Floating a day away in the Saigon rivers – How to explore Saigon in a unique way

Admin_Mar - February 12, 2023

You may think of Saigon as a city of canals and rivers, where both large and small rivers wind skyscrapers, weaving through the busy streets to create a modern-yet-rustic-and-close-to-nature beauty that is as majestic as an enchanted kingdom. Saigon is, in fact, a city with such a fantastic mixture of cultures and history that it has been dubbed 'the Pearl of the Far East' from its vibrant nightlife to its world-famous street food and beautiful temples. So why not spend a day floating down the river to contemplate the city's beauty, see the city's hidden gems and venture off the main path? Here are several destinations that can ‘make a splash’ on your stay in Saigon.


Nightlife beauty of Saigon – the city of canals and rivers (Credit: www.vietnamonline.com)

Phu Chau Temple

  • Address: Ward 5, District Go Vap, HCMC
  • Ferry ticket price: 15.000đ/round-trip ticket
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The Phu Chau floating shrine envelopes a small island in the middle of the Vam Thuat river. Although time has filled it with fanciful stories, Phu Chau temple is still a familiar destination and an indispensable spiritual fulcrum for the locals.


Phu Chau Temple – the ancient floating temple in Saigon

How to get to Phu Chau Temple?

Located in the Go Vap district, quite a distance from the city center and surrounded by water, the temple is separated from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Visitors to this place will have to go by ferry, which is the distinctively unique feature of this temple.



One unique feature is that visitors have to go by ferry to get to Phu Chau the floating temple

Following Tran Ba Giao Street, we enter a narrow lane near Sa Tan Temple (also known as the Aquatic Dragon Palace) to get to the floating temple, next to which is the way to the pier. This is where many stalls sell snails, fish, tiny turtles, and birds for Tsethar (life release). With only 20,000 VND, you can take a round-trip ferry to Phu Chau temple and immerse yourself in this culturally significant lifestyle for a day.


Snails, fish, tiny turtles, and birds are sold for Tsethar (life release ritual)

The way to the shrine might sound confusing for some foreign tourists. So if you need a local companion, book a free tour with us here.


This temple was constructed more than three centuries ago during the time of King Gia Long. The legend of floating shrines in Go Vap dates back to around the 18th century. Legend has it that one day, a man in a fishing village picked up a woman’s body in this river. The body was then buried on the island, and the man set up a small temple to worship her. 

After many restorations, the temple has become more spacious and possesses unique architecture, making it a famous spiritual tourist destination in Saigon.



Phu Chau temple – a 300-year-old temple with a special breath of Vietnamese and Chinese culture (Credit: www.freepik.com)

Unique architecture

While on the ferry, visitors may observe the floating temple from afar. The closer the visitor gets, the more overwhelmed they will be by the distinctive architecture that makes the perfect intersection of style between Chinese and Vietnamese culture.

The porcelain dragons placed around the Phu Chau Floating Temple are its most stunning architectural element, adding to its ethereal and sacred atmosphere. Hundreds of elaborately decorated dragon statues are estimated, to be in different shapes and sizes. These statues are embellished with multicolored ceramic pieces, making them appear majestic and lively.


The porcelain dragons in different shapes and sizes are placed around the Phu Chau Floating Temple

What to do here?

  • Attend festivals held on the 1st of each month, the full moon (according to the Lunar Calendar), the day of the God of Wealth. However, the events are now partially reduced to only being held in January, February, and July.
  • Pray for good luck, wealth, prosperity, harmony, money, luck, and future tellings. At the end of the year, some people also return to pay for the ceremony and declare their accomplishments.
  • Release turtles, fish, and birds following the ritual.

Phu-Chau-temple-an-indispensable-spiritual-fulcrum-for the-locals-pray-gods-for-luck-health-prosperity...

Phu Chau temple is an indispensable spiritual fulcrum for the locals where they can pray the gods for luck, health and prosperity…

Saigon Water Bus

  • Address: 10B Ton Duc Thang street, Phu Thuan Ward, District 1, HCMC
  • Ticket price: 15.000đ/round-trip ticket
  • Open: 8 AM – 9.30 PM
  • Website: https://saigonwaterbus.com

Saigon Waterbus is a river bus system, a relatively new form of experiential tourism in Ho Chi Minh City that attracts many domestic and foreign tourists. Nothing is more romantic than watching the sun slowly set on a leisurely afternoon as you take a water bus ride through the romantic Saigon River. This service provides a unique experience, allowing passengers to enjoy the beautiful views of the city while relaxing and enjoying a tranquil atmosphere. 


Many tourists love taking the waterbus ride on the romantic Saigon river in the evening when the sun starts to set

Its routes cover part of the length of the Saigon River, allowing passengers to enjoy riverside cityscapes and the signature Vietnamese architecture. You will go through the stations of Bach Dang, Binh An, Thanh Da, Hiep Binh Chanh, and Linh Dong. Near Binh An and Thanh Da wharf in the evening, there will be snacks such as balut (Fetal Duck Egg) and rice paper, … Linh Dong offers a worthwhile natural landscape at Binh Quoi tourist village.


Saigon Waterbus stations

The best time to visit the cafe inside Bach Dang wharf is in the evening. At this time, there are many diners gathered outside the Waterbiz cafe sipping coffee, enjoying the cool evening breeze, and watching the sunset. This cafe is located in a large courtyard right on Bach Dang Wharf. Visitors can either enjoy coffee or take Instagram-worthy photos after floating their day away.


Waterbiz cafe with a gorgeous riverside view during the sunset

Dragon Wharf – Ho Chi Minh Museum (HCMC Branch)

  • Address: 1 Nguyen Tat Thanh
  • Ticket price: Free (Parking fee: 2000đ)
  • Open: 7.30 AM – 11.30 AM, 1.30 PM – 5 PM

The original name of Nha Rong Pier comes from a few turquoise dragon statues placed on the rooftop of the building. It is said that it was King Gia Long, the first king of the Nguyen Dynasty, called the harbor dragon when the Vietnamese feudal dynasty was friends with the French colonial government. This is not only Saigon’s first harbor but also the famous place where our historic President Ho Chi Minh, under the name Nguyen Tat Thanh at that time, left the country to find a way to liberate Vietnam from the colonial system.

The house was built in the middle of 1862 and completed in 1863 with Western architecture, with the exception of two dragons on the roof. Their heads are attached to the moon according to the motif of “Two dragons adoring the moon” – a familiar decoration as seen in various Vietnamese temples.


Dragon Wharf – the place where President Ho Chi Minh left the country to find a way to liberate Vietnam

What to do here?

  • Learn about President Ho Chi Minh’s career of leaving to find a way to liberate the country. 
  • Visit an educational center on revolutionary history, moral thought, and the great revolutionary life of President Ho Chi Minh.

statue-of-ho-chi-minh-president-in dragon-wharf

Statue of Ho Chi Minh president in Dragon Wharf

Written by Truc Anh

Image source: Google + SGHP

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