Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens - review by Rusty Compass
Ho Chi Minh City | see and do guide

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Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens

| 31 Aug 2015
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Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens
2B Nguyen Binh Khiem Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
07.00AM - 5.00PM (gates close 6.00PM)

Our rating
31 Aug 2015

Saigon’s Zoo and Botanical Gardens is the largest green space in the city centre. It’s a pleasant place for an early morning or late afternoon walk. The zoo isn’t a place for animal lovers.

Note: The information provided in this review was correct at time of publishing but may change. For final clarification please check with the relevant service

Saigon’s Zoo and Botanical Gardens dates back to the 1860s and the early years of French colonial rule. It was created to showcase the rich array of flora and fauna found in the newly established colony, and the region. You’ll see a bust of the founder, Louis Pierre, as you arrive.

Today, the complex is the largest green space in downtown Saigon and a good spot to get away from the bustle of the city.

It would be a much better public space if the zoo was closed and the entire lot was devoted to gardens. The living conditions of the animals are miserable. And the city needs every inch of green space it can get.

There are plans to relocate the zoo.

On arrival at the zoo’s large iron gates, you’ll spot two important 1920s Saigon landmarks.

To the left is the National History Museum - Saigon’s most important history museum. It showcases artefacts from thousands of years of Vietnamese history and is built in the Indochinese architectural style, fusing French and Asiatic influences.

Directly opposite is the Hung King temple. The temple architecture looks Vietnamese, but was designed by French architect, Auguste Delaval, who also designed the museum.

Originally built to remember little known Vietnamese lives lost in WWI, as well as great figures in Vietnamese history, after the Vietnam War in 1975, the temple’s mission was scaled back to remember only the uncontroversial Hung Kings. The end of the war marked a rewriting of the list of national historical figures deserving of remembrance.

The gardens are one of the few places in downtown Saigon where it’s possible to escape the traffic and motorcycle fumes. The lanes are shaded by beautiful trees and it’s relatively serene - except on weekends and holidays when things get busy. The gardens are best visited in the early morning or late afternoon.

Travel tips
Walk to the zoo along Le Duan St from the Reunification Palace. For Saigon, this is a walk-friendly strip and passes the Notre Dame Cathedral, former US Embassy and other historic buildings.

Mark Bowyer
Mark Bowyer is the founder and publisher of Rusty Compass.
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