Without any doubt, the Bitexco Financial Tower in the heart of Saigon’s District 1, is the city’s most iconic building. A magnificent glass tower stretching eight hundred and sixty one feet into the Saigon skyline, it dominates the city and can be seen for miles around. When it was topped out, in 2010 it was the tallest building in the country, but only for a few months, before it was beaten by the Keangnam Hanoi Landmark Tower in Hanoi.
The Bitexco Financial Tower was designed by renown Ecuadorian architect Carlos Zapata who drew inspiration for the building from the national flower of Vietnam, the lotus.
They first broke ground on the building in 2005 and construction started proper in 2007. It is a mixed use project that incorporates retail and office space with dining areas and a sky bar. The Alto Bar is a terrific place to view the city. It is actually three floors above the Skydeck viewing area. To go up to the skydeck costs $10.00 but for the same price it is possible to go up to the bar and get the same view, and a drink.
The helipad is unique in that it is on the side of the building. This constituted a major construction and design feat. It reaches out a full 22 meters from the building and is capable of carry a load of three tons. The helipad itself weighs a massive two hundred and fifty tons and is held in place by four thousand ultra strong bolts. It was built in Bu Gang near Seoul, Korea and delivered to Saigon. It was then assembled at street level and hoisted one hundred and ninety one metres to the 52nd floor to be fitted. The operation took three weeks and the entire business district around the tower was closed for safety reasons.
Entering the Bitexco Tower on the ground floor the visitor will find themselves in a large atrium. There are retail shops on the first seven floors than the offices go right up to the 64th. There is also a multiplex cinema here. The top 4 floors are reserved for mechanical space.
Every year the tower hosts the Bitexco Vertical Run, this is a race where competitors race from ground level up to the observation deck on the 49th floor, via the stair cases. It covers 178 metres and involves tackling a massive 1002 steps. The record time of 4 minutes 51 seconds is held by Thomas Dold of Germany.
In the short time since it was built the Bitexco Financial Tower has become one of the most loved buildings in Saigon. Locals almost always single it out when asked to name their favourite building. It is not difficult to understand why. A building of great significance and wonderful design, it dominates the city and is a wonderful feat of engineering brilliance. It is the centre piece of the skyline, particularly when viewed at night from the Thu Thiem Bridge.