The Saigon Central Post Office is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ho Chi Minh City. It is a prime example of French colonial architecture in the city. Both the exterior and interior of the building have been exceptionally well preserved and restored.
The Central Post Office is located across the street from the Notre Dame Cathedral and a short walk from the Reunification Palace. It is easy to visit all three sights together.
History of Saigon Central Post Office
The Saigon Central Post Office was built between 1886 – 1891. There was some conflicting information as to the architect responsible for designing the building. Some gave credit to Gustave Eiffel, the designer of the iconic Eiffel Tower. It was however Alfred Foulhoux, who was the Architect-in-Chief for the French Colonial government at the time who designed the building, as well as many other civic buildings in the city. The Central Post Office is thought of as his greatest work.
The building takes influences from French, Gothic, Renaissance, and Neo-Baroque styles. Foulhoux also included some influences from regional Khmer architecture as well.
Saigon Post Office Exterior
The exterior of the building is painted a bright yellow, broken up by the many arched windows enclosed in green shutters. Above the doorway are a giant clock and the words Buu Dien (post office in Vietnamese).
One of the themes Foulhoux had intended for the building was an appreciation of science and technology. This is can be seen on the many plaques attached to the façade with the names of famous artists, philosophers, and scientists. You can find the names of Descartes, Ohm, Faraday, and many more that you may or may not have heard of.
Saigon Post Office Interior
Walking into the post office you’ll first notice the immense sense of space inside created by the high vaulted ceilings and large main hall. Directly opposite the front door is a large portrait of Ho Chi Minh hanging on the wall. The intricate marble floors add to the feeling of what an important building this was for the French Indochina colony.
Many have compared the inside of the Central Post Office to stepping back in time to a grand European railway station from the 1800s.
To the left and right of the main entrance are a row of vintage telephone boxes. While out of date, they are still beautiful with ornated carvings in the polished red wood. Above the boxes are two maps of colonial Vietnam. One depicts the telegraph lines that once ran across Vietnam and Cambodia, the other is a map of Vietnam from 1892.
The main hall is busy with people. Many tourists as well as the locals there to send their mail. It is not just a tourist attraction but also still functions as a working post office. If you are looking to send a postcard home from your visit to Vietnam, this is the place to do it.
Letter Writing Services
Duong Van Ngo had been working as a letter writer since he was 18 years old. He helps customers write letters in French and English if they were unable to write themselves. Nowadays he gets as many tourists asking him to write a postcard home. He is the last letter writer in the city and became an icon of the post office, still working in his 90’s.
With so many tourists visiting, they decided to convert the two wings off the main into souvenir shops. Some would argue there are better uses for the space, and that the souvenirs here are overpriced. However, if you need to buy a souvenir and ship it home, it could be quite convenient.
The Saigon Central Post Office is a splendid example of colonial architecture and a unique piece of history. It is highly recommended to visit while you are in Ho Chi Minh City.
Should You Go
You can easily combine your trip to the Central Post Office with other surrounding sights. Within walking distance is the Reunification Palace and War Remnants Museum. Right across the street is the Notre Dame Cathedral.