The historic Saigon Opera House is a fine example of colonial French architecture and one of the top attractions in Ho Chi Minh City.
The Opera House was designed by architect Eugene Ferret. It was influenced by French architecture of the day, with the front designed to look like the Petite Palais in Paris. The ornate exterior is adorned with reliefs, inscriptions, and statues, making it an ideal spot to photograph.
Construction on the Opera House began in 1898 before being completed in 1900. It has seen its share of changes over the years. Coming under fire for being too ornate, the government removed many of the external reliefs and decorations in 1943. During World War II, Allied bombings damaged the theater putting it out of commission.
The Saigon Municipal theater was restored in 1955 and put into service as Lower House of the legislature of the Republic of Vietnam. It wasn’t until after the fall of Saigon in 1975 that the Opera House returned to its original function.
In 1996, the government spent approximately 1.7 million USD on a complete restoration. It was completed in 1998 after two years of work. Today the opera house can hold up to 500 guests.
The Saigon Opera House is home to not only opera productions, but also ballet, concerts, and plays. It is not open to the public unless you are attending one of the performances. The popular and entertaining AO Show is a great way to see a show and have a look around the beautiful interior.
You can get tickets for the shows at the venue, through your hotel, or a tour agent.
The theater was officially renamed to the Municipal Theater of Ho Chi Minh City, though most people still refer to it as the Saigon Opera House. It is located in District 1 on the corner of Le Loi and Dong Khoi Street. It within walking distance of the Central Post Office, Notre Dame Cathedral, and Ben Thanh Market.