The Saigon River (Sông Sài Gòn), the fast-flowing main artery of Ho Chi Minh City, is flanked by both modern skyscrapers and rural villages that give insight into old Vietnamese traditions. Used by locals to escape the urban bustle, the riverbanks are dotted with picnic benches and greenery, making for a pleasant refuge from the metropolitan mania of Saigon.
The best way to experience the Saigon River, and to get a different perspective of Ho Chi Minh City from the water, is during a cruise on either a traditional Vietnamese junk boat or speedboat. Most tours depart just before sunset, when the evening light casts a magical glow on diverging waterways and floating villages, and include free-flowing alcoholic drinks and Vietnamese-style dishes. If you have limited time, speedboat tours along the Saigon River to the Cu Chi Tunnels are a popular choice.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Saigon River is a must for all visitors to Ho Chi Minh City, and romantic sunset river cruises are ideal for couples.
- Combine sightseeing with traveling by using the river to reach the Cu Chi Tunnels.
- If cruising, bring sunscreen and a hat, as some boats don’t provide shade.
How to Get There
The Saigon River twists and turns throughout most of Ho Chi Minh City, so wherever you are in Saigon, you’re bound to be close to the river. Most cruise tours include hotel pickup and drop-off, saving you the hassle of making your way to the river yourself.
When to Get There
Sunrise and sunset are undoubtedly the most atmospheric times to experience the Saigon River. In southern Vietnam, the rainy season falls between May and November; visit outside of these months for cooler temperatures and far fewer downpours.
The Best Wandering Along the Saigon River
With its hurtling mopeds and dense traffic, Ho Chi Minh City doesn’t lend itself well to leisurely walking. However, if you follow the path from Ton Duc Thang Street along the Saigon River, you’ll find a refreshingly uncluttered path that reveals French colonial naval buildings, local fishing traditions, the old Saigon banking district, and much more.