RIVER ROAMING

The first-ever ferry service along the Saigon River in HCMC is a pleasant way to see life on the riverbank.

By Ngoc Linh on January 08,2018 10:56 AM

RIVER ROAMING

Photos: Xuan Thai

The first public passenger ferries were put into service on the Saigon River in HCMC in late November after six years of preparations.

Tickets cost just VND15,000 and take passengers from Bach Dang Wharf near the city centre on an 10.8-km trip along the Saigon River to Linh Dong Wharf in Thu Duc district in less than an hour.

RIVER ROAMING

According to the investor, the Thuong Nhat Company, the route will eventually have eleven stops but for the moment just has five, at Bach Dang, Binh An, Thanh Da, Hiep Binh Chanh, and Linh Dong, while it awaits site clearance before building new wharves.

Five such ferries are in service, with four used on a regular basis and one kept in reserve. Each can carry almost 80 passengers. They conduct six trips a day, with the first departing Linh Dong at 7am and the last leaving Bach Dang at 5.30pm.

RIVER ROAMING

Passengers can take a break and check out the local waterways as the ferry gently meanders through the city. They can also visit Thanh Da Peninsula in Binh Thanh district and enjoy some peace and tranquillity or have a great time at the Binh Quoi 1, 2 and 3 ecotourist villages, where rural life is reflected in gardens with grass, flowers, bamboo, banana trees, simple bridges and cattle carts and ploughs. There’s also special dishes to try if you happen to stop, like duck porridge, roast chicken, rice paper, and other popular southern food.

The service is not so frequent for the time being, so just missing the ferry means a long wait, though Waterbiz Coffee Bach Dang is a lovely spot to relax with a drink or snack while counting down the minutes. The cool breeze off the river also makes the wait an enjoyable experience and is the complete opposite of what’s going on out on the streets a few metres away. People in cars and trucks and on bicycles or motorbikes probably look stressed as they try to make their ways through the chaos, boosting the contrast between the cool river and the crowded streets.

The ferries stop at each wharf for about five minutes. At Linh Dong is another ferry taking passengers to Binh Quoi, which takes about five minutes.

Many people choose to stop at Thanh Da Peninsula to do some fishing, relax on a hammock with a drink, to try some seafood before taking the ferry back to Bach Dang. If they miss the last ferry they can take the No 44 bus, which runs to Ben Thanh Market.

An hour on the ferry is a great opportunity for many people to reminisce about their childhood experiences in the countryside. Passengers may catch sight of old houses, a rural market, an old block of flats, a mother taking care of the house, a grandmother heading to the market, or middle aged and old men playing Chinese chess with friends while sipping on a cup of hot tea. The ferry is then suddenly among modern high-rise buildings as it reaches Binh An Wharf in District 2.

HCMC has more than 100 rivers and canals totalling more than 1,000 km, which makes river trips and tours ideal. City authorities are encouraging investors to promote the development of ferry services, enhancing tourism growth as well as easing traffic congestion in the city.

Timetable

Departures from Bach Dang (3 Ton Duc Thang, D.1) to Linh Dong (Thu Duc District): 8.30am, 9.30am, 11.30am, 2.30pm, 3.30pm, 5.30pm.

Departures from Linh Dong to Bach Dang: 7am, 8am, 10am, 1pm, 2pm, 4pm.

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