Ho Chi Minh City’s Nguyen Hue Street may not be an architectural masterpiece, but it’s certainly one of the city’s most exciting destinations. Found in the District 1 area, the street covers an area of over 2,000 feet and is bookended by the People’s Committee on one side and the flowing Saigon River on another.
This once-ordinary street began life as a meandering canal before it was redeveloped during the turn of the century.
The French christened this new road Boulevard Charner and lined it with hotels, government buildings, and market stalls. In 1956, the road was renamed Nguyen Hue street before a $16 million investment transformed it into a pedestrianized walking street.
Nguyen Hue Street is an integral part of life in Ho Chi Minh City. Street festivals, meetings, social events, and market stalls are all hallmarks of this new pedestrianized street, offering a welcomed change from the usual congested, traffic-ridden roads the country is known for.
While the street still boasts opulent remnants of its colonial days, many of Nguyen Hue Street’s buildings were controversially taken down during redevelopment. One notable exception is the cafe apartment located at number 42, which is a favorite with tourists and locals alike.
This nondescript building is home to wonderful food outlets, trendy clothing stores, and coveted authentic coffee. It also boasts panoramic, Instagrammable views of the flowing walking street below. It’s definitely worth a visit if you’re looking for a quick pit-stop during your exploration.
The Rex Hotel is another storied building found in Nguyen Hue Street. A holdover from French colonial days, this hotel has played a large role in Saigon’s history over the years. It has housed businessmen, diplomats, politicians, and soldiers in its time and continues to be considered one of the city’s finest hotels.
A leisurely walk down Nguyen Hue Street takes about ten minutes and provides much-needed relief to the overwhelming heat of the city. A large fountain found outside the Sun Wah Tower is a hydraulic masterpiece that not only acts as a much-needed cooling agent but also functions as the canvas for a stunning light show in the evening.
Visiting Nguyen Hue
The term ‘pedestrian street’ is somewhat of a misnomer. Vehicles are only forbidden to drive down Nguyen Hue on Saturday and Sunday evenings.
Weekends are, subsequently, the ideal time to visit. The evenings bring out an eclectic mix of people and a range of sights and sounds. Live music performances add a bohemian touch to the upmarket District 1 and the art exhibitions on display certainly live up to the area’s status as a cultural center.
Though it may sound cliche, you really have to see Nguyen Hue Street in person to get a sense of its vitality and atmosphere. Despite its young age, it has already been accepted as an integral part of Ho Chi Minh City’s life.
Landmarks such as the Saigon Central Post Office and Notre Dame Basilica Cathedral are only a few minutes away from the walking street, making it an accessible destination and a must-visit if you fancy a relaxed evening stroll around District 1.
Take a break from your busy itinerary and spend some time perusing Nguyen Hue Street while visiting Ho Chi Minh City. You are sure to find a few must-see sights along the way!
Address: Bến Nghé, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam