If you have ever visited Ho Chi Minh City at least one time in your journey life, perhaps you might know the name of the road – Le Duan. Indeed, Le Duan street is not only the main road of Ho Chi Minh City but also has popular tourist attractions at 2 points on the road. One is Independence Palace, and another one is Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens.
As a big fan of the zoological garden of Saigon, I can help by sitting down and writing something to unfold the hidden beauties of one of the oldest places in Ho Chi Minh City.
The History of Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens
In 1864, admiral Pierre-Paul de La Grandière, commander of French forces in CoInchine signed to approve the plan of building a place for amassing, growing unique and rare species from plants to animals. At first, the construction started on 12 hectares northeast of Thi Nghe channel. In 1856, it expanded to 20 hectares. In 1869, the zoo officially opened to the public. Since then, Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens has undergone many changes and upholding in order to improve the living conditions for animals and beautify the place as well. Despite many changes, it still keeps the collection of over 100 rare species of plants and animals, being the front runner among zoos in Vietnam and the 8th oldest zoo in the world.
Today, Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens is a place that collects over 590 animals from 125 species, and 1.800.000 trees from 260 species. It becomes one of the favorite destinations for families and those who want to enjoy a fresh atmosphere right in the hub of Ho Chi Minh city.
Things You Need to Know Before Visiting
1. How to Get There?
Because the zoological garden of Saigon has located right the Le Duan street, which is opposite Independence Palace, you can take bus no. 1, ride a scooter, or use ride-hailing apps such as Grab, Gojek, and Be. Also, the zoo has a second gate in Nguyen Binh Khiem street that you may find a more convenient way to come.
2. Opening Hours
The zoo opens from 7 am to 6:30 pm every day. However, you should avoid going to the place at noon. The weather is kinda hot and it’s not really comfortable.
3. Ticket Price
The entrance fee is VND 50,000 for adults, and free for children under 1m in height.
4. Where to Get A Zoo Map?
Because the zoo is quite vast, it is necessary to get your own map in order to navigate and find spots of animals you want to see. After giving the security guard your ticket to check, you can get the map at the gate’s door.
To go to the right spot you want, you can use the map with direction signboards placed at the intersection roads.
The Saigon Zoo to Saigonese
The locals are familiar to call it “Sở thú” or “Thảo Cầm Viên” in Vietnamese, which refers to a place growing unique tree species and various types of animals. Even though how old it is, the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens are not as popular as other tourist attractions in Ho Chi Minh City. In general, people seem to think the zoo is only suitable for children to broaden their horizons about the environment, nature, and wildlife. Nevertheless, it brings us more than that.
“Thảo Cầm Viên” is Calling for Support
Unfortunately, in August 2020, the zoological garden had to call for donations for the animals raised in the zoo. Due to the impact of Covid-19, the place had to close and faced a visitor-shortage. As a result, the budget for buying food, to keep the animals’ rations, got lower as fewer visitors come. Even the zoo’s employees sacrificed 30% of their wages to buy food for the animals, it didn’t help at all. Therefore, if you plan to travel to Ho Chi Minh City, don’t forget to put Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens into your bucket list, and buy more foods to feed the animals. Not only me but the zookeepers and the residents will appreciate it a lot.
What’s in the Zoological Garden of Saigon That Attracts Visitors
After 150 years, the zoo now has owned 590 animals from 125 species. These include species originating from Asia such as Indochine Tiger, Bengal Tiger, White Rhino, Asian Crocodile, Asian Elephant, etc. In addition, Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens also collaborate with international animal organizations to exchange rare species that do not exist in Asia to diversify the collection. Some of them are Gaur, Hippo, Chimpanzee, Flamingo, etc. From the best of my knowledge, depending on the habitat of each species, the Animal Care Department will build different plans to take care of each of the animals from constructing models of gates, designing greenery where the animals live to calculate the percentage of nutritions they should take in each meal. Therefore, the living qualities of the animals are always kept in good points, healthy and balanced.
What about the collection of plants? Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens is well-known as the biggest zoo that has a collection of over 1,800 trees from 260 species. Among them has been over 100-year-olds, and is the precursor of the district’s name of Ho Chi Minh – Go Vap district.
Besides growing trees alternately everywhere, the zoo also has a mushroom & cactus garden where visitors can get to know more about types of mushrooms, cactus, and how they grow. Additionally, these gardens are the ideal places for people who are fond of taking photos.
What to Do in the Saigon Zoo
Feeding the Animals
Besides seeing the animals, you can have a chance to feed cute animals such as deers, horses, elephants, and camels at super reasonable prices. Indeed, I have to confess that I have a strong passion for feeding these cute animals. Whenever I visit the Zoo, it takes me at least VND 30,000 to being a good hooman. So, I do think that if you want to have a day with your children, let’s head them to the zoo, this can bond your relationships so much.
Taking a Visit to the Animal Museum
Perhaps you don’t know, Saigon Zoo not only has a place for alive animals but also has a nature museum on its own to showcase the models of animals and their bones collections. This is an ideal place if learning animal’s history is one of your favorites.
Deeping Yourself into the Green Environment
It isn’t all about the animals and the museum, but also the gardens are highlighted right in the name of the place. Indeed, with a lot of gardens and trees in the area, surely you can find a rare cleaner atmosphere in a so bustling city. How about taking a quick relaxation at the zoo on the weekend and imaging you are getting away from the city? It sounds great, thou!
Still Want to Wander? How about the Vietnam History Museum?
If you still want to discover the rest of Saigon Zoo, you must take a look for your next destination! Surprisingly, there is a Vietnam history museum inside the zoo’s area. It is on the left of you when entering the zoo.
The museum specializes in amassing ancient remnants of Vietnam from the prehistoric period to the Nguyen Dynasty, particularly:
- Prehistoric period (500,000 years ago to 2879 BC).
- Metal Age (2879–179 BC), including artifacts related to the Dong Son culture of northern Vietnam and the Sa Huỳnh culture of central Vietnam.
- Chinese Domination and Struggle for National Independence in the Red River Valley (179 BC – 938 AD).
- Óc Eo culture of the Mekong Delta region.
- Stone and bronze sculptures and other artifacts of Champa.
- Stone sculptures of Cambodia (9th–12th centuries).
- Ngô, Dinh, Anterior Le, Ly Dynasties (939–1225).
- Tran and Ho Dynasties (1226–1407).
- Dynasties from the Le to the Nguyen (1428–1788).
- Tây Sơn Dynasty (1771–1802).
- Nguyễn Dynasty (1802–1945).
To Sum Up
Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens is an ideal place for anyone to take a visit to Ho Chi Minh City. Personally, I feel like this architecture or other ancient ones are all the gems of the city, where you can find beauties gleaming among modern and bustling streets of Saigon. Thus, the next time traveling to the city, don’t forget to put Saigon zoological garden on your bucket list!
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DISCOVER OTHER ATTRACTIONS IN HO CHI MINH CITY
The zoo is actually an ideal place for you to spend time in Ho Chi Minh City. Besides that, there are travel destinations in the city that attract many visitors. And I believe you will love to discover them too: