Take time out from the busy streets of Ho Chi Minh City and relax amid the French Colonial architecture and fragrant blooms of this historic square.
Historic Ho Chi Minh Square offers tranquility and elegance amid the teeming, traffic-filled streets of South Vietnam’s dynamic capital.
The square is a snapshot of 19th- and 20th-century South Vietnamese history. Explore the country’s colonial past through the French architecture, which surrounds the square. Reflect on more recent history beneath the billowing national red flags and statue of communist revolutionary leader, Ho Chi Minh. Indulge in trappings of modern consumerism in the high-end boutiques and big brand stores that dot the surrounding streets.
Ho Chi Minh City Hall takes up an entire block on the north side of the square. Completed by the French in 1908, the city hall is based on the Hotel de Ville in Paris. The building contains government offices, so is off-limits to the public. You can, however, get close enough to admire the details in the white-and-yellow façade and well-preserved pillars and arches.
Follow the path through the park in front of the city hall and enjoy perfectly manicured hedges and the blooms of hibiscus and poinsettia. At the center of the park, admire a statue of the father of the reunified Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, who sits cradling a small child.
On the east side of the square admire the Rex Hotel. This was also built by the French, in 1927, although its main significance lies in the role it played during the Vietnam War. During the conflict the hotel’s rooftop bar was a popular haunt for military officials, diplomats and war correspondents. Enjoy a cocktail or dinner in the refurbished bar, widely considered to be one of the world’s best. The views over the downtown area at sunset are spectacular.
Walk a block east to see the Saigon Opera House, built by the French at the end of the 19th century. During the Vietnam War it served as a shelter for refugees. Today the flamboyant theater is home to the city’s symphony orchestra and opera company.
Ho Chi Minh Square is located in the city’s downtown area, known as District 1, just 5 miles (7 kilometers) southeast of the airport.