Ben Thanh Station is the future central station of the Ho Chi Minh City Metro. The station will be an interchange for three lines, and it will include a remodeled pedestrian area and an underground shopping plaza.
The underground station is in front of the historic Ben Thanh Market, under what was Quach Thi Trang Square. The square featured a park inside a large traffic circle where several roads converged.
[Quach Thi Trang Square pre metro construction.]
The Ben Thanh Market is one of the main symbols of the city, and the traffic circle came to be a defining image of a city with millions of motorbikes (and the traffic problems that go with it). News sites still use stock photos of the roundabout as their cover photo of the city.
Embed from Getty Images
[Outdated stock photo of Ben Thanh Market and Quach Thi Trang Square.]
Having such a large surface area in the middle of the city has given the urban railway planners an unprecedented opportunity to build a large preplanned station. It’s unusual for a new metro to start by building such a big interchange, and even now a metro station with three lines is a rarity in Southeast Asia.
[The roundabout before it closed. Photo via nomadicnotes.com.]
The Line 1 construction has taken longer than planned (though it’s about average when compared with other first metro lines in Asia). The continual delays and construction controversies have continued to make the news, while the significance of the size of Ben Thanh Station has not sunk into the media and general population yet. When the construction pain is over this will be a significant station that should be celebrated. The fact that from one central point in the city you can reach six parts of the city will have an enormous impact on traffic. This interchange will make three lines more useful than any other format.
Lines At Ben Thanh Station
Technically there are four lines being planned, though in reality it’s a three-line station with six platforms.
Line 1 / Line 3A
Line 1 will be the first line of the HCMC Metro, and it is being built in conjunction with Ben Thanh Station. The line travels from Ben Thanh to the new Mien Dong (Eastern) bus terminal in the northeast of the city.
Line 3A is the western extension of LIne 1, which will go from Ben Thanh to Mien Tay (Western) bus station. Thus Line1/3A will be bookended by the eastern and western bus terminals. One would presume that Line 3A will eventually be renamed Line 1. It would be an unusual naming decision to a) name a new line with a number and letter, and b) to change line names midway. Surely the metro authority will name Line 3A as Line 1 once it is completed.
Line 2 will travel from Cu Chi District to Thu Thiem in Thu Duc City (former District 2).
Line 2 is also being built in stages, with the first stage being from Ben Thanh to Tham Luong in the northwest of the city. Land clearance has begun for this line, and work is estimated to begin in 2022.
Line 4 is a north-south line that will run from Thanh Xuan to Hiep Phuoc via Ben Thanh. There is no set date for when this will start construction.
The station has four underground levels, with the first underground floor being dedicated to passenger flow and shopping space. The plaza is also planned to be extended underneath Le Loi Street from Ben Thanh Station to the Opera House Station. This plaza is included in the overall planning of Ben Thanh Station.
Construction of the extended plaza has been delayed as an investor for the project hasn’t been secured. This may result in more construction work after the first line begins.
Around Ben Thanh Station
In addition to Ho Chi Minh City getting a 3-line metro interchange, there will be a new pedestrian plaza in front of the market. There were no traffic lights or pedestrian crossings at the original square, making it a perilous crossing for Saigon traffic novices.
The petrol stations and bus stops have also been removed from the square.
[Petrol station at Quach Thi Trang Square.]
The original graphics of the plaza haven’t been updated, so we wait for more detailed images of what the plaza will eventually look like.
[Metro construction at Le Loi Street.]
Opposite Ben Thanh Market on the other side of the square is the behemoth One Central HCM project (previously known as the Spirit of Saigon). This is one of the biggest construction projects on Line 1.
[One Central HCM under construction.]
These two towers represent dragons holding a pearl, and it could end up being the new defining landmark of the city.
[One Central HCM.]
To the east of the plaza is the old Vietnam Railways Building, which at last report is set to become a metro administration building.
[Vietnam Railways Building, District 1.]
To the west of the plaza is the 23/9 Park, which was the site of the original Saigon Railway Station before it moved to District 3. This park is set to be landscaped with new walkways and lighting. It appears that the park will be connected to the pedestrian plaza, so you could arrive at Ben Thanh and walk to the park without having to encounter any traffic.
Links And Resources
Ben Thanh Central Station – Information from the Management Authority For Urban Railways Ho Chi Minh City.
Map showing Ben Thanh and surrounding future stations in District 1.
[Image via tuoitre.vn.]
I made a map of the HCMC Metro which shows all of the officially planned lines.
[HCMC Metro Map (download full resolution image here.]
Also check out my Ho Chi Minh City Metro Concept Map (“If Saigon had a subway like Shanghai”). This is what will need to be done to alleviate future traffic problems.
News And Construction Updates
Next to HCMC’s Ben Thanh market, metro station takes shape – [31/03/21]
Construction photos of the of Ben Thanh station.
$300 million Ben Thanh underground trade centre runs into delay – [03/03/20]
“The construction of Ben Thanh underground shopping centre has been delayed due to a lack of investors.”
Saigon underground shopping complex delayed due to lack of investor interest – [28/02/20]
“…the VND6.8 trillion ($294 million) construction would not be done together with the first underground station in the 20-km metro line from Ben Thanh to Suoi Tien, the city’s first. It also means the ground would have to be dug twice, possibly affecting the metro’s operation, he said.”
Ben Thanh underground trade center to be built in Ho Chi Minh City – [09/09/19]
“The joint venture of Toshin Development Co., Ltd., JOIN, Nikken Sekkei, and Osaka Chikagai was put forward by Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee to become the developer of Ben Thanh underground trade centre.”
Saigon plans $292 million underground shopping complex – [08/09/19]
“A VND6.4 trillion ($292 million) underground shopping complex near the iconic Ben Thanh Market is scheduled to begin operations in 2021.”
LAVA + ASPECT Studios win central park competition, Ho Chi Minh City – [07/08/19]
“A collaboration between LAVA Architects and ASPECT Studios has won an international competition to design the 16 hectare Central Park in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.”
Le Loi and Ben Thanh metro work site – [20/03/19]
Ben Thanh metro work site – [08/03/19]
Saigon metro construction to demolish Ben Thanh roundabout, bus station – [16/02/17]
“Saigon’s historic Quach Thi Trang roundabout in front of Ben Thanh Market will soon be no more.”
Ben Thanh shopping center to get green light – [01/01/17]
[Photos] One last look at Ben Thanh Roundabout, Le Loi and 23-9 Park – [16/10/16]
“On Saturday, city workers began closing off portions of Le Loi Street and Ben Thanh Market’s Quach Thi Trang Roundabout as well as uprooting trees from nearby 23-9 Park.”
Japan consortium to build $303-mln shopping mall under metro station – [15/08/16]
“Ho Chi Minh City has reportedly sought the central government’s permission to partner with a consortium of Japanese investors to build a shopping mall beneath a metro station at a projected cost of more than VND6.86 trillion (US$303.2 million).”
Shopping mall to go under Ben Thanh station – [10/03/16]
Ben Thanh Station to get shopping mall – [19/06/15]
“The Management Authority for Urban Railways in Ho Chi Minh City has submitted a proposal to the City’s Provincial People’s Committee about building an underground shopping mall below the Ben Thanh Train Station (on Metro Line No. 1) and Le Loi Street in District 1. The mall is expected to cover 45,000 sq m, with shops and restaurants on 18,000 sq m and the lobby and other venues on 21,000 sq m, with the remaining 6,000 sq m being used for other purposes.”
Future Saigon: The Bến Thành Market metro station – [24/07/14]
“…the station will have a 3 levels that will eventually link 4 metro lines and house retail stores. The design proposal has been approved and bidding for the project is expected to begin at the end of 2014.”