Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City: Best Areas & Hotels
Ho Chi Minh City is Vietnam's biggest city, with a metropolitan population exceeding 10 million people. The central part of the city, made up of 19 districts, is still referred to by locals as Saigon. Most tourist attractions and places of interest are in District 1, in the heart of the city. This is also considered the central business district and is home to many corporate offices and embassies. Keep in mind District 1 is quite large and an address within it does not mean you can walk to all the tourist sites. Transportation is cheap and easy via bus, taxi, or scooter, but traffic can be quite congested, sometimes making travel times long for even short distances.
Where to Stay for Luxury
The InterContinental Saigon Hotel is a high-rise luxury hotel in the core of District 1. It's located right next to one of the city's must-see sites, the Notre-Dame Cathedral, constructed entirely from materials imported from France. There's a small shopping mall inside the hotel (with a food court) and even a branch of the Hard Rock Cafe. Rooms are large and well-appointed with all the usual luxury amenities. The InterContinental has a second tower, called the InterContinental Residences Saigon, which also offers hotel rooms. It's an apartment building, so the units are quite large, with full kitchens. Prices are about 25 percent higher than the room prices in the hotel building.
The Reverie Saigon is Vietnam's only member of The Leading Hotels of the World group of luxury hotels. The opulent property takes up the top floors of the city's iconic Times Square building in District 1. The Italian style of the hotel is bold and almost over the top (think Vietnamese Versace), but the rooms are like showrooms of the best in Italian design. About 19 different top Italian suppliers are used, an example being leather couches made by the company that supplies Ferrari for its car interiors. Each of the hotel's sumptuous suites highlights the products of a different Italian firm. There's a large and luxurious spa, which includes several pools and a fitness center. Like the InterContinental, The Reverie also has apartments, The Reverie Residence, and these larger units can be rented as hotel rooms.
Where to Stay: Mid-Range
The Pullman Saigon City Centre delivers a rather luxurious experience at a mid-range price. The hotel (part of the giant Accor hotel company) is close to the vast Ben Thanh Market, a mandatory sightseeing stop for Saigon visitors. Inside the large, modern rooms, there are luxury amenities like a rain shower and a 40-inch flat-screen HDTV that mirrors your phone or tablet. You also get free high-speed Wi-Fi, a large outdoor pool, and a nice-sized gym. The hotel also boasts a full spa with a range of massages and beauty treatments. Although the hotel is in District 1, museums and other sightseeing require a car or other transportation.
The Rex Hotel is one of Saigon's historic Art Deco hotels, built in 1927 at the height of the French Colonial period. The hotel is most famous as the site of the American military command (and its daily press briefings) during the war between the two countries. Now run by the state tourism agency, The Rex is a decent, mid-range option in a great location at the very core of District 1. The rooms are modern but can be a bit sparse. There are two restaurants: one serves delicious, authentic Vietnamese food, the other presents a dinner show experience (think Vietnamese luau) with dancers and singers. On the roof are two swimming pools and a cafe, with sweeping views of the city. There's a full fitness center and even a tennis court.
If you're looking for something modern and contemporary, the Fusion Suites Saigon is a great choice. The all-suite property focuses on wellness, separating it from most bland mid-range options. Products, food, and even the construction materials are all chosen carefully for their benefit to guests and their impact on the environment. There's a very nice spa with a range of healing treatments. Foodies and vegans will enjoy the hotel's restaurant (with a take-away area) and a rooftop cafe, both serving extremely healthy, fresh local fare. The hotel has 71 suites. Try to get one of the 18 corner suites with two walls of windows. The hotel is very close to the Ben Thanh Market and a ten-minute ride away from attractions like the War Remnants Museum and the 19th-century Central Post Office.
With mid-range pricing yet luxury amenities, accommodations, and service, the Hotel Nikko Saigon is always a good choice. The Japanese hotel exudes the brand's typical contemporary style, focused guest service, and luxury. Rooms, some can be small, are all beautifully designed, with high quality materials and finishes, making it feel like a much more expensive hotel. Dining options include a French brasserie, a casual Chinese cafe, and a lobby lounge. The Nikko is connected to the city's NowZone Fashion Mall, which has stores from most luxury brands. When it's time to relax, work out, or be pampered, there's a spa, fitness center, and an outdoor swimming pool.
Where to Stay on a Budget
The Hotel Equatorial Ho Chi Minh City is typical of the many corporate, budget hotels located throughout the city. The Equatorial is centrally located in District 1, near the historic Saigon Post Office. Rooms have air conditioning, a safe, and a large HDTV. For that budget price, you also get a nice outdoor pool (with a separate kiddie pool), an Equinox Fitness Center with a sauna and jacuzzi tub, and free Wi-Fi. This budget hotel also has several dining options: a popular seafood restaurant, an all-day cafe, and a lobby lounge.
An interesting budget choice is the Alcove Library Hotel, which, obviously, is perfect for avid readers. The boutique hotel really is a library, with walls of books in the pubic spaces. Guests are encouraged to take the books to their rooms to read during their stay. Rooms are basic, but very stylish and modern with nice touches like a rain shower, free bottled water and snacks, and a satellite TV with HBO and Cinemax. Wi-Fi and breakfast are included, adding to the value. The hotel is in the Phu Nhuan district, in the geographic center of Saigon, but requiring a car or bus to get to the tourist attractions in District 1 a few miles away.
Hotel L'Odeon is a small, inexpensive hotel with a caring, helpful staff and clean rooms. You get free breakfast and free in-room Wi-Fi. Try to get a room with a balcony; the outdoor space is large and there's a comfortable seating area out there too. The hotel is in District 7, known as Phu My Hung, and requires a 20-minute ride into District 1. Travelers should always remember that Saigon traffic can be horrendous and a 20-minute ride could take two hours. The area is suburban, and the hotel is next to a park and a ten-minute walk from a golf course and a lake with a lakeside recreation area.
Where to Stay for Families
The Sherwood Residence is in District 3 but offers large, spacious apartment units, with full kitchens and washer/dryers. These are great for families traveling together and cost about the same as a small hotel room in central Saigon. There are one-, two- and even three-bedroom apartments available. The hotel has a free shuttle to five different stops in District 1, leaving every hour. Kids will love the large pool and the large game room. Parents will love that breakfast is included.
Where to Stay for Romance
The Hotel Des Arts Mgallery introduces the concept of the hotel as an art gallery, and it's perfect for romantic getaways. The public spaces and guest rooms are filled with impressive art pieces, and the overall design is high Art Deco. The rooms and suites have custom-crafted furniture and also represent beautiful Art Deco style with Vietnamese influences. The hotel offers a Romantic Getaway Package that includes round-trip airport transfers in their luxury BMW, a couples massage, a dozen roses and chocolate cake on arrival, breakfast in bed, and a late check-out. The location is also ideal, about a block from the Notre-Dame Cathedral.