BackHeritage » Saigon » The History of Saigon's Streetcars

The History of Saigon's Streetcars

We’ve posted images of Saigon’s old streetcars in the past but were unable to find much information written about them. Thankfully, Saigon historian, Tim Doling, recently published a piece about their history on his blog, Historic Vietnam.

According to Tim, Saigon got its first streetcars at the end of 1881 when the 1meter gauge, Sài Gòn–Chợ Lớn “high road” steam tramway was put into operation. 10 years later, another line was added on the “low road” which ran along the north bank of the Bến Nghé Creek (not the Bến Nghé Canal).

Steam-powered streetcars systems were continuously improved over the next 30 years until the system was further expanded and electrified in 1923.

By the 1930’s, the Compagnie française des tramways de l’Indochine (CFTI) had become the dominant streetcar company, eventually expanding into bus service. 

Related Articles: 

A Look Back at Saigon's Streetcars

Vietnam Announces Plan for 8 Line, $16 Billion Railway

Vietnam’s Long Road to High-Speed Rail: Past & Present 

After being seriously destroyed by Allied aerial bombardment during WWII and further degradation due to various social factors, CFTI began to shut down its streetcar network in the mid-1950s, instead focusing on busses.

By 1957, all streetcars had been removed from Saigon’s thoroughfares. Conversely, Hanoi hung onto its colonial-era streetcar system until 1989.

While Saigon is building its subterranean and above ground metro system, it’s unlikely that we’ll see a return of streetcars in Saigon in the near future. 

Head over to Historic Vietnam for the full story.

Related Articles

in Saigon

10 Old Photos Of Carriages In Saigon

Before motorized transportation was the norm in Saigon, horse-drawn carts were used to move both goods and people.

in Saigon

10 Old Pictures (and History) of the Saigon Opera House

The Saigon Opera House (aka the Municipal Theatre) is one of Saigon’s oldest buildings and one of the city’s best examples of classical French architecture. Constructed at the turn of the 20th century...

in Saigon

10 Old Pictures of Advertisements in Saigon

Before 1975, large advertisements were commonplace in Saigon. But after the American War and the fall of capitalism in the South, ads were considered a vestige of the old order and were heavily regula...

in Saigon

10 Old Pictures of Art Deco Buildings in Saigon

Art deco is by far our favorite architectural style, one which luckily, Saigon has in spades. However, with each passing day, these buildings are being torn down to make way for modern structures whic...

in Saigon

10 Old Pictures of Cars in Saigon

Though cars have been present in the country since the turn of the 20th century, decades of war (1941 – 1975) and an economic stagnation (1975 – 1986) drastically reduced the number of automobiles in ...

in Saigon

10 Old Pictures of People in Saigon

We often look to old buildings in order reconnect with the past since they are clear and static reference points. Though useful, another important window into the past is the day-to-day lives of peopl...

Partner Content