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 tower resembling 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.

People call this place Turtle Lake (Ho Con Rua) because there was a turtle statue on the lake before. There was a link between Ho Con Rua connects 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 become the president of 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 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 dragon couldn’t swish its tail when it woke up. However, Republic of Vietnam still collapsed.

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Turtle Lake with high lotus-shaped tower

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Four spiral paths to the center

The lake was designed by famous architect Nguyen Ky. Five high towers which look like big-sized swords. They also look like giant lotus flower sprouting of the city. There are also an octagonal fountain and four spiral paths to the center. A metal turtle statue with stone back was set in the center of the lake. In 1978, a group installed bomb to destroy the turtle but people still call the place Turtle Lake. The Turtle Lake roundabout ‘s diameter is about 100 meters. This is one of the most beautiful corners to see Saigon. Throughout the years, the lake hasn’t changed so much and has been a witness to history.

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 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 attract 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.

A few hundreds of meters far from 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.

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