VietnamHo Chi MinhWhat Locals Do around Turtle Lake in District 3, Ho Chi Minh...

What Locals Do around Turtle Lake in District 3, Ho Chi Minh City

Sitting at the intersection of several main streets of the city, Turtle Lake in District 3 is an attraction you might see it on your Ho Chi Minh City tour. It is both a relic of the old Vietnamese society and an entertainment destination.

How to Get to Turtle Lake in District 3

Address: Cong Truong Quoc Te Roundabout, Ward 6, District 3

Turtle Lack is a unique roundabout in Ho Chi Minh City, the intersection of three streets: Tran Cao Van, Pham Ngoc Thach, and Vo Van Tan. Although located in District 3, it is not far from the city center – District 1 so it is very accessible.

turtle lake hangout 1

The History and Design of Turtle Lake in District 3

The location of Turtle Lake used to be the city gate during the Nguyen Dynasty – the last dynasty of Vietnam. After that, when the French came, they demolished the city and rebuilt the gate into a water tower to supply water to the locals in this area. However, this tower was also knocked down so that roads could be connected. The French kept a small lake at this location and built three copper statues of French soldiers to mark their dominance in Indochina. These statues were then pulled down during the Vietnam War, only the lake remained. It was soon renovated to become Turtle Lake, as we know it today.

turtle lake old

Why a turtle?

There is a story about why the government of South Vietnam chose to build the lake based on the image of a turtle. It is said that when Nguyen Van Thieu became the second president of South Vietnam, he invited a Feng Shui master to look into the location of the Independence Palace. The master said the city was built on land with a dragon spirit, which is the golden location in Vietnamese belief. The Independence Palace was right on the head of the dragon, which meant that the president’s career had great chances for prosperous improvement. However, the tail of the dragon, where Turtle Lake is located, was not controlled. The master suggested casting a spell by putting a massive turtle at this place to keep the dragon unmoved. The president followed this advice and put a copper turtle in the middle of the lake; he even asked to have the lake designed in an octagonal shape like a Bagua, the lake’s floor also has a yin yang circle. From a top view, the lake also reminds of a turtle’s shell.

There is also a tall tower in the center of Turtle Lake. Some people believe it looks like two hands holding a blooming flower, while others say it is the sword stuck to the ground to secure the dragon’s tail. For some reason, the government of South Vietnam eventually ended despite constant efforts. The statue of the turtle also no longer exists due to an incident in 1976.

turtle lake the turtle

What to Do at Turtle Lake in District 3

Grab some street food

If you visit Turtle Lake from around 4-5 PM till night, you can try many typical Vietnamese snacks while enjoying the fresh and cheerful atmosphere. This is the favorite place for college students since each serving only costs around VND 10,000 – 25,000. Some popular dishes are Banh Trang Nuong – the Vietnamese pizza, Banh Trang Tron – mixed rice paper, stir-fried corn, different BBQ skewers, and much more. Whatever you choose, they are all delicious.

Nearby attractions from Turtle Lake in District 3

Turtle Lake is very close to numerous attractions in Ho Chi Minh City. Here are some addresses you should pay a visit:

1. Notre Dame Cathedral: 550 meters – about 10 minutes walk
2. Saigon Central Post Office: 600 meters – about 15 minutes walk
3. War Remnant Museum: 600 meters – about 15 minutes walk
4. 30/4 Park: 750 meters about 20 minutes walk
5. Independence Palace: 800 meters – about 20 minutes walk
6. Nguyen Hue Walking Street: 1.1 kilometers – about 30 minutes walk
7. Tao Dan Park: 1.1 kilometers – about 30 minutes walk

Check out more things to do in Ho Chi Minh City:

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Summary of Turtle Lake in District 3

Located in one of the busiest districts of Ho Chi Minh City, Turtle Lake has witnessed many ups and downs of Vietnamese history. Today, it is a favorite place for young people to hang out, get some good street food and rest after sightseeing at nearby attractions.

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