Ho Chi Minh City is famous for its pho or its traditional Vietnamese noodle soup and pork rolls. Often the best places are shops and stalls named after family members, such as "Aunty" or "Chi" (meaning sister) followed by a number representing their order in the family and, finally, their name.
Ho Chi Minh City is definitely worth spending some time in. Like visiting any big city, if you don't do a bit of research before you go you may just miss out on a spectacular time.
All right, first things up are visas. Unlike most countries, you can't really get a visa on arrival automatically. What you have to do is you have to apply for a visa but the good news is you can apply for a visa as soon as you land and get off the airplane.
There's a counter, right before the customs line you fill an application, pay $25 fee, prepare 2 passport photos and then you get your 30-day visa into the country, or what you can do ahead of time is you can get an e-visa. Go online, pay about $25-$30, and then you get an e-visa good for 30 days.
It used to be that with the one-year visa, the only requirements were you'd have to leave every 90 days and then come back. Then that got changed not too long ago down to maximum duration per stay to 30 days before you have to exit and re-enter, even if you get a one-year visa and it's multiple entries. Every thirty days you’ve got to leave and then come back, which is annoying.
Food in Vietnam is relatively inexpensive, you can cook at home, or you can order delivery, or you can go eat out. So for street food on average you can expect to pay about $2.15.
Then for food delivery, if you use the apps there's Grab Food, Now Food, GoViet which has recently been replaced with GoJek, and BAEMIN. So four different players and you can always order directly from restaurants but usually, that requires you to speak Vietnamese, unless you order from a western food restaurant and then you have to pay a delivery fee which is usually about $1 for delivery.
If you go eat at a restaurant, like a nicer upper scale restaurant you can expect to pay on average about $8.60 which is pretty cheap. But you can go to the corner on the street and then find someone selling Vietnamese sandwiches for low as 12000 Vietnam
dong which is only about 40 cents.
They also got fast food here they got McDonald's, Burger King, Jollibee's, KFC, Popeye's Chicken, and Texas chicken. Those are the top ones of my head that I can think of and their prices are roughly close to what you would pay at U.S. prices but maybe like one or two dollars cheaper.
For groceries, you can expect to pay from between 4 dollars to
22 dollars. If we just say you have one grocery run and you get a whole bunch of groceries. It's gonna be so good so pretty much all this stuff came out to 300k vietnamese dong so that's like not even $13.
Rental + Utilities
Let's talk about rental and utility costs. Ho Chi Minh is pretty spread out in its many districts. Most of the districts are labeled by numbers. District 1 through District 12 and then there's super far out ones which have names instead of numbers but even District 10 is still pretty far so that's like an exception.
Depending on where you rent, the price is gonna be different so if you live in the central part like District 1, the rents are going to be a bit more expensive than if you were to live somewhere out far like Binh Thanh District.
The average cost for rent would be between $300 all the way to $700. For around this range in the lower-end you can expect to get a studio and then on the higher end expect to get a 1 to 2 bedroom apartment.
In District 1, you can expect to pay between $300 all the way to like $700 average for a studio. My place has big French windows, it has the sliding doors open up to a beautiful view, a lot of lighting and came with a TV, internet, cable and water -- all included. So I just have to pay electricity separately.
Now electricity in general in Ho Chi Minh is kind of expensive. They charge about 3000-4000 Vietnam Dong per kilowatt so on average, depending on how much you use your air conditioning because in Vietnam there are only two seasons: hot and super hot. So on average, you can expect to pay $45 to $50. I've had times where I ran AC almost all day for 30 days and then at the end I had to pay roughly about $90 for electricity.
For cell phone service so you can expect to be in between $2.58 and $4.30 for 30 days with a few gigs of data with superfast 4G. Viettel is the best company because they have the most coverage in all of Vietnam and then there are other ones like Vietnamobile, but they don't have as much coverage as Viettel and so mileage will vary based on what you pay and what service you get.
In Ho Chi Minh there's no real metro system like Bangkok has. They don't have a train system yet,
it's still being built out but that's gonna take some time before it's finished so in the meantime there are only about three different options that you can take. The city bus which I don't really take, I've taken a few times just to see what's like and what's the cost. If you take the standard city bus you can expect to pay about 30 cents per ride and if you take the smaller private buses you can expect to pay about 86 cents per ride.
The smaller buses are like the ones that you see in Taipei and also in Hong Kong. It's just a mini sized bus, you get in to tell the guy where you want to go and then pay him and then that's it.
For ride-sharing apps, there's Grab and Goviet. Goviet is a lot cheaper than Grab. So on average for grab, you can expect to pay between 55 cents to 70 cents depending on the distance and for a Goviet the price range is from 20 to 30 cents.
And a rental bike can go from $45 all the way to $90 per month, not counting the deposit cost. I know a good place if you want to rent for a month at a time it's called TIGIT bikes. TIGIT has locations all over Vietnam; one in Ho Chi Minh, Dalat, Hanoi and have maybe a few in central Vietnam.
It's about $40 for $45 a month, you just have to pay a $150-$200 deposit and that's about it. If you want a short term rental, some of the local shop prices can get kind of expensive and the bikes are not as good quality. I wouldn't recommend anything outside of TIGIT unless you are staying for only a few weeks.
Gym costs on average between $16 and $25 per month, so if you live like in a remote part of Ho Chi Minh like in Binh Thanh District, there was a gym there that I went to that was called Gold Key and the monthly price was only $16 a month which blew my mind because they had a big gym, a lot of gear, and it was pretty nice and alot cheaper than Taipei.
In the middle-end range is $25 a month which is what most places charge. So what you can expect is a wide assortment of gear, lots of weights, air conditioning, and clean enough facilities and that's about it, and then if you go even cheaper you can get something with no AC, just a giant room with weights all over the place.
In the higher-end places, they have Saigon Fitness which charges more than $100 a month. Then they have different things like Brazilian Jujitsu, boxing, kickboxing, and different classes which are addons to the base price and they also have swimming pools.
I've been to very few amount of co-working spaces here and the reason why is because I haven’t had such a great experience with them here. The Wi-Fi was super slow and the value wasn't really there. Some companies here don't want to pay for office space so they purchase monthly seating in co-working places so you end up in a weird situation of sitting in between some random company employee.
What I usually end up doing is I go to a cafe, buy coffee, sit down at a table and then do some work for a few hours. It's usually nice and quiet and then the Wi-Fi is not too bad.
What locals like to do is they like to go eat hotpot in a big group and then drink. There are more traditional Western things that you can do like playing pool, watch movies, and you can also play darts. If you want to go to a dedicated place to go play pool you can expect to pay around $3.44 for one to two hours with lots of second hand smoking included. For bowling, you can go to the mall and it's roughly $4.95 for two people and then for darts you can go to a bar and it’s roughly about $4.30 for 3 people.
For movies, they have special pricing if you go to non-peak times you can expect to pay a $1.43. New movies that just came out and if you go at peak timing you can expect to pay $3.44.
If you want other kinds of entertainment that’s not nightlife-related you can just go visit different cities or you can stay in Ho Chi Minh and explore around town.
It's a nice city for walking around and taking photos and window shopping. You can explore the beauty of Vietnam since there's so much to see here.
That wraps it up for all the breakdown costs so hopefully, this was insightful for you as it was for me to put together.