Sitting at the intersection of several main streets of the city, Turtle Lake 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.
Address: Cong Truong Quoc Te Roundabout, Ward 6, District 3
Turtle Lack is a unique roundabout in Ho Chi Minh City, which is the intersection of three streets named Tran Cao Van, Pham Ngoc Thach, and Vo Van Tan. Although it is located in District 3, it is not far from the city center - District 1 so it is very accessible.
Turtle Lake is where young people hang out
The location of the 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 for the locals in this area. However, this tower was also knocked down for roads to connect. The French kept a small lake right 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 today.
Turtle Lake of the Old Saigon
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 then gave a lot of compliments and said it was built on the land with a dragon’s spirit, which is the golden location in Vietnamese belief. The Independence Palace was right on the head of the dragon which meant the president's career had great chances for prosperous improvement. However, the tail of the dragon, where the Turtle Lake located, was not controlled. It tended to move intensively and made the president position not a peaceful place to sit. 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 floor of the lake also has a yin yang circle. From a top view, the lake also reminds of a turtle’s shell.
A top view of Turtle Lake
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 still eventually came to its end despite constant efforts. The statue of the turtle has also no longer existed due to an incident in 1976.
The copper statue of the turtle
If you visit Turtle Lake from around 4-5 PM till night, you would have a chance to 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 types of BBQ skewers, and much more. Whatever you choose, they are all delicious.
Turtle Lake is also one of the precious green spaces in Ho Chi Minh City
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 7 minutes walk
2. Saigon Central Post Office: 600 meters - about 8 minutes walk
3. War Remnant Museum: 600 meters - about 7 minutes walk
4. 30/4 Park: 750 meters about 9 minutes walk
5. Independence Palace: 800 meters - about 10 minutes walk
6. Nguyen Hue Walking Street: 1.1 kilometers - about 14 minutes walk
7. Tao Dan Park: 1.1 kilometers - about 14 minutes walk
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 take a rest after sightseeing at nearby attractions.
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© Written by Mai Bui for itourvn.com