Beyond the high-rises and highways, the suburban enclave of District 9 has much to offer anyone looking for a day away from the city. Vu Ha Kim Vy and Bao Zoan tour the most northerly district of Saigon
District 9 belonged to Thu Duc district until January 1997 and borders Dong Nai to the east, Binh Duong to the west, and District 2 to the south. Yet although it’s just 7km away from the centre of Saigon along the Hanoi Highway, it’s still a complete unknown to many people.
While the population is still less than other young districts including Binh Tan and Tan Phu, District 9 is bigger in size and has more attractions. One of the attractions that has long been a decent choice for families and friends during weekends and holidays is Suoi Tien. Other attractions such as Buu Long Pagoda, the Boat Club Resort and Long Island Castle are also interesting getaways.
Here is the list:
Suoi Tien Amusement Park
120 Hanoi Highway, Tan Phu, Q9
Entrance: VND90,000 for adults and VND45,000 for kids
Vietnam’s answer to Disneyland, Suoi Tien has three main sectors — historical culture, spiritual culture and an entertainment area. Its Tien Dong beach is the first man-made beach in Vietnam, featuring the face of Lac Long Quan (the second Hung King of ancient Vietnam) sculptured into it. The park opened in 1995, and will be one of the stops on the first line of the Ho Chi Minh City Metro, scheduled to be completed in 2020.
Getting there: from Saigon Bridge, keep on Hanoi Highway until you see Suoi Tien on the right hand side. Alternatively you can catch Bus number 19 from Ben Thanh Bus Station
Ethnological History and Culture Park
Street 16, Binh Long, Q9
The park covers 400 hectares of land in District 9 and Binh Duong. It is divided into four historical areas including Hung Kings’ Memorial (84.15 ha), Dinh Dynasty (29.19 ha), Nguyen Dynasty (35.92 ha), and a cultural complex (245.74 ha). It has officially held the Hung Kings’ Festivals every year since 2009.
Getting there: From Suoi Tien, follow Hanoi Highway for about 2km, turn right at the signboard of the park, keep going for 300 metres more to reach there. By bus, catch number 150 on Dien Bien Phu, get off at Suoi Tien, then catch the number 33 or 76 to go to the park
Buu Long Pagoda
81 Nguyen Xien, Long Binh, Q9
Buu Long is a Theravada Buddhist pagoda built in 1942 by Vo Ha Thuat and restored in 2007. It covers more than 11 hectares and is located on a hill on the western side of the Dong Nai River. It combines architectural styles from India, Myanmar, Thailand and the Nguyen Dynasty of Vietnam. It also has the Gotama Cetiya tower — the largest of its kind in Vietnam, which has three storeys and is more than 70m tall. From the top of the tower, you can see the Dong Nai River, and there is an attractive semi-circular lake out the front.
Getting there: From Suoi Tien, follow Hanoi Highway, turn right at Vanh Dai, then turn right at the end to get to Nguyen Xien, keep going straight for 750 metres, you will see the pagoda on the right
Phuoc Long Pagoda
Ba Xang Island, Long Binh, Q9
Entrance: free but pay VND15,000 for a boat trip to reach to the pagoda
Located opposite Buu Long pagoda, on Ba Xang island, Phuoc Long is an interestingly disordered place with many different Buddhist statues and artifacts. The pagoda has a collection of different types of Buddha and 18 statues of Arhats. Next to the gate, there is also a 15-metre-long reclining Buddha, which is considered one of the biggest Buddha statues of Vietnam.
Getting there: From Buu Long pagoda, following Nguyen Xien about 200 metres, you will see local docks on the left, pay VND15,000 for one boat trip to reach to the pagoda
Blue Skype Garden
171 Street 22, Long Thanh My, Q9
Entrance: free, but you pay for other services once inside
This is a complex including a swimming pool (VND55,000 for adults and VND35,000 for children), a camping area, a restaurant housing up to 500 people and a sports area including billiards (VND50,000 per hour), chess, kayaking and fishing (VND100,000 per hour). There is also accommodation starting at VND350,000 for a single room.
Getting there: From Buu Long pagoda, keep going on Nguyen Xien until you see Street 22 on the right
Long Island Castle
173 Long Thuan, Long Phuoc, Q9
Entrance: VND100,000 per person
Tel: 0908 509505
If you are looking for a destination for your pre-wedding photo shoot, Long Island could be a decent choice. It is a five-hectare area with a bunch of copied European-style castles and villas, built in 2000. The European motif is also expressed through the interiors and furniture. Other facilities include a stable, swimming pool, outdoor café, ponds, garden, wine-cellar and gym. Call in advance for prices and booking.
Getting there: From the corner between Nguyen Xien and Street 22, keep going on Nguyen Xien until you see Long Thuan on the left. Keep on Long Thuan until you see Long Island on the left. By bus, from Ben Thanh Bus Station, catch Number 88
191 Tam Da, Truong Thanh, Q9
Entrance: free to get in, pay per activity
The BCR is a 23-hectare complex of outdoor activities and sports including paintball, water fighting, fishing, a swimming pool, kayaking, mini-golf, zorb ball and tennis. It has a wide range of accommodation, from bungalows (including garden or river-view rooms), villas and dorms to multi-functional rooms, plus a riverside restaurant and café. It’s good for families, friends and teambuilding. Closed on Tuesdays.
Getting there: From the corner between Nguyen Xien and Long Thuan, turn onto Nguyen Duy Trinh through Vo Khe Bridge, turn onto Tam Da at the first crossroad and keep going until you see the BCR at number 191. By bus, catch the Number 88 from Ben Thanh Bus Station
La Xuan Oai Fishing Area
Along La Xuan Oai, Q9
Price: VND18,000 per fishing rod per hour
Fishing services along La Xuan Oai Street have become one of the favourite outdoor activities of young people from Thu Duc, Districts 9 and 2. The service is set up with huts, chairs and tables around a big fishing pond. You can either release or eat the fish you catch, cooked by the service provider. Depending on the service providers, there are fishing prizes available as well.
Getting there: From the corner between Nguyen Duy Trinh and Tam Da, keep going on Nguyen Duy Trinh until you get to La Xuan Oai