Where to stay in Ho Chi Minh City: 6 Safest areas & districts

I had lived in Ho Chi Minh City for a couple of years for work, and I had traveled back and forth many times. The last time I visited Ho Chi Minh City was with my partner. I understand that finding the right place to stay in Ho Chi Minh City for first-time visitors can be challenging. 

That’s why, in today’s article, I will share with you what I believe are the best areas to stay in Ho Chi Minh City for both first-time and repeat travelers (including a map), where I stayed in Ho Chi Minh City, and the best hotels for all budgets.

Before get into the detail of the main topic, let’s look at some facts about HCMC:

Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is Vietnam’s largest city and serves as the economic and cultural hub of the country. It is located in the southern part of Vietnam, along the Saigon River, and has a rich history and a vibrant contemporary culture.

HCMC was originally a Khmer settlement before being annexed by the Vietnamese in the 17th century. Under French colonial rule, it became French Indochina’s capital and was known as Saigon. After the Vietnam War, it was renamed Ho Chi Minh City in honor of Uncle Ho.

Must-see attractions in the city include the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica, Central Post Office, Independence Palace (Reunification Palace), War Remnants Museum, and Bitexco Financial Tower, which offers panoramic views of the city.

HCMC is the gateway to other attractions in southern Vietnam, such as the Mekong Delta. You can take a day trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels, a system of underground tunnels used by Việt Cộng in the war. You can crawl through some of the tunnels to experience what life was like for the soldiers.

It has a busy international airport (Tan Son Nhat Airport) that connects it to various domestic and international destinations. Motorbikes are a popular mode of transportation in the city, and there are also buses and taxis available.

Grab, similar to Uber, is my favorite app when traveling to Vietnam, allowing me to order food and vehicles with peace without bargaining over the price. There is no Uber in Vietnam.

The city has a tropical climate with two different seasons, a dry season (November to April) and a rainy season (May to October). It can be quite hot and humid during the rainy season.

HCMC is famous for its street food. Don’t miss dishes like pho, banh mi, com tam (broken rice), and fresh spring rolls. You can eat food at many street-side restaurants or markets like Ben Thanh.

Is Ho Chi Minh City safe to visit?

Yes, HCMC is generally a safe place to visit, with no more war and very low violent crime. But, like in any major city, there are petty thefts and scams, so be cautious with your belongings and exercise caution. Traffic in HCMC can be chaotic, so be careful when crossing the streets.

Where to stay in Ho Chi Minh City first time?

The best areas to stay in Ho Chi Minh City for tourists are District 1 (Nguyen Hue/ Ben Thanh/ Bui Vien), District 3, District 5 (Chinatown), and District 2 (Thao Dien). These are the most popular and safest neighborhoods in the city that offer a wide variety of accommodations for all budgets.

District 1, without a doubt, is the best area to stay in Ho Chi Minh City for first-time travelers. It is the heart of the city with the highest concentration of tourist attractions and amenities.

I will divide District 1 into three different parts: the area around Nguyen Hue & Dong Khoi Streets, Ben Thanh Market, and Pham Ngu Lao & Bui Vien streets.

The area around Nguyen Hue and Dong Khoi streets is the most luxurious part of the city where you can find many choices in 5-star accommodations. On other hand, the area Bui Vien and Pham Ngu Lao streets are catered for backpackers with lots of budget-friendly guesthouses and hostels.

The area around Ben Thanh Market, situated between the upscale Nguyen Hue and more affordable Bui Vien, appears to provide options for travelers on various budgets, including both luxury and budget choices.

Any hotel in District 1 works well for first-timers and those who want to be in the heart of the action. Just pick something that suits you.

District 3, especially Vo Thi Sau Ward, located right next to District 1, is also a great option for first-time visitors. This is because its location offers easy access to major attractions, cheaper accommodations, and a quieter and more local atmosphere.  

I wouldn’t recommend District 5/ Chinatown and District 2/ Thao Dien (expat area) for first-timers. You might consider visiting them during your trip or staying there on your next visit.

District 5 and District 2 have fewer choices in terms of accommodations. They also have only a few local attractions and are quite distant from major landmarks. You will need to travel to reach them, and Saigon’s hot weather and traffic may not be to your liking.

Take a note that HCMC is a noisy and busy city, so I recommend you bring ear plugs if you’re a light sleeper. Many hotels don’t have good soundproofing windows. Plus, Staying in central locations often comes with noise (from traffic, bars, and nightclubs).

During one of my trips to HCMC, I stayed at the Au Lac Charner Hotel. It was a great hotel in a central location, easy distance to various sights, restaurants and cafes. Just be mindful that there are several hotels in the city with the similar name, so be sure you have the right address.

Below is a map of the popular areas in Ho Chi Minh City for tourists. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the best areas to stay in Ho Chi Minh City for tourists
Map of the best areas to stay in Ho Chi Minh City for tourists

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Ho Chi Minh City, especially for first-time visitors. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in Ho Chi Minh City have been carefully selected by me, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

6 safest areas to stay in Ho Chi Minh City for first-timers & tourists:

1. Nguyen Hue and Dong Khoi area ( District 1)

The area around Nguyen Hue and Dong Khoi streets is one of the city’s most popular and vibrant areas for tourists. It is the heart of District 1, so you’ll be within walking distance to many major attractions, including the Opera House, Notre Dame Cathedral, Central Post Office, and Independence Palace.

This area is known for its high-end shopping options, with designer boutiques, upscale malls like Vincom Center, and local markets like Ben Thanh Market nearby. You can shop for fashion, jewelry, and souvenirs.

You’ll find a wide range of dining options, from street food vendors to fine-dining restaurants. The area offers international cuisine, Vietnamese dishes, and trendy cafes.

Nguyen Hue Walking Street, a pedestrian promenade, is a popular spot for strolling, people-watching, and enjoying street performances in the evenings. There are also theaters and live music venues for those interested in the arts and entertainment.

District 1, and particularly this area, has a lively nightlife scene with numerous bars, clubs, and rooftop lounges. It’s a great place to experience the city’s nightlife and socialize with locals and fellow travelers.

Nguyen Hue and Dong Khoi offer a range of accommodations, including luxury hotels, boutique hotels, and serviced apartments. It’s a suitable choice if you’re looking for a more upscale stay.

Nguyen Hue and Dong Khoi offer a dynamic and convenient base for tourists in Ho Chi Minh City. The central location, rich cultural experiences, shopping, dining, and entertainment options make it an attractive choice for travelers who want to be in the heart of the action and explore the city’s vibrant energy.

Best places to stay in Ho Chi Minh City in Nguyen Hue and Dong Khoi:

  • Luxury ($$$): Caravelle Saigon, great 5-star hotel, located in the very heart of district 1, a short walk from popular landmarks such as the Opera House, Notre Dame Cathedral, Nguyen Hue walking street, Dong Khoi Street, and Ben Thanh Market. Also close to Vincom Center and at Saigon Center shopping complex.
  • Luxury ($$$): The Myst Dong Khoi, popular 5-star hotel, set in the middle of the city center, an easy walk from the Opera House and Ho Chi Minh City Hall.
  • Budget ($): Icon Saigon – LifeStyle Design Hotel, this 4-star fabulous hotel, central location, close to Saigon Opera House, Union Square Saigon Shopping Mall and Ho Chi Minh City Hall.

2. Ben Thanh Market area (District 1)

The Ben Thanh Market area is an exciting and convenient place to stay in Ho Chi Minh City, especially if you want to be at the heart of the city’s bustling street life, shopping, and street food scene.

As the name suggests, this area is centered around Ben Thanh Market, one of the city’s most famous landmarks. Staying here means you’ll have the market right at your doorstep, making it easy to explore the market’s vibrant atmosphere, shop for souvenirs, and sample local street food.

The streets around Ben Thanh Market are known for their delicious street food. You can try local specialties like pho, banh mi, spring rolls, and fresh fruit smoothies from street vendors and small eateries.

Ben Thanh Market stays open late into the evening, and the area transforms into a vibrant night market. You can shop for souvenirs and enjoy the lively atmosphere after dark.

The neighborhood is rich in culture and history. You can explore the historic Ben Thanh Market, visit nearby temples like Mariamman Hindu Temple, and walk to attractions like the Reunification Palace and War Remnants Museum.

You’ll find a range of accommodation options in this area, from budget-friendly guesthouses to mid-range and luxury hotels. 

Best places to stay in Ho Chi Minh City in Ben Thanh Market area:

  • Luxury ($$$): Fusion Original Saigon Centre, popular 5-star hotel, centrally located, close to Takashimaya Vietnam, Vincom Shopping Center and Ho Chi Minh City Hall.
  • Mid-range ($$): Silverland Yen Hotel, great 4-star hotel, located on Thu Khoa Huan St, a short walk from iconic Ben Thanh Market, Museum of Ho Chi Minh City, Reunification Palace and Fine Arts Museum.
  • Budget ($): The Akoya Saigon Hotel, 3-star accommodation, offering airport shuttle service, easy walk from Ben Thanh Street Food Market, Takashimaya Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City Museum, and Union Square Saigon Shopping Mall.

3. Pham Ngu Lao and Bui Vien area (District 1)

The area around Pham Ngu Lao and Bui Vien Streets is known as the city’s backpacker district. It’s a lively and popular neighborhood among budget travelers and backpackers.  

This area offers a wide range of budget-friendly accommodations, including hostels, guesthouses, and inexpensive hotels. It’s an ideal choice for travelers on a tight budget.

Pham Ngu Lao and Bui Vien are known for their vibrant and backpacker-friendly atmosphere. The streets are lined with backpacker hostels, bars, restaurants, and street food stalls. It’s a social hub where travelers from around the world come together to share stories and experiences.

The area comes alive at night, with numerous bars and clubs offering cheap drinks and live music. It’s one of the city’s primary nightlife districts, and it’s a great place to enjoy a night out.

You’ll find plenty of street food vendors offering Vietnamese dishes at affordable prices. Try local favorites like pho, banh mi, and fresh spring rolls.

Despite its budget-friendly reputation, Pham Ngu Lao is conveniently located near popular attractions in District 1. You can easily walk or take a short taxi ride to places like Ben Thanh Market, the War Remnants Museum, and the Reunification Palace.

The area is filled with travel agencies, tour operators, and shops where you can book tours, bus tickets, and other travel services. It’s a hub for planning excursions to nearby destinations.

It’s important to note that the Pham Ngu Lao and Bui Vien area can get quite noisy and crowded, especially in the evenings. If you prefer a quieter environment, this may not be the best choice for you.

Best places to stay in Ho Chi Minh City in Pham Ngu Lao and Bui Vien area:

  • Luxury ($$$): Pullman Saigon Centre, this is a 5-star hotel, located within walking distance from the Bui Vien area, on Tran Hung Dao Street. Also close to Saigon River, Reunification Palace, Opera House and Notre Dame Cathedral.
  • Mid-range ($$): Sunny Guesthouse , great guest house, located just a few steps from Bui Vien Walking Street and 23/9 Park, a short distance from Ben Thanh Market, Tao Dan Park, and Fine Arts Museum. It has motorbike rental services.
  • Budget ($): Jan Hostel Central Point, popular good value for money backpacker accommodation, centrally located, close to Takashimaya Vietnam, Ben Thanh Market and Tao Dan Park.

4. District 3

District 3 is a great area for travelers looking for an authentic and peaceful experience in Ho Chi Minh City while still having easy access to the city’s main attractions. It is a diverse and vibrant area that offers a more local and less touristy experience compared to District 1.  

Staying in District 3 allows you to immerse yourself in the daily life of locals. You’ll find traditional markets, local eateries, and a genuine Vietnamese neighborhood vibe.

District 3 is home to several local markets, including Tan Dinh Market and Ba Chieu Market. These markets offer a glimpse into everyday life in Saigon and are great places to shop for souvenirs and local products.

Nguyen Thuong Hien street is a popular place for foodies in district 3. It is lined with street food stalls and vendors selling a variety of Vietnamese food.

While not as famous as some of the attractions in District 1, District 3 has its own charm. You can visit historical sites like the War Remnants Museum, Vinh Nghiem Pagoda, and the Turtle Lake (Ho Con Rua). The district also has beautiful tree-lined streets and colonial-era architecture. 

You can easily reach District 1 and its landmarks by a short taxi or motorbike ride.

Best places to stay in Ho Chi Minh City in District 3:

  • Luxury ($$$): Mai House Saigon Hotel, 5-star good value for money hotel, located in Vo Thi Sau Ward, District 3, central location, easy access to War Remnants Museum, Reunification Palace and Diamond Plaza.
  • Mid-range ($$): Citadines Regency Saigon, 4-star hotel conveniently located in the vicinity of foreign embassies in District 1, short distance from the Notre Dame Cathedral, Central Post Office, and Saigon Square 3 – Hai Ba Trung.
  • Budget ($): Leaf Signature Hotel – Lá Group, 3-star hotel in district 3 of HCMC, short distance from Tan Dinh Market and many major tourist attractions.

5. District 5 (Cholon/ Chinatown)

District 5, also known as Cho Lon, is Ho Chi Minh City’s Chinatown. It’s a culturally rich and historically significant district that offers a unique experience for tourists.  

District 5 is the heart of the city’s Chinese community, and it’s steeped in history and culture. You’ll find temples, pagodas, and Chinese-style architecture throughout the district. The most famous temple is the Jade Emperor Pagoda (Chua Ngoc Hoang), a must-visit attraction.

District 5 is renowned for its Chinese and Vietnamese-Chinese cuisine. You can enjoy delicious dim sum, Chinese-style noodles, and a variety of street food stalls offering traditional dishes. It’s a food lover’s paradise.

The district is known for its bustling markets, including Binh Tay Market, which is the central market in Cho Lon. Here, you can shop for a wide range of goods, from fresh produce and herbs to textiles, traditional Chinese medicines, and souvenirs.

If your visit coincides with Chinese festivals like the Lunar New Year (Tet) or the Mid-Autumn Festival, you’ll have the opportunity to witness colorful celebrations and parades in the district.

In addition to the Jade Emperor Pagoda, District 5 is home to Quan Am Pagoda and the Assembly Hall of the Cantonese Congregation, showcasing the rich history and architectural heritage of the area.

Staying in District 5 allows you to interact with the local Chinese-Vietnamese community and learn about their traditions and way of life. The locals are known for their hospitality and friendliness.

If you stay in district 5, you can use Grab to travel to district 1 to see attractions. Or if you are a first-time visitor, maybe just stay in district 1, and make a visit to district 5.

Best places to stay in Ho Chi Minh City in District 5 (Cholon/ Chinatown):

  • Luxury ($$$): Windsor Plaza Hotel, 5-star hotel, conveniently located in district 5, next to An Dong Shopping Centre, featuring a rooftop swimming pool and a Cantonese Restaurant.
  • Mid-range ($$): Zazz Urban Ho Chi Minh, 4-star hotel, offers parking, restaurant, and a 24-hour front desk.
  • Budget ($): 700 FORTUNE, 2-star accommodation, within walking distance from the markets and restaurants.

6. District 2 (Thao Dien)

District 2, particularly the Thao Dien area, has become a popular residential and expatriate hub in Ho Chi Minh City. It offers a different atmosphere compared to the bustling city center. It is best suited for those who prefer a quieter and more upscale living environment or are planning an extended stay in HCMC.

Compared to the city center, Thao Dien is quieter and more suburban. It’s an ideal choice if you want to escape the noise and congestion of District 1. The district is also known for its green spaces and parks.

Thao Dien offers a more upscale living environment with modern apartments, villas, and gated communities. It’s a great option if you’re looking for a more comfortable long-term stay.

Thao Dien has a vibrant dining scene with numerous international restaurants, cafes, and bars. You can find a wide range of cuisines, from Western to Asian, and enjoy dining along the scenic Saigon River. Additionally, there are shopping centers like Thao Dien Pearl Plaza for your retail needs.

Some accommodations in Thao Dien offer beautiful views of the Saigon River. Staying near the river can provide a serene and picturesque setting.

While District 2 is a bit farther from the city center, it’s still accessible by taxi or ride-sharing services. The commute to District 1 takes around 15-20 minutes, depending on traffic conditions.

While Thao Dien is primarily a residential area, it’s not far from cultural attractions like the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens, which can be a nice escape from the urban environment.

Best places to stay in Ho Chi Minh City in District 2 (Thao Dien):


In conclusion, District 1, District 3, District 5 (Cholon/Chinatown), and District 2 (Thao Dien) are the best places to stay in Ho Chi Minh City for tourists, both first-time and returning travelers. They are also the safest districts in the city, offering easy access to tourist attractions and amenities.

You can continue reading other popular tourist destinations in Vietnam in these articles:

There you have it, my recommendations for the popular areas and neighborhoods that you can stay during your first trip to Ho Chi Minh City. I hope you enjoyed my article and find it both informative and helpful.

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality content.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

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