5 little-known things on Saigon’s Dong Khoi Street
- on Dec 18, 2019       By: BN
A star of the streets of Ho Chi Minh City, Dong Khoi has affirmed its position as an elite for 150 years as an unparalleled historic witness to Saigon’s eventful journey. It continues to establish itself as one of the major landmarks in the heart of the most dynamic city in Vietnam.
One of the most beautiful and ancient streets of Saigon
Measuring 630 metres long, the first traces of Dong Khoi dated back to the time of the Nguyen dynasty. It was the king's preferred route to reach the Saigon River from the Gia Dinh walls. Following the development of the French, the street had become one of the main streets of Saigon, originally named Street No. 16.
Dong Khoi, the old Catinat Street, was originally called "Street No. 16"
It was not until February 1, 1865, that Dong Khoi was renamed Catinat by Admiral Governor De La Grandière, paving the way for the golden days of not only the street itself but also of the entire city of Saigon.
Continental Saigon Hotel, Saigon's oldest hotel seen from above
After more than a century and a half, the place entered the history of Ho Chi Minh City as one of the oldest and most beautiful streets.
One of the most expensive streets in Vietnam
Located in District 1 of Saigon, the economic and cultural heart of the city, Dong Khoi boasts its predominant location with a large influx of Vietnamese and international visitors. A major commercial and tourist centre, its name is by far taken as a gold mine for investors with its astonishing cost. For several years, it has been one of the most expensive streets in Ho Chi Minh City and also in Vietnam. Moreover, the price per square metre of this axis has cost in recent years around one billion dong.
Dong Khoi is at the top of the most expensive streets in Ho Chi Minh City, with Nguyen Hue, Le Loi and Le Thanh Ton streets
A great historical witness
Journalist Lucien Bodard compared Dong Khoi to the navel of Saigon of yesteryear, where the beating heart of the city was felt, in other words. This place lived with the inhabitants of Saigon in unforgettable difficult moments during the successive wars. We found there the buildings of the dominant forces of the time, such as French High Commissioner, General Staff of the American Army, Assistance Group in military consultation of the United States...
Ho Chi Minh City Hall (1908), People's Committee of the current Municipality
Saigon's first cultural meeting
It was along Dong Khoi Street that an abundance of numerous monuments and services animated the day and night in Saigon, a meeting place for intellectuals and high ranking people. Ménestrel record shop (near the current Lotus restaurant), Catinat Cinema (found in an alley linked to Catinat Street), Brodard and La Pagodel restaurants, Soliréne pharmacy, Eden Opera, Albert Portail bookshop… to name a few- each.
Dong Khoi Street was named "Tu Do" from 1954 until 1975 by the government of Cochinchina
Dong Khoi nowadays has not been outdone by becoming one of the most existing meeting places in Ho Chi Minh City. The street comes together, during public holidays and important events, the locals and visitors who have come in large numbers to take advantage of the city's leading shows and events, namely, Tet Nguyen Dan or the Lunar New Year, New Year celebration, Christmas, and the Reunification Day on April 30.
A street dedicated to architecture
Saigon Opera House
Yesterday's Dong Khoi Street boasted some of Saigon's most famous cultural and architectural monuments, ranging from the Opera House, Notre Dame Cathedral, Boulevard Francis Garnier to key organs of government, the Palace of the General Government of the Cochinchina, City Hall (1908) or People's Committee of Ho Chi Minh City now, not to mention the charming hotels with French architecture that shine there despite the weather, Continental (1880), Majestic (1925) and Grand Saigon (1930).
The face of Dong Khoi in the 21st century is also adorned with contemporary colours bursting out in certain sectors, like the famous commercial twin tower Vincom, the Opera View building, the upscale Metropolitan complex… The appearance of these modern constructions contributes, with others, to meet the growing entertainment needs of a city in perpetual motion. A tour of this district would satisfy the followers of the big brands.
Notre Dame Cathedral, a symbol of Ho Chi Minh City
A balance between nostalgia and dynamism, combining history and the present, on the streets engulfed in the history of former Catinat as in Saigon, we can see the efforts made to enhance this priceless heritage.