Top 5 places to visit in Ho Chi Minh City to see a prosperous South Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh City or Sai Gon is nowadays the leading city in the economy. In the past, it was also a prosperous area that was known popular as South Vietnam. Even South Vietnam has been disappeared and united with the north and central to become a united Vietnam, there are still so many impressive constructions that South Vietnam left. Let’s get ready to explore the top 5 places to visit in Ho Chi Minh City to see how prosperous South Vietnam was.
Before exploring places to visit in Ho Chi Minh City, it is better to know about South Vietnam
In order to have a good trip to explore the places to visit in Ho Chi Minh City during the South Vietnam period, it is better to have an overview of South Vietnam first.
South Vietnam was a regime that formed from the State of Vietnam. In 1945, France came back to invade Vietnam. There were always people who fought against the communist government in Vietnam during that time. In 1949, they signed an agreement with French to establish the State of Vietnam and selected Bao Dai as the King. When the war between Vietnam and France finished, the USA took the place of the French to continue the government of the State of Vietnam in 1954.
The formation of South Vietnam
A year later, Ngo Dinh Diem deposed Bao Dai King and established South Vietnam, became the very first president of this country. With the military and financial support from America, South Vietnam became a prosperous country. And the local life was at a higher standard than the north area. They had cars, an electric train system, and the modern entertainment industry. That is also the reason why there are still so many people in the south of Vietnam today who regret the old time. Until 1975, the north of Vietnam that was the communist government won over South Vietnam and united the whole country. Since then, South Vietnam disappeared and became a part of Vietnam nowadays.
Even South Vietnam has not existed anymore, there are still so many impressive constructions that the country left until now. They all become famous tourist destinations in Ho Chi Minh City. And those are the living evidence of a prosperous Sai Gon in the past. If you do not know what to do in Ho Chi Minh City, let’s explore these following Ho Chi Minh attractions.
Top 5 places to visit in Ho Chi Minh City to see a general picture of South Vietnam
Due to the prosperity of South Vietnam, the constructions they left are still in good condition for tourist activities as the most famous Ho Chi Minh attractions. Moreover, the architecture of those places is still kept as its origin. Hereunder, a list of top 5 places to visit in Ho Chi Minh City will show you a general picture of South Vietnam.
Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon
Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon is one of the most famous tourist images of the city. Therefore, it is in the top of list 5 places to visit in Ho Chi Minh City. In 1877, the construction started in 1877 by the French. It was built to satisfy the religious demand of the French in Vietnam at that time. Architect of this cathedral is J. Bourard. All the materials to build this cathedral were imported directly from France with high quality. Thus, the cathedral is almost kept as its origin until now.
Inside the cathedral, there is one main hall, two extra halls, and two chapel halls. Its architecture and decoration are so impressive. It is Gothic architecture. The total length of the cathedral is 93 meters and the widest area is 35 meters. The height of the hall is 21 meters. And the capacity is up to 1,200 people.
There have been four restorations. The latest one is still doing at this time, 2019. The first one was in 1895 when they added the roofs for the bell towers. In 1903, a flower garden was built in front of the cathedral. They also put a statue of Adran Bishop holding Canh Prince in this year. And it was the second restoration. The third one was in 1959 when they put a Virgin Mary statue in front of the cathedral. And the last one started in 2017. This is a significant restoration. It is predicted to last for three years.
Sai Gon Central Post Office
In a tourist destination cluster, there are three famous places to visit in Ho Chi Minh City. They are Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon, Sai Gon Central Post Office, and Independence Palace. Therefore, it is so convenient for you to take a trip exploring this tourist destination cluster.
Sai Gon Central Post Office is a significant architecture construction of the city. It is located on the right side of the cathedral. The central post office was built by the famous architect Gustave Eiffel in the period of 1886 – 1891. The architecture of this building is a combination of the European and Indochinese style. However, the mainstream is still European architecture.
Nowadays, the central post office is still working. However, it is known commonly as one of the most famous Ho Chi Minh attractions. The telephone booths are still protected until now but they do not work anymore. There are different booths to make calls to different countries that South Vietnam had connected with during wartime. Besides, there are so many souvenirs of South Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh City here.
Independence Palace – One of the top must-see places to visit in Ho Chi Minh City
Among the three spots in the tourist destination cluster, Independence Palace is the one that associated with so many significant historical events. Therefore, you must not miss this destination among the places to visit in Ho Chi Minh City.
Independence Palace was the residence of the South Vietnam president. Among them, Ngo Dinh Diem was the one who has lived here for the longest time since he was taken place for two consecutive terms. The Independence Palace was built in 1868 to replace an old wooden one. At that time, it was named Nodorom Palace since it was located on Nodorom street. Most of the materials to build this palace were shipped from France.
In 1955, Nodorom Palace was renamed to Independence Palace by Ngo Dinh Diem President. During the Vietnam War, the Palace has been restored many times due to the destruction of the attacks between the south and north governments. The current architecture of the palace was made by a Vietnamese architect, Ngo Viet Thu.
In 1975, an important historical event happened at the gate of Independence Palace. Tanks of the Vietnam Communist army attacked the palace and won over the South Vietnam government. Since then, the Independence Palace was not the government’s working place anymore. It became a famous tourist destination. There are two main parts of the Independence Palace. One is the palace where the South Vietnam president worked and lived. Another is the museum where you can learn more about the history and stories of the South Vietnam government.
Ben Thanh Market
The biggest difference between Ben Thanh Market and other historical places to visit in Ho Chi Minh City is that it was there before the French came. It was a crowded market since there were so many Chinese living and doing their business here.
After many wars and battles, the market has been destroyed several times. Moreover, it was getting old and at the risk of collapse, the locals destroyed themselves for safety reasons. In 1911, the French built a new market in a different place and it still remains until today with the famous name, Ben Thanh market.
There are four gates of the market. The main one is in the south direction. Nowadays, there are still so many Chinese do their business here. And it is the biggest market in Ho Chi Minh City. Ben Thanh market is not only for trading but also for tourism. Tourists come here for buying souvenirs and visiting the local market. Especially, the market also opens at night. If you do not know what to do in Ho Chi Minh City, let’s spend time explore this shopping paradise.
The Municipal Theatre is now still working. It is also one of the favorite places to visit in Ho Chi Minh City due to its history. In 1863, after successfully invading the southern of Vietnam, or known as the French Cochinchina, the French brought a troupe to Saigon for expeditionary soldiers entertainment. In 1898, the Municipal Theatre was built and finished in 1900.
However, the theatre did not get supported by the locals as well as the French in Sai Gon, it was more and more empty. Additionally, due to the destruction of the war, they closed the theatre.
When the Geneve agreement was signed in 1954, there were a huge number of French had to move from the north to the south of Vietnam. And this place became a temporary living place of those French. In 1955, the theatre became the Congressional Headquater Building of South Vietnam.
After 1975 when Vietnam united the north and south, this place was reused as a theatre and name Municipal Theatre. Saigon people usually came here for entertainment when they do not know what to do in Ho Chi Minh City on the weekend.
While the French left so many valuable constructions with impressive architecture, the Municipal Theatre was the one which got so many conflicting opinions regarding architecture. There have been several times the government restored the theatre. They said its architecture was complex and cost too much including the design, decoration, sculpture, and the garden.
There are so many places to visit in Ho Chi Minh City and understand more about the leading city of Vietnam. However, it is also a famous place with the name South Vietnam that makes travelers curious. Those five places that we mentioned above are the best spots for you to explore and have a good view of how prosperous the old government of Sai Gon was.