The Saigon River at Night

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Photo ©Jean Janssen. Ho Chi Minh City at night as seen from the Saigon River, Vietnam.

Our last night in Saigon, we are taking a dinner cruise on the new riverboat, the Saigon Princess.  Since Cambodia has closed its borders and river traffic along the Mekong has been shut down, Uniworld was forced to cancel our cruise.  Boris and I had already decided to head home while we were still able to.  I tip my hat to Uniworld; those of us that had made it to Ho Chi Minh City were treated to the planned activities in the city even though we had been told that the cruise line will refund our fare with no deductions.

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Photo ©Jean Janssen. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

There are only four of the cruise participants left in the city.  By the check-in day the count had gone from 61 to 16.  This morning we started with 6 and by midday we were down to 4.  Boris and I will miss the trip to the Cu Chi tunnels tomorrow because we need to leave for the airport before they will arrive back.

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Photo ©Jean Janssen. Ho Chi Minh City’s district two is across the Saigon River from the city’s historical areas. District Two is where the new growth is. Vietnam

The 140-mile (225 kilometer) Saigon River cuts through Ho Chi Minh City.  We had traveled through several districts of the city, primarily one and three and I wondered where two was.  During the cruise I learned that District Two is actually on the other side of the river and is the new trendy place to be-that is where the current growth is.  Lots of cranes and construction sites dot the landscape.

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Photo ©Jean Janssen. At the Saigon Cathedral.

There is also a underwater tunnel, the Thu Thiem Tunnel, more commonly referred to as the Saigon River Tunnel, which connects the existing urban area in District 1 with Thu Thiem, the new urban area in District 2.  It opened in November of 2011.

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Photo ©Jean Janssen. The Nha Rong or Dragon House was established by the French in 1862 as a house of trade at its own harbor. It is now the Ho Chi Minh Museum, Vietnam

The city has always been popular for trade with the Saigon River providing the route.  The river contributed to the city of Saigon becoming known as the Pearl of the Far East.  Our cruise port is just past the Nha Rong Harbor and the beautiful Dragon House (now the Ho Chi Minh Museum).  The Dragon House was established by the French in 1862 as a house of trade.

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Photo ©Jean Janssen. One of the dining rooms aboard the Saigon Princess, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Our guide took us to the boat as the sun set.  We were ushered aboard and into a dining room that could have seated all the participants of our cruise.  We were the only 4 guests in the room.  There were more people than that serving us.  We were offered a welcome beverage, a passionfruit juice.  Wonderful.

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Photo ©Jean Janssen. Boris tried a local beer aboard the Saigon Princess. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

We have a three course set menu, although we did have our choice of main course-duck or black sea bass.  My favorite was the first course, a heart of palm cream soup with truffle oil.  Two specialty drinks were included with our dinner.  Boris tried a local beer.

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Photo ©Jean Janssen. I spotted a golf driving range next to the Golden River Apartment Complex on the Saigon River, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Our cruise took us from the Saigon Port in District 4 to the Saigon Bridge near the Vinhomes Central Park and back.   As we enjoyed our dinner, we could see the lights and the street level sites along the river through the windows.  Just before they served the dessert course, our guide came back and let us know we had just turned around at the Saigon Bridge and that it was a good time to come up and see the lighted buildings.

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Photo ©Jean Janssen. Vinhomes Central Park Complex, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

We were near the Vinhomes Central Park.  The apartments in this area are all owned by the same family.  The company name is Vinhomes which is a Vietnamese corporation and the largest real-estate developer in Vietnam.  Apartments in this complex cost over $400,000 (American dollars) for a one-bedroom and over $700,000 for a two-bedroom.  Our guide told us the rumor is the family made all its money through money laundering.  It is considered a “posh high-rise residential location”.

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Photo ©Jean Janssen. Vincom Lanmark 81, the tallest building in Vietnam.

Vinhomes Central Park is dominated by the Vincom Landmark 81.  The skyscraper is “the tallest building in Vietnam, the tallest completed building in Southeast Asia since July 2018 and the 17th tallest building in the world.”  It is 81 stories tall.  The tower has an observatory, apartments, hotel rooms, conference facilities, retail spaces, restaurants and bars and parking.  I was drawn to its size and the mix on lighting styles on the exterior.

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Photo ©Jean Janssen. Ho Chi Minh’s District Two.

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Photo ©Jean Janssen. Passing under the Thu Thiem Bridge on the Saigon River. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

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Photo ©Jean Janssen. Heading South on the Saigon River, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

I stayed on the sky deck until I realized we were going to hang in this area for a while.  I quickly went down and had dessert and then returned to the observation deck before we went under the Thu Thiem Bridge.  Everyone came back up with me.  Our guide commented that usually they had 50-60 people on the deck for this cruise.  We were able to move back and forth easily to take pictures because there were so few of us.  There were also dining tables set up on this deck and a band playing live music and encouraging people to dance.

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Photo ©Jean Janssen. Other riverboats on the Saigon River were decorated to be reminiscent of a Junk, a Chinese sailing vessel. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

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Photo ©Jean Janssen. Other riverboats on the Saigon River were decorated to be reminiscent of a Junk, a Chinese sailing vessel. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

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Photo ©Jean Janssen. Other riverboats on the Saigon River were decorated to be reminiscent of a Junk, a Chinese sailing vessel. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

There were other dinner boats on the river.  Many had touches to remind people of the junk, a Chinese sailing vessel.  This style of sailing ship was developed during the Song dynasty that ruled China from 960 to 1279.  The boat are unique for the “junk rig, also known as the Chinese lugsail or sampan rig…[it] is a type of sail rig in which rigid members, called battens, span the full width of the sail and extend the sail forward of the mast.”  Wikipedia.  These batten replicas were lit on the various dinner cruise ships; some of them even changed color as they traveled down the Saigon River.

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Photo ©Jean Janssen. Along the Saigon River at night. The lights on this building changed color every few minutes.

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Photo ©Jean Janssen. Along the Saigon River at night.

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Photo ©Jean Janssen. Along the Saigon River at night.

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Photo ©Jean Janssen. Along the Saigon River at night. The color change on the Times Square building happens from the bottom up.

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Photo ©Jean Janssen. Along the Saigon River at night.

Of course, the marvel of this cruise is the opportunity to see the city’s buildings lit up, sometimes in color, sometimes changing color, and sometimes in multiple colors.  It really was a dinner show, even without the music and dancing.  One of my favorite buildings continually changed color-teal, blue, pink, purple, gold, etc.

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Photo ©Jean Janssen. Along the Saigon River at night. In the distance you can see the Bitexco Financial Building. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

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Photo ©Jean Janssen. The Bitexco Financial Building as seen from the Saigon River at night. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

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Photo ©Jean Janssen. The Bitexco Financial Building with its 52th floor helipad as seen from the Saigon River at night. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

We had excellent views of the Bitexco Financial Building with its 52th floor helipad that we had seen on our hop-on/hop-off bus tour yesterday.  For a short period of time it was the tallest building in the city.  It has a popular observation deck.

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Photo ©Jean Janssen. Along the Saigon River at night. In the distance is the Ho Chi Minh City Hall, Vietnam.

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Photo ©Jean Janssen Ho Chi Minh City Hall by day.

We passed by the main street that leads to the city hall and the statute of Ho Chi Minh.  The new years decorations on this street are modeled after the lotus flower.  The popular lotus flower fountain on the street was recently replaced.

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Photo ©Jean Janssen. At the dock at the Saigon Port.

We docked and there was just time to grab a quick picture.  Our berth was next to an interesting ship where the end of the boat looked like a fish’s mouth.  It was back to the hotel after that.  We said goodbye to the guide and the other couple.  They are going to the Cu Chi tunnels tomorrow, but there isn’t time for us to go before we leave for the airport.  We will meet our cruise director midday tomorrow for our transfer to the airport.

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Photo ©Jean Janssen. Our dinner cruise ship, the Saigon Princess, a new vessel. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

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Boris and Natasha aboard the Saigon Princess. Note the changing lights of the Times Square building on the left and the Vincom Landmark 81 tower on the right.

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Photo ©Jean Janssen. Ho Chi Minh City at night as seen from the Saigon River, Vietnam.

 

About travelbynatasha

I am a retired attorney who loves to travel. Several years ago I began working on a Century Club membership achieved by traveling to 100 "foreign" countries. Today, at 49 years of age the count is at 82. Many were visited on land based trips. Some were cruise ports. Some were dive sites. Most have been fascinating.
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