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Saigon Central Post Office, Ho Chi Minh City Overview

Possibly the grandest post office in the subcontinent, the Saigon Central Post Office is a spectacular remnant of history that attracts thousands of tourists every year. Built in late 19th century during French colonialism, the building has distinct Renaissance and Gothic architecture with its looping arches and elaborate marble flooring. Sending a postcard from the still-functional post office is an absolute must. This beautifully constructed building stands tall as a reminder of Vietnam's colonial past and rich cultural history. People throng it in large numbers, not just to send letters and post, but also to marvel at its architectural grandeur and design.

Saigon Central Post Office History

Saigon Central Post Office History
The Saigon Central Post Office in the 19th Century (Source)

The Saigon Central Post Office was constructed in the late 19th century, around 1886 to 1891. Often wrongly credited as a creation of the famous French architect Gustave Eiffel, this building was actually designed by another Frenchman by the name of Alfred Foulhoux.

Saigon Central Post Office Architecture

Saigon Central Post Office Building
The Saigon Central Post Office mixes elements of French, Gothic and Rennaissance architecture (Source)

The architecture of the Saigon Central Post Office is a charming mix of French colonial, Gothic and Renaissance designs with its richly decorated interiors and exteriors. With its bright yellow outer walls, curved green windows and the large clock adorning its entrance - one often feels that one has stepped back in time to a quaint European-style train station, rather than a post office in an Asian city.

What to See at the Saigon Central Post Office

Map of Original Telegraphic Lines of South Vietnam and Cambodia at the Saigon Central Post Office
Map of the Telegraphic Lines of South Vietnam and Cambodia, made in 1892, displayed at the Central Post Office (Source)

The Saigon Central Post Office charms all its visitors with its rustic beauty. The spacious interiors of the post office house a collection of items like antique phone booths and grand oil paintings, framed by majestic arches and patterned tiled floors. An old-school European nostalgia is prevalent in the design and layout of the entire building. The only thing reminding a person that he or she is in fact, standing in a post office in Vietnam, is a framed picture of Ho Chinh Min on display inside. The post office also has two famous maps, painted during the early days once the post office was constructed. One of them - the Lignes telegraphiques du Sud Vietnam et Cambodge 1892, depicts the original telegraphic lines of Southern Vietnam and Cambodia in 1892.  The other is of Saigon and is titled Saigon et ses environs 1892, which translates from French to mean Saigon and its surroundings in 1892.

Things to Do at the Saigon Central Post Office

Inside the Saigon Central Post Office
A common activity at the Central Post Office is to send a letter (Source)

The Saigon Central Post Office is the perfect place to be swept away by the nostalgia of a bygone era, of simpler times when communication meant handwritten letters and postcards that one waited expectantly for many days. Choose from among the collection of postcards available for sale, or write a little letter to a loved one, and even use some of the old fashioned paraphernalia - like little glue pots, to seal your envelopes! Don't forget to chat with Mr. Duong Vang Ngo, an 87 year old local who holds the Vietnamese Guinness Record and has been working at the post office since he was 15, carefully writing letters for those who are not able to do so themselves. He is always ready for a chat, and recounts the letters he has written over the years, many of them carrying important messages during the Vietnamese war.

Saigon Central Post Office Souvenir Shop
You can buy interestin souvenirs at the souvenir shop of the Central Post Office (Source)

The telephone booths in the post office can be used to make international calls, and even houses ATMs to withdraw money from. There are also some little shops available for picking up some local souvenirs within the post office.

How to Reach Saigon Central Post Office

Central Post Office Ho Chi Minh City
The Saigon Central Post Office is located in District 1 of Ho Chi Minh City (Source)

The Saigon Central Post Office is located in a prime area of Ho Chinh Min City, next to the Diamond Plaza shopping mall and the Notre Dame Cathedral in District One. District One is well connected by the local taxis, as well as Uber. Many local buses also run along these routes, making it a cheap option. Once in District One, the post office can be easily accessed by foot.

In a fast-paced world of social media and instant messages, it is no wonder that the Saigon Central Post Office attracts visitors - it offers them a chance to step back and relive a simpler time, romanticising the art of letter writing and slow, leisurely communication. It also transports one to Vietnam's colonial post.

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