Friendly and family run
35/12 Bui Vien, District 1 T: (09) 0367 0293
A short walk down an alley off of Bui Vien, in the middle of Saigon’s Pham Ngu Lao backpacker area, few spots in the city could offer a more convenient location than what you’ll find at Ngoc Phan Guesthouse, a six-room flashpacker operation with great friendly service.
Saying a guesthouse is down an alley in HCMC can mean that you’re in for a long walk down a dark, narrow passage; this isn’t the case at Ngoc Phan where the alley is almost wide enough for a car and well lit. Even though the guesthouse is only 50 or so metres off a very busy street the distance keeps the noise to a minimum; the quiet is also surprising considering you’re only a stone’s throw from some big clubs with active nightlife.
Choose between a 360,000 VND standard and a 600,000 VND family room. Standards come with a double or twin beds; rooms are the same size and have the same amenities, including a television, WiFi, air-con and a private bathroom. In a family room things are basically the same except you will get one double and two single beds, as well as access to a skinny balcony that overlooks the alley below.
The only downside to the family rooms is that they occupy the top floors of the building and, with no elevator inside, can be a hike to get to. Compared with other guesthouses in the immediate area, the rooms are particularly clean and actually quite spacious and it isn’t just because there isn’t much furniture inside. The best part about Ngco Phan’s rooms are its bathrooms where, unlike the majority of hotels in Saigon, the shower is sectioned off behind glass doors, which means that when you shower you don’t make the rest of the bathroom wet. Plus, even with the glassed off-shower, the bathrooms are big enough to give some breathing room.
Like the other handful of highly-rated guesthouses in Saigon, the thing that sets Ngoc Phan Guesthouse apart is the service provided by the Phan family. You really feel like you’re a guest in their actual home and they are eager to help you with recommendations, give you directions or to just talk your ear off. The family style of the guesthouse is best displayed at breakfast, which is a decent one cooked in their big kitchen downstairs and served in the downstairs family room. The family room downstairs is actually another selling point for Ngoc Phan because it is actually big enough to lounge around in. There isn’t much going on down there, just a couple of couches, computers and a TV, but the space makes room for multiple guests to occupy the same room; if you’re traveling solo you might meet a fellow guest.
Ngoc Phan is about as good as they come in Saigon but because it only has six rooms and such a fine reputation, it’s hard to walk in off the street and grab a room. Instead of winging it, try booking online to save yourself the hassle. If you can’t get a room a few nearby guesthouses offer close to same quality. Try Ly Loan, a nearby location that may be slightly more cramped, or Long Hostel, which is a little further away but has more rooms. Outside the backpacker area, California Guesthouse on Co Bac is also worth a look. If you want something cheaper, give Saigon Backpackers Hostel a go or for a step up in quality check out An An Hotel or Elios Hotel.
By Max Murta
Last updated on 17th June, 2014.