To outsiders, Saigon is a sprawling, concrete metropolis, but the city does have its share of green spaces scattered about that are very popular with locals. If you happen to be in the mood for a shaded sit, or a quiet stroll, here are a few parks to enjoy free of charge in Ho Chi Minh City.
Located just behind the Reunification Palace, Tao Dan Park is one of the bigger green spaces you’ll find downtown. A neat, manicured area mostly shaded by large trees, the first thing that may jump out at you are the park’s large, elaborate plant sculptures of animals, such as tigers and dragons. If you really dig on sculptures, you can find a proper sculpture garden on the small sliver of the park separated by Truong Dinh, the one-way street that crosses through the park.
Besides sculptures and shrines, Tao Dan is a place of activity. In the morning you can find a variety of city dwellers enjoying badminton, practising tai chi, or showing off their prized caged birds. In the evening, go to the park to see people working out on the public exercise machines in the park’s north corner; or join in an early afternoon aerobics class, which is free and draws dozens of participants.
A park most visitors to the city will walk through, as it offers a quiet path from the Saigon backpacker area to Ben Thanh market, 23-9 Park is a thin park that stretches the length of Pham Ngu Lao. Named after the anniversary of the day Ho Chi Minh rallied the newly independent Vietnam against the returning French in 1945, this is another good park to cool down and people watch.
Inside the shaded park you’ll find various gazebos, a small amphi-theatre and a small playground for children, as well as plenty of room for exercise and lounging. The park becomes particularly active at night, when it fills with locals who sit along the ground and buy drinks and snacks from vendors who line the park’s edge. More than an everyday park, 23-9 comes to life during special events and holidays, especially Tet, when the park hosts concerts, festivals and flower markets.
Outside of District 1, in the more suburban District 7, Ho Ban Nguyet Park, or Crescent Park, is a popular park for couples. Next to the Crescent Mall and shopping area off Nguyen Van Linh, during the day the park is less active, as it lacks the shade of the downtown parks. This makes it one of the more popular spots among locals for wedding photos and, at any given time during the day, you’ll see five or six couples posing for portraits. At night, when the sun goes down, the park becomes much more active but is still popular as a romantic hangout. Couples walk hand in hand along the waterfront park and across its long metal, pedestrian-only bridge and enjoy the peace and quiet that can only be found outside of District 1.
By Max Murta
Last updated on 18th September, 2014.