Saigon River, Ho Chi Minh City Overview

The most iconic landmark of Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon River offers a glimpse into the various facets of Vietnam like no place else. A cruise or boat ride on the soothing river will take you around the village life, underground military tunnels, stunning skyscrapers and local life in the Mekong Delta. Most tours include a stopover at riverside markets where one can buy handicrafts.

The Saigon River flowing through the southern part of Vietnam is one of the principal water bodies of the country. It also serves as the primary water source of Ho Chi Minh City. The River originates in Kampuchea and ends at the South China Sea after flowing through Vietnam for 229 KM. It is believed to be the lifeline of Ho Chi Minh City and has remained one of the main routes for trade and commerce as well as transportation and a source of sustenance for the Vietnamese population. The banks of River Saigon are chock a block with villages, building structures and other signs of human habitation. Of particular interest are the underground tunnels that had been built during the Vietnam War. However, one can also witness a number of skyscrapers along with the traditional houses of Vietnam along the river. The port of Saigon benefits from its waters as well and utilizes it for the export-import operations with the recent statistics revealing 35 million metric tonnes of cargo handling taking place at the port at present.

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Saigon Riverside Activities

Ho Chi Minh City Skyline over Saigon River
Watching the Sunset and Admiring the Skyline of Ho Chi Minh City is One of the Top Activites at Saigon River (Source)
  • Walking along the riverside in the morning or late afternoon provides a perfect view of life of the local life while one gets to check out a number of historical buildings on the way.
  • Crossing the Thu Thiem Tunnel to the other side of the river and entering the local hangout of Thu Thiem Tunnel Park where one can watch the sun setting on the river.
  • Visitors find the sight of the city coming alive particularly interesting from the Thu Thiem Bridge as well.
  • Tourists, eager to experience the beauty of the river make sure to book their accommodation at any one of the best riverside hotels located on the riverside

Saigon River Tours

Saigon River Tour Boat
Saigon River Tours Take You Through the Many Sites of Vietnam Connected to the Saigon River (Source)

Booking a riverboat for exploring Thanh Da Peninsula happens to be one of the most exciting activities on the Saigon River for a first time visitor. Getting to see the dense Mangrove Forest of Can Gio is in high demand while the boats travel further to the Cu Chi tunnels that are hidden from public view. However, visitors aspiring for more can also make use of the cruise boats to reach Vung Tau and explore the Mekong Delta in all its glory.

Saigon River Tour Costs
An all day cruise costs VND 1,136,579 while a more extensive touring of the Delta is priced at VND 2,597,896. Exploring the Gio Bio reserve via a luxury boat is an opportunity the few tourists miss as it comes at an affordable rate of VND 2,607,890. Sunset cruises at VND 8,048,838 are much in demand with honeymooners cherishing the moments of togetherness while watching the sun go down in the Saigon River. However, families and local groups usually prefer going for a  BBQ picnic to Nha Trang Island in exchange for VND 2,273,159.

Saigon River at Night

Saigon River at Night
Saigon River at Night is a Sight to Behold, Thanks to the City Lights and Dinner Cruises (Source)

The entire city presents a different picture over Saigon River at night. The hustle bustle of Ho Chi Minh city fades to give rise to a calm and peaceful atmosphere with only the lights and the red lanterns piercing the darkness. A walk by the Saigon River at night is definitely an experience of a nighttime and perfect for enjoying the solitude and for the romantic couples, eager to learn more about their partners. However, there are numerous night time cruises available for visitors who do not want to take the long road back home on foot. One can enjoy an hour on the Saigon River at night by paying as little as VND 4639100. Dining at the river restaurants or watching live entertainment aboard the floating hotels makes the night come alive for the tourists to see the best side of Vietnam after sundown.

How to Reach Saigon River

Saigon River Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam
Saigon River Flows Throughout Ho Chi Minh City, Accessible Through the Saigon Port in District 1 (Source)

Saigon River flows past the busy Ho Chi Minh City and can be reached by taking Bus No. 152 from the Tan Son Nhat Airport by paying VND 5,000 for the ticket and an additional VND 5,000 for luggage. Bus No. 190 or 49 also travels to the city center but charges VND 20,000 per passenger. Metered taxis charge around VND 120,000 for taking their charges to District 1 and up to the banks of the river in Ho Chi Minh City.

Saigon River Significance

Saigon River Ho Chi Minh City
Saigon River is a Historic Point of Ho Chi Minh City, Responsible for its Name and Trade History (Source)

The Saigon River played an important role in the expansion and development of the 17th century village, Gia Dinh village which later became known as Saigon. It was the only route of passage for the travelers and traders in the ancient times. The village grew in importance after becoming one of the leading ports in the region a century later. Exports and imports from faraway lands such as Malaysia, China, and even Portugal  reaped the benefits of the trade by loading their respective ships and boats high with the Vietnamese agricultural products as well as raw silk. However, it was the French Colonists who took the initiative of constructing a port on the river, causing the tiny city to develop rapidly and flourish under the French rule. The primacy of the Saigon River remains unchanged today with more than 70 million Vietnamese population being dependent on the river for their livelihood. The tourists are unable to bypass the river as well as it remains the only route for accessing the Mekong Delta, Cu Chi tunnels as well as the numerous concealed canals connected to the river.

Restaurants near Saigon River

The Majestic Restaurant at Saigon River
Many Restaurants by the Saigon River Offer Delicious Food and Beautiful Views of Ho Chi Minh City (Source)

Apart from the dinner cruises and floating restaurants, there are a number of eateries serving hot, piping meals as well as snacks and beverages along the Saigon riverfront. The quaint lanes nearby also house multiple restaurants that offer Continental, Chinese and Vietnamese cuisines to the tourists. The best places to eat while enjoying a stroll along the river or before taking a tour includes the M. Bar that offers top quality cocktails and Western fare. Customers may find it a bit pricey but the spectacular view of the Saigon River in the forefront makes every VND worth it. The Majestic Restaurant serves food on its roof and the visitors recommend the Asian dishes of this restaurant wholeheartedly. One can certainly experience the Vietnamese coffee culture by stopping at Phuc Long Coffee & Tea Cafe for a cup of coffee and assorted snacks.

Places to Visit Near Saigon River

1. Binh Quoi Tourist Village

Binh Quoi Tourist Village on Saigon River
Binh Quoi Tourist Village is a Traditional Vietnamese Village on Saigon River, Located Near Ho Chi Minh City (Source)

The Binh Quoi Tourist Village set up in the Thanh Da Peninsula was an effort made by the Vietnamese Government to encourage ore tourism in the nation. Spread across two different sections, this tourist village offers a view into the rich heritage and past of traditional Vietnam. The visitors can get to enjoy a respite from the crowded city amidst lush greenery and serene environment where almost everything has been recreated to represent the bygone era. Playing sports, picnicking and wandering about in the park are enjoyable activities here while many of the tourists remain enthralled by the spectacular cultural events put up by local artists. However, the "Southern reclaiming cuisine" served traditionally on leaf places within the bamboo huts is something to look forward to during weekends.

2. Thu Thiem Tunnel

Thu Thiem Tunnel, also called the Saigon River Tunnel Project
Thu Thiem Tunnel is an Underwater Tunnel That Runs Under the Saigon River (Source)

Thu Thiem Tunnel is an underwater tunnel also known as the Saigon river tunnel. It is a part of the East-West Highway Project of Vietnam and constructed exclusively to solve the transportation issues encountered by the Vietnamese people. It is an important landmark that connects the District 1 & District 2 of Ho Chi Minh City. However, it is also one of the most popular sightseeing areas with the tourists being taken through the tunnel to access the other side of the Saigon River.

3. Binh Trieu Bridge

Binh Trieu Bridge at Night Over the Saigon River
Binh Trieu Bridge is a Road Bridge That Runs Over the Saigon River (Source)

This is a long road bridge of about 20 KM that crosses the Saigon River at Ho Chi Minh City to Thu Dau Mot on the otherwise. The bridge sees heavy traffic with transport vehicles of all shapes and sizes crossing it regularly. However, the tourists visiting Vietnam make use of this bridge to cross the river in order to visit the 400 year old ancient Ba Pagoda.

Tips for Visiting Saigon River

  • It is best to book cruises and tours well in advance in order to avoid being disappointment
  • Traveling to parks and other public places alone during the night is not recommended
  • Carrying small change in coins is necessary for catching the ferry services
  • Mosquito repellant is a necessity
Saigon River Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam
Saigon River in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (Source)

Saigon River flows through the heart of the modern Ho Chi Minh City and serves as the main source of water for the 3,500,000 strong inhabitants of the city. It has a number of interesting locales along its banks that regale the tourists. Boat cruises along the river is a popular activity and the best way to discover the appeal of the river.

Saigon River Cruises

Visitors to Ho Chi Minh City make sure to contact the local tour operators for booking cruises on the Saigon River. Almost all of them offer charters for both single individuals and families with the bigger cruise boats being reserved for large groups of tourists who aspire to see the best of the city from within a modern, refurbished boat.

1. Bonsai Cruise - Dinner Cruise on the Saigon River

Bonsai Dinner Cruise on Saigon River
The Bonsai Dinner Cruise is the Most Famous Saigon River Cruise (Source)

Timings: 6:00 PM - 9:15 PM,
Adult: VND 1,090,376.50,
Child (6-12 years): VND 556,788

The ancient city of Saigon comes to the forefront once the guests step aboard the Bonsai Cruise boat. The food is exemplary in taste with the wonderful cuisine of Vietnam showcased with style. From fresh seafood to grilled delicacies and exciting cocktails, this cruise is a gourmand's delight. A brainchild of several dedicated professionals, the Bonsai Cruise offers the best that Vietnam has to offer. Visitors are required to make reservations in advance for experiencing the offbeat dining experience at the heart of the Saigon River.

2. La Perle de l'Orient Dinner Cruise

La Perle de L'Orient Cruise on Saigon River
La Perle de L'Orient Offers a Delicious 7 Course Meal as You Cruise the Saigon River (Source)

Timings: 7:00 PM - 9:30 PM,
Cost: VND 881,581 onwards

La Perle de l'Orient is a floating restaurant and dinner cruise on Saigon River, with the venue being a wooden boat capable of holding around 200 guests. The twinkling lights of Ho Chi Minh City can be observed from its deck with the management offering folk music recitals and dance performances on board. The menu is exhaustive with 7 courses being served to the guests who are picked from their hotel and taken to the Bach Dang harbor for boarding the ship. They are enthralled by the dinner and entertained by the live performances for duration of 4 hours when the ship returns to the harbor and the guests are dropped off to their hotels.

3. Elisa Floating Restaurant

Elisa Floating Restaurant on Saigon River
Elisa Floating Restaurant is Shaped Like a Traditional Vietnamese Ship, Located on Saigon River (Source)

Timings: 10:30 AM - 10:30 PM,
Cost: VND 2,000,000 for each set of menu

Elise Floating Restaurant is a floating restaurant replete with sails on the Saigon River. It can be found anchored at the Saigon Port in Ho Chi Minh City. It is indeed huge with the capacity of accommodating over 1000 guests at a time. With an impressive decor and elegance that makes it the best floating restaurant across Asia, this is a coveted area of dining for the international tourists who aspire to get a fling of home while in Vietnam. The diners are thrilled to find Asian, Vietnamese and European dishes on its menu. It has been recognized as the top restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City for three consecutive years.

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