I love Saigon; I’ve been there four times, spending 2 weeks each time, and I still can’t get enough of it. It’s not that it’s full of things to see; after you’ve been to the places that all visitors must see, there’s nothing much to do but walk around, and yeah, eat local food.
I thought I’d seen all there is to see, until last December when my friend Alan and I decided to check out the Museum of History and ended up in the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens instead.
I have always said I don’t like zoos much; I think it’s such a pity that animals must be caged. However, the Saigon zoo was a pleasant surprise. It is huge, and like the zoo inside the Dai Nam Amusement Park, the animals were given a lot of space to roam around. It is reportedly the biggest zoo in Vietnam, and one of the oldest in the world.
I can believe it being old. At the time Alan and I went there, there were a lot of construction projects being done, and there were several areas which still needed to be repaired. However, what we saw there was nice enough. There was a variety of animals to see, from the usual zebras and monkeys to animals I’ve only seen there (like the Kudu and the Gemsbok!).
Here are pictures of some of the animals in the zoo.
Aside from the reptiles, there were a lot of mammals as well, though I didn’t get to take as much pictures. I loved seeing the herd of deer. All of them were small and looked delicate (all doe I assumed), except for the male one which looked considerably bigger and older.
And of course, what would a zoo be without a tiger? I just saw one here, though, an all-white tiger that seemed agitated. It would have been less lonely for him if he had a companion inside the cage!
A big surprise though, was what I saw in the monkeys’ cage. All the silver-leaf monkeys were gray-colored, except for one! A young one holding on for dear life to its mother’s body was pure orange in color. I had never seen a young one before, and the contrast of its color to the rest of the group was amazing.
So if you’ve been to the museums in Saigon and walked around in District 1, gone inside the Renaissance Palace and admired the Opera House, went on day trips to the Cu Chi tunnels and the Mekong, don’t worry. Saigon still has so much more to offer, including this very unassuming zoo in the middle of the city.
With its entrance fee of only 8,000VND (less than $0.50!), it’s definitely worth exploring! (Read: Things to Do in Ho Chi Minh City.)
Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens
Nguyễn Bỉnh Khiêm, Quận 1
Hồ Chí Minh City, Vietnam