In the near future we should see the completion of more high rise luxury apartments, shopping centers and hotels. The $265 million Kumho Asiana Plaza project finally resumed in October after being delayed for 10 years. It sits on the site that used to be Saigon Square, and is due to be completed in 2009. Saigon Happiness Square is a massive development underway that I mentioned before in D5. It's costing its Taiwanese investors $468 million, containing offices, shopping and a hotel. Saigon's tallest building is also under construction, and thanks to Urban Planet for the picture of what it may look like:
Eventually, the tunnel will be operational running under the river in the foreground of the picture. The government aims to use both sides of the river for more development. One day Ton Duc Thang will have no heavy traffic and will become another 'Dong Khoi'. What I envisage for the city is a pedestrian area encompassing Nguyen Hue, Dong Khoi and Lam Son Square. I am no urban planner and maybe it's too late to build the parking that would be necessary, but wouldn't it be nice.....
On top of this newly shaped city center, the construction of the Saigon Metro system should finally have begun. As the widely read International Railway Journal stated in September 2004:
FEASIBILITY studies for two metro lines totaling 21km in Vietnam's largest city, Ho Chi Minh City, are due to be submitted to the government in October. If all goes well, construction could start by the end of this year and the metro could open by 2008.
Let's just say that was a 'little optimistic'. The most recent updates are looking at a 2020 completion date, with 2007 now once again set aside for consulting from foreign companies, as this from Asia Development Bank explains.
The new International Airport at Long Thanh is scheduled to have phase 1 finished by 2010, as this Wikipedia page says, with further development planned into 2015 and beyond. This will allegedly include a high speed road link to the site 40kms from the city.
The most recent big project to be announced is the construction of a high speed rail link from HCMC to Hanoi. This was reported across the world including Auntie. As the article says, it'll cut the journey from a mind boggling 2 days to a much more reasonable 10 hours, and it will only cost $33 billion, and the government claims that it can be completed in 6 years (the contractors want 9, I remember reading). This could become the jewel in the crown of the ASEAN rail network, which is seeking to complete by 2015. As this article from the People's Daily explains, the missing links are mainly in Cambodia -- once finished, the railway will be linked from Hanoi (and therefore into China and beyond to the Trans Siberian) to Singapore.
According to all the dates we are given, these projects will be completed by 2020 - in 13 years time. If it's true, better get your backpacks on and get over here, because horrible roads and never ending train journeys will disappear, replaced with gleaming highways and sleek Japanese style bullet trains gliding effortlessly through the paddy fields. My guess is that there's no need to panic just yet...even all this come 2020 seems like a dream at the moment.