Our pick of the crop
If you’re wondering where to stay in Ho Chi Minh City, here is our selection of the best places. Read on too for our comparison of the key areas to stay, along with an overview of the best times to visit.
From family-run guesthouses to cheap-as-chips hostels, and from historic hotels to top-notch international five-star establishments, Ho Chi Minh City accommodates a range of budgets and styles of traveller.
Plenty of accommodation is available in Ho Chi Minh City, but the highest concentration of good places to stay are located in District 1, the city centre. Here lies the majority of historic sights, theatres, higher-end Vietnamese restaurants, cafes and nightlife. The entire city is entirely navigable by motorbike taxi, but staying in District 1 or the southeast side of District 3 is most convenient.
In Pham Ngu Lao
Dialling down in District 1, the backpacker neighbourhood of Pham Ngu Lao is where the bulk of budget travellers should head. The narrow alleyways running off the major streets like Pham Ngu Lao and Bui Vien are so densely packed with hostels that travellers who are flexible with their standards need not book a bed in advance. Most have air-con dorm rooms for US$6–8 whatever the time of the year. Try alleys 373, 283 and 241 Pham Ngu Lao to start. However, the better hostels and their respectable private rooms ($18–35) are popular so do book ahead to snag them.
Pham Ngu Lao can also be one of the best spots for a traveller with a roomier budget, as boutique hotels are now part of the scene. Once known for its basic guesthouses, Pham Ngu Lao is gentrifying. Several tour group hotels as well as upscale $50–100 hotels have appeared.
Here is where the French colonial past of Saigon melds with contemporary Ho Chi Minh City. The area is upscale, and staying in the downtown core requires less restrictive budgets, starting from excellent boutique hotels in the $30–70 range up to top-range city hotels, some modestly sized, others boasting more than 400 rooms.
Being so close to all the sights and nightlife has its perks. If you can’t manage the walk, then it is a quick taxi ride—the short distance means less time spent stuck in the city’s notoriously bad traffic.
Ho Chi Minh City has two temperatures: hot and hotter. For anyone unused to tropical climes, be prepared to sweat. Dry season runs from around December to April and this is the most popular time for foreign travellers to visit. The most civilised time (temperature wise) is December and January, great weather coinciding with peak busy time.
Rainy season (May to November) is the low tourist season, though there’s an uptick in July and August thanks to summer holidays, both for foreigners and the Vietnamese. Rainy season isn’t all doom and gloom—hotels drop their rates or offer attractive promotions, sights are quieter and tours/activities can be booked on the fly. Some parts of the city do see flooding but they can generally be easily avoided. Just be sure to build in some flexibility to your travel schedule, as you’ll have to pause during the predictable daily downpour.
Travelling from Point A to Point B in Vietnam is best avoided during Tet, the lunar new year. Transport options will be sold out and packed to the gills as the country undergoes a mass migration to go home or on holiday. Hotels will also be full and at premium rates. If you’ll be in Ho Chi Minh City or anywhere in Vietnam during Tet, it is prudent to book everything months in advance. Expect closures and less tour/activity availability as companies let staff take a holiday. See more about travel during Tet.
Down to specifics. Beginning with the backpacker budget range, we’d suggest Long Hostel for its family-style hospitality and excellent service, while Khoi Hostel on the same alley offers spacious dorms and solid bunks. Opened in early 2017, Cozy House 160 has flash dorms and even better modern private rooms.
Outside of the Pham Ngu Lao backpacker area, find flashpacker dorm rooms at a backpacker price with Chy Chy Saigon’s capsule beds topped with proper twin bed mattresses and hotel linens. It also has a rooftop terrace, and so does Della Boutique, which boasts spacious, swish dorms and private rooms with a location in the downtown core.
Moving to the mid-range, Duc Vuong offers more comforts and amenities that the average Bui Vien hotel (and it’s yet another hotel we mention that has a rooftop terrace with a great view). Stretch that budget a bit more for chic boutique hotel C-Central De Tham (or sister property C-Central Bui Vien), which are currently one of the best in Pham Ngu Lao.
Comfort, style, location and luxurious touches mean spending $100 or more, and for this price range visitors are spoiled for choice. To remain near Pham Ngu Lao and the $100 mark, Alagon D’antique Hotel & Spa makes an impression with its sumptuous old-world lobby, bright rooms and rooftop swimming pool. For true five-star luxury, you can’t go wrong with the Park Hyatt Saigon, a relatively low-rise building swathed in French colonial architectural details and a prime location in the historic centre. A more contemporary elegance can be experienced at Hotel Des Art Saigon MGallery. Yes, it too has a rooftop bar and pool, and a stunning one at that. Enjoy your stay!
Cindy Fan is a Canadian writer/photographer and author of So Many Miles, a website that chronicles the love of adventure, food and culture. After falling in love with sticky rice and Mekong sunsets, in 2011 she uprooted her life in Toronto to live la vida Laos. She’s travelled to over 40 countries and harbours a deep affection for Africa and Southeast Asia. In between jaunts around the world, she calls Laos and Vietnam home where you'll find her traipsing through rice paddies, standing beside broken-down buses and in villages laughing with the locals.
Our top 10 places to stay in and around Ho Chi Minh City