If you’re thinking about making a trip to Vietnam or Ho Chi Minh City, you’re most likely wondering how much that’s going to cost you. Forbes, as well as many other publications, have ranked Vietnam as the one of the cheapest countries in the world for travel. But is it really that affordable? We’ve already crunched the numbers for a 7-night stay for one person in Ho Chi Minh City. From the penny pinching backpacker to the all out luxury traveler, we put together a list of different options for accommodation, food and things to do. No matter what your financial budget is, we have something planned out for everyone passing through the southern region.
If you’re booking a shorter trip, take a look at our guide to spending 36 hours in Ho Chi Minh City.
In this article, we break down accommodation options into three sections: budget, midrange and highend. Also, note that pricing can change considerably during the low and high seasons and national holidays, so make sure to check what time of year makes for the best time to travel.
How much to budget for Ho Chi Minh City?
You can crash at a Bui Vien hostel, an Airbnb or a family-run hotel. Finding a hostel smack dab in the city center without air conditioning can be had for as low as US $7 a night. Many Airbnbs in Ho Chi Minh City often go as low as US $15-$20 per night, but are usually located a bit further out. A clean and cozy Airbnb room in the center of the city will set you back about US $30. As for family-run hotels, you’ll find them in the US $20 to $50 range. Given the price points of these options, we recommend a centrally located Airbnb for the most comfortable, clean and convenient budget experience.
Midrange hotel prices generally start at US $50 and go up as high as $80. We generally recommend this category over the other two due to the level of value you’ll get from midrange accommodations options.
Our recommended midrange hotels include the Alagon Saigon Hotel and Spa and the Sunland Hotel which offer similar facilities (like a rooftop pool) and serve as a fair alternative to higher end luxury hotels without the added pomp and show.
In a place like Ho Chi Minh City, you can find great value with budget and midrange options. It rarely makes sense to book a highend hotel in Ho Chi Minh City unless you’re looking for an opulent getaway or extravagant accommodation. A standard room at a luxury hotel can go for anywhere between US $80-$500.
Our top picks in this category include the Reverie Saigon, the Park Hyatt Saigon, InterContinental Saigon Hotel, Villa Song Saigon and the Myst Dong Khoi. All of these hotels feature amenities such as a pool, spacious rooms with highend fixtures, well-stocked rooftop bars and premium locations.
Once you’ve figured out where to stay, you’ll most certainly need a mode of transportation in order to help you navigate the labyrinth of streets, intimidating traffic and innumerable skyscrapers.
So how do you get around Ho Chi Minh City? Unlike other large Asian cities such as Tokyo and Seoul, a taxi in Ho Chi Minh City represents incredible value. We suggest you play it safe, and ride with either Mai Linh or Vinasun, which are the most trusted local taxi companies.
If hailing cabs aren’t your thing, the perfect alternative is to download the Uber or Grab app, which allows you to snag a private taxi using your smartphone. Most rides within the District 1 area run no more than VND 60,000, or roughly US $3 give or take.
If you’re traveling solo and feeling adventurous, dial up an UberMOTO or a GrabBike. A motorbike driver will pull up to your pickup location, just like a regular cab.
Generally speaking, public transit is not recommended due to long wait times, limited service and overcrowding. In fact, most of our team has never taken public transit in any form. For most visitors, it can be quite an irritating experience.
If you are the kind of person that prefers to walk, keep in mind the weather can be severe, which often impedes even the locals from doing so. The traffic is another obstacle when walking, and for many, just crossing the street can be stressful. In lieu of this, the city has set up designated walking streets such as Nguyen Hue in District One.
Eating in Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnam is famous for its delicious street food, and whatever your budget is, we recommend trying it out. However, if you’re one of those anti-street food people worried about sanitation, we’ll forgive you just this once. Take your pick as Ho Chi Minh City is up to the rafters with an array of lifestyle restaurants surely worthy of your praise. If you’re willing to shell out the dough, there’s no shortage of options across the board.
Since you’re in Vietnam, you have to try the dishes that locals eat for breakfast. We especially love pho and banh mi, but there’s much more to Vietnamese breakfast than just those two. And of course, there are plenty of Western options like local iconic brand L’Usine to try out. We’d budget anywhere from US $1 to $15 for breakfast depending on your palate and personal preference.
We can’t leave you hungry after breakfast, so how about a few Vietnamese dishes for lunch? We recommend trying out Ho Chi Minh City’s most celebrated street food vendor, simply referred to as the ‘Lunch Lady’. She can only be found a few hours per day at Nguyen Thi Thanh street in district one.
Both Anthony Bourdain and Luke Nguyen dropped by to give her a visit when they visited and if they can eat it, so can you. It’s some seriously good food.
Now, If you’re still adamant that you want something a bit classier, try some of our personal favorites like The Racha Room or The Old Compass Cafe. They are two of Ho Chi Minh City’s culinary powerhouses and they can cook up a fury not to disappoint.
Set lunches are also pretty popular, and prices for such usually start around US $7 at a more upscale Vietnamese or international joint.
Our favorite meal of the day in Vietnam is dinner, and if you go about the city at this time you will see locals out together in big groups eating, laughing and knocking back a few beers with their friends and family. Ho Chi Minh City is all about the nightlife and food is a vital component. Many establishments are closed by day and appear out of the woodwork once the sun goes down. Ranging from rooftop dining to sit-down bistros, the list of options goes on forever. Take your pick.
Things To Do
There are many things to do in Ho Chi Minh City at night whether it be late night munchies, bar hopping, or taking an unforgettable day trip. Pop down to a nearby beach or head off the Mekong Delta to experience the floating markets.
Some of the best sightseeing in the city includes French colonial architecture, ancient temples and pagodas and traditional street markets. We recommend doing some of these earlier in the morning, or early evening to beat the heat.
Aside from the hotspots like Ben Thanh market, where you’ll find shopkeepers selling you everything from a toothbrush to a coconut, there are many boutique shops worth a gander. From fashion, accessories and home goods, Ho Chi Minh City boasts some of the best up-and-coming local brands throughout Southeast Asia divvying out all sorts of items that make for fantastic gifts back home.
Museums and Galleries
Compared to Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City doesn’t have quite as many cultural sites to see, but there are a handful of museums and galleries worth checking out. Our top picks include the War Remnants Museum and The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre.
Nightlife in Ho Chi Minh City
There’s the backpacker nightlife scene of Bui Vien, where you can get beers for VND 12,000, but the upscale portions of Ho Chi Minh City are not that different from the rest of the world. You can find amazing cocktails, rooftop bars or a romantic spot to take your date. Depending on where you go, it can be pretty easy to rack up a sizeable tab. Part of the beauty of Ho Chi Minh City are the options. You can eek your way around US $20 per day, or go all out and live like a king. The ball is in your court.
Now that we’ve pieced together a list of things you can do, places you can go and dishes you can try, it’s time to get down to brass tacks. Money. Budgeting usually sucks, especially if numbers aren’t your thing. So, we’ve done all the math for you. Whether you’re coming for budget backpacking or off to pamper yourself in the tropical climate, take a peek at our table below and get an idea of how much to you will need for your trip to Ho Chi Minh City.