Many cities in Vietnam are old cities. Some buildings in these cities reflects their colonial past e.g. the French or Americans. I had visited two principal cities of Vietnam: Hanoi (the capital) and Ho Chi Minh City.
For Hanoi, old buildings (narrow) are mostly located in the old quarter area. Once you move out of the old area, you see more normal buildings. Hanoi's old quarter brings old memories to many people as their activities like making tin container, making bamboo furniture or mending metal parts are still in the city centre. They have not been relocated in a special industrial area.
Very narrow building is common in Hanoi.
Buildings in the Hanoi's Old Quarter.
Bamboo furniture making is still alive in Hanoi's Old Quarter.
Hanoi's Opera House is quite different from other buildings.
Hanoi's commercial area that invites many foreign tourists.
A barber shop in Hanoi. The glass reflection of the door gives way for the scooters...
Hanoi's old quarter building looks elegant in its way.
In Saigon, the buildings are modern and its environment are shaped by many factors such as land values and demand for tall buildings. I found buildings in old Hanoi is influenced by the small lot size and its narrow road. They can not expand. While in Saigon, roads are broader. This road width issue plays a big role in influencing the building design and construction in Vietnam.
Narrow building in Saigon.
Saigon's Opera house, a remnant of French colonial past.
Old buildings and new tall buildings at the back. This is in Saigon.
Modern building in Saigon.
Buildings like these are mushrooming in Saigon.
For Hanoi, lots of buildings can be declared as historical buildings. For that matter, Old Quarter of Hanoi can be preserved and promoted as Heritage Area. Outside this area, developments are moving towards the west where there are large plots of land where better design can be applied.
For Saigon, I observed it is like any other cities of the world: congested. The plus point is that its roads are wider. The city layout is on the grid-iron pattern. You will not lost in your city explore exercise. Happy travelling.