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HO CHI MINH CITY and the Black Turtle Master Phuong explains the Feng Shui of Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City, a metropolis in South Vietnam, has attached its history of development to a plethora of interesting Feng Shui stories concerning Black Turtle Celestial Animals.

According to feng shui basic rules, an auspicious spot is a location which possesses Four Celestial Animals: Black Turtle at the back, Green Dragon on the left embrace, White Tiger on the right embrace and Red Phoenix in the front. Red Phoenix represents broad Bright Hall, which means prosperity, money coming in and Black Turtle represents noble person covering your back, which means people whose social status higher than you helping you.

Ho Chi Minh City possesses 3 Animals the White Tiger, Red Phoenix and Green Dragon

Interestingly, Ho Chi Minh City (also informally known by its former name of Saigon) possesses a very broad Ming Tang (represented by Red Phoenix in the front), the Can Gio Mangrove Forest, biosphere reserve listed by UNESCO. No wonder Saigon was once called “Oriental Pearl” attracting a lot of money flowing in.


The White Tiger of Ho Chi Minh City is Go Cong province. This province has brought up a myriad of sophisticated, powerful women including Queen Consort Tu Du, Queen Consort Nam Phuong (of the last emperor Bao Dai). The lengthy Green Dragon of Ho Chi Minh City is the Ba Ria Province, stretching and protecting Ho Chi Minh City from the violent storms from South China Sea.

Thus, Ho Chi Minh City possesses 3 Animals but no Black Turtle at the back as there is no either mountain ranges or any single hill near Saigon. In Feng Shui, lacking Black Turtle means no political power, bad health.

Knowing about this, the Nguyen Dynasty (1802 -1945 AD) has built a citadel named Gia Dinh shaping like a turtle and they called it “The Turtle Citadel” or “The Octagon Citadel” (Octagon represents Ba Gua in Feng Shui).

Nguyen Dynasty (1802 -1945 AD) Gia Dinh citadel “The Turtle Citadel” or “The Octagon Citadel”
Gia Dinh citadel

Following the invasion of the French colonists, the citadel was destroyed entirely for purpose of French-styled urban planning. However, the French colonists replace the North gate of Octagon Citadel (Ba Gua Citadel) by a water plant and addressed it as “16 the Catinat Street”.

Not only do North or water plant represents water, but 16 does also represents water element in Luo Shu Feng Shui. In Five Elements, Red Phoenix represents Fire, Green Dragon represents Wood, White Tiger represents Metal and Black Turtle represents Water element. By constructing a water plant numbered 16 at the North gate of Turtle Citadel, the French coincidentally kept the Black Turtle Celestial Animals.

After the French withdrawal, in 1970 a Feng Shui Master consulted the then president of South Vietnam Republic regime that he had to build a Turtle Lake Fountain in the location of water plant at 16th Catinat Street for sake of the city’s power. As Guo Pu, the author of The Book of Burial claimed, “Qi is dispersed by wind and stored in water”. Putting water lake here helped storing Qi energy while the water fountain helped activating auspicious Qi energy.

Turtle Lake Fountain Tower
Bronze turtle represents Metal giving birth to Water, enhancing Water element.

To represent a mountain, the Feng Shui Master advised on building a tall tower shaped like a sword height of 34 meters and erecting 2 turtle statues. Both turtle statues were made in bronze and one was put at the top of the tower while the other at the bottom of the tower. Bronze turtle represents Metal giving birth to Water, enhancing Water element.

Looking from above, the shape of the lake is Ba Gua, Octagon outside while walkways, fountains shapes exactly like a Tai Ji inside. Now the Turtle Lake Fountain has become a symbol, tourist hotspot.

Turtle Lake Fountain Ho Chi Minh City

Relating to Black Turtle, there is also an ancient temple in Saigon widely known for miraculous blessing on the infertile couples for having children, especially sons. That temple named Phuoc Hai Temple (loosely translated as “Fortune Sea Temple”) was built in the North side of Saigon and having a lake for people to release alive turtles here.

This Daoist Buddhist Temple base on Karma Law of “Give ‘n Get” stating in order to have children, you must nourish life of other creatures by releasing animals and keep a plant-based diet during having pregnant. This temple is very famous, especially since 2015 when Barrack Obama – President of United States paid a visit during his tight schedule in Vietnam.

Barrack Obama President of United States visits Phuoc Hai Temple (2015)
Phuoc Hai Temple

Should a traveller becomes curiously interested in those Feng Shui stories mentioned above, he/she can come to these tourist attractions:

1.       Phuoc Hai Temple – 73 Mai Thi Luu Road, Da Kao Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.
2.       Turtle Lake – Ward 6, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City.

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  1. Really great article! Thank you Master Phuong.

    1. Thank you Bruce and GM Stephen Skinner on contribution to building an excellent FS magazine.

  2. Interesting article. Interesting topic, thanks.
    The Turtle Citadelle had been demolished by 1835. When the French arrived they had to take the Phoenix Citadel (a much smaller, square citadel) and two small forts.
    Thanks again.

  3. Really great article! Thank you Master Phuong.

  4. I was told many years ago, that Saigon was designed based on a figure of a turtle.
    Ho Con Ruy is the Shell of the Turtle’s back, Ngoc Hoang temple (your mentioned of Phuoc Hai temple) is the Tail (can be comprehended as the reproductive organ) and the Turtle’s head is the Independent (ex-Presidential) Palace. The norther conner of the Palace (i.e conner of NTMKhai & NKKNghia), the little hill used as guard station, was slightly elevated to signify the Turtle lifted it’s head & looking back, as it was getting out of the water (Kenh Nhieu Loc cannel). The four legs were the roads and were lost due to later redevelopment.
    I don’t know anything about Feng Shui, so can’t comment of its relevant & significant.

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