After more than five years in Saigon, Les Michels can confidently say that they know a lot about the city which adopted them!
We had addressed last year the good reasons which could encourage you to move to Vietnam, however a lot of information related to a settlement in Ho Chi Minh City did not appear in this previous article. This is why today, we give you more details and information about life in Saigon.
You wish to settle in Saïgon in 2023?
Accommodation, food, cost of living, activities, culture, Les Michels give you an overview of what awaits you in Vietnam and reasons to live in Saigon.
Cost of living in Saïgon
To guide us on the evaluation of the cost of living in Ho Chi Minh City, we will of course draw on our own experience, but also on Numbeo data, which we invite you to discover here.
These prices are relatively stable, and are estimates made in 2020, but consider that inflation in Vietnam is around 3% per year.
Food and drink prices in Saigon
Saigon offers an abundance of taste options that cater to everyone’s preferences. Whether you’re a foodie who enjoys dining out or a home cook who prefers to prepare dishes in the comfort of your own kitchen, Saigon has something for everyone. The city’s international restaurants serve a diverse range of cuisine, ranging from common to exquisite delicacies. Regardless of your culinary preferences, you’re bound to find a satisfying meal that reminds you of home.
Is it expensive to shop in Ho Chi Minh City?
Various factors determine the cost of shopping in Ho Chi Minh City. The district, type of store, and contents of your basket (local or imported products) all affect the prices. Typically, locals shop at stores such as Winmart or TopsMarket for their weekly or monthly needs, and supplement their shopping at convenience stores like Family Mart and 7/11.
Price of local products in Saigon
The cost of consuming local products is relatively affordable. For instance, a dozen eggs cost around €1.50, while potatoes, onions, and tomatoes are roughly €1.2-1.3 per kilogram. Vietnam’s rich agriculture produces a wide range of fruits and vegetables throughout the year, often tastier and cheaper than in France. You can even find familiar “European” foods like pumpkins, zucchini, eggplants, as well as new items to try such as rambutans, dragon fruits, and durians.
Price of local products in Saigon
Vietnam produces other unexpected “French” products like cheese (La Vache qui Rit is a big hit in Vietnam, but not only), cold cuts, bread, foie gras, chocolate, strawberries, and even wine! You can expect to pay approximately the same prices as in France for these high-quality items produced in Vietnam. In Vietnam, it’s possible to eat locally-produced goods at affordable prices compared to other Asian countries.
Price of meat and fish in Saigon
Local meats are of good quality, especially chicken (around €3.50 per kilo) and pork. For beef, imported American or Australian products are preferred, making them more expensive.
Vietnam’s productive aquaculture means you’ll find a wide range of fish and seafood options at lower prices than in France. Products like octopus or squid are both easier to find and cheaper.
Price of imported food in Saigon
The foods that cost the most are obviously those that are imported, such as apples, cherries, kiwis, breakfast cereals, ice cream and desserts, fruit juices, sauces. These are generally 15 to 40% more expensive than in France.
Price of alcoholic beverages in Saigon
Vietnam’s supply of industrial beers is readily available at fair prices (a pack of 6 Heinekens costs around €5, while local beers cost €3.50). You can find all the references you need at prices equivalent to those in France for spirits (Vodka, Rum, Gin, etc…). The Vietnamese craft beer market is also growing at full speed, with prices equivalent to those in France (€1.5-2 per can in shops and between €3.5-7 in bars and restaurants).
What are the prices in restaurants in Saigon?
Street food & local restaurants prices in Saigon
To eat inexpensively in Vietnam, there is no shortage of choices thanks to street food: Banh Mi sandwiches, Pho soups with chicken or beef, rice with meat (Com Tam), and other local specialties will cost you only between 1 and 2 € per meal and per person in “street” restaurants. Count 0.40-0.50 € for a drink. Simple, tasty and quick, these are great solutions, to test anyway.
Fast food restaurants prices in Saigon
Fast Foods (KFC, Burger King, McDonalds and others) offer menus between 3 and 6 €, which is much more expensive than Street Food. How can we not talk about the Big Mac index in Vietnam? It will cost you in Vietnam € 2.60 for the famous hamburger, and € 3.50 for the meal.
Regular restaurant prices in Saigon
For more “traditional” restaurants, you can eat in Vietnamese establishments for 3 to 4 €, and in saigonese international restaurants between 4 to 7 € in most areas of the city. Again, there is no shortage of diversity, because if of course there are classics such as French, Italians, Indians or Mexicans, there are also Mediterranean, Korean, Brazilian, etc restaurants in Saigon. In short, there will be in Ho Chi Minh all the culinary diversity that you wish, especially if you live in an “international” district. The prestigious restaurants will offer meals between 10 and 30 € per person.
Alcoholic beverages restaurant prices in Saigon
More expensive in retail shops (30 to 100% more), prices for glasses and bottles of international wines in restaurants are similar to those in France. You can order a glass for 2 to 4 € and bottles from around 12 €. The same goes for spirits that have similar costs. Only beers are really cheaper, often around 1 to 3 € depending on the restaurant.
The cost of food delivery in Saigon
For deliveries, the food costs in Ho Chi Minh City are the same as in restaurants, increased by delivery fees ranging from around € 0.5 to € 2. You can have meals delivered for between 5 and 8 euros on average.
Accommodation prices in Saigon
How much is the rent in Saigon ?
We must here distinguish what can be called “Vietnamese neighborhoods” (central, such as D4, D5, D8, D10, or more peripheral such as D9, Thu Duc) from more westernized neighborhoods: D1, D2, D7 .
Expatriates will often prefer neighborhoods such as District 1, 2, 3, 7, Binh Thanh. In these conditions :
- For a private room in a shared apartment/house : 200 to 350 €
- For a studio or a 1 bedroom apartment: 400 to 600 €
- For a traditional Vietnamese house of 2 to 3 floors with 3 bedrooms: 600 to 800 €
- For a 2-3 bedroom apartment in luxury residences (with services, swimming pool, shops), 800 to 1400 €
- For a villa (3 to 6 bedrooms): 1400 to 4000 € +
There are accommodations for all price ranges in Saigon.
For the other less central or less “international” districts, the price differences can range from -20 to -50% for equal services compared to the prices above. So there are great deals to be made if you want to move a little out of the city center, or live in a traditional neighborhood.
How much are the monthly charges in Saigon per person?
- Internet subscription: 10 to 15 €
- Cable TV: 10 €
- 4G phone: from 3 to 10 € depending on the data
- Electricity: 20 to 30 €
- Running water: 4 to 8 €
- Cleaning lady: 2 to 3 € per hour
Also remember to take into account the cost of your Visa if it is not covered by your employer. Prices vary, but prepare a budget of 400 to 600 € per year.
Education in Saigon
How much does a school year cost in Saigon?
Education is probably one of the most expensive things in Ho Chi Minh City, especially if you want your children to study in an international institution.
For most French expatriates, the high-school Marguerite Duras remains the best compromise, because even if the establishment is a bit far from the city center, its prices are very affordable compared to other international schools, and the quality of education is up to French standards. The price of a year of schooling is around € 5,500 per child. Be aware that some scholarships can be sponsored.
As for English-speaking schools, prices vary from € 10,000 to € 25,000 per year per child.
How much do private lessons cost in Saigon?
Education is extremely important for Vietnamese and expatriate families. Many teachers offer their private lesson or group lesson services. For these, whether it is learning a language or tutoring a specific topic, prices are between 15 and 35 € / hour for a foreign teacher. Vietnamese classes can however start at around 5€ / hour.
Health in Saigon
What are the costs of healthcare in Saigon?
It can be challenging to obtain a clear idea of healthcare expenses in Ho Chi Minh City. While there are many medical facilities, both Vietnamese and international, offering reasonably good conditions for treatment, there is a vast price difference between them. For example, a visit to a local clinic may cost as little as 100,000 VND (approximately €4), whereas a visit to an international hospital could cost over 1,000,000 VND (approximately €43). For this reason, we highly recommend investing in health insurance that covers international establishment expenses, which can be much higher than those in Europe.
Additionally, it is worth noting that there is a French hospital in the city, which caters primarily to expatriates and charges prices that are similar to other international hospitals.
Costs in Vietnamese hospitals:
- Consultation: 2-4 €
- X-rays: 10-15 €
- Night in hospital: 30-50 €
- Blood Analysis : 5 €
Cost in an international hospital:
- Consultation: 80 €
- X-rays: 280 €
Daily expenses in Saigon
Cost of common daily expenses in Ho Chi Minh City:
- Cinema: 4 to 5 €
- Haircut: 2 to 5 €
- Subscription to a sports club: 15 to 50 € +
- 1 hour massage: 10 to 15 €
- Rental of a scooter per month: 40 €
- One liter of petrol: € 1
- A 5km taxi ride: 5 €
- A 5km scooter ride: € 2
- A pack of cigarettes: € 1
- A tailored-made shirt: 20 €
Quality of life in Saigon
After having reviewed all the main costs of living in Ho Chi Minh City, let’s now take a look at what there is to do: Culture, hang out, social life, trips around, and other good reasons to move to Saigon.
Accessibility and travels around Saigon
Living in Saigon offers several undeniable advantages when it comes to air travel. With its close proximity to multiple airports in Southeast Asia, residents can take advantage of direct flights at reduced costs. Tan Son Nhat Airport, situated in the city center, can be accessed from most areas of the city in just 30 minutes, making air travel even more convenient.
How much does it cost to travel abroad from Saigon?
For those looking to explore the region, Saigon provides easy access to many popular destinations like Hong Kong, Singapore, Taipei, Bangkok, and Kuala Lumpur, which can be reached within 1 to 3 hours of flight for prices ranging from €100 to €200. This presents many opportunities to plan affordable weekend getaways.
Additionally, Saigon serves as a gateway to several other destinations such as Japan, Korea, Australia, and India, which can be reached within 4 to 5 hours of flight for fares between €300 to €600.
How much does it cost to travel in Vietnam from Saigon?
For those interested in exploring Vietnam, Saigon is surrounded by several interesting tourist destinations that are accessible by air. Beach lovers can reach Phu Quoc Island or coastal cities like Nha Trang, Quy Nhon, or Da Nang & Hoi An in under an hour. Nature enthusiasts can head to places like Dalat or Pleiku in the south, or explore Hanoi and its surrounding regions like Ninh Binh, Halong Bay, and the northern mountains. Historical cities like Hue are also within reach.
Air travel within Vietnam is reasonably affordable, with round-trip fares ranging from €50 to €150. With so many options at their disposal, residents of Saigon can easily plan memorable trips without breaking the bank.
Excursions & getaways around Ho Chi Minh City
The offer for weekends less than 2 hours from Saigon by car is however more limited. Although Saigon is located relatively close to the coast, seaside destinations outside the metropolis are of limited interest. Vung Tau can be pleasant for a weekend, but we prefer the beaches of Ho Tram (2:30 hours away) or Phan Tiet / Mui Ne (5 hours away).
The Mekong Delta as well as the Cat Tien region offer interesting opportunities for sightseeing, but again, to really enjoy nature, you have to drive at least 2 hours from Saigon.
Nightlife in Saigon
This is one of the major assets of the Saigon. The city is extremely active at night, weekdays and weekends, and the party can continue until dawn without any problems.
The number and variety of bars, restaurants, clubs and rooftop is mind-boggling, they suit every budget, from the modest street bars to the largest hotels and terraces with panoramic views that the city has to offer .
City of neon lights and an incomparable life, you will spend in Saigon some of your most beautiful nights.
Security in Saigon
Saigon is generally a very safe city. Crime exists, but is confined to minor crimes and above all without violence. You can walk without fear in any neighborhood and at any time, even if principles of minimal precautions nevertheless apply (as everywhere) to avoid pickpocketing.
Leisure in Saigon
There is a quite honorable amount of leisure of all kinds in Saigon.
Many malls and markets will allow you to satisfy your shopping needs, most offering leisure activities of all kinds: video games, games for children, skating rinks, escape games, cinemas, vinyle record store, in short, just about everything we can hope for a city of nearly 10 million inhabitants.
The choice of sporting activity is quite wide, and whatever sport you practice, there is a good chance that you can exercise it in a Saigon club.
Culture in Saigon
This is unfortunately one of the negatives of life in Ho Chi Minh City.
If you come from a large European city, you may be a little disappointed by the cultural offer of Saigon!
Indeed, the number of museums, concerts or festivals is after all quite limited, or in any case, rarely honor artists from the international (or even national) scene, even if this situation naturally tends to change with the higher exposure of Vietnam to global culture.
However, we have to put things in perspective: Saigon is far from being a city without culture. On the one hand because the Vietnamese culture is obviously felt everywhere here, and is an eternal source of astonishment and discovery, and on the other hand because it keeps a rich heritage of its colonial period. Many buildings from the French era are still used, such as the Opera to name just one.
Nature in Saigon
This is again one of the weak points of the city, which is lacking in green space, hence the need for many residents to regularly leave Saigon to get some fresh air.
There are some parks and green spaces in the city, but these seem far insufficient by Western standards of what can be found in Europe, America or Australia. Natural spaces are however present, but are not arranged for leisure.
The city center is very congested and pollution can sometimes be inconvenient in the long run or for the most sensitive. We recommended that you download an app such as AirVisual to keep track of the IQair index, especially if you want to settle with young children or elderly people.
Climate in Saigon
Saigon’s climate is ideal for those who enjoy tropical weather, as it boasts warm and consistent temperatures year-round. Even during the cooler months, temperatures rarely dip below 22-23 °C, while the hottest months see temperatures range between 32 and 35 °C.
While the city does experience a rainy season, precipitation is typically sporadic, occurring only 2-3 times per week and lasting for short periods of 1 to 4 hours. Despite occasional rain showers, visitors can expect to enjoy mostly sunny and pleasant weather in Saigon throughout the year.
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