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Saigon River - Explore Vietnam’s most bustling city in the slowest way


   In terms of business, transportation, natural resources, geography, history, culture, and tourism, Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) has benefited greatly from Vietnam. It certainly has a lot to explore!


Saigon River

Saigon River is now an open area for culture and tourism (Source: collected)


1. Saigon River Overview


Originating from Cham stream with an elevation of 150 meters in the Loc Ninh district of Binh Phuoc province, the Saigon River serves as a tributary to the Dong Nai River. This river traverses the border between Binh Phuoc and Tay Ninh provinces, flowing past Dau Tieng lake before meandering through Binh Duong province and reaching the urban center of Saigon, now known as Ho Chi Minh City. As it courses along, the Saigon River also functions as a natural demarcation between Binh Duong province and Ho Chi Minh City. Eventually, at Den Do cape in Nha Be district within Ho Chi Minh City, the Saigon River converges with the Dong Nai River, giving rise to the Nha Be River. This ensuing river then splits into two branches, namely Long Tau and Soai Rap, before finally emptying into the sea at Can Gio.


Saigon River

The Saigon River map shows the river zigzags in Ho Chi Minh city before pouring to the East Sea
(Source: collected)


The Saigon River is a tributary of the Dong Nai River, rising 150 meters above sea level in the Loc Ninh district of Binh Phuoc province, where it originates from the Cham stream. The river flows by the Dau Tieng lake as it crosses the boundary between the provinces of Binh Phuoc and Tay Ninh. It then meanders through the province of Binh Duong before arriving at the city of Saigon, presently known as Ho Chi Minh City. The Saigon River serves as a physical boundary between Binh Duong Province and Ho Chi Minh City as it flows along. The Saigon River eventually merges with the Dong Nai River near Den Do cape in Ho Chi Minh City's Nha Be district to become the Nha Be River.


2. Historical tales about the Saigon River


Background of the river: The history of many major cities across the world has been influenced by rivers, such as the Seine River in Paris, the Thames River in London, the Moscow River, and the Hong River in Hanoi. Similar to how the Saigon River has zigzagged through the history of Ho Chi Minh City.

Gia Dinh province, also known as Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City at the time it was founded by the Nguyen Dynasty (1802–1945), was only accessible by boat on Ben Nghe River, which was then known as Saigon River, in the 17th century. Due to the system of interconnected rivers and canals close to the East Sea, the reigning dynasty later promoted trade in the region, and Gia Dinh eventually became one of the nation's principal ports.


Saigon River

A wharf on Saigon River in 1896 (Source: collected)


The primary route to Gia Dinh at the time was traveling through the Can Gio sea region to the Nha Be River, where ships made a right turn into the Ben Nghe River to get to the province.

Saigon's heyday was during the 18th and the first part of the 20th centuries, when the French-ruled city rose to prominence as the first commerce port in the Far East. At that time, the Ben Nghe River (today the Saigon River) attracted hundreds of ships from various nations such Malaysia, China, and farther from Europe. At that time, Nha Rong Port was constructed and served as a significant commerce hub between Europe and Asia.

During this time, Saigon River provided significant contributions to the development of Indochina's capital city for the French, enabling it to compete with Singapore for the British Empire in terms of business and entertainment, earning Saigon the moniker "The Pearl of the Far East".

The Saigon River has been more significant in different facets of society throughout time. The current Saigon River has the spirit of a vibrant city with a wealth of things to discover.


3. Things to do and see in Saigon River Vietnam


Saigon River today still acts like a blood artery nurturing Ho Chi Minh City, the second biggest city in Vietnam. The river, like a big lung for the city, eases urban pressure with fresh air from the East Sea and romantic landscapes. 


Saigon River


From above, the Saigon River appears to wrap a delicate scarf around the city, changing color according to the time of day and the weather. Due to the rich alluvial in the water, which occasionally becomes blue like the sky, the scarf is red the most of the time.

Visitors may get a different perspective of the city and travel further to the outlying districts or the Mekong (Cuu Long) Delta region by taking Saigon River cruise itineraries.


3. Take a Water Bus along the Saigon River.


Since it began operation in 2017, the Water Bus service has been one of the main attractions for tourists.

Between 7:30 am and 7:30 pm, the Saigon river bus travels from Bach Dang Dock to Binh An, Thanh Da, Binh Chanh, and Linh Dong Docks, which are located in different parts of the city.


Saigon River

Taking a water bus is one of the best ways to see the city (Source: collected)


There are water buses at night between 5 pm and 9 am every day as well. It takes some 40 minutes for a bus trip from Bach Dang to Linh Dong Dock. Yet a round-trip may last up to 4 hours.


3.2. Paddleboard down Saigon River


Standing up paddleboard (SUP) is suitable for people of all ages for both relaxing and exercising. This water sport has lured more and more young people to the tourism boat docks in Phu My Hung, District 7 and in Binh Quoi, Binh Thanh district.