Among Ho Chi Minh City’s big tourist attractions is Binh Quoi Village where visitors can paddle in a lake, go fishing, enjoy cultural events or simply drink a beer. Then there are the all-you-can-eat buffets where more than 50 southern specialties are on offer. All can be found in this beautiful expanse of green grasslands, small cottages and fish ponds shaded by coconut palms.
About eight kilometres northeast from the city centre, this laidback rural-looking village feels a world away from the tourist droves. Stretching along Binh Quoi Street on Thanh Da Peninsula in the Saigon River, it is an elegant miniature of the Vietnam’s bygone Mekong Delta with a distinctively rural and pre-industrial ambiance. It all sounds like an amusement park, but the Binh Quoi village is a true charmer. Almost within the blink of an eye, the landscape changes from arid and clogged to green and spacious; the high-rise concrete buildings give way to lotus ponds, thatched cottages, a monkey bridge, bamboo waterwheels and vast tropical foliage.
To help navigate, the Binh Quoi Village has three different areas, numbered 1, 2 and 3. While Binh Quoi 1 is the most-visited with affordable options and a variety of activities available for everyone, Binh Quoi 2 is the go-to-place for sports enthusiasts, with its tennis course and swimming pool, and Binh Quoi 3 which defines itself with a more rustic and idyllic feel, is a good stop-off for a drink or a meal by the river.
Well worth a try in the village is the evening buffet dedicated to delectable Southern cuisine which you’ll find in the southern rural market settings: in the huts, on wooden food carts along the pond or in the garden. The Binh Quoi village is best described as a nature village and families, friends and working groups flock to it during weekends. The setting encourages everyone to get outdoors for fishing, boating and folk games – enough choice for anyone to do as much, or as little as they like. If you prefer a bit more comfort, Binh Quoi 2 with its lovely bungalows and resort-like services is a big step up from standard parks.
You can reach the village by motorbike, car or bus (No. 44 from Ben Thanh Market to Binh Quoi Station) within half an hour. The best time to visit is late afternoon during the weekends when there are opportunities for a tasty buffet, live music, and cultural performances. It may be overrun by visitors, but don’t let that put you off. There is always somewhere you can retreat to, and rest assured that the Binh Quoi Village will give you a healthy, balanced dose of nature and relaxation.