Ho Chi Minh City's parks are an important—even necessary—part of daily life in Vietnam’s largest city. Many locals choose to start their days in the park with exercise or socializing over coffee and a newspaper. Meanwhile, visitors to Ho Chi Minh City greatly appreciate a free escape from the never-ending torrent of scooters that often claim sidewalks.
Along with fresh air and green space, the parks in Ho Chi Minh City provide a convenient place for interacting with local residents. Within minutes of sitting down, shy students may approach you for a chat to practice their English. You, too, can benefit from these cultural exchanges; along with learning more about Vietnamese culture, seize the opportunity to ask about their favorite things to do in Ho Chi Minh City and where they go for the best bowl of pho.
Tao Dan Park
Tao Dan Park is the most popular park in Ho Chi Minh City, but fortunately it’s spacious enough to accommodate the number of people who come to visit. Weekends are busiest as a variety of interest groups meet in the park to practice, socialize, and even dance. Many of the groups catering to beginners welcome walk-ins and will be happy to interact with you.
Temples and old tombs coexist with cafés and modern exercise equipment. Along with the morning tai chi practitioners, martial artists from many different styles and disciplines meet up to practice in Tao Dan Park. Latin, ballroom, and even break dancing are often seen in the park.
Tao Dan Park is centrally located in District 1, only a 10-minute walk from Ben Thanh Market.
September 23rd Park
Also written as 23/9 Park, September 23rd Park is most familiar to backpackers and budget travelers staying in the Pham Ngu Lao area. This long, narrow park runs adjacent to Pham Ngu Lao and Le Lai, where a concentration of cheap guesthouses, bars, and eateries are located. Small stages for public performances are a common sight in the park, especially on weekends and holidays.
With September 23rd Park’s location in a busy tourist area, lots of local students approach foreign travelers in the park to chat and practice their English. Unfortunately, a few scammers also hang out in the park and target tourists. Bag snatching has been a problem in the past, so take care to use extra caution after dark. Early morning is the best time to visit September 23rd Park, anyway, when locals are practicing tai chi and backpackers are still sleeping off last night’s bia hoi outings.
Hoang Van Thu Park
Hoang Van Thu Park is located in Tan Binh District, less than a 10-minute drive south of the airport. Tourists are a rare sight here, but locals and expats living in the district appreciate the triangular green space at the junction of three busy roads.
Like in most of the parks in Ho Chi Minh City, the distant drone of motorbikes is a reminder that urban chaos isn’t far away. Regardless, with manicured landscaping and curiosities scattered about, Hoang Van Thu Park feels tranquil and welcoming. Sculptures big and small (including a miniature Eiffel Tower) and gazebos overgrown with green vines add character.
Because a recently installed road slices through the park, a cute footbridge has been built to connect the two sides.
Gia Dinh Park
Although it's within walking distance of the airport, the rumble of departures from Tan Son Nhat International Airport doesn’t disturb the Saigonese who come to play at Gia Dinh Park. Children appreciate the three different entertainment areas equipped with swings, rides, and playground equipment. Adults, meanwhile, play badminton, participate in group aerobics, and enjoy snacks from the nearby street-food carts.
As in Hoang Van Thu Park, Westerners are less common in Gia Dinh Park than other parks around Ho Chi Minh City. You’ll probably get approached by friendly students who want to expand their understanding of the world by asking you about your job and daily life in your home country.
April 30th Park
Known locally as “Công Viên 30-4,” April 30th Park is named for Vietnam’s Reunification Day on April 30, 1975—an event that marked the end of the Vietnam War. The pleasant stretch of green space sits conveniently between Notre Dame Cathedral and the lawn at Independence Palace, two popular attractions to visit in Ho Chi Minh City. Tall trees offer some shade for the tourists and xe om (motorbike taxi) drivers lounging on the benches.
Like most of the parks in Ho Chi Minh City, hawkers peddling snacks and trinkets work April 30th Park. The area turns into a lively place in evenings as young couples come to sample food from the many carts parked nearby.
Van Thanh Park
Van Thanh Park is a sizable park famous for restaurants with views of the river and a man-made pond covered with lilies. Because of the large seating capacity, Van Thanh Park is popular with tour groups that come to enjoy seafood and Vietnamese cuisine in an outdoor setting. Modern sculptures and wooden “village” artifacts such as wagons and canoes are scattered about for decoration, and a swimming pool provides relief on hot days.
Van Thanh Park is located in Binh Thanh District, less than 30 minutes from Ben Thanh Market by taxi.
Le Van Tam Park
Of all the parks in Ho Chi Minh City, Le Van Tam Park possibly has the most interesting history. The site of the park began as a French military cemetery in 1859, but later was also used as the final resting place for influential civilians. In 1983, the known graves were removed by the government, and the space was designated as a city park.
Although Le Van Tam Park looks a lot like any of the other green, peaceful parks in Ho Chi Minh City, a few ghost stories linger. Some locals understandably feel superstitious about exercising or playing badminton when some unmarked graves probably remain underfoot.
Le Van Tam Park is a 30-minute walk north of Ben Thanh Market.