HCMC Dining Guide

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Thu Thiem Transformation

I've written about an area of the city called Thu Thiem numerous times, as it is one of Saigon's most ambitious long-term projects and an ideal example of where the city's leaders want the metropolis to go. Located on a peninsula directly across the Saigon River from downtown, when I moved here in 2010 there was little to Thu Thiem: it was mostly swamp, with few roads and a community centered on the ferry dock, which linked the area to District 1. Since then a tunnel under the river has been completed, connecting a new highway through Thu Thiem to the rest of the city; the ferry has ceased operations; and almost all of the buildings, with the exception of a couple of religious structures, have been demolished. This is all part of an ambitious plan to build the Thu Thiem New Urban Area, which will become a new economic and residential center (if it ever really comes to fruition).

While some of the grander parts of the plan still seem like a pipe dream, there is a lot of work going on in Thu Thiem, and I can't believe how much it's changed in the time I've been here. It's no longer the quiet, empty space where I taught a couple of friends how to drive on completely deserted roads. One huge development has been under construction for months on filled-in land. I'm not sure what exactly is going in here, but it looks like it will be pretty nice.

 Other areas have been cleared of vegetation and are waiting to be drained and filled, which I'm sure will happen sooner rather than later.

 One of the most striking things to see are the new roads which construction crews are putting in. This will completely alter the map of Thu Thiem and make getting around the peninsula a whole new experience. Currently, with the exception of Mai Chi Tho, the few roads in the area are small and not in the greatest condition. That won't be true for much longer.

This is easier to recognize on Google Maps, where you can see cleared swathes of dirt snaking through the green.
 Another major project is a second bridge to Thu Thiem, this time connecting District 1 via Ton Duc Thang. Work on the bridge is in the very early stages, but once it gets going it will completely transform the parts of the city on either end and further tie each side of the river together.

 What I find most interesting about Thu Thiem is that, beyond the mega-projects and widespread construction, there are still hidden areas which remain untouched and utterly desolate. Take the dirt path right along the river and you eventually reach no man's land. There are no buildings, no shops and, most strikingly, no people. In a city of roughly 10 million it's extremely hard to get away from people, but it's still possible here.
 And that's without even losing sight of the skyline.
For as long as I live here I'll continue to track what's going on in Thu Thiem, as this is where many of Saigon's future ambitions may ultimately succeed or fail.


  1. awesome, but it looks like it will take at least 10-15 years to complete..is this similar to the Binh Duong new city project Mike?

    1. I don't really know anything about that, there's so much going on in Saigon you don't hear much about other areas.