My cousin’s son sent me an email asking for a good place to stay in Ho Chi Minh / Saigon. Since I’ve been to Saigon twice, my experience has allowed me to stay in different places.
Here’s a brief review of the hostels/hotels I’ve stayed at:
a. In 2009, my friend and I stayed at An An 2 hotel. It’s about $40 / night for a room with two beds. No free breakfast but the room is clean and big. It’s a good place to stay if you want to be comfortable. It also has a safe where you could store your valuables, a closet with hangers, a bathtub, and a heater. If you go up to the hotel’s roof deck, this is what you’ll see…
You can also drink at their roof deck according to what my friend read in a Lonely Planet guide book. We didn’t try it but if you want to, make sure to double-check with the front desk.
b. In 2010, I didn’t go for An An 2 Hotel even if I wanted to. I was on a very tight budget so I settled for a Trip Advisor and Lonely Planet recommended hostel. For $8/night, I stayed at Nga Hoang Hotel.
There are private rooms but I booked myself in an all-girls dorm via LonelyPlanet.com. The total price is $8 but booking online means paying a 10% deposit plus a service charge of $2.
When I arrived, the owner told me that I couldn’t stay in the girls room anymore because I was alone (I needed another companion in other words because a dorm room could not accommodate a single traveler). So I had to be in the mixed dorm. I agreed so she gave me a discount! Instead of paying $7.20, I only paid $6.
It was about 1:00 am when I arrived so when I entered the dorm room, everything was dark. Luckily for me, one of my roommates was awake. She greeted me and told me that she arrived 30 minutes earlier. She smiled which made me feel at ease knowing that most of my roommates were guys. The following morning, I woke up and thanks to the light, I finally observed my room which was very clean. The bed sheets were even fresh. Here’s a shot of my bunk (I stayed on the upper bunk):
Notice how clean the sheets are.
After taking a good bath (the common bathroom which was inside the room was also very clean, mind you), I went downstairs and grabbed my free breakfast of French toast with strawberry jam plus a glass of orange juice. The breakfast area is a good place to chat with other travelers. I was too shy at first so I didn’t approach anyone. But when I went back to my room, I talked to one of my roommates who was preparing herself to go back home to the US. She told me that she had been traveling alone for months and as a female, I admired her courage (Note: this was the first time I was introduced to “long term travel”).
Nga Hoang is a place I would definitely recommend if you’re planning to sleep in Saigon with a tight budget. Don’t be deceived by the “ghetto look” of the small alley which you have to pass through from the main road (De Tham street) in order to get to the hostel. It may be dark but it’s quite safe. I was also greeted a by a guard on duty when I arrived in Nga Hoang (he was the one who opened the gate for me). And if you don’t have a laptop with you, you can use the free computers at the hotel’s lobby.
Both An An 2 and Nga Hoang offer free towels for guests. But do bring your own soap and shampoo for Nga Hoang (I didn’t see any free stuff when I arrived except for the towels). Make sure to lock your bags too, especially if you’re staying in a dorm. Your roommates may be harmless but being cautious and aware can avoid mishaps.