Typical French-style attractions in Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City is an attractive destination with harmonious combination of French colonial architecture, memories of war and modern skyscrapers. A visit to HCM City brings you great chances to admire a hustling and bustling life inside an ancient beauty of colonial architecture. HCM City offers so many special and interesting experiences that you cannot find in anywhere in Vietnam. And in any tour in HCM City, visiting French-style attractions is one of the best things to do in this city.


Modern beauty with skyscrapers of HCM City

Central Post Office

Located right in the heart of HCM City – at number 2, Paris Commune Street, District 1, The Central Post Office is one of the oldest buildings in HCM City. It was built around 1886 – 1891, based on the design of Gustave Eiffel – a famous French architect and has become a significant symbol of the city. Many foreign tourists traveling in HCM City consider that visiting the Central Post Office is a must-do thing in this trip.


Central Post Office is considered as symbol of French colonial architecture in HCM City

Being a mixture of Gothic, Renaissance and French influences, this building fascinates tourists by its typical colonial French features, from exterior to interior decorations. From its ornate furnishings, gorgeous-pattern-tiled floor to its massively high ceilings and numerous wickets, all speak of another place in time. Walking inside you immediately enter the building’s expansive hall, where you are greeted by an extra-large picture of HCM himself. You may get the feeling that you are in an older train station rather than a post office, as the high arched ceiling and wooden counters make it seem like you should be lining up to buy a ticket. The main attractions inside are two large eighteenth century maps which sit opposite each other on either side of the hall. One map features central Saigon and its surrounds, the other details the telegraph lines that covered southern Vietnam and Cambodia.

Notre Dame Cathedral

Situated right in the heart of HCM City is Notre Dame Cathedral, the most famous landmark of the city. It is opposite to Central Post Office and is a magnificent building located at the Paris Square in HCM City downtown, attracting not only Catholics but also most tourists for its neo-Romanesque style architecture and a sacred atmosphere.


Notre Dame Cathedral with neo-Romanesque style architecture and a sacred atmosphere

Established by French colonists, the cathedral was constructed between 1863 and 1880. Its design, apart from the intention to create a religious look, aims at showing the influence of French civilization and Christianity over HCM City.  At the time it was built, the Basilica was the most beautiful cathedral of this kind among all French colonies. All the materials were directly imported from France like red bricks of the outside walls, which retain their bright and lively red color until today. To people’s amazement, the two bell towers, each with the height of 58 meters and 6 bronze bells have just been added in 1895. In front of the cathedral is a statue of the Virgin Mary. On a whole, the neo-Romanesque architecture and two 58 meters-high square towers tipped with iron spires dominate the city’s sky line, creating a beautiful religious site.

Opera House

Considered as one of the best representations of French colonial architecture in Ho Chi Minh City, the Opera House is another thing to do in this city. It was built in 1897 by the French architect Eugene Ferret and has been beautifully persevered. Located at the start of the famous Le Loi Avenue, the building still retails many lively evidences for the influence of French architecture in Vietnam.


Opera House in HCM City

The style of this majestic building is influenced by flamboyant style of the French Third Republic. People can easily recognize similarities between the façade of this building and the Petit Palais, which was built in the same year in France. Inside, the house has a main seating floor plus two levels of seating above, and is capable of accommodating 1,800 people. All of applied ornament, balustrades, cartouches and roof were taken from France. Additionally, all the inscriptions, décor, and furnishings were drawn by a French artist and sent from his nation.

The Opera House is surrounded by a wide, tree-lined boulevard which is so oddly European that you may need to remind yourself that you are in HCM City, not Paris. The best way to experience this legendary monument is by enjoying one of their shows. The Ho Chi Minh City Ballet Symphony Orchestra and Opera performs here. The currently most famous show you can watch at the Opera House is the AO Show, a blend of Cirque du Soleil and traditional Vietnamese elements.

HCM City is Vietnam’s most lively and action packed city, growing and developing at a rapid rate. However, until now, it still remains many legendary monuments in history that one of the best representations is French colonial architecture.  Visiting French colonial architectures will help you fully explore cultural and historical beauty of HCM City.


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