The city hall of Saigon was built between 1898 and 1908 in French colonial style by the famous French architect P. Gardes, designed after Hôtel de Ville in Paris.
History of the Saigon City Hall
When Ho Chi Minh City was (officially) known as Saigon, the city hall was named Hôtel de Ville de Saïgon and located at the end of Nguyễn Huệ street. After the end of the war and the fall of Saigon in April 1975, the building became the head office of the Citizen Committee and was renamed into
Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee Head Office
Trụ sở Ủy ban Nhân dân Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh
The historic landmark nowadays is a working government building, guarded and not open to the public. It is not even allowed to hang around in front of it and I have seen guards sending away tourists who wanted to take photos of the park or Nguyễn Huệ street from the viewpoint of the entrance gates.
Opposite Saigon City Hall: Nguyen Hue walking street
At the opposite side across Lê Thánh Tôn street there is a beautiful, small park with fountains, many flowers and a statue of Hồ Chí Minh teaching a child. The park is actually quite nice and at night the entire area is bathed in colorful light from many different sources. (That used to be. Now the statue is different and the park has been replaced by a walking area down the entire Nguyen Hue boulevard that, in the evening or on weekends, is the single most popular gathering point for people from all over the city.)
Even if the city hall is off limits, it’s worth to stop by and check out the beautiful architecture, especially during nighttime when Saigon’s most prominent landmark is flooded with warm light. The best accessible view is from the rooftop garden of Rex Hotel across Le Thanh Ton street.
This park has been changed a lot between November 2014 and May 2015, because they are constructing a subway in Saigon. At the Independence day 2015, they reopened Nguyen Hue street as a walking street.
While they close off the street as an area of enjoyment on weekends for many locals and tourists alike (foreign tourists are the ones taking photos of the surroundings, Vietnamese taking selfies instead), during workdays the police presence that enforced a walk-only environment is slacking after just a few months. Not only the traffic lights (the first time in Vietnam that you can press buttons to call the green light) make absolutely no sense (both roads and the pedestrians have red light at the same time, while during the pedestrian’s green phase the cars start driving), also an increasing amount of motorbikes takes the shortcut straight through the walking area. Apart from that, since just after a few weeks the badly paved flagstones started to break loose, rumors were spreading where the lion share of the 400 billion VND construction cost actually ended up.
Thus a great project in Saigon has been rendered almost useless once again.