Where I’m At: September, 2012 – Ho Chi Minh City

Living in Ho Chi Minh City for a month

Ho Chi Minh statue: Ho Chi Minh City
[Uncle Ho in Ho Chi Minh City]

Greetings from Ho Chi Minh City (also still called Saigon by many here.) I haven’t been here since 2005 and I was only here for a few days on that trip, but the word on the street is that Ho Chi Minh City is developing into a hotspot for online startups, so naturally I had to come and have a look for myself. I am getting back into slow travel as well, so I decided to spend a month here.

So far getting established in HCMC has been fairly straight forward. I found an apartment room to rent on my first day via Craigslist. For $250USD I get a simple room with wifi and a maid that cleans my room and does my washing. A maid! There is a kitchen which I have no intention of using while there is so much good food to be had outside. If you are looking for a place to stay easiest thing to do is to stay at a hotel in District 1 for a few days and look when you get here.

Chicken Pho - Ho Chi Minh City
[First order of business upon arrival – a bowl of Pho]

My plan is to spend a month here, work like crazy and explore as many neighbourhoods as I can. I’ve been fortunate to have met up with some friends who I know online and from Chiang Mai. I’ve already found some great cafes that wouldn’t be out of place in New York or Melbourne. With good coffee and fast wifi this is a great city to work in.

Working at L'Usine Cafe: Ho Chi Minh City
[Working at L’Usine Cafe with Jon Myers]

While I like my fancy cafes, I prefer my eats on street level: preferably sitting on a little plastic seat. On my wanders I’ve found so many good places to eat I feel happy with myself that I picked to spend a month here.

Street eats: Ho Chi Minh City
[Street eats in Ho Chi Minh City – the smaller the chair the better.]

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  1. ‘good coffee and fast wifi’? Things have changed a lot since I was last there; when computer parts on the machines were all on display and there certainly wasn’t any coffee in the Internet Cafe. Could get a beer poured over slabs of ice though.

    • It has changed a lot in the 8 years I was last here s well, though I got an iced tea with one giant chunk of ice so that still happens!

  2. Pho, Good Coffee and Fast Wi-Fi!? Are you in Ho Chi Minh or heaven?

  3. http://ShannonOD says

    That cafe looks great — love the big tables. You have me intrigued and interested James, very intrigued that I might have to try this place out next time I am in SEA. Glad you’re enjoying it!

    • Ooh excellent! I can myself coming back here more often as well so maybe I’ll see you at that table. I want to do a month in Hanoi as well for comparison, whenever I get the time next.

    • I read your comment as “…next time I am in Seattle (SEA).” It didn’t totally make sense based on the post, but we do have excellent coffee, fast wi-fi and some pretty good Pho out here in Seattle. 🙂

      • http://ShannonOD says

        Heh, you do have all three! Win for Seattle — and it would be a whole lot cheaper for me to come back for a visit to see you guys than Vietnam 🙂

  4. http://Jaime%20R says

    I will be spending all of November in Vietnam (Hanoi, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh). I look forward to all that delicious food!

  5. L’Usine is the best! They just opened up a new one on Le Loi, I’m there pretty much everyday to work. Interesting site, would love to have a chat with you someday if you’ve the time for a cuppa. 🙂


    • Hi Mel, I had heard about the new place but never made it over there. I will be heading back to HCMC soon so I will look you up for a cuppa when I get back 🙂

      • Definitely, just drop me an email. 🙂 Will be gone for a few months after 12th nov, but hope to catch you before or after anyway.


  6. http://Digital%20Overland says

    I make my living on the web and so far in Asia, I’ve stayed mostly in Bangkok because the net speeds here are SO fast compared to other places I’ve been.

    How are the speeds in HCMC? Do you have any issues? It’s important for me to use Skype for Phone calls often, Skype to Skype and Skype to phone. Not a problem in BKK, but I’m unsure of in HCMC.

    Any insight would be appreciated,


    • I have found HCMC to have comparable internet to BKK, and certainly better public wifi. There are lots of remote workers here these days as well, which says a lot about the standard of the internet. Of course the best way to find out is to come over 🙂

      • http://Digital%20Overland says

        I shall. I was there for about 20 days or so last year, but to be honest I worked very little and did not use Skype at all…so I might do my next visa run there. However, for me I need a quiet spot in the evening (since my customers are in the USA, and also be able to talk on skype without disturbing neighbors)….and also have fast internet at night.

        Tough combo and I’ve had to move around a few times in BKK to find the perfect combo for me. I might have to do the same in HCMC.

        Thanks for the answer!

        • http://Digital%20Overland says

          At home at my rental in BKK, I have true installed, 7mb for around $20 a month. It’s consistently fast. I wonder if there are any companies comparable to True in HCMC. Time to put my research hat on!

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