Known as the city’s main backpacker area, the streets of Pham Ngu Lao are lined with great value restaurants, colorful markets and lively bars.
Stroll along Pham Ngu Lao’s traditional streets and stop off at the small, local cafés, friendly backpacker bars and shops selling local treats like sugary coconut candies and tropical fruits. Stay at a welcoming guesthouse and swap tales and tips with other travelers and then head out in the evening to experience some of the city’s best nightlife.
Even if you choose to stay outside Pham Ngu Lao, you should definitely visit the area to sample some of the city’s best, and cheapest, food. Pick from numerous local delicacies at the small restaurants tucked into every side street. Try delicious stuffed pancakes, thick rice and noodle soup, spicy dishes made with crab or tasty grilled shrimp. Be aware that while cooked food is usually safe, it’s best to avoid uncooked vegetables and ice in your drinks.
Explore the safe, winding streets and you will find colorful markets selling a mix of souvenirs and local goods. Purchase anything from the iconic conical hats to beautiful paintings and silk embroideries. Shop around a bit before you buy. Don’t be afraid to bargain for the best price.
If you enjoy a night out, don’t miss the buzzing atmosphere of Pham Ngu Lao after dark. Bars pump music onto the street from every corner and serve cheap drinks to an international crowd. Dance all night or ask for travel tips from expats who have taken up residence here.
Pham Ngu Lao is located in District One, just a short walk from the center of Ho Chi Minh City, making it a great place to base your overall visit. Use the regular public transportation links around the city or take taxis, a cheap and reliable option. You will find no shortage of guesthouses and hostels, most with English-speaking staff. It’s a good idea to look at a few places before deciding, and again, don’t be afraid to bargain on the price of a room.