettable gastronomic journey.

Beyond its culinary allure, staying in District 5 provides an opportunity to connect with the local Chinese-Vietnamese community, renowned for their warmth and hospitality. Engage in cultural exchanges, discover ancient traditions, and immerse yourself in the vibrant ambiance of Cholon, where every corner holds a new adventure.

Things to See and Do in Cholon

  • Experience spiritual reverence at Thien Hau Temple, where you can light incense and pay homage to revered shrines.
  • Immerse yourself in vibrant cultural festivities during Chinese festivals like Lunar New Year and the Mid-Autumn Festival, witnessing colorful celebrations and parades.
  • Delve into history at Cha Tam Church, the site where the first president of Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem, was arrested.
  • Discover a treasure trove of textiles, clothing, and handicrafts at An Dong Market, a bustling hub for shopping enthusiasts.
  • Explore Cholon’s bustling streets from the comfort of a traditional cyclo ride, offering a leisurely way to soak in the district’s ambiance.
  • Make a splash at Dai The Gioi Waterpark, where you can enjoy thrilling waterslides and aquatic adventures.
  • Immerse yourself in spiritual tranquility at the Jade Emperor Pagoda (Chua Ngoc Hoang), a renowned and revered temple in Cholon.
  • Embark on a culinary adventure with a street food tour, sampling delectable local delicacies and flavors unique to Cholon.
  • Admire the intricate decorations adorning the walls of Phuoc An Hoi Quan, a historic Chinese Taoist Temple nestled in the heart of Cholon.
  • Pay homage to the Goddess of Fertility at Tam Son Hoi Quan Pagoda, a serene Buddhist temple steeped in tradition and reverence.
  • Explore the vibrant hustle and bustle of Binh Tay Market, where you can marvel at an array of goods ranging from fresh produce to traditional Chinese medicines and souvenirs.
  • Find inner peace and reflection at Quan Am Pagoda, where serene ponds offer a tranquil escape amidst the urban hustle of Cholon.

What’s the Catch in Cholon?

While Cholon offers a rich cultural experience, it may not be the ideal choice for budget travelers seeking hostel accommodations, as options are limited compared to other districts in Ho Chi Minh City. Additionally, English proficiency among locals is not as prevalent, with Mandarin and Cantonese being more commonly spoken. For travelers proficient in Chinese, communication may not pose an issue, but those reliant on English may encounter challenges.

Where to Stay in Cholon

Best Mid-Range Hotel in Cholon – Zazz Urban Ho Chi Minh

Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City: 5 Best & Safest Neighborhoods -

Zazz Urban Ho Chi Minh, located in Cholon, offers mid-range accommodation with an outdoor pool, fitness center, and terrace. Guests can enjoy dining at the on-site restaurant or order room service. The hotel features air-conditioned rooms with modern amenities including flat-screen TVs, safety deposit boxes, and private bathrooms with bidets and complimentary toiletries. Some rooms offer city views. Free WiFi, private parking, and a 24-hour front desk are available. Breakfast options include buffet, à la carte, and Asian dishes.

Affordable Luxury Hotel in Cholon – Windsor Plaza Hotel

Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City: 5 Best & Safest Neighborhoods -

Windsor Plaza Hotel offers affordable luxury in central Ho Chi Minh City’s Cholon District. With a rooftop pool and the award-winning Ngan Dinh Cantonese Restaurant, guests enjoy modern elegance and sweeping city views from air-conditioned rooms. Each room features a seating area and TV. Amenities include a fitness center, massage services, and a tour desk for day trips. The hotel also offers currency exchange and a business center. Positioned next to An Dong Shopping Centre, Windsor Plaza Hotel provides convenient access to shopping and dining options in Chinatown.

Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City for an Authentic Experience: District 3

Why Stay in District 3?

Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City: 5 Best & Safest Neighborhoods -

For travelers seeking an authentic and serene experience in Ho Chi Minh City, District 3 emerges as an ideal destination. Offering a vibrant tapestry of local life, District 3 provides a genuine glimpse into the city’s cultural fabric while maintaining proximity to major attractions. Unlike the bustling tourist hubs of District 1, District 3 exudes a more local charm, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in the rhythms of everyday life.

Wander through traditional markets like Tan Dinh Market and Ba Chieu Market, where the pulse of Saigon’s daily existence beats strong. Here, you’ll discover an array of local delicacies and authentic Vietnamese goods, perfect for souvenirs and culinary adventures alike.

While District 3 may not boast the fame of its neighboring district, its allure lies in its authenticity and accessibility. With easy access to District 1 and its renowned landmarks via short taxi or motorbike rides, District 3 offers the perfect balance of local immersion and urban exploration for a truly authentic Ho Chi Minh City experience.

Things to See and Do in District 3

  • Gain insight into Vietnam’s history at the War Remnants Museum, where you can see a different perspective of the war through poignant exhibits and artifacts.
  • Explore the vibrant culinary scene along Nguyen Thuong Hien street, renowned for its array of street food stalls offering authentic Vietnamese delicacies.
  • Take in the charm of District 3’s tree-lined streets and colonial-era architecture, providing a picturesque backdrop for leisurely walks and architectural appreciation.
  • Unwind amidst lush greenery at several parks and green spaces, including Tao Dan Park and Le Van Tam Park, offering serene environments for relaxation and outdoor activities.
  • Immerse yourself in cultural exploration by visiting historical sites like Vinh Nghiem Pagoda and the iconic Turtle Lake (Ho Con Rua), each offering unique glimpses into the district’s rich heritage.

What’s the Catch in District 3?

Despite its authentic charm, District 3 is not without its drawbacks. The district’s narrow roads often lead to frequent traffic congestion, particularly during rush hours. Travelers should plan their outings accordingly to avoid getting caught in these traffic jams. Opting to venture out or return home just before peak hours can help minimize the inconvenience of navigating through District 3’s bustling streets.

Where to Stay in District 3

Best Hostel in District 3 – The Like Hostel & Cafe

Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City: 5 Best & Safest Neighborhoods -

The Like Hostel & Cafe in District 3 offers a prime location just a 4-minute walk from Bui Vien Backpacker street and close to major attractions like Ben Thanh Market and the War Remnants Museum. Beds come with fully private curtains for added privacy. The hostel features a rooftop bar with free beer, included breakfast, free walking tours and family dinners twice a week, secure luggage storage, and a 24-hour reception with no curfew. Guests can enjoy amenities like big and safe lockers, book exchange, and a cozy rooftop and balcony space for socializing and relaxing.

Mid-Range & Family Friendly Hotel in District 3 – Celine Living – Central

Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City: 5 Best & Safest Neighborhoods -

Celine Living – Central, located in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 3, offers mid-range and family-friendly accommodations with a rooftop pool and washing machine. Close to the War Remnants Museum, the aparthotel provides easy access to attractions like Ben Thanh Street Food Market. Guests enjoy amenities such as free WiFi, private parking, and a 24-hour front desk. The air-conditioned units feature flat-screen TVs with streaming services, kitchens, and private bathrooms with bathrobes and slippers. Additionally, guests can relax in the garden.

Final Thoughts

Navigating the bustling streets of Ho Chi Minh City can feel like diving into a whirlwind of sights and sounds. With its vast array of attractions and vibrant neighborhoods, the city offers endless possibilities for exploration. If you’re still undecided on where to stay, consider Dong Khoi for its diverse offerings and central location. Meander Saigon stands out for budget travelers, while Au Lac Charner Hotel offers a touch of luxury with its superb amenities.

As you head on your Ho Chi Minh City adventure, remember that every corner holds a new discovery waiting to be uncovered. Have your own favorite spots in the city? Share them with us in the comments below, and let’s continue to uncover the hidden gems of this captivating destination!

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