Urban life

Ho Chi Minh City Beyond District 1

As Ho Chi Minh City expands, travellers are venturing farther from District 1 and uncovering charms like low-rise architecture and a neighbourhood with Cantonese cultural influences

For decades, Ho Chi Minh City often only meant District 1. But with the city rapidly expanding beyond its centre, and a Japanese-built metro system opening in 2020, the city’s outer districts are developing their own personalities. Here five other districts to keep on your radar.

Binh Thanh

Cedric Arnold

A short bridge away from District 1, Binh Thanh offers low-rise charm in its winding backstreets. Here you’ll find an appealing hodgepodge of retro, communist-era apartment blocks, bric-a-brac bars and tucked-away Japanese restaurants. A major draw is Khoai, a quirky, open-air craft beer spot inspired by Budapest’s ruin pubs.

District 2

Set along the snaking Saigon River, District 2 is a popular area for the city’s expats. Independent butchers, bakers and boutiques create a quaint, village-like atmosphere. Hit Saigon Outcast, an events space that hosts live music shows, food and drink fests, and weekend markets.

Cedric Arnold

District 4

The city’s smallest district also happens to be the closest to the centre – and that’s hastening development of this up-and-comer. Visit Ziggies Cafe, which blends traditional Vietnamese and contemporary Western flavours. There’s also live music most evenings.

District 5‭ ‬

Don’t call it ‘Chinatown’. The area proudly known as Cholon was once a city unto itself, and while massive pagodas and Cantonese restaurants still dominate, things are slowly changing. Case in point: Artfolio, which has a chilled coffee shop downstairs, and a co-working space and meeting rooms upstairs.

District 7

Far beyond the centre’s smoggy reach, District 7 is a family-friendly area where wide, tree-lined streets are modelled after suburban US. Lost Boys encapsulates the vibe: the vast courtyard bar-restaurant features a surprisingly tasteful design heavily inspired by Peter Pan.

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