Discover the hidden treasures of Ho Chi Minh City with our Saigon and Beyond series’! Travellers to Saigon are often swept up in the city’s immensity, and variety of sights within its urban borders. But snaking through the frenetic streets and under busy bridges lies a decidedly more peaceful edge of the city — the Saigon River. This mighty river is the key to an unforgettable tour of Saigon!
Stretching nearly 140 miles throughout southern Vietnam and into Cambodia, the river and its many smaller tributaries have become home to some of the city’s favorite getaways, as well as tours illuminating a different side to the city. Catching a boat for a day’s journey along Saigon’s lesser seen riverbanks is a perfect way to escape the chaos of the city. Many set sail from Bach Dang Port, located in the heart of District 1, and only a short walk from the city’s famous Dong Khoi area.
Saigon by Boat
Distinct from its Thai cousin Bangkok, Saigon’s waterway infrastructure is still growing, and lends to the river’s serenity and peacefulness. Only a few tour companies operate boats on the river, so sailing along the waves either by speedboat or by more leisurely vessels is a journey to another side of the city. For many of the city’s hidden corners — like the rickety metal homes that stand on makeshift wooden stilts in District 7, or the sleepy, rusting shipping containers in District 1’s intermediary ports — the Saigon River is a rarely enjoyed glimpse at the real city.
And traversing the city’s stretches is quick by waterway. Considered by some to be Saigon’s forgotten highways, commute time even between the city’s outer districts is shorter, and the journey much more enjoyable. Even traveling to nearby Cu Chi Tunnels can be done via boat, and saves travelers the discomfort of buses and highways.
While the lifestyles of the urban jungle is colorful and vibrant, the slower and calmer locals that make their homes and offices on the riverbank illuminate a much more serene side of Saigon. Massive boats with hulls painted bright blue carry tons of bamboo stalks at a sputtering crawl down the winding river, their bows adorned with massive painted eyes to guard against the rage of the waves. A few smaller fishing boats lounge along the banks, their friendly crews waving from on board.
Some of the city’s most impressive mansions are also on full display from the river, and sailing down the river and its tributaries in District 1 and 2 illustrate the striking dichotomy of luxurious mansions and their docked yachts, and the small, local fishing communities that stand side-by-side.
The Beautiful Banks
Even without setting sail onto the river’s waters, taking in the restfulness of the river is just a matter of finding the right place. Many of the city’s best places to enjoy the river is in quiet District 2, with many restaurants and bars just along the bank. Head out to District 2’s Thao Dien area for river restaurants like The Boathouse or The Deck, whose patios offer unobstructed views. Some river cruises also offer on-board dinner, from smaller local boats to massive and luxurious ships. Getting to most is just a walk to District 1’s Bach Dang port.
Taking a day to explore the Saigon River promises a view of the city few others get to see. From the local river lifestyles to the peaceful tributary scenery, the Saigon River is a corner of the city no traveler should miss.
Why not spend an evening drinking cocktails and eating canapés in a traditional Vietnamese dragon boat? Book your Saigon River Tour with us today for an unforgettable experience.