Home of the president of South Vietnam during the “American War”, as locals prefer to call the Vietnam War, this is the site where the first communist North Vietnamese tanks crashed through the gates on the morning of April 30, 1975, resulting in Saigon’s official surrender.
It is preserved almost exactly as it was in 1966, and you can look around at your leisure or take one of the free guided tours that depart every 15 minutes. Like Long Bien Bridge in Hanoi, Reunification Palace (formerly known as Independence Palace) has stayed in the mind of many generations of not only Vietnamese but also foreigners. It is known as the famous historical witness which passed through the two fierce wars against the French and American colonists. The palace was built on the site of the former Norodom Palace, a landmark in Ho Chi Minh City and designed by architect Ngo Viet Thu. As Vietnam was split into North Vietnam and South Vietnam, the building served as presidential home and workplace.
Photo by Scooter Saigon Tour
Open Hours: Daily from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The ticket window closes daily between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. The palace closes sporadically for special events and visits from VIPs.
There are very few signboards or explanations of rooms and displays – an English-speaking guide will greatly enhance your visit. Free tour guides can be arranged in the lobby or you may join a group already in progress.
History of Independence Palace:
Reunification Palace’s architecture is a blend of traditional ritual and modern architecture, typical of the 60s. However, the design of the complex is not as appealing to tourists as all the historical events related to this building. Wandering around its rooms, visitors may be reminded of various important moments in the past of Vietnam, especially the war command room with its huge maps and old communication equipment, as well as the basement labyrinth. The building now functions as a museum, where visitors can view the F5E fighter plane which bombed the palace on 8th April 1975 and tank 843 which led the final assault through the palace gate at 11.30 AM on 30th April 1975.
President Diem was assassinated in 1963 before construction of the new palace was completed. General Nguyen Van Thieu – head of a military junta – moved into the completed palace in 1967 to serve as the second president of South Vietnam; he changed the name to Independence Palace.
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Since its construction, the building has gone through several renovation. A major work was undertaken from 1962 to 1963, which made the President change his office temporarily to Gia Long Palace, which is now the location of Ho Chi Minh City Museum. Much political turbulence led to the come and go of several South Vietnam President, until 1975 when the war officially ended and Vietnam became one country.
Independence Palace served as central command for the South Vietnamese effort against communist forces until April 21, 1975 when General Thieu was evacuated as part of Operation Frequent Wind – the largest helicopter evacuation in history.
On April 30, 1975 North Vietnamese forces captured the palace and later renamed it Reunification Palace.
Where Independence Palace locate:
Its current address is at 135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City – right at one end of Le Duan Street. It borders other 3 streets: Huyen Tran Cong Chua Street in the back, Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street on the right and Nguyen Du on the left.