A refuge of calm, quiet and nature within a big city is not a unique idea–New York City has Central Park, Hong Kong has Kowloon Park, Seoul has Children’s Grand Park, and London has Hyde Park. But no other city is in need of the peace quite as much as Ho Chi Minh City. As I wrote about here, it’s a chaotic, noisy and colorful place. Luckily, there are a plethora of parks to pop into and decompress from all the madness! We stumbled upon quite a few parks in the city, some big, some small, all a welcome reprieve from the chaos.
The Turtle Lake (Hồ Con Rùa)
Turtle Lake is manmade, created by the last South Vietnamese President, Nguyen Van Thieu. The turtles are supposed to represent wisdom, and the giant tower is supposed to be a lotus flower. Apparently there was some damage done to the park during the war that has been left as-is, but we didn’t notice anything that looked blatantly damaged. Turtle Lake is hugely popular with the locals, especially the younger generations. Lots of high school aged kids sat around, legs dangling into the water, eating lunch, talking with friends, reading.
To get to Turtle Lake, go to Pham Ngong Thach Street, pass the Diamond Plaza Hotel and Mall until you come to a roundabout, where the park is located.
This long, skinny park runs the length of several city blocks–from the Ben Thanh Market to the infamous backpacker haven, Pham Ngu Lao. This park is filled with people playing games, resting in the grass, and a lot of foreigners escaping the chaos of the streets. We found it (as many foreigners do) because walking in the park allowed us to move the length of several city blocks without having to actually set foot on the crazy streets. However, beware, because this park has a reputation for being prime pickings for pick pockets and charlatans due to the high density of tourists it attracts. Your best bet is to just keep your bags close to your body, and don’t chat with people you don’t know.
23/9 is located between Pham Ngu Lao Street and Le Lai Street.
Con Vien Van Hoa Park (Tao Den Park)
Con Vien Van Hoa Park (meaning ‘Cultural Park’) is one of Ho Chi Minh’s biggest and most beautiful parks. In the days of French colonization, it was a park reserved for the French elite. Now it’s open to the masses. It’s truly a haven–green, lush, full of families and beautiful art, and the whole park is bicycle-free. This was probably the best park we visited in the city!
Con Vien Van Hoa Park is located near the Reunification Palace (on Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street), in District 1.
What’s the best park you’ve ever been to? Share with us in the comments!