Living in Ho Chi Minh City

Living in Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City

Formerly known as Saigon, this fast-moving, ever-growing modern city is the economic centre of Vietnam, and is populated by almost 7.3* million people, and over 7 million motorbikes. In January 2017 HCMC was named as the world’s second most dynamic city.**

The city is open 24-7, and is home to many cafes and restaurants serving food from all around the world. The traffic is dizzying and life happens at full-speed. But beyond that are glimpses of history and culture in the gentle quiet of Chinese pagodas and the creativity of the Fine Arts Museum. Other attractions include the Opera House, French colonial-style hotels, museums and galleries, and Ben Thanh Market. The market will thrill and confuse you with its flurry of merchants pressuring you to buy everything from bread to bedding.


If you want to live off-campus we will link you with a recommended agent who can help you find accommodation in Ho Chi Minh City. Renting serviced and furnished apartments is far more common in Vietnam than in westernised countries. Don’t worry - we will link you with a Vietnamese student who will become your ‘buddy’ and help you out. HCMC has a wide range of guesthouses, houses, and apartments catering to all budgets, depending on location, lifestyle and individual circumstances.

Living near the RMIT Saigon South campus also gives you a great opportunity to enjoy cuisines from other countries. This modern residential area is quieter than the city and has a high population of foreigners and a variety of well-priced cafes and restaurants. Of course, the local supermarkets and convenience stores sell everything you need to prepare your own, inexpensive, meals.

RMIT offers on-campus accommodation in Saigon South. All apartments are fully furnished and air-conditioned, and you have access to exclusive study spaces, printing facilities, laundry, kitchens and recreational areas. We also have cafes and restaurants on-campus serving a range of western and Vietnamese food, plus a convenience store and coffee shops.

Explore the region

HCMC is an ideal base; it’s centrally located and has budget airlines serving all major cities in the region. During the semester break you can take the opportunity to explore beyond Vietnam. Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Singapore are less than two hours from HCMC. Hong Kong, China, Laos, the Philippines, and Taiwan are also easy to visit - within three to four hours direct flying time. Travel in and around Vietnam opens a world of discoveries.


HCMC has a vibrant food scene, from cafes and restaurants to street food. Vietnamese food is cheap and tasty, but you can also ‘splash out’ at upmarket restaurants and bars.

You can sample the wide range of street food such as Vietnamese sandwiches, grilled seafood, rice paper salads, crab soup, sweet desserts and many other dishes served in small food stalls located at almost every street corner. You will quickly become an expert in Vietnamese food and its best-known dishes, Pho and Bun Bo, noodle dishes made tangy and satisfying when you add a squeeze of lime and a few leaves of Vietnamese mint. You’ll never be short of drink options either - there are coffee shops to tempt your tastebuds on every street corner.

If you love cooking you’ll be surprised by the number of cooking classes available; they are usually combined with a trip to the market to buy produce. Spicy, sour, bitter, salty and sweet - it’s all here in Vietnam.


There are modern, air-conditioned shopping centres with top brands and cheap food courts throughout HCMC, and most items are readily available. However, it’s best to bring your own medications and special toiletries. One problem is buying clothes in larger sizes, but this can be overcome cheaply by having your clothes made to measure at one of the many tailors. If you love shopping in markets then you’ll love Vietnam. Admire fresh flowers, colourful lanterns and foods and spices that you’ve never seen before!  Be ready to bargain!


The most popular way to get around is by motorbike. You can rent a bike, or for individual trips you can call a motorbike taxi. To ride a motorbike of more than 50cc you need a license, and helmets are compulsory. Buses and taxies are also available, and fares in Vietnam are very cheap. Longer distance travel to other Vietnamese cities or into the countryside can be done by long-distance bus, train, and by air.


Among the wide range of hospitals and different standards of health care, private hospitals are generally on par with those in the Western countries and accept international health insurance. The majority of doctors are from the US, Korea, Japan and France, as well as overseas-trained Vietnamese doctors .

At RMIT Vietnam, the health and safety of the students is a top priority. We have 24-hour security, health centres and counselling services on campus.


HCMC’s tropical climate, with its two seasons of wet and dry, brings temperature highs of between 31 and 35 degrees celsius.

 *Ref: CIA World Factbook 2017, **JLL City Momentum Index 2017