Turtle Lake in Ho Chi Minh City (or Ho Con Rua) is officially named Cong Truong Quoc Te – a roundabout connecting Vo Van Tan, Pham Ngoc Thach and Tran Cao Van Street in District 1. Turtle Lake is not a natural lake, but a small pond with fishes, fountains, some monuments and a tower resembling a lotus. Do you wonder why the traffic-circle is called Turtle Lake although there isn’t any live turtle at this place? Why and when was Ho Con Rua built there? Let’s me tell you an interesting story about this attraction.


Turtle Lake roundabout is located at the crossroads of Vo Van Tan, Pham Ngoc Thach, Tran Cao Van Streets. The street surrounding the lake is named Cong Truong Quoc Te and the lake is officially named Cong Truong Quoc Te roundabout. It is located in the city center, 800 m from the Independence Palace, 400 m from Notre Dame Cathedral and 2 km from Ben Thanh Market. It is next to University of Architecture Ho Chi Minh and University of Economics Ho Chi Minh so that it is a favorite place of students studied in the two universities. CLICK HERE to view location of Turtle Lake in Ho Chi Minh City on Google Maps.

Turtle Lake And Its Hidden Story

Kham Khuyet Gate

In 1790, at the position of Turtle lake was the Bat Quai Citadel (Bagua Citadle of Saigon)’s gate named Kham Khuyet.


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Water Tower

In 1878, a water tower was built to provide water to residents in the area around it. Pham Ngoc Thach was named Blan Subé at that time.

Water Tower and Blan Subé Street

French soldiers in Indochina Monument

In 1921, the water tower was removed, the French built a monument with a small lake in order to memorize French soldiers died in Indochina. There were three bronze statues of three soldiers so that Saigon people call Three Statue Square (Công Trường Ba Hình).

In 1964, some students pulled the statues. The monument was removed and the square was renamed Soldier Square (Công trường Chiến sĩ).

The monument with three bronze statues of three French soldiers

The construction of Turtle Lake

It has not been clear when the lake was built, but some researches told that construction was done between 1965 and 1967 and it was restored in 1970. The construction was named officially Cong Truong Quoc Te. However, people call this place Turtle Lake (Ho Con Rua) because there was a turtle statue on the lake before.

There was a relation between Ho Con Rua and Dinh Doc Lap (Independence Palace). It has been said that Ho Con Rua was built by President Nguyen Van Thieu in 1967. When Nguyen Van Thieu became the president of the Republic of Vietnam in the South, he had a Chinese fen sui master researching the area where Independence Palace was built. The master told that the dragon’s head was at Independence Palace and its tail was at Cong Truong Chien Si which is about 1 km far from the head. Therefore, Independence Palace was also called to be Phu Dau Rong (Dragon Head Palace). According to this master, the dragon represented the destiny of the government. It was asleep at that time. However, if the dragon woke up and swish the tail, the government would suffer a fall. President Nguyen Van Thieu ordered a lake with a turtle statue to be built at the place of the dragon tail. He hoped the lake will keep dragon tail so that the dragon couldn’t swish its tail when it woke up. However, the Republic of Vietnam still collapsed.

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Unique Architecture of Turtle Lake

The lake was designed by the famous architect Nguyen Ky. The Turtle Lake roundabout ‘s diameter is about 100 meters. This is one of the most beautiful corners to see in Saigon. The high tower looks like a big-sized sword or a giant lotus flower sprouting of the city. This tower was supported by five pillars, the total height of the tower is 34 m. There is also an octagonal fountain, a rectangular monument and four spiral paths from the edge to the center of the lake. A metal turtle statue with a stone on its back, a list of countries supported the Republic of Vietnam was written on the stone. In 1978, a group installed bombs to destroy the turtle but people still call the place Turtle Lake. Throughout the years, the lake hasn’t changed so much and has been a witness to history.

Turtle Lake before the turtle was not destroyed

Turtle Lake in Ho Chi Minh City

In recent, the turtle does not exist, the stone stele remains but there was nothing written on it

Turtle Lake in Ho Chi Minh City

In recent, the complex of Turtle Lake consists of the large lake, stairs leading to an oval tower in the middle of the lake, the flower-shaped tower, stone stele with no character, spiral paths above the water level

Flower tower at Turtle Lake in Ho Chi Minh City

The huge flowers made from concrete and steel, supported by high pillars

Spiral paths at Turtle Lake Tracy 3

Spiral paths are wide enough for two people to go through

Stair at Turtle Lake in Ho Chi Minh City

A nice stair leads to an oval tower with pots of flowers

Oval tower at Turtle Lake in Ho Chi Minh City

The oval tower was supported by a square pillar and brown and orange mosaic-tiled items

Turtle Lake – a green space

Turtle Lake is known as one of the greenest spaces in Ho Chi Minh City where more and more buildings including skyscrapers are built. The area around the lake is full of green old trees so that the air at the lake is fresh. Old trees, green grass and plants around the lake, lotuses in the lake and flowers in the oval tower make the lake green and beautiful.

Turtle Lake Tracy - A green space

Turtle Lake is surrounded by high trees and green grass

Lotus flowers in Turtle Lake in Ho Chi Minh City

Lotus flowers in the lake

Hoa giấy (Bougainvillea) on the oval tower at Turtle Lake in Ho Chi Minh City

Hoa giấy (Bougainvillea) on the oval tower

Turtle Lake – a favorite place of Saigon people

There are many universities near Turtle Lake so that it’s a favorite place of students and teenagers coming to walk, sightsee and relax under the big shadow of old trees. It’s also a perfect place for nice photos. These days, there are many street food rolling carts and street food shoulder poles around the roundabout. A wide range of exotic street foods attracts foodies. Grilled rice cake, mixed rice paper, grilled cake with quail, stir-fried corn, food on a stick… are popular snacks which win the hearts of most teenagers in the city. Refreshing drinks such as iced sugarcane juice, iced coconut water with kumquat, iced salted lemon and cool coconut water are worth trying at Turtle Lake.

Turtle Lake in Ho Chi Minh City

A teenager reads his favorite books under the shade of green trees

Turtle Lake in Ho Chi Minh City at night

The turtle is filled with people coming to relax, gather, chat leisurely, eat and drink when the sun goes down and it is cooler than during the day

Cong Truong Quoc Te in Ho Chi Minh City at night

They sit everywhere, on the spiral paths, the oval tower, the edge of the lake, benches or plastic stools

Turtle Lake or Cong Truong Quoc Te in Ho Chi Minh City at night

A group of student sits on plastic chairs, enjoy street foods and drink while one of them is ordering more foods from a boy who helps his family to sell foods at the lake

Turtle Lake or Cong Truong Quoc Te in Ho Chi Minh City at night

They bring guitars to play and sing together. Foods and drinks are usually placed on plastic stools because there is no table

Turtle Lake or Cong Truong Quoc Te in Ho Chi Minh City at night

A vendor sells foods to customers

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What is around Turtle Lake?

A few hundreds meters far from the famous Notre Dame Cathedral and Saigon Central Post Office, Turtle Lake has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city for its hidden story, beautiful sight, peaceful atmosphere and tasty foods. A stop at Turtle Lake in Ho Chi Minh City is worth doing for not only knowing more about history but also relaxing in a very Saigonese way.

Cong Ca Phe Coffee Shop at 8 Bis Cong Truong Quoc Te Street, Ward 6, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City is a great place to enjoy one of the best Vietnamese coffee in Vietnam and see the nice view of the lake. The signature of this cafe is coconut coffee. It opens from 7:00 to 22:00 daily.

Cong Ca Phe Coffee Shop next to Turtle Lake or Cong Truong Quoc Te in Ho Chi Minh City at night

Cong Ca Phe Coffee Shop at 8 Bis Cong Truong Quoc Te, Ward 6, District 3

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