19 Feb 2008
Ngoc Minh Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
A$27/13.50 night
10°46'6.04"N 106°41'37.96"E
1 room
Including Breakfast


As we arrived from Nha Trang on the overnight bus, we wandered around looking for somewhere with a bit of character - maybe a guesthouse with a rooftop garden or somewhere to escape the noise of the city. It would appear that every backpacker in the world reads the Lonely Planet, which says that accommodation is tight and expensive during Chinese New Year. It was neither, but the day it ended, hundreds of backpackers descended onto the city making most guest houses full. We did find a nice little one with the rooftop garden, although guesthouse means no lift (those who know me know that walking down stairs is a problem. Up is fine, down is a slow and laborious process).

For the first night, we took a room on the first floor. Bad move. We'd looked at so many by this stage, we'd have taken anything that looked half decent, and this one did. Only problem was the curtain was closed and I didn't open it - an obvious sign that I was getting tired and grumpy and totally sick of looking at grotty or overpriced (or both) - it looked out onto a maybe one metre square ventilation channel. We soon found out that the bathroom had a horrible smell to it and the noise was unbearable. Being a guesthouse, the lobby area is very open and the stairs are straight off it. During the day I had to go down and ask for them to turn the TV down. At night, we heard every noise - every check in, every check out, every complaint, every request. And everyone had to leave their key when going out, and it was never a quick room number, but a bit of what we've been up to today. And the breakfast was served on the 5th floor rooftop garden. I was all for moving after the first night, but the owner showed us a much better room on the second floor. We even got a discount from US$25 to US$24 per night, which was pretty poor considering we stayed for 6 nights in total, but the location was good - about the best you could get - down a quiet little alleyway back from the main road.

Putting aside the horribleness of the first night, the hotel was good - it was clean, had a comfortable bed and pillows, air conditioning, 50-odd channels on cable TV and a fridge.

Peter did make use of the rooftop garden to read his book whilst I sat in front of the computer - the Wi-Fi was shocking. It would work for a couple of minutes then die. I ended up using the unsecured signal from a neighbouring guesthouse with great success.

There were 2 communal computers in the lobby, and that's about it. Breakfast was a bread roll, jam, coffee (with sweetened tinned milk) and a fried egg. I asked for hard boiled one morning but the girl who does breakfasts doesn't speak English.

Not sure if we'd come back here - a lot of the other guesthouses we looked at were either full or only had rooms on high floors, but seemed to be better value.

As an aside, we were given the latest copy (less than 6 months old) of Lonely Planet for Vietnam just before we left Cambodia. The Ngoc Minh Hotel has a great write up with prices ranging from US$10-US$12. Goes to prove that one good write up can double the price. Or am I just cynical?