How to Rent A Cheap Room in Saigon?

By: City Pass Guide

What if I told you that, with a couple of top tips, you could rent a great room in Saigon for $150 US per month all inclusive?

Maybe you wouldn’t believe me. Right? You’re shaking your head right now. But with my 3 million per month accommodation slap bang in the center of District 1, complete with private bathroom, TV, air conditioner, fridge and a nice big window, I am living proof that my claim is absolutely legitimate. The question is, how?

Renting in Ho Chi Minh City is like leaping into a jungle. The possibilities are almost endless, but unless you know exactly what you’re looking for and how to find it, chances are you’ll never get past those first, very obvious obstacles.

I’m talking about the share-houses on the first few pages of Expatblog and Craigslist, the agent who inboxes you as soon as you post on the Ho Chi Minh City Facebook page, or that room your colleague told you about that used to house your other colleague and is in a house with four other colleagues. I mean those options that slap you in the face, almost before you get a chance to breath the Saigon air and hint that you’re looking to rent!

The reality is that the best deals in Ho Chi Minh City often require a bit of digging. But how do you start?

Top Tip 1: Know your Goals

If you’re honest with yourself you know the kind of place you’d be happy to live in, the kind of budget you can afford and the kind of area you’d like to call your neighbourhood. So write it all down.

Too many people come to Saigon and sort of want to rent a room, sort of don’t really know how or what, and sort of just end up somewhere… They don’t take the time to consider what it is they actually want! And they tend to settle, rather than fix a clear goal in their head and aim for it.

And then there’s the question of money. People usually think about their budget first, but it’s actually better to put it last. You can mold a budget to a dream, but if you mold a dream to a budget you’re bound to be dissatisfied! Line up a list of the things you need in a home, be brutally honest, and then figure out if you can pay for them. Prioritize things, cut some non-essential features out, and figure out your budget based on your requirements.

To start this whole process, ask yourself these questions:

Do I like people? Sounds strange, but if like me you are a bit of a hermit, a quiet house where you’re not required to socialize can mean the difference between homeliness and a life of constant stress. And vice versa! Socialites need friends, and share-houses are good.

Do I want to cook? Will you eat outside or inside? What sort of cooking facilities do you require? I have one friend who just orders in every night and has no kitchen, but another friend of mine cooks up oven-baked bonanzas every night! I myself have a portable stove and a rice-cooker in my room, and I cook simple Vietnamese food.

What sort of curfew can I work to? When I first came here I lived a few months in a place where you had to be inside by 11 p.m. or get locked out. And oh my I spent a lot of nights cursing on my doorstep! I now live in the most flexible place ever, and whether I stagger home roaring drunk at 3 a.m. or tuck myself into bed with hot milk before eight, my landlords don’t bat an eyelid.

What kind of facilities will I prioritize? From experience I will always prioritise a private bathroom and fast, reliable Wi-Fi. Other friends need air conditioning, a TV, a fridge, etc… It all depends on your lifestyle.

Do I need light? If my room didn’t have two windows I would feel like a clam, stuck inside my shell all day. Are you a light person? If so, rent a light room because believe me this will bug you endlessly.

Where is most convenient for me to live? Where do you work? How do you get to work? And where is the best place to live to make that “getting to work” process easiest?

Do I want to rent long-term or short-term? Often if you rent longer term your monthly payments will be less. Landlords often offer 12 month, 6 month and 3 month deals. See if you can bargain! That’s always fun.

Also consider these factors:

- Will you need parking/security for your vehicle? What will you drive?

- Do you want a private bathroom? (Yes you do trust me)

- How much of a clean freak are you?

- Is the landlord friendly and do they live there?

- Do you need furniture, or will you bring your own?

- Do you smoke? Have a pet?

- Is there a contract? I live without a contract which is great because I can leave when I want, but some people like the security of having a deal.

And now, only now can you think about money. How can you mold your budget to your dream home?

Top Tip 2: Make some local friends

Make friends with people who speak the local language, know the city well and are willing to help you network. Make friends with them anyway because they’re more than likely great people! But don’t forget to use them shamelessly as your “in” to the rental sector. Go to 23/9 Park in District 1 to hang out with local students, chat with people at your workplace, relax at some of the city’s popular bars like Broma or Blanchy’s Tash, and get talking!

I rent my current room from a good friend of mine who owns a restaurant here. We met almost a year ago, and the rate for my room is very much due to his kindness and the trust we have as long-term chums.

Top Tip 3: Drop your agent and get on the internet

Let me give you a nice, tangible example for this one.

I rented a room through an agent in the first 6 months of being here. I paid VND 7,000,000 per month for a nice little pad, with bathroom, fridge and cooking facilities included. The usual! He was an English bloke and he treated us very fairly. I paid a bond, and I held a contract through his agency. It was all very easy and nice. But in the same building, in a room with exactly the same facilities as me, exactly the same layout and even the same owners, a Vietnamese friend of mine lived for VND 3,500,000 per month. Simply because he had gone straight to the owner!

So how do you bypass the agents and successfully navigate an owner to renter agreement, in Vietnam, in a language you don’t understand?

Step 1, websites. Check out Batdongsan, Expatblog and Craigslist and make sure you browse past the first few pages! Get one of your newly captured local friends to help out, and make as many calls, emails and house visits as you need. Make sure you buy them a beer after...

Top Tip 4: Walk the streets

Have you ever wandered around Ho Chi Minh City and looked at the walls? I mean the walls of houses, telegraph poles, things like that. Have you? I would recommend it anyway because some of those walls are pretty darn interesting, but apart from anything else they often have signs on them with rooms to rent.

Not that you would know it without knowing Vietnamese! These signs are often on A4 white pieces of paper, and they usually have a big “phòng cho thuê” or “cho thuê phòng” slapped across the middle. These three words mean “room for rent,” and they are typically big fat advertisements for the kind of room you pay $150 US per month for, no strings attached. That’s how I found my last room, a VND 2,700,000 per month beauty at the top of an ancient Vietnamese town-house in District 1. So stare at walls, people!

Top Tip 5: Learn some Vietnamese will help you find a cheap room in Saigon

This one is a bit difficult and, as mentioned above, you could also very easily just invest in a Vietnamese chum. But the idea of using the local language is that you can then access the local real estate market.

With Vietnamese you can search the local version of Batdongsan, where prices are lower and the range is wider. With Vietnamese you can chat with landlords, negotiate prices, and fully understand things like registration, bond and the rate for electricity. With Vietnamese the price will also always be lower. Because I am a foreigner, a room that goes for VND 3 million to my Vietnamese friend Trang will be rented to me for VND 5,000,000. If I ask the landlord “why?” in Vietnamese he might drop a million, and if I physically turn up to view his room with Trang by my side he will likely quote me the “real” price! Vietnamese language or blood gets you Vietnamese prices. Fair enough I suppose.

Here are some useful words to get you started:

House - nhà (n-yaa)

Room - phòng (f-awm)

Rent - thuê (tt-u-ey)

Buy - mua (moo-ah)

Deposit - Tiền đặt cọc (teeng dat cop)

Contract - hợp đồng (herp dawm)

Water and electricity - Nước và điện (nurc va deeng)

Top Tip 6: Sign long-term contracts for your room

I bet you know this one, but I’m going to put it in this list anyway because let’s face it - it’s a top tip. If you can commit to a long-term contract then it is often a super good way to save money! As mentioned above, landlords often offer 12 month, 6 month and 3 month options and the longer you plan to stay the less you have to pay. Simple.

Top Tip 7: Live short-term in a hostel, deal

If contracts aren’t your thing and you’re a bit of a hipster at heart, why not consider renting a hostel bed for a month? I rented a bed in District 1’s Rou Hostel for one month, and at the end of the month I handed over a measly $110 US. The wifi was excellent, the bathrooms clean, the company was pleasant, the beds where huge and the location was prime!

I have also rented a room at the top of a guesthouse. This room was not part of the guesthouse itself, but an extra room that the owners like to rent out for more long-term visitors, and I paid USD $180 a month. I was literally right on the strip, in an alleyway off Bui Vien. For that little stipend my roommate and I got a TV, a big comfy bed, a private bathroom, a fan, a fridge and a balcony for washing clothes. Sweet! Have a wander through Pham Ngu Lao’s back-alleys and do a bit of wall-watching to find gems like this one.

Top Tip 8: Ask around if they know about affordable rooms for rent 

I will never forget the time I sat down to wontons and hủ tiếu khô, and got back up again with a new landlord and a room viewing the next day. I had just started nibbling at my noodles when a man plonked himself down next to me and asked in startlingly good English how long I’d been in the city and what I did. He’d seen me around often, and he wanted to know what the deal was!

We got talking and the topic of rooms popped up - I needed a cheap, nice room in town. He asked our street vendor about rooms, they chatted a bit, someone called someone else and everyone spoke in very fast very serious Vietnamese. And, at the end of it all, he offered me a room with a local woman just two streets over.

Now, I am not stupid. I did not give this man my full name or any contact details other than a phone number, and I did not intend on visiting the room alone with him - I would bring a friend. Safety first guys.

In the end I didn’t even get the room because someone else rented it first! But the point I’m trying to make is this - talk. Ask people. Ask street vendors if they know anything, ask salon workers, ask that man who tried to clean your shoes even though your ancient sneakers are obviously well beyond the clean-able stage! Ask, and ye shall find.

Top Tip 9: Make sure you're registered

Did you know that the dwelling for every foreigner here in Vietnam has to be registered with the government? And if you’re a foreigner your landlord must also have a special permit to rent to you!

Ok, so I’m pretty sure the owners of my last room had no permit and just paid someone to be quiet because they never took my passport, but legally speaking it is an absolute must! Just make sure that’s dealt with when you rent, whether legally or not...

Top Tip 10: Tips to make it cheaper

And finally, some sneaky rent-saving tips straight from a professional budgetter to you.

- Live above a restaurant - If he is doing it right, the owner already earns enough to pay his rent and more, so he can charge you less for your room. Be firm, bargain hard and stand your ground. You’d be surprised!

- How much for electricity? - Some places charge you as much as VND 5,000/KW which is absolute daylight robbery! The best rate I have found is VND 3,000/KW but the standard is somewhere between VND 3,500/KW and VND 4,000/KW.

- Rent for work - reduce your rent in exchange for English tutoring, help with renovations, cleaning, whatever takes your fancy! Work part-time for your landlord in exchange for lower rates.

- Rent without furniture - Sounds scary but it is totally feasible. Actually, a lot of my Vietnamese friends do this, and in my last room I did it too. You rent a bare room, and then you buy a mattress and some coat-hangers. The rent is lower and your mattress will cost you a one time fee of up to VND 1,000,000. Mine was VND 110,000, but it’s a very poor excuse for a mattress. I also purchased a stove and a rice-cooker! It’s like camping but in a room.

- Don’t use your air-con or TV! - Read a book instead of watching that mindless box, and use a fan rather than the air conditioner. It dries your skin out anyway!

Conclusion

This guide to renting cheap rooms in Saigon can also be used for those looking for affordable studio or apartments. Please share your own tips about finding the perfect place to stay by commenting below.


Gateway Thao Dien: Raising the Bar for Luxury

By: Aleksandr Smechov

Gateway Thao Dien is Ho Chi Minh City’s answer to high-end, exclusive living

Investors may be surprised by the level of commitment Gateway Thao Dien has shown. It seems delays and misinformation are common complaints for anyone investing in property in Ho Chi Minh City. Luckily, Gateway Thao Dien has delivered on its word, and even provided added value for its investors - something rarely seen in the local real estate market. There are four ways Gateway Thao Dien has kept its commitment to its demanding home buyers.

On Point and On Time

To date, Gateway Thao Dien has reached all of its milestones on time. Construction has been carried out in a timely manner. From the beginning of October, the status of the project has been going along smoothly: Tower A (The Aspen) and Tower B (The Madison) are expected to complete level 20 and 22, respectively, this November. This means the projects is on track for its expected completion of date of the last quarter of 2017.

World-Class Partners

Backing Gateway Thao Dien are a number of highly reputable contractors and suppliers. These companies all have outstanding track records, and were carefully chosen for their professionalism. Gateway Thao Dien put much effort into acquiring the support of these partners - and buyers can clearly see the results in the quality of the residential complexes, the timely execution, and the customer support given throughout.

Cofico: Since 1975, Cofico has been renowned as one of the leading contractors for both civil and industrial projects in Vietnam. Honored to be appointed as the main contractor for Gateway Thao Dien, the team at Cofico is making every endeavor to satisfy the developer’s requirements for progress, quality and safety. The company’s brand name will act as a guarantor for the construction quality of the project.

Mace: In charge of construction management and supervision of the Gateway Thao Dien project, the Mace Group is a global consulting and construction firm employing 4,600 people across 70 countries. Their management and supervisory team are actively ensuring that the high quality products selected by Gateway Thao Dien are given the proper level of treatment during installation.

Searefico: This company is responsible for providing Gateway Thao Dien with integrated mechanical and electric solutions, as well as equipping the project with modern, high quality products and utilities. Lifts have been installed from world-renowned Swiss elevator company, Schneider; Daikin air-conditioners and Mitsubishi generators have also been added to ensure quality airflow and uninterrupted power. Using Building Information Modeling (BIM), SEAREFICO helps minimise problems in the construction process, ensuring quality installation and quicker progress.

Arup: Known for their intelligent, sustainable structural design, among other high-quality services, Arup is an international firm with 13,000 staff across 42 countries. They have been responsible for some of the world’s most famous structures. They have assisted Gateway Thao Dien with the tower blocks’ structural design, as well as the project’s penthouse floors. Gateway Thao Dien is one of the tallest residential buildings in HCMC, and Arup ensures all the buyers this will be one of the safest places to stay, in terms of structure.

Eurowindow: High-end windows are supplied by Eurowindow. The high-tempered glass is soundproofed up to 40bB, with powder-coated aluminum frames. Complying with AAMA2604 standards, Eurowindow will offer a 20 year warranty for all of its products.

A Surprise Upgrade

Buyers will be delighted to know Gateway Thao Dien’s developers have upgraded many of the appliances that were initially agreed upon. In particular, most bathroom appliances from Kohler and Toto have been promoted to Duravit and Hansgrohe. Teka kitchen appliances have been upgraded to the German Bosch brand. Digital door locks have been changed from Samsung/Yale to Häfele from Germany. Entrance and internal doors will be provided by Sunwood, with the same specifications as for their Marina One project, one of the most luxurious multi-purpose high-rises being built in Singapore.

Steep Rise in Property Value

Metro Line 1 (Ben Thanh to Suoi Tien) is the first metro line in HCMC, with a total span 19.7km and a budget of US$2.49 billion. After the development of Line 1’s master plan, numerous projects began to spring up in the vicinity of the train line. As Line 1’s construction nears completion, property values will rise for anything in the line’s vicinity - that includes Gateway Thao Dien, which is right by the metro.

Contact information:

Website: www.gatewaythaodien.com.vn

Hotline: +84 9 3205 7979

Addresss: Gateway Thao Dien Sales Gallery, 53 - 55 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, D3


Ibis Saigon Airport: A New Flagship for AccorHotels in Vietnam

By: Arik Jahn

The First International Brand to Open an Airport Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City

HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam — With an electrifying event, ibis Saigon Airport, AccorHotels’ brand-new hotel sitting right next to Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport, celebrated its grand opening on 24 March 2017. Ibis Saigon Airport is the latest addition to AccorHotels’ vast hospitality network in Vietnam.

Ibis hotel

Over a hundred guests, including Ho Chi Minh City officials, representatives from AccorHotels and the hotel’s owner company Hado Group attended the event, which paid tribute to ibis Saigon Airport with an opulent buffet, contemporary dance performances and a rooftop party.

“A Milestone for the ibis Brand”

The ibis Saigon Airport’s major asset is its strategic position: a mere 500 metres from Tan Son Nhat International Airport, the gateway to Ho Chi Minh City and all of Vietnam. Xavier Cappelut, Accor’s regional Director of Operations for Middle Scale & Economic Brand Hotels, praised the hotel as “a significant milestone for the ibis brand” thanks to its one-of-a-kind location.

Ibis Saigon Airport is a haven of hospitality tailored to corporate travellers and all those looking for “Value for Money”. With its functional and stylish travel-themed design and an outstanding 24-hour food and beverage service at the in-house Oopen restaurant, this hotel truly honours ibis’ slogan, “Well-being at the best price”.

ibis

As the first international airport hotel in Ho Chi Minh City, ibis Saigon Airport goes beyond the usual amenities of the economy sector. Its room typology – standard rooms, family rooms, studios, as well as one and two-bedroom apartments – is unrivalled in the budget segment, catering to the individual needs of each and every guest, from corporate clients to travelling families, from short-stay to long-stay visitors.

INTERVIEW WITH ORESTE TRAETTO, GENERAL MANAGER, IBIS SAIGON AIRPORT

Question: What makes ibis Saigon Airport the first choice for business travellers in Ho Chi Minh City?

Mr. Traetto: Our hotel is strategically tailored to business travellers. Our Oopen restaurant is open 24 hours and we are the only international hotel chain offering a breakfast service from 4 o’clock in the morning until 12 o’clock [in the afternoon]. So if you have an early flight to catch, you will be able to grab some food, get a coffee, hop on our free shuttle to the airport and you’ll be there in five minutes.

ibis oopen

Or imagine you are a businessperson, and had a hard working day. At ibis Saigon Airport, we provide you with all the facilities to truly reenergise you. What is very important to us is the ibis ‘sweet bed’ that can give you a really good rest. We have incredibly good feedback from our clients about it. And all that, I believe, shows how we really cater to the customers’ needs.

Question: You are very proud of ibis Saigon Airport’s in-house venues. Can you tell me a bit more about them?

Mr. Traetto: Today, travellers, even though they stay for a short amount of time, they want to optimise their stay. Now, with The Hub, ibis Saigon Airport has the only rooftop bar in  Tan Binh District. When you finish your work, you go upstairs, get a beer and enjoy the view of landing airplanes. We have a pool, we have a steam bath, we have a sauna, we have a gym – this is definitely what gives us the opportunity to attract a specific segment of clients. We provide our guests with a place to relax.

We are, if I may say so, part of the new generation of ibis hotels.

ibis hotel view

INTERVIEW WITH XAVIER CAPPELUT, DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS FOR MIDDLE SCALE & ECONOMIC BRAND HOTELS, ACCORHOTELS

Question: AccorHotels is home to many brands. Why did you choose the ibis brand for this particular project?

Mr. Cappelut: I think this is a very unique location. The guests who choose to stay close to the airport have very specific needs. They might be in transit for a few hours, they might be spending their last night in Vietnam after a trip. We believe the level of comfort provided by ibis is just the right amount for these specific customers.

And the beauty of a brand like ibis is: you can travel anywhere in the world, you will find the same layout, the same service, the same comfort. Guests choose ibis because they know exactly what they can expect. That’s a guarantee that we provide to our customers. And they appreciate it.

Question: Vietnam is a country with an immense potential for tourism. How does ibis Saigon Airport serve this very particular market?

Mr. Cappelut: Vietnam is very important to us as a group. We, AccorHotels, have been in Vietnam since 1991. Back then, we were the only international hospitality company in Vietnam. That shows how committed we are to Vietnam as a business location.

And today, this country is developing at a dizzying pace. Last year, there was a 26% increase of international visitors and a 9% growth in the domestic market in Vietnam.These are incredible numbers.

And of course, we try to attract Vietnam’s domestic guests. The ibis brand perfectly caters to them because it is a functional, but full-service product that offers “Value for Money”.

Ibis Saigon Airport is quite simply the right product in the right place at the right time. And it is highly visible. In fact, we couldn’t be more visible than here at the airport. In that sense, ibis Saigon Airport is Accor’s flagship in Vietnam.

ibis hotel room

AccorHotels’ journey in Vietnam is far from over. In the next two years, the group plans to open another 12 hotels all over the country, which will bring its total portfolio to 36. But thanks to its eminent location next to one of Vietnam’s most important travel hubs and its many amenities, ibis Saigon Airport is undoubtedly a go-to for all Ho Chi Minh City-bound travellers.

 


Designing a Luxury Hotel with KAZE Interior Design Studio

By: Katie Kinnon & Molly Headley

Create a concept; mood and function first

Planning a project at KAZE Interior Design Studio, District 2

How to Create Comfort in KAZE Interior Design Studio’s Projects

The Finished Interior Design Project

Creating an Interior Design Concept in Vietnam

What do you want to feel when you walk into a top hotel? This is one of the first questions that the team at KAZE Interior Design Studio asks themselves when they start creating interior design and architectural concept for a new project. Is the hotel meant to create a mood of bespoke luxury or minimal tranquility? Who are the expected guests and how will the lighting, furnishings, flooring and colour scheme transport them?

A hotel is, after all, part of a journey, a place to get away, whether for business or pleasure. A good interior design studio creates that journey from the first sketch to the moment that the final piece of artwork is placed on the wall.

KAZE Interior Design Studio

KAZE Interior Design Studio in Ho Chi Minh City is the leader in luxury interior design in Vietnam and Cambodia. In addition to a broad design portfolio including residential, food and beverage establishments, and office spaces, the studio has taken on massive hospitality projects, which have brought numerous awards to the studio. Vinpearl Resort & Spa Long Beach in Nha Trang, Renaissance Riverside Hotel in Saigon and Courtyard by Marriott Phnom Penh are a few notable names on a list of more than 100 projects.

Fong-Chan Paw Zeuthen, Founder of KAZE Interior Design Studio, was brought up and educated in Denmark where, she explained, the design approach is very different to that of Vietnam. For a hotel designed for a Vietnamese market, she said that she would avoid using too minimalistic of an approach because the clientele would feel like something was missing. Instead, she tries to give finished projects a Vietnamese flair that local clientele will also enjoy.

First Steps in the Design Process at KAZE Interior Design Studio in HCMC

The Client Brief

Fong-Chan explains that with her years of experience she has come to quickly understand her clients psychologically and often knows what they want more than they do. She will offer recommendations on how the concept can be improved after receiving the brief. Fong-Chan will then return to the KAZE headquarters where the whole team will sit around the large table in the meeting room and discuss how to implement the project, always focusing on a “function first” approach. This approach means that aesthetics are only considered once space’s use is decided upon.

KAZE Interior Design Studio

The Planning Process

This is when the ideas go from the brainstorming phase to reality. The office becomes a hive of energy as project designers sketch plans and junior designers figure out how to create the right ambiance. Fong-Chan explains that her team is passionate about what they do and that’s why KAZE is a success. “Being a good designer comes from inside, you put your heart and soul into things you care about”, she reiterates.

Fong-Chan states there are four parts to every project, the statement of purpose, layout, ambiance, and storyboard. When executed correctly, interior design can make people feel a certain way. For example, the purpose of a reception area in a hotel is to welcome guests and so the way furniture is positioned, the brightness of lights and even the scent (which are often created specifically for the brand) create an ambiance of warmth, comfort and relaxation.

KAZE Interior Design Studio

3D renderings are essential for each project. They need to be self-explanatory and easy to understand. However, they can be difficult to get right due to the level of precision needed. It can be hard even for good designers to see things in 3D. A designer needs to be able to describe what the space will look like down to the tiniest detail, like where a coat hook will go. This helps to create a full picture of how everything will be pieced together. The 3D renderings are literally the map that will be used to build the project; therefore, nothing should go into the rendering that cannot be created in reality.

How to Create Comfort and Beauty; The Vietnam Hotel Design Challenge

Every designer has a different way to approach a design. Fong-Chan tries to use a modern holistic approach when she designs any space. This is especially important when it comes to a project like a hotel where the success of the project is tied directly to how guests feel when they are within the space. Her design projects focus on what makes people feel good, using psychological experiences rather than just aesthetics.

Designers need to work out the proportions of the room as well as what will be in it so that when it is built an individual can walk around a room without bumping into anything. The team also research how people will interact with the space, ensuring it is ergonomically friendly in every detail. For example, if a guest wants to flick on the lights, where should the light switch be? If it is at the right height and in an intuitive location then the designer can choose a subtle design so that the switch doesn’t ruin the aesthetic of the wall design. If the switch is too hidden and in the wrong place, guests won’t care about the beauty of the design, they will be too caught up in their feelings of frustration. Some designers get so caught up in their vision that they create functionality problems that will end up marring the hotel’s TripAdvisor page with bad reviews based around comfort, soundproofing, and the user experience.

KAZE Interior Design Studio

KAZE interior design studio puts a lot of love and care into the materials they use. The way Fong-Chan describes her process is akin to that of a chef creating their favorite dish. She becomes excited when speaking about why wood is used in one instance, but plastic is used in another and the different finishes that are available for each material. It is important for Fong-Chan to use local materials because construction workers know how to work with them and look after them properly. This also helps the project’s sustainability as expensive materials don’t need to be imported.

Completing a Hotel Interior Design Project in Vietnam

Fong-Chan explains that KAZE only works with people they know and trust. From construction workers to cleaners “when people have a good relationship with each other they will go the extra mile.” This is important because the biggest hurdle to completing an interior design project is to meet final deadlines.

KAZE Interior Design Studio

During the construction process, KAZE interior design studio office often goes into a frenzy of activity, with project plans and Gantt (production timeline) charts being thrown into the bin and new ones being created. Sometimes, Fong-Chan admits, the end of a project can feel like an unattainable dream. However, when the hotel or resort is finally finished and Fong-Chan walks through the completed space with the client, she always feels a sense of pride at what the team at KAZE Interior Design Studio has achieved.

Image source: KAZE Interior Design Studio


The Foreign Investor Guide to Real Estate in HCMC

By: Eric Le Dreau

Are you a foreign investor and want to know about real estate laws in HCMC? Confused by the new Property Law? Indochina Legal clears up the confusion:

One of the most notable changes introduced by Vietnam’s new 2014 property law and its regulations is the revision of the right for overseas Vietnamese, foreign individuals and organisations to own residential houses, as follows:

Overseas Vietnamese (or Viet Kieus) can now own residential houses in the same way as Vietnamese citizens without further residency requirements or any limitations on the type or quantity of houses, or the terms of ownership. They must hold a valid passport with an entry verification stamp marked by the Vietnamese Immigration Department (VID) and a document evidencing their Vietnamese origin.

Foreign individuals have the right to own residential houses, subject to certain restrictions as compared to Vietnamese citizens and Viet Kieus. In order to own houses, a foreigner is required to have a valid passport with an entry verification stamp marked by the VID and cannot fall under diplomatic or consulate preferences and immunities. Requirements of residency, investment in Vietnam, work permit, social contribution and/or marriage to a local Vietnamese is not necessary for residential housing ownership. However, as to ownership duration, foreigners married to Vietnamese citizens or to Viet Kieus are entitled to an indefinite term, whereas foreigners who are not can only own residential housing for a period of 50 years. This can be extended for another 50 years, subject to approval by the provincial People’s Committee where the house is located. Unlike other foreigners, those who are married to Vietnamese citizens are also exempt from notifying the housing administration authority at the district level prior to leasing their houses to others. Apart from that, the new legal framework grants foreigners the same rights of Vietnamese in the cases of subleases, mortgages, etc. of residential housing.

real estate in hcmc

Photo by: Manh Hai

Foreign organisations are allowed to own houses provided that (i) ownership term shall not exceed the period stated in their investment certificates issued by Vietnamese competent authorities, including any extensions; (ii) use of the houses is for residential purposes only, for their personnel; and (iii) lease-out of the houses is not permitted.

It is worth noting that foreign organisations and individuals shall not collectively own more than 30% of the total number of apartments in an apartment building or not more than 250 separate houses in an area where population is equivalent to that of a ward. In addition, house ownership beyond real estate projects (e.g. a villa built by individuals) is not allowed. For national defense and public security purposes, foreign individuals and organisations cannot own houses in certain areas. With respect to these limitations, the local Department of Construction will publish on their official website the projects where foreigners cannot own houses, detailed numbers of apartments or separate houses eligible for foreign ownership, and the number of houses where foreign ownership has been recorded. To our understanding, the database is not yet completely developed for all cities and provinces in Vietnam. Meanwhile, payment for purchase or lease of residential houses shall be made via credit institutions operated in Vietnam. So far there has been no specific instruction on foreign exchange control for relevant inbound and outbound foreign funding of residential housing.

Despite certain remaining limitations, the NHL has provided a more open approach to ownership of residential housing for foreigners. The hope is that these changes will ultimately defreeze the real estate market and create a new wave of foreign investment in Vietnam.

Website: www.indochinalegal.com


Can Vietnam Ever Become Green?

By: Michael Sieburg

Citypassguide.com met with Solidiance’s Michael Sieburg to determine whether Vietnam, and in particular HCMC, can ever become truly green. Here is the transcript of Michael’s comments:

Solidiance is a consulting firm that works with clients across industries. There are three industries we focus on. One is simply called industrial, which includes construction, chemicals, and all that. That’s the core of what we do. Then there is healthcare, especially in Vietnam. And what we call technology. In total we have 12 offices across Asia.

Within the industrial stuff we do, our research in green tech and buildings are really driven by two things: our personal interest and by our belief that this is where the country is going. We think Southeast Asian countries will be using these technologies more and more - green cities, clean cities, however you want to describe them. Our CEO is personally interested in this. He’s doing an online course with Harvard University to learn more about this subject. I don’t know when he sleeps. “When there is that mismatch of the developer and the user of the building, it can be harder to make it green because the immediate incentive is not there”

We are also a consulting company - we have clients who want to be where our other clients are - large multi-nationals. These companies are at the forefront of developing more efficient air conditioners, elevators, eco-friendly paint, smart grid technology, electric cars and batteries. Our clients are often innovating and making these technologies, and part of these projects involves green building output. They want to sell their products and part of their line is more energy efficient stuff.

School of The Art - Singapore

Most of the certified green buildings in Vietnam have been factories. And it’s not like there are thousands of green factories, but they are the biggest component, and I think part of it is that when you’re a company developing a factory, you’re also using that factory and they consume a lot of energy. It makes sense to find ways to save on that, even though electricity prices are low here, for now. A lot of these companies also have global standards that they must adhere to. “Our research in green tech and buildings are really driven by two things: our personal interest and by our belief that this is where the country is going”

One of the biggest factors in pushing green building practices is electricty prices. The government is currently subsidizing, which won’t go on forever. I think it needs to be balanced with low-income residents. For example, energy prices in Cambodia and the Philippines are high. And that hurts manufacturing investment there. Once electricty prices rise, there is a point when wind power become profitable, and at some point (economists figure out this point) you see further adoption of energy efficient machinery.

Calling for a country to raise electricity prices where many people cannot afford it is a difficult thing to do, which is why the government treads slowly.

Green Building - France

The cost of making a building is a bit more expensive - how much? That depends on what you’re doing. I think the real issue in buildings going green is when property developers create buildings for somebody else. The developer’s incentive is to keep costs down and cut corners where they can, because operating costs are somebody else’s problem.

When there is that mismatch of the developer and the user of the building, it can be harder to make it green because the immediate incentive is not there. You can argue that there is an incentive that you price the units higher when you sell them - President’s Place proved that correct.

Vertical gardens at Parkroyal, located in the heart of Singapore's Central Business District. Photo credit: Straits Times

At the moment there are not really well-defined mandates in Vietnam. In Singapore there are mandates - any new building must meet green standards. Everything here is left up to the developer, if they want to build green or not. If you talk to the architects around here, the younger generation is getting it, but not yet necessarily at all levels. What you do see here is that a building might not be certified green, but the water heaters are solar. There is a move towards that. A lot of hotels are doing that - they probably have some hybrid electric-solar water heater when it’s not a sunny day, but as a way to save electricity costs. “The younger generation is getting it, but not yet necessarily at all levels.”

So factories also have that. The biggest solar plant in Vietnam at the moment is Intel’s factory, which is saying something. Vietnam is a sunny place; you can’t run the whole country on solar, but is there a gap between what there is and what there could be? Definitely.

Green Building - China

Young people are interested in sustainable development, which is good to see. Saigon in some ways doesn’t have to follow the same practices as other countries - they have the luxury of learning from others’ mistakes, one would hope.


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