Say hi to Saigon’s evolving art scene. More and more art galleries are popping up in Saigon. No wonder as its art scene is growing rapidly. We’re loving this cultural development and listed the best art galleries in Ho Chi Minh where you can gawk, or buy.
Craig Thomas Gallery
Founder Craig Thomas is one of the long-term foreign residents in Saigon and followed his passion to open a high-quality art gallery. Hidden in a side street in District 1, you will find a charming art gallery with beautiful paintings of well-known names as well as some impressive newcomers. Craig Thomas’s collection consists of Vietnamese artists only. Definitely worth a visit.
27i Tran Nhat Duat Street, Tan Dinh Ward, District 1
This ‘galerie‘ has proven to stand out with many well-received exhibitions with acclaimed Vietnamese and international artists. The 5-floor building hosts the perfect space to enjoy the impressive artwork displayed by founder and owner Quynh Pham. Exhibitions change every 6 weeks so visiting this beautiful gallery every now and then will definitely feed your cultural needs.
118 Duong Nguyen van Thu, Da Kao, District 1
The Apricot Gallery located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh city has a sister gallery in Hanoi. It is beautifully set-up and displayed almost as a museum. Some of the art is spectacular and you will find many well-known artists here as well as up-coming artists. This gallery has an obvious commercial approach and therefore a good option if you’re looking to buy a nice piece of Vietnamese art.
50 – 52 Mac Thi Buoi, District 1
The Factory Contemporary Arts Center
Established in 2016 in an old warehouse, The Factory Contemporary Arts Center has definitely made a name in the art scene since then. The premises have the perfect ambiance for contemporary art and with multiple exhibitions happenings simultaneously and changing regularly, this art space is definitely worth a visit. Especially if you’re into hardcore contemporary art.
15 Nguyen U’Di, Thao Dien, District 2
Salon Saigon is not only an art gallery; it’s a place, a salon for art to enjoy performances, educational programs, art exhibitions and more. The salon has a history, it is established in one of the three houses that belonged to US Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge Jr during his stay in Saigon from 1963 to 1967. The name “Salon Saigon” refers to the Salons (gatherings) that flourished in France throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. The contemporary art is impressive, you won’t regret visiting this salon.
6D, Ngo Thoi Nhiem, P.7, District 3
Couleurs by Réhahn
The world-renowned Fench photographer Réhanh is famous for a reason. His photographs of Vietnam and its people are not merely stunning, there’s a story behind each photo too. The portraits are endearing and moving and the landscape photos are absolutely breathtaking. Visiting the gallery on Dong Khoi is definitely worth your while and you can even treat yourself to one of the photos or postcards while you’re there.
151 Dong Khoi (Floor 1) District 1
Duc Minh Gallery
Founder Duc Minh was one of Vietnam’s most important art collectors and saved art from getting destructed during the Vietnam war. The current collection mainly consists of contemporary art and even though this is one of the best and most special galleries in Vietnam, it is a private collection. There are occasional guided tours though so get your hand on the -pricey-but-worth-it tickets whenever you get the chance.
31C Le Quy Don, 3 Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
*Painting featured on top of this article: made by Dutch artist Maud van der Lely, www.maudvanderlely.com
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Let’s explore Saigon with these local tours in Saigon
1 Paris Commune Square, D1
In the heart of the city, you’ll find the most iconic building of Ho Chi Minh City; the Notre Dame Cathedral. Built by the French in 1877, the materials and even bells were brought over from France. The grand name makes for high expectations and it does indeed look a bit like its Parisian sister, but smaller and with a far more modest interior.
While you’re there, stroll across the street and take a look at the statue of the Virgin Mary in the small garden. In 2005, people claimed to see it shed tears, prompting thousands of visitors to see the miracle. Even if you don’t see any, it’s still a nice selfie spot!
125 Paris Commune Square, D1
Across the street from the Notre Dame Cathedral, at Cong xa Paris square, lies the Saigon Central Post Office. Sending a postcard from this place is a ‘must do’ for tourists in our books.
The Post Office is still fully operational with clerks who will sell you postcards and stamps under the watchful gaze of Ho Chi Minh himself.
Nice to combine with a visit to “book street”, just around the corner at Nguyen Van Binh. Open from 7 am daily.
07 Lam Son Square St., D1
In the center of Saigon, on Dong Khoi Street, stands the more than 100 year old Opera House. Built by the French, bombed by the Allied forces during World War II and patched up again, it was re-opened as a theatre in 1970. Nowadays it hosts various concerts, ballet performances and shows, of which the AO show (Lune Production) is a true Vietnamese experience.The only way you will be able to see the interior is to buy tickets for a show. The ticket booth is located at the side of the building.
28 Vo Van Tan St., ward 6, D3
Although somewhat gruesome and a bit of a one-sided presentation, the War Remnants Museum can’t be ignored. It teaches an important part of Vietnamese history: the American War in Vietnam and of what the people of Vietnam had to endure only a few decades ago.
Besides the display of military equipment outside, there are various exhibitions inside. We found ‘Requiem’ (on the third floor) the most impressive. It shows the work of international correspondents who died in action in the Vietnam War.
On the left side of the museum, you’ll find a re-creation of the prisons used in the 20th century. Note that they are shocking and not suitable for young or sensitive eyes.
135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia St., D1
When a North Vietnamese Army Tank burst through the front gates of the Independence Palace on 30 April 1975, it marked the end of the Vietnam War. The palace, now called the Reunification Palace, has a rich history and its interior shows you all that. It’s like stepping back into time; check out the retro designed presidential chambers on the third floor and the war rooms in the basement. It’s best to go early to avoid the heat and crowds.
Note that, as with many public venues in HCMC, it’s closed during lunch hours.
97A Pho Duc Chinh St., D1
The Museum of Fine Arts showcases paintings of famous communist figures as well as some contemporary art made by Vietnamese artists. Although based in a stunning building and filled with Vietnamese art, it’s not easy to grasp it all without some proper insight into the artistic history of Vietnam. Unfortunately the museum itself gives little information. So either read up or arrange a good tour, like Sophie’s art tour. Also note that the museum is not air-conditioned and has no lift. On a positive note the entrance fee is one of the lowest we have ever seen. Note that it’s closed on Mondays.
02-04, No.9 St., D7
This museum in District 7 has more than a 100 different 3D paintings, created in such a way that it seems you’re a part of them. We love how they’ve placed markers and arrows, to help you make that perfect 3D image to double as your next profile pic.
A great museum to spend some silly hours with the kids or your friends. Make sure to check the route before going, bring some water and note that some areas are not air-conditioned.
73 Mai Thi Luu, D1
Built 100 years ago by the Chinese, the photogenic Jade Emperor Pagoda in District 1 was once serving as a training center for the revolutionary. Nowadays it’s a temple full of shrines and statues. One of the popular shrines is devoted to the Goddess of Motherhood, her statue depicting her surrounded by midwives and their children. Local women come here to pray for love, marriage and fertility.
Note that the temple can be busy at times, especially on certain Buddhist days.
Open from 7 am daily.
Fl. 58-59-60, Bitexco, 36 Ho Tung Mau, D1
The 58th floor of the Bitexco tower offers you a truly green experience; The World of Heineken. A museum, an experience and a bar, it’s all that and a bit more. This sister of the famous Amsterdam highlight is quickly becoming one of Saigon’s most popular attractions and we can understand why. We had a fun night here, and not only because 2 beers (and water) were included in the entrance fee. Go and have a great green night out with spectacular views! Open from 3 pm daily.