Tao Dan Park in Saigon. Ho Chi Minh City in South Vietnam

Tao Dan Park – Why it’s an Authentic Place to Meet Locals in Saigon

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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Why Visit Tao Dan Park?

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.

Tao Dan Park in Saigon. Ho Chi Minh City in South Vietnam.

Refreshing Green Space in Saigon

You can glimpse an authentic slice of local life. Tai Chi, badminton, dancing, (and more) are common daily activities.

Tao Dan Park in Saigon. Ho Chi Minh City in South Vietnam.

Fun Side of Local Life

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.

Tao Dan Park in Saigon. Ho Chi Minh City in South Vietnam.

Opportunity to Mingle with Locals

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.

Tao Dan Park in Saigon. Ho Chi Minh City in South Vietnam.

Lovely, Relaxing Setting for Breakfast

The park is FREE. Breakfast isn’t, but everything else won’t cost a penny.

Tao Dan Park in Saigon. Ho Chi Minh City in South Vietnam.

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.

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On any given morning, you’ll see locals practicing a variety of marital arts.

Tao Dan Park in Saigon. Ho Chi Minh City in South Vietnam.

A Marvel of Balance and Coordination

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.

Tao Dan Park in Saigon. Ho Chi Minh City in South Vietnam.

Community Tai Chi

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.

Tao Dan Park in Saigon. Ho Chi Minh City in South Vietnam.

Fencing Practice in Tao Dan Park

You’ll often see more specialized martial arts too. Like the sword fighting practice in the above photo. Or the stick fighting practice below.

Tao Dan Park in Saigon. Ho Chi Minh City in South Vietnam

Escrima Stick Fighting

Dancing practice is also very popular here. You can see large group rehearsals, like these fan dancers.

Tao Dan Park in Saigon. Ho Chi Minh City in South Vietnam

Waltzing through Tao Dan Park

And even ballroom dance lessons are a common sight.

Tao Dan Park in Saigon. Ho Chi Minh City in South Vietnam

Fan Dancing Rehearsal

“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.

Tao Dan Park in Saigon. Ho Chi Minh City in South Vietnam

And, of course, you can just enjoy a refreshing break from the city streets.

Tao Dan Park in Saigon. Ho Chi Minh City in South Vietnam

King Hung Temple and grounds

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.

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  • Lyf&Spice
    Posted at 00:06h, 29 August

    It looks like a vibrant park brimming with life. I love spending time watching the locals, interacting with them and heading to parks like these to gain an insight into their routine. To top it up, you got to witness martial arts. That is amazing. Cheers!!

  • Lisa
    Posted at 04:28h, 29 August

    I really enjoyed Saigon when I visited many years ago. I love parks like this where it’s full of locals, and their daily activities. So cool they have exercise equipment too. I’d love to see the dancing in person.

  • Bee
    Posted at 06:01h, 29 August

    This definitely looks like a place to at least visit once when in Saigon. It’s always good to experience more un-touristy parts of the city to appreciate it’s full diversity and culture. cool post and thanks for the share. i think the lotus ponds are pretty neat too.

  • James
    Posted at 07:23h, 29 August

    On a visit to Saigon I would definitely check out Tao Dan Park. It would be a lot cooler early morning so the perfect time to visit. It’s surprising the activities which are practiced in the park, completely different to the US! It would be interesting to watch the master practicing early morning!

  • Jamie
    Posted at 09:21h, 29 August

    This is a wonderful way to spend some down time when exploring Saigon. How fascinating to watch these activities, especially the swords and fans. Thank you for the tip about going in the morning.

  • My Travelogue by Bhushavali
    Posted at 09:35h, 29 August

    Wow! Looks like a beautiful way to spend early morning or sunsets! Sometimes its places like these that I head to, after roaming about a city all day. It would be fun to learn a step or two of dancing or martial art! Those sculpted greenery looks stunning!

  • Jaypee
    Posted at 10:22h, 29 August

    If you want some free things to do in any city, a park is usually the best option. It’s a treat not just because it’s free, it’s a good way to see how the locals are living their daily lives. I’ll definitely check this out once I’m back in Saigon.

  • Rachelle
    Posted at 10:32h, 29 August

    I love visiting local parks when I travel. You always see a variety of people and get to interact a lot more. I’ve never been to a park and seen people doing martial arts or even ballroom dancing before, so Tao Dan would be a perfect place to go hang out!

  • Sự Đinh
    Posted at 11:31h, 29 August

    I am living in Ha Noi and I can see the similarities between them. After reading this post I want to go to Tao Dan Park to feel the peace and see people there.

  • Walkabout Wanderer
    Posted at 21:45h, 29 August

    Vietnam’s culture is so beautiful! And this park sounds like the perfect spot to go to so you can experience a microcosm of that culture. It is also a great spot for relaxing and just people-watching!

  • Archana Singh
    Posted at 23:51h, 29 August

    Tao Dan Park looks so inviting and lively. I would love to visit it one day and engage with the locals. Great travel tips. I did use your technique in SFO where old Chinese women do Taichi in an open park. The language barrier wasn’t a barrier after all.

  • Abhinav Singh
    Posted at 23:43h, 01 September

    Wonderful! Every time I travel, I ensure that I mingle with locals. That’s the best you can gift yourself if immersive travel is your thing. I also deliberately visit such parks and travel in public transport to increase my interactions with locals.

  • Sandy N Vyjay
    Posted at 04:49h, 03 September

    Tao Dan Park seems to a hub of local activity. These kind of places where the locals head to is really nice to actually get a glimpse of the local way of life. The park looks so green and beautiful. A few hours spent there would indeed be a rewarding experience.

  • neha
    Posted at 11:42h, 04 September

    The place where I live, the one thing I miss badly is presence of good public parks. I loved the virtual visit of this park. It seems so green and refreshing. And a wonderful place to meet some locals and understand their culture better