BackSociety » [Photos] Conquering Saigon's Concrete Jungle

[Photos] Conquering Saigon's Concrete Jungle

The concept of urban exploration certainly isn’t in its infancy anymore: across Instagram and other social media feeds, photographs of masked lunatics dangling from skyscrapers abound. While many people harbor mixed feelings about these metropolitan adventurers, daring to place your own feet over the edge makes you appreciate just how brave – or insane – urban explorers truly are.

What sets Saigon apart from Asia’s more developed cities is that urban exploration here can be just as rewarding from only a few floors up. With easy access to old apartment blocks boasting prime views, there’s no need to be a daredevil to get your urban exploration fix. If you dare to exit through the fire escape or catch the lift to the top floor, however, you’ll be rewarded with some incredible rooftop views of this ever-growing city. It’s unlikely that these sorts of places will be as easily accessible in the future, or that the cityscapes will remain the same as old apartment blocks downtown are replaced or surrounded by new skyscrapers. 

Saigon is a melting pot of old and new. A mixture of first-world development and old-school urban Vietnamese culture. 

How long will it be before the city’s urban explorers start reaching new heights and dare to summit its skyscrapers?

Saigon’s old apartment blocks are themselves quite ghostly. While some have managed to withstand the tests of time and development, photographic documentation may soon be the only proof some of these structures ever existed.

An apartment under renovation on Nguyen Hue Street, a mere five floors up.

While it is undertaken at one’s own risk, some apartment buildings have extremely accessible rooftops and fire escapes that aren’t locked or monitored.

Though not everyone does it for the likes, urban exploration has become increasingly fueled by social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook.

With the growing popularity of urban exploration on social media, urban explorers themselves are pushing the boundaries, sometimes opting to perform risk-taking stunts in order to get a shot that will please their social media followers.

While Saigon is constantly under construction, high-rise apartment buildings are relatively unblocked by other buildings and offer expansive views of its rivers and central districts.

Thu Thiem, which is currently under development, doesn’t even require explorers to scale its buildings for a view of the iconic skyscrapers of Saigon’s central business district.

An urban explorer begins their climb for that competitive view of Saigon.

There are a number of ways for urban explorers to find interesting views of the city without needing to climb to hundred-meter heights. Anywhere with a ladder or some scaffolding will do.

Older buildings offer interesting points of view for observing local life.

Fire escapes are easily accessible and seem to be a preferred location for smoke breaks and private phone calls.

Old staircases are not simply an opportunity to access rooftops, but also to get a bird’s eye view of life on the street.

Gabriella has been living in Ho Chi Minh City for two and half years. You can find her photography on her Instagram @fragsfeet.

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