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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.