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July 23, 2022

33 Vibrant Vintage Photos of Life in Saigon in the 1960s

As the financial, industrial and transport center of the Republic of Vietnam, Saigon however, beginning in the 1960s, experienced an economic downturn and high inflation, as it was completely dependent on U.S. aid and imports from other countries. 

Widespread urbanization led to the city being turned into “a huge slum” and suffering from “prostitutes, drug addicts, corrupt officials, beggars, orphans, and Americans with money”. It was “a black-market city in the largest sense of the word”, according to Stanley Karnow. 

Take a look back at Saigon in the 1960s through these 33 vibrant vintage photographs:

Shops on a street, 1960

A man and a traditionally dressed woman speed by on a motorbike, 1961

On a street in Cholon Chinatown, 1961

Tired cyclo drivers stretch out for siestas in their cabs, 1961

A man drives his wife and son on a scooter past passengers on a cyclo, 1961

A costumed dancer climbs a pole to nab treats dangling from a banner, Cho Lon, 1961

A girl in ao dai zips through traffic on a motorbike, 1961

A man kneeling on a sidewalk, prays with folded hands, holding a Buddhist Mâlâ, 1961

Burning incense and flickering candles cast a red glow on worshipers, 1961

House with walls and roofs of leaves in Cholon, 1961

Women dressed in ao dai stroll down the street with their children, 1961

Women bow and pray by a fiery incense burner outside a temple, 1961

The district of Cho Lon, 1961

Male patrons of a sidewalk cafe check out women pedestrians, 1961

Female mourners, wearing white ao dai, walking on a tree-lined street during Colonel Hoang Thuy Nam’s funeral procession, 1961

Monks walking on the street during the deposing of President Ngo Dinh Diem, 1963

A vendor sells canned goods sent as gifts to the Vietnamese people, 1965

Lights and traffic on Le Loi Boulevard light up the night, 1965

Shacks made of metal, wood, and cardboard jam a Saigon suburb, Cho Lon, 1965

A woman ties down her ao dai while riding bicycle, 1965

Policemen examine people lined up at a security gate to enter the city, 1965

Rows of bicycles clutter a downtown parking area, 1965

Homeward-bound Americans carry prized possessions through an airport, 1965

Looking for living space, families live in sampans and shacks, 1965

A butcher works behind an array of raw and cooked meat and poultry, 1965

Tanks commanded by rebellious officers rumble along a city street, 1965

Coca Cola delivery, 1968

Le Loi boulevard, Lam Son square with Marines statue and far is Lower House of RVN, 1968

Joint United States Public Affairs Office, 1968

197 De Tham street, 1968

Saigon taxi, 1968

“Saigon Taxis” wait at signal, 1968

Street scenes around Christmas, 1968


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