Saigon Central Post Office is one of the most famous and iconic attractions in Ho Chi Minh City. With its unique structure and remnant of the city’s past, this is a perfect place for the people who want to enjoy the beautiful design, mail a postcard, write a letter by hand or simply recall the memory of a bygone era.
The history of this building started when Vietnam was part of French Indochina in the late 19th century. On January 13th, 1863, the post office was first opened to the locals, and the post office issued their first stamp. Gustave Eiffel is the person who had designed the first version. In 1864, Saigon Central Post Office began to be more famous in the Southern areas. From 1886 to 1891, the building was rebuilt by French architect Villedieu, and that is the Saigon Post Office we see till today.
Highlights of Saigon Central Post Office
The structure of the building is a combination of Western and Asian building style. When coming to the main entrance, there is a giant clock hanging above the gate with the years of construction “1886 – 1891” below.
Between the old green windows, there are names of French inventors who devoted to telegram and electricity. They are Benjamin Franklin, Alessandro Volta, and Michael Faraday.
When you come into this place, you can see the dome roof covering the whole length of the Post Office. The pillars are propping up the front dome, and the halls’ domes are supported by rows of pillars on the two sides.
Above the international telephone booths near the entrance, you can see two large maps; one shows the telecom system of Cambodia and Vietnam in 1936, and the other describes Saigon and its surrounding areas in 1892.
On the left and right wings, two staircases lead to the souvenir shops along the halls. On the wall at the end of the central hall, there is a portrait of Ho Chi Minh President, the most famous and greatest person in Vietnam.
You can buy some postcards with iconic buildings of Ho Chi Minh City, such as Ben Thanh Market, Notre Dame Cathedral, Independence Palace, etc. from the gift shop in the center, and send them home using mailing service here. Saigon Central Post Office has 38 customer counters service, so don’t worry about service jam here.
- Last Public Letter Writer
When coming to the post office, you may see an older man sitting at one of the writing tables in the central hall. He is Duong Van Ngo. He is a translator and a public letter writer since he was 18. Although he has retired from his job, he often goes walking here and helps the people write letters in English and French.
What to Do in the Post Office
1. Enjoy Its Unique Architecture
Outside the church, you will see rows of arched windows, a large clock above the main entrance, and the Vietnamese flag – fluttering.
On the outside, the front of the building is decorated with rectangular cells, when the inventors of the telegraph and electricity are registered.
You will see the curved ceiling that runs along the length of the spacious main vault inside the church. While the window of the building’s side blocks is arched, the windows of the middle block are rectangular. Because of the high ceiling, the contours, lines, and patterns were designed parallelly to create a balanced whole for the post office’s architecture.
2. Reminisce about the Past
Saigon Central Post Office is no longer crowded with visitors like before. The post office has situated for more than 100 years, so it was the witness of many ups and downs, as well as many changes that took place in this city. When coming to Saigon Central Post Office, you can also rest on wooden benches after a tour of the city. Entering the post office, you will feel like that time is passing much slowly because at any corner, it is possible to catch a glimpse of the old Saigon.
3. Write Letters and Postcards
Today, with the development of the internet, mobile phones, and other transport services, writing letters and postcards by hands, for most people, is abnormal and time-wasting. However, this is an interesting way to store past memories in this modern time. If you are not confident about your handwriting, there is a unique service here: hire a public writer, who is Mr. Duong Van Ngo.
Mr. Duong Van Ngo, born in 1930, is the last professional public writer in the city. In spite of his age, the old man is still diligently working for customers. He is also proficient in both English and French.
4. Buy Souvenirs
Inside and outside the post office, thousands of souvenirs are displayed along the corridor, like postcards, stamps, pictures, photos, etc. With a cheap price, these products are always suitable for both locals and foreigners for buying as presents.
How to Get to Saigon Central Post Office
The Central Post Office is located near Diamond Plaza and Notre Dame Cathedral. The 3 buildings together make it a popular area in District 1 for foreigners to visit.
If you want to visit here by bus, the buses number: 03, 120, 19, 30, 93 will help you.
Tips on Visiting Saigon Central Post Office
- You should visit the place from December to April. These are dry months which are suitable for going traveling.
- The rust hour of this place from 8:30 – 10 am and 4 pm – 6 pm, so avoid these periods.
If you are on a guided tour or just go walking around Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon Central Post Office is worth a must-visit. There are so many ups and downs of history and more than interesting ones to discover for at least 15 minutes of your time. More if you avail yourself of mailing services available.