Location dictates the prices of hotels. PERIOD. So where should you stay in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC)?
Don’t stay at places near the airport or other districts.
The prices are not that much different most of the time when compared to those in the city. The savings in daily taxi fare will make it worth staying in District 1.
In addition, most taxi drivers are familiar with every street and hotels within District 1. If you stay outside district 1 half the time your taxi will have difficulties understanding which street you are heading to. This will add to the chances of you being ripped off by the taxi.
Furthermore, legit taxi are hard to come by outside of district 1.
Vietnamese lesson: Ben Thanh (sounds like Burn Ton in English). The local calls it Chợ Bến Thành, Chợ meaning market. Phạm Ngũ Lão (sounds like Farm Ngoo Lao) is the backpacker’s zone with plenty of budget hotels, bars, pubs, restaurants, etc. Phạm Ngũ Lão is the name of a general from the Tran Dynasty
In District 1 of Ho Chi Minh City, the most convenient place to stay will be the immediate area around Ben Thanh Market. The next best area will be Pham Ngu Lao (backpacker) area. These two locations have the most concentrated amount of convenient stores, money changer, shops, restaurants, etc.
Others when asked where should you stay in Ho Chi Minh City, may try to convince you to stay across the river in district 2, 4, or in district 3 or 5. Just say no. Maybe on your second or third trip you can try those after you get an idea how the city is like and get your orientation right.
For now, just stick with District 1.
Vietnamese Lesson: Hotel written in Vietnamese is khách sạn (“karc sunk”). Ben Thanh Market is written as Chợ Bến Thành (“jer burn ton”).
I have prepared a list of my most recommended hotels and they each has a link to online booking on Agoda.com.
Disclaimer: I am not associated with any of these hotels. I just stayed with them before and I had great experiences staying there. However, I do have an affiliate account with Agoda.com. I get a small commission for bookings made by guests who used my links to make bookings on Agoda.com. Agoda.com offers the best price for booking hotels online. Their prices are easily 30% cheaper than your local travel agents or other online booking websites.
1. Caravelle Saigon Hotel – 5 Star
Address: 19 Lam Sơn Square, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Where to stay in Ho Chi Minh City: Number 1 Choice
This hotel should be your number one choice when it comes to where you should stay in Ho Chi Minh City.
I stayed at this hotel a handful of times. It was clean, the room was large and has a view of the Opera House. If you are staying at the higher floors you get a great view of the city!
The ground floor bar is a superb getaway from the hot and busy city. I like to enjoy a ice cold beer before my check-in or before heading out. I can literally spend a couple of hours just observing the activities on the street.
The staffs were really friendly and speaks good English. The location is excellent! It is just beside the Opera House and beside the Dong Khoi street, right in the heart of HCMC.
On some occasions I got deals for just USD100 a night (without breakfast)! There’s free WiFi and its a high floor.
HOWEVER! It is always nearly fully booked on Agoda. So please book early!
2. New World Saigon Hotel – 5 Star
Address: 76 Lê Lai, Phường Bến Thành, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh 700000, Vietnam
Where to stay in Ho Chi Minh City: highly recommended
Or whenever my friends ask me about where to stay in Ho Chi Minh City when they are planning a fun trip with plenty of bars and restaurants nearby, this should be your choice.
To the north east are rows of restaurants, shops. To the west is a big park and there is a very popular bar – 17 Saloon that offers 2 floors of live music playing rock on the ground floor and pop music on the third.
Just beside the New World Saigon is the AB Tower. At the very roof top of this building is an awesome bar called Chill SkyBar. It offers a breathtaking view of HCMC night view.
The hotel is one of the older established hotels in HCMC, but its room recently got renovated and it is a huge improvement from what it used to be. And typical for a 5 star hotel is it has got a swimming pool!
Sometimes I managed to book a room for my folks at US$120! For a (old) 5-Star hotel, that’s a bargain! And it is also the nearest decent 5-star hotel in the Ben Thanh Market area.
For your information, former US President – Bill Clinton used to stay in this hotel when he visited Saigon!
You can get a huge discount from Agoda here.
3. Park Hyatt Saigon – 5 Star
Address: 2 Công Trường Lam Sơn, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Where to stay in Ho Chi Minh City: Most Luxurious
The Park Hyatt Saigon is the best hotel to stay in HCMC, period.
When some of my more affluent friends pay me a visit, they always choose this hotel. It is glittering and shiny inside out. It has everything that spells expensive. And it is expensive, and of course it is a Hyatt. Costing you no less than US$200.
Location wise, it is near ‘High Street’ of Saigon – Dong Coi. It is surrounded by high end shops and restaurants, but there are still affordable restaurants just across the street.
To the north east along Hai Ba Trung Street, hidden away in a alley are some fine restaurants and bars. To the south east just across the parking space is the Lion Restaurants which has a micro brewery facility serving freshly brewed beer and sausages.
There is also a good Chinese restaurant Hoàng Long that serves traditional Cantonese food and tim sum up till 3 am in the morning! A favourite hang out for people after going to the clubs. You can find really attractive ladies here late in the night!
The only gripe I have is that the area is dominated by Saigon Tourist taxi (operated by thuggish drivers).
4. Liberty Saigon Greenview – 2/3 Stars
Address: 187 Phạm Ngũ Lão, Phường Phạm Ngũ Lão, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Where to stay in Ho Chi Minh City: Best budget recommendation
Another great hotel with good location will be Liberty Saigon Greenview. Located in the backpacker district in Pham Ngu Lao.
The reason it is call Greenview is because you can see the huge park just across the street.
This is my choice of stay every single trip, if I do not have the budget for the bigger hotels. Why it is great?
First of all, for me, it is just beside Phuong Trang (Foong Chang) bus terminal. Our family always take their coach back to my wife’s home town in Ben Tre City. When I wrote beside, I mean really mean BESIDE! Not walk 50 meters turn right walk another 50 meters…. Phuong Trang bus goes to all parts of Vietnam. Air conditioned coach with great safety records. No sleepy bus drivers. No ego speeding drivers. Just good and safe.
Second, the rooms are slowly getting renovated and they are clean and spacious. Clean sheets are very important for my wife as she inspect them and make sure they are clean and new. We used to stay in local budget hotels and ever since she discovered the sheets were not changed from the previous guests, that was the end of our stay in local budget hotels.
Third, the staffs are really friendly. My wife likes the staffs. You can request them to buy you a bowl of hot Pho from around the corner and delivers to your room on a rainy Tuesday MIDNIGHT! Of course you need to tip them. I will talk more about how tipping will double your joy in Vietnam later on.
Fourth, the Pham Ngu Lao area is always busy with activities, noisy bars, music bars, English speaking shops and Xe OM, food, tour agents, pharmacies, art alley, convenient stores, rent a bike, SIM cards, photocopying, my… I live in this area for a while before returning home. I KNOW this place.
Again you can get fabulous discount from Agoda, most of the time I paid just US$30-40 per room!!! Some how I realised that Agoda also give superb discount for Liberty Group of Hotels. Most of the time it is 30-40% off.
5. A&EM hotels
Another great local hotel group will be A&EM hotels (Ah Em). Their locations are not too bad, quite comfy rooms, but some times the receptionists are not as friendly, or you may get a receptionist who cannot converse well in English.
Another problem is some times if you return late at night the receptionist and the “concierge” or bell boy are sleeping in the hallway. You will need to knock on the door to wake them up to open the main door for you. Now don’t you laugh, a lot of the local hotels are runned this way.
I have not tried Airbnb stay, yet, and the reason is that their prices are way more expensive that staying in a hotel and a lot of their locations are just lousy. In addition, having been lived in Vietnam’s residential estates, my number one concern is security.
You cannot sleep in peace without double checking all your windows are closed and secured, doors locked, double locked, latched, and the balcony’s drainage cleared of debris or otherwise you will wake up in a pool during rainy nights.