Saigon District 1 Guide. – 2024


Saigon was previously the capital of South Vietnam before it fell to the communists and its name was changed to Ho Chi Minh City, after the legendary communist leader.

Yet while most do now refer to int as Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh, or HCMC, the central area and indeed the party district – district 1 is known heartwarmingly as Saigon.

What the Saigon?

The name Saigon not only has a slightly more catchy tone to it than Ho Chi Minh City, but also has a lot of cultural cache. This was the place that American GI’s hung out for R and R, theres a musical called “Miss Saigon” and of course who can forget “the last chopper out of Saigon”.

Of equal note perhaps it was also the capital of South Vietnam, with district 1 formerly being where the embassies were and even now still hosting the consulates.

As for district 1? That is how the reds denote different parts of the city, with 1 in Amy respects meaning the most important.

All roads lead to Saigon District 1

Being central, as well as the party part of town the buses from throughout the country such as Nha Trang end up here, no to mention those that come from further afield such as Phnom Penh.

The busy bus street is also full of hotels and massage parkours, as well as at times hundreds of people all getting one, or off the buses.

This is also where all of the tourists tend to get dropped off. The main Saigon railways station is also not far from here.

Where top stay in Saigon District 1

There’s a hotel quite literally footsteps from where the bus from Phnom Penh drops you off, namely Hoang Phi which gives rooms for as little as $20 and is a great location and value.

Is it also a little bit seedy and shit? Yes, but the staff are nice. Aside from here there are top end hotels, as well as grotty hostels, with choice not being much of an issue.

Walking Street Saigon District 1

Said walking street is like other walking streets in Asia in that cars and motorbikes regularly go through here. It is though unlike Walking Street in Hua Hin, as it is not a knackers yard for hookers.

In fact in the 10 years I have been going here it has really gone upmarket, with the outdoor drinking dens being replaced by super clubs with hot chicas dancing outside. Has it lost some charm? Of course, but then don’t old travelers say the same about pretty much everywhere?

It is through not all class with there being a dedicated girly bar street that seems to do a roar8ing trade, massage parlors offering pleasant endings and more, as well as freelancers looking to make friends.

There is also the frankly weird, with me seeing what looked like a homeless young lady cradling a baby. Well it turned out that baby was a fucking monkey.

Not far from this was what looked like an African mob area and there are always dodgy characters from around the globe hanging out. A bit like the Khao San Road.

Street Food Saigon District 1

Food wise things are largely very eclectic, with there being nice restaurants of an international variety, side streets that are always full of Vietnamese and fusion food, as genuine small local joints doing real Vietnamese food.

Walking Street itself has a mixture of expensive, but low grade restaurants Irving seafood that the Chinese love, as well as real bonafide street food carts doing Vietnamese BBQ and other stuff you’d expect. These guys obviously get harassed because they seem to be constantly on the move.

The best street food Saigon though comes at the corner of the main street between the Hoang Phi and the girly bars. This amazing place serves pho and banh mi pretty much 24/7, is opposite the 24 hour “pharmacy” and has a very, very interesting crowd.