When looking for a place to stay in Saigon, do not aim for the finest hotel they can offer. Instead, try something more homey and down-to-earth. Try Bich Duyen Hotel.
Bich Duyen (pronounced as Bit Yuen by some), is a 2-Star Hotel in District 1 of Ho Chi Minh. Do not be afraid of the star rating, for that only indicates the facilities available in the hotel. It offers clean and spacious rooms, with small toilet and shower area and free Wi-Fi connection. This place became our temporary house of refuge during our March 2012 trip to Vietnam.
What I like best about the hotel is the location. Being in District 1, there are a lot of tourists and travel agencies around the area. However, being in a small alley, it is quiet, and is also surrounded by other 2-star hotels. At night, the nearby streets are filled with people seated on the streets, drinking beer and watching people. There are also shady bars with girls. In fact, when we first arrive outside the alley, a scene similar to Miss Saigon’s opening greeted us. A white guy seated outside a bar, drinking beer, with a Vietnamese girl seated on his lap. My mom’s immediate reaction was fright. But when you go there prepared, you’ll take things in stride.
Our main contact person in Bich Duyen was Chanh. We just coursed everything thru email. If ever you wish to book this hotel, do it in advance, because it is always fully booked. When we went there last March, the hotels in the same alley were not as full as theirs.
Upon arrival, Ming, the person in charge at night, got all our passports. This is a standard procedure in their hotels. The lobby is not very spacious. There are Vietnamese chairs around, where you can choose to hang out. Computers are also available for guests to use.
The staircase leading to the rooms was narrow, so it was hard to bring up big luggage. There was no elevator, and they follow the British English, with first floor being the floor on top of the ground floor. There are only three rooms per floor, and as the Vietnamese tradition dictates, you cannot wear your shoes up the floors. You can choose to leave your shoes in their shoe cabinet (a lot of people do!) or carry them up to your room.
For safety, they close their main door with metal gate when it’s 11pm, but they do not mind if you arrive past that time.
With regards to their room rate, it was really affordable. The standard room with one double bed was $17 per night – no windows. The bigger, more spacious room with one double bed and one single bed was $25 per night – with windows. Cable TV, fan, aircon, mini fridge, hot shower, slippers, towels… all these are available. They even provided hangers in their closet, and a lock to it. They also clean your room daily.
Breakfast is included, and they only serve bread, with the option of Jam or Egg. They also give you juice, and a choice between coffee or tea. This is a simple fare, but good enough to give you energy for your morning activities.
They also offered airport transfers – roundtrip cost us $30. If you are doing this, you need not exchange money in the airport. The exchange rate in the airport is really low. Not the best value of your money.
My suggestion is to pay them directly in dollar, and let them give the change in Vietnamese Dong (VND). We did something stupid. We changed some dollars in the airport to VND, and used part VND to pay. But, the exchange rate from merchant to merchant differed, so we ended up paying more than we should.
We were choosing between Bich Duyen Hotel and Beautiful Saigon 3. Both offer superior service. However, Beautiful Saigon was more expensive so we opted for Bich Duyen. I am glad we made the right choice.
For inquiries or reservation, you can contact Bich Duyen Hotel by calling +84.8.38374588 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Their address is 283/4 Pham Ngu Lao St., 1st District, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Read more about my Vietnam experience!