Hugely influenced by French-style architecture, the old buildings in Saigon can easily cast an enchanting spell on their visitors at first sight. Therefore, remember the names below carefully so you won’t miss these masterpieces!
The Independence Palace (Vietnamese: Dinh Doc Lap)
Built on July 1st, 1962 and designed by the genius architect Ngo Viet Thu, the first Vietnamese to win the Roman Nguyen Prize, there was no doubt that The Independence Palace would become a phenomenon. The palace is such a perfect harmony of Western and Eastern architecture, and you can definitely tell by its magnificent exterior and meaningful interior. Visit and discover the meaning behind the paintings, decorations, Kanji characters, and more to understand the art and culture of Vietnam.
Address: 135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, District 1
Google Maps location: The Independence Palace
Opening hours: 7:30 AM – 11 AM & 1 PM – 6 PM
Notre Dame Cathedral (Vietnamese: Nha Tho Duc Ba)
It’s unbelievable that right in the middle of bustling Saigon, there is an old Cathedral calmly standing and observing the life of humans. Notre Dame Cathedral, one of the biggest symbols of Saigon, is what I’m talking about. This cathedral was meticulously constructed, down to the tiniest detail, such as the materials which were directly imported from France! This may explain why although it has stood for 130 years, the cathedral still remains gorgeous as if today was it’s first day. The exterior is bright and stunning, but it is the interior that captures hearts with its sense of calmness and solemnity.
The cathedral is not only a hub for art hunters but also a perfect spot for the locals to hang out! Especially on holidays and weekends, it is always flooded with countless flocks of citizens who come here to gather with their friends, tackle tasty snacks outside, or just simply sit and enjoy the busy life on the street. So why not come here and kill two birds with one stone, my dear art lovers?
Address: 01 Cong Xa Paris, District 1
Google Maps location: Notre Dame Cathedral
Opening hours: 6 AM – 8 PM
Saigon Central Post Office (Vietnamese: Buu Dien Trung Tam Thanh Pho)
Letters may be a little bit out of date, but the Saigon Central Post Office will never be! Just a few steps away from the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Post Office brings out an eclectic style of the old days between 1886 and 1891. Moreover, with an interesting combination of European and Asian architecture, it will make you feel relatable and also curious.
Do you want to know the treasure of the Post Office? Come find Sir. Duong Van Ngo, the legendary 89-year-old French and English public writer, because he is the answer! With everlasting passion and dedication, he has been writing and translating letters into different languages for 26 years. I believe you will love hearing his stories about his job and his country, so come here before 3 PM on weekdays to meet him.
Read more: The Beauty of Saigon, Then and Now
Address: 125 Cong Xa Paris, District 1
Google Maps location: Saigon Central Post Office
Opening hours: 7 AM – 9 PM (8 PM on Sunday)
Opera House (Vietnamese: Nha Hat Thanh Pho)
Of course, when it comes to art, the opera house always has a place. The Opera House, completed on January 1st, 1900, is hands down the must-see destination for artistic minds in Saigon. The interior will make you feel nostalgic since it is influenced by the architecture of French theaters in the late nineteenth century. Since the opera is still active, come here on weekends to enjoy amazing Vietnamese performances!
Address: 7 Cong Truong Lam Son, District 1
Google Maps location: Opera House
Opening hours: 8 AM – 10 PM
Continental Saigon Hotel
You may ask “Why on Earth should a hotel be an art destination?” Well, Continental Saigon, one of the oldest hotels in the city, is here to change your mind! Built in 1880, the hotel is a true example of French art, architecture, and influence. Furthermore, it also impressed many masterminds on the planet, from the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore, who is a Nobel Prize winner to the English writer Graham Greene who wrote Quiet American during the Vietnam War. It is indeed no coincidence for people to say that “If the walls of Hotel Continental speak, they will tell you a lot of things.”
Address: 132 – 134 Dong Khoi, District 1
Google Maps location: Continental Saigon Hotel
Opening hours: 24/7
Contemporary Art Collections
In recent years, it is obvious that young folk in Saigon are building their own unique and very interesting culture. In the age when the youth has the equal right to cosset art as the seniors, the role of the contemporary art is becoming more significant than ever. Here are some spaces revealing the dynamism of the nation’s contemporary culture.
Ho Chi Minh Fine Art Museum (Vietnamese: Bao Tang My Thuat Thanh Pho Ho Chi Minh)
Originally designed in the popular Baroque French style, the fine art museum is a sight to behold. Founded in 1987, this gallery displays more than 21,000 valuable artifacts and artworks to visitors. Most of them were collected from the Vietnam War, and each is a testament of how positively Southeast Vietnam changed.
This museum is also known for having the most windows in the city and on sunny days, the combination of the colorful sun rays that pass through the glass with the dark shadows shading the walls creates a vivid scene that will definitely delight your artistic soul. Going through nearly a century of many hassles and grief, the building still retains its significance to the city’s architectural art.
Address: 97A Pho Duc Chinh, District 1
Google Maps location: Ho Chi Minh Fine Art Museum
Opening hours: 8 AM – 6 PM (closed on Monday)
3D Artinus Art Museum
Home to hundreds of gigantic 3D artworks and an area of over 4,000 square meters, the 3D Artinus Museum is insanely favored by the youth, especially if you are the one who loves trying cool things. Through various collections and nine different zones such as Aqua Zone, Animal Zone, Vietnam Zone, Giant Zone, MasterPiece Zone, or Egypt Adventure Zone and more, you will truly live in the fantasy that you have been dreaming about!
Let’s take some examples. Where’s to find the most famous paintings in the world? MasterPiece Zone! If you’re a culture finder, take a few steps into the Vietnam Zone where you can see the greatest paintings about Vietnam. Oh, do you like being on an adventure? Take a trip to Egypt Adventure Zone, Giant Zone, or Strange House Zone where you may encounter some weird scenes to pose in! For couples, it has to be Love Zone where you can take vivid and lovely photos against fantastic backgrounds.
Address: 02 Duong So 9, District 7
Google Maps location: 3D Artinus Art Museum
Opening hours: 9 AM – 6 PM (8 PM on Saturday and Sunday)
Price range: 180,000 VND – 220,000 VND (7.8 USD – 9.5 USD)
Ao Dai Museum
If I say that the ao dai is the best costume in Vietnam to draw out the beauty of a woman, will you agree? Before giving me an answer, take a moment to visit the Ao Dai Museum, which was established to honor and showcase this traditional Vietnamese beauty. Hundreds of original and restored artifacts will tell you the story of the formation and development of the Vietnamese ao dai through each stage, from its very first days to the present. The exhibition also holds ao dai-related events regularly, and its latest one was Play Chess with Beauty in order to present the charm of ao dai and the intellect of Vietnamese women.
Address: 77 Nguyen Hue, District 1
Google Maps location: Ao Dai Museum
Opening hours: 10 AM – 7 PM
Saigon’s downtown is now full of modern buildings, but coexisting beside these skyscrapers are still many old apartments which possess multiple values in term of both history and art. Some units are so old that the whole house has turned into black with peeling walls, dark stairs, and a damp atmosphere. Yet, these buildings somehow become the inspiration of many lovely cafe spaces, boutiques, or even restaurants, studios, bakeries, etc.
A lot of people may wonder why owners do not rent or open their shop in a newer, brighter, and cleaner space. Not randomly these old apartments have become home to most of the popular coffee stores in Saigon. It is the fade in time appearing in every peeling paint that creates the original characteristics which are hard to replicate artificially.
Couleurs d’Asie by Réhahn
Réhahn is an exceptionally talented photographer born in Normandy, France. Before deciding to reside in Vietnam, his second home, he had already traveled to more than 35 countries and territories. His love for Vietnam is demonstrated by his years of dedication to learning the Vietnamese language and how he captures the most treasured moments of the local people through his incredible lens. If you talk about his works, you cannot ignore his insanely famous photo “Hidden smile” (Vietnamese: Nu cuoi an giau) of Madam Xong, a cheerful Vietnamese grandma who is a boat rower in Hoi An. It has appeared on over 200 international presses and spread positivity to the whole world. So in short, come to Réhahn’s galleries and see the true beauty of the planet!
Address: 151 Dong Khoi, District 1
Google Maps location: Couleurs d’Asie by Réhahn
Opening hours: 8:30 AM – 9:30 PM
Vietnam ART Gallery
Founded in 2011 and located in Nguyen Hue street – one of the most central streets in HCMC, Vietnam ART Gallery will offer you a distinctive perspective of Vietnam’s colorful life. With over ten years of experience in the fine art market, Vietnam ART not only sells paintings but also collects and exhibits them for everyone who wants to enjoy real art. With a track record of identifying and developing exceptional new talent, Vietnam ART has become a destination for art tours of the world’s leading cultural institutions, private collectors, and diplomatic visits.
With a certificate of professional painting collector and a constant passion for art, Vietnam ART has devoted its life to displaying masterpieces of Vietnam modern art.
Address: 80 Nguyen Hue, District 1
Google Maps location: Vietnam ART Gallery
Contemporary Art Collection
In recent years, it is obvious that young folks in Saigon are building their own unique and very interesting culture. In the age when youth have the equal right to collect art as the seniors, the role of contemporary art is becoming more significant than ever. Here are some spaces revealing the dynamism of the nation’s contemporary culture.
The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre
Being the first contemporary art center in Saigon, The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre is an outstanding example for a creative, energetic, and revolving city. In addition to displaying artworks in various forms such as paintings, sculptures, installation artworks, this arts center is also the place to host meetings among gifted artists.
This spacy art center is 1,000 square meters big and is divided into many areas. The eye-catching container area you see first when you arrive here is a small room and fulfills many different purposes such as office, rental event space to make a pop-up sales, and exhibiting artworks. Once you step in, you will feel the aura of art filled with mesmerizing pictures and sophisticated statues immediately. What’s more wonderful than a day to live in the art atmosphere, enjoy a cup of fragrant coffee, chat, meet with many interesting people, and also have beautiful photos to share with your friends!
Address: 15 Nguyen U Di, District 2
Google Maps location: The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre
Opening hours: 10 AM – 7 PM (closed on Monday)
Guess what? Galerie Quynh is regarded as one of the pioneers that has been promoting contemporary art practice in the country for almost two decades! The gallery also exhibits the work of distinguished artists and collaborates with curators, museums, and art spaces from around the world to organize talks, lectures, publications in English and Vietnamese.
Address: 118 Nguyen Van Thu, District 1
Google Maps location: Galerie Quynh
Opening hours: 10 AM – 7 PM (closed on Sunday and Monday)
In recent years, Saigon Outcast has become more familiar to the majority of Saigon’s youth due to its diverse activities, from art festivals and exhibitions to night parties and skateboarding contests. All take place in a space where visitors are able to immerse themselves in a colorful feast of painted old containers, a vivid yard, and graffiti walls.
There are hundreds of guests, both locals and expats, that gather every night, which makes this place a perfect location for cultural exchange and making friends. Only by coming here can you understand the full allurement of this most opportune destination of Saigon.
Address: 188/1, Nguyen Van Huong, Thao Dien, District 2,
Google Maps location: Saigon Outcast
- Tuesday – Saturday: 10 AM – 12 AM
- Sunday: 10 AM – 11 PM
- Monday: Closed
Craig Thomas Gallery
Craig Thomas Gallery has done a great job in presenting and promoting numerous award-winning artworks of the Vietnamese contemporary artists. Visit to take a look at this unique kind of art!
Address: 27i Tran Nhat Duat, District 1
Google Maps location: Craig Thomas Gallery
Opening hours: 11 AM – 6 PM (12 PM – 5 PM on Sunday)