Move To Ho Chi Minh City-Expat's Favorite Places To Live
Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon is Vietnam's largest city and the commercial capital of the country. It's one of Southeast Asia's most dynamic cities and one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the world. If you're coming to live here life can either look like it has more or less for decades or be as contemporary as any of the world's modern urban centers. As a resident you get to decide how you want to experience it.
Join me as i explore its very diverse and unique districts and wards where most of Ho Chi Minh City's expats call home and where you might too. I'm John Saboe, and these are my Far East Travels. i've lived and traveled throughout Asia for several years now and for the last two I've been in Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon. I'm beginning this journey of expats favorite places to live where i currently reside and that's in District One's Da Kao Ward, home to the famous Jade Emperor Pagoda.
Built in the early part of the 20th century by the Cantonese community it gained international attention in 2016 when U.S. President Barack Obama paid it a visit. There are 24 districts in all of Ho Chi Minh City and each one is broken down by wards to make managing addresses and locations easier, especially within the larger districts. District One is the heart of the city and it's where many expats tend to stay or live when they first come to Ho Chi MInh. Many people by the way
still refer to the core of the city as Saigon, its official name before reunification of the north and south. Da Kao Ward is located in the northeast section of District One and is home to many consulates as well as international offices and is within a short walking distance to some of the city's most important historical sites, including the Jade Emperor Pagoda as well as it's best restaurants, five-star hotels, and a staggering variety of cafes, bars, and clubs. This is also where almost all of the city's big cultural events take place including fashion week.
If you like nightlife being close to cultural events and activities and walking as opposed to riding a motorbike or taking taxis all the time, then District One is a good option, especially if you work here. This is however not the most pedestrian friendly district with many sidewalks either overwhelmed with motorbike drivers during rush hour or cluttered with park bikes, so you'll need to be extra careful than you might in other cities. Maybe not the most family-friendliest district but there are parks and of course shopping malls close by.
Like living in any other core of a city prices are generally on the higher side for rooms or apartments but it is still possible to find something for 5 million dong or just over $200 a month. This will probably be a small room possibly above a shop. For a proper serviced studio apartment with cleaning and laundry service and English speaking management expect to pay approximately 10 million dong or $450 dollars a month which may or may not include electricity and other services. You can find property managers online or an agent through a referral from a social media group but it's also possible just to walk around the streets of Da Kao and find room for rent signs posted. This is how you might stumble across one of those two to three hundred dollar a month rooms.
if you're someone that wants even more nightlife options close by, some Saigon daily street life inspiration and lots of great sidewalk cafes and street food options our next stop Nguyen Thai Binh on District One's Southside could be the place for you. Nguyen Thai Binh is definitely a ward or neighborhood in transition. Close to Ben Thanh Market and what will probably be the biggest Ho Chi Minh City Metro Station there are several high-rise projects underway and new and interesting restaurants popping up all the time from craft beer joints to mexican restaurants and a cafe that also serves as a retail outlet and bakery for a chocolatier.
The old standards of course are still here as well and there are some fine examples of French Colonial architecture and atmospheric places like the "Antique Street" and Co Giang neighborhood. You're also close to Bui Vien Walking Street and Pham Ngu Lao if you want to feel like a backpacker again or just enjoy the many bar and club options and you're still close enough to walk or stagger to the core of saying Nguyen Hue Walking Street for all that it offers. There's a good selection of rental apartments in this area and even hostels or hotels if you just want to go day to day until you figure out where you want to be long term. If you're working in District 7 but want to live in One this wouldn't be a bad option for you. It's a great area if you're new to Ho Chi Minh or single or both.
If you still want to be close to District 1 and all the action but are looking for a slightly quieter option with character then our next stop, District 3 just might work for you. District 3 has some of the best street food options around and some great atmospheric streets and neighborhoods and French Colonial Villas and buildings. Even a music street where you can buy a custom-made guitar and a cafe with a secret basement the Viet Cong used to stash weapons during the war. "It comes out into the bathroom on the second floor".There are also some prominent temples in District 3 and where there's temples you'll easily find vegetarian or vegan restaurants in Vietnam.
District 3 is also closer to district 5 for exploring it's many markets and food options. You'll find interesting apartments down quiet alleys that are visited by street vendors selling everything from banh mi to coconuts. If you find a place near the canal you'll have options for daily walks away from the bikes. Another area expats live right across the canal is Phu Nhuan which has its own unique neighborhood of alleys filled with cafes and great local food as well as budget living accommodations. Our next stop is one of the top places for expat families to live in Ho Chi Minh City. Phu My Hung in District 7 is a planned community approximately 8 kilometers south of the heart of District 1 or 20 minutes by car or motorbike in non-rush hour traffic. Once a wetlands the Phu My Hung Corporation's project is a joint Taiwanese/Vietnamese venture strikingly different in
so many ways from the traditional core of Ho Chi Minh. Wider streets, clean uncluttered sidewalks, and plenty of parks and green spaces for outdoor activities. This is a choice location for families or people just looking for a quieter alternative to the hectic pace of urban Saigon. Many expats are also attracted to the area for job opportunities as there are many international schools located in District 7, and Phu My Hung and stretching further south to the River Park area. If you're looking for a two or three bedroom apartment or home you'll have lots
of choices but prices are high and can easily exceed 20 or 30 million dong a month or more. You can find studios and other apartments in the lower price ranges if you hunt around and depending on the location of course. There are other options like renting in District 7 near Nguyen Thi Thap Street on the fringe of Phu My Hung however you'll probably be dealing with much more traffic congestion and noise but you'll be close enough to access Phu My Hung's amazing amenities and shopping.
So I really enjoy the heritage, the architecture, the tradition of District one but after spending a couple hours out here and walking around seeing these wide streets, the slower pace, pedestrian friendly places to walk, I'd be very tempted to make a move out here. One of my favorite vegan banh mi's by the way in like all of Ho Chi Minh. Moving back up closer to the core of Ho Chi Minh City our next stop is Binh Thanh District which appeals to a wide variety of expats. Less than two kilometers from Nguyen Hue Walking Street in District 1, the eastern end of Binh Thanh is close enough to make nightly trips into the core but far enough away to save some money on rent you'd fork out for the same size place in District 1. You're close to the Thi Nghe Market
and canal for local shopping and daily walks and everyday life that hasn't changed much in decades. There are lots of places here always advertising service departments or rooms for short stays or longer term leases. You can easily pay a visit to the neighborhood, knock on a few doors make some calls and have a place lined up within a couple of hours. I've never lived here but I've visited Binh Thanh many times and I sense this area is super friendly for foreigners. There are some high-rise complexes that are favored by expats as well in the area.
Lots of little Japanese restaurants and bars here as well as the ubiquitous Vietnamese barbecue places and cafes so there's probably enough to keep most people happy with the nightlife and dining opportunities close by. It wouldn't be hard to find a studio apartment here starting at around 5 million dong or just over $200 a month. "So I found a little sushi place here that's very nice and cozy and inexpensive. The sashimi and sushi
is absolutely delicious. People are so friendly here. I think this would be a really easy place to integrate. I think the local people that live here like to talk to foreigners, they're talking to me right now. And it seems like the people that own the shops and businesses around here can speak English so they're used to foreigners, obviously because there's so many japanese restaurants in the neighborhood. There's a lot of Japanese people that stay or live in Binh Thanh as well. But it's very foreigner friendly here
and this food is just amazing, fantastic. Cheers!" Moving east two kilometers by foot a little more by car or motorbike is one of Ho Chi Minh City's most impressive new city within city developments. Vinhomes Central Park anchored by the Landmark 81 skyscraper, the tallest building in Southeast Asia. Inspired by New York City's Central Park this series of high-rise and low-rise condos is convenient for expats that need to access District 1 with about a five and a half kilometer by car or fifteen to twenty minute ride without traffic delays. Expats that move here will have access to
a huge park alongside the Saigon River plus convenient shopping, entertainment, including a skating rink in the mall, schools and an international hospital all within walking distance. With lots of options for families a four bedroom fully furnished condo can easily go as high as 60 million dong plus per month. You can find one bedrooms in the 13 million range plus. This area is really for people looking for convenience, safety, plenty of places to walk or run without worrying about traffic and modern high-rise living with gym and pool facilities in many cases. "Well one of the huge benefits of living in a place like Vinhomes Central Park is this massive gorgeous green space they have here. Ican picture myself walking here at least a couple times a day. Not at 11 o'clock in the morning right now when it's scorching bloody hot but probably in the early morning or later in the evening. Just be a wonderful place to come and relax and unwind and enjoy these beautiful views of the Saigon River and the park here."
Close enough for short commuting to District 1 and District 2, late 2021 is expected to bring Ho Chi MInh City Metro service with its first line to the area. What a relief for people of Central Park. A stop near the park will take you right to Ben Thanh Market in District 1 on the new Line 1. The last stop on this video takes us to District two's Thao Dien area. Nicknamed "Western Town", you'll find one of the highest concentrations of Western expats living here along with expats from other Asian countries and of course Vietnamese.
Many expats have been attracted to Thao Dien for several years now for work opportunities, many international schools are found here, and the lifestyle which is one of Ho Chi Minh City's least traditional neighborhood areas. In Thao Dien although high rises have sprung up over the years and more are being developed many of the streets are filled with low rise and villa style buildings or houses creating a unique atmosphere that immediately feels more spacious. You won't see anywhere near as many of the "tube" style buildings or shop houses that you'll come across in the core districts. The area is also not a traffic through way like Districts one, three, or five where you'll find hundreds of thousands of motorbikes on the road during the day, giving it an especially different environment with the lack of that Saigon din. It also probably has the highest density per square kilometer of pilates and yoga studios as well as courtyard style shopping squares which are not typical in other districts let alone in all of Vietnam. When traffic isn't at its peak it takes about 20 minutes by car, maybe a little faster by
bike to get to Nguyen Hue Walking Street in District one, with a distance of approximately eight kilometers. "It seems like almost every little cafe and restaurant around Thao Dien has a vegan option or a few vegan options which is very nice, very convenient. Now full disclosure, i'm at this place called Simple Place, Mexican place and I've ordered here before but I've had it delivered to District 1. So it's kind of nice to have this pumpkin burrito alfresco right out here at the restaurant. Let's give this a try. That is so good! The avocado in there, pumpkin, wonderful! One of the reasons Thao Dien has seen such a rise in development in recent years is because it will also be one of the first communities along with Vin Homes Central Park that will be served by Ho Chi Minh City Metro's Line 1 in late 2021.
Again being an attractive area for expats to reside prices are comparable to other areas like Phu My Hung and Vinhomes Central Park. "So it's really true what they say about Thao Dien, it's unlike anywhere else in Ho Chi Minh City. The combination of less traffic, these low-rise buildings everywhere, these little courtyards that feature artisan shops and cafes that are very vegan-friendly. This is a really convenient place for vegans. Lots of baked shops that have vegan products, cafes. And then I just bought some cashew cheese from this place here that makes their own cashew cheese. So I'm looking forward to going home and making some grilled cashew cheese sandwiches. So very convenient if you're vegan but of course if you live in District 1, 3, or maybe even 7 you can have this stuff shipped out there, or have it delivered as well.
I think most expats that move to Thao Dien either immediately are attracted by something more familiar to them or they have lived in Ho Chi Minh City or Vietnam for an extended length of time and relish the less hectic environment and the conveniences of shops that stock Western and health foods and restaurants cafes and services that cater to their specific needs and perhaps a more family-friendly area as well. I certainly could get used to this, vegan food options everywhere, nut milk or soy milk with my coffee in almost any cafe and vegan ice cream. I will certainly have to join a pilates class with all that good living if I move here. For now though I'm staying in District 1 but who knows what the future holds. This video has made me once again contemplate the options that are available in this city that is honestly sometimes intoxicating and exhilarating, other times absolutely maddening, but I do love it.
I've still got some thinking to do..... Hey this is John Saboe, thanks so much for watching the video. If you enjoyed it, found it interesting or even mildly entertaining thumbs up please. Don't forget to subscribe to the channel for more videos from here in Vietnam, East Asia, Southeast Asia and South Asia.
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