Vietnam Area Guides: Ho Chi Minh City

District 1 Area Guide

Ho Chi Minh City
“Looking for the heart and soul of southern Vietnam? Welcome to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) – a city full of contrasts, memories of the past and excitement for the future.”
Carli Allan
Editor, International
District 1
Ho Chi Minh City, UAE
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There are several reasons why locals and expats choose to live in District 1. Located at the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, this high-end district has everything you need to work, rest and play – right on the doorstep. As well as being a hub for foreign embassies, government offices and finance centres, District 1 has streets lined with restaurants, cafes, shops and other services. There’s also a small choice of international schools here – but plenty more in the neighbouring District 2 – and most of the city's museums, tourist attractions and historical sites, including Ben Thanh Market and Reunification Palace.

Life moves as fast as the honking motorcycles commuting up and down District 1’s roads. As well as crowds of tourists year-round, the district is abuzz with residents – and with the high number of expats living here, you’re more likely to hear English being spoken in many areas than Vietnamese. It’ll come as no surprise that District 1 is one of HCMC’s busiest districts, but there are hopes that a new metro system opening in 2019 will help to keep people moving in and out of the area.

While French colonial buildings and traditional Chinese style pagodas are a reminder of Vietnam’s rich heritage, there’s a truly global effect sweeping across District 1. From the skyscrapers on the skyline to the Western-styled malls, hotels and restaurants in Pham Ngu Lao Street and beyond, this area feels very cosmopolitan.

The Ho Chi Minh City Metro is due to open in 2019, which will improve accessibility in and out of District 1. If driving, motorists can use the Ho Chi Minh City - Trung Luong Expressway to Tiền Giang and the Mekong Delta, or the Ho Chi Minh City - Long Thanh - Dau Giay Expressway to connect to the southeast.

American International School, International Primary School, Vietnam Australia International  School

As well as a chain of government-owned hospitals and medical centres, there are several private clinics including Family Medical Practice and Columbia Asia.

There are plenty of cultural and historical attractions here, including Ben Thanh Market, Reunification Palace and the Notre Dame Cathedral, as well as parks and river cruises to explore.

You can haggle for everything from tacky souvenirs to household goods in the Ben Thanh Market, go bargain hunting in Saigon Square or splash the cash at the high-end stores like Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs lining Dong Khoi Street and Nguyen Hue. There are also several shopping malls that are home to global brands and independent stores.

Bars and restaurants
There’s certainly no shortage of excellent street food, high-end restaurants and boutique cafes here, as well as a vibrant and colourful nightlife on the famous strip of Bui Vien.

District 1 Ratings





Family Friendly


Transport Links


District 1 Pros & Cons


Wide choice of cultural and historical attractions
City centre location
Excellent for shopping and dining


High rents and cost of living
Traffic congestion and lack of public transport
Small choice of international schools

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