Ambassador City Fact Sheet: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Ambassador City Fact Sheet: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

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To help our students and graduates make a smooth transition to their new lives teaching English abroad, we've enlisted our ITA Ambassadors to provide us with insider facts and tips for making the most of life in cities around the globe like Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Whether it's finding an English-speaking doctor, opening a bank account, or simply finding a supermarket where you can find the odd comfort food from home (peanut butter!), our ambassadors have actionable on-the-ground-tips to help you feel at home in your new home city.  Please note that things change and we will do our best to keep these "Fact Sheets" updated over time and that current and future ambassadors will continue to provide the most accurate and up-to-date information possible.

Laura Nalin - Ambassador - Ho Chi Minh, VietnamName: Laura Nalin

Ho Chi Minh City

Country: Vietnam

Visa Type: Business Visa

Where can you find North American comfort items like peanut butter in Ho Chi Minh City?

Although peanut butter is widely available within most supermarkets, there are quite a few stores here that cater specifically to Western expats.

Phuong Ha (58 Ham Nghi, Ben Nghe, District 1, Ho Chi Minh):
This store offers anything from Flamin’ Hot Cheetos to Greek yogurt. I go here often for popcorn kernels, almond butter and Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar. While I do pay a pretty penny for some items sometimes, I make it a point to ensure the items last as long as possible. For those who are keen on Indian cooking and spices, this is also the place to be. There are massive bags of lentils, beans and inexpensive, yet quality, spices available, too!

Annam Market (Central location - 6-18 Hai Ba Trung Street , Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh):
Annam is probably the most upscale of all foreign stores throughout the city. The merchant sells lots of French and European goods such as mustards, vinegars and boxed pastries, but has a decent selection of American snacks as well. The groceries here are always fresh and while the cheese prices are extortionate, Annam always has the best selection.

U.S. Mart (329 Tran Hung Dao, Co Giang, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City):
There are plenty of snacks and [overpriced] produce to be found within, but my favorite reason for stopping by would be the toiletries. Lots of the deodorant and lotions found within Saigon contain skin bleach, widely marketed as ‘whitening cream,’ which I am not interested in using on my body. There are a number of Western options here such as Old Spice and Dove - none of which contain the extra chemicals.

An Phu Supermarket (43 Thao Dien Street - An Phu, District 2)
This grocery store is located in the heart of the biggest expat community in town. District 2 is not cheap, but it’s definitely easy to find just about anything in this market.

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Transportation - how do people get around town?

Unfortunately, there is no public transportation system available in Saigon, yet.

Most expats, like myself, drive a motorbike to get around. However, Uber and a company called Grab are super convenient after a night out or if you’re simply too scared to brave the Saigon traffic. People can choose between a motorbike or a car option, but the motorbikes will always be the cheapest and fastest.


The public buses run throughout town, although I’ve never used one simply due to time constraints. There’s an app called Tripgo which is apparently pretty helpful for those interested.

→ A motorbike taxi will generally cost anywhere from $0.50 to $4 USD.
→ A car will usually cost about $5 to $10 USD.
→ The buses cost $0.30.

Click here to receive your TEFL & Teaching English in Vietnam Guide Learn how to get TEFL certified and find a job teaching English in Vietnam. Everything you need to know is in this free Vietnam TEFL Guide.

Please recommend up to 3 hospitals/doctors in Ho Chi Minh City for English speakers

City International Hospital
3 Street 17A, Binh Tri Dong B Ward, Binh Tan District

Franco Vietnam Hospital - FV Hospital
6 Nguyen Luang Bang Street, District 7

Franco Vietnam Saigon Clinic
Third Floor, Bitexco Financial Tower, 2 Hai Trieu Street, District

Victoria International Healthcare
79 Dien Bien Phu, Da Kao, District 1

Please share your recommendations for beauty supply stores, hairdressers, barbers, etc in Ho Chi Minh City

There are quite a few salons that are loved throughout the city, but I’m partial to ACE London, located in the heart of District 1. It’s definitely a bit on the pricey side, and while I haven’t had color done there, it’s been an awesome experience getting my hair cut there.

As far as beauty supply stores go, there are plenty of Korean skincare shops around. I’m a big fan of Innisfree as it was my favorite when I lived in Korea and helps my skin stay blemish free despite the pollution. All of the products are 100 percent natural as well. If that’s not your cup of tea,  a popular spot to get basic beauty goods is Guardian; there are a few scattered throughout town.

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If you’ve opened a bank account, please list the name and location of your bank

I bank with Vietcombank and Timo. Vietnamese banks do not allow for cash deposit. However, Timo - a relatively new bank - is the only institution that allows it. It’s a great option for those who are looking to pick up a few hours here and there under the table, or do not have a proper work contract.

In order to open up a bank account in Vietnam, you must have a valid work contract.

Ground floor of Yoco Building, 41 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai , Ben Nghe Ward,
District 1

Timo Hangout
194D-E Pasteur Street, Ward 6, District 3

What restaurants do you enjoy eating at in Ho Chi Minh City?

Ciao Bella serves the best Italian food in town; guests are served free limoncello shots at the end of each meal.

An Cafe is a bit pricey for Vietnamese fare, but it is located in the heart of District 2, after all. It has some of the best vegetarian banh xeo I’ve ever eaten.

Saigon Outcast offers free meals every Wednesday; women are also able to use the climbing wall for free.

The Binh Thanh Street Food Market is a bit touristy, but I don’t mind that I guess, as I live here! The space consists of a variety of food stalls, each serving food from varying nations such as Thailand, South Korea and India. While there are more expensive options, there are plenty of options for those on a budget, too. Bands play here on Friday nights.

Five Oysters has an excellent rooftop and serves some pretty wonderful Vietnamese fare. The big beers here are cheaper than a lot of the bars down the road, so start with dinner and drinks here first before making your way deeper onto Bui Vien.

Top Tips for eating out in Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam

What places do you enjoy visiting during your free time in Ho Chi Minh City?

I really enjoy relaxing at Van Thanh Swimming Pool in the Binh Thanh District in between classes or on days when I only teach one class. It’s a quiet haven away from the hectic buzz of the city. Avoid this place like the plague on the weekends, as it gets packed.

I’m a sucker for a good cocktail, and Snuffbox doesn’t disappoint. This speakeasy-style bar is a bit difficult to find (duh, it’s a speakeasy!) but it’s totally worth it once you’re in. The romantic vibes are great for a date or a posh night out with friends. Women can enjoy free-flow drinks on select cocktails every Tuesday from 8-10 PM.

While I love all the breweries in town, I’m partial to Heart of Darkness as I love their food options and it hosts a killer pub quiz on Thursday nights.

Indika Saigon is a really chill spot where I love to hang. It’s home to a number of events each week, such as wine and vegan cheese night or free-flow drinks. There’s no refuge from mother nature in this place, so don’t go if it’s raining.

Crescent Park in District 7 is a nice and quiet escape from the rest of the city. It’s a perfect spot to set up a picnic and people watch. It’s also part of a great running route for those keen on keeping fit.

What resources did you use to find permanent housing in Ho Chi Minh City?

My partner and I found our first flat through a Saigon housing group on Facebook and our second (and current) apartment through Craigslist. Read more about how Laura found housing in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Here are some links to relevant Facebook groups:

→ Houseshare / Flatshare / Room For Rent in Saigon
 Apartments, houses, villas, office for Expats in Saigon
→ Shared Apartment/ Room/ House/ Condo/ Villas Rental In Saigon (Vietnam)
→ Room/Apartment/House for RENT in Saigon (HCM)
→ Housing/Apartments for rent in Saigon - Vietnam

Have you found an expat community in Ho Chi Minh City? How?

Yes, I have. I am fortunate to work for a company that employs about 250 expats - many of us within the same building. Since we only work Monday through Friday, we often go to the bar next to our office for a few beers after work every Friday. This situation was paramount to finding friendships when we first moved to Saigon. I’m pretty lucky!

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Posted In: Teach English in Vietnam, Teach English in Asia, Ho Chi Minh City, Tips for Traveling & Living Abroad

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