May 2018. For a genuinely fascinating slice of Ho Chi Minh history that isn’t steeped in turmoil, war and killing, don’t miss the city’s beautifully preserved Central Post Office, a French colonial building that today stands proud as one of the oldest structures in the city. It was built over a five-year period from a design by Gustav Eiffel and opened its doors in 1891.
May 2018. Step inside and at first glance the grand concourse looks more like some ornate old European train station than an Asian post office. The staff here is used to people walking in and out just to admire the place, so take your time and pick out all those great details, like the perfectly restored tile flooring and domed, vaulted ceiling. Meanwhile, at the back end of the concourse, a giant framed mosaic of Vietnam’s founding father Ho Chi Minh looks over proceedings protectively.
May 2018. My favorite touches were the historical painted maps of South Vietnam. One of these golden creations shows the postal route from Ho Chi Minh to Cambodia. The old school phone booths, lovingly polished, are actually operational (!) for anyone wanting to experience the novelty of making an international call.
May 2018. It’s important to remember that this isn’t just eye candy, but a fully operational post office that serves thousands of locals and tourists daily. Travellers buy, write and send postcards and locals come to drop off packages. There’s also a busy currency exchange counter.
May 2018. Most of the action takes place around the wooden counter shop, located right in the centre of the concourse. You can buy stamps, prints, maps and all the usual kitschy Vietnam souvenirs. I found the staff to be a little grumpy, no doubt a result of having to deal with an endless stream of tourists day in day out. It’s probably enough to test even the most disciplined patience. Ho Chi Minh’s Central Post Office is open daily from 06:00-22:00 and is free to enter.
For more on my experiences in this Vietnamese city, wade through my many articles on Ho Chi Minh.
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