Ho Chi Minh City Tour: Opera House, City Hall, Notre Dame Basilica, Post Office

After visiting the Hindu Temple, Ben Tanh Market and eating lunch at Pho 2000, we continued our city tour.

First up was the Saigon Opera House. Across the street from the opera house is a park with an exhibit and a sculpture of the Holy Family.

The Saigon Opera House was made by Ferrete Eugene and is an example of the French Colonial architecture that can be found in Ho Chi Minh. It seats 800 people.

This theater has a rich history. Constructed in 1897, this was made as an entertainment venue for the middle class. However, since the costs of production were too expensive, the municipal government decided to turn the theater into a concert hall. This plan didn’t come into fruition but the theater was renovated in 1943, only to be damaged by the Allied forces in 1944.  At this point, the theater ceased productions. After the Geneva Conference in 1954, the theater was then used as a temporary shelter for French immigrants coming from North Vietnam.

A year after, the theater was once again restored and was made into the seat of the Lower House.  It was only after Saigon’s fall n 1975, that the Opera House returned to its original use as a theater. 

From there we walked on to go to the City Hall. It’s pretty easy to navigate Saigon with a map, since street signs are present at every corner.

There were a lot of pirated books sold on the street in Viet Nam. I’m betting these were PDFs and printed out. This amazed me because 1) I’ve never seen books like this, 2) the country actually has a market for this. The Philippines is rich in pirated DVDs but we don’t even have pirated books. It makes the bookworm in me both sad and happy. Sad, because since there’s no market for this, proves that we’re mostly a country of people who dislike books and happy because obviously, the authors and publishers earn from purchases made in bookstores. Not counting of course, the eBooks one can download online.

The Ho Chi Minh City Hall took six years to build–from 1902-1908. The architecture is also French Colonial. I was disappointed when I realized that this place wasn’t open for the public.

Like the Opera House, there’s a park in front of the City Hall. There’s a statue of Mr. Ho Chi Minh in the middle of the park.

The picture above was taken on our last day. We came back to this because we wanted to see the City Hall in lights–and to take a picture for Hello! ASEC. I got a tan from those four days of walking! Haha

The Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica or Basilica of Our Lady of The Immaculate Conception was also established by French colonists. All the original building materials were even imported from France.  It has two bell towers that reach up to 190 feet.

This was a popular tourist destination especially in 2005 because of this statue. The Virgin Mary statue was rumored to have cried–which was later disputed by the Catholic Church.

Right next to the Notre-Dame Basilica is the Post Office.

This is another tourist attraction in Saigon, mainly because this was designed and constructed by Gustave Eiffel aka That Guy Who Designed the Eiffel Tower. It has a Gothic architectural style. I’m no architecture major but… it didn’t look all that special to me.

Since it’s a prime tourist attraction, souvenirs were also sold in the Post Office.

After this, we headed over the Reunification Palace and the War Remnants Museum. That’ll make up the third and final part of my Ho Chi Minh City Tour (Day 1) posts.

Some things you might find useful:

  • All the places here can be reached by walking. We did not take any form of transportation going here. Our hostel was on Pham Ngu Lao street.
  • All of the places in this entry do not charge entrance fees.

Cheers!

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