I. Overview of Saigon Central Post Office
Saigon Central Post Office is one of the most noted tourist attractions in Ho Chi Minh City. With a mixture of Gothic, Renaissance, and French influences, the building seduces domestic and international visitors with its unique architecture.
The post office is located in No 2, Paris Commune Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. It is opposite the Notre Dame Cathedral, a famous and must-visit attraction.
The opening hours
Weekdays: from 7 am to 5 pm.
Saturday: from 7 am to 6 pm.
Sunday: from 8 am to 6 pm.
II. The history of the Saigon Central Post Office
This post office was built in the late 19th century when Vietnam was part of French Indochina. The French established a telegram system as soon as they had control over the South of Vietnam. The system has been in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City with the purpose of promoting communication in this place.
In 1860, the famous architect Gustave Eiffel, designing the Eiffel Tower, and the Statue of Liberty, was appointed to design the first version of the Saigon Central Post Office. This building was officially inaugurated in 1863.
And, the post office issued the first stamps with an image of a ‘stork’ in 1864, so letters from there to all areas around the world. However, at that time, more and more people sent their letters and goods, so the building needed renovating. In 1886, the construction was rebuilt by French architect Villedieu and his assistant Foulhous. As a result, the final renovation is the look of the Saigon Post Office we see today.
III. Saigon Central Post Office’s Architecture
The structure of the postal system is a perfect blend of neo-classical European architecture and Asian decorations. It is a historic construction, existing over a century, and has witnessed many life changing events in the past. The designs of this French-style post office have attracted foreign tourists, even those from France.
Light yellow is dominant color of the whole building. The facade of the postal system retains a cubic structure with arches above the entrances. Before entering the main entrance, tourists can see a giant clock hung above the gate with the years of construction “1886-1891” below.
Designers and constructors put names of French inventors, devoted to telegram and electricity between the old green windows. They are Alessandro Volta, Michael Faraday, Benjamin Franklin, the British physicist Michael Faraday, French mathematician André-Marie Ampère and so on. Moreover, the walls outside are elaborately and meticulously carved patterns.
As visitors step into the building, they can be struck by a huge sense of space. The dome covers the whole length of the post office. Being grand, stable, and symmetrical, the ceiling bears the sign of Western building style. The four iron pillars in four corners are supporting the front dome.
Additionally, on each side are rows of straight green iron columns and shiny brown wooden chairs. Constructors carved elaborate and beautiful architectural details into these columns. Based on the system, the whole building seems to be higher, more spacious, and airy.
Above the international telephone booths near the entrance, there are two maps painted just after the post office was built. The two maps are hung on opposite walls. The first map titled “Telegraphic lines of Southern Vietnam and Cambodia 1892” is on the left side of the building. “Saigon and its surroundings 1892” is the name of the second map. Both maps remind visitors of days gone by.
A portrait of President Ho Chi Minh – the beloved leader of the nation – is hung on the wall at the end of the hall. Visitors can see his image in many government buildings, or even in private houses. Two small staircases lead to the souvenir shops on the left and right wings of the building.
IV. Things to do at the post office
Write letters and postcards
In the past, people just communicated and kept in touch with each other via letters with various stamps. Nowadays, letters and postcards are no longer written by hand, instead, people use the Internet, smartphones, and chatting applications. Thus, for most people, especially the younger generation or called gen Z, writing letters is abnormal and time-wasting. It seems to be a thing of the past. In Saigon Central Post Office, local people and visitors can write letters or postcards and use the parcels mailing service to send them to their family or friends. This is an interesting way to reminisce about memories in this modern world.
If you are not confident in your handwriting, Mr. Duong Van Ngo is willing to help you complete your letters. Mr.Ngo has been a public writer in the post office since 1990 and is also the last professional public writer in the city. Being proficient in both English and French, the old man is still diligently working for customers. Hiring him to write your postcards or letters is to save interesting memories in this place.
Buying souvenirs is an indispensable activity on any trip. There are plenty of souvenir shops inside and outside of the central post office in Ho Chi Minh city. You can buy several postcards printed with iconic constructions such as Ben Thanh Market, Independence Palace, etc, from shops and send them home. You will quickly be supported by 38 customer counters service available in Saigon Central Post Office. Besides, other gifts such as stamps, pictures, photos, hats, etc, with reasonable prices are suitable for both locals and foreigners for buying as presents.
V. How to get to Saigon Central Post Office
You can set a plan to visit here by bus, the bus number: 03, 120, 19, 30, and 93 will help you reach your destination. Furthermore, traveling by taxi or motorbike booked via applications is a suitable choice for those who do not want to wait at a bus stop. The Central Post Office is situated near Notre Dame Cathedral, so it gives visitors the convenience of touring these attractions.