Ho Chi Minh, also known as Saigon, is a southern city in Vietnam which is relevant for its historical french presence and also for being the South Vietnam capital during the Vietnam War in the twentieth century. Built around the famous Saigon River, the movement and cross-cultural approach to life and building means that Ho Chi Minh is an architecture capital of the world, and surely deserves a visit.

1. Bitexco Financial Tower

The Bitexco Financial Tower is a skyscraper built in central Ho Chi Minh, overseeing the city’s skyline and rivers. Its building process lasted from 2007 to 2010, and it is an impressive 265,5 meters high, the tallest in town. For what it represents in innovation in the vietnamese capital, this amazing tower receives our number one spot in this list.

2. People´s Committee of Ho Chi Minh

Also known as the Hôtel de Ville de Saïgon by the french tradition, the People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh was built in the beginning of the 1900s and in 1975 it became the city’s main political landmark. For its french colonial structure and importance in the identity of vietnamese people, this building is a must in any visitors guide.

3. Reunification Palace

This palace was built by french colonizers in 1868 and used as a governmental building for almost a century until 1955 when it was led by Ngo Dinh Diem. Throughout the centuries of use, the Reunification Palace has been a symbol of power, and it has major participation in the Vietnamese War which still has marks in the country’s people.

4. Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon was built by the french in 1863 and since then, it has been a mark of the country’s european and catholic influence in its society. With two bell towers 58 meters high each and a public square, the Cathedral is definitely a gathering place which can’t be missed when going to Ho Chi Minh.

5. Saigon Opera House

Built in 1897 by Eugène Ferret and restructured in 1990, the Saigon Opera House or Saigon Municipal Theatre is a civic building in Ho Chi Minh that reveals how french architecture has been used by vietnamese culture since the latter stages of the twentieth century, being a beautiful construction inside out.

6. Saigon Central Post Office

Designed by Alfred Foulhoux, the Saigon Central Post Office is located in downtown Ho Chi Minh, close to the Notre Dame Cathedral. Since it is a beautiful classic building in the cityscape and so close to other tourist attractions, the Central Post Office becomes an indispensable visit in the Ho Chi Minh tour guide.

7. Ben Thanh Market

Architecture is more so about people than only about buildings themselves. In the Saigon area, no other place represents that better than the Ben Thanh Market, a vivid and rich mirror of the vietnamese culture and food. Not only for architects, but any visitor, spending a day in the Ben Thanh Market is a great advice,

8. Mariamman Temple

Filled with deities and details from the Hindu religion and philosophy, this temple is mainly devoted to the goddess Mariamman. It was built in the late 19th century by the Nagarathar traders from Tamil Nadu, with an outstanding 12 meter high entrance tower.

9. War Remnants Museum

The Vietnamese war has left many scars in the memory and identity of the vietnamese. And since Saigon was so important in said war, this museum pays reverence to those who have fallen and to objects that are still in existence from this time. To fully understand the culture in Ho Chi Minh, one must visit this amazing cultural center.

10. Cu Chi Tunnels

In the Vietnamese War, many fighters developed an innovative way to move around the battlefront, which the international soldiers, mostly american, had never seen before: tunnels. To this day, the intricate system stills exists, which can – actually, should- be visited in order to know a very interesting way of building in extreme conditions.

11. Nguyen Hue Street

This street is eye-catching because it has no cars. Don’t believe it? See for yourself: the Nguyen Hue Walking Street is completely devoted to people, with a modern system of fountains and an active nightlife, it is a glimpse of what many future streets may look like in a carless future.

12. Thiên Hâu Temple

Officially named the Ba Thien Hau Pagoda, this beautiful temple is located on Nguyễn Trãi Street in the Cho Lon (“Chinatown”) of District 5 in Ho Chi Minh City. Devoted to the chinese sea goddess Mazu, it is a clear depiction of the historical influence of chinese culture in the rest of Asia and in this case, Vietnam,

13. Ngọc Hoàng Pagoda

The  Ngọc Hoàng Pagoda, or the Jade Emperor Pagoda, is a Hindu temple built by the chinese community in the first district in 1909. Its rich adornments stand for great architectural examples of excellence, so much so that in 2016, Barack Obama took time to visit it. And so should you.

14. Caravelle Hotel

Ho Chi Minh is a highly visited city, and with that, it has many highly visited luxury hotels. While the Rex and other great hotels could be put in this list, we chose the Caravelle for its history and aesthetic, being designed in the 1950s by Nguyen Van Hoa, a vietnamese architect with european education. This mix of styles, the uses it has had in history and perhaps above all, its location, directly turned to the Saigon Opera House, make it indispensable when visiting.

15. Ho Chi Minh City Museum

The Ho Chi Minh City Museum or commonly known as Gia Long Palace was built in 1890 by Alfred Foulhoux. Through its troubled history, it became Ngo Dinh Diem’s residence after the 1962 South Vietnamese Independence Palace bombing – and his dying chambers after the Gia Long Palace was sieged to depose the leader afterwards. Now, it’s a rich museum which gives new meaning to the city and its community.

Author

Alba Calabozo is an architect, design and arts enthusiast having recently graduated from the University of Navarra in Spain. She is specialized in the field of architectonic restoration and rehabilitation. Writing about architecture is her way to share some food for thought while looking for her next career step beyond a traditional career path of an architect.

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