Best Place to Live in Saigon

By: City Pass Guide

What is the best place to live in Saigon? The answer depends on who you are and how much you can spend. Single expats, families or students will all have different preferences.

Our complete guide below will help you decide if you should stay in District 1, District 7, District 2, or even some more local districts like Thu Duc.

To read about the benefits of living in a particular area or neighborhood, you can read the whole post or click on one below:

District 1 • District 2 and Thao Dien • District 3 

District 4 • District 5 • District 7 and Phu My Hung

District 10 • Tan Binh District • Thu Duc District • Phú Nhuận District    


As Vietnam’s commercial center and a Southeast Asian “city of dreams”, Saigon is as vibrant as it is varied. With nearly eight million official populants and more than seven million international visitors, this city was never going to be easy to understand - and that, friends, is the beauty of it. No matter who you are, where you come from or where you are going, there is a place for you in Ho Chi Minh City. It’s just a matter of asking the right questions.

So let’s get to it. What area of the town has the ideal combination of shops, parks, cute little cafes, bars or fitness centers to suit your exact preference? Unsurprisingly, most of the city’s activity is concentrated center around the center of town, so if you’re looking for a quiet, more neighbourly feel to your home, head to the burbs.

Are you a family man? A lady in love? Or are you one of those fabulous lone wolves…? A 20-something with an eye for nightlife or a 50-something (maybe also with an eye for nightlife)? Well, if it’s nightlife you want, you’ll thrive in District 1. Are you looking for a house, an apartment, a villa…? And tell me, where do you work?

These are all important questions for you to ask when you choose where to live in Saigon. Real estate here is diverse, as are the rates you will pay, and your choice of a home will depend on so many things. Your age, your choice of accommodation, your length of stay, etc. There are pros and cons to every area of Saigon, and no matter what, you’ll fit in somewhere.

Please note: All prices listed are according to Batdongsan.com, and are accurate to the time of writing.


District 1

Are you a fan of late nights and later mornings? Does a thumping beat make your heart move faster? Do you ever feel the urge to break into song late at night and go rampaging around the streets with a group of revelling friends? Well, the good news is that this is very normal in District 1.

Apart from night time revelling, District 1 is home to a variety of cafes, restaurants, gyms and swimming pools. Take a stroll in 23/9 Park or go bargain hunting at Saigon Square. All the best tourist attractions in Saigon are concentrated here, while many of the city’s famous sites - such as the Saigon Zoo, Duc Ba Church and the War Museum - are conveniently close.

Rent: Varied. It really depends on how you want to live. I rent a room for $140 US per month now (check out my guide to renting in Saigon for more!), complete with air conditioning, TV, private bathroom, fridge and a very nice bed! But rent for a room here can range from as low as $25 US/month to a mind-boggling $700 US and more.

If you’re after luxury, we have all the best insight into Saigon’s most beautiful places to live. The average price for a room rented by the typical expat in this part of town is VND 6 or 7 million per month, and the price increases from there depending on the amount of luxury you are after.

But for local rates, we recommend the Vietnamese version of Batdongsan.com. You will need a Vietnamese friend to help you, but if you use this platform you’re bound to find something great. Just make sure you register with the police when you move in, because you’re likely to be living in a local house. Also, check out the brief guide to that site at the bottom of this article, and follow the links below to view the site’s listings.

  • House: A nice house from around VND 12 million per month
  • Room: Ranges from VND 3 million per month to VND 10 million per month, depending on what your budget is. At the lower end, rooms are often unfurnished and without a bond.

Transport: As the center of town, getting around District 1 is easy! From the airport a taxi will cost you between VND 150, 000 and VND 200,000, and all the main bus lines run through District 1.

Hospitals: There are also many medical centers District 1. Our favorite general practitioner and hospital complex is the CMI near Notre Dame Cathedral, and for dental work we recommend the Dental Art of Saigon. Other hospitals in D1 include Columbia Asia and Family Medical Practice.

Supermarkets: As the center of town, District 1 is home to many, many supermarkets for all your household needs. Our favorites are the Co-op supermarket on Cống Quỳnh street or the CitiMart on Nguyễn Trãi street for their reasonable prices and variety of goods, the Satra Foods on Lê Thánh Tôn and VinMart in the Vincom Center for its range of fresh produce. We also recommend the local Thái Bình market on Cống Quỳnh street as a place to buy fresh tofu, herbs, fruit and vegetables. Prices here are reasonable and the stall vendors are friendly. There is an Annam Gourmet on Hai Bà Trưng street that stocks a variety of international imports.

Where to eat: Wherever you like! District 1 is a metropolis of new and old businesses offering an almost endless array of foods and drinks from a wide range of international cuisines. From street ca phe to Starbucks and a range of boutique cafes, coffee in District 1 is an experience.

For the low to mid-range foodie, street food here is always excellent, though somewhat tailored to tourist taste-buds. Many restaurants on Bui Vien are also good options for the budget lover. (Check out our interview with the owner of The Five Oysters for the story of how his own restaurant began.)

For a more high-end dining experience, check out our range of recommended options. From the delicious Vietnamese cuisine of Viet Village or a tasty curry at Tandoor, to a hearty meal at the New York Steak House - District 1 has it all.

Things to do and nightlife: District 1 is the tourist hotspot of town. Here you will find the best sites in Saigon and the widest range of activities. From cycling to walking tours, local parks to the popular zoo, museums to markets and period buildings - District 1 is the place to do things! Check out our suggestions for activities and attractions in Saigon for more.

As the backpacker center of town, District 1 holds most of Saigon’s nightlife. The famous strip, Bui Vien, literally never sleeps, and a number of clubs, bars, live music venues and after-hours hotspots in the area or nearby in District 3, will keep even the most energetic of night owls entertained..

Living in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

Living in District 1 you will be close to many attractions such as Nguyen Hue street and City Hall.


District 2 and Thao Dien: the burbs

Sick of crazy District 1? Yes, well many people are. For a lot of people the endless hubbub of Saigon’s center is just too much after a while, and to retreat to a more quiet, slower pace of life is a welcome relief.

These people like to be able to hear birds, to share the street with bicycles rather than roaring mopeds, to sit by a quiet river or relax in a local cafe where everyone knows everyone because there aren’t that many people in the area.

District 2 is also the ideal neighbourhood for your family home. Many expat families live here due to the high concentration of international schools and the comparative safety of its streets. Facilities are aimed at the expat community - from shopping malls to small businesses and hair salons - and the majority of people here are foreign.

Rent: A range of rents are offered in District 2, but since it’s quite a commute from the center of town they tend to be lower on average. An expat in District 2 pays around VND 8 million per month for a room, but it can be as low as VND 4 million per month if you play your cards right.

According to Batdongsan...

  • House: A nice house from VND 12 million per month, to a lot more… Just ask yourself - how big is your family?
  • Room: From as little as VND 2 million per month! It depends on what you are looking for.

Transport: Inconvenient. Local buses run along the Highway 52, but don’t go into the wards. Take bus number 52 from Ben Thanh Market in District 1 to the corner of Highway 52 and Số 1, or take a xe om for about VND 80,000.

Hospitals: We recommend the Family Medical Practice in District 2 (and also in District 1) for all your medical needs.

Supermarket: An Phu Supermarket or the supermarket at Big C are our favorite options.

Where to eat: District 2, particularly Thao Dien Ward, is home to a variety of new small cafes and restaurants. It’s a great area of town for a nice family dinner, or a nice ladies’ brunch. Check out the restaurant and bar at Thao Dien Village, which offers a range of Italian, Vietnamese and Thai cuisine as well as a delicious tapas menu.

Things to do and nightlife: Saigon’s arts hub and one of the city’s best spots for live music is located in Thao Dien Ward, District 2. Saigon Outcast offers a variety of workshops from figure drawing to cooking contests, hosts a number of festivals and events, nurtures Ho Chi Minh City’s hottest up and coming musicians and celebrates the arts in this city. Their monthly urban flea market is a great day out for the kids, with its variety of boutique clothes stalls, artists, delicious foods and cute little gifts.

Living in district 2, HCMC

District 2 is a very western part of Saigon


Phú Nhuận: for those who love coffee

Phú Nhuận, one of Ho Chi Minh City’s densest areas and a well known expat enclave for those working nearby or at the airport, is home to a number of interesting coffee shops. It’s also a cultural hotspot, being far from the backpacker area of town and housing many local families and businesses, and prices are generally cheaper for the same reasons.

Rent: In Phú Nhuận you get the best for less. With a variety of serviced apartments or house-share options, an expat pays on average around VND 6 million per month for a nice room - think aircon, ensuite, balcony, fridge, kitchen and big cushy bed - and apartments here are leased for VND 15 million per month and up.

According to Batdongsan.com...

  • House: A nice house from VND 12 million per month
  • Room: From VND 2 million for unfurnished to VND 4 million for furnished, and up.

Transport: convenient. Phú Nhuận is very close to the airport, and a VND 50,000 xe om ride from District 1. You can also catch local bus number 3 from Ben Thanh Market, or take a taxi for up to VND 150,000.

Hospitals: We recommend Fortis Hoan My hospital in Phú Nhuận district for their quality practice and team of skilled doctors and surgeons, but there are a variety of healthcare providers in the area.

Supermarket: The Big C at 202B Hoàng Văn Thụ in Phú Nhuận District is both cheap and well stocked, with a variety of produce from fresh fruit and vegetables to bread and cakes, and sections for appliances and household products.

Where to eat: Phú Nhuận is full of street food and blessed with very reasonable prices. For the vegetarian, head down the alleyway 330/16 Phan Đình Phùng and stop in at the noodle shop to your left. Conversely, have you ever wanted to try a Vietnamese take on the traditional Western burger? Quán Cây Khế in Phú Nhuận District is the place to go. There are a number of cafes in Phú Nhuận which are bound to tickle your fancy - think Harry Potter theme, a country cottage theme or a city-scape theme. Our favorite cafe in Phú Nhuận is the Pet Me Cafe, which houses birds and cats and dogs and a variety of other animals… and coffee.

Things to do and nightlife: Phan Xích Long is the place to be when the sun goes down in Phú Nhuận. Hosting a number of eateries with a variety of different cuisines, from noodles to sushi to pizza. Immerse yourself in live music at Udon, treat yourself to an ice-cream at Bud’s, or deafen the world with your voice at one of the street’s many karaoke bars.

living in phu nhuan district

It's easy to visit the market whilst living in Phu Nhuan District


District 3: for the eternally stylish

District 3 is known as the happy medium. It’s so close to town that you may as well be in town, and yet it is decidedly classier than anywhere in District 1. The rent won’t break your bank and what you get for said rent is well worth the money you pay. Some of the city’s most beautiful French colonial architecture lies in this area, as are the majority of Ho Chi Minh City’s most fashionable bars. If you are a fan of high-end fashion, new innovative work spaces and classic dark sunglasses, this is the area for you.

Rent: Being a more up-market area and close to the center of town, District 3 is more expensive. However, cheaper digs are available! An expat in a share house here will pay around VND 7 million per month for a basic room and shared bathroom. But according to Batdongsan.com...

  • House: A nice house from about VND 12 million per month
  • Room: About VND 5 million for a furnished, decent room with an ensuite

Transport: District 3 is almost all in walking distance from District 1, the center of town. You can catch bus 3 or bus 4 from Ben Thanh market to get to the west side of the district, or bus 50 and 52 to get to the east.

Hospitals: The Family Medical Practice in nearby District 1 is your best bet. The clinic staffs only the highest of qualified specialists, recruited from around the globe, and English is a prerequisite for all who work there. In District 3 we would also recommend International SOS Vietnam.

Supermarket: The Co-op Mart at 168 Nguyễn Đình Chiểu is our suggestion for your grocery needs in District 3. From fresh fish to school notebooks, this supermarket is impressively comprehensive.

Where to eat: Visit Indochine restaurant for delicious Vietnamese food in a beautiful, rustic atmosphere, enjoy the variety at Com Nieu, sample Vietnam’s famous Pho, or sit at one of the many street restaurants in the area.

Things to do and nightlife: A link to our list of the city’s best bars, clubs and live music venues can be found at the bottom of this article, and many of said after-hours hotspots are in District 3 or nearby District 1. Nightlife in the very center of Ho Chi Minh City literally never sleeps! But you’ll find a happy medium in District 3, which is largely quiet after midnight but still right next to all the action.

Living in District 3, Saigon

Overview over housing in District 3


District 7 and Phu My Hung: Think BIG

This is an expat area. Phu My Hung is the most popular spot in District 7, and it is here that the district’s international schools, Western supermarkets, swimming pools and trendy restaurants converge. District 7 has little in the way of nightlife, but is instead known for being quieter and more serene than the rest of Ho Chi Minh City.

Catering to the higher-income population of Saigon, District 7 is rife with high-rise apartment blocks, sweeping tree-lined streets and beautiful modern villas. Like District 2, it is a hotspot for expat families and executives. It’s a long way from the city center, which makes for a nasty commute, but if you’re a fan of clean roads and a bit of peace and quiet, this is the area for you.

Rent: This area was built with a high-end population in mind, and as such it’s generally more expensive.

  • House: A nice house from VND 12 million
  • Room: VND 2 million will rent you a small but cosy room with all the necessary facilities.

Transport: Though travelling to this area is simple, travelling inside it is less so since local buses stop at the border. Catch bus 86 from Ben Thanh to go to the East side or bus 152 from Trần Hưng Đạo street to get to the West, and from there use a xe om.

Hospitals: We recommend FV Hospital in Phu My Hung, or Saint Luke Medical Center.

Supermarket: Given its high expat population, it is little surprise that there is a Western import supermarket in Phu My Hung known as Veggy’s. Apart from this there is the usual Co-op Mart, a Lotte Mart and a number of CitiMarts.

Where to eat: There are a number of fast food joints in District 7, including Pizza Hut, Lotteria and KFC. For Japanese food try Takoika Japanese Soul Food at 549 Huỳnh Tấn Phát, or enjoy a Vietnamese BBQ at 404 Truong Son. For more about eating in District 7 check out this list we found of 6 Secret Spots in District 7.

Things to do and nightlife: District 7 is not a nightlife hotspot, and after the sun goes down most of the area’s population also hit the hay. But a number of classy restaurants make for lovely evening dining, and the beautiful Starlight Bridge at Crescent Mall in Phu My Hung is a popular hangout destination for young couples and groups of friends. If you want a lazy, quiet evening and an early sleep, District 7 is for you.

living in district 7, hcmc

Check out the rainbow waterfall on The Starlight Bridge at The Crescent in PMH.


District 4: for the mafia don

District 4 is Saigon’s notorious crime center, and is noticeably older and less developed than its neighbouring areas. Be careful with your belongings here and don’t walk around alone at night, but enjoy the huge variety of street-foods and the great local markets.

Since rent is cheaper here, a lot of small businesses rent office space in District 4 and as such it’s dotted with suited expats at lunch time. Most of the people who live here are locals, and if you do rent in District 4 we recommend living with other expats. Post in the Expats & Locals Facebook page to find out more.

Rent: As this area is one of Saigon’s poorest, we wouldn’t recommend renting here. That being said, rent is usually lower and there are some expats in the local community. According to the local rent rates on Batdongsan.com…

  • House:  A house, not a very nice one and rented from a local owner, is about VND 6 million per month.
  • Apartment (above 50m2, 2 bedroom): A lot of new apartment complexes have recently been built in this area, and for this reason apartments tend to be more expensive that other properties in district 4. You can rent a lovely, modern apartment for about VND 8 million per month and up, possibly the best bet for foreigners.
  • Room: About VND 1.5 million per month, not very nice or very safe.

Transport: Take bus 44 to get to the very edge of the district on Bến Vân Đồn street or bus 34 for the other side of the district, both from Ben Thanh market.

Hospitals: Since District 4 is very close to District 1, we would recommend visiting one of the many clinics in that area, rather than find a local practitioner in District 4. See item number 1 on this list for all the best hospitals in District 1.

Supermarkets: Though known for its street-food and plentiful local markets, District 4 is not your best bet when searching for a supermarket. There is a Satra Foods on Lê Văn Linh street, but the produce stocked here is not very varied and often more expensive than at the city’s larger supermarkets.

We suggest making the 10 minute drive to District 1’s Co-op Mart on Cống Quỳnh street for a more comprehensive selection of goods. Also, for meat, fish, tofu or fresh fruit and vegetables, why not try out the local market? Take note of how things are priced in the Co-op Mart and use this as a guide as to how much they should cost you on the street - usually a little bit less, and definitely not more! Make sure you wash everything thoroughly when you get home, but usually foods from a local market will be higher quality than at the supermarket.

Where to eat: if you like to eat locally you’re in luck. District 4 is one of Ho Chi Minh City’s top contenders for street-food! From succulent BBQ octopus or some fresh, juicy springrolls, to crisp banh mi, iced flan or a wide range of exciting soups and noodles, we challenge you to eat something you’ve never tried before in District 4.

Things to do and nightlife: During the day District 4 is a hub of local activity. Go for a wander through winding alleyways, drop-in for a coffee in one of the district’s many cafes, or take a dip in Van Don Pool on Khánh Hội street.

At night District 4 is not the safest of areas in Ho Chi Minh City. Vĩnh Khánh street is a popular local hang-out, with a lot of BBQ restaurants where groups of Vietnamese and the occasional expat sit, laugh and drink a lot of beer (often with straws). An alleyway leading up to this street from Hoàng Diệu street (called Đoàn Văn Bơ) is full of different flans, soups, pancakes and other delicacies which are excellent fun to sample, all with that addictive hustle and bustle typical of a Saigon local area at night. Famous Saigon bar The Observatory is also in District 4, as is Cargo Bar and a number of other establishments.

Living in district 4, Saigon

The Rainbow Bridge is pedestrian only and takes you from District 4 to District 1


District 10: for the budget lover (student)

One of the biggest perks of this area is the rent, which tends to be nice and low. Unlike District 4, the area is also quite safe and is a popular student hotspot. Food here is cheap and tasty, and given the high student population there are many cafes, pools and hang-out spots in the area.

The streets here are on average smaller and the population is quite dense, so traffic can be an issue, but the district is also very close to Saigon’s center, District 1, so all the city’s best nightlife and the perks of the backpacker area are very close at hand.

Rent:

  • House: You can rent quite comfortably here for VND 9 million per month.
  • Room: As little as VND 2 million per month, but for about VND 4 million per month you can rent a lovely room with a double bed and TV

Transport: Walk from District 1 (about 20 minutes from the center to the edge of District 10) or hop on bus 2.

Hospitals: We recommend the Vạn Hạnh General Hospital, or a visit to D1 for a variety of other options.

Supermarkets: There is a Co-op Mart on Hòa Hảo street in District 10 or a CitiMart on Tô Hiến Thành street, both of which are great options for all your grocery and household needs.

Where to eat: Since District 10 is home to the majority of Ho Chi Minh City’s student population, street-food here is a great option. However, we also would recommend a visit to Lang Nuong Nam Bo Restaurant for delicious Vietnamese food. Try their BBQ’d whole pork!

Things to do and nightlife: Be sure to visit the flower market on Hồ Thị Kỷ street or learn about traditional Vietnamese medicine at the Fito Museum on Hoàng Dư Khương street. The 1985 Cafe on Phạm Viết Chánh street at the border of Districts 1 and 10 is a great little spot for a cappuccino or a delicious freshly baked cake. Open until 10 p.m., this cafe is popular among students and young Vietnamese women, and serves a variety of coffees, teas and sweet treats in a cute, vintage setting.

Living in District 10, Ho Chi Minh City

Get fresh flowers from the flower market


District Tan Binh: reasonable and comfy

Think friendly and warm. This is the area of town for that guy or gal with a comfortable income, a comfortable career, who is looking to settle locally, long term and wants to live a comfortable life. Popular with office workers and businessmen, Tan Binh District is not exactly quiet but far enough from the center of town to be dark after hours.

Rent: Low. This area has a lot of small companies and businesses and is known for its reasonable rates for both long and short-term stay. According to Batdongsan…

  • House: A simple rental is about VND 7 million per month, but you will find beautiful homes for VND 13 million and up
  • Room: You can rent for as low as VND 2 million a month if you’re willing to bring your own furniture! And lower still if you don’t mind mould… But you will find something really nice for VND 4 million per month

Transport: Convenient! Catch bus number 152 from Trần Hưng Đạo street in District 1 and stay on until the last stop, or take a xe om for around VND 60,000. We recommend the application ‘GrabTaxi’ to find a xe om who will take you where you want to go, and not relieve you of your entire wallet.

Hospitals: The Saigon Ito hospital is Tan Binh District’s best bet for quality healthcare. Other than that, we recommend a trek into the center of town for a wider variety.

Supermarkets: There is a CitiMart at Trường Sơn street that is a great option for household goods, meats, fruits and vegetables, but for the freshest of produce make a visit to your local market. Be sure to bargain! Check the appropriate prices for meat and other produce at the supermarket before visiting the local market so that you can bargain effectively. For some phrases to use when buying your goods be sure to scroll right down and check out the ‘Useful Words’ section in this article!

Where to eat: Tan Binh is known to be a cheaper area of town in general, and the variety of local eateries and street-food vendors here are both delicious and nicely priced. You won’t damage your wallet if you eat out here, and your stomach will thank you for the variety of home-cooked delicacies you will find!

Things to do and nightlife: Tan Binh is not known for its variety of entertainment options, but there are still things to do in the area. If you walk around at night try not to go alone, and be careful with your things! We recommend going in a group and finding a local BBQ joint for a flask of beer and some good, tasty grilled meats.

Living in Tan Binh District in Ho Chi Minh City

Get some delicious BBQ food whilst living in Tan Binh District


District Thu Duc: the intrepid

Thu Duc is a student area, and is full of university students! This district is very far from the city center, and has a far lower foreigner population. If expats do live here it is usually either because they work or study here or because they are part of a local family. Rent here is also far far cheaper than rent closer to town, and so is food! It takes about an hour to travel here by bus from District 1, or 45 minutes by taxi, and most of Saigon’s more exciting attractions and activities are closer to the center of town. The buses stop running at 9 p.m.

Rent: Houses here tend to be a lot older and cater far less to the expat community. That being said, if you are intrepid this won’t be a problem for you. Apartments are weirdly luxurious in contrast! According to Batdonsan.com, local prices are…

  • House: You will find rentals as cheap os VND 5 or 6 million per month, but a nice house goes for about VND 10 million per month and up
  • Apartment (above 50m2, 2 bedroom): If you bring your own furniture you’re looking at a mere VND 5 million per month, but nice furnished apartments start at about VND 7 million per month
  • Room: Find something cheap and cheerful for VND 3 million per month

Transport: Take bus number 93 from Ben Thanh Market. A xe om or taxi will be quite expensive since this neighbourhood is far from town, and the local buses are fun.

Hospitals: Unfortunately, Thu Duc is not known for its medical facilities. The closest quality hospital that we would recommend is the Fortis Hoan My Hospital in Phú Nhuận.

Supermarkets: Similarly, this area is more of a suburb than an urban hotspot and so most of Ho Chi Minh City’s bigger chain supermarkets are concentrated closer to the center of town. The closest is a Co-op Mart on Nguyễn Kiệm in Phú Nhuận. Otherwise, try a local market!

Where to eat: As a student area, Thu Duc is a great option for street-food. We also recommend C.U House at 20/11C for some yummy coffee and a cute, urban setting.

Things to do and nightlife: Being so far from town, Thu Duc has its own nightlife! The student market in the far corner of this district is home to many, many interesting foods, beery revellers, super-cheap clothes and glittering trinkets. The petty crime rate here is high so keep an eye out for your wallet, but the atmosphere is intoxicating with that earthy buzz of a local commercial hotspot that many people search for in Asia. Take bus number 19 from District 1 to get here and make sure you come early because the last bus home is at 7:30pm! For more information about this market check out our guide to the best places to shop in Ho Chi Minh City.

Living in Thu Duc District in Ho Chi Minh City

You can find Suoi Tien Park in Thu Duc District.

 


District 5: Chinatown!

District 5 is Ho Chi Minh City’s “Chinatown”. It has the largest population of native Chinese in all of Vietnam, and is a fabulous fusion of Mandarin and Vietnamese culture. Famous for pagodas, temples and its local markets, District 5 is less expensive to live in than District 1, but is very close to town. Public transport to District 1 is convenient, and a motorbike ride to the center of town will take from 10 to 15 minutes. If you speak Cantonese or Mandarin make sure you at least visit this area, and if you’re a fan of wontons come for lunch!

Rent:

  • House: Around VND 8 or 9 million for one of the area’s old, quaint little dwellings. Batdongsan didn’t have any newer properties listed at the time of writing.
  • Room: Around VND 4 million for a nice room

Transport: Hop on bus number 1 and you’ll be there before you know it! The ride is lovely, through some seriously old and beautiful parts of town.

Hospitals: Choose from Chợ Rẫy Hospital, Hùng Vương Hospital or Phạm Ngọc Thạch Hospital! You will not stay sick for long in District 5.

Supermarkets: There is a CitiMart on Hùng Vươngstreet, or a Co-op Mart on An Dương Vương.

Where to eat: As noted above, District 5 has a high Chinese population, and this unsurprisingly affects the nature and variety of its street-food. For more high-end dining we recommend a trip into nearby District 1.

Things to do and nightlife: At night District 5 is a convenient 20 minutes from the buzz and all-night partying of Saigon’s center in District 1. Within Chinatown itself, however, why not embrace your inner diva and belt out a few hits at a local karaoke bar.

Living in District 5, chinatown

Visit Cho Lon and try out some local sweets


Overall, Saigon is a huge metropolis with a seemingly endless array of options. No matter who you are there is somewhere for you to live in Ho Chi Minh City - it’s just a matter of finding it. Check out our guides below to make your house hunting, bus taking, partying and market experiences easier.


Guide to Batdongsan.com

Here are a few tips to make your Batdongsan.com experience easier:

  1. Search in Vietnamese for the lower prices, but have a Vietnamese friend to help out
  2. ‘Giá cao nhất’ means ‘highest price’ and ‘Giá thấp nhất’ means “lowest price”
  3. Some rooms, apartments or houses are listed as shared - the owner wants to find someone to move in with him/her. So it’s good to have someone who speaks the language on hand, who can tell you if that super-cheap room you’ve found is in fact already inhabited!
  4. Bring someone Vietnamese with you when you see the room, to help keep the price down and to ask all the important questions like “Is electricity included?”
  5. See our guide to renting in Saigon for more!

 

Useful words:

  • Electricity - điện
  • Wi-Fi - Wi-Fi
  • Month - tháng
  • Price - giá
  • Bond - trái phiếu
  • Contract - hợp đồng
  • I want to buy this *** please - Tôi muốn mua *** này
  • How much is this ***? - *** này bao nhiêu?
  • Too expensive - mắc quá!
  • So cheap! - quá rẻ!
  • Half - nửa
  • 1 Kilo - một ki
  • Rent a room: Cho thuê văn phòng
  • Rent an apartment: Cho thuê căn hộ chung cư
  • Rent a house: Cho thuê nhà riêng

Resources:


Deutsches Haus: German World-Class Design in Ho Chi Minh City

By: Aleksandr Smechov

Deutsches Haus is “the symbol of the strategic partnership and friendship between Vietnam and Germany.”

On the 1st of August 2017 Deutsches Haus, Southeast Asia’s most eco-friendly and well-constructed building, will open its doors on the corner of Le Duan and Le Van Huu in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, right beside the InterContinental Asiana Saigon Hotel.

Deutsches Haus in Ho Chi Minh

The 25-storey, 40,000 gross sq m building represents the union of the Vietnamese and German governments, showcasing modern German technology and acting as a model of sustainable design.

In 2011, Germany’s Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel and Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung signed a declaration establishing the partnership between Germany and Vietnam, designed to strengthen the political, economic and cultural relations of the two countries.

For the past five years, Germany has been Vietnam’s biggest trade partner in the European Union, totaling a trade volume of US$8.92 billion in 2015 alone. The Deutsches Haus is to be the central platform for German and Central European companies doing business with Vietnamese and other ASEAN businesses, as well as the place to be for cultural exchange and relations.

Deutsches Haus in Ho Chi Minh

The project aims to receive the USGBC LEED Platinum certification - the highest level of green certification possible. This will be the first building in Vietnam to receive LEED’s Platinum level, and is one of a few in Southeast Asia. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a globally recognised certification that ensures a building uses less water and energy, has reduced greenhouse gas emissions, pays particular attention to its construction material (and their effects on health and environment), and much more.

Examples of LEED Platinum certified buildings include the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh, U.S., which contain the world’s only Platinum certified greenhouse; the massive Taipei 101 building in Taiwan; Canada’s Manitoba Hydro Place, quoted by CBC News as one of "the most energy-efficient office towers in the world”; Kohinoor Hospital, Asia’s first LEED Platinum certified hospital; and other select stadiums, hospitals, office buildings, conservatories, universities, convention centers and homes around the world.

Currently, there are only a total of 40 green certified buildings in the country, based on two certifications: LEED, and LOTUS (a certification similar to LEED, but more attuned to Vietnam’s climate and conditions). The first building to garner a LEED certification in Vietnam was a manufacturing facility owned by Colgate-Palmolive. The Diamond Lotus is a LEED-certified condominium project that will have three connected apartment complexes covered in bamboo, to be built in the coming years.

The design of Deutsches Haus has been entrusted to world-renowned architect Meinhard von Gerkan, who has over 50 years of experience. Gerkan has designed Tegel Airport, Lingang New City, the National Museum of China, the Hanoi Museum, Hamburg Airport, both the National Assembly and the National Convention Center in Hanoi, and many others. The design he undertook for Deutsches Haus is meant to express Germany’s role as an industrial and technological leader in the form of sustainable architecture, as well as German-standard architecture abroad.

Deutsches Haus in Ho Chi Minh

The building’s double façade will eliminate the heat of the sun while allowing a great deal of sunlight to pass through, minimizing artificial light usage while ensuring a comfortable interior. In addition, this “double skin” will reduce noise and provide superior thermal insulation.

This façade is unique in Vietnam and is to be a milestone for future developments. LED lights will be used throughout the building for brighter and more energy-efficient lighting; the building’s air will be cleaned through a superior hospital grade filtration system; personal comfort is pushed to the forefront with particular attention to localised temperature control, centralised dehumidification, shading and daylight control and integration of all non-life systems; rooftop solar panels will be able to power the building’s lobbies during normal business hours; and a thorough plan for the building’s water system includes rainwater harvesting, grey water flushing systems and the reuse of treated sewage for irrigation and cooling.

Deutsches Haus in Ho Chi Minh

The city is certainly in need for a greener urban environment: according to numbeo.com, Ho Chi Minh City is ranked the ninth most polluted city globally. This is more than evident in the amount of noise and smog one encounters while cruising around the city by motorbike. Although initiatives are being taken by introducing electric buses and other green projects, until the population adapts more sustainable practices, greener buildings are a necessary beginning.

The building will feature premium office space; a residential living space on the top floors; the largest rooftop terrace in the city; a pool and a fitness center; a multi-functional conference, exhibition and event-space; a restaurant; public areas with workspaces; coffee shops; a mobile washing station for cars and motorbikes parked at one of the four basement parking levels; raised floors (functioning to hide wires and regulate room temperature); and a fully-featured lobby. The lobby will feature screens projecting weather, German and European news, the building’s environmental stats, and will include an air freshener system, German artwork, and architecturally congruent seating. The building will also be the new home for the German Consulate and other German and European institutions.

Deutsches Haus in Ho Chi Minh

This is a serious undertaking in a city full of delimiting regulations and architectural mishaps. The building is an example for the entire country to follow - projects integrating some of its features have already began construction in Vietnam. The Deutsches Haus is to be an environmentally and culturally sound representation of the city’s international future - and it seems to have been entrusted to the right hands for the job.

Image source: flickr.com


Meet the Expert: Charles Gallavardin on sustainable architecture in HCMC

By: Patrick Gaveau

Today, the demand for more sustainable design in HCMC is steadily getting off the ground. Charles Gallavardin of T3 Architecture Asia sat down with Citypassguide.com to give his perspective on green buildings in Vietnam. Charles and his wife started T3 Architecture in France in 2007, specialising in green architecture. When Charles arrived in Vietnam in 2011 to begin T3 Architecture Asia, the demand for green building was low, although interest was growing. We spoke with Charles to determine what changes were taking place to catalyse this newfound interest.

What is the definition of a green building for you?

It’s a building well integrated into the place it’s set up at. It should take the landscape into consideration - the shape of the building is quite important, to be protected from the sun and allow for natural ventilation. The idea is to avoid direct light in a hot tropical climate; that’s why we design overhangs or balconies, to take the facade away from the sun, so you keep your main walls in the shadows.

Secondly, you have to take care of the roof, and make sure there is a double ventilated roof to keep the air flow and make the top floor always cool. Then, ideally, you try to use green building materials, sourced not too far from where you are.

Why does Saigon need such type of construction?

Saigon is one of the more polluted cities in Asia now. There is a huge issue concerning air pollution. The demand of energy is getting higher than what can be produced. What we can see for many years is that Vietnam is mainly doing a “copy-paste” of buildings they saw in Western countries with full glass facades but they didn’t realise that the climate is totally different and that they have to create their own style to make their building more appropriate to the climate, to save energy, save costs and make the building more comfortable.

Do you think one of the main challenges to building green buildings in Vietnam has to do with people’s perception?

Yes. I think when you discuss this with most Vietnamese, of course they want more parks and more green areas. But in reality, in urban development in Vietnam, this is still considered a quantity issue. Which means they try to plant vegetation to increase the number of green area per square meter per inhabitant, but without having in mind that it’s better to have many small parks than having long green areas along the highway. It is the same story with green buildings: a green roof doesnæt make your building green.

 

Do you think one of the main concerns for people who don’t understand green buildings too well is the fear of additional costs?

I don’t think so, because finally we can do green buildings quite cheap, depending on the material you use. But the green principles are very basic and you can find it everywhere in the traditional architecture of Vietnam. Traditionally you have your long and narrow plot, with the shop facing the street, the house on the backside and a courtyard in the middle. The air ventilation is efficient and you have natural light in your house and your shop. The house is far from the street so it’s far from the noise. For 20-30 years, Vietnamese have lost their knowledge of how to create a green house, but recently some young Vietnamese architecture firms take traditional building materials and traditional Vietnamese architecture and incorporate it in a more modern sense to make the house more green.

So green houses are one issue, but can you tell us about the problem of green urban areas? Is this something that can happen in Vietnam?

Yes, it could. But what we can see in the development in Vietnam, it’s always private investors who wield the city, and their model is a Singaporean one, but with a lower budget and less knowledge. There are really few alternatives for high-rise buildings and private houses. So when you have a private house, the plot is usually very small, and you have very few green areas. And for high-rises, you need to build these by large streets if you follow regulations, so then you have very narrow green areas.

One solution would be to make the city very dense, with apartment blocks lower with some streets more narrow, but keeping some spaces open for parks and public gardens, like we have in Europe.

Is the government aware and sensitive about the need to do something about that?

Yes, they are. There are many discussions about this. But if you’re a private investor and you finance infrastructure, the government cannot complain too much about what you do. You try to optimize your plot as much as possible.

Is it possible to bring more awareness to private investors by showing them the financial reward in doing so?

Yes. In America and Europe, the government pushes green building by giving a loan or some advantage. The government in Vietnam doesn’t have a lot of money, so they’ve let the private investors do the development. But private investors’ awareness is going up because they see people want more green spaces, nice areas around their apartments, so it’s starting to change.

Is it feasible to build a green house or building using only locally sourced material?

Yes, it’s possible. There are many materials available; less than Western countries or Singapore, but enough to build something green. The prices are the time.

What about reusing old material. Is that something that happens in Vietnam?

Yes, a bit. For example, many architects reuse wooden shutters for part of the facade to use as ventilation. But not so much, since the quality of the construction is not so good and when you destroy a house there’s not much you can use.

Some years ago I met with an architect and he told me something that surprised me. He said that Vietnam is one of the best countries in the world for recycling. When a house is being dismantled, the Vietnamese will often take every brick and every cable, to try and reuse it for some other purpose. Is this true?

This is partially true. They reuse material by placing it on natural soil to make it not porous anymore, and then they pour cement over it to make a concrete slab. But then you have the problem that you don’t have enough natural soil then to absorb the water during rainy season, and it makes flooding a very important issue in the near future.

Energy consumption is growing, meaning the price has to go up, which means it makes sense to have more energy efficient practices and buildings, correct?

Yes, this happens in every city. When energy prices go up, green houses and buildings become more and more normal. Of course, for Vietnam, electricity cost is very low, even compared to the standard of life. One issue, even though it’s never easy for government to say that they have to increase electricity costs, especially for poor people, it’s a real way to make developers and private investors more concerned about energy savings.

In 10 years from now, what do you think the state of green buildings will be in Vietnam?

Green construction has been developing more and more, first in hospitality projects; you have international guests, so five or six years ago in the private sector and even residential projects, Vietnamese started to be more concerned about energy and cost savings, and the quality of the environment. Thanks to Vietnamese architects and small agencies, we can do something more.

Almost none of the existing high-rises in Ho Chi Minh City are really environmentally friendly. If the price of energy rises, most of these building will have to be rebuilt or adapt to the new demands. And you provide this service?

Yes, full renovation to adapt an existing building and make it less costly in terms of energy, and most important of all we make it more comfortable for people!

How big of a project is it for someone who wants to make their home more green?

Usually, you have to touch up the facade and main structure, so it’s a bit costly, but you don’t have to demolish all. It can be from some very simple like adding shutters, to touching up the roof at VND 3 million per sq m, up to VND 10 million per sq m to redo something very properly and almost reconstruct the house.

Is the wiring in Vietnam efficient?

In terms of fire hazards and electric shock, no. 

And LEDs?

There is a huge market for LEDs. They are replacing halogens with LEDs everywhere, more and more in residential projects. But before thinking about advanced technology and costly equipment - which is important also - the first thing is to try and hire a good designer when you are creating a building. And if the design is well done you are sure to have very low consumption. And of course you put some LEDs and solar panels. One of the problems in Vietnam and in developing countries in general is people don’t think of the basics. Once you do this, then you can think of the high-tech equipment and energy efficiency.


Improving Your Home: An Interior Design Case Study

By: Aleksandr Smechov

Homeowners usually think of their dwelling as a place to relax and unwind after a hard day out, spend a bit of quality family time, and have the occasional meal. But have you ever thought a home can be an extension of one’s personality, a space to feel refreshed after a long day, something that inspires you instead of acting like a permanent hotel?

Interior design’s focus is to enhance an indoor space to make it not only more pleasing on the eyes, but bring its inhabitants together and seamlessly connect separate spaces. Below we take an interior design project in Binh Duong New City, where an existing apartment layout goes through several modifications to maximise both space and function.

1. Existing condition: The existing condition of the space was a three bedroom apartment for a young family. There were long, narrow corridors, too many solid walls that made the public area smaller and tighter for anyone passing through. There were no true spaces for working, reading or entertainment.

2. Solution: As the inhabitants were a young family with a small child (and possibly another coming), changes were made in the layout in order to create a functional space that could fulfill the needs of a small group of closely knit people. For this an “open” concept was used.

2.1 Functional change of space: The project began with the demolition of one bedroom and the creation of a multi-purpose space – this new working/reading room can be used as a guest bedroom when needed.

2.2 Working room: The working room is an open space, connected with other sections of the apartment: the kitchen, the dining area, bedrooms and the living rooms. Privacy for the working room can still be kept using a partition and bookshelf.

2.3 Open kitchen: An open kitchen also helps make the space look bigger, as it connects with other sections of the apartment.

 

2.4 Overview: This “open concept” does not only create a connection between spaces but also connects family member together – while mom is cooking, she can talk or look after her kids, and also speak with her husband in the working room at the same time. All spaces are connected together without boundary, and this creates a roomier feel in the apartment.

3. The value created: A simple change in layout can create a big difference for your apartment, yourself and for others who are engaging in this space.

The above project was completed by OP3 Interior Design & Construction. The firm’s belief is that a home should tell a story about the owner, while at once refreshing those who live there, connecting family together with a seamless space that take into account the natural elements of the earth. You may learn more about their home enhancing projects at op3vietnam.com. For further consultation, you may contact OP3 Vietnam at marketing@op3vietnam.com.


Hong Kong and Singapore Investors Seek Opportunities in Vietnam

By: Timo Schmidt

Vietnam’s new laws for foreigners, released in July 2015, have already had great impact on the local housing market in the country.

Particularly, investors from within the region are amongst the first ones to actively seek investment opportunities in the country. Savills Vietnam has seen great interest and real demand from foreign buyers based in Singapore and Hong Kong. To better understand the reasons for their aggressive moves it is important to look at the local housing market in these respective countries.

Property markets in Singapore and Hong Kong have been heating up over the last decade due to ever-increasing demand from local and foreign investors. While Singapore is a preferred investment destination for buyers from Malaysia, Indonesia and mainland China, the market in Hong Kong has seen tremendous investment from the latter.

“Property markets in Singapore and Hong Kong have been heating up over the last decade”

To react to the social problems caused by the price increases - such as lack of affordability for first-home buyers - governments in both destinations have put cooling measures in place. These are now showing effect with a considerable drop in transactions, and prices are expected to drop in both countries.

In Singapore and Hong Kong the governments reacted as early as 2009 with a variety of cooling measures, which included:

  • Increase of Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD) for purchases of multiple properties of up to 15% in Singapore and 8.5% in Hong Kong respectively, particularly for non-resident foreigners and entities.
  • Seller’s Stamp Duty (SSD) on resale of properties with short holding periods in Singapore for periods of less than one year, which was later increased to three years. And in Hong Kong from two to three years.
  • Limits on loan-to-value for multiple unit purchases, meaning that buyers could not leverage purchases by using bank loans. Especially relative to foreign buyers or those who purchased multiple units.

These measures were specifically introduced to curb property investment and speculation - particularly by foreign investors - rather than preventing irsthome buyers from purchasing units. The effects are finally starting to show with transactions and prices decreasing in both markets, and talks of a property market crises making the rounds. More importantly, the yield potential in these markets has declined due to the additional purchasing costs.

Photo by: Tri Nguyen

Taking into consideration that Hong Kong and Singapore investors are amongst the most active in the region, Vietnam is seen as one of the most attractive destinations for property investment in Southeast Asia. With excellent yield potential and prices at a fraction of those in Hong Kong and Singapore, investors can purchase multiple units at the value of one property in their home markets.

“Vietnam is seen as one of the most attractive destinations for property investment in Southeast Asia”

Savills Vietnam was among the first real estate agencies to take advantage of this by creating an international sales department to actively promote Vietnam’s properties in these key markets; in collaboration with Savills regional offices.

“We have seen great interest of local developers to market their projects abroad, and have scheduled a series of sales events in Hong Kong and Singapore over the year 2016. Our offices in both countries are excited to promote Vietnam’s properties given that the easing of restrictions allows foreign investors to take advantage of low prices and excellent yields in comparison to their local markets,” says the head of International Residential Sales for Savills Vietnam. “Since inception of the department we’ve transacted nearly US$20 million in sales to foreigners without bringing projects abroad. We are confident that this number will increase dramatically over the coming months.”

The opening of the Vietnamese property market to foreign investors is expected to draw more foreign investment into Vietnam from private and institutional investors.


Top 10 Real Estates Websites in HCMC

By: Luke Nguyen

Buying, selling or renting a house in Vietnam, easy though it sounds, can be a challenge for a foreigner. The country’s real estate transactions have been based heavily on the traditional method of having an agent (or “co” - the housing stork) do all the work. People are now becoming more proactive in their choice of creating a home and taking advantage of online information to save costs and time.

Here are our top 10 picks for quality real estate websites in Vietnam. Despite the fact that only a limited number of them have a proper English interface, their information is valuable and can be translated easily using Google Translate.

Check out the 10 sites below:

1. batdongsan.com.vn

When it comes to housing and real estate, Bat Dong San is no doubt the number one portal in Vietnam. With the largest amount of information in its field, continuously updated and presented professionally in both Vietnamese and English, it satisfies a wide range of enquiries from visitors. Besides real estate information, it also provides visitors advice on architecture, construction, interior and exterior decoration, legal issues and feng shui.

2. muabannhadat.vn

With a friendly website layout, Mua Ban Nha Dat is a great source providing online solutions for marketers and real estate brokers. For investors, brokers and individuals who are active in the field, this site is one of their first choices to get quick market updates and details on upcoming real estate projects all over the country with a few quick clicks. The only downside is that they don’t have an English user-friendly interface, but as mentioned earlier, Google Translate can be a good way to explore.

3. zita.vn

Zita is one of the newest additions to the Vietnamese real estate field. With its clean, sleek layout including a city view home page video, Zita sets itself apart from the other competitors. The information on the site is presented beautifully with a neighborhood browsing feature and an interactive map for visitors.

4. dothi.net

Do Thi provides the fastest and most accurate market information in Vietnam. Through the advanced site browser, users can find all about buying, selling, renting across all provinces and cities in the country. News and featured projects sections are updated daily to keep visitors informed on the latest buzz in the field.

5. nhadat24h.net

Nha Dat 24h specialises in online real estate transactions, featured VIP promotions, advertising updates and latest market news.

6. 123nhadat.vn

With over 2 million real estate listings and an average of 5,000 housing posts per day, 123 Nha Dat provides market information, and post-purchase education and lease-free housing. Users can search for land, houses and apartments.

7. cafeland.vn

Cafeland is one of the leading real estate sites in Vietnam. Besides housing information, the website also provides up to date news and market analysis from experts in the field. The site also has a portfolio section which provides key details on real estate with specific and neatly presented information.

8. diaoconline.vn

Dia Oc Online aims to contribute to the sustainable growth of information-sharing and real estate infrastructure in Vietnam. Besides housing listings and information, consultancy on decoration, interior design and feng shui are also provided to users for reference. The featured agents section is also very interesting and informative.

9. dinhgianhadat.vn

This website lives up to its good name by providing qualified property valuation software to assist customers with making buying decisions easier. Besides real estate news and tips, Dinh Gia Nha Dat also features a cheap land and housing section and a promotion and auction space for buyers and investors.

10. kenhbds.vn

Kenh BDS supplies a wealth of resource materials for home buyers and sellers for big cities in Vietnam. The website is presented so that both buyers and sellers can make the most of its user-friendly interface and information.


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