I am not a part of Booking.com’s team. I don’t work for them, and this article is not sponsored by this site. It’s just my recommendation in case somebody needs it.
Finding a nice, modest, and cheap hotel in Vietnam is very easy. To be honest, I find it more difficult to get a hotel in my own homeland. In some big cities like Jakarta, Bandung, and so forth, the prices are rising drastically every year. Bali is not an exception, although it has more options compared to other regions in Indonesia. This makes perfect sense as Bali is one of the most visited destinations in Indonesia, so there is fierce competition among hotels to offer the best price or best facilities to attract visitors. As a result, we, as customers, can choose the best and the cheapest one.
Okay, I will put this off for the next post (maybe). Now it’s time to make a short list about where to stay when you arrive in Ho Chi Minh City.
DISTRICT ONE - Pham Ngu Lao and Bui Vien
The most raucous district in Ho Chi Minh City (correct me if I am wrong) is Pham Ngu Lao and Bui Vien. According to my local friend, district one is specially dedicated to tourists, backpackers, entertainment seekers, and nightlife lovers. Real Vietnamese (local tourists) are hardly found in this area. Instead, you will find a bevy of international tourists strolling around this district.
District one offers a handful of affordable, modest, but nice hotels/hostels. I’ve been to Vietnam four times and each time I went around the Pham Ngu Lao or Bui Vien streets in district one. Not only is district one cheap and full of facilities, but it is also a strategic location. A short walk away, you will see a grand market (Ben Thanh) where you can get some souvenirs for a really great price. Also, several tourist sites such as the Cathedral and the Central Post Office can easily be reached by foot. For the traveler who wants to meander to Cambodia or to continue their journey to Da Lat, Nha Trang, Mui Ne or even Hanoi, the buses will take you straight to those destinations from this district.
What I don’t like in district one is the noise, especially the deafening sound of loudspeakers from the nightclubs. I am not a party animal and have really sensitive ears, so I am easily disturbed by the sound. Fortunately, most of the hotels I stayed in had soundproof walls. Thank God...
I love, undoubtedly, five star hotels. Yet my budget never allows me to book a hotel that costs more than 60 USD per day (especially if I travel by myself). But, don’t worry about it. In Vietnam, in spite of its low price, the hotels/hostels have nice amenities, and are well-designed and clean! And most of those hotels also provide a full breakfast specially made for their guests. How generous!
I have stayed in this hotel twice. First, when I travelled with my family, and second when I was off with my buddy. The location is quite remote. If you don’t watch carefully, you might pass the signboard that hangs right on the side road to the hotel. Don’t judge the book by its cover!
The hotel might seem small, but the room was spacious enough and the bathroom was really clean. I do care about the bathroom a lot because if the bathroom is dirty, the other parts of the room MUST BE dirty as well (that’s my opinion). Unfortunately, the hotel doesn’t provide either an elevator or escalator. So, if you are suffering from backache, weak legs, or laziness, you'd better ask the receptionist to put you on the first or second floor. Last time, I hit the jackpot - 4th floor!
Breakfast? Full breakfast. Even though I can’t categorize this breakfast as either Continental or American, I can guarantee that you will get 2 eggs (sunny side up/omelette), toast, fruit and juice. Or if you want some noodles, you can request them. You can also help yourself to more toast. So, I beg you, please don’t be silly by saying that they should vary their breakfast. For this price, getting such a complete dish is more than enough!
Tour? They can arrange a tour for you. But I prefer to look around first, think, compare, and then decide whether I will use the tour from the hotel or from the other travel agents.
Vintage Hostel Saigon
The hotel, which offers two types of room (private or dormitory room), is perfectly adequate to meet backpackers’ needs: good air conditioner, spacious room, lockers with keys and cards for backpacks, nice bunk beds, and a hearty meal (toast, eggs, fruit, coffee/tea). The price is undoubtedly reasonable (10 USD/night/one bed in dorm room).
The location is very strategic - on the main road, in front of a huge and tantalizing club. Also, a couple steps from the hotel, you can find a smattering of cheap bars and restaurants (try the tiny pizza bar across the hotel - highly recommended).
Pink Tulip Hotel
The hotel is still situated in District one. Yet, I could say that it is more remote than Luan Vu or Vintage Hotel Saigon. Keep your eyes peeled for the small banner with ‘Pink Tulip Hotel and Spa’ writen on it.
As I chose the most inexpensive room (double room without window), I couldn’t and I mustn’t expect that much. The room was quite appreciable, with a king size bed, a television, an en-suite bathroom and a small desk. The bathroom was clean enough, even though, to be frank, it didn’t meet my criteria of cleanliness (I always expect too much if the topic is the bathroom).
Breakfast? They always serve a hearty meal for breakfast. So, don’t worry about starving if you stay in this hotel.
Tour? They offer a good tour at a modest price. On the D-Day, the person from the travel agent (TNT Tour and Travel) will pick us up from the hotel and show us to their office, which is situated a stone's throw away.
Those are my reviews about the hotels. I believe that you can find the most suitable hotel for you in whichever websites (but I am a big fan of booking.com), especially if you have the means.