Saigon City Hall

The former Hotel de Ville de Saigon is now the Ho Chi Minh City Hall and one of the most famous landmarks in the center of Saigon.

Saigon City HallSaigon City Hall | photo: Frank Fox (cc-by-sa)

Ho Chi Minh City Peoples Committee Head Office

The city hall of Saigon was built between 1898 and 1908 in French colonial style by the famous French architect P. Gardes, designed after Hôtel de Ville in Paris.

Saigon City HallSaigon City Hall | photo: (cc-by-sa) Frank Fox

When Ho Chi Minh City was known as Saigon, the city hall was named Hôtel de Ville de Saïgon and located at the end of Nguyễn Huệ street. After the end of the war and the fall of Saigon in April 1975, the building became the head office of the Citizen Committee and was renamed into

Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee Head Office

Trụ sở Ủy ban Nhân dân Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh

Ho Chi Minh City HallHo Chi Minh City Hall | photo: (cc-by-sa) Frank Fox

The historic landmark nowadays is a working government building, guarded and not open to the public. It is not even allowed to hang around in front of it and I have seen guards sending away tourists who wanted to take photos of the park or Nguyễn Huệ street from the viewpoint of the entrance gates.

The Old Park at Nguyen Hue StreetThe Old Park at Nguyen Hue Street | photo: (cc-by-sa) Frank Fox

At the opposite across Lê Thánh Tôn street there is a beautiful, small park with fountains, many flowers and a statue of Hồ Chí Minh teaching a child. The park is actually quite nice and at night the entire area is bathed in colorful light from many different sources.

Construction Works at Nguyen Hue StreetConstruction Works at Nguyen Hue Street | photo: (cc-by-sa) Frank Fox

Even if the city hall is off limits, it's worth to stop by and check out the beautiful architecture, especially during nighttime when Saigon's most prominent landmark is flooded with warm light. The best accessible view is from the rooftop garden of Rex Hotel across Le Thanh Ton street.

Old Statue of Ho Chi MinhOld Statue of Ho Chi Minh | photo: (cc-by-sa) Frank Fox

This park has been changed a lot between November 2014 and May 2015, because they are constructing a subway in Saigon. At the Independence day 2015, they reopened Nguyen Hue street as a walking street.

Saigon City HallSaigon City Hall | photo: (cc-by-sa) Frank Fox

While they close off the street as an area of enjoyment on weekends for many locals and tourists alike (foreign tourists are the ones taking photos of the surroundings, Vietnamese taking selfies instead), during workdays the police presence that enforced a walk-only environment is slacking after just a few months. Not only the traffic lights (the first time in Vietnam that you can press buttons to call the green light) make absolutely no sense (both roads and the pedestrians have red light at the same time, while during the pedestrian's green phase the cars start driving), also an increasing amount of motorbikes takes the shortcut straight through the walking area. Thus a great project in Saigon has been rendered almost useless once again.

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The official name of Saigon is Ho Chi Minh City, however the locals prefer the old version, since it's shorter and easier to spell.