Finding an Apartment in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) Vietnam: A Complete How-To

Three months ago I made the biggest move of my quarter-of-a-century life. I packed up two suitcases (when I could have packed 7) and flew 8,648 miles to Saigon, Vietnam, with no place to call my own. Best decision I ever made.

Needless to say, apartment hunting may be a bit easier in Vietnam than it is back home, but it can still be tricky if you're going in blind. So, let's get this show on the road and dive into some helpful tips to make your move over here as graceful as a gazelle.

If you're interested in an apartment tour video to see what my place looks like, I will link it at the end!

1. Don't Look for an Apartment Before Moving to Vietnam 


Not only will this completely stress you out, but because the market for renting apartments moves so fast you'd be wasting your time trying to set up appointments in advance. Trust me, I tried.

What you can do is go online look at different apartments, different areas, different districts and start familiarising yourself with where you think you'd want to live.

2. Book a Hotel for Your First Week


Book a hotel in the city's center a.k.a. District 1.  This way you have walking access to all the touristy places you'll want to hit as soon as you get here. And it's a good way to get to know the madness of the city! Having a temporary home base in D1 also means easy access to all the other districts when apartment hunting.

Tip: Only book your hotel for 1 week, you can always extend your stay if you haven't found an apartment yet. This let's you save money as well.

3. Venture Out to Different Districts


But first, get a sim card. Download Grab (Vietnam's version of Uber, which is totally safe, I use it everyday). This gives you the ability to venture out to all of the surrounding districts and explore where you'd want to live. You'd be surprised by the cute and cozy pockets you can find in D3, D7 and D2.

4. Join the Facebook Groups and Book an Agent


The more apartments you see, the more likely you are to get one that you'll end up liking. Joining the Facebook groups is what landed me in the place I'm in today. Legitimately, all you need to do is conger up a post of what you're looking for, where you want to live and what price you're willing to pay and you'll get direct messages for days! The littlest amount of effort I've put into finding an apartment, ever.

Facebook Groups to Join for Apartment Hunting:

     

Facebook Groups to Join for Expats:


If Facebook groups aren't your thing you can always book an agent through Hoozing.com. They will take you around the city and show you different apartments based on what you're looking for.

5. Don't Say Yes Until You Barter


If you plan on staying long term, 6 months to 1 year, you can try your hand at bartering the price of rent down. Bartering is common, so don't feel you're being rude. If it's a no, it's a no, but it doesn't hurt to try!

Also, if you prefer to pay month to month you can try to sway the contract in that direction. This will allow you to see if you like the district and the rental you're living in.

6. What You Can Expect to Pay


Once you sign your contract you'll pay first months rent as well as the security deposit, which is typically another month's rent.

My 1 bedroom fully furnished, serviced apartment in D2 is $450 USD per month. And yes, there are many cheaper options out there, it just depends what you are looking for. This includes laundry once a week, cleaning twice a week, bed sheets changed once a week, internet, cable and drinking water.

This doesn't include water or electricity which is standard in Vietnam and you're going to have a hard time trying to find an apartment where this is included. But, for reference this is what I typically pay a month for both: water: $3-5 USD and electricity $20-30 (that's with using minimal AC).

10 Photos to Fuel Your Icelandic Horse Obsession

These beauties are every reason you should pull over your rental car and relish in their fearlessness of foreigners! Now, I'm not a horse person, per say, but I am an Icelandic horse person, it's hard not to be. Fun fact: Icelandic horses, contrary to popular belief, are not actually wild. Each and every one of them has an owner who takes care and looks after them. They just have a lot of space to run free!
When you stop off at the Bonus Grocery Store to pick up a few goodies for your ringroad roadtrip, grab some extra carrots and apples. Your new friends will definitely thank you in kisses. 


Going to Iceland? Have questions? Let me know, I'm always happy to help!

5 Stops for 1 Day in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula West-Iceland

As we drove into the Snæfellsnes Peninsula we thought, "we've already seen it all, what more could there be?" Yeah, well, we we're wrong.
We decided to end our 9 Day Roadtrip through Iceland's incredible terrain with a loop through the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in West-Iceland and if time wasn't on our side, we may have skipped over most of it, if not all. BIG no-no. Make time for it. It's arguably one of the only parts of this insane country where you can see all of the unique elements nature has to offer! Plus you'll have major regrets because it only takes a few hours drive.

1st Stop: Buðir

The Buðir black church is one of 3 black churches in Iceland and has been a church there since 1703. It's beautiful back drop is one for the books, and this is arguably my favourite spot in all of Iceland.

2nd Stop: Arnarstapi

Once we were done skating the open roads we hopped back in the car and made our way further into the peninsula to the small harbour town of Arnarstapi. The basalt cliff formations are an incredible spot to soak in an afternoon of beauty. If you're looking to get out of the car and get some fresh are take the 60 minute walk along the coast to Hellnar.

3rd Stop: Hellnar

We opted to drive to what used to be one of the biggest fishing ports in Snæfellsnes, Hellnar. With beautiful rock formations that protrude into the ocean, this little town is in and of itself, magical. Make your way down to the beach to check out the caves carved from years of water erosion. 

Are you hungry yet? Well, it looks like you could use a little pick me up. Or at least a tea break. 
Lucky for you a lovely little café by the name of  Fjöruhúsið sits right by the sea at Hellnar. The location is fantastic and this little hidden gem by the sea cliffs is the perfect spot to grab a treat. It is well hidden, until, that is, you reach the top of the hill, so be sure not to miss it. They offer an array of home-made cakes and bread, hot chocolate, waffles and fish-soup. 

4th Stop: Kirkjufell Mountain

The most photographed lansdscape in Iceland is the one and only cone-shaped Kirkjufell mountain. On the opposite side of the road you'll find the waterfall where you can do a little hike and enjoy the amazing views. 

5th Stop: Kast Guesthouse

Options for overnight stays are slim in this neck of the woods so many people make the drive back to Reykjavik once they finish Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Don't pass up the chance to stay amongst the natural beauty of Iceland. Kast Guesthouse is the perfect way to end your trip! So why not splurge a little? You only get views like this once!

You never know what you'll find in this huge peninsula so take your time and make sure to get out of the car and explore. You may even stumble by this abandon cabin in mountains!

You know where to find me if you have any questions!

Top 5 Less-Touristy Spots in Iceland You Need to Visit

Iceland is beautiful. There's no doubt about that. On one hand you have a luxurious Blue Lagoon set amongst a rugged lava landscape and on the other you have floating glacier lakes with snow capped mountains as the backdrop. But, besides seeing these miracles of nature, the best thing you can do in Iceland is to rent a car and take your time driving the open country road. 
No journey to Iceland is complete without having the freedom to explore the unexplored and having the ability to pull over and pet the Icelandic horses. So, that being said, here are my top 5 less touristy spots you shouldn't miss out on!

1. Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

Think, slow motion music video, sheer cliffs covered in plush moss overlooking emerald green waters, Justin Bieber fearlessly jogging to the edge. Breathtaking. And even if you're not a belieber (pffft you're not kidding anyone) you definitely want to make a stop here. 

2. Jökulsárlón Glacier River Lagoon

True to its name, Jökulsárlón is a magnificent river-lagoon hybrid that houses massive bobbing pieces of glacier. And if you're lucky enough, you might catch a seal and its pup sunbathing on it's surface.

3. Mývatn Mud Pots

You don't need to go far or to have studied for 18 years to fulfil your dreams of one day becoming Chris Hadfield because there is no way I was still on Earth standing next to the Mývatn Mud Pots.

4. Laufás Turf House

Any turf homes will do, really, but there's just something that screams iconic Iceland about them. They're just so curiously amazing, anyone else? I think they're spectacular. Sue me.


5. Hellnar to Arnarstapi Walk

Hellnar is an ancient fishing village with a cluster of old houses and buildings situated close to Arnarstapi on the westernmost part of the Snæfellsnes peninsula. Take the incredible 60 minute walk yourself and end with the cutest cup of tea and homemade waffles in a quaint little cafe overlooking the water. You will not be disappointed!

Iceland 9-Day Itinerary: Self-Driving the Ring Road Route 1

Is seeing all of Iceland in 9 days impossible? Maybe, but here is how I managed to see most of it...


Day 1: Reykjavik & The Blue Lagoon


I'd highly recommend jumping off the plane and hopping over  to the Blue Lagoon to spend the morning relaxing. Nothing beats jet lag better then bathing in silica and a 24 hour open bar. The facilities are heavenly for rinsing off afterwards in preparation for exploring Reykjavik. Stroll the cobblestone streets, eat a hot dog or two and end your first day with a local pub crawl!

  1. 1. Relax at The Blue Lagoon
  2. 2. Stroll Reykjavik (check out these tips to enjoying everything Reykjavik has to offer)
  3. 3. End the night with an epic pub crawl in the city

Where to Spend the Night: 


Reykjavik can get expensive, so skip the glitz and glam and spend the night at Hlemmur Square for about CAD $50.00. An upscale hostel with a bar attached and walking distance to anywhere in the city centre. There's also a 24h parking garage close by #convenient

  1. Hlemmur Square Reykjavik
  2. 105 Laugavegur, 105 Reykjavík, Iceland

Day 2: The Golden Circle


Get up early and start your roadie off right! The Golden Circle is an absolute must so here's my personal guide to driving it! It will take about 3 hours to drive total (not including stops) so be sure to leave lots of room to get out of the car and enjoy!

  1. 1. Þingvellir National Park 
  2. 2. Geysers At Haukadalur 
  3. 3. Gullfoss Waterfall
  4. 4. Kerið Crater Lake

Where to Spend the Night: 


Spend the night at Ljósafossskóli, a former boarding school converted into a hostel, for about CAD $62.00. I absolutely adored this place, with its spectacular environment, lake and mountain scenery and the odd glimpse of the Northern Lights during the winter time. The perfect stop along The Golden Circle.

  1. Ljosafossskoli Hostel, Selfoss 
  2. 801 Úlfljótsvatn, Iceland 


Day 3: Waterfalls, Waterfalls and More Water


Don't forget your rain jacket, today will be a wet one. First up is, Seljalandfoss, the best known waterfall in Iceland and the one you can walk behind during summer.  To the left of Seljalandfoss, and within walking distance, is Gljúfrafoss, which is hidden away in a cave between a cracked cliff. Next, hop back in the car and head to Skogafoss, one of the biggest waterfalls in Iceland. Once you're seen enough waterfalls for a lifetime head to Iceland's oldest pool Seljavallalaug for an afternoon dip! Here is everything you need to know about getting there! Spend the night relaxing and treating yourself to some science views from one of my favourite spots in Iceland: The Garage.

  1. 1. Seljalandfoss & Gljúfrafoss Waterfall
  2. 2. Skogafoss Waterfall
  3. 3. Go swimming in Iceland's oldest pool Seljavallalaug
  4. 4. Relax and enjoy South Iceland from your room at The Garage

Where to Spend the Night: 

The Garage was my favourite stay in Iceland! Read why I love this place so much here

  1. The Garage
  2. Varmahlíð South Coast, 861 Varmahlíð, Iceland


Day 4: Plane Wrecks,  Black Sand Beaches, Canyons & Lagoons


Wakey Wakey, no time for breaky. Get en route to the Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck, trust me you want to beat the crowds to get those instaworthy shots (and please, don't get lost on your way over there, read this map before you go). Jump back in the car and head to the Reynisdrangar Sea Cliffs which stand under the Reynisfjall Mountain, at the end of a dramatic stretch of black sand beach. The towering, spiky basalt sea stacks jut out from the ocean 66 meters in air and have a tale of folklore to go along with them. Take a pit stop in Vik for lunch as you pass through onwards to the Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon. This is one of those places you don't find in the brochures, and don't see many photos of, but that's one of the reasons it's that much more magical when you get there. Last stop of the day, Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, which speaks for itself. Amazing. To eat, stop off in the lobster capital and seaside town of Hofn to grab a bite to eat at Pakkhús Restaurant! You gotta try their Skyr Volcano Dessert. Still. Drooling.

  1. 1. Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck 
  2. 2. Reynisdrangar Black Sand Beach
  3. 3. Explore the city of Vik & stop for lunch
  4. 4. Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon
  5. 5. Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
  6. 6. Explore the city of Hofn & stop for dinner

Where to Spend the Night: 


By the time you're done with this larger than life day, you're probably not going to want to be driving hours in the dark on winding roads with no guard rails to your hotel (as we did...) so my suggestion and word of advice, would be to find something in Hofn. We stayed at the Hotel Framtid for about CAD $80, which other than being too far, we had a great stay! 

  1. Framtid Hotel
  2. Vogalandi 4, 765 Djúpivogur, Iceland 


Day 5: Eastern Fjords


Today have your pick at any of the Eastern Fjords! The fantastic driving scene starts shortly after leaving Hofn. Look at puffins close-up and see reindeer! The east is the only place in Iceland where you can see herds of wild reindeer roaming about, it's true! By now most people would have u-turned back to Reykjavik, so be prepared for the road conditions ahead. Stop off in the capital of East Iceland, Egilsstaðir, at Cafe Nielsen (Egilsstaðir‘s oldest house) for some afternoon tea or a quick cup of joe before heading out on your drive down the fjords.

Because of the winter conditions, we decided on only Seyðisfjörður for the day (and night) mainly because of the small, cute and blue church found there! If you like churches and old-fashioned architecture it is definitely worth the drive out to see. There are also a lot of hikes and you can do weather dependent!

  1. 1. Exlpore Egilsstaðir & stop for coffee or a bite to eat
  2. 2. Seyðisfjörður

Where to Spend the Night: 


We spent the night in Seyðisfjörður at the Hafaldan HI Hostel for about CAD $70. This way we were able to roam freely and not worry about a drive out of the fjord ... until the morning.

  1. Hafaldan HI Hostel
  2. Suðurgata 8, Seydisfjordur, Iceland


Day 6: The Myvatn Area A.K.A. Mars


On the 6th day we were ready to jump head first into an Icelandic thermal bath. Our feet deserved it. But, not before taking a walk around Mars at the Myvatn Hveraröndor Hverir. Like. So. Cool. But smelly. After relaxing in the nature baths we headed on to Akureyri, finishing off our driving for a little while.

  1. 1. Myvatn Hveraröndor Hverir
  2. 2. Myvatn Nature Baths

Where to Spend the Night: 


There is not much around Northen Iceland so you'll want to make your way to Akureyri and call it home for a couple of nights! We stayed at the Akureyri Backpackers for 2 nights, which came to about CAD $100.00 each, PLUS a free beer at their bar!

  1. Akureyri Backpackers
  2. Hafnarstraeti 98, 600 Akureyri, Iceland


Day 7: Wander Akureyki & Turf Homes


After moving everyday, spend two nights in Akureyri, the capital of North Iceland and the second largest city after Reykjavik! There are tons of things to do in this quaint little city all accessible by foot. And the restaurant scene is endless, so get your hungry on. Visit Akureyrarkirkja, the church designed by Guðjón Samúelsson, who also designed the famous Hallgrímskirkja church in Reykjavik. Venture out to the grass-topped farmhouses (Laufás Turf Homes) that defined Iceland or book a whale watching tour while in town!

  1. 1. Explore Akureyri and its charm
  2. 2. Check out the Turf Homes
  3. 3. End the night with an 

Where to Spend the Night: 


  1. Akureyri Backpackers
  2. Hafnarstraeti 98, 600 Akureyri, Iceland


Day 8: Snaefellsnes Peninsula 


It's back to that driving grind! Wake up, grab some breaky, chug your coffee and hit the road. It's time to see the most photographed mountain in Iceland. But first head down to Budir where the famous black church lies next to snowy mountains. Keep on heading on towards Hellnar and Arnarstapi which are both old fishing towns that have walking trails between them right beside the coast. You will not be disappointed! Have lunch at the coziest little cafe, Fjoruhusid, and be sure to get their yummy homemade waffles and jam! And then onward to Kirkjufell and Kirkjufellsfoss to see Iceland's iconic mountain.

  1. 1. Budir's Black Church
  2. 2. Check out the Turf Homes
  3. 3. Kirkjufell & Kirkjufellsfoss

Where to Spend the Night: 


Options are slim in this neck of the woods so many people make the drive back to Reykjavik once they finish Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Don't pass up the chance to stay amongst the natural beauty of Iceland. Kast Guesthouse is the perfect way to end your trip! So why not splurge a little? One night comes to about CAD $90.

  1. Kast Guesthouse
  2. 356 Lysudalur, Lýsudalur, Iceland

Day 9: Head Back to Reykjavik  

Sleep in and enjoy your last morning in Iceland before driving back to Reykjavik and hopping on your flight home! Pet that last horse, eat that last hotdog and let the water works begin. Because who wants to leave a place like this?




My Iceland Travel Vlog Here!