Thành Phố (City) Hồ Chí Minh (TPHCM) is as large in area as some provinces in Việt Nam, and includes a large amount of countryside. As we have posted earlier, TPHCM is a very densely-populated urban city. While averaging 10,405 people per square kilometer in its 19 inner-city districts, there are 44,000 people per square kilometer in the densest district (11). Nevertheless, there are five "suburban" districts where the average population density is 610 people per square meter.
There is no interesting destination to head for in the TPHCM countryside, but it is nice once in a while to head out and see a different setting. Two possibilities are Quận(Urban District) 2 to the east of downtown Sài Gòn across the Sông (River) Sài Gòn, or north past Tân Sơn Nhất Airport through Quận 12 to Huyện (Suburban District) Móc Môn and the eastern part of Huyên Củ Chi. We will cover the northern trip tomorrow -- today we cover the eastern trip.
You can take the crowded Hà Nội Highway out towards Biên Hòa and turn right once over the Sài Gòn Bridge into the An Phú neighborhood and head south into the Quân 2 countryside, but that is a long way and takes too much time. A shorter and much more pleasurable way to get to Quận 2 is by ferry over the Sông Sài Gòn. The ferry landing in Sài Gòn is at the foot of Dồng Khởi Street on Tôn Đửc Thắng Street.
A small truck or two might take the ferry, but the bulk of vehicles transported will be motorbikes.
This is the view back to urban Sài Gòn.
On the Quận 2 side of the river, the view is green and small-scale, but with lots of big billboards facing Sài Gòn on the river's edge.
This side of the river in Quận 2 is destined to become the huge new urban area of Thủ Thiêm, analogous to Pudong across the river from the Shanghai Bund. Sasaki Associates, a well-known architecture/landscape planning firm from the USA has done the new city plan, but the project seems to have little momentum at this time.
For now, though, you are in a very small town upon arriving by ferry.
But a kilometer up the road, you are in countryside.
One has to remember, though, that one is still deep in TPHCM at this point since it is 16 more kilometers to the borderline with Dồng Nai Province. From this main road through Thủ Thiêm, you can see the beginnings of urban development, such as these new housing condos under construction at An Phú.
Key attractions out here are the "jungle" coffee shops that we posted about a month ago.