Located in the heart of the city, the Central Post Office is one of the oldest and most beautiful buildings in Saigon. Designed at the end of the 19th century, the interior boasts ornate furnishings, a gorgeous pattern-tiled floor and soaring ceilings with a spectacular dome. Of special note are two painted maps created just after the post office was built. The first one, located on the left side of the building, is a map of southern Vietnam and Cambodia titled ‘Telegraphic lines of Southern Vietnam and Cambodia 1892’. The second map is of greater Saigon, entitled ‘Saigon and its surroundings 1892’. Besides being a tourist attraction, it is important to remember that this is, in fact, a working post office.
This trendy street food market, located on Thu Khoa Huan Street close to Ben Thanh Market, is a great place to sample tasty local bites at affordable prices. The retractable awning roof can be opened or closed to suit the weather. It is mainly aimed at foreign tourists so language and hygiene should not be a problem and the many food vendors sell everything from snacks and desserts to barbecue, with both Vietnamese dishes and other Asian favorites well represented. There are also many kinds of beers to keep you cool while you’re out and about.
Originating from Red River Delta in northern Vietnam during the 11th century, this uniquely Vietnamese art form uses a shallow pool of water as a stage to tell a story. Shows are performed entirely in Vietnamese, though the story is easily understood by an international audience thanks to skills of the puppet masters and their gestures. Accompanied by a traditional orchestra, singers tell an ancient Vietnamese tale that mixes daily life, national history and folklore as the lacquered wood puppets glide, float, fly and swim across the stage.
Saigon’s Notre-Dame Cathedral (or Basilica of Our Lady of The Immaculate Conception, as it is officially called) is a twin-towered cathedral and one of the most prominent architectural landmarks in the city. Built from 1863 to 1880 with materials imported from France, it now stands between two busy streams of traffic. While the streets outside are always bustling with tourists, locals and street vendors, inside is an austere oasis of peace and calm. It does, however, comes alive as a church during services.
Reunification Palace, also known as Independence Palace, became part of history in 1975 when a North Vietnamese tank crashed through its main gate, signifying the end of the long-running war. The official handover of power also took place here.
Originally it was the site of the Norodom Palace, which served as the home and workplace of the French Governor of Cochinchina. Today it is like a time capsule frozen in 1975, with two of the original tanks used in the capture of the palace parked in the grounds.
Surrounded by lush tropical gardens, the palace hides secret rooms, antique furniture and a command bunker within its eerie corridors. It is still used occasionally to host government functions, including APEC summits and national events.
The Saigon Opera House, also known as the Municipal Theater of Ho Chi Minh City, is one of the top venues in Vietnam for opera and classical music. It is only open to the public for performances, but it is worth visiting any time as great photo opportunities await. The building is a fine example of French colonial architecture and is located on a wide, tree-lined boulevard which feels very European.
Currently, the most famous performance you can see at the Opera House is the A O Show, which can be described as a blend of Cirque du Soleil and traditional Vietnamese elements. Tickets for the A O Show can be bought at the Opera House, online, at travel agents, or at any Silverland hotel.