I thought I wouldn’t have to spend for accommodation in Ho Chi Minh because I was able to find someone from Couchsurfing who was willing to take me in for four days. We got along well in our Viber chat and I was genuinely excited to meet her. It was all set and I didn’t anticipate that anything bad could happen, I mean what are the odds of me ending up in the basement of some psycho? I was optimistic or the most appropriate term is naive. To cut the story short, after one night, I packed my bags and left my CS host. Because of this, I stayed in four different accommodation (the house of my CS host included) in HCM.
I reached Ho Chi Minh city at 1:29 in the morning; too early for my CS host to take me in, hence, I took up Bing’s offer to wait in her hotel. We went to District 1 where Elegant Inn can be found. Upon checking-in, we found out that we were so early, there was no available room yet. Just as I was beginning to think that I’d spend my first day in Vietnam sleeping on the sidewalk, Daniel, the friendly receptionist of Elegant Inn arranged a temporary lodging for us at Thuy Tien Hotel.
The hotel is old with a hallway that reminded me of the setting of the horror flick, “Sigaw.” The room itself is small, the area is so constricted that the beds are practically pushed against each other, back to the wall, with only a tiny bit space left for the side-bed drawer.
The bathroom, oh yes let’s talk about this bathroom. Above the shower area, the ceiling is missing. Yes, it is gone, there is a gaping hole that would make you feel like you are being watched. It was hard to shower without feeling like I was going to be abducted somehow, or get vacuumed into the nothingness, never to be heard of again. I swear to you those were my thoughts while showering. I mean just look at that hole.
Nevertheless, sleep was comfortable; the aircon is working fine, the bathroom has toiletries, there’s a TV with cable though watching Vietnamese shows didn’t make sense to me literally because of the language barrier. Also, there are no rats or roaches, at least, I didn’t see one and that’s a relief. For our quick stay, we paid VND450,000 (PHP947 – $20).
Thuy Tien Hotel
D1, Dien Bien Phu street, Ward 25,
Binh Thanh district,
Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Telephone no.: +84 8 3512 2692
Come check-in time, Bing and I moved to Elegant Inn. The place is not exactly what I would call elegant so I’m not sure the reason why they chose that name. It’s a three-star hotel, looks a little better than Thuy Tien, but not at the level of the more expensive hotels, if you know what I mean.
The room that Bing stayed in is much bigger than the first hotel we went to. There’s a single and a double bed. The bathroom has — surprise surprise! — a bathtub; which doubles as a shower area. The room is equipped with a TV with cable, A/C unit, a small fridge, and a vanity dresser.
Elegant Inn has an in-house restaurant by the rooftop, where I had my first taste of the Vietnamese cuisine. The rooftop offers a view of the city so it’s an ideal place for some early-morning reflections while sipping your coffee. The kitchen is manned by two women who, despite their little English, tried their best to make us feel welcomed. [Read: Forced Healthy Eating in Vietnam].
140 Cong Quynh street,
Pham Ngu Lao ward, District 1,
Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam
Telephone no: +84 8 6291 2860
Couchsurfing in District 7
It was my first time (and probably the last because I am so traumatized I don’t want to do it ever again) to try Couchsurfing and I had such high hopes for it. I imagined myself having a grand time with my host and her family, maybe they would tour me around or at least, give me some tips on how to spend my day in the city. We would eat together, maybe have coffee, and then I would learn so much about the Vietnamese culture. I’d have a first-hand account of how it is to live like a local and I honestly found this idea quite promising. Because I had such high expectations, disappointment hit me like a bitch when things didn’t go the way I envisioned it.
First, District 7 is a bit far from the airport, like if it were in the Philippines, the distance from District 1 to District 7 would be from Makati to Quezon City. This posed a challenge considering the fact that I availed of the tours of Happy Tour, which is affiliated with Elegant Inn. Second, my host and I didn’t get along well. The scamming incident caused great distress to my host that soured her attitude towards me. [Read: Braving the Streets of Ho Chi Minh]
To be fair, the house of my CS host is beautiful. I stayed in the bedroom of her daughter, which is very spacious, I could do some serious cartwheels inside the room. I took a picture but I decided not to post it anymore in respect of the CS host. For what it’s worth, she gave me a place to sleep in for a night and she also took me to her friend’s house for dinner. Our meeting may not have been as good as we would have wanted, but I don’t want to disregard the fact that she opened her home to me.
And just to be clear, I am not discouraging anyone from trying Couchsurfing. All I’m saying is, it’s not for me.
Before this trip, I never tried staying in a hostel. To be honest, I didn’t like the idea of sharing the room with a bunch of strangers, but on my last night in Vietnam, I was left with no choice because Bing was already leaving for Manila. Two scamming incidents ruined my budget so even when I wanted to extend my stay at Elegant Inn, I could no longer afford it. [Read: The Fun and Scam of the Siklo Tour in Ho Chi Minh].
After I returned from our siklo tour, I scoured the street of Bui Vien for a cheap hostel. The cheapest I found is the Koniko Backpackers Hostel, only VND 135,000 (PHP 285 – $6). I was sent to a room with 5 bunk beds and it was on the topmost floor. I tell you, climbing there with my heavy backpack made me feel like I was paying for my sins.
It’s a mixed dorm-type room with three bathrooms. My extrovert mode was on so I was able to make friends with a fellow backpacker from Indonesia named, Nindar and another from France (didn’t get his name though). We got to talk for about 2 hours before I finally had to call it a night because the next day, I was set to go to Cambodia. [Book Koniko Backpacker Hostel via Agoda here]
It was one of the most uncomfortable nights of my life, in fact, I don’t think I’d slept at all. A girl on the bed next to mine was coughing all night, the sound of men snoring filled the entire room, and the music from the bars down the street blared til the wee hours. It kinda sealed my conclusion that I was indeed, paying for my sins. Come morning I tiptoed my way to the shower so as not to wake the other guests. I only used the light on my phone to lead me through temptation… I mean darkness, and I tried my best not to make any noise.
Koniko Backpackers Hostel
149 Bùi Viện, Phạm Ngũ Lão,
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Telephone no.:+84 8 3836 9548
I never thought I’d end up sleeping in four different locations in my four days in Ho Chi Minh, but yeah, that’s what happens when shit happens hahaha… The good thing about this is that I was able to review different kinds of accommodation; a house, two hotels, and a hostel, so if you’re wondering where to stay in HCM, now you have an idea. Each one has its own pros and cons, there is no such thing as a right or wrong accommodation. It all depends on your budget, attitude, requirements, or situation. I say keep an open mind because you’ll never know, the thing that you didn’t think would be good for you may turn out to be not so bad at all.