At home in the city

Where better to experience what’s on offer in busy HCMC than a quiet homestay?

By TRAN VO on May 12,2018 02:29 PM

At home in the city

Photos: VAN THANH

MOST TOURISTS VISITING HCMC PREFER HOTELS FOR COMFORT AND SERVICES BUT A HOMESTAY IS AN INTERESTING OPTION FOR THOSE HOPING TO EXPERIENCE LOCAL LIFE. THEY ARE GENERALLY SITUATED DOWN LANEWAYS IN THE HEART OF THE CITY, PUTTING ALL ITS ATTRACTIONS WITHIN EASY REACH.

The Common Room Project

The Common Room Project
80/8 Nguyen Trai, D.5, HCMC
https://thecommonroomproject.net

Hidden down a laneway on Nguyen Trai Street in District 5, close to Chinatown, The Common Room Project welcomes guests in a lush green oasis decorated like a contemporary art gallery with a host of paintings adorning the walls and books on shelves. As its name suggests, the homestay provides travellers with a beautiful retreat from the urban chaos in the ‘home away from home’ style but still offers the social experience of a hostel, the comforts and charm of a bed and breakfast, and the authenticity of a local neighbourhood.

The 48-bed homestay is for those looking for a luxury experience on a budget and includes four private rooms and four spacious dorms uniquely designed with comfort in mind. The rooftop Bar & Garden is a great place to sunbathe, read a book, or take in the city views while enjoying a cocktail or other drink. The Common Room Project hosts common activities to bring people together, such as community pop-up dinners that allow you to experience a home-cooked meal, or free cooking lessons of what the ‘mama’ has chosen to make that day. Nearby is an area with great street food stalls where travellers can walk and explore.

The homestay has also partnered with some of the coolest tourist guides in town, who can show you HCMC by night on the back of a motorbike, and also offers all sorts of other tours.

Nguyen Shack

At home in the city

The nine-room homestay is located in a small laneway at the Phu Dong Roundabout in District 1, just a few minutes from Ben Thanh Market and the famous backpacker’s area around Pham Ngu Lao Street. Outside is the noise of a modern city but just a few steps inside and peace descends, with a green space, comfortable surroundings and warm welcomes. The house is designed in a Vietnamese style with a décor of bamboo and ceramics, Buddha statues, and a variety of plants. Most of the things inside are also made from bamboo, such as baskets of flowers and plants hanging everywhere, beds, tables and chairs, and shelves displaying tea, coffee and local wine at the café and lounge on the ground floor.

Nguyen Shack
6/15 Cach Mang Thang 8, D.1, HCMC
http://www.nguyenshack.com

Of special note, guests will find a large collection of herbal tea and wines made from many types of herbs, roots, flowers, fruit and bark, which the owner has researched and collected in many regions around Vietnam. Each has its own description and explanation about the uses of each plant, which are good for the body, providing relaxation and treating certain diseases. Guests can enjoy their favourite tea or local wines, buying them as gifts or learning more about Vietnamese culture with the knowledgeable guides, who will introduce them to the traditional medicinal herbs and show how to use them. The qualified staff will also answer any questions about traditional medicine or about how to combine herbs to for a nice taste.

The homestay serves a complimentary Vietnamese home-cooked breakfast with phở, bread with eggs, and fruit juice, coffee and tea. Guests can also use the shared kitchen to cook for themselves or a meal with the host.

Mr Huy, Nguyen Shack’s manager, is a friendly young man who has worked for many years as a tour guide. He helps guests have the best experience, with a walking city tour, local dinner, and entertainment by night.

Nguyen Shack also has homestays in famous destinations around Vietnam, including Can Tho city in the Mekong Delta, Phong Nha Cave in central Quang Binh province, and Trang An in northern Ninh Binh province.

Town House Saigon

At home in the city

Town House Saigon
50E Bui Thi Xuan, D.1, HCMC
23 Dang Thi Nhu, D.1, HCMC
373/45 Pham Ngu Lao, D.1, HCMC
http://townhousesaigon.com

Town House Saigon is a famous homestay brand in HCMC, with three locations in popular spots around town: one close to Ben Thanh Market, one in the backpacker’s area, and one near Tao Dan Park.

The homestay offers both private rooms and dorms in bright colours of blue, white and purple. It features a nice common space on the ground floor, which doubles as the lobby, and a kitchen and dining room warmly decorated to provide a cosy feel. Town House Saigon opened its first homestay on 50E Bui Thi Xuan Street in 2013, the result of cooperation between three friends who are passionate about making sure visitors are well looked after and have a comfortable and enjoyable time in Vietnam. After five years, they have opened three other homestays and become truly a home in HCMC for tourists from all over the world. It often chooses to rent houses in small and safe laneways in the heart of the city and renovate them into homestays. According to Ms Thuy from the Town House Saigon in Bui Thi Xuan, most guests are young travellers. The price for a bed in a dorm is $11 (about VND250,000) and $35 for a Superior Double Room, including breakfast.

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