‘Saigon is becoming a city without a soul’

Alexandre feels sorry to see Ho Chi Minh City apparently become a Singapore- or Hong Kong-like metropolis

Fireworks explode over the Ho Chi Minh City skyline.

Editor’s note: Alexandre joins our discussion about Vietnamese tourism with particular concern about Ho Chi Minh City losing its architectural heritage.

Read his story below and do not hesitate to send us yours, if you also think the city is on the verge of losing its identity or “becoming a city without a soul.”

I'm an expat who has lived in Saigon for four years.

After reading your article about tourism in Vietnam, I was surprised not to see a topic about all the architecture and touristic places here in the city.

Many countries are very concerned about the idea of keeping a typical architecture because they know it's the first thing tourists want to see.

For example in Paris, there is just one skyscraper inside the city and destroying the old buildings is forbidden, so Paris stays unique and you feel you are in Paris.

But in Ho Chi Minh City, day after day they have destroyed all the old colonial houses and Vietnamese heritage.

Ben Thanh Market by night. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Ben Thanh Market by night. Photo: Tuoi Tre

When a foreigner comes to Vietnam, he wants to see typical streets with vendors, food streets, little Vietnamese markets, old houses, Vietnamese restaurants, etc.

But I feel the Vietnamese government just wants to transform Saigon into a copy of Hong Kong or Singapore – a modern place with a lot of skyscrapers and all the international food chains and shops.

Step by step, Saigon is becoming a city without a soul.

And if people want to go to Singapore, they will go to Singapore directly, no need to go to Saigon to find the same things in a worse way.

An aerial view of Saigon by night. Photo: Max Ho
An aerial view of Saigon by night. Photo: Max Ho

Each time people come here to visit me, they don't know what to do in Saigon, for they are not here to visit a big mall or McDonald's and the only touristic place is the war museum.

I really love Saigon, and it's so sad to see this city losing its identity and nobody cares.

Thật Tiếc Saigon! [What a pity, Saigon!]

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