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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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.
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 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.
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 – 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 – 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.
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.