Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral in Ho Chi Minh City – A visitors guide

Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral, located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, is a majestic architectural gem that holds significant historical and cultural importance. Built during the French colonial era, the cathedral is a symbol of the city’s rich heritage and enduring faith. With its stunning red brick facade, intricate detailing, and towering spires, the cathedral stands as a testament to the city’s blend of European and Vietnamese influences.


Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral, officially known as the Basilica of Our Lady of The Immaculate Conception, has a captivating history that reflects the city’s colonial past. Construction of the cathedral began in 1863 under the direction of French architect Jules Bourard, and it was completed in 1880. The materials used for its construction were imported from France, including the red bricks for the facade.

The cathedral was initially built to serve the French Catholic community in Saigon and was named after the Virgin Mary. Over the years, it became a symbol of religious and cultural significance for both the Catholic community and the city as a whole. During the Vietnam War, the cathedral stood as a prominent landmark in Saigon, witnessing significant events and changes in the city.

Highlights of the Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral in Ho Chi Minh City was constructed using imported building materials from France, including sturdy red bricks from Marseille. The cathedral’s enduring beauty and structural integrity are a testament to the quality of these materials.

the inside of Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral

The interior of the cathedral is designed to accommodate around 1,200 people, with a length of 93 meters, a width of 35 meters, and a soaring height of approximately 21 meters. Inside, you’ll find the central nave, flanked by two aisles, and adorned with chapels. These chapels house small altars with statues, while the main altar, crafted from marble and intricately sculpted, serves as a focal point. The cathedral also boasts a remarkable collection of sculptures depicting biblical characters and events. Notably, the assembly of 52 stunning stained glass windows and exquisite paintings adds to the cathedral’s awe-inspiring beauty.

Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral in Ho Chi Minh City

Between the bell towers, a clock from Switzerland dating back to 1887 can be found. Although it may appear small from a distance, the clock’s internal mechanism is remarkably complex. At the top of the cathedral, within the bell towers, a system of six bells, produced in France and imported to Vietnam in 1879, produces melodious chimes. In 1895, two tented roofs were added to enhance the architectural elegance of the bell towers.

statue of Our Lady of Peace in front of Notre Dame Cathedral

Originally, the garden in front of Notre Dame Cathedral featured bronze statues of diocesan Pigneau de Béhaine, a devoted Catholic missionary in Vietnam, and Prince Canh, the son of King Gia Long. However, these sculptures were removed by anti-colonial protesters in 1945. In 1959, Vietnamese priest Pham Van Thien commissioned a white marble statue of Our Lady of Peace from abroad to replace the original ones. From that time onward, the locals in Saigon affectionately referred to the church as “Notre Dame Cathedral” or “Nha tho Duc Ba” in Vietnamese.

View from Diamond Plaza

Just behind Notre Dame Cathedral, there is a spacious modern mall called Diamond Plaza, which offers a welcome respite from the heat with its air-conditioning. However, the mall also holds a hidden gem for people seeking a great place to make a photo of the cathedral. On the top floor, there are restaurants that boast a stunning view of the cathedral, allowing you to enjoy your meal while admiring the magnificent architectural beauty of the church.

View from Diamond Plaza on the Saigon Cathedral
View from Diamond Plaza on the Saigon Cathedral

Visiting information

  • Address: Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral, 01 Cong Xa Paris, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
  • How to get there: The cathedral is located in the city center, making it easily accessible by various means of transportation such as taxi, Grab, or public buses.
  • Opening times: The cathedral is open daily from 8:00AM – 5:00PM, but specific opening hours may vary.
  • Entrance fee: There is no entrance fee to visit the cathedral.
  • Dress code: As a place of religious worship, it is respectful to dress modestly when visiting the cathedral. It is advisable to cover your shoulders and knees.
  • Restoration: Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral has been undergoing restoration for several years and is expected to continue until 2027. The ongoing restoration work aims to preserve and enhance the historical and architectural features of the cathedral. Notably, the tile roof system has been one of the first sections to be rebuilt, resulting in an improved appearance compared to six years ago. The walls have also been restored, eliminating mold, and some repairs have been made to the exterior gutter system.

Other things to see around

Around Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral, you can explore other attractions such as the Central Post Office, Independence Palace, People’s Committee Building, and the lively Walking Street. The Central Post Office is a beautiful colonial-era building designed by Gustave Eiffel. It is located across the cathedral and is another French colonial building in Ho Chi Minh City.

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