Established over 150 years ago, the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden is one of the oldest zoos in the world. This place is a historical and iconic landmark of the Ho Chi Minh City with wide collections of rare animals and plants. Some of them are on the list of the high risk of extinction. This place is also a familiar destination for city dwellers, especially families’ travel with kids, on the weekend since it is a big green space in the city that having old trees and bright sunshine.
2 Nguyen Binh Khiem, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1
The main gate of Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden on Nguyen Binh Khiem Street
5 AM – 6:30 AM for individuals participating in Tai Chi and fitness
7 AM – 6:30 PM for visitors
Children under 1 meter tall: free
Kids from 1 meter to under 1.3 meters: VND 30,000
Adults and children from 1.3 meters and above: VND 50,000
Two sides of the zoo ticket
The ticket collection gate
There are other services inside the zoo such as electric trains or facilities for children that cost extra money, approximately from VND 15,000 to VND 30,000. Foods to feed the animals are sold at VND 1,000 for a small bundle of grass.
A family is feeding grass to the goats and the sheep
Motorbike: VND 5,000
Car: VND 30,000 – 50,000
How to Get to Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden
Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden is located in District 1 – the central district of Ho Chi Minh City. Therefore, it is really accessible. It has three entrances: two on Nguyen Binh Khiem Street, at the junction of Nguyen Binh Khiem and Le Duan (one main gate and one extra gate to the car parking lot) and one on Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street (side gate).
If you use motorbikes, you can go in the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden through the main gates on Nguyen Binh Khiem Street and the gate on Nguyen Minh Khai Street. If you come by car, take the road to the extra gate on Nguyen Binh Khiem and park your car there.
If you go by bus, the bus will drop you right at the gate on Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street or you can get off at Le Duan Street and then walk to the main gate on Nguyen Binh Khiem Street, depending on the bus route that you take.
Getting around Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden
There are electric cars that take you around the zoo for VND 15,000 for children under 1.3 meters height and VND 20,000 for an adult. This could be a great choice either you go with kids or want to have an overview of the zoo because there are many small roads or alleys in the park that could only access by walking.
The map of Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden
The ticket box for electric car
On weekends and national holidays, there are some extra shows like a circus and the zoo gets busy.
The performance organized on weekends
History of Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden
The idea of building a botanic in Saigon was of admiral Pierre-Paul De La Grandière. His goals were to use this place to raise awareness and help to sustain native flora and fauna, as well as serve for research of scientists in Indochina (Indochina is the region in Southeast Asia, including Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam).
Louis Adolphe Germain, who was a veterinary doctor of the French Army, was assigned the task to open 12 hectares of land to the northeast of Thi Nghe Channel to build this landmark on March 23rd, 1864. A year after, in 1865, the construction was extended to 20 hectares and finished with many types of rare plants and animals. They were imported from nearby countries such as India, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia.
At that time, the French government designated botanist J.B. Louis Pierre (Jean Baptiste Louis Pierre), who had been working in botanical gardens in Calcutta, as its director. In 12 years in charge of the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden (from 1865-1877), J.B Louis Pierre had contributed significantly to Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden, dedicating most of his life to build and expand the botanical gardens and the zoo. He brought a lot of trees from the other continents and fruits from other areas in Southeast Asia, and thus, created the basis for the delicious plant varieties which are now very popular in Vietnam. Moreover, he left a precious legacy – the collection of over 100,000 plant-templates which is keeping at the Institute of Tropical Biology in Ho Chi Minh City. In 1994, the 130th anniversary of the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden establishment, a stone column has been made and put right on the main road with the bust of J.B Louis Pierre on top.
The sculpture of J.B. Louis Pierre
Saigon Zoo was built in 1864
In 1990, the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden became a member of the Southeast Asian Zoological Association (SEAZA).
Saigon Zoo’s Animal Collection
Currently, Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden have nearly 130 species of animals are in foster care, which is categorized into three classes: reptiles, mammals, and birds.
More than two-thirds of the species are in Vietnam’s Red Book and the world’s red list. Some species are rated as rare animals and have high scientific values such as the Indochinese Tiger, Leopards, Golden-cheeked Gibbon, Asian Elephant, Otter, and Red-crowned Crane. Besides the native species, there are many exotic kinds like the Pygmy Hippopotamus, Jaguar, and American Flamingo.
The American Flamingoes
Particularly, in August 2015, Saigon Zoo successfully bred the white tiger (also known as the Bengal Tiger). This is a rare species, in danger of extinction, mostly found in India, Myanmar, Bangladesh and rarely seen in the wild. There are just approximately 2,300 white tigers in the whole world, mainly bred in zoos.
The Bengal Tiger
From 3:15 PM to 3:30 PM every day, in the cages of the lion, Indochinese Tiger, and white Bengal Tigers, visitors can witness zoo staffs feeding the wild animals. Food for the wild beasts will be hanging up high to force these wild animals to jump and climb to take the food, which helps to sustain their wildlife habitat and to make them more active. Especially on Tuesdays, these species will eat live rabbits to maintain their hunting behaviors.
Besides the positive sides aforementioned, there are some big drawbacks. Firstly, the labels giving more details about animals such as animals’ features and reproduction are just written in Vietnamese (except for the scientific names). Therefore, foreign visitors might be confused due to the large species in the zoo. Secondly, the zoo is not well-maintained. For instance, there are many mice eating the food that is supposed to feed other birds, especially in the American Flamingo House. This absolutely adversely affects the birds, making the cage look dirty and might frighten the children. Thirdly, some people throw plastic bottles into the enclosure or beat their hands against the glass to capture the wild animals’ attention without being aware that they are doing very dangerous things.
The label of Bengal Tiger
Saigon Botanical Garden’s Plant Collection
Compared to the protection of animals, the plant system seems to have much better care. More than 2,000 trees belonging to 260 species, 23 domestic orchids, 33 species of cactus, 34 types of bonsai, and 17-hectare green grass are divided into several categories like animal zone, bonsai plants, orchid house, and amusement area.
Throughout more than 150 years of development, the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden have plenty of enormous trees. These big trees are mainly planted on two sides of the road, giving much shade and make you feel like you are walking in a forest right in the heart of the city. While in the journey of sightseeing and exploring, if you are tired, you can always find a stone bench to rest, sitting under the green canopy, watching and listen to the chorus of birds. It is very peaceful and calm. Thanks to the density of the trees, there are many species of monkey allowed to flit about the branches instead of staying in the cages.
Trees on two sides of the road
The most colorful area in the zoo is probably the Orchid House, where many types of orchids are planted in a greenhouse and seem to have great care. Consequently, the orchid house looks very organized, clean, and beautiful. However, there is no sign to inform the visitor about these orchid species.
The Orchid House
Cactus Garden is also a worth-seeing place with many species of cactus with no clear labels. Some people even carved their names or symbols on these cactuses.
The Cactus Garden
Activities in Saigon Zoo And Botanical Garden
Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden is a suitable place to bring your children, especially those who are in kindergarten or primary school since there are plenty of activities here such as circus show on the weekends, the mini water park, children zoo, along with a children playground. Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden also offer educational tours for students and schools that want to expand knowledge about plants and animals.
As soon as you enter the main gate, you will see the colorful mini waterpark on your left side. This water park occupies nearly 600 square meters, including 8 clusters of designed fountains. They are all decorated with vibrant colors. Note that this water park is free and only opens on weekends.
The mini water park
On Saturdays and Sundays, from 8 AM to 11 AM and from 2 PM to 4 PM, the Children’s Zoo is free of charge for children to visit and play with the goats, sheep and feed these gentle animals themselves.
The whole families can participate in feeding the goats and sheep in the children’s zoo
Children playground in Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden
There are also several small food stalls near the children’s playground selling ice-cream, soft drinks, fish balls, and sausages.
Summary on Saigon Zoo And Botanical Garden
Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden is a quiet oasis in the heart of bustling Saigon, spreading peace from nature to people with green grass and wildlife. Being through the ups and downs of Ho Chi Minh City, this place is not only an interesting attraction but also a green treasure of the city witnessing the city’s historical events for over 150 years.
Besides Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden, there are plenty of attractive destinations within Ho Chi Minh City. You can check out the list of the private tours here and pick the one that suits you the most.
Check out our private motorbike tours with professional local guides