Areas and suburbs in Ho Chi Minh City
- Download our Ho Chi Minh City Schools Guide
Ho Chi Minh City is Vietnam's largest and most populated city. The city is divided into 24 districts: 19 inner districts and five suburban districts. Each of these offer a distinctively unique experience and, when deciding where to live in Ho Chi Minh City, it is important to consider each district's characteristics.
The heart of the city is located within Districts 1 and 3. These are ideal for travellers or short-term expats as they are close to the action and activity. For expats who plan on living in Ho Chi Minh City for longer, Districts 2 and 7 may be better options.
Make sure to take commute times into consideration as traffic in and out of the city centre can become very congested during rush hour.
Young and hip areas of Ho Chi Minh City
A large number of the expats living in Ho Chi Minh are young single professionals or couples who have moved to experience living abroad and are using Vietnam as a base from which to explore Asia. For this demographic, there a number of areas close to the city centre and its activities.
Considered to be the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, District 1 is the centre for all financial, commercial and administrative activity. Although it is still Vietnamese in character, this district has felt the effects of globalisation and development most heavily. Restaurants and shops offering cuisines and goods from around the world are found alongside expensive, upscale hotels.
For those with an eye for shopping, District 1 has an ever-expanding commercial scene with high-end stores like Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs lining Dong Khoi Street and Nguyen Hue. It's also home to most of the city's museums, tourist attractions and historical sites, including Ben Thanh Market and The Reunification Palace (Independence Palace).
District 1 offers some of the highest living standards in the city with a range of serviced apartment buildings. Rent here is much more expensive than in other districts. On the other hand, District 1 also caters to budget travellers in the backpackers' area of Pham Ngu Lao and Bui Vien. Cheap hostel or guesthouse accommodations can be found in this area, along with the potential to rent houses tucked away down alleys.
As District 1 is the city centre, it is one of the busiest districts and is where most of the action happens. Traffic within the district itself is not terrible, but the traffic entering and leaving District 1 can be heavy, especially during rush hour.
District 3 is considered by many to be the ideal place to live in Ho Chi Minh City. As a common local expression goes, "Go out in District 1, eat in District 5, and live in District 3".
The area's close proximity to the sights and activity of District 1 allows for expats to stay close to the action but also escape for more peaceful, quieter sleep. Many young expats opting to stay close to the bars, restaurants and shops of District 1 choose to live in this area as it still offers a range of recreational activities and parks.
District 3 offers apartments (serviced or non-serviced), houses tucked down alleys and old French colonial villas. Prices vary depending on the type of accommodation but expect them to be cheaper than District 1.
As with many other districts, motorbikes and taxis are the best forms of transportation. Be aware, though, that the small streets of this district make it prone to traffic congestion.
Binh Thanh's cheap housing makes it very popular among young English teachers. Sandwiched between District 1 and District 2, it has become an increasingly lucrative spot for property developers. High-rise, high-quality, serviced apartment buildings such as The Manor and Saigon Pearl can be found in Binh Thanh.
This area has seen a steady stream of road construction over recent years and is an entry hub for many trucks, so it can be noisy at times.
Family-friendly areas in Ho Chi Minh City
For expats moving to Ho Chi Minh City with children, the main priority will be finding a home close to the city’s international schools. For families it is best to move further away from the hustle and bustle of the central business district and to more residential areas where properties are larger and there are more parks and open spaces.
District 2 is home to many long-term expats who want living standards close to that of their home countries. While this district is close to the city centre, it's still far enough away to be secluded from District 1's endless activity.
District 2 (specifically Thao Dien Ward and An Phu Ward) is an alluring family-friendly settlement for Western expats and wealthy Vietnamese as it provides a high standard of living. These two wards offer less chaotic streets, numerous international schools, and Westernised housing options.
Thao Dien and An Phu both have high-quality residential apartments, large houses and villas – some with pools and in walled compounds – at reasonable prices. Numerous restaurants, retail shops, grocery stores and commercial offices can be found lining the streets here.
Similar to District 2, many expats living in Ho Chi Minh City choose to make District 7 their home. The district is filled with wide, tree-lined streets surrounded by high-quality apartment buildings and villas for long-term residents. There is little development outside of housing accommodation, so it is a perfect spot to enjoy personal space as well as extensive greenery.
Phu My Hung is the most popular area of District 7, catering to expats with international schools, swimming pools, Western grocery stores and an increasing number of restaurants and shops.
Do not expect much in terms of nightlife activities or street life. The allure of District 7 is its peaceful, quiet atmosphere. Designed with a wealthy, high-income population in mind, houses here are more expensive than other areas of the city.
District 7 is quite remote from the city centre, with commute times at around 40 minutes and less convenient public transportation options. While it is nowhere close to a true Vietnamese experience, District 7 offers a peaceful lifestyle for families away from the noise and chaos of the city.
Neighbourhoods for culture lovers in Ho Chi Minh City
For those who want to get a really authentic Vietnamese expat experience, Ho Chi Minh City has a number of brilliant options available where expats can live alongside the locals and get a real insight into the Vietnamese culture.
With a large Chinese Vietnamese population, it is no surprise that District 5 is known as the China Town of Ho Chi Minh City. District 5 offers prominent cultural experiences in food and architecture, as it is famous for its street food and holds the largest number of pagodas and temples.
It is not as expensive to live here as it is in District 1, and is similarly priced to District 3. Commutes range from 10 to 20 minutes on a motorbike. Public bus transport to District 1 is convenient and it will take about 40 minutes to get to Ben Thanh Market. Several hospitals can also be found in this district.
Cheap, tasty food options and affordable rental prices make District 10 a popular spot for Ho Chi Minh City's student population. Traffic to and from the city centre can get pretty congested due to the small streets and dense population. Fortunately, though, District 10 is located conveniently close to District 1.
Because of the large student presence, the district offers many recreational activities from swimming pools to cafés and fitness centres. For those searching for authentically Vietnamese accommodation, District 10 may be a good choice.
Phu Nhuan District
Considered to be the geographical centre of Ho Chi Minh City, Phu Nhuan is located between District 1 and the airport, sharing borders with many of the inner districts. Because of this, numerous main roads run through Phu Nhuan, leading to quickly congested streets.
It is one of the most heavily populated districts of the city but still maintains a Vietnamese charm with vibrant street life, a fair number of parks, and an abundance of coffee shops. Living in Phu Nhuan may be a good option for those working close to the airport but who also want to remain close to the buzz of the city centre.
Housing options in Phu Nhuan tend to be serviced apartments or alley houses.