Thu Thiem New Urban Area is an urban redevelopment project in Ho Chi Minh City. The area is on the Thu Thiem Peninsula in the municipal division Thu Duc City (a city within the city of Ho Chi Minh City).
New urban areas are usually built far from the city centre. In the case of Thu Thiem, it’s opposite the historic area of District 1, on the other side of the Saigon River. Ho Chi Minh City has an opportunity that is unparalleled for a city this size.
[Thu Thiem New Urban Area in February 2019 (view full size).]
Thu Thiem is located on a peninsula of land where the Saigon River meanders into an almost full circle. It was planned to be the new financial district of HCMC, taking the pressure off the buildings and roads of old Saigon.
Thu Thiem has drawn comparisons with Shanghai, where the new city of Pudong was built on the other side of the river of old Shanghai (The Bund). Like Saigon, Shanghai was once referred to as “the pearl of the east” or “pearl of the orient”. And like Shanghai, Saigon is building a new city across from the old. This similarity has likened Thu Thiem as “the Pudong of Southeast Asia”.
[Will Thu Thiem one day resemble Pudong?]
Pudong (which means “The East Bank of the Huangpu River”) was mostly farmland until it became a Special Economic Zone in 1993. Thu Thiem was also under-developed land on the east bank the river (and dong is also east in Vietnamese). Similarities end there though. Thu Thiem is not an SEZ, and so far it has not been built with the singular focus that the Chinese government has put into turning Pudong in the the financial capital of China.
There have been plans to develop Thu Thiem that go back decades. Originally French colonialists had drawn up a map, and plans were made again in the 1960’s and 70’s.
Planning began again in the late 90’s, and land clearance began in 2002. An international design competition was held, and in 2003 the master plan by Sasaki Associates was selected.
Since then the project has become mired in delays. While Thu Thiem was under-developed, it was not unoccupied. In fact there were thousands of homes in Thu Thiem. Resettlement of land owners has been an issue, and important land title maps went missing.
Most of the land on the Saigon River waterfront has been cleared, though there are still ongoing land title issues. Another cause of delays has been corruption among some of the property developers and government officials.
Thu Thiem was in District 2 up until 31 December 2020. On 1 January 2021, districts 2, 9, and Thu Duc were merged to form Thu Duc City. Thu Thiem refers to the geographical area inside the peninsula. The Thu Thiem ward (a subdivision of a district) doesn’t cover the entire peninsula, and the boundary may change with a planned redrawing of wards in the newly-formed Thu Duc City.
[Thu Duc City sign in front of the City Planning Exhibition Center.]
This article lists the major developments of the Thu Thiem New Urban Area, and it includes a time line of news reports.
Thu Thiem maps
[Map of Thu Thiem New Urban Area.]
Links and resources
There is no official government website about this project.
Planning and Urban Design: Sasaki Associates, Inc.
News and discussion: skyscrapercity.com
Major developments in Thu Thiem
Empire City is one of the signature projects of the Thu Thiem New Urban Area, being on prime riverfront land next to the Thu Thiem tunnel. The development is being built in stages by four developers. The Empire 88 Tower is designed by Büro Ole Scheeren, and this 88-storey tower is currently the tallest building planned for Thu Thiem (over 300 metres). This is by the same architect that designed the MahaNakhon Tower in Bangkok.
Thu Thiem Eco Smart City
Developer: LOTTE Property & Development.
Thu Thiem Eco Smart City (formerly Lotte Eco Smart City) is a mixed-use development on one of the prime plots of riverfront land that faces Downtown District 1. After years of delay there was a ground-breaking ceremony in September 2022, but construction has still not started.
Lotte said that there will be “an iconic tower” in the plan, so with the Empire Tower next door it would make the waterfront look like a mini Pudong.
Further details at: Thu Thiem Eco Smart City.
Thu Thiem Square and Riverside Park
[Image via deso-architecture.com.]
Developer: Dai Quang Minh Corporation.
The central point of the Thu Thiem New Urban Area will be Thu Thiem Square. This is opposite Me Linh Square in District 1, and will be connected by a pedestrian bridge. The square (or trapezium if we are being geometrically correct) is wedged between Lotte Eco Smart City and the City Planning Exhibition Center.
Part of this development package also includes Riverside Park, which will be a pedestrian area between the Ba Son Bridge and Thiem Bridge 3. The square and riverside park will have the capacity of accommodating up 500,000 people for cultural events.
According to the developers website, the Central Square & Riverside Park was scheduled to be completed before April 30, 2020 to commemorate the 45th anniversary of Vietnam’s unification.
City Planning Exhibition Center – HCMC
[Image via deso-architecture.com.]
The City Planning Exhibition Center will be a public information space about urban development in Thu Thiem and the city in general. This project has since stalled without notice.
Next to the exhibition center is this project by the same architects titled River Terrace Tower.
An alternative vision for this section is the 36-storey Thu Thiem Tower by DCM Studios.
The plan shows a modern city streetscape that looks more like Singapore or Seoul. There hasn’t been updates about this section of Thu Thiem, so this might be one of the many never built projects.
Opera House / Performing Arts Centre
[Image via deso-architecture.com.]
Next to the Ba Son Bridge is a proposed opera house or performing arts centre. There is no official design yet, so various renders are online of what it might look like. Ho Chi Minh City authorities approved over US$64.3 million for the project, but then the project was put on hold. A news report in August 2023 states that the project will go ahead
Vinhomes Thu Thiem
[Image via batdongsanhungthinh.com.vn.]
At the southern end of the Thu Thiem riverfront is the parcel of redevelopment land that is allocated to Vinhomes. There hasn’t been any meaningful update for years regarding what will be built here, and there is no reference to it on the Vinhomes website. Old renders have a sports stadium and leisure area featuring an observation wheel. Seeing that there will be a sports area in An Phu, this may no longer be the case.
[Image via sasaki.com.]
Thu Thiem Parish Church
There used to be a settlement on the Thu Thiem riverbank until the land clearance began in preparation for the new urban development. One of the few remaining buildings is the Thu Thiem Parish Church compound. The future of the church had been uncertain for over a decade as the land was allocated to the Thu Thiem Eco Smart City project. The church fought the eviction, and in the end were allowed to stay.
Near the church used to be the ferry that connected District 1 to Thu Thiem, which was discontinued after the Thu Thiem tunnel opened in 2011.
Another place of worship that remains in Thu Thiem is the temple on the riverfront near the Thu Thiem tunnel.
Sala City is a mixed-use development by Dai Quang Minh Corporation. It’s the biggest development in terms of land footprint, taking up the lower half of the Thu Thiem peninsula.
Approximately half of the area includes the Southern Delta ecological park. This wetland will be conserved and integrated into flood mitigation of the peninsula.
The rest of the project is divided into different sections of villas, shophouses, apartment towers, parks, and schools.
[Sala Petal at Sala Park.]
At the centre of the Thu Thiem New Urban Area is the Dai Quang Minh Corporation office tower. It’s on the prominent corner of Mai Chi Tho and Nguyen Co Thach, and from District 1 it’s a useful landmark as the geographical centre of the peninsula.
DQM Corp are building this development as part of a Build Transfer (BT) program. They are building the four main roads of Thu Thiem, the central square and riverside park, Thu Thiem 2 Bridge, and the D1-D2 pedestrian bridge, in exchange for land.
The Metropole Thu Thiem
Mixed-use development consisting of luxury residences, premium shopping and F&B outlets and international-standard office space. The development is located next to the Thu Thiem Bridge 2, which is next to the planned landmark opera house.
The River Thu Thiem
Thu River Thu Thiem is next to the Thu Thiem Bridge and will house around 1,140 units.
Xi Thu Thiem
Address: Corner Nguyen Co Thach and Dai Lo Vong Cung.
Xi Thu Thiem is a development area covering three blocks of land along Nguyen Co Thach, at the entrance to the Thu Thiem Bridge. The project includes apartments, townhouses, and shophouses.
Ba Son Bridge
Ba Son Bridge (previously referred to as Thu Thiem 2 Bridge) is the second bridge connecting Thu Thiem (the first bridge from Binh Thanh District being completed in 2008). The Ba Son Bridge connects District 1 to Thu Thiem. The bridge was built by Dai Quang Minh Corporation as part of the BT contract.
Thu Thiem Pedestrian Bridge
[Image via sdesign.com.vn.]
The Thu Thiem Square and Riverwalk will be connected to District 1 by a pedestrian bridge. There is no official design yet, but there are some different proposals online of what it might look like.
Thu Thiem 3 and Thu Thiem 4 Bridge
Two more bridges are planned for Thu Thiem, with Thu Thiem 3 Bridge from District 4, and Thu Thiem 4 Bridge from District 7.
Line 2 of HCMC Metro
The Thu Thiem section is being planned after the first section is built, which has not started construction yet.
The stations shown on my map are approximate. The official public map doesn’t the stations.
[Map via maur.hochiminhcity.gov.vn.]
Terminus of the future North-South Express Railway
The proposed North-South Express Railway will have the terminus station at Thu Thiem (and not the current station in District 3). This project has also been delayed, but at least the land for the station has been reserved.
The land for the station is actually in An Phu ward. The name of Thu Thiem has a become a catch-all name for the redevelopment area around Thu Thiem.
Thu Thiem – Long Thanh Light Rail
The North-South Express Railway was originally planned to stop at the new airport, and may still yet. The light rail will run a separate route to the express railway.
Passengers from the airport will get as far as Thu Thiem by light rail, and then transfer to Metro Line 2 to continue to the city centre in District 1.
The light rail and Metro 2 extension are nowhere near beginning construction, so it is possible that the new airport that is 40 km outside the city centre will open without a railway connection.
Just as baffling is the decision to create two connecting railway lines instead of getting it right at the beginning and building a line to District 1.
Ho Chi Minh City to recommence long-stalled $32.6mn exhibition center project in early 2024 – [05/11/23]
“Ho Chi Minh City expects to resume work on the Ho Chi Minh City Planning Exhibition Center in Thu Duc City in the first quarter of next year and complete it within seven months if it can remove obstacles to the aluminum glass package.”
A peek into HCMC’s Thu Thiem peninsula before it gets facelift – [07/09/23]
“The Thu Thiem Peninsula, which lies across the Saigon River from downtown HCMC, is set for a transformation that will create a new look for the entire city.”
[A panoramic view of the Thu Thiem Peninsula from District 1.]
HCMC to auction land plots, apartments in Thu Thiem New Urban Area – [17/07/23]
“The HCMC Department of Natural Resources and Environment has proposed auctioning dozens of land plots and a staggering 3,790 apartment units in Thu Thiem New Urban Area, just opposite to the central business district.”
Thu Duc’s iconic convention center nowhere near completion – [06/07/23]
“Construction of what was planned to be an icon for the Thu Thiem New Urban Area, an exhibition center in Thu Duc City, is now 8 years behind schedule.”
HCMC sets up Thu Thiem urban development board – [21/03/23]
“Ho Chi Minh City’s administration has established Thu Thiem Urban Development Area Management Board to better support the Thu Thiem peninsula’s development process.”
Stuck in the mud: reviving the fortunes of Thu Thiem – [16/01/23]
“Once expected to be the Pudong of Vietnam, after more than a decade of slow development the Thu Thiem area of Ho Chi Minh City is not close to fulfilling its potential, with incomplete plans galore.”
HCMC residents trash, dirty Thu Thiem urban area – [13/05/22]
“Streets, ponds and land plots of HCMC’s Thu Thiem, expected to become the most modern area in Southeast Asia, have been turned into open landfills as people trash the place.”
Keeping suspicious auctions in check – [08/05/22]
“Although the cancelation of auction winning bids and the purchase of auctioned assets is not new, the auctions of land lots in the Thu Thiem New Urban Area in HCMC’s Thu Duc City have triggered multiple controversies over the impact of the winning auction prices on the prices of the real estate market, especially the appraisal of properties, as the winning auction prices were found to be artificially high.”
Money and land seen from Thu Thiem land auctions – [01/05/22]
“Experts say that the State should improve the legal framework on the auction of land use rights but should not interfere greatly in the auction process.”
One more investor wants to cancel contract for land lot in Thu Thiem – [09/02/22]
“After Tan Hoang Minh Group, Binh Minh Trading and Development Investment Co. Ltd., which won the auction for the land lot coded 3-9 in the Thu Thiem New Urban Area in HCMC’s Thu Duc City on December 10 last year, has proposed canceling a contract to buy the land lot.”
Thu Thiem land auction ‘scandal” reveals loophole in Viet Nam’s bidding law – [17/01/22]
“Experts believe this auction has created a land fever in this area and other locations, benefiting some investors when the land price soared.”
Vietnamese firm seeks withdrawal after winning Thu Thiem land auction at over $1bn – [12/01/22]
“Vietnam’s Tan Hoang Minh Group has announced its decision to withdraw from a land purchase contract after winning the bid to buy a 10,000-square-meter land lot in Ho Chi Minh City’s Thu Thiem New Urban Area at a record price of over US$1 billion last month.”
Thu Thiem land auction puts an end to sale of public land at low prices – [28/12/21]
“Four land plots in advantageous positions in the new urban area of Thu Thiem in HCM City were sold for VND37.346 trillion through an auction recently.”
VND2.4 billion per square meter: is land in Vietnam the most expensive in the world? – [15/12/21]
“One of the businesses participating in a bidding session on December 10, 2021 had to pay VND2.4 billion per one square meter to obtain a land plot in Thu Thiem new urban area. The sky high price has raised worries rather than joy.”
Thu Thiem projects gear up for another push forward – [19/10/21]
“Two multi-million dollar ventures for Thu Thiem New Urban Area, both backed by South Korean giants, are picking up the pace after this summer’s restrictions fell into the rear-view mirror.”
HCM City to auction thousands of apartments in Thủ Thiêm New Urban Area – [12/06/21]
“The HCM City People’s Committee has instructed the Department of Natural Resources and Environment to complete procedures required to auction 3,790 resettlement apartments in the Thủ Thiêm New Urban Area in Bình Khánh Ward, Thủ Đức City.”
HCM City to auction 9 land plots in Thủ Thiêm – [04/09/20]
“HCM City will auction land-use rights for nine land parcels covering 77,606sq.m in its Thủ Thiêm new urban area in District 2.”
HCM City to use 20,000sq.m of public land to resettle Thu Thiem residents – [10/08/20]
Ho Chi Minh City has decided to convert some 20,000 square metres of public land into residential land to resettle nearly 200 households in the Thu Thiem new urban area whose lands it wrongfully took over.
HCMC to put 61 land lots in Thu Thiem up for auction – [23/07/20]
“HCMC is working to auction off 61 land lots in the Thu Thiem new urban area in District 2, it was announced at a conference on the city’s socioeconomic performance in the first half of 2020 on July 23.”
HCM City approves compensation plan for Thu Thiem residents – [15/06/20]
“HCM City’s administration has approved a policy of compensation and resettlement for households in a 4.3ha area located outside the original boundary of the Thu Thiem new urban area project in the city’s District 2.”
Thu Thiem residents to receive compensation this month – [18/05/20]
“More than 300 households in a 4.3ha area located outside the original boundary of the Thu Thiem new urban area project in HCM City’s District 2 will receive compensation this month in exchange for their land, a top city official has said.”
Downfall of ‘The Coldest-Blooded Guy in South Vietnam’ – [09/06/20]
“In May 2018, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc ordered government inspectors to find out why, after more than two decades and the expenditure of billions of dollars in public funds, the Thu Thiem peninsula remained largely a swamp.”
Ho Chi Minh City seeks to make up for 20 wasted years – [09/06/20
“Vietnam’s most dynamic city struggles to shake fetters of corruption, misdevelopment.”
Ho Chi Minh City to auction three plots of land in Thu Thiem area – [02/05/20]
“Three parcels of land in the Thu Thiem New Urban Area in Ho Chi Minh City and associated properties will be put up for auction as the municipal authority has failed to sell a total of 2,220 unused resettlement apartments there.”
HCMC church recognized as historic relic – [28/12/19]
“Ho Chi Minh City authorities have conferred the status of historic relic on the Congregation of the Holy Cross Lovers and Thu Thiem Church in District 2.”
Roadside BBQ parties a headache in Ho Chi Minh City’s new urban area – [24/11/19]
“Local residents have been organizing their outdoor BBQ parties in the Thu Thiem New Urban Area in District 2 thanks to its spacious sidewalks.”
HCM City to resolve complaints from Thủ Thiêm residents, speed up key projects – [03/10/19[
“HCM City authorities yesterday (Oct 2) pledged to speed up major projects such as Metro lines 1 and 2, flood-control and climate-change adaptation projects, and settlement of complaints related to the Thủ Thiêm new urban area.”
Gov’t Inspectorate issues report on Thu Thiem urban area – [28/06/19]
“The Government Inspectorate has delivered its report on the controversial implementation of the master plan and land and construction management at the Thu Thiem New Urban Area in Ho Chi Minh City’s district 2.”
Ho Chi Minh City asked to return US$1.1 billion to state budget in Thu Thiem case – [27/06/19]
“Vietnam’s Government Inspectorate (GI) has proposed Ho Chi Minh City’s authorities pay back to the state budget VND26.3 trillion (US$1.1 billion) which had been wrongly used for the building of the Thu Thiem New Urban Area.”
City urged to follow party committee’s guidance on building Thủ Thiêm central square – [17/11/18]
“The vice chairman of HCM City People’s Committee has urged agencies to follow guidance from the city’s Party Committee in building the country’s largest public square in the Thủ Thiêm new urban area.”
HCMC urban planning ‘mistakes’ cost Thu Thiem families dear – [16/09/18]
“Multiple violations in the planning of a new urban area have forced some Saigon families to live in slums.”
Inspectors find grave violations in HCMC urban planning – [06/09/18]
“Authorities committed many violations in planning HCMC’s Thu Thiem new urban area, and residents’ grievances and protests are justified.”
Vietnam’s financial hub dream stuck in the mud – [30/08/18]
“Central plans to transform Ho Chi Minh City’s Thu Thiem marshland into the Wall Street of Southeast Asia have for decades failed to materialize.”
A tropical metropolis poses a puzzle for Vietnamese planners – [10/08/18]
“Ho Chi Minh City’s Thu Thiem peninsula wows developers but expelled residents feel wronged.”
HCM City to auction Thủ Thiêm land plots one by one – [03/07/18]
“HCM City will put nine so-called “golden land” plots in the Thủ Thiêm New Urban Area in District 2 up for auction one by one and not all at once, Trần Vĩnh Tuyến, deputy chairman of the People’s Committee, said at a city’s People’s Council meeting held over the weekend.”
PM: Legitimate interests of residents in Thu Thiem must be ensured – [16/05/18]
“Complaints and petitions regarding the Thu Thiem new urban area in Ho Chi Minh City must be settled in line with laws and policies to ensure legitimate interests of residents, said Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.”
Confusion shadows HCMC’s missing map for planning of new urban area – [04/05/18]
“Many officials suspected the map for Thu Thiem planning never existed but an architect said he actually made it.
Just one day after Ho Chi Minh City announced a map for the planning of the city’s most important new urban area was missing, some officials doubt it ever existed”
Nine golden land plots at Thu Thiem New Urban Area aim foreign investment – [03/05/18]
“The Ho Chi Minh People’s Committee will auction nine land plots located at the functional area I of Thu Thiem New Urban Area, to lure more foreign investment to the already bustling real estate scene in the city.”
HCMC lost key map for planning of new urban area: officials – [02/05/18]
“The lack of the map has troubled site clearance for a future elite zone as affected people demanded hard proof.
A map for the planning of Ho Chi Minh City’s Thu Thiem new urban area, which has been considered the most important part of the city’s modern development, has gone missing, officials told reporters on Wednesday.”
HCMC proposes to choose HFIC investor of Thu Thiem financial center – [07/07/17]
“The HCMC People’s Committee has proposed the Government to approve its choice of HCMC Financial Investment Company (HFIC) which is a state-owned and set up by the committee to be the investor of a financial center project in Thu Thiem New Urban Area.”
Across the river, Saigon assembles its new business suburb – [06/06/17]
“New roads and towers are hoped to turn Thu Thiem into a new financial and commercial hub that can rival District 1.”
Vingroup to develop Thu Thiem sports and entertainment complex – [09/11/16]
“The Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee has officially approved Vingroup as the developer of the sports and entertainment complex at the 2C functional area in the Thu Thiem New Urban Area.”
VND 2, 641 billion to build Thu Thiem New Urban Area – [21/04/16]
“An agreement for building technical infrastructures in the northern residential area and the north-south road in Thu Thiem new urban area was signed by Management Board for Investment and Construction of the Thu Thiem New Urban Area and Ho Chi Minh City Infrastructure Investment Joint Stock Company (CII). Thu Thiem new urban area complex is invested thousands of billion dong.”
[Photos] Future Saigon: The Thu Thiem Financial Center – [01/07/14]
“British design firm, Foster and Partners recently released renderings for Thu Thiem’s financial center”.
Thu Thiem new urban area unattractive to investors – [09/05/13]
“Ho Chi Minh City’s ambition to turn Thu Thiem, the 657 hectare land plot along the Saigon River in District 2, into a new urban area and a financial – commercial – entertainment center is facing the challenges of poorly developed infrastructure and high land prices.”
The ghost town of Thu Thiem – [22/04/13]
Foster & Partner carry out the research of financial district in Thu Thiem New Urban Area – [26/04/11]
“Foster & Partner consulting firm presented the preliminary ideas planned of the International Finance District for Thu Thiem New Urban Area. The participants attended including the Thu Thiem ICA, Department of Planning – Architecture, and Department of Transportation.”
USD95 million for building Vietnam’s largest square – [15/07/08]
“With an area of almost 30 hectares, the central square and riverside park, in HCM City’s Thu Thiem New Urban Area, will be the largest public space in the country.”
Thu Thiem area authority initiates open design competition – [18/03/08]
“The Investment and Construction Authority for Ho Chi Minh City’s Thu Thiem New Urban Area has launched an international design competition for the planned area.”