Saigon Opera House

Saigon Opera House, also called Ho Chi Minh Central Theatre, is a famous place to organize the art performance and big events in this city.

Whether you like to learn about the culture or just love the beautiful architecture, the Opera House is a must-see attraction in Ho Chi Minh to stop.

Saigon Opera House
Saigon Opera House | ©falco/pixabay

Ho Chi Minh City Opera House

Architecture

The building stands out with a white color outside, and the big columns and motifs of French styles. All remind of the time of the ancient French colonial period in the early 20th century.

From afar, you can admire the magnificent architecture of the theater. The dome and the reliefs were transferred to Saigon from Paris, and French architects designed all the external and internal decorations.

  • The building has 3 storeys with a total of 1800 seats.
  • The theater has two meters higher than the street surface with two-door layers to prevent traffic noise.
  • The oval auditorium offers a good view from every seat and also echo-free sound inside the theatre.
  • Saigon Opera House was built in 1898. The major renovation cost USD 1.7 million for 2 years from 1996 to 1998 to finish.

History

To supply the needs of French people and high class in society in the late 19th and early 20th century, an elegant had been built to show the performance.

In 1898, the theater was started concreting. In 1911, the grand opening celebration was held to inaugurate this building.

After World War I, under pressure from criticism of the influence of French style, the city government removed many decorative reliefs and sculptures outside the theater.

Going through history, Ho Chi Minh City Opera House has been somewhat damaged. Until 1955, the building was renovated but used as the House of Commons ò the Southern Government of Vietnam.

And since after 1975, the theater has turned back to its original function of performing arts.

In celebration of the 300-year-old city in 1998, the Central Theater has been renovated and restored to its original state. So, the Saigon Opera House becomes a famous entertainment for Saigoneers and tourists. And,  its façade has a beautiful decoration with many statues and paintings, which attracts plenty of people coming to take nice pictures.

Significant historical events

Saigon Opera House infographic
  • January 17th, 1900: The first show of the Opera House was performed by French actors and actresses.
  • November 18th, 1918: Cai Luong, an artic performance from Southern Vietnam, organized at the theater. Cai Luong is known as Vietnamese Southern opera.
  • 1945 – 1955: The Opera House was closed during World War II and reopened in 1955 – after the Geneva Convention (1954), and became Southern Vietnam’s Assembly House.
  • May 1975: it is officially named the city’s opera house.
  • 1996: Saigon Opera House is closed for renovation.
  • December 18th, 1998: Inauguration ceremony of Saigon Opera House after 2 years renovation. The event marked the 300th anniversary of Ho Chi Minh City.
  • 2012: The Opera House is certified as a National Relic.

5 highlight performances  showed in  Ho Chi Minh Central Theater:

A O Show in Saigon
A O Show in Saigon | © lune production
  1. AO Show: The sound “A” means “village” and “O” is reminiscent of “city”. The play takes you to the countryside of South Vietnam which is somewhat rustic, simple, when familiar when full of surprises, interesting with props are typical bamboo items.
  2. Opera Gala: Symphony nights with legendary tunes from renowned composers like Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven.
  3. The Mist:  Suong Som (the morning dew) is an emotional show that performs the life of the Vietnamese community. The show is a contemporary dance combining semi-classical ballet to recreate the life associated with rice, the field and the gentle soul of southern farmers.
  4. Musicals – Dance: Classical dances are performed by professional actors and talented orchestras.
  5. Vietnamese music programs: Praising the homeland, the country and the people of Vietnam through lyrics, singing and acting arts.

Ticket price

Many shows will perform in the Saigon Opera House. The ticket price depends on each performance. But, in general, it ranges from 200,000 VND – 2,000,000 VND.

For the foreign tourists, we recommend seeing the A O Show.  AO Show has 3 official seats: Aah [A], Ooh [O] and Wow [W].

There are three levels of the entrance fee to see AO show:

  • AAH! (A)= 700.000 VND
  • OOH! (O) = 1.150.000 VND
  • WOW! (W) = 1.600.000 VND

In particular, the seating plan has economy class seats that are usually seat [A] located on the wings of the stage. The position of [O] seats is direct across the stage, helping you to see the live performance better. And the best class is the seat [W] on the upper floor is the most comprehensive position to watch the show from every angle.

A O Show Seats
A O Show Seats

For tickets of this show, you can come directly to the theater to buy it, or check Lune Production to buy them online and see the schedule of performance.

Some notes before coming to the Opera House of Saigon

  • Because entering the Theater will be associated with each musical or art show, you should arrive before the start of the performance about 15-30 minutes, find a seat, take a photo or take a tour before the show starts.
  • Out of the performing time, you can visit and take pictures in front of the Opera House. The building itself is a beautiful place with the rich architectural value.
  • At the end of the show, it’s time for the artists to interact with the audience. You should prepare in advance the camera or phone to take souvenir photos and questions that you ask yourself. But, usually, the artists say Vietnamese and many Vietnamese audiences around them, so it’s hard for foreign visitors to accommunicate with them.
  • Do not bring strongly smelly food and drink into the theater, affecting the inside environment.
  • If you visit the theater during the day, you can combine a visit to the nearby Notre Dame Cathedral and the Saigon Central Post Office.

Saigon Opera House’s address: 2 Cong Xa Paris Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (on Google map)
Phone: 028 3829 9976
Website: www.hbso.org.vn for ballet, music… & www.luneproduction.com for the shows of A O, The Mist…

About the author

The editorial staff of Vietnamdrive is a team of travel experts managed by Mr. Thom who has worked in tourism for 14 years. Trusted by thousands of tourists from all over the world.