Ho Chi Minh City (a.k.a. Saigon) is one of my favorite places to stay to in Southeast Asia. I’ve returned to Saigon eight times in my digital nomad journey at this point. (And I’ve been to 15 other cities in Asia, so I’ve got a lot to compare it to.)
By now, I’ve stayed in most popular areas of Saigon multiple times—including D1, D2, D4, D7, and Binh Thanh. And I’ve heard a great deal about why other expats choose to stay where they stay, as well.
Today, I’m going to share my impression of all these areas, with photos I took of each. By the end, you’ll have some good ideas of where you’d maybe like to stay, based on your own priorities and preferences.
For context: I’m a single American male digital nomad in his 30s. I don’t speak much Vietnamese. I don’t drink alcohol or partake in much nightlife. All of this affects how I view and experience Saigon.
1. District 1
District 1 (or D1) is the “downtown” of Saigon. Many of the other popular districts to live in are bordering D1, and most tourists and digital nomads opt to stay in D1 on their first visit to Saigon.
It’s full of restaurants and entertainment, and a lot of businesses, banks, government buildings, and famous landmarks are in D1.
I’ve stayed in D1 several times myself. It’s convenient to be in the center of everything. Even when I’ve stayed in other districts, I usually end up coming into D1 every week, often multiple times per week.
Personally, I’d say one of the nicest places to walk around in Saigon is Ben Bach Dang Park in D1, and the waterfront walkways around there. (Nguyen Hue walking street is right there, too.)
Other areas of interest in D1 would be Japantown toward the northeast end, which is basically a red light district with a bunch of massage places and also Japanese restaurants.
And of course, Bui Vien Walking Street toward the southwest end of D1, which is the party street full of clubs and bars. That area is known as the “backpacker area,” so it’s another place you can meet a lot of fellow travelers.
2. Thao Dien (District 2)
Thao Dien in D2 is maybe the most popular place for expats to live in Saigon. It’s designed as a “western town,” with sport bars and European-style cafes and the like.
If you want to socialize often with other expats, Thao Dien would be a great choice. Outside of Thao Dien, I’ve heard another popular ward for expats in D2 is An Phu. And there are some other interesting places in D2, as well.
Personally, I was impressed when I walked around the Sala Park Urban Area in D2. It has a clean and “manicured” vibe that reminded me a bit of Vinhomes Central Park.
I also stayed in another condo in D2 called the Metropole Galleria.
The Metropole condo has an iconic view of downtown Saigon from the pool, and the rooms and facilities are great. But aside from that condo, the area is still just starting to be developed.
One potential downside of D2 would be flooding in some areas.
I didn’t encounter any flooding during my short stays in D2, but I imagine it’s worth being mindful of that issue when looking for a place to stay longer term.
3. Phu My Hung (District 7)
Phu My Hung in D7 is nicknamed “Little Seoul,” and it’s known for its Korean population. It is a quiet neighborhood with wide, tree-lined streets, and a peaceful, relaxing vibe.
It also has a few big shopping malls, Crescent Mall and SC Vivocity mall. And there’s a decent park right next to Crescent Mall called Crescent Lake Park.
I recently stayed for a while in Phu My Hung. It was so much quieter and more peaceful than the areas of Saigon where I usually stay. I really see the appeal.
The potential downsides of living in District 7 would be the lack of nightlife and the far distance from D1. It can take a 20+ minute taxi ride to get from D7 into many parts of D1.
4. Vinhomes Central Park (Binh Thanh)
Arguably the nicest and largest park in Saigon is Vinhomes Central Park. It’s a very clean and beautiful park. It’s typically full of families and couples, walking around, exercising, or sitting on the grass and benches.
Right next to the park, there’s a bunch of Vinhomes condos, and a decent shopping mall at the bottom of Landmark 81 (the tallest building in Vietnam). I even noticed a school in this area. I think it’d be a great place to raise a family.
Personally, I’ve stayed in Vinhomes Central Park several times, for about a month total. Some people may complain that it feels like a bubble, separated from the rest of Saigon. But if so, I’d say it’s a nice bubble to be in.
Outside of Vinhomes Central Park, Binh Thanh looks different, but it can still be a great district to stay in. The location is convenient for accessing D1 and D2, making it an up-and-coming district for real estate development overall.
Other popular condos in Binh Thanh include the City Garden and Sunwah Pearl complexes. And it’s a huge district with a lot to explore.
5. The Edge of D4, Near D1
District 4 is the smallest district in Saigon, known partly for its street food. Authentic Vietnamese food is abundant and cheap here. However, another great reason to stay in D4 is the convenient proximity to D1.
Personally, I’ve stayed in D4 many times. But usually I’m staying in condos that are right at the edge of D4 and D1, so I can just walk across a bridge and immediately be in D1.
These condos include Saigon Royal, Rivergate Apartments, and the Masteri Millennium building. Their prices are affordable compared to other high-rise condos in Saigon, but their location is very convenient, as they’re practically in D1.
More Popular Places to Live in Saigon
I also wanted to mention District 3 and District 5 as somewhat popular places to stay in Saigon, particularly D3.
District 3 is conveniently right next to D1, and it has a similarly abundant number of restaurants and bars. It’s also got temples, parks, and beautiful colonial architecture.
D3 is also closer to the airport than D1, so if you plan on coming and going often, that would be convenient for you. I’ve been told the Terra Royal condo is a great place to stay in D3. But I haven’t been able to try it myself yet.
District 5 has Saigon’s Chinatown (Cho Lon), so it’s definitely a draw when it comes to street food, and it’s one of the places people love to eat in Saigon. But I haven’t stayed there yet myself.
More on Saigon as a Digital Nomad
Check out some of my other posts about living in Saigon as a digital nomad: