While District 2’s Snap Cafe has led the charge in providing a safe and enjoyable space for kids and their parents to let loose, relax and steer clear of yet another day in front of the TV or iPad, there’s plenty more on offer in Saigon to keep the family entertained whatever the weather. Here are our top picks. By Elijah Ferrian and Simon Stanley. Photos by Vinh Dao.
Saigon Pony Club
Children of all ages can enjoy a stint in the saddle at this spacious riding school situated 35 minutes from the heart of District 1. For the under fives, guided pony rides are available from VND200,000 while ages five and up can enjoy group or private riding lessons delivered in English, French or Vietnamese. Beginners may prefer a taster session via the club’s popular pony clinics and mini clinics (from VND300,000) where instruction on feeding, grooming and care is given before the kids mount up and exercise their new four-legged friends in either of the two paddocks. Shows and competitions are also held regularly for students, and special training programmes take place during the school holidays. Plenty of shade is available for parents and spectators and if you weigh less than 60 kilograms, you’re welcome to ride too.
38, Hem 42, Le Van Tinh Street, Binh Trung Dong, D2
Van Thanh Park
If you and the kids have been missing the feeling of grass between your toes, here’s the place to go. Until the Saigon Metro begins to roll along its eastern perimeter, Van Thanh Park is a sedate expanse of greenery that’s ideal for a kickabout or a lazy afternoon picnic in the shade of a tree. With private barbecue areas available for hire, a large, child-friendly pool, and a sprawling waterfront restaurant, it’s no surprise that weekends can draw a large crowd here. Pick your slot just right, however, pack the coolbag, the frisbee and the sunscreen, and watch the hours roll by in one of Saigon’s best green spaces.
Dien Bien Phu, Binh Thanh District (opposite Pearl Plaza)
Kid-friendly gardening education, and a convenient alcove of plants and fun is offered at this District 2 day out. We could all benefit from learning a bit more about the natural world, and what better way to teach your children than with the hands-on interaction of harvesting vegetables and sowing seeds. In addition to a crash course in gardening, tasty Vietnamese bites utilising the locally harvested fare are available on the weekends. A playground fit for all sorts of climbing will keep even the most overactive children occupied, and a coffee shop on site helps parents keep up. Admission is free. Monday-Friday 8:00AM to 6:00PM. Weekends 8:00AM to 10:00PM.
28 Thao Dien, D2
It should come as no surprise that one of the biggest malls in Ho Chi Minh City is a great place to bring the tots. What makes SC VivoCity unique is the select businesses and fun kids areas geared towards the younger members of the family. Whether stepping into the imagination engaging Hamley’s fine toy store, singing songs and bouncing around in the baby play area, or splashing around the rooftop fountain pool, VivoCity provides an opportunity for families to get some shopping done while keeping the young ones engaged and smiling. With a bevy of food options from McDonalds to higher-end restaurants, this megamall is a dreamland for children and parents alike.
1058 Nguyen Van Linh Boulevard, D7
If you have kids and you live in Saigon, Nado needs to be on your radar. In addition to their Japanese boutique home and lifestyle store in Dakao (which offers clothes, toys and accessories for the little ones) Nado Outdoor, at the opposite end of District 1, is the ideal place for them to let off some steam. Featuring an outdoor playground, an open-air cinema and a regular lineup of activity sessions for the whole family, Nado Outdoor opens to the public every Saturday and Sunday from 8.30am to 9.30pm, with weekdays reserved for private events and parties. From just VND150,000 per child, enter them into a weekend workshop for a spot of art, science or crafting fun, or pay the basic VND100,000 entrance fee and let them go crazy in the playground. Food and drink is available and adults can kick back on a bean bag while the kids roam free. The evening movie showings are also a great way to unwind after a day of adventure.
270 Vo Van Kiet Street, D1