The Sights and Sounds of Saigon, Walking in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam


We experienced several days wandering the streets and attractions of Saigon, Vietnam. As a result of being a major part of history, with an interesting past, the city was decorated with many historic sights, colonial structures and other features that made it a stimulating and engaging stay that is well worth a travelers’ time and effort in order to visit.

This post is one chapter on our third Round the World trip via South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, the Maldives and India. This trip was redeemed through Air Canada’s Aeroplan and through Starwood Preferred Guest (Marriott Bonvoy) and Hyatt Gold Passport (World of Hyatt) loyalty programs. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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The Sights and Sounds of Saigon, Walking in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

“A historic city with attractions that are easily covered on foot, set amongst terrific food options”

We had three pleasant days within Saigon. Ho Chi Minh City isn’t about seeing world famous landmarks, although history fans will have a lot to see and explore. Instead, it’s about tasting, smelling and experiencing the sights and sounds of life on the street. Having had some busy work schedules, and a long trip ahead of us, we didn’t attempt to cram in every attraction, sight or tour. Instead, we took the slower pace approach, and tried to settle into the city during our time here. 

Ho Chi Minh City is full of older buildings and colonial area structures that were left over from the French. 

Visiting Ho Chi Minh’s Notre Dame Cathedral:

From an easy walk from our hotel in the Dong Khoi area, we walked to the Notre Dame Catherdal. It’s a major stop on the tourist circuit as one of the largest European styled churches in Asia. 

The Impressive Notre Dame Cathedral
An imposing colonial structure under setting sun
Inside the North Dame Catherdral

It’s a bit surreal to see traditional churches in the heart of South East Asia.

The Saigon Post Office:

Immediately across the street from the Notre Dame Cathedral, is the beautiful yellow Saigon post office. The post office was constructed between the year 1886 and 1891. It’s now a popular tourist attraction within Ho Chi Minh city.

The Imposing Saigon Post Office
Beautifully Restored and Elegant
A Contrast of Old and New Buildings

Once inside, the Saigon Post office has a wicket style window that is reminiscent of old communist style offices (think heavy on staff space), with different counters for different things. 

Inside the Saigon Post Office

Viewing The Saigon Post Offices hand drawn maps (1892):

Inside, the post office features two maps of Saigon that were hand drawn. drawn in 1892. These maps have withstood the test of time and are now over one hundred and twenty nine years old.

Telegraphic lines of Southern Vietnam and Cambodia 1892
Saigon and its surroundings 1892

Touring through the Reunification Palace:

Inspecting the Seat of Government of South Vietnam

Our exploring took us to the Reunification Palace. This was previously the seat of government in South Vietnam and was the home and workplace of the President of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. The North Vietnamese crashed tanks through the front gates, which was well covered by photo journalism, prompting in part a massive US led evacuation of Saigon. Although a 70’s era building, I found the visit to be quite steeped in modern history with many interesting elements to see at this particular attraction.

The imposing front of the reunification palace
The Front Gates where the North Vietnamese Crashed tanks through; ending the Vietnam War

The Reunification Palace tour included the seventies war rooms used to communicate, helicopter escapes, red circles where bombs previously struck, and a little bit of history in the basement.

War Time Communications
A nineteen seventies structure, designed by Vietnamese architect Ngô Viết Thụ 
Royal VIP Rooms
American Huey Helicopters on the Roof of the Reunification Palace
Images of the Helicopter Lift evacuating US Aid Employees at the End of the Vietnam War

Saigon Opera House:

We continued our walk through Saigon by visiting the area surrounding the Saigon Opera House. The Municipal Theatre of Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon Municipal Opera House is an opera house in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It is an example of French Colonial architecture in Vietnam.

Saigon Opera House
Saigon Opera House
Saigon Opera House

There are lots of interesting buildings to look at in Ho Chi Minh City that offer a glimpse into the cities past.

Beautiful Structures punctuate the city
Contrasts of Old and New

Having a Drink at the Lotus Tower:

Along with the old history is the contrast of contemporary Ho Chi Minh. This means the Lotus Flower building with a skyline bar and it’s own helicopter pad on the 51st floor. It had great views from the top, although this concept hasn’t caught on yet since there we were the only visitors having a $10 beer on a weekday at 3 PM. 

The Lotus Tower
Terrific Views of Ho Chi Minh from the 51st floor
Views of Saigon
Saigon Beer on Floor 51: Looking through the Table to the Ground

If you plan on visiting Ho Chi Minh City / Saigon, make sure you allow for a few days in order to take in some of it’s sights.

My thoughts on seeing the sights in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam:

Our city visit to Ho Chi Minh City started off by taking in the buildings and historical structures of the city once known as Saigon. While it doesn’t contain world class structural attractions like the Eiffel Tower or the newer Burj Khalifa, there were quite a few attractions that were well worth seeing for any history buff that appreciated older history and the cross roads that Saigon had in the years past.

If you’ve toured through Ho Chi Minh City, what was your visit like?

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