Before the new crop of hostels in Saigon emerged, the best deals for a bed in the city were found at guesthouses. While guesthouses may no longer be the cheapest places to sleep in HCMC, they still offer some of the best bang for your lodging buck. If you value your privacy and want to stay somewhere up a notch from a hostel, here are a few family-run guesthouses worth hunting down.
In the heart of Saigon’s backpacker district of Pham Ngu Lao, Ngoc Phan Guesthouse may have one of the most convenient guesthouse locations. Right in the middle of all the action, an easy walk to the Ben Thanh market and other key Saigon sights, the guesthouse actually sits off the road, down a small alley, making street noise less of a problem. Ngoc Phan has two kinds of rooms, a 360,000 VND standard and a 600,000 VND family room. Both have a ton of space and the standard amenities, including TV, air-con and WiFi but family rooms can sleep four plus they have a small balcony. You’ll find the family rooms on the top floors but the lack of an elevator, common for guesthouses, means you’ll have to hike.
While the rooms are fine, a top reason to stay at Ngoc Phan is to stay with the Phans, a friendly family who will treat you like you’re a member whether by giving you advice, cooking you food or just chatting in their living room. The biggest problem? There are only six rooms, so plan in advance.
Formerly known as Long Guesthouse, Long Hostel, located behind a market down a narrow alley at the far end of Pham Ngu Lao, is still one of the city’s best spots to spend the night. Long Hostel isn’t much of a hostel, with just the top floor home to a dorm with just five single beds. But as well, Long offers two types of rooms, 350,000 VND doubles and triples for 500,000 VND, with breakfast included.
Both rooms have the basics — private bathroom, air-con and TV — but the doubles have no windows. As with Ngoc Phan, the reason to stay here is the hospitality. The Longs treat you like family, offering a crash course on the city when you arrive. One of the bigger guesthouses in the area, Long’s reputation keeps it consistently full, so again, booking in advance here is recommended.
A little outside the backpacker district, on a small alley packed with guesthouses between Co Bac and Co Giang, California Guesthouse offers the same homely experience in a quieter environment, away from the street vendors and late night parties. Bigger than your average Saigon guesthouse, California has plenty of rooms divided between its two adjacent buildings but still doesn’t lose its homestay feel. Rooms have modern amenities, like TV, air-con and private, albeit narrow, bathrooms. Staying also gives you access to a fully equipped kitchen, where you can store and cook your own food, if you want to give the street food a rest. Check out the rooftop garden as well, from which you can enjoy the view of the surrounding area. Your stay outside of the more popular area in town will save you a bit of cash, as rooms start at 260,000 VND a night including breakfast, but it’s harder to book at California due to them having no online presence — email or call in advance.
Ngoc Phan Guesthouse
35/12 Bui Vien, District 1
T: (09) 0367 0293
Check rates & availability at Ngoc Phan.
373/10 Pham Ngu Lao, District 1
T: (08) 3836 0184
Check rates & availability at Long Hostel.
171A Co Bac, District 1
T: (08) 3837 8885
By Max Murta
Last updated on 16th December, 2014.