The sweltering heat, never ceasing traffic, new skyscrapers that pop up everywhere - all make up the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City that we know and love. However, sometimes you (and your lungs!) need a little break from Vietnam's largest city.
If you are looking for a breath of fresh air, you have come to the right place. We have listed our top 5 favourite parks within the city, and if you have more time on your hands, take a day trip or weekend trip to our 5 nature-filled nearby destinations.
5 Parks in Ho Chi Minh City
Parks make up an essential element of daily life in Ho Chi Minh city. Many Vietnamese choose to start their morning at the park, exercising or socialising. Some are large and famous, some are hidden green secrets, take your next break here!
1. Botanical Garden, District 1
The Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden is the largest one in Vietnam. Established in 1865, it is located right in the heart of the city in District 1. You will be hard-pressed to find another spot as large and green in the city centre.
The Botanical Garden is lush and filled with greenery. Stroll under the shade of giant tropical trees and wander about the different gardens. Some of them are sculptured lawns, some hold exotic plants from far-flung places, and some showcase rare orchids and ornamental plants.
A fun place to explore during the weekend, many families also come here to picnic and observe animals at the zoo.
2. Tao Dan Park, District 1
Another park located in the centre of Ho Chi Minh City, Tao Dan Park is rich in history.
Tao Dan Park is located behind the Independence Palace and about 10 minutes from Ben Thanh Market. Named Jardin de la Ville by the French, the French maintained it and added many structures to it. After independence, the Vietnamese made it their own, adding a replica of a Cham tower and building a shire to the Hung King, the legendary dynasty of Vietnam.
People come here to enjoy the fresh air, visit the historic buildings, and of course to exercise. Outdoor activities here include taichi, football, jogging, and even dancing!
3. Crescent Walk, District 7
Dubbed the 'Singapore' of Ho Chi Minh City, Crescent Walk in Phu My Hung, is a wide promenade arching over a lake and framed by tall, shiny new, malls, offices, and residences.
Stroll alongside the buildings and cross the bridge, then you will come to Ho Ban Nguyet Park. The bridge is one of the most romantic spots in the city, where many couples go to watch the sunset.
The park is very well organised, there are many green lawns, tall trees, and ponds filled with lotuses. A tranquil and quiet corner of Ho Chi Minh City, expect to find many joggers and people walking their dogs.
4. Gia Dinh Park, Phu Nhuan District
Gia Dinh Park is a hidden nature gem, located away from the central districts, it is actually within walking distance of Tan Son Nhat International Airport.
Often called the green lung of Saigon, it is home to over 700 trees and wide expanses of green fields. It is a park catered for families and children. Different zones and structures were built for children of various age groups to play in. Popular amongst local students, you will see young people here reading books, chatting, and enjoying nature.
5. Binh Quoi Park, Binh Thanh District
This is the ultimate destination to go to get your nature fix within the city. Different from strolling into a park, you will actually have to arrange transport to get to Thanh Da Island, in Bin Thanh District, along the Saigon River.
Binh Quoi Park is a romantic recreation of the Mekong Delta villages - think expansive ponds with giant lotus pads, straw-thatched huts, coconut trees, and fish pools.
Divided into three zones, Binh Quoi 1 has the most activities, Binh Quoi 2 is known for its swimming pool, and Binh Quoi 3 is best for eating and drinking along the river.
The quaint setting and beautiful gardens make it worth spending some time here without having to leave the city.
5 Trekking and Nature Trips near to Saigon
Southern Vietnam is full of breathtaking natural beauty. There are many places you can easily get to from Ho Chi Minh City on a day trip or a weekend trip. Discover greenery, hiking trails, and wildlife just a few hours out of the city!
1. Cat Tien National Park, Dong Nai
Cat Tien National park is the closest national park to Ho Chi Minh City and one of the largest in the country, located in Dong Nai Province, about three to four hours bus or car ride away. There are plenty of outdoor activities here, get ready to hike, bike, or boat!
Cat Tien National Park is home to over 1,600 plant species; there are fantastical tall trees in the dense jungle. Visitors can trek along the river and trails into the jungle. Get ready to explore and spot wildlife like the singing gibbons, sambar deer, and even the protected Vietnamese Javen rhinoceros.
Perfect for day trips or stay the night if you like. Many of the accommodations are within the park itself, allowing you to experience the magic of the jungle at night.
Book your visit to Cat Tien National Park in advance as it is a protected area that limits visitors.
2. Black Virgin Mountain, Tay Ninh
Black Virgin Mountain or Nai Ba Den in Tây Ninh Province, at 996 metres tall, is the highest peak in Southern Vietnam, about two hours drive away from Ho Chi Minh City.
Its famous attractions include many temples on cliffs that commemorate the namesake of the mountain, and more recently a cable car.
There are many hiking trails for different levels of difficulty and depending on how much time you would like to spend trekking. Hiking to the mountain's peak will take about 6 hours round trip, and the panoramic views of Tay Ninh Province are well worth it. There is also the option of taking the cable car one way and hiking the way back.
For those that want to make a weekend out of the visit, you can also camp overnight and watch the sun break over the fields in the morning.
3. Dinh Mountain, Vung Tau
A trip to Dinh Mountain is an amazing nature-filled getaway, only 90 minutes away from Ho Chi Minh City, and next door to Vung Tau Beach!
Travelers come to Dinh Mountains for hiking and even trail running. Those that want a less intense experience can trek to the Suoi Da and Suoi Tien freshwater springs, and enjoy a day of swimming and enjoying waterfalls.
Hiking groups often organise day tours to Dinh Mountain where they get on a bus from Saigon, or even motorbike together. The trek is about 3 hours long in total, easy-moderate level, but does have poor signage, so it might be better to go with a group for your first visit.
At the end of the trip, why not pop into Vung Tau to sample fresh seafood at the many restaurants, and explore the coastal beach town.
4. Lang Biang Mountain, Da Lat
Lang Biang Mountain in Da Lat is just a touch too far from Ho Chi Minh City for a casual day trip, and might be better for a weekend tour. A bus there will take around 6 hours, but a flight is less than an hour. However, the fresh atmosphere of Da Lat and being surrounded by pine trees make Lang Biang Mountain worth including.
Lang Biang is the tallest mountain in Da Lat, and is one of the most popular hiking routes for nature lovers. A moderately difficult hike, travellers have reported that it is route is shaded by lovely pine trees, framed by beautiful wildflowers, and the summit offers wondrous views of the highlands.
Of course, spend some time in Da Lat city, and feast on some of the freshest produce Vietnam has to offer. Check our travel guide to Da Lat here.
5. Ta Cu Mountain, Mui Ne
Another weekend nature destination would be Ta Cu Mountain, an hour's drive from Mui Ne town. People come from across the country to visit the giant Buddha statue that is 59 metres long and 18 metres tall.
The options to see the pagoda is either a 4-hour hike or a 10-minute cable car ride. The hike takes you through the vibrant forest, accompanied by birdsong, and pass limestone caves.
Apart from hiking, of course, Mui Ne is also famous for its red and white sand dunes. Experience the only desert in Vietnam for yourself, or head to the beach for some water sports. Find out more in our travel guide to Mui Ne.
Green Southern Vietnam
North Vietnam, with its rolling mountainous landscapes, is often touted as Vietnam's nature destination. However, South Vietnam has plenty to offer too, even within Ho Chi Minh City itself!
Escape from the hectic pace of city life by ducking into a park, have your lunch there, or exercise outdoors like many born and bred Saigonese do every day. Or pack your bags for a journey slighter further from the city to visit the beautiful mountains nearby!
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