Independence Palace

Get an appreciation for the years of conflict and unrest that plagued Vietnam during the 20th century at this fascinating palace.

Stand in front of the imposing Reunification Palace and imagine the scenes at this very spot when the Viet Cong recaptured Saigon in 1975. Explore the lavishly decorated president’s quarters and view old wartime equipment in the basement command center.

Walk across the large green park and you will arrive at the white façade of Reunification Palace. Topped with a giant national flag, the building was constructed on the exact site of the old Norodom Palace, home of the governor of Indochina. Despite the efforts of President Ngo Dinh Diem to make the palace his own following the French evacuation in 1954, it was torn down following an assassination attempt against him by two pilots. The new structure was named Independence Palace after its completion in 1966 but this was changed when the American occupation ended 9 years later.

As you approach the main entrance, notice a tank on a raised platform outside. This is a tribute to the moment when soldiers smashed through the palace gates to claim back Saigon and end the Vietnam War.

Once inside, watch a short film that tells the story of the war and the role of the palace within it. This lasts about 15 minutes and is repeated every 30 minutes. Continue through the network of corridors and chambers on the ground floor to the former president’s quarters at the back of the palace. Along the cabinets, admire a collection of model boats as well as some more bizarre decorative features including horses’ tails and elephants’ feet.

Be sure to check out the room for playing cards upstairs. Fitted with a bar, cinema and round leather sofa, this spot would not look out of place in a James Bond movie.

Notice that there are fewer luxury appliances in the command center, hidden away in the basement. Dark wooden paneling lines the walls while the small working stations are filled with radio equipment and detailed maps once used to launch brutal offensives.

Reunification Palace is located about half an hour away from the city center by car. It is open daily and there is a small admission fee.