Historic Ho Chi Minh City. A Date with Demolition.

July 17, 2019  •  3 Comments

9 Thai Van Lung.Q.1.Looking through a stairwell window. It is estimated that 60% of Vietnam's historic buildings have been demolished. Many more French colonial and Art Deco' buildings in, Ho Chi Minh City, will disappear in the next few years. The pace of change is relentless, new buildings are being built all over the city with local businesses being pushed further out of the centre.

Little or no preservation & renovation of old buildings is happening, history is being raised to the ground, partly because very few old buildings are documented or recognised as being important. 'More than a third of the Vietnamese city’s historic buildings have been destroyed over the past 20 years', Nick Van Mead.

206 Đường Trần Hưng Đạo.One of the last remaining French colonial tenement houses built in the 1920's. One of the last, old, 'Chung Cu', tenement housing streets left in Saigon, 206 Đường Trần Hưng Đạo. Built in the 1920's, some of the houses have hardly been changed. 

206 Đường Trần Hưng Đạo.P11.Q5.Lau1 (Ist floor) hidden from the main road this, Chung cu, is accessed through two passages, both with their own little unofficial coffee shops. I was invited to take photographs by one of the residents who explained some of the history to me. A makeshift coffee shop in the middle, 'bridge', between the upper (Lau 1) balconies provides a good meeting point for the residents to catch up on gossip and see what's going on. 206/5 Đường Trần Hưng ĐạoVirtually unchanged since the 1920's.  Below: Some of the older buildings have within them, beautiful, nostalgic restaurants and coffee shops. Quan cafe, Bang khuang, on the 3rd floor, 9 Thai Van Lung, Q1, is one. Many of the features are completely original, great coffee, lovely staff and perfect ambiance. 

Bâng Khuâng Café, 9 Thái Văn Lung, Bến Nghé, Quận 1.Empty at 8am, full at lunch time. Everything about this cafe is interesting, even the bolt on the loo door!!

Below: Looking out of the cafe window, a spiral staircase dating back to the French colonial era, still in daily use, but for how much longer?


Below: View from the fire escape stairs at the back of, 26 Ly Tu Trong. Another building due to be demolished, it was lived in by French administrators and business people during colonial times.

View from the fire escape stairs at the back of, 26 Lý Tự Trọng.A few residents still live on the top floors. The shop & cafe tenants in the building are on one year leases. They never know when the building could be closed for demolition.

The building still retains original features such as an incredible old lift, beautiful tiled floors & the original, 'bullet proof', mesh protection on the outside of the building at the back. What were the old apartments are now occupied by cafes and boutiques. Definitely worth a visit & easily accessible from the city centre.

Below: Details taken inside, 26 Lý Tự Trọng.

26 Lý Tự TrọngBến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh.Original tiles, doorway leading to the fire escape, original glass window panes around stairwells and lift shaft.

 Thank you as always, Quyen, my first friend in Vietnam. Quyen pointed me in the direction of all the places in this blog and more. She owns and runs, the, 'Gourmet Cafe' in Phu My Hung, Q7. 


More articles about Saigon's heritage: 



A couple more of my Travel and Social History blogs:

Hikkaduwa Out of Season and End of an Era. Dakota Crescent HDB.

Thanks for reading my blog and supporting my passion for photography, writing and social history! 


Ruth is an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society has a Diploma in Professional Photography and is a multiple award winning member of the Guild of Photographers.



Beautiful and emotional photos!
Lesley Chandler-Clare(non-registered)
Wish we had known about this area when we had our 3 days in Ho Chi Minh....we were disappointed by the lack of characterful buildings there.....not progress in my book!
Wendy Fan(non-registered)
Thanks for the photo and the read! That spiral staircase is strikingly captured.
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