‘The Pearl of the Orient’ boasts some of SE Asia’s best examples of historic architecture. While much has been lost, the city still offers a plethora of beautiful old buildings.
Saigon, once known as ‘Pearl of the Orient’ claims some of South East Asia’s most stunning historic buildings. While lack of preservation laws have resulted in the demolition of 53% of the city’s heritage buildings over the past decade, Saigon still boasts some very impressive examples of colonial and art deco architecture. Here are some of my favorites:
The HCMC People’s Committee Building
Built in 1902, this building was originally known as the Hotel de Ville. Located in the city’s central district, it was converted to government offices in 1975. Even so, it retained all of its original ornamentation and is one of the city’s most photographed buildings, especially when lit at night.
Saigon Opera House
The Saigon Opera House (aka the Municipal Theatre) is one of Saigon’s oldest buildings and one of the city’s best examples of classical French architecture. Constructed at the turn of the 20th century, it has performed many functions throughout its history, from theatre to refuge shelter to legislative offices.
Ben Thanh Market
Built by French contractor, Brossard et Maupin, the city’s central market was completed in 1914. More than 100,000 people came out to enjoy the celebratory parade and fireworks when it opened. The market operated continuously until 1985 when it underwent a major renovation. Today it is a prime location for tourists and locals alike, highlighted by a large swath of food stalls in its interior.
Notre Dame Cathedral
The Notre-Dame Cathedral is one of Saigon’s oldest and most iconic buildings. Built with imported materials from France, it was constructed between 1863 and 1880 in an effort to promote Catholicism in Vietnam. Due to its long history, it has been a centerpiece of Saigon’s urban narrative for over 150 years and an enduring reminder of the city’s colonial heritage.