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Saigon Opera House – The Home of Municipal Music

Saigon Opera House – The Home of Municipal Music

As I’ve said in many previous posts about Ho Chi Minh city, this metropolis owns loads of magnificent architectures. Each of them has told different fancy stories to beautify the whole city. This time, Saigon Opera House, or the Municipal Theatre of Ho Chi Minh City, will be the next storyteller which introducing you to another thing that not only foreigners do but also Saigonese enjoys at weekends.

Saigon Opera House History

The saigon opera house in 1967.
The opera in 1967.

Initially, the opera house was first constructed on the land of what is now Caravelle hotel. In 1989, the French government started to build a brand-new opera house next to the old one. After 1 year, the government officially opened the building for the community.

In the middle of the first and second World Wars, all the costs for maintaining the opera were paid by the municipal government. Despite the fact that people wanted to turn this place into an entertaining center for the affluent at that time, the number of audiences declined as more and more bars and dance clubs grew significantly. This resulted in the fall of the performances of the opera.

Since then, shows were just presented occasionally, some being concerts, some being Cải Lương performances.

Due to the criticisms of the flamboyance in the design of Saigon Opera House’s facade, the government planned to turn the building into a concert hall (Salle De Concert). However, the plan fell into oblivion, the theater’s facade was simplified to catch the trend at that time. The reconstruction had removed decorations, engravings, statues that belong to the flamboyant era. In 1944, there was an aerial attack on the building caused by the aircraft of the alliance. This attack has stopped the opera house from working.

In 1954, the opera house functioned as the temporary shelter for the French who immigrated from the north of Vietnam to the south. In 1955, this place was transformed to become a house for the republic of Vietnam.

Until 1975, when the Vietnamese government officially took power, the building was back to its main function. Soon, the government decided to reconstruct it in order to put the architecture back to its primitive version. And the name Municipal Theatre of Ho Chi Minh City has begun since then.

The Architecture

Saigon Opera House, Vietnam
Outside of the opera.

The whole building is a legacy of French art where the flamboyant art crossed France’s border and came to Vietnam. In fact, the construction was acknowledged as same as the Opéra Garnier in Paris. The facade was decorated with various complicated details such as 2 marble columns of the goddess, details on arch gates.

Inside the municipal theatre of Ho Chi Minh City.
Inside the municipal theatre.

Inside, there is 1 main sitting area with 2 levels of sitting above. The number of guests that the opera house can serve is 1800 once in total. Today, Saigon Opera House stands for the image of the city where travelers visit with the purpose of feasting their eyes with art, not just to enjoy instrumental music.

Unique Performances

Saigon Opera House A O Show.
The well-known A O Show at Saigon Opera House.
Image source: Vinhphat1808 on Wikimedia.

The municipal theater is famous for shows which are choreographed various dancing styles. In specific, some of the well-known shows at Saigon Opera House are A O Show, Teh Dar, and The Mist. Besides, there are chamber music performances you can choose from there.

Unlike any public tourist attractions in the city, the Municipal Theatre of Ho Chi Minh city is only opened on dates that shows or concerts are available. To watch a show or a concert, you need to book it in advance. The price ticket may be varied differently from the shows, but I see it the same for the 3 famous ones. Here’s the detailed:

Saigon Opera House’s Ticket Price for Famous Shows

Ticket Price / ShowA O ShowTeh DarThe Mist
AAH!VND 700,000VND 700,000VND 700,000
OOH!VND 1,150,000VND 1,150,000VND 1,150,000
WOW!VND 1,600,000VND 1,600,000VND 1,600,000

How to Get There?

Situated right in the heart of the city, on 7 Dong Khoi, Ben Nghe ward, district 1. You can easily go to the Saigon Opera House by various means of transport such as bus no. 3, taxi, or get your tech “xe ôm” such as Grab, Be, Go Jek.

Enjoy Other Activities

Besides times enjoying the shows at Saigon Opera House, where should you go to? Yes, I know that the municipal theatre won’t take you the whole day, so here are suggestions that you could take to experience when traveling around Ho Chi Minh City.

Visiting Other Attractions Near Saigon Opera House

The Independence Palace, or Reunification Palace
The Independence Palace.
Ben Thanh Market
Ben Thanh Market.

Since the building is in the center of Ho Chi Minh city, which is quite near to other places of interest such as:

Definitely, it is easy for you to set up a city tour plan just in a day or two!

Many More Activities to Experience

Yes, Ho Chi Minh City has more than just the above attractions for you to explore. Here, I figured out more activities that you can register and enjoy them:

Fill-up with Scrumptious Foods

After a great performance at the opera house, you are gonna so hungry, aren’t you? Thus, why not grabbing something to eat, especially when you are in a paradise of food like Ho Chi Minh City. Here are some finest restaurants near to the site that you could try:

Tapas Kitchen – A great place to enjoy Spanish dishes
– Address: 19 Lam Son Square Caravelle hotel

L’usine – A good place to have a quick meal
– Address: 151 Dong Khoi, Ben Nghe ward, district 1

Nineteen Buffet restaurant
– Address: Ground Floor – 19 Lam Son Square, Dis 1 Caravelle

Secret Garden – Where to find the authentic Vietnamese dishes
– Address: 12 Nguyen Thiep, Ben Nghe ward, district 1 

Hit the Nearby Bars

Enjoying a glass of wine when the sky turns dark sounds fun! Furthermore, there are many places you can have this experience in Saigon, not only view the whole city from above but also enjoy special drinks. Here the list of bars you may want to take a look.

Saigon Saigon Rooftop Bar
– Address: 19 Lam Son Square, District 1

Chill Sky Bar Saigon
– Address: AB Tower Saigon, 76A Le Lai, District 1

Glow Skybar Saigon
– Address: 93 Nguyen Du, Ben Nghe, District 1

Take A Cup of Coffee

Coffee shops in Saigon, Vietnam (Part 1)

As I mentioned in the previous blog, having coffee is assumed as the culture of Vietnamese cuisine. And it is really great to have a cup of hot coffee on such rainy days, after a long performance. So, why don’t you go fetch some beautiful coffee shops in Saigon to kill time?

Staying Around the Municipal Theatre

Hotel Continental Saigon at night

If you are in love with the opera house’s architecture that you want to look at it at different times of the day, having yourself a room in Hotel Continental Saigon will be a good choice you should take your mind! This hotel is just the opposite of the theatre, about 30 seconds walking haha.

Otherwise, below are some of the best deals of hotels around District 1, Ho Chi Minh City that you may want to consider:

Overall, like other historical sites in Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh opera house is a great place for people who are curious about the city’s history from the past to now. Therefore, don’t forget to put this destination into your itinerary when visiting Saigon!

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Saigon Opera House - The Broad Life's Pinterest Board
Saigon Opera House - The Broad Life's Pinterest Board

Having itchy feet at a very young age is a motivation for me to escape from a hustle and bustle life, go to more lands to learn more new things, meet more strangers and share these wonderful experiences with more people who have the same hobby.


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