Notary and Translation Services in Ho Chi Minh City

By: City Pass Guide

Vietnam’s notary sector, like many other sectors in the country, has its origins in the French system. A notary agent offers a range of services including:

- Witnessing the signing of documents
-Transferring of company capital
- Payout to beneficiaries from an estate

Most notaries in HCMC offer translations but cannot notarise these documents. For that, you will need to source a translation company or your district’s Department of Justice (DOJ) office. However, if you have legal documents that need translating, it’s best to have a law firm do the work. The ward People Committees can notarise and certify copies of Vietnamese documents, while the district People Committees provide a similar service for foreign language documents.

What are the prices for notarisation services in HCMC?

The People’s Committee instituted a blanket fee for notarisation services in the city. Fees are as follows:

- Real estate auction contract: VND100,000/set
- Guarantee contracts: VND100,000/set
- Custody of testaments: VND100,000 /set
- Authorization contracts: VND40,000/set
- Cancellation of contracts or transactions: VND20,000/set
- Other documents: VND40,000/set
- Translation from/to a foreign language: VND45,000-200,000/page
- Issue copies of notarized documents: VND5,000/page, from the third page VND3,000/page

What about translation services in HCMC?

Translation services are plentiful in HCMC both to and from Vietnamese, and between many international languages. Payment structures vary from hourly rates to per page rates. Instead of using a notary (as they cannot notarise translated documents), hire a translation agency to both translate and notarise your documents. You can also have documents translated and notarised at the Department of Justice of HCMC, along with each district.

What notary’s offices or translation service providers in HCMC you should know?

Asia Notary
44 Võ Văn Tần, D3; +84 28 3930 0903

Bến Thành Notary Office
97-99-101 Nguyễn Công Trứ, D1; +84 28 3821 4999

Central Notary Office
454 Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai, D3; +84 28 6291 5485 / +84 9 0375 2525

Việt Úc Châu
20 Trần Cao Vân, D1; +84 28 3825 6420 / +84 9 8350 8611

DOJ branch for District 1
47 Lê Duẩn, D1; +84 28 3822 3404

DOJ branch for District 2
249 Lương Định Của, D2; +84 28 3740 0509

DOJ branch for District 7
7 Tân Phú, D7; +84 28 3785 0612

DOJ branch for Other Districts
185 Cách Mạng Tháng Tám, D3; +84 28 3834 2441
5 Đoàn Như Hài, D4; +84 28 3940 2388

For more practical information about living in Ho Chi Minh City, order our latest HCMC Resident Guide.

ibis Saigon Airport: The First Choice for Business Travellers

By: Keely Burkey

Most people think of airport hotels as having grungy carpets, questionable sheets and a nondescript continental breakfast. But when I got to the newly opened ibis Airport Saigon, I could immediately tell that it was different.


Checking in was a good experience. The lobby was well-designed, with plenty of natural light, a staircase leading up to the second floor and a Starbucks coffee shop firmly planted in the opposite corner.

Ibis lobby

The woman at the check-in desk was pleasant and professional, and told me a few key facts about the hotel. This branch opened in December 2016, making it one of the newest hotels in Saigon; a shuttle to and from the airport can be scheduled in advance, although Tan Son Nhat Airport is a mere six-minute walk from ibis’ front doors; and all ibis hotels offer what they call the 15-minute guarantee: ever since the first ibis opened in Bordeaux in 1974, every hotel ensures that if a customer has any sort of problem that’s not solved within 15 minutes, they get one more night free of charge.

Would I be able to wrangle a free night? I would soon find out.

Room with a View

The room was small, yet comfortable. Ibis offers a variety of rooms ranging from 18 to 72 square metres (you can also rent one of the studio, one-bedroom or two-bedroom long-stay apartments). My room came with a queen-sized bed, mini fridge, small electronic safe and flatscreen cable TV. From my fourth storey room I looked out over a manicured courtyard with numerous blooming plumeria trees.

Ibis room

Before dinner I decided to treat myself to some spa time. Bathing suit on, I headed to the rooftop swimming pool where I could see the main draw of the hotel: the view. The long, rectangular outdoor pool ran along one side of the hotel, overlooking Tan Son Nhat Airport. Going for a swim and watching planes take off and land is quite special.

Dinner at Oopen and Drinks at the Hub

Once I had worked up an appetite, I headed down to the 24-hour Oopen Restaurant on the first floor. The restaurant is best described as fresh and clean. I was seated quickly, and the wait staff were almost eerily efficient. I ordered the Terra pasta (linguini with creamy carbonara sauce with mushrooms), and as soon as I tasted it, I could tell Ibis was from Europe. If you’d prefer something Vietnamese, this fusion bistro offers delicacies like the Vietnamese barbecue pork banh mi and a more traditional com chien.

ibis oopen

I hadn’t hit 8 p.m. yet after dinner, which meant that happy hour (5 p.m. to 8 p.m.) was still going on at the Hub bar on the rooftop. With a half-priced draft of Tiger in hand, I looked out over the expanse of Tan Son Nhat Airport and Tan Binh District and saw a different side of Saigon. One of the special things about the Hub is that it passes on house music of any kind, opting instead for a mellow, loungey feel, where you can converse with friends or take a dip in the pool after sundown. Despite the occasional startling sound of a plane roaring off the runway, I was in peace.

Sweet Sleep and a Breakfast of Champions

If I thought the drink at the Hub was peaceful, sinking into my bed later that night sealed it. Ibis’ slogan is a pillow, and now I can see why: the pillow, mattress and duvet were of a supremely high quality. This feature is highlighted in brochures, and rightly so.

The next morning, breakfast was waiting at Oopen. The hotel takes pride in its three breakfast shifts: the Early Riser from 4 a.m. to 6 a.m., the conventional breakfast from 6 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., and the Late Riser from 10:30 a.m. to noon. I took advantage of the Late Riser (it was the weekend, after all, and I had no flight to catch) and was delighted to see a wide assortment. In the chafing dishes were bacon, sausages, scrambled eggs and hardboiled eggs; on the tables were orange juice, a sushi bar and a veritable mountain of baked goods.

Ibis 1 bedroom

As I checked out of ibis Airport Saigon at noon, I remembered the 15-minute satisfaction guarantee. I wouldn’t be getting my free extra night because I couldn’t find anything to complain about. If you’re curious what ibis has to offer, check out their website at


Shipping Things to Vietnam: A Warning

By: City Pass Guide

Importing any goods into any country is, of course, subject to certain restrictions and prohibitions.

In this respect Vietnam is no different. In order to check the prohibited and restricted items, the British Royal Mail website (, has some useful information. In addition to this, it is worth remembering that the country of origin will also have regulations as to what can and what cannot be exported.

It is almost always safer to use one of the recognised courier companies like FedEx, DHL or UPS, rather than unknown companies or the postal service. Things have a habit of getting “lost” as soon as they hit the country. Using a courier will cost you more, but at least it will arrive.

"Professional courier services can be expensive but prove to be the most secure method."

It is also worth remembering that your parcel will more than likely be opened by customs as soon as it hits Vietnam. So accurate labelling as to the contents is important. You don’t want to fall foul of customs services here. They deliver a white slip of paper informing you that a parcel has arrived and that it must be collected from an exact location within a certain time frame. If you happen to be travelling when this happens and miss the deadline, your parcel will be sent back to whence it came and the sender will be liable for charges. Also the internet is full of horror stories when it comes to the postal service. People can sometimes get bounced around from one post office to the next before finally finding their item, only to be informed that ridiculously high import duties are liable, before the parcel will be released.

"Miss your collection time and your parcel will be sent back to its place of origin."

Photo by: SpirosK photography

The problem is not restricted to Vietnam - this seems to be relevant for all of Southeast Asia. When I emigrated to Thailand in 2008, I put all the things that mattered to me in a rather nice chest of drawers and paid a courier company in the UK £170 to ship it out. I was told that the fee charged in the UK covered all import duties in the destination country. It arrived about three months later and I was told to go to the docks to collect it. I duly arrived at the customs office and was told that the import duty was well over $5,000 dollars. The whole lot was worth nowhere near that. Despite things of sentimental value, I decided against it and lost the lot forever. No doubt the customs guys had a great time sharing it all out.

The problems don’t end here either. Many people, upon hearing of the shortcomings of the Vietnamese postal service, decide to simply put valuable items on a plane when they are travelling out to Vietnam. However, putting anything valuable in the hold of an aircraft is never a good idea, and not just in Vietnam. By 2014, airlines were losing almost 22 million items of luggage per year, and that was down by more than half on the staggering figure of 47 million in 2007 (The Wall Street Journal).

Whilst only one in every 2,000 mishandled bags is lost forever (The Independent) that still represents more than 10,000 items per year that are never reunited with their owners. In 2008, Essex CID conducted Operation Bruno, which led to the arrest of 22 baggage handlers at London’s Stansted Airport, who were caught stealing from luggage.

"Airlines are losing almost 22 million items of luggage per year."

I hate to sound so negative about all this but the only safe way to get your valuable items arriving safely at their destination is to use one of the well known reputable companies, as named above, or to hand carry it on the plane yourself and never let it out of your sight. Letting it out of your sight opens up a whole new level of airline theft. Passengers have been reporting items stolen from hand luggage in increasing numbers. In 2012 Vietnam airlines reported 28 cases of valuables stolen from hand luggage. In 2013 nine thieves were caught in the act (

The bottom line is, unless it is imperative, don’t bother. The costs are high and the risks are higher. Using reputable courier services is definitely the way to go; or if you can, carry it on board your flight and sit on it!

Header photo by: Niklas Morberg

Waiting for the Metro: Hospitality in HCMC

By: Patrick Gaveau

Tourism numbers are up in Saigon, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to increased profits in the hospitality industry. With more than 35 years in the industry and almost five years as the general manager of the New World Saigon, David Wicker explains the situation.

David Wicker - general manager of new world hotel

Would you say that the room rates in Ho Chi Minh City are rather low compared to the rates of hotels in other destinations in Vietnam?

They are. If you go to Da Nang, Nha Trang and even Hanoi you see in many 4- or 5-star hotels a room is $150 to $200, whereas in Ho Chi Minh City, unless you’re talking about the high-end Hyatts or the Reveries, room rates tend to be at the low side of $100. A lot of that is because of the quality of the in-bound business that’s coming into the country. The wholesale businesses [and] the corporate industries tend to be very budget-conscious. So in order for us to achieve our fair market share, we really need to squeeze rates down.

So what would it take to be able to raise the rates?

Some of the safety features of the country and the variety of tourist sights within Vietnam is quite limited. People come to Ho Chi Minh City and say what can they do? There’s the Cu Chi Tunnels and Mekong Delta and there’s not much else. Whereas if I go to Bangkok I’ve got a whole week of activities I can do. There isn’t a great deal of organised places for people to go where it’s structured in terms of safety and security, where there are orchestrated tours run by the government or government-authorized bodies, and so there’s a hesitation for any professional [hospitality] operator to offer higher rates.

How about HR-related issues? Have you seen any change since you’ve been here?

Talking about the shift in the mentality of working regimes here is a little bit of a controversial issue. The changing face of the newcomers today is that they’re more hungry, they have a better understanding of the skills required [for their job] as well as the development of those skills. And they’re interested in promoting them, whereas we have had a lot of staff that’d been at the hotel for a long time. They’re quite happy to be at the lowest levels of job task and not interested in any future promotional development. That’s something that in today’s environment would be quite unusual.

You run a 5-star hotel here in Saigon. What’s the ratio between the corporate clientele and tourists?

We are primarily a corporate hotel. Over 70 percent of our business is corporate, so 30 percent is leisure. But it varies. I have to mention, the corporate business tends to have a lower flexibility with their rates. They can’t afford to spend two to three hundred dollars a night for rooms in Ho Chi Minh City. So there are a lot of local hotels offering 50- to 100-dollar rooms, and businesspeople will be using those hotels in preference to us. When it comes to the big global companies, there’s a lack of presence of some of the big international players. Marriott has a very low presence here, for example. Intercontinental has one hotel. When you look at the number of hotels that those brands actually have, it tells you the bigger picture is incomplete. There are a lot missing.

new world saigon hotel

Based on what you’ve told me, the demand for new hotels is still a bit weak here. Would you say there’s limited ability to grow?

Sure, yeah. We’re in a transition phase. There is growth and development is moving in the right direction, but some of the basic infrastructure needs to be put in place. The traffic is a classic example. It takes so long to get from point A to point B here because of congestion. And those become negatives for [the travel and hospitality company] Aegis to try to sell to groups.

So all of these constraints seem to be long-term issues. To overcome them will take years, and so would you say that during the next five years we can’t expect to see radical change in terms of hospitality offering in Ho Chi Minh City?

That’s really quite true, and I think it’s probably linked to the mass transit system. Once the government has got the underground train system in place, it may help. And it will start to add value to some of the corporate businesses coming in. Information technology companies and some of the big pharmaceutical companies who are probably desperate to move out of China because of the rising costs, but not necessarily convinced that Vietnam offers them the right opportunities. So five years, yes.

Best Mobile Phone Repair Shops in Saigon

By: City Pass Guide

Finding a good repair shop at a fairly reasonable price.

Getting a second hand phone in Saigon.

Reliable places to get apple products and repair services.

Repairing or replacing anything worth more than a few million VND in Ho Chi Minh City can be difficult. Why? Simply because the process can be very expensive at a more reputable chain, or stressful for non-Vietnamese speakers to figure out which local repair shops are trustworthy.

Electronics in this country can be a lot more expensive than you would think, thanks to Vietnam’s high import tax and, in some cases, scammers who overcharge for their parts and services.

But don’t worry, we’ve got your back! Here are some recommendations to make your life easier when it comes to your broken phone, whether you need a new screen, or a new phone entirely. With the right knowledge, finding a solid repair shop in Ho Chi Minh City is actually simpler and often much, much cheaper than Western countries.

Mobile Phone Repair Shops in SaigonImage source:

Budget Repair Shop in Saigon

Saigon is full of small, local repair shops that offer quick service for a bargain. You should approach these shops at your own risk; you will most likely void your phone’s warranty by seeking repairs here as they may use non-official parts (usually from China). You should only use local phone repair shops if budget is your primary concern. For reference, the average screen replacement repair cost should be around 300k (around US $14), though this will depend on the size of the screen, as well as the phone itself (some newer phones may cost more). Any iPhone and most Samsung phones should be quite easy to repair, though finding a shop for less common Android phones may be more difficult. Here are our recommendations:

Mobile Phone Repair Shops in SaigonImage source:

- Hùng Vương in District 5: Lining the left side of this street as you enter it from the six-way Cộng Hoà traffic circle, there are a number of used phone shops that will repair your phone quickly for a very reasonable price. 

- Giakien Services in District 10: 352, 3 Tháng 2 Street. This shop is well known for its reliable, cheap repairs.

- 1 Lê Văn Sỹ St, Phú Nhuận District: This small repair shop is reliable with quick same-day turnaround, though they mostly service iPhones. Lê Văn Sỹ street spans through 3 different districts, so make sure you go to the address in Phú Nhuận (near the train track).

- Hoàng Văn Thụ St, Tân Bình District: Situated near the airport, you’ll find loads of repair shops on this street. You’ll find these shops near the traffic circle that connects Cộng Hòa and Lê Văn Sỹ streets.

Secondhand Gems in Saigon

If your phone needs to be replaced altogether, you can find good bargains at many shops that sells second-hand phone in Ho Chi Minh City. Here are a few of our top picks:

- Hùng Vương in District 5: Many of these repair shops also sell quality secondhand models that usually come with a limited warranty.

- Saigon Square by Lê Lợi St, District 1: There are quite a few secondhand phone stalls in Saigon Square which quote a similar price. This is a convenient option, though you can expect less friendly vendors and higher prices as this area is frequented by tourists. Be prepared to bargain.

- Hoàng Văn Thụ St, Tân Bình District: Like the shops on Hùng Vương, the repair shops here also sell a wide variety of used phones. Their convenient arrangement means you can easily inquire from one to the next to see which shops have the best options at the lowest prices. You’ll find these shops near the traffic circle that connects Cộng Hoà and Lê Văn Sỹ streets, situated near the airport.

Mobile Phone Repair Shops in SaigonImage source:

You can find some of the best deals by connecting with individual resellers online, but always exercise caution when purchasing electronics over the internet. Research the particular brand/model of the phone beforehand so you know what to expect. Meet in a public place and bring a friend along if you can. Make sure you have at least a phone number to reach them in case something goes wrong.

Here are some of the more reliable sites offering secondhand models:

- Expat Blog

- Craigslist

- Lazada

- Facebook ‘buy and swap’ pages

- Chotot (Vietnamese language only)

Most Reliable iPhone Repairs in Saigon

iKnow, an electronic store in District 2, is one of the best options for reliable, reasonably priced Apple phone repairs in Saigon. They also repair laptops and other Apple products. While you can expect to pay a bit more for your repair job than at the super cheap neighborhood shops, you can have peace of mind knowing the parts used are genuine and the employees are qualified professionals.

Mobile Phone Repair Shops in SaigonImage source:

Brian, the founder of iKnow, is an ex-Apple repair technician who started the company in HCMC to provide reliable Apple repair services and to sell reliable Apple products to Apple customers in the city. 

E-Digi in District 1 (right by the central post office) is one of Ho Chi Minh City’s only Apple-Certified resellers, meaning you’ll get an experience as close to a real Apple Store as possible (they don’t yet exist in Vietnam). This is probably the most expensive option for Apple products as they will be sold at full retail price, plus import taxes.

Mobile Phone Repair Shops in SaigonImage source:

For brand new Android phones and Windows/Linux laptops, you can go to any major chain in the city like FPT or Thegioididong or visit their websites to purchase online. Many Android phone manufacturers operate in Vietnam, which means they’ll typically be much more reasonably-priced because they avoid the steep import taxes.

Mobile Phone Repair Shops in SaigonImage source: Thegioididong

Useful Words







(used) mobile phone

di động (pronounced “yee dong”)

new mobile phone

di động mới



how much?

bao nhiêu?

how long will it take?

bao lâu?

Check out some other relevant articles:

- Best Laptop Repair in Saigon

- Best Bike Repair in Saigon

Banner Image source:

Best Bike Repair in Saigon

By: City Pass Guide

During my almost 12 months in the serene chaos that is Ho Chi Minh City I have owned a total of two bicycles. As per custom I named each of them, and both Susie and Richard have been instrumental parts of my life here. They have also both warranted city-wide searches for repair shops, secondhand salesmen and the friendliest road-side tire inflator man. I have a few favorite tire inflator men. You should visit them too.

Repairs on the cheap, or not...

Sometimes it’s worth spending that tiny bit more on your bicycle just to make sure the job you get is a good one. Especially if you plan to ride it in Ho Chi Minh City. I mean after all, that thing is the only thing carrying you safely through the mess of chaotic bullets that are the streets of Saigon. That being said, cheaper options are available!

  • Đề Thám in District 1: all along this street there are a number of sidewalk motorbike and bicycle workshops. My favourite is at the Phạm Ngũ Lão end of the street on the corner of Đề Thám and Trần Hưng Đạo, but there are several other shops over the other side of Trần Hưng Đạo. Shop around for prices, and check all parts before you hand over your money. A new tire and inner tube should cost around VND 100,000 to 150,000.

Tire inflator men

Since my bike sports disgustingly old tires at the moment I have gradually become very well acquainted with the best of Saigon’s grinning men with gas, ready to pump up the tires of your motorbike or bicycle. My absolute favourite sits near the Đề Thám end of infamous Bùi Viện. This tiny guy wears only khaki and always asks for ‘ten dollar’ from me before giggling and accepting my usual VND 2,000 with a grin. The joker…

Second Hand Gems: Where to Buy a Second Hand Bike in Ho Chi Minh City?

There is a famous bike street in Ho Chi Minh City. Go to Bùi Hữu Nghĩa in District 1 and prepare to be overwhelmed by spokes and tires. At the intersection of Bùi Hữu Nghĩa and Trường Sa just as you cross over the river, a seemingly endless strip of bicycles and motorbikes appears. This street is a black market hotspot, so if you buy here bear three things in mind:

  • Shop around. There are so many stores on this street! Be patient and walk the strip, check prices at as many shops as you can and compare quality - don’t rush the process.
  • Bargain hard. I brought a dealer down from VND 3,000,000 to 800,000 with a simple stubborn ‘no’.
  • Check EVERYTHING. Look at the tires and if possible request to see the inner tube, check the spokes are tight and unbroken, try out the brakes and make sure the brake pads are intact, look closely at the chain and if there are gears test every single one. Bikes on this street are usually riddled with low quality and often stolen parts.

Check out other relevant articles:

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