Of all the many things to see in Ho Chi Minh City, parks and wildlife are not the most well-known. But, though not famed for its fauna like majestic Ha Long Bay or leafy green Sapa, Ho Chi Minh City does in fact host a variety of options for the avid nature lover. Frequent public parks offer shade and tranquility for Saigon's workers; the popular tourist attraction Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden caters to hundreds of visitors every day; and several wildlife parks or sanctuaries offer a glimpse of Ho Chi Minh City's conservation efforts. All in the context of one of the most infamously bustling cities in Asia.

If you're a fan of national parks and gardens, Ho Chi Minh City has you covered. Rural district Can Gio is famous among locals and tourists alike for its UNESCO conservation site Can Gio National Park, and many tour companies operate in this area. Back in urban Saigon, discover a surprising oasis in peaceful Thanh Da Island, where the fumes and ceaseless traffic of the city are replaced with quiet waterways and gentle ferns.

Another must-see when passing through Ho Chi Minh City is Saigon Zoo and the Botanical Gardens. There has been some concern about the animals’ living conditions among reviewers, but the zoo is none-the-less known on TripAdvisor as one of the City's top destinations for families and a fun place to bring kids. With a variety of rare and exotic animals on show, Saigon Zoo makes for a great day out.

Ho Chi Minh City is also dotted with miniature spaces of green where the average city goer can take a break from Saigon's chaotic streets. Perhaps the most well known of these is 23rd September Park on Pham Ngu Lao, District 1, in which locals and tourists alike often sit to enjoy free Wi-Fi and relax in the shade.

Beware though! If you're looking for a solitary few hours to yourself this is not the best spot to pick! Every afternoon groups of Vietnamese students descend, looking to practise their English with the many foreigners who visit their city, and it's not uncommon to see groups of people exchanging vocabulary, grammar and slang under the trees. This can be a great way to meet people and make friends in Ho Chi Minh City! And quite often English practice can turn into beer and snails on the famous backpacker strip, Bui Vien.

Historically speaking, Ho Chi Minh City’s parks each have their own interesting story. 23rd September Park is named after the day when Ho Chi Minh, known locally as Uncle Ho, rallied the Vietnamese forces against French efforts to regain control of the country in 1945. Other interesting leafy spots include 30-4 Park on Le Duan and Tao Dan Park on Truong Dinh.

There is also a conscious and active wildlife conservation effort in Ho Chi Minh City. Make a visit to Wildlife At Risk (WAR) in the Cu Chi District for a glimpse of Vietnam’s nationwide effort to address the illegal animal trade and the degradation of the nation’s lush biodiversity.

More nature Venues

Saigon Botanic & Zoological Garden

Saigon Botanic & Zoological Garden

The Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens, also called the Ho Chi Minh City Zoo, is one of the oldest zoos in the world and a popular attraction for locals and tourists. Located on Nguyen Binh Khiem in District 1, it features a range of animals including rare snakes and birds. Besides hosting animals and plants, there are two fascinating monuments ...

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23/9 Park

23/9 Park

In the centre of the Saigon’s famous backpacker area, 23/9 Park is a must know for anyone who travels to Ho Chi Minh City. This park is a great introduction to the vibrant commercial hub that is Saigon. Take a seat outdoors and watch or talk with a range of people from all over the world, speaking all sorts of ...

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30-4 Park

30-4 Park

This small, shady, central HCMC park takes its name from Vietnam's Reunification Day as April 30 marked the fall of Saigon. It offers a cool respite courtesy of its tall trees and it connects Reunification Palace with Notre Dame Cathedral. A hub of activity and a popular gathering place for locals, 30-4 Park is a splendid place to people watch. ...

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Can Gio National Park

Can Gio National Park

A nature reserve full of restored mangrove forests and eco tourists, Can Gio National Park is a great place to see the wild outdoors and its inhabitants. Check out a pack of monkeys hollering from their wooden perch, slink by a swamp full of crocodiles or just post up in a hammock and take it all in. An ideal place ...

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Tao Dan Park

Tao Dan Park

An ideal urban green space, Tao Dan Park covers 10 hectares of Saigon and is home to over 1,000 big trees. Early in the morning the Tao Dan Park is filled with people exercising, walking, and practicing tai chi. Look for the replica of Nha Trang's Cham tower and Hung King Temple, both perfect for photos. On the east side ...

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Wildlife at Risk

Wildlife at Risk

Wildlife At Risk (WAR) is a non-profit organisation based in Ho Chi Minh City. The group aims to ensure the long-term conservation of Vietnam's threatened biodiversity. Its Cu Chi Wildlife Rescue Station rescues animals that are confiscated from the illegal animal trade. The Station is the first multi-species wildlife hospital and holding facility in southern Vietnam. Inside, you will find ...

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Thanh Da Island

Thanh Da Island

Eight kilometres north of District 1, Thanh Da has lush greenery, a rural feel and a serenity that belies its proximity to HCMC. Explore a couple of tourist villages created by the Vietnamese government in the 1970s: Binh Quoi 1 and Binh Quoi 2. Both feature verdant gardens and restaurants. Rent a boat from Binh Quoi 2 to see the ...

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