Choosing your neighbourhood in Ho Chi Minh City
Choosing your neighbourhood may not be an easy task, especially if you are a newcomer to Ho Chi Minh City. While Ho Chi Minh City is a relatively cheap city, some neighbourhoods might be more expensive than others but offer a different vibe and lifestyle.
This area is centrally located and is home to most of Saigon’s most popular attractions. It never fails for showing the real side of Ho Chi Minh City. It is a wonderfully symbiotic blend of old and new; among the towering skyscrapers also lie traditional markets, classic cafes and an abundance of street food stalls. The rent in the area is not the cheapest, but there are definitely affordable options. Many newbie expats find themselves wandering down they alleys of 18A and 18B on Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street as it is a guaranteed place to find an apartment as the landlords are continuously looking for new tenants. These alleyway studios and one-bedrooms are generally a bit on the more affordable side. Most places range in price of $250 to $450 per month. Not too shabby for a central location, that’s for sure!
Located a bit outside of the city centre, this expat haven is a popular choice among families and young professionals wanting a taste of home. The district is separated by two neighbourhoods: Thao Dien and An Phu. The area is quieter than neighbouring Binh Thanh and District 1, and yet there’s hardly a shortage of things to do in town. The streets of District 2, namely the Thao Dien part of the district, are lined with Instagram-worthy cafes and restaurants, Western-style storefronts and several import grocery stores. Since a sizeable portion of individuals living in District 2 are foreigners, the rent is higher than in other parts of the town. Larger families can either purchase or rent sizeable villas; a more common option is to rent within one of the neighbourhood’s luxury apartment buildings. For those interested, the favoured buildings in Thao Dien and An Phu are The Ascent, The Masteri, Estella Heights, Tropic Garden and The Vista. Rent prices range from $400 to more than $2,000 per month in the area, and all of the luxury buildings will include gym and pool access with the rental fee.
Known as Saigon’s ‘business district,’ District 3 offers similar amenities and vibes as District 1, which makes sense as they border one another. The area is a mixture of old and new and is a popular choice among young professionals and couples. Here, expats can find plenty of street food and Vietnamese restaurants, but also enjoy a few sundown cocktails atop some of the city’s most beautiful, towering hotel rooftops. Some examples are Shri, Saigon Social Club and Novotel, which all offer competitive happy hour deals each night.
Of all the neighbourhoods in Ho Chi Minh City, District 4 is probably the one changing the most. This ever-evolving ‘hood was once a hotspot for Saigon’s mafia members and wasn’t typically somewhere expats would choose to rent a property. However, given its proximity to the business district and District 7, this neighbourhood is undergoing lots of renovation to appeal to both foreigners and locals looking for a change of pace. While the neighbourhood is still quite traditional, quite a few high-end apartment buildings are being constructed, and these are similar to the compounds found in District 2 and District 7. Some popular choices are Rivergate Residence, The Orient Apartment Building, Galaxy 9 and Icon 56. Most of these are located along the Saigon river. However, it is almost guaranteed there will be construction nearby given the dramatic modernisation taking place in the area. The rent in District 4 ranges anywhere from $300 to $1,000 per month for an apartment with Western amenities. Just like District 2, these larger buildings will include gym and pool access.
Of all the neighbourhoods on this list, this has to be the most residential. District 7, particularly the Phu My Hung area, is a haven for families seeking quiet streets, large sidewalks and less air pollution. Although this tranquil part of town is seemingly undisturbed by the chaos of Saigon, it’s quite secluded from the rest. Many expats who choose to live in this neighbourhood do so because they also work within District 7. It is rare that people living here would take the long commute into the city to and from work each day. One interesting fact about District 7 is that it’s home to the city’s best Korean restaurants – many of the expats here are Korean families!
Expats who are seeking cheaper options, ideally those travelling solo, and wanting to move into a share-house should look into the following neighbourhoods: Phu Nhuan, District 5 and Binh Thanh. Each of these neighbourhoods has its unique vibes and flair, but they’re all a bit more on the local side. As long as expats don’t mind wandering through narrow hems, roosters waking them up each morning and nightly karaoke jams, these choices are certainly more budget-friendly.