“Saigon Central Post Office Named Among Top 2 Most Beautiful Post Offices in the World”

American architectural magazine Architectural Digest recently announced their list of 11 most beautiful post offices in the world, with Ho Chi Minh City's Saigon Central Post Office being the proud recipient of the second place position.

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Saigon Central Post Office is known its perfect combination of neo-classical European architecture and Asian decorations. This magnificent post office attracts a large number of domestic and foreign visitors, making it a must-see when you are in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC).
Photo: Nick John
Photo: Nick John

During your trip to this city, besides exploring numerous stunning attractions and enjoying delectable local specialties, you should not miss out on an opportunity to visit Saigon Central Post Office. Coming here, you can not only admire the architectural features of a bygone era but also catch a glimpse of the old Saigon.

Since Saigon Central Post Office is located in the center of HCMC, it is very convenient for tourists to get here from any part of the city. There are some popular means of transportation for tourists to choose from, including public buses, motorbikes, taxis, and cars.

Photo: Vietnam Discovery Travel
Photo: Vietnam Discovery Travel

If you have a personal vehicle, there are some parking areas near the post office. If you want to take the bus, you can catch buses number 03, 06, 19, or 45. They all make a stop on Cong Xa Paris Street, which is only a short walk away from Saigon Central Post Office.

The history of Saigon Central Post Office dates back to the late nineteenth century, when Vietnam was part of French Indochina. After successfully invading Saigon in 1863, the French started establishing a communication system by constructing Saigon Telegraph-wire Department, which was the precursor of Saigon Central Post Office.

The designer of this building was Gustave Eiffel, who was the architect of some iconic constructions including the Eiffel Tower (Paris), Statue of Liberty (New York) and Long Bien Bridge (Hanoi).

On January 13th, 1863, the department was inaugurated to serve the locals. As it could not meet the steadily increasing demand of the people, the Saigon Telegraph-wire Department was reconstructed in 1886 based on the architectural idea of Villedieu and his associate Foulhoux. After five years of construction, the new Saigon Central Post Office was officially put into operation. As one of the most iconic and attractive symbols of Ho Chi Minh City, the post office is maintained periodically and has been standing until now.

Photo: VietnamOnline
The designer of this building was Gustave Eiffel, who was the architect of some iconic constructions including the Eiffel Tower (Paris), Statue of Liberty (New York) and Long Bien Bridge (Hanoi) (Photo: VietnamOnline).

Although the building was constructed a long time ago, the sculptures of the Post Office has been preserved as how it had been completed. The structure of the building was influenced by Western and Asian building style.

What may catch your attention when coming through the main entrance is a giant clock hanging above the gate along with the years of construction from “1886 – 1891” sculpted below it. Other details are arranged symmetrically on the two sides of this center.

Between the old green windows, there are names of famous French inventors who devoted to the telegram and electricity sculpted on each post of the building. Some other names are Benjamin Franklin – one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, Alessandro Volta – an Italian inventor, and Michael Faraday – an English physicist.

At first, the French decorated the whole building in light pink to match the red brick of the Notre Dame Cathedral, a nearby Saigon attraction.

Photo: Wikipedia
Photo: Wikipedia

In January 2015, the City Council decided to change the original color of the Central Post Office in darker yellow. However, after the front was painted, most of the locals in Saigon criticized the new tone because they found it too bright.

In the end, after several meetings, the City Council decided to repaint the historical building with lighter yellow.

Photo: Bao Phu Nu
Photo: Bao Phu Nu

When you step into the building, you can see the dome roof covering the whole length of the Post Office. The iron pillars in four corners are propping up the front dome, and the halls’ domes are supported by rows of iron pillars on their two sides. At the crossing points of the posts, there are meticulous patterns designed by experienced sculptors.

On the wall at the end of the central hall, there is a significant portrait of Ho Chi Minh, which you will usually see in many government buildings.

Above the international telephone booths near the entrance, there are two maps. One map shows the telecom system of Cambodia and Vietnam in 1936, and the other describes Saigon and its surrounding areas in 1892.

Behind the souvenir counter in the central hall, there are four long wooden tables where visitors can write their letters.

Charlotte Pho