If you’re looking to experience the iconic hustle and bustle of a Vietnamese City; let me introduce you to Ho Chi Minh City. 

Just a generation ago, Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC, formerly Saigon) was in turmoil after it fell to North Vietnam in the Vietnam War. Today, it’s a vibrant city; rich with culture that you to dive headfirst into.

With a population of over 8 million people, Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam and is overflowing with art, history, mouth-watering cuisine, and nightlife. You won’t be short of things to do in this edgy city. 

However, due to its vast size, figuring out where to stay in Ho Chi Minh City can be a daunting task. The best area to stay will completely depend on YOU, your travel desires for your time in the city and of course, your budget. 

But never fear! I’m here to help. I’ve created this guide on the best areas to stay in Ho Chi Minh City – you’ll find they are categorised by interest/ budget and I’ve let you in on the best places to stay and things to do in each. You’ll be an expert on the areas of Ho Chi Minh City in no time.

So, lets get into it.

A person standing in front of Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum in Hanoi, Vietnam
Let me take you on an adventure through Ho Chi Minh.
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

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Where Is the Best Place to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City?

Backpacking Ho Chi Minh City is always an epic adventure – this bustling city has so much to offer. Each area in Ho Chi Minh City offers a slightly different type of magic. Deciding which area is best suited for you and where to stay within it is our mission today!

Not too fussed about which area you stay in? These are my highest recommendations for places to stay in Ho Chi Minh City.

Chez Mimosa Boutique Hotel | Best Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City

Chez Mimosa Boutique Hotel

The Chez Mimosa Boutique Hotel offers great value for money. They have a rooftop terrace where guests can enjoy a free drink at happy hour.

They also offer free laundry service and a Vietnamese foot soak! The staff are all very friendly and go out of their way to make sure guests are taken care of by offering recommendations for whatever you’re looking for. It’s the perfect option for where to stay in Ho Chi Minh City.

Vy Da Backpacker Hostel | Best Hostel in Ho Chi Minh City

Vy Da Backpacker Hostel

Vy Da Backpacker Hostel is not only one of the cheapest hostels in the city, it’s one of the best hostels in Ho Chi Minh City. At only $4 a night, this place comes with some crazy value for money. It’s not super close to Dong Khoi Street, but it is within walking distance of the Ben Thanh Market and other tourist attractions.

Creative Courtyard 3 Bedroom Apartment | Best Airbnb in Ho Chi Minh City

Creative Courtyard 3 Bedroom Apartment

Equipped with a kitchen and a living room to chill out in, this Airbnb is the perfect home away from home in Ho Chi Minh City. It’s ideal for families or long-term stayers who are after that extra sense of homely comforts that you don’t get in a hotel.

You’ll be in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City on Pasteur St and is the place to be if you want to enjoy Saigon, local style. However, you’ll have all the comforts of your own home in the apartment.

Ho Chi Minh City Neighbourhood Guide – Best Places to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City

FIRST TIME IN HO CHI MINH
A busy street full of lights in Saigon, Vietnam
FIRST TIME IN HO CHI MINH

Dong Khoi Street

Ho Chi Minh Distric 1 is the beating heart of Ho Chi Minh City, and Dong Khoi Street is the main historical area that has seen the biggest changes throughout the city’s past.

ON A BUDGET & NIGHTLIFE
A statue of Ho Chi Minh outside of a large colonial building in Saigon, Vietnam
ON A BUDGET & NIGHTLIFE

Pham Ngu Lao

Known as the “backpacker district,” Pham Ngu Lao is an area in Ho Chi Minh District 1 that attracts budget travelers thanks to the low prices for everything from food and drink to accommodation.

COOLEST PLACE TO STAY
A street food stall on a street in Vietnam with a fruit seller on a bike.
COOLEST PLACE TO STAY

Cholon

District 5 is more commonly known as Cholon and it’s Ho Chi Minh City’s Chinatown. Cholon literally means “big market” and it’s obvious why as soon as visitors arrive at Binh Tay Market, which is the largest market in the country.

FOR FAMILIES
A shanty town next the river in Saigon, Vietnam
FOR FAMILIES

Thao Dien

In the past, District 2 was one of the poorest areas in Ho Chi Minh City because the Saigon River separated it from District 1, but nowadays things are much different.

Ho Chi Minh City is a vast and eclectic city and is one of the best spots to visit when backpacking Vietnam. It’s got a huge variety of neighbourhoods, so make sure to pick the one that’s best for you.

Ho Chi Minh District 1 is the heart of HCMC. Established by the French Government in 1859 as the centre for government office buildings, this is the central commercial, cultural, and business hub.

You’ll find beautiful French architecture, busy markets, tree-lined boulevards, and cuisine from all around the world. With so many places to visit in Ho Chi Minh, this is a great area to base yourself on your first visit.

If you’re visiting Ho Chi Minh City on a budget or looking for a lively nightlife scene, then Pham Ngu Lao is the place to go. This area of Ho Chi Minh District 1 has been well-known in backpacker circles for years and is great for solo travellers in Vietnam.

Bordering the south end of District 1 is Ho Chi Minh District 5. Home to a massive Chinatown (known locally as “Cholon”), this area is a great way to escape colonial architecture and Western fast-food restaurants and truly feel like you’re in Asia.

Finally, District 2 is the best place to stay if you’re visiting Ho Chi Minh City with your family. It’s a mostly residential area and is also popular among expats.

Ho Chi Minh City’s Four Best Neighbourhoods to Stay in

Now, let’s check out each of these areas in more detail. I’ve included my top accommodation and activity picks in each, so you know exactly what to expect.

1. Dong Khoi Street – Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City for Your First Visit

District 1 is the beating heart of Ho Chi Minh City, and Dong Khoi Street is the main historical area. There is a PLETHORA of amazing things to do in Ho Chi Minh City all condensed into one small area, District 1.

Busy streets and circle K in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Saigon can be a lively place
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

During French colonial times, the street called Rue Catinat was a glamorous area. Then during the Vietnam War, it was called Tu Do which means “Freedom Street.” When Saigon fell to the North at the end of the War the street was renamed again to Dong Khoi which means “Total Revolution.”

Now, this street is the heart of the commercial life of Ho Chi Minh City and the perfect place to stay for first-time visitors to Vietnam. Here, you can admire the old colonial buildings, grab a coffee in a stylish cafe, shop for international brands and local boutiques, and dine in world-class restaurants.

Sheraton Saigon Hotel & Towers | Best Hotel in Dong Khoi Street Area

Sheraton Saigon Hotel & Towers

Sheraton Hotel & Towers is one of Ho Chi Minh City’s best luxury hotels. It’s equipped with an outdoor swimming pool, spa and fitness centre, and a whole lot more.

Sheraton boasts a great location; it’s close to the Ben Thanh Market and within walking distance of some popular tourist attractions like the Notre Dame Cathedral and Dong Khoi Street itself. If you’re looking for luxury, you’ll find it here, trust me. It’s easily one of the best hotels in the city.

Vy Da Backpacker Hostel | Best Hostel in Dong Khoi Street Area

Vy Da Backpacker Hostel

Vy Da Backpacker Hostel is not only one of the best value hostels in the city, it’s one of the best hostels in Vietnam (value-wise). At only $4 a night, this place comes with some crazy value for money. It’s not super close to Dong Khoi Street, but it is within walking distance of the Ben Thanh Market and other tourist attractions.

Creative Courtyard 3 Bedroom Apartment | Best Airbnb in Dong Khoi Street Area

Creative Courtyard 3 Bedroom Apartment

This funky little three-bedroom apartment is the ideal place for you to stay in the Dong Khoi Street Area. Equipped with a kitchen and a living room to chill out in, it’s the perfect home away from home in Ho Chi Minh City. Ideal for families or long-term stayers.

You’ll be in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City on Pasteur St – it’s the place to be if you want to enjoy Saigon, local style. However, you’ll have all the comforts of your own home in the apartment.

Things to See and Do in Dong Khoi Street Area

Blue Dien building, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
There are some impressive buildings here too
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short
  1. Send a letter or souvenir to friends and family from the iconic Saigon Central Post Office.
  2. Take an Insta-worthy photo of the incredible architecture of the City Hall building, formerly the Hotel de Ville.
  3. Admire the Notre Dame Cathedral’s stunning facade made from imported materials from France.
  4. Casually stroll through the 30-4 Park which takes its name from Vietnam’s Liberation Day, April 30th.
  5. Visit the Reunification Palace – a place frozen in time following the Vietnam War.
  6. See a different perspective of the War at the War Remnants Museum.
  7. Wander through the Ben Than Market trying cheap, delicious food and browsing the endless amount of things for sale.
  8. Head to the Bitexco Financial Tower to enjoy the sweeping views of the city centre from the Saigon Skydeck.
  9. Experience the perfect mix of local culture and theatre entertainment at the A O Show Bamboo Circus Show at Saigon Opera House
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2. Pham Ngu Lao – Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City on a Budget & for Nightlife

Known as the “backpacker district,” Pham Ngu Lao is an area in Ho Chi Minh District 1. It attracts budget travellers thanks to the low prices for everything from food and drinks to accommodation.

Pham Nhu Lao is a street that runs parallel to another street called Bui Vien. Between the two are a handful of small connecting alleyways full of spas, delicious restaurants, and plenty of hostels. It’s very reminiscent of Khao San Road in Bangkok.

City Hall in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Uncle Ho giving us a wave at the City Hall
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

This district of Ho Chi Minh City has a wide range of backpacker accommodation, and prices are quite competitive so it’s easy to negotiate a pretty good deal.

Pham Ngu Lao is also the best area of Ho Chi Minh City to visit for a lively nightlife scene. There are bars all along the street as well as restaurants with cuisine from all over the world. You’ll also find a high concentration of street food carts here. It’s the best area to stay in if you want to party and not spend a ton of money.

Chill Suites | Best Hotel in Pham Ngu Lao

Chill Suites

The Chill Suites offer clean and comfortable rooms complete with a desk and a TV. Each room also has a fridge and a sitting area.

The hotel is located in a popular area close to multiple restaurants and tourist sites. It’s one of the best hotels for those on a budget looking at where to stay in Ho Chi Minh City.

Chez Mimosa Boutique Hotel | Best Hotel in Pham Ngu Lao #2

Chez Mimosa Boutique Hotel

The Chez Mimosa Boutique Hotel offers great value for money. They boast a rooftop terrace where guests can enjoy a free drink at happy hour, as well as a Vietnamese foot soak. Rooms are elegantly decorated and free wifi is available throughout.

Bui Vien Street Hostel | Best Hostel in Pham Ngu Lao

Bui Vien Street Hostel

This hostel’s central location is what makes it so great. It’s right in the city centre, and close to the backpacker haven of Bui Vien Walking Street. Boasting a rooftop bar, free breakfast and super comfy dorm beds for as little as $7, this place is a steal.

Tropical Hideout Bathtub | Best Airbnb in Pham Ngu Lao

Tropical Hideout Bathtub

This is a super unique Airbnb in a stunning central location, just off Pham Ngu Lao Street. What’s unique about this place is the 100-inch projector with Spotify, Netflix and everything else you need. This Airbnb sleeps up to three guests and is perfect for couples or small families.

Things to See and Do in Pham Ngu Lao

Street food cart in Ho Chi Minh Vietnam
There’s always something going on in Saigon
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short
  1. Indulge in amazing yet cheap spa treatments like massages and pedicures.
  2. Grab an inexpensive Bia Hoi at one of the many bars lining the street.
  3. Delight your taste buds with the best bowl of Pho you’ve ever had at Pho 2000.
  4. Book your onward travel at one of the many budget travel agents.
  5. Join a Vintage Vespa Tour and explore Saigon on two wheels.
  6. Take a trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels and learn how the village protected itself during the War.
  7. Learn about Saigon’s troubled past at the Museum of Ho Chi Minh City.

3. Cholon (District 5) – Coolest Place to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City

District 5 is more commonly known as Cholon and it’s Ho Chi Minh City’s Chinatown. Cholon literally means “big market” – which is pretty apt as it’s home to Binh Tay Market, the largest market in the country.

Ethnic Chinese people have been settling in this area of Vietnam since 1778, and it has become a commercial centre for both locals and tourists since. They began selling Chinese products here, which is what led to the big market area it is today. During the war, it was a black market for American troops selling American Army issue supplies.

Street food fruit bike in Ho Chi Minh Vietnam
There are plenty of places to get food too
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

The Chinese influence in Cholon is very apparent in the many charming temples and pagodas scattered throughout the district.

The best part about this area is all the delicious Chinese food. You can find all kinds of Chinese and Vietnamese dishes at the food court inside the Binh Tay Market as well as outside. There are food vendors everywhere!

There aren’t very many hostels in District 5, I would recommend anyone looking to stay in a hostel to go elsewhere.

Windsor Plaza Hotel | Best Hotel in District 5

Windsor Plaza Hotel

The Windsor Plaza Hotel offers a luxurious stay at an affordable price. It’s located in the heart of Cholon District (Chinatown) and each room has large windows with incredible views of the city centre.

Guests can relax with a massage at the spa, work out at the fitness centre, or arrange a day trip at the tour desk.

Airy Apartment | Best Airbnb in District 5

Airy Apartment

Located nicely in the heart of Cholon is super host Happy’s Airy Apartment. I would recommend this Airbnb for its consistently good reviews, which I agree with.

Happy was such a nice host, he really made sure I was comfortable during my stay. The only downside is I was sharing the property with other guests, but if you’re lucky you could get it to yourself!

Things to See and Do in District 5

Street food cart in Ho Chi Minh Vietnam
Street food in Saigon is awesome
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short
  1. Wander through Binh Tay Market admiring all the things for sale.
  2. Visit Cha Tam Church to see where the first president of Vietnam – Ngo Dinh Diem – was arrested.
  3. Shop for fabrics, clothing, homewares, craft goods, handmade jewellery, and hand-carved woodwork at An Dong Market.
  4. Admire the ornate decorations on the walls of the Phuoc An Hoi Quan, a Chinese Taoist Temple.
  5. Take a street food evening walking tour.
  6. Light a stick of incense and admire the shrines at the Thien Hau Temple.
  7. Pray to the Goddess of Fertility at the Tam Son Hoi Quan Pagoda – a Buddhist temple.
  8. Take a traditional cyclo ride around the district to give your feet a rest.
  9. Slide down the waterslides at Dai The Gioi Waterpark.
  10. Reflect on life while enjoying the reflections in the pond at Quan Am Pagoda.
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4. Thao Dien – Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City with a Family

In the past, District 2 was one of the poorest areas in Ho Chi Minh City because the Saigon River separated it from District 1. Nowadays, things are much different.

Thao Dien in District 2 is a thriving area with high-rise apartment buildings and cute restaurants and cafes. It’s also a very popular area among expats.

Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
There’s a mixture of architecture in Saigon
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

Despite the cost of living in Vietnam being extremely cheap, this is NOT the cheapest area of the city. This is mainly because sadly, they’re aren’t many hostels in this area, so if you’re looking to stay in a hostel, check out another area.

Boasting the largest amount of healthy eateries in the entire city, visitors can also find plenty of health and fitness classes like yoga and pilates.

With the recent opening of the metro station in 2019, it’s also easier than ever to explore Ho Chi Minh City using District 2 as a base.

Villa Song Saigon | Best Hotel in District 2

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 by speed boat to the city centre. This is an ideal hotel for those wondering where to stay in Ho Chi Minh City.

Luxury Apartment with Front Balcony | Best Airbnb in District 2

Luxury Apartment with Front Balcony

Although it’s definitely not the cheapest place to stay in Vietnam, this luxury Airbnb is simply stunning. Featuring a balcony, and 53 other useful amenities such as a free washing machine and workspace, this place really has EVERYTHING. Located in the heart of District 2, if you can afford this place, it’s a no-brainer.

Things to See and Do in Thao Dien:

traffic in the streets of Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Traffic is an experience too
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short
  1. Sip a tasty cocktail or two along the banks of the Saigon River at one of these establishments: The Deck, Villa Song, or BoatHouse.
  2. Take a boat and dinner cruise down the Saigon River.
  3. Take in the impressive exhibitions on light, poetry, and philosophical questions at The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre.
  4. Improve your upper body strength by rock climbing at Saigon Outcast.
  5. Practice your dunking skills at Jump Arena Trampoline Park.
  6. Indulge in a spa treatment at Thao Dien Spa.
  7. Forget you’re in sweltering Southeast Asia by ice skating at Vincom Mega Mall.
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FAQs about Finding a Place to Stay in Ho Chi Minh

Here’s what people usually ask us about the areas of Ho Chi Minh and where to stay.

What To Pack For Ho Chi Minh City

Pants, socks, underwear, soap?! Take it from me, packing for a hostel stay is not always quite as straightforward as it seems. Working out what to bring and what to leave at home is an art I have perfected over many years.

Product
Description
Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!
Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!

Ear Plugs

Snoring dorm-mates can ruin your nights rest and seriously damage the hostel experience. This is why I always travel with a pack of decent ear plugs.

Keep your laundry organized and stink free
Keep your laundry organized and stink free

Hanging Laundry Bag

Trust us, this is an absolute game changer. Super compact, a hanging mesh laundry bag stops your dirty clothes from stinking, you don’t know how much you need one of these… so just get it, thank us later.

Stay Dry With a Micro Towel
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Sea To Summit Micro Towel

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Reduce Plastic – Bring a Water Bottle!

Grayl Geopress Water Bottle

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Check out my definitive Hotel Packing list for even more top packing tips!

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance for Ho Chi Minh City

Travel insurance in 2024 is a no-brainer. I always make sure I’m covered with good travel insurance before I travel, and I’ve never regretted it.

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

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Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City can be overwhelming – in a good or a not-so-good way, depending on what you’re into. This is a massive metropolis and has enough to keep you entertained for months.

You just need to find your little nook in the city that you want to call home during your stay (which hopefully I’ve helped you figure out).

If you’re still not sure where to stay in Ho Chi Minh City, I recommend checking out Dong Khoi. It’s got a bit of everything and offers a great insight into what this destination has to offer.

Vy Da Backpacker Hostel is my top pick for the best budget accommodation in Ho Chi Minh City. It features cosy furnishings that you absolutely cannot beat for the price. Located close to Ben Thanh Market and the Independence Palace, I’ll be in a great spot to explore.

For something more upmarket, the Chez Mimosa Boutique Hotel provides excellent accommodation with superb amenities. This boutique hotel will give you the sprinkle of luxury you didn’t know you needed in your life.

Have you been to Ho Chi Minh City and think I’ve missed something? Let us know in the comments below!

Looking for more info on travelling to Ho Chi Minh and Vietnam?
Man reclining on a bike in a Vietnam street.
Put your feet up and relax. The hard part’s done.
Photo: @joemiddlehurst

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