More than forty years after the war ended, the name Saigon is still rich in memories and significance. The capital of South Vietnam, the center of the American war effort, and the scene of countless movies about the era, the name still resounds for anyone old enough to remember the war.
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It’s still there of course, except now it’s called Ho Chi Minh city and is a teeming metropolis of some 10 million people. New glass and concrete towers have sprouted, robbing the city of much of its charm, but remnants of the old days — the turbulent post-War decades of the French and American wars, are still there if you look for it.
We have added this page due to the importance of Saigon between 1945 and 1975, but really, it’s bit out of the scope of this project. Saigon itself could easily be the subject of an entire website like this, so for now our focus will be the other parts of the country. We will add more pictures over time but for now, only to a limited extent.We have shared some places of significance that anyone can visit in the city, though some might take some detective work to find. Please see below a video from one of us in the team driving around the cetnral District 1 area, passing places such as the former RVN Navy HQ, Dong Khoi street (former Tu D0) with the opera house, Continental Hotel, Caravelle Hotel, Grand Hotel and The Majestic.
Saigon was the scene of so many significant events from the end of WWII until 1975. The Japanese surrender, the 1953 bombing outside The Continental, numerous other bombings by Viet Minh and later Viet Cong. During the Tet offensive in 1968, fighting was concentrated in Cho Lon, the Chinese quarters of Saigon and the area was made famous through TV and newspapers. We have added a few pictures from the Cho Lon areas above also.
The execution wall outside the railway building by the Ben Thanh Market is still there of course, this wall was used by South Vietnamese government forces to execute Viet Minh and Viet Cong fighters along with criminals. Scattered around the city one will also find plenty of monuments erected to commemorate military and revolutionary achievements of the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong.
A site like the corner where the monk Thích Quang Duc burned himself to death in 1963 is marked by a monument as well.
U.S. installations like the different MACV administrative buildings, Westmoreland’s residence, hospitals etc. are all still around. The area around Tan Son Nhat airport has changed a lot though, but some of the old buildings, at least parts of them, can still be found.
It is a city full of history and it is an adventure to discover it. Saigon is a great starting point for the history traveler to discover the rest of Vietnam and our recommendation is to spend a few nights in the city before moving on to explore the rest of the country.
10 thoughts on “Saigon”
This is remarkably helpful. Fifty-one years since I returned. My immediate reaction to the disillusionment I felt about values I had that included trust, faith in my country, its military, the officer corps, even my religion were tested. My first reaction was to look to Jack Daniels and Johnny Walker for answers. Didn’t work but almost killed me. Then, when I found myself in Washington working on an official history of search and rescue operations for the US Air Force, I decided to study history. I enrolled as a doctoral student at George Washington University where I studied under Dr. J. Kenneth McDonald and Dr. Vladimir Ivanovich Petrov focusing on US Military History, Modern European Military History and Soviet/East European Political History. I learned a lot about war. My frustrations manifested themselves in published articles and three books on the air war. Teaching at the Air War College and then at a small Christian College (Grove City College) in Pennsylvania helped me work through what had happened. I’m glad I was part of it. In the end, Vietnam and what I encountered as a lieutenant briefing the major general who thought he was in charge of air ops in northern Laos eventually shaped my life as an academic, an intelligence officer, and a person. That’s not the worst way to come home. Just coming home wasn’t an option for 58,000 of Americans and millions of Vietnamese, Laotians and Cambodians. Wars should only be fought by old men.
Thank you for your insightful comment Earl. I noticed we have s common contact on Facebook in Bob. I’ll drop you a note there.
Excellent tour! I hope one day to visit!
Please add Dong Tam, home of the US 9th ID, in IV Corps. I was stationed there 1968-1969. Thanks
Hi Ronald. I wish we could. We have been down there and the area is walled off. It is a People’ Army compound there and seemingly som industrial facilities. We will re-visit later to see if anything changes. There should be lots to see in there. The old HQ building seems to be intact and the runway is visible.
Can i get more info on trips
Hi Bob. How can we be of help? We do not arrange tour but we can direct you to people that do. Send us an email on email@example.com for more information.
Please get in touch with me when you can. I’d like to help this project along. I live in Vietnam, am endlessly interested in this stuff, have a camera, and am a decent writer. Happy to help with content on the coast and the former DRV, including Vinh, Hanoi, and many others. No reason why this site can’t become the encyclopedia for the whole country. Stephen
Brillant work and page, Jonas, a pleasure to discover now, thanks to your hard work
Thank you so much. We have put a lot of effort in to it. Quite a bit of research and we have a lot more coming 🙂 This is an exciting journey.