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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Saigon Central Post Office

Date of visit: 30th December 2015



At the time of our visit in December 2014, the historic Saigon Central Post Office was being painted with a bright yellow colours. Apparently, the work was stopped as it sparked off criticism from the public for being too gaudy (as can be seen from the photos that I shared in this entry), not matching with its original grandeur look. Recently (in March 2015) it finally getting a new colour, a shade of yellow much lighter to the above photo. The building was last painted since the Vietnam War ended in 1975. The new colour (from 8 colours submitted by the Post Office management) was voted by all 14 members of the city's planning and architecture board especially for the 123-year-old building, being one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city’s downtown area.



Saigon Central Post Office is a post office in the downtown Ho Chi Minh City, near Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica, the city's cathedral. The building was constructed when Vietnam was part of French Indochina in the early 20th century. It has a neoclassical architectural style. It was designed and constructed by the famous architect Gustave Eiffel in harmony with the surrounding area. Today, the building is a tourist attraction whilst continuing its services in postage business.


There are a special note of two painted maps that were created just after the post office was first built inside the Saigon Central Post office. The first one located on the left side of the building is a map of Southern Vietnam and Cambodia titled ‘Lignes telegraphiques du Sud Vietnam et Cambodge 1892′ which translates to ‘Telegraphic lines of Southern Vietnam and Cambodia 1892”. The second map of greater Saigon is titled ‘Saigon et ses environs 1892′ translating to as ‘Sai Gon and its environment 1892.



The building was constructed in between 1886-1891, about 20 years after the adjacent Saigon Notre Dame Basilica was constructed. These three-story building, which was designed and built by Gustave Eiffel, none other than the famous architect who created the wonder of the world, Eiffel Tower in the French capital, Paris. The architectural design of this Central Post Office represents the French colonial style. Being inside the building, you have no doubt that it is indeed the biggest post office in Vietnam and is an important commercial center of the Ho Chi Minh City. Due to a limited Internet access in business enterprises and hotels, this Central Post Office also serves as a major communication center of the city where natives and tourists get in touch with the rest of the world.



Looking at this classic colonial structure, we can’t help it but thinking of Paris Train Station when we first entered the Post Office building. It really does remind us of the European railway stations. The modern skylight of this grand old structure resembles the famous European buildings like Paris’ Les Halles or Milan’s Galleria of the late 19th century. You may grab a souvenirs like postcard, fridge magnet, t-shirts and other attractive local items as there are many booth are placed inside the buildings.



The central pavilion, with a huge clock and symmetrical extensions on both sides, added its beauty. This fascinating building with alcoves and logical fenestration is an outstanding display of French design influenced by Renaissance architecture. The arched windows of the Central Post Office are adorned with decorative capstones. Engaged piers, crowned with imaginative human-headed capitals, make the frames of the windows. The green window shutters resemble any other French colonial architecture.


The main entrance of the Central Post Office is decorated with intricate ironwork. Once inside, you cannot afford to miss the huge maps of Vietnam on both sides of the building’s main entrance. The elegant interior is considered to be the most interesting feature of the Central Post Office in Ho Chi Minh City. The vaulted and shining interior with its glass canopy, huge ceilings and a giant portrait of Ho Chi Minh, is enough to charm me.


The post office has been the busiest post office of Vietnam besides providing the usual mail services also offers phones and fax machines for public use. Stamps and souvenirs are sold from the counters within the post office. The specialty stamps counter of the General Post Office offers some interesting collector sets for sale. You have by all means spending some time to visit the famous Central Post office in Ho Chi Minh City to make your trip to Vietnam a memorable one.


When we stepped out from the building, we saw a group of kindergarten crowds on a visit with their teachers. This kind of incident, meeting group of this small children made my day. I took advantage of sharing their moment of joy by snapping half of their group photo as can be seen below. I hope the teacher may find my blog, so that they can share this photos with their students.


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