Digital Nomad Guide to Ho Chi Minh City

Vietnam's capital city is the perfect place for any digital nomad. Former local Izzy Pulido is sharing her top tips in this guide to Ho Chi Minh City. Read on to find out more!

FREQUENTLY ASKED

Where is it and why should you go?

Located in the southern part of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon) is the commercial hub and the largest city in Vietnam. It's an emerging economic destination, the start-up capital of Southeast Asia, and is peppered with design-oriented cafes and co-working spaces linked up to hyperspeed internet from Singapore making it the ideal spot for digital nomads.

What is the weather like?

HCMC has two seasons: rainy season (May-November) and dry season (December-May).

The best thing about Ho Chi Minh City is:

The energy - it's so dynamic and that dynamism is palpable! 

The worst thing about Ho Chi Minh City is:

The pollution and the traffic - your health can get affected by the inhalation of exhaust fumes day in and day out.

Is English spoken?

Yes, but more by youths than the older generation.

Is Ho Chi Minh City safe?

Vietnamese are non-confrontational people. However, there is a rise of Vietnamese men becoming more forward with foreign women especially. Always travel with a buddy if possible during the night, and take Uber/Grab instead of taxis so you can report issues with your driver just in case anything goes wrong.

Best areas to live in?

For short-term expats/those who like to be central, District 1 and District 3 are great options. For expats who want to stay in Vietnam long term, many move out to Districts 7 and 2.

What is the internet like in Ho Chi Minh City?

Super fast with occasional disruptions because of political ongoings. Don't be surprised if your Instagram or Facebook doesn't work one day.

Do you need a car to get around?

Motorbikes are the transportation of choice. It's a dangerous gamble to invest in one but many people do. It's usually around $45 a month to rent or about $350-400 for a secondhand purchase.

FAVORITE CAFÉS TO WORK FROM

  • The Maker on the 3rd Floor, 42 Nguyen Hue Street, District 1: One of the many cafes housed in this apartment-cafe complex, The Maker always has the music turned on that's never too loud and has complimentary iced tea. Also, the coffee selection is a lot cheaper than most cafes.
  • Vietcetera Cafe on 290 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, District 1: A cafe that honors the innovation of Vietnamese shakers and makers, this cafe has a number of workspaces and even though it is small, they do a great job with making the sitting areas feel sequestered so you have enough privacy to do your work.
  • L'Usine on 1/151 Dong Khoi Street, District 1: The famous French bistro/concept store/cafe found only in Saigon. Working is better at the Dong Khoi branch but the food is better at the Le Loi street branch. Lunch can get very noisy but the items are good. A wee bit expensive.

GREAT CO-WORKING SPACES

  • WORK Saigon in District 3 - An old colonial house renovated into a coworking space with multiple room setups and power outlets and a great selection of food to keep you powering through the day.
  • Artfolio in District 5 - Spacious yet intimate. In a more quiet section of Saigon. Right across the street is the best bun cha joint in Saigon hands down.

OTHER FAVORITE HOTSPOTS

  • Nguyen Hue Pedestrian Street: Created in October of 2015, this plaza in downtown Saigon is closed off for the night from motor activity so pedestrians can take in the surrounding sights, such as the City Hall with a statue of Uncle Ho greeting visitors and a bevy of historic hotels like the iconic Rex Hotel and The Caravelle.
  • Maison Marou on 167-169 Calmette Street, District 1: Maison Marou is a patisserie built by the famous Saigon chocolatiers, Marou Chocolates. The patisserie uses the brand's spectrum of dark chocolates. You shouldn't miss out on the chili hot cocoa.
  • Takashimaya Department Store: This Japanese department store has the coolest Japanese-themed food court on the B2 level and a "Japanese Village" on the fifth floor, which is basically a space divided into different eateries showcasing around one specific regional dish, like ramen and katsu steak.

NEARBY

MUI NE | A small beach destination, this seaside escape is also home to the stunning White Sand Dunes and the Red Sand Dunes that look more like Morocco and less like Vietnam. Around 4 hours by bus.

MEKONG DELTA | The Mekong Delta is home to the tributaries of the mighty Mekong that begin their course in the mountains of Tibet and end in Southern Vietnam. Wake up early for the Cai Be Floating Market for more insight into local life. Around $2 by bus.

DALAT | A hillside quaint town and the former French colonial vacation spot. The temperatures range in the 60F or 15C, which makes for a great escape if you become too sun weary.

BUDGET

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RENT

Roomshares: $200-300
Studios + Apartments: $400-1,000

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COFFEE

$1/cup at streetside cafe
$/cup at establishment

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STREET FOOD

Average: ~$2.50-$4.50
Banh Mi -$1
Pho - $3

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RESTAURANT

Vietnamese Main Course + Drink: $10
Western Main Course + Drink: $20

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ALCOHOL

Beer (store): $1
Bia Hoi Beer: $0.50/pint
Wine (store): <$10/bottle
Wine (restaurant): $5/glass
Dalat Wine: $3/bottle
Cocktails: >$5

tourism-icon-83 PUBLIC TRANSPORT

Use Grab or Uber instead
Grab has better navigation

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ACTIVITIES

Museums: $0.75 average
Motorbike Tours: ~$25/person
OneTrip Adventure's Student Tour: donation-based
Cooking Classes: ~$45

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HOTELS

Hostel Dorm Bed: ~$10
Hostel Dorm Private: $20-30
Hotels: $20-30

RECOMMENDED HOSTELS + HOTELS

The Common Room Project and Chaosdowntown Art Hostel 

FACEBOOK GROUP FOR DIGITAL NOMADS IN HCMC

Co-working Days in Saigon for nomads and Female Expats and Locals in Ho Chi Minh City for women

 

As an avid collector of first-time experiences, Izzy Pulido lives for good times and good people. With 44 countries under her belt, life is proving to be quite the adventure indeed. She lived in HCMC where she is the managing editor of the Vietnam Tourism Advisory Board. See the world through the lens of graphic design over at her blog, The Next Somewhere.

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