The Nhieu Loc- Thi Nghe canal in Ho Chi Minh City appears to have been no more than open sewer not so long ago, but a massive restoration and cleaning up project has turned this snaking Saigon waterway into what will undoubtedly become a major tourist attraction for the city, with visitors now able to cruise the canal in specially built gondolas with audio tours in different languages to tell the story of the canal and the city districts it traverses.
The Phoenix gondolas carry between 3 to 5 passengers and there are also some larger boats, departing from the cruise station in District 1 at Hoang Sa Park, opposite 01 Hoang Sa St, Dakao ward, or the cruise station in District 3 at Hoang Sa Park, opposite 671 Hoang Sa St, Ward 7, enabling visitors to experience a unique view of Ho Chi Minh City, with the cruises taking up to 1.5hrs depending on the tides.
The Nhieu Loc – Thi Nghe canal has been a long time feature of Saigon’s history, dating back to the time of the Sai Gon-Gia Dinh citadel with the canal today about 4.5 kilometers long and passing 4 of the central districts of the city.
It portrays a much more peaceful and tranquil side to this otherwise buzzing and rather noisy city, with the gondolas cruising past beautiful temples with ancient and modern architecture and famous bridges that link the history of existence and development of Saigon and providing an insight into the lives of city dwellers on both sides of the canal.
The various authorities invested 1,400 billion Vietnamese dong VND in cleaning and changing what was described as the “black and deadly canal” to a much cleaner canal, a stunning local asset of which the people of Ho Chi Minh City can be proud and also use for their leisure activities with parks and open spaces dotted alongside the canal along with walking, cycling and running tracks and what appeared to be very popular exercise equipment.
In addition to the audio tours the gondola trips also include very pleasant traditional harmonica and other music of South Vietnam played from other gondolas and market boats selling fresh coconut drinks and snacks.
For more information visit www.saigonboat.com, but in the meantime, check out my afternoon floating along the Nhieu Loc- Thi Nghe canal in Ho Chi Minh City by clicking on the video below.
An on location from ITE HCMC 2016 report by John Alwyn-Jones