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If you want to experience Saigon like a local, spend a morning in Tao Dan Park. It’s a large, public park in the heart of the city. It’s NOT a trendy attraction for most visitors, but it’s an offbeat and original thing to do in Saigon. Every morning, locals come in droves to exercise and socialize. And it’s easy to join the fun.
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There are 5 main reasons to visit.
The park is a big, beautiful, green oasis in the city. It’s home to over 1000 trees and a refreshing break from the concrete and chaos of Saigon.
You can glimpse an authentic slice of local life. Tai Chi, badminton, dancing, (and more) are common daily activities.
You can overcome the language barrier and interact with locals through simple play and participation. Join in without words – do some Tai Chi, play some badminton, maybe even challenge someone to a game of chess.
You can have coffee and a light breakfast in the park. Great food and coffee are everywhere in Saigon, but Tao Dan Park is a peaceful, pretty, and refreshing place to eat.
The park is FREE. Breakfast isn’t, but everything else won’t cost a penny.
Tao Dan Park Highlights
We lived in Saigon for several months and Tao Dan was our favorite park. It’s gorgeous, and there’s always a vibrant mix of activities in the mornings. Here are some highlights of the park’s beauty and the interesting things that happen.
On any given morning, you’ll see locals practicing a variety of marital arts.
At Tao Dan, pairs or groups perform most martial arts. Occasionally, you’ll get lucky and be dazzled by a solo master, like the one pictured above.
As with Tai Chi practice everywhere, it’s very communal and open to all at Tao Dan Park. It’s fun to watch the graceful movements. And even more fun (and welcomed) to join in.
You’ll often see more specialized martial arts too. Like the sword fighting practice in the above photo. Or the stick fighting practice below.
Dancing practice is also very popular here. You can see large group rehearsals, like these fan dancers.
And even ballroom dance lessons are a common sight.
“Regular” exercise is also a mainstay at the park. If you want to workout alongside locals, Tao Dan Park offers lots of free exercise equipment and wide running/walking paths.
And, of course, you can just enjoy a refreshing break from the city streets.
Among all the lush greenery, there are a number of fountains, sculptures, topiary, and even an active temple.
In short, Tao Dan Park is lovely, leafy, and local. If you’re seeking original things to do in Saigon, Tao Dan Park is great way to spend a morning rubbing elbows with locals in a beautiful setting.
Other Info and Tips on Tao Dan Park
* Tao Dan Park is located in Saigon’s District 1, behind the Independence Palace. The northwest corner is at the intersection of Truong Dinh St. and Nguyen Thi Minh Khai St. The southeast corner is at the intersection of and Truong Dinh St. and Nguyen Du St.
* Early morning, right after sunrise, is the best time to visit. Cooler temperatures make it the most interesting and active time of day. If that’s not possible, the community uses the park throughout the day for a variety of purposes.
* Tao Dan Park is the meeting spot for Saigon bird lovers. On some mornings (especially on weekends), bird owners congregate with their birds and the park is filled with birdsongs.
Do you like to relax or exercise in public parks when you travel? Please also make sure to check out 10 Unique Things to Do In Saigon, Vietnam.