In Ho Chi Minh City, the backpacker’s area is located in Pham Ngu Lao, District 1. Here you’ll find alleys dotted with hotels/guesthouses suited for the budget traveler.
If you’re on a budget but OC like me when it comes to accommodations, then head on to TripAdvisor for hotel/guesthouse reviews. Among the listed 268 hotels in HCMC, Bich Duyen ranks 5th with 438 reviews (the top 2 being five star hotels!) It is also highly recommended in forums. Ironically, they don’t have a website so you can just contact them through email. The manager, Chanh, responds quickly and was very patient in answering my inquiries.
Just through our exchange of emails, I was able to book a double room for 3 nights ($17 per night), arranged for airport pickup ($14), tours (Mekong Delta: My Tho – Ben Tre ($10/head) and Half day Cu Chi Tunnels tour ($6/head), as well as the Mekong Express bus we took from HCMC to Siem Reap, Cambodia ($22/head). They don’t require a downpayment/reservation either and we just settled everything before we checked out.
facade of Bich Duyen
Since it’s located in an alley, only the opposite ends have gates. So when we arrived at 2:00 am, Bich Duyen was closed (the roller doors were down). The taxi driver rang the bell and we were led inside. I was surprised that their motorcycles were ‘parked’ inside the lobby lol. A guy named Minh asked for our passports then handed us our keys.
We were billeted in Room 302 (which is really located on the fourth floor since they don’t consider the lobby as the first floor). Also, don’t expect any elevators here so be prepared to run out of breath if you’re carrying lots of stuff.
There were only three rooms per floor and we were located on the far end. In fairness with Chanh, he advised me ahead of time that our room has no windows.
Upon entering the room, we were actually surprised that the room is very nice with a very comfortable looking bed. This is so much better than our room in Hong Kong. Everything seems new. No wonder tourism is booming in this country; even their budget hotels are pretty decent.
Pardon our mess. Another surprise is the flat screen TV. I was actually expecting the old one. :p There’s a mini fridge, phone, an open cabinet with enough hangers on the left side, and a full length mirror on the far right (not shown).
If there’s one complain we have with the room, it is the lack of electrical outlets. The one at the bottom of the desk is just enough for the TV and fridge so you have to turn one or both off. Interestingly, there’s two outlets inside the bathroom so charge at your own risk. :p WiFi is also available on every floor, but you can also use the two desktops in the lobby.
The bathroom is spotless. Toiletries provided were: soaps, and toothbrush and toothpaste. Rubber slippers are also available. Exhaust is also very good considering that our room doesn’t have a window. The room is cleaned every day and towels were changed daily.
There were only two choices for breakfast: baguette with butter and jam or baguette and egg served with bottomless calamansi juice (which I loved!); and either coffee or tea with green bananas. You can also be wise, and choose the bread and egg, and still had the jam (it’s already on the table with the other condiments anyway) :p It’s not much but enough to fill our tummies to start the day.
More than the facilities, having friendly and attentive staff added to the homey feel of this place. Overall, we were very satisfied with our stay. It exceeded our expectations and made our trip to Vietnam more memorable.
283/4 Pham Ngu Lao St., District 1,
You may also want to check out their sister hotel:
238 Bui Vien Street, District 1,
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam