Most of you reading this will be more familiar with this city’s former name: Saigon. The city was renamed after the end of the war in Vietnam, but many of the older residents still happily refer to it as Saigon, so we just wanted to prepare you for that before we got further into our guide to dating in Ho Chi Minh City.
With a population of over 9 million people, Ho Chi Minh City is located on the Saigon River, and is a very busy sea port.
It has the largest population of any city in Vietnam, and is an interesting mix of the colonial and the modern – take the scaled-down copy of the Notre Dame Cathedral or the Saigon Central Post Office, as just two examples.
You can see the French colonial influences in many of the older parts of the city, which thankfully survived the conflict.
One key point to mention is that sex tourism is not only frowned upon but is illegal here – prostitution is a serious crime, so avoid any of the “easy girls” you might bump into on your travels in and around the city.
Dating In Ho Chi Min
One of the other bonuses of the French colonial influences is that Vietnamese women are accustomed to seeing and talking to men from other parts of the world, especially the United States.
Experience has shown that dating Southern Viet women tends to be a bit more straightforward though, based on nothing more than they’ve had more positive experiences with Western men than their northern counterparts might have.
Ho Chi Minh City was always more Western-oriented than other cities in the region so if you want to date or marry a smart, sexy Vietnamese woman then Ho Chi Min is probably your best bet for locating the girl of your dreams.
A good portion of the girls in our Vietnamese Brides Gallery live in Ho Chi Min City – here is a small sample to show you just how beautiful these women reall are:
Vietnamese women are very traditional though, so this means that once you’ve met the Viet girl of your dreams, and you’ve arranged your first date, you can expect her family to become involved.
How involved? It’s not unusual to have a family member play third wheel on your date. They won’t actually join you on the date, but they do have a habit of appearing at the same bar, café or cinema you’ve just arrived at.
The many traditions Vietnamese women are expected to play up to is also one of the main reasons they want to marry a man from another country – they want a life that’s not burdened with having to get the approval of everyone in her husband’s family for the least little thing.
In terms of communicating you’ll find that Vietnamese and Chinese are the dominant languages, although you will still hear French spoken on a regular basis.
English is not a common language here, although a large percentage of the population will be able to speak at least a little bit of broken English, especially if they’re trying to sell you something.
Regardless of the social standing of the girl you’re dating, if she’s living with her parents there’s absolutely no way she’s going to spend the night at your hotel.
Firstly she’ll be expected to be home by midnight, and no later, secondly many of the better hotels in the city won’t allow you to bring a Vietnamese girl back to your room, especially late at night.
Actually if you meet a girl who’s willing to stay out late, stay at your hotel, and isn’t one bit phased by that idea, then you might want to lock your wallet in the safe overnight. And your watch, cell phone and anything else that isn’t nailed to the floor.
An average of 10,000 Vietnamese women marry American and European men each year, so there’s absolutely no barrier to marriage here except for finding the perfect woman.
Overall we’ve heard lots of stories from single guys who’ve enjoyed a Vietnamese dating adventure, and they 100%, hands down, prefer Vietnamese women to women from any other part of Asia.
Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder though.
The Best Places To Meet Women In Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City is a very, very busy part of Vietnam. A huge population, growing economy, and an existing European heritage means that the city is perfect for the single guy looking to date Asian women.
Plus eating out and drinking here can be very cheap, with most bars serving drinks for just a dollar, or two.
With millions of women moving through this city every single day, sometimes it takes nothing more than having a meal on your own, or a coffee, to give you the chance to strike up a conversation with a local girl.
Just remember that her English is going to be rusty at best, so do learn at least a handful of Vietnamese phrases.
Vietnamese women are naturally shy, so don’t expect her to do anything other than to make eyes at you – the girl making the first move here is an absolute no-no.
Another thing to be careful about is asking girls for their numbers – you have to be polite and discrete about this, because no decent Viet girl wants to be seen handing her personal cell phone number to some random guy she met in a bar.
Best Ho Chi Min City Bars
There are literally hundreds of different bars in Ho Chi Minh City for you to check out, but here are some of our favorites:
If you’re looking for a venue that sells drinks until 3am, then you’ll want to check out Go2. The only real downside is that the prices are usually at least 2x – 5x higher than other bars.
Most bars in the city close between 12am and 1am, so anywhere open after that is always going to charge more for the privilege.
The girls here dig Western guys, and you’re going to find the Vietnamese girls who hang out here are from middle class families, at least. This means you won’t have to worry about dealing with gold diggers all night.
One of the best places for any foreign guy to meet single Vietnamese girls. They have a Ladies Night every Tuesday, so you don’t want to miss that.
Sax N Art Jazz Club
This is one of the classier clubs, thanks to the live Jazz, which only attracts a more tasteful crowd. Drinking here is going to be tough on your wallet though – drinks cost at least $5 a pop.
Call girls do use some of the upmarket bars to pick up clients, so always be wary of that. Basically if it’s 2am, you’re alone, drunk and meet the most beautiful woman you’ve ever seen, and she’s all on her lonesome…then think twice.
Best Places To Go On A Date In Ho Chi Min City
It doesn’t matter what kind of budget you’re working with there’s always something for you and your date to do in Ho Chi Minh City, including everything from the best coffee you’ve ever tasted, to haggling in local markets, all the way up to dining and relaxing in exclusive restaurants.
Vietnam – believe it or not – is the biggest exporter of coffee in the world, and the hundreds of coffee shops in the city are a testament to that.
Basilico (InterContinental Asiana Saigon Residences) is one of the best places to enjoy an early coffee date, along with some incredible pastries and muffins.
Kem Café (District 1) is somewhere you go to be treated like a local, and to practice your hilarious attempts at speaking Vietnamese (the locals will dig it, don’t worry).
There’s also a Gloria Jeans, for those of you who like the familiar, no matter where you are in the world.
You won’t have to look very far to find a karaoke bar, but they’re not quite what you’re used to in the West. These are private booths where you, and your date, can enjoy drinks and singing along to Vietnamese and Western music.
The only thing about bringing your date out for a karaoke night is that she’s probably done it before with her friends, several times, so don’t base your entire date on this one event.
You’ll probably feel like you’re a kid again when you’re visiting a cinema in Vietnam because you won’t pay any more than $10 for a ticket, and often far less than that. Movies are a great idea on a really warm day, because you get to relax and cool down at the same time as getting to know your new girl.
Megastar Cinema is the best of its kind in the city, and it features special “couples” seats, which is a really nice touch.
Galaxy Cinema is also a popular places to catch new movies, plus it has 3 different cinemas dotted around the city. Galaxy Cinema is also a whole lot cheaper than Megastar, and most people prefer the snacks and drinks served here.
If you want to make a lasting impression on your date then bring her along to the 1960 Presidential Club. This exclusive club can offer you and your date a day-long experience of spa relaxation, combined with exceptional Vietnamese and Italian cuisine.
Au Lac do Brazil offers the very best of Brazilian-style food, with live music almost every night of the week. The service and food is excellent, but you can expect to pay extra for that.
The deciBel Lounge offers a combination of great food with a monthly art exhibition, so bring your date here if she has more refined tastes.
One final note on eating out is that you should always ask your Vietnamese date for tips on the best places to eat – she’ll love the fact that you’re trusting her to choose which restaurant you’ll be eating at, which is an important part of your evening with her.
Places To Stay
When visiting Vietnam you can choose between renting an apartment, or simply booking into a hotel – your choice here will depend entirely on how long you plan on staying in the country.
Apartments in downtown Ho Chi Minh City can be had for about $300 per month, although you can get something a lot cheaper if you decide to stay on the outskirts of the city.
Apartment living is only a good idea for somebody who’s visited the city before, so for your first few visits we would strongly suggest staying in a hotel.
If you have a bigger budget to work with then you could consider the Caravelle on Lam Son Square. Rooms here cost around $180 per night, but it is a luxury hotel.
The Hotel Majestic in District 1 has a rooftop bar, and is one of the older hotels in the city.
The Park Hyatt Saigon is a 5-star hotel with some fantastic dining options, a fitness centre, spa and a martini bar. You can however expect to pay anywhere from $220 to over $500 per night to stay in the Park Hyatt.
For those of you working with a more restrictive budget then you can choose from places like the Binh Hung Hotel, which offers a room with air con, fast Internet access, cable TV, and your own shower and bath tub. Rooms here start at $25 per night.
The Thuan Tiel Hotel is another great option, with air conditioned rooms, cable TV, a DVD player, mini bar and toilet facilities. A room here costs just $35 per night.
If you want someplace slightly more upmarket then you can book into the Golden Rose Hotel, which offers all the usual luxuries of A/C, TV, mini bars, plus a massage service and fitness centre too. Rooms here can be yours for just $60 per night.
Ho Chi Minh City has a wide range of hotels, with something to suit all budgets. If you do decide to stay in the really budget-friendly hotels then it’s a good idea to lock all your valuables in your safe, or the hotel safe.
The currency of Vietnam is the Dong (VND), and you can expect to get around 20,000 VND for US$1. You’ll find plenty of ATMs dotted around the city, but most of them have a withdrawal limit of around 2,000,000 VND per day.
Most of the Vietnamese ATMs will accept international credit cards. If you need to withdraw large amounts of cash you’re better off using a bank for that. You can use US dollars when you’re shopping in the heart of the city, but Dong is the currency of choice in more rural areas.
General Safety tips
Ho Chi Minh City is extremely popular with both tourists and backpackers, so the city is a pretty safe place to be.
Vietnamese people are friendly and welcoming by nature, so if you come across anyone giving you a bad vibe then turn around and walk in the opposite direction. Every city in the world has neighborhoods you don’t want to wind up in, so do your best to avoid them here too.
When you’re going out on your dates only ever bring enough cash to pay for what you had planned that evening, plus maybe 10% extra. Carrying around large sums of cash is not a good idea, especially if you wind up on the wrong side of the tracks by accident.
The pickpockets here are experts, and are capable of lifting anything from a wallet to an iPhone without you ever noticing. Cell phone theft here is also extremely common, so if you’re sitting outside a café or bar enjoying a beverage of your choice don’t leave your cell phone/tablet/laptop sitting on the table in front of you – some kids on a motorbike will probably steal it.
How To Get There
The very first step you need to take in planning a trip to Vietnam is finding out how you get a visa to visit the country.
The odd thing here is that if the Embassy or Consulate provides you with a visa letter of approval, you can then simply collect your visa when you land in Vietnam. This is a personal preference thing, but we always prefer to have our visas approved in advance.
If you’re from Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Japan, Russia or South Korea you can stay in Vietnam for up to 15 days without requiring any form of visa.
Fortunately for all the guys who are now planning their trips to Vietnam (you’re welcome!), Ho Chi Minh City is served by the Tan Son Nhat airport, catering for both domestic and international flights from its two terminals.
The airport is located just 8km from downtown, so you won’t have to travel very far once you do land.
American Airlines, Air Canada, Air China, Etihad, Emirates, Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines, Air France, Jetstar, JAL and other airlines offer direct flights to Ho Chi Minh City, but also offer connecting flights from multiple locations in the United States, and throughout Europe.
Once you land you’ll need to get your visa stamped, and then get to your hotel. You can travel into the city by using the No. 152 bus from the airport for about 25 cents (US), another 25 cents for your bags.
Your other option is to grab a taxi to get you to your hotel, but you need to be really wary of the scam artist taxi drivers hovering around the airport looking for gullible tourists.
Both Mai Linh and Vinasun taxis can be trusted to get you to your hotel without ripping you off, just make sure that you ask every taxi driver to turn their meter on when you sit inside the cab.
Expect to pay anywhere from US $6 to $14 for the trip from the airport to downtown Ho Chi Minh City.
Editor-in chief – An over educated international traveler, he sets ILS’ light, positive tone. Charlie constantly pushes to ensure every article is supported by good sources, preferably from peer reviewed journals, government reports, or top-flight newspapers and magazines.