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Ho Chi Minh City Opera House

Ho Chi Minh City Opera House: A famous destination for your to-go list

07/05/2023 380 views

Ho Chi Minh City Opera House is a building characterized by classical French architecture. This is not only a grand stage for major art shows but also a fascinating attraction visited by a large number of tourists.

Ho Chi Minh City Opera House

The Opera House is a popular hangout for both locals and tourists (Source: Collected)

If you are planning a trip to Saigon, you should definitely pay a visit to Ho Chi Minh City Opera House, an indispensable part of the local culture and history. This architectural and cultural wonder offers fantastic art performances and is an ideal place to take great photos.

1. Where is Ho Chi Minh City Opera House? How to get there?

  • Address: No. 7, Cong Truong Lam Son Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Opening hours (for reference only): 9 am – 4.30 pm (Monday – Friday); 9 am – 12 am (weekends)

Ho Chi Minh City Opera House is located in the center of the city, only 1.2 kilometers away from Ben Thanh Market. It fronts Cong Truong Lam Son and Dong Khoi Streets. This convenient location allows the Opera House to become the venue for many major shows and events, as well as an interesting tourist attraction.

Ho Chi Minh City Opera House

The Opera House is well located in the city center (Source: Collected)

The Opera House is accessible by cars, motorbikes, buses, and taxis. If you drive your own car or motorbike, you can park it at the Opera House’s parking lot. If you go by bus, simply take one of the following bus routes: 02, 03, 19, 45, or 53.

2. History of Ho Chi Minh City Opera House

After French colonists invaded Cochinchina and established their colony here in the mid-19th century, they had demands for theatrical performances, leading to the establishment of a temporary theater in the area. In 1898, the construction of Ho Chi Minh City Opera House began at the site close to the temporary theater. It was inaugurated on January 1, 1900.

Ho Chi Minh City Opera House

The facade of Ho Chi Minh City Opera House in the early 20th century (Source: Collected)

In the years between the two World Wars, the Opera House gradually lost its role as an entertainment venue for the growing middle-class, due to the booming number of nightclubs and dance halls in the city. Following criticisms that the theater was too ornate, the authority decided to remove some decorations, engravings, and statues from the facade in 1943 to make the theater look more modern. In 1944, Saigon Opera House was damaged during an aerial battle between the Allies and the Japanese Imperial Army, leading to a halt in its operation.

When the French were defeated at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954, followed by the Geneva Accords, this theater became a temporary shelter for French civilians in Northern Vietnam. In 1955, Ho Chi Minh City Opera House was repurposed into the seat of the Lower House of the State of Vietnam and then the Republic of Vietnam. After the Reunification of Vietnam in 1975, the theater was restored to its original function and became the venue for a lot of major art performances. In 1998, the authority of Ho Chi Minh City decided to restore part of the theater’s original facade on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of Saigon.

3. Things to do at Ho Chi Minh City Opera House

As a theater, Ho Chi Minh City Opera House can host art shows of different genres. Moreover, it is also a major tourist attraction thanks to the long history and meticulous architectural design.

3.1. Explore the architecture of the Opera House

In the early 20th century, Ho Chi Minh City Opera House was seen as a twin sister of Hanoi Opera House, though smaller in size. Both Opera Houses were very similar to the Opéra Garnier in Paris and used as entertainment places for French colonists. Ho Chi Minh City Opera House was designed by architect Félix Olivier, while its construction was overseen by the two architects Ernest Guichard and Eugène Ferret.

Ho Chi Minh City Opera House

The interior of Ho Chi Minh City Opera House (Source: Collected)

The theater features a flamboyant architectural style of the French Third Republic, with its facade having a similar shape to the Petit Palais built in that same year in France. All the inscriptions, décor, and furniture were designed by French artists and shipped from France.

Currently, the Opera House has a total capacity of 500 seats. There is one main seating floor on the ground level and two levels of seating above.

3.2. Enjoy Ho Chi Minh City Opera House shows

Ho Chi Minh City Opera House

Ho Chi Minh City Opera House

A O Show and Teh Dar Show are two must-see shows at the Opera House (Source: Collected)

  • A O Show: In Vietnamese, ‘A’ means village and ‘O’ means street. This show brings the audience to the rustic countryside of Southern Vietnam, using simple bamboo props.
  • The Mist Show: This show depicts Vietnamese people’s main livelihood of rice cultivation – a symbol of Vietnam’s agriculture. The daily life and work of farmers is recreated via neoclassical and modern dancing which are artistically choreographed.
  • Teh Dar Show: This show tells an epic story of the birth-death-rebirth cycle of every living being on earth. It is a combination of bamboo handling, circus storytelling, and live music played with ethnic musical instruments.
Ho Chi Minh City Opera House

The theater is the ideal venue for classical music performances (Source: Collected)

  • Opera Gala: Living up to its name, the Opera House is truly the ideal venue for concert nights featuring classical music works by world-renowned composers such as Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, etc.
  • Vietnamese music shows: This theater is also a favorite stage for many Vietnamese music performances which praise the beauty of Vietnam.
  • Classic musicals and dances: Audiences can also enjoy classic operas, ballets, and plays of different genres performed by professional and talented artists. 

4. Top tips for a perfect tour to Saigon Opera House

  • Always remember to check showtime schedules in advance to buy tickets and arrive on time
  • Because a tour around the Opera House is often accompanied with a show, it is advisable to show up about 15 to 30 minutes early to find good seats, take photos, and take a walk around
  • Odorous foods and drinks are not allowed in the Opera House 
  • Dress politely
  • Visitors to the Opera House can find a wide range of food at Nguyen Hue Walking Street or the Landmark 81 building

5. Other well-known attractions near Ho Chi Minh City Opera House

  • Independence Palace: About a 10-minute walk away from the Opera House, this famous historic site welcomes a large number of visitors every day
  • Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral: About a 5-minute walk away from the Opera House, this hundred-years-old building is another symbol of the city
  • Saigon Central Post Office: Also a 5-minute walk away from the Opera House, this place boasts remarkable and unique architecture that has stood for more than 100 years
Ho Chi Minh City Opera House

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Ho Chi Minh City Opera House

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Ho Chi Minh City Opera House is an architectural and cultural highlight that has seen the many ups and downs along the history of Saigon. This theater has also become a symbol of the city, contributing to its fascinating beauty of a splendid and prosperous city in Asia. For the locals, this building is a popular venue for art shows. For visitors, it is a must-visit attraction that provides insights into the local culture.

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