Last updated December 2016 | Words, photos and film by Vietnam Coracle
INTRODUCTION | GUIDE | MAP | RELATED POSTS
If you’re visiting Saigon and not lucky enough to be staying at one of the smarter hotels with a pool, or if you’re an expat looking to escape the heat and clamour of the city, Saigon has plenty of decent and inexpensive public swimming pools to choose from. Apart from a few notable exceptions, changing rooms are fairly basic, but water quality is pretty good (although it can vary from season to season, because all the pools are outdoors). Avoid weekends and holidays, as public swimming pools can get very crowded during these times. The biggest obstacle to enjoying Saigon’s public pools is the convoluted system of opening hours: make sure you check the times carefully in this guide before heading off for a swim. (Note: on weekends, some pools only sell tickets for one hour slots: if you arrive halfway through a session, you may have to wait until the next one begins). Another annoyance is swimwear regulations: some pools only allow men to wear ‘speedos’ (no swimming shorts). On this page I’ve listed, reviewed, and mapped 13 public swimming pools in Saigon.
GUIDE: 13 PUBLIC SWIMMING POOLS IN SAIGON
Below I’ve listed and reviewed 13 public swimming pools in Saigon. These pools are not listed in order of personal preference. For specific details – such as opening times, ticket prices, addresses, cleanliness, pool sizes, and regulations – click on a name from the list to read my full review:
1: Yet Kieu Pool: District 1
2: Van Thanh Pool: Binh Thanh District
3: Phu Tho Pool: District 11
4: Lam Son Pool: District 5
5: Rach Mieu Pool: Phu Nhuan District
6: Anna Sanctuary Pool: District 7
7: Ky Dong Pool: District 3
8: Lao Dong Pool: District 1
9: Hai Quan Pool: Binh Thanh District
10: Lan Anh Pool: District 10
11: Dai Dong Pool: Binh Thanh District
12: Cong Hoa Pool: Tan Binh District
13: Van Don Pool: District 4
13 Public Swimming Pools in Saigon:
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Public Pools in Saigon: (Note: this is an old video; it only includes 5 of the pools in this list)
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1. YET KIEU POOL
Address: 1 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, District 1 [MAP]
Opening Hours: weekdays: 5am-7am, 11am-1pm, 4pm-6pm | weekends: 5am-7am, 2pm-6pm
Price: big pool: 20,000vnđ | small pool: 15,000vnđ
I lived five minutes’ walk from Yet Kieu pool for 4 years, but I rarely swam there because of its irritatingly irregular opening hours. However, now that I’m aware of exactly what times the pool is open to the public, I have to say it’s a fantastic place to swim. There are two pools – 50 metres and 25 metres – both of which are divided into swimming lanes. The people who come to Yet Kieu come to swim, not to play around in the water or sunbathe next to the pool, so this is a great place to do some laps. The changing rooms and showers have been renovated and they are now easily the best quality of all the cheap public pools. Both pools are sheltered from the sun by enormous sails of white of canvas. Entrance is cheap and water quality is pretty good. The only downside is that, because the opening hours are so mean, most swimmers get funneled into the lunchtime slot; there’s a fair amount of traffic in each swim lane.
2. VAN THANH POOL
Address: 48/10 Dien Bien Phu, Binh Thanh District [MAP]
Opening Hours: daily 6am-7pm
Price: weekdays: 60,000vnđ | weekends: 70,000vnđ
This is as close as you can get to a resort-style pool in Saigon (with the exception of Anna Sanctuary) without staying in a plush hotel, or paying the extortionate non-guest fees for the privilege of using their pools for the day. Van Thanh pool is part of a large tourist park by the same name. The pool is located behind the tennis courts, and surrounded by lush trees and foliage. The kidney-shaped pool is just about large enough to swim laps, and there’s a roped-off shallow end for kids. The changing rooms and showers here are excellent. The poolside café is nice enough, and there are plenty of wooden sun loungers to relax around the pool. This really is a refuge from Saigon; here you’re more likely to hear birdsong than beeping motorbike horns. The relaxed atmosphere makes this a favourite place for expats wanting to escape the city for a couple of hours. During the day it’s quiet, but from mid-afternoon it starts to get busier, when expat families living in the nearby apartment complexes descend on the pool after work or school. It’s not very local, but it is very nice.
3. PHU THO POOL
Address: 215A Ly Thuong Kiet, District 11 [MAP]
Opening Hours: daily 5.30am-11.30am, 1.30pm-6.30pm
Price: big pool: 20,000vnđ | small pool: 15,000vnđ
A fair distance from downtown Saigon, but close to Cholon (Chinatown), Phu Tho is a gigantic swimming pool that’s often entirely empty during the daytime on weekdays. Set back from a burgeoning Saigon thoroughfare, the Olympic-sized pool is divided into lanes and surrounded by a spectators’ stadium. From the stands, you can see the Phu Tho racecourse, just behind the pool. Get here for the 1.30pm session and you might have this clean, calm, sun-filled, off-the-beaten-track pool all to yourself. Some very serious young Vietnamese swimmers practice here: if you’re lucky you might see them doing laps and be able to study their stroke. Entrance is cheap, changing rooms are OK, but rules are strict: you must wear tight-fitting swimwear (‘speedos’).
4. LAM SON POOL
Address: 242 Tran Binh Trong, District 5 [MAP]
Opening Hours: (closed Mondays) Tuesday to Sunday: 6.00am-11.30am, 1.30pm-6.00pm
When I lived in the area, I swam at Lam Son pool daily. It’s a big, quiet, local, and cheap public pool. The main pool is located in the open-air (on the rooftop of an all-night karaoke bar). This is an Olympic-sized 50 metre giant, but there’s also a 25 metre pool, and a shallow children’s play pool on the ground floor. There’s no seating around the main pool, but there’s plenty of space to spread your towel out in sun and read a book. The water in the Olympic pool is clean and there are at least half a dozen swimming lanes, one of which is for women only. The water in the smaller pools can get murky, especially on weekends when crowds of children play for hours in the water. In general, all the pools at Lam Son are very quiet during the day, and even on weekends it’s relatively peaceful. Come near the end of the morning session or the beginning of the afternoon one, and you should have the place largely to yourself. Unfortunately, the changing rooms and showers here are grubby to say the least; change poolside instead. Note: the pool is closed all day Monday, and the entrance to Lam Son is set back from the main road; look for a blue sign saying: CÂU LẠC BỘ BƠI LỘI LAM SƠN.
5. RACH MIEU POOL
Address: 1 Hoa Phuong, Phu Nhuan [MAP]
Opening Hours: (closed Mondays) Tuesday to Sunday: 5.30am-10am, 2pm-7.30pm
Located on the rooftop of a big sports complex, the excellent pool at Rach Mieu is in the open air and very big. There’s an Olympic-sized 50 metre pool and a 25 metre shallow pool for kids. There are several lanes for lap swimming in the main pool and a separate lane for women. From the pool, there are views over the Thi Nghe Channel and downtown Saigon, but there isn’t really anywhere to sit down and relax. Because this pool is closed at lunchtime, there’s no quiet time to swim. Both the big and small pools can get crowded early in the morning and from the start of the afternoon session at 2pm. The best time to come is around 9am; an hour before the morning session finishes at 10am. Pool regulations state that all men must wear tight-fitting swimming trunks (‘speedos’): you will not be allowed to enter if you have loose-fitting swim shorts. Regulations also forbid any photography; I had to swim here on three separate occasions before I could sneak this snap of the pool. Changing rooms are OK, but grumpy staff detract from what is an otherwise good pool. Note: the pool is closed all day Monday.
6. ANNA SANCTUARY POOL
Address: 4 Phan Van Chuong Street, District 7 [MAP]
Opening Hours: daily 7.30am-7.30pm
Price: weekdays: 100,000vnđ | weekends: 120,000vnđ
It may be far from central Saigon, but it’s hard to imagine a more sumptuous pool than the one at Anna Sanctuary & Spa. Located at the southern end of the Crescent Promenade, this pool is, as a friend who recommended it to me remarked, a ‘gem’. This part of District 7 is extremely affluent; it’s a world away from downtown Saigon. Accordingly, the pool at Anna Sanctuary is unlike any other in this list: a long, grey-stone infinity pool – the undisturbed surface reflecting the tropical foliage that grows in abundance in the riverside gardens – surrounded on three sides by a white-painted villa. While lying back in the poolside loungers, enjoying a drink from the pool bar (no alcohol is available), and taking in the aromas of frangipani flowers and essential oils, it’s easy to imagine you’re in a luxury beach resort on the central coast. It’s a gorgeous setup; the perfect antidote to the noise and pollution of Saigon. Towels are included, changing rooms and showers are excellent, and at 25m the pool is long enough for swimming laps. With all this in mind, the 100,000vnd ticket price represents value for money.
7. KY DONG POOL
Address: 40 Ky Dong, District 3 [MAP]
Opening Hours: (closed Fridays) Saturday to Thursday: 6.00am-5.45pm
Price: weekdays: 18,000vnđ | weekends: 20,000vnđ
Ky Dong is another pool where I swam every day when I lived in the area. The main pool is only 25 metres long – half the size of the Olympic pools in this list. However, at 18,000vnđ entrance, this is one of the cheapest pools in the list, and it’s also one of the quietest. What’s more, the pool is open all day without any breaks. From Monday to Thursday, between 11am and 2pm, there’s usually very few people here at all. There are a couple of lanes for swimming laps, and a women’s only lane too. The kids’ pool is a good size, and very shallow with a couple of small slides. If you want to read a book in the sun, there are deck chairs for hire poolside for 10,000vnđ. Any swimming attire is accepted. Try to avoid weekends and late afternoons on weekdays, when it gets crowded with families and awful music is played over loud speakers. Showers and changing rooms are pretty basic. Note: the pool is closed all day Friday.
8. LAO DONG POOL
Address: 55B Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, District 1 [MAP]
Opening Hours: daily 6.00am-7.00pm
Right in the middle of central Saigon, Lao Dong pool couldn’t be in a better position. Surrounded by the giant tropical trees of Tao Dan Park, and overlooked by the clubhouse of the former French colonial Cercle Sportif, this should be an excellent pool. However, there’s something sad and even seedy about this once grand pleasure pool. The ticket booth is like entering a prison, and the changing rooms are pretty bad. The pool is big but water quality isn’t great. There’s only one lane divider, and it doesn’t reach the end of the pool: swimmers have to make a 180 degree turn in order to swim back around. The pool is surrounded by a grand colonnade, which hints at its former grandeur. It’s not so bad, I suppose, but like so many old buildings in Saigon, it feels like it’s waiting to be demolished.
9. HAI QUAN POOL
Address: 12B Nguyen Huu Canh, Binh Thanh District [MAP]
Opening Hours: Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays: 5am-7am, 11am-2pm, 5pm-8pm | Wednesdays, Saturdays: 5am-7am, 11am-8pm | Sundays: 5am-8pm
Located on the banks of the Saigon River (although you wouldn’t know it), Hai Quan pool belongs to the Vietnamese navy school. However, the pool is open daily to the general public, and the only sign of the navy is the occasional chorus of rousing trumpets from the schoolyard. This is another pool that I used to come to every day when I was living nearby. The main pool is Olympic-sized and entirely allocated to lane-swimming. There’s a 25 metre pool for children and families too, but the water is pretty slimy. A few years ago, a corrugated iron roof was constructed over the main pool. Personally, I love swimming in the open air, but most Vietnamese people avoid the sun as much as possible. Sometimes the main pool can become quite dirty and the whole complex could do with a clean up. There’s a rather drab cafe and some chairs, but it’s not a nice environment to linger. Changing rooms and showers aren’t great; it’s best to change poolside or at home. A new system of annoying opening times makes swimming here a bit more complicated than in the past. But lunchtime on weekdays is still fairly quiet. Weekends, early mornings and evenings can get crowded. Swimming classes sometimes take up most of the main pool on weekdays. Note: this pool is set back from the main road, behind a big multi storey restaurant.
10. LAN ANH POOL
Address: 291 Cach Mang Thang Tam, District 10 [MAP]
Opening Hours: daily: 6am-8.30pm
Lan Anh is a resort-style pool surrounded by deck chairs. It’s designed for lounging in the sun and dipping in the water, rather than for swimming. Decent food and drink is served poolside and there’s even a pool bar. Lan Anh is popular as a chilled hang-out for Saigon expats on weekends and holidays. However, it’s much more relaxing to come here in the middle of a weekday, because the pool gets seriously busy whenever kids aren’t in school. Changing rooms and showers aren’t great and the price is high. My advice: if you’re looking to chillax by a pool, choose Van Thanh over Lan Anh every time.
11. DAI DONG POOL
Address: 25A No Trang Long Street, Binh Thanh District [MAP]
Opening Hours: (closed Mondays) Tuesday to Friday: 5.30am-11.45am, 1pm-6:30pm | Weekends: 5.30am-12.15pm, 1pm-7pm
Dai Dong is another of Saigon’s rooftop pools, similar to Rach Mieu. Off a busy road, this pool came as a surprise to me as I’d lived near it for 2 years without knowing it was there. Entrance is cheap, changing rooms and showers are basic but clean, and the open air pool is good. The main pool is divided into swimming lanes, and there’s a small pool for kids too. The water quality in the big pool is pretty good, but it’s rather unusual because it’s a square-shaped pool: somewhere between 25-50 metres in length. Women can wear any swimwear they like, including bikinis (except in white), but men must wear tight-fitting shorts or ‘speedos’. Note: the pool is closed all day on Monday.
12. CONG HOA POOL
Address: 364 Cach Mang Thang Tam Street, Tan Binh District [MAP]
Opening Hours: daily 5.30am-7pm
Another unexpected pool off a busy main road, Cong Hoa Swimming Pool is located near the top of Cach Mang Thang Tam, one of Saigon’s busiest thoroughfares. There are two pools here, both of which are just under 25 metres in length. The water needs a clean, and indeed work was just starting on this when I visited, so hopefully by the time you read this the water quality should have improved. At 17,000vnd a ticket, it’s one of the cheaper pools in this list. Changing rooms and showers are fine and swimming lengths here during the middle of the day is quiet and relaxing. It’s not a beautiful pool – there’s a lot of concrete, pealing plaster, and bare walls – but it’ll do for a local pool if you’re living or staying in the vicinity. Note that women can wear any kind of swimwear, but men must wear tight swim shorts or ‘speedos’.
13. VAN DON POOL
Address: 122 Khanh Hoi; 28 Tan Vinh, District 4 [MAP]
Opening Hours: (closed Mondays) Tuesday to Sunday: 5.30am-7am, 7.40am-9.10am, 9.30am-11am, 1.40pm-3.10pm, 3.30pm-5pm, 5.20pm-6.50pm
Remarkably similar to Rach Mieu pool, Van Don also sits atop a sporting complex. It also shares the same silly regulations as Rach Mieu, and grumpy staff, and irritating open times. Once again, men are not allowed to swim in loose-fitting shorts: you must wear tight ‘speedos’. However, unlike Rach Mieu, Van Don pool is nice and quiet at the beginning of the afternoon session. Changing rooms and showers are pretty decent, and entrance is cheap. There’s lots of space around the Olympic-sized pool to lay out in the sun on your towel. Note: the pool is closed on Mondays.