If you are looking for a place to live in Ho Chi Minh City, District 1 is the place to be. It’s where everything happens. It’s the financial heart of the city, it’s where most tourists end up because of the many museums, restaurants and bars it offers. It has beautiful parks, great local markets as well as giant malls. It has a cathedral and a world-famous post office. And it also has a wide range of apartments for rent.
Walking Saigon’s District 1 streets will reveal anachronistic scenes like a foreign businessman in a suit talking to a Vietnamese woman wearing a traditional Ao Dai dress, in front of a stand where an old lady with a conical hat is selling cell phone SIM cards… District 1 is a true melting pot of the traditional and the modern. It’s a fascinating place to live.
What’s to love?
If you have chosen to live in Saigon, you probably have visited all the historical sites like the Reunification Palace, the Opera House, City Hall and its beautiful walking square or the Jade Emperor’s Pagoda. While you will be able to visit them from time to time if you live in the city, you certainly won’t go everyday… So what else is there to do? The answer is pretty much anything and everything!
District 1 was made for shopaholics. For a traditional shopping experience, head to Ben Thanh Market, where you can buy everything from food and flowers to T-shirts and trinkets. Vincom Center, located smack dab in the middle of the city at 72 Le Thanh Ton, is packed with big international brands like H&M, Zara and Marks & Spencer. Boutiques populate nearly every street in District 1 and there are plenty of tailors where you can get the perfect custom-made item.
If you’re a foodie, District 1 will present an interesting problem: there are way too many choices, from tasty street food (on almost every corner) to French restaurants like Le Jardins des Sens. You will find all kinds of cuisine, and fascinating experiences like dining in the dark while served by blind waiters at Noir.
For those who enjoy a busy nightlife, there’ s Pham Ngu Lao, which is reminiscent of Bangkok’s Kao San Road, with many bars and restaurants all crammed in a two-block area (on Bui Vien and De Tham Street). Left and right, craft beer pubs like Pasteur Street Brewing Company are cropping up in District 1. Nightclubs like Envy and cocktail bars like Qui are favorites among the city’s young professionals.
On a more work-related note, most international companies have their offices located in District 1, making it a great place to live if you don’t like to commute.
What’s to hate?
District 1 is not without flaws. It’s the busiest district in the whole city; it’s probably the noisiest as well. The traffic is also a major problem, and it’s been getting worse since the taxes were lifted on the purchases of cars. What was once a fluid sea of motorbikes is now a deadlocked grid of mixed vehicles… So much so that some Vietnamese take to the sidewalk with their motorbikes! It can get a little dangerous, no question about it. Crossing the streets is an adventure all in itself.
But if you can stand all that (and it will get easier when the subway opens in 2020), you will be living in an area that’s truly unique in the world. Think of it as the Manhattan of Vietnam.
Places to be
Here are a few interesting places to look at if you want to find a great apartment to rent in District 1:
Located on Pasteur street and very close to the Reunification Palace, this fully furnished and modern apartment offers two bedrooms and two bathrooms, ideal for a small family or to share the renting cost with a flat mate. The area surrounding the tower was designed by the French during the colonial era, which explains the wide boulevards lined with trees. The tower itself offers a swimming pool, a sauna and a gym.
This bright and spacious apartment is fully furnished with modern furniture. It offers one bedroom and two bathrooms. The area surrounding it is typically Vietnamese, with street food and local cafés everywhere. From this apartment, you could walk to the Saigon River and District 5 (Chinatown).
This 96 square meter apartment is fully furnished, with 3 bedrooms and a spacious balcony that offers a great view of the city. The surrounding neighborhood is full of cafés, Vietnamese shops and street food stalls. It’s very near District 5, which is home to the largest market in Vietnam as well as a lot of charming Chinese pagodas.
This comfortable and fully furnished apartment has one bedroom and one bathroom. It is located in an area filled with French Colonial villas with trees lining every street, near interesting restaurants, shops, galleries and museums.
Enjoy the single’s life with this very nice serviced studio, situated close to Pham Ngu Lao (but far enough not to be disturbed). Everything you need is within walking distance, like the Tao Dan Park, the city’s most attractive 10-hectare green space. Be sure to read our guide on studio life: 7 Ways to Transform Your Cramped Studio into a Cozy Bedroom.