Whether you are backpacking, on a business trip or looking for a citybreak, having a weekend to refresh is always needed, Ho Chi Minh City is one of the best places to do so. However, not knowing where to go, what to do or having the time to find out can really put you off.
District 1 has great choice of luxury hotels, bars, and restaurants with some of the best chef’s in the country.
With a little help from an insider, you can have a weekend of luxury without breaking the bank: I’ve put together some of the best spots in the city to satisfy all your needs, discover some hidden gems, great nightlife and moments of bliss.
Where to stay
Little Saigon Boutique Hotel
With its central location, this hidden gem really gets it, with just the right amount of intimacy and attention to detail that makes your stay memorable. Here, you’ll be at the very centre of District 1, with immediate access to some of the most famous attractions and the best restaurants and bars in the city. With just 18 rooms, the hotel does not have a pool, but I’ll get that covered for you soon.
Location: 36 bis/ 2 Le Loi Boulevard, Benh Thanh
- Cinnamon Hotel Saigon – 74 Le Thi Rieng, Benh Thanh
Where to eat
This traditional Vietnamese restaurant is one of my personal favourites. The décor takes you back in time: ‘60’s tiles, ceramics, dark wood and pictures of old Saigon that are typical of the more local café’s and restaurants in the city. The menu is combination of old and new, with an entire page for vegetarians and a surprisingly good wine list. Some dishes have rather interesting flavour combinations, but there is nothing to fear with these guys, their chef is phenomenal; just try it!
Quick tip: lunchtime is peak time, you may struggle to get a seat. Evenings are advised.
- Spice Bistro – 2 Thi Sach,
- The Fish Sauce – Rooftop floor 6, 41 Le Duan
- The Old Compass Café – Floor 3, 63 Pasteur
Things to do during the day
The best spas in the city
You can’t have a weekend of luxury without a day of being pampered. Ho Chi Minh City is packed to the brim with spas, making it difficult to set apart the good and the bad. One of the more accredited spas is Miu Miu, known for it’s excellent services, professionalism and above all, quality. All you need to do is choose your pampering style and forget about the world. Booking is strongly recommended.
Location: Miu Miu, 4 Chu Manh Trinh
- Jolene, 193 Ly Tu Trong, Ben Thanh
Forget about paying extra for a hotel with a pool when you can pay as little as 7$ to go to a top hotel and use theirs. Unless you are a seasoned pool-crasher, this may not have cross your mind previously, but when humidity is part of your day to day life, this is the sort of information you hunt for.
Choose from the following hotels:
- Renaissance Riverside Hotel – 300,000VND for a day pass.
- New World Hotel – 300,000VND for a day pass.
- The Rex Hotel – 175,000 VND (includes sauna access)
The City Nightlife
Bars in Ho Chi Minh City
Once known for only really having beer or rice wine to offer, Ho Chi Minh City now has a great range of cocktail bars and an unmissable craft beer culture that is spreading across the country. However, finding some of these places can be difficult if you’re not familiar with the city. I’ve whittled the extensive list down, along with some helpful tips to finding the best bars hidden in the alleyways and on the rooftops of the city.
An open-plan craft beer bar next to the river overlooking Bitexco and downtown Saigon, this is a great place to see the city lights while sampling some of the best beers in the country from the ever-growing beer scene.
Address: 13 Pasteur (quick tip: Look out for the small sign and a staircase)
The Rex Hotel Bar
Dawn your best dress for this place. Recommended only for one, unless you visit during happy hour (17:00 – 19:00), here you can look onto Nguyen Hue’s buzzing nightlife in the city’s financial district.
Address: 141 Nguyen Hue
Hidden at the top of a staircase, past a small cafe, this bar is popular among the expat community and locals a-like. Broma hosts live bands and DJs on a regular basis and is great during the week for a relaxing evening with a cocktail in hand.
Address: 41 Nguyen Hue
Recognisable by a small glowing sign in the middle of a busy market street, Anan shot to stardom with a great reputation for food and drinks and a fantastic marketing campaign. Here, you’ll get a real idea of the city’s nightlife, looking onto one of the oldest markets.
Address: 89 Ton That Dam
Hidden in one of the city’s few remaining ‘shopping apartments’, this is a great spot if you are partial to a cocktail. A lot bigger than it seems at first, the bar hosts DJs regularly and is open to the early hours at the weekends.
Address: 14 Ton That Dam (1st floor, parking attendants will guide you)
I was introduced to this ruin bar in its early days, now it’s one of the more popular bars in the city among expats. Hidden down a street that is fast becoming the next Japantown, it’s a great escape from the city madness. If you are keen to try the craft beers of the world, their selection can only be compared to beer houses in Europe, and for a great price too.
Address: 89 Pham Viet Chanh, Binh Thanh
Need help getting around?
Here’s a map of District 1 with all of the above mentioned locations to help you get around.
Have I missed something?
Add your best finds in Ho Chi Minh City below.