Saigon's flashest hostel
Packed onto the busy street of Bui Vien in Saigon’s backpacker area of Pham Ngu Lao, Koniko Backpacker Hostel, also known as Binh An Hostel, is one of the only hostels in town not located down a narrow alley. With its low prices and overall cleanliness, you may not want to hunt the others down.
From the outside, Koniko looks bigger than most hotels on Bui Vien, as the hostel’s streetfront facade is wider than most of the narrow buildings on the street; otherwise not much else will jump out at you, as it’s just a plain, off-white structure with fairly large windows. The downstairs lobby is plain, a mostly empty, small, white room with a reception desk and two computers giving guests internet access.
Rooms come in two flavours — a 160,000 VND bed inside a 10-person air-con dorm room — male, female or mixed — or a 450,000 VND private room with a double bed. Either way, you will find a clean room with hardwood floors, a rarity for Saigon. Dorms are big, each with five white bunk beds packed together on each side of the room. Beds are close to each other, so you won’t find much space to squeeze in between them, but the rest of the room has plenty of empty space. Each bed has an accompanying locker and a single bathroom is shared between the guests. Bathrooms are surprisingly large but mostly empty.
Paying more for a private room affords you some luxuries compared to the dorms. You won’t have to share a bathroom with anyone else, you have control over the air-con and the double bed is much larger and more comfortable than the bunk bed single. You also get a TV and a mini-fridge. The private room has plenty of space and a large window looking out to the busy street below.
Like many buildings in the area, the hostel doesn’t have an elevator. While it’s obvious that people staying on the higher floors should prepare themselves for a climb, even guests staying at the bottom of the building will suffer as the included breakfast is served on the roof. Unlike the majority of hostels in the area, which are tucked away down generally quiet alleys, Koniko is dead centre on one of the busiest streets, with the most active nightlife in town. Although this could be great if you’re particularly interested in drinking beer in Pham Ngu Lao, if you need peace and quiet, quieter places exist.
As hostels in the city go, you won’t find a much cleaner dorm in Saigon, and while it may be noisier than others it is certainly easier to find. While the private rooms are clean and adequate, for the price you could do better elsewhere, especially if you can plan ahead.
With 60 dorm beds you should be able to walk off the street and get a bed. However, if you’re keen on a private room you probably should book in advance. If for some reason you can’t get a bed at Koniko, other options nearby include Saigon Backpackers Hostel and Phan Anh Backpackers Hostel, which are next door to each other at the end of Pham Ngu Lao — they have equally priced dorm beds and good reputations. If you’re in the market for a private room, head to somewhere like Vy Khnah Guesthouse or Ngoc Phan Guesthouse. If you’d prefer something a bit more luxurious, head to the Elios Hotel on Pham Ngu Lao.
By Max Murta
Last updated on 3rd February, 2016.