Saigon: The Former “Pearl of the Orient”


From 1954-1975, Saigon was known as the "Pearl of the Orient."


During the Vietnam War, under the leadership of President Ngo Dinh Diem and then later President Nguyen Van Thieu, the city of Saigon was prosperous.  Known for its sophistication, flourishing economy, and rich culture, the city of Saigon earned the name “Pearl of the Orient.”  The bright city streets were filled with busy people and business was booming.  Sadly, this prosperity would only last for a short time.  In 1975 when the Communists took over, Saigon’s name changed to Ho Chi Minh City.  This is the time when things begin to fall apart.  As time goes by, the Communists slowly undo everything that the South had worked so hard to build.  In Ho Chi Minh City today, the appeal and sophistication are gone, economy activity is sub-par, and the culture is none existent.  Children as young as three must work the streets day and night in order to feed themselves.  Beggars and thieves roam freely in the streets and criminals lurk around every corner.  The Communists Police patrol the streets, sometimes for criminals, but most of the time for signs of dissent and discontent with the government.  The city is no longer viewed as “the Pearl of the Orient,” it’s just another place now.


4 Responses to “Saigon: The Former “Pearl of the Orient””

  1. I’ve seen pictures of Saigon before the Fall, and it really looked like a European city (Parisian?) in an Asian country.

    When I visited Vietnam 10 years ago, it was a nice city, and had the hustle and bustle of a capital city, but…imagine what it could have been had it stayed intact and the South had not fallen? I imagine it would have rival Beijing, Tokyo, Seoul, and other major Asian metropolitans.

  2. These are my thoughts exactly, especially since Tokyo is only at the rebuilding stage after its destruction in WWII, and Beijing was still suffering from its own troubles because of the Chinese civil war, it may be possible to argue that Saigon had an advantage over these cities because it had the foundations already established.

    During that period, Vietnam’s economy was one of the best in Southeast Asia. Could you imagine what it would be today if the Communists hadn’t destroyed that foundation? It’s not a happy thought wondering what could have been.

    Also, thanks for your comments. I appreciate you taking the time to express your ideas.

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