If tourists love Hanoi City by its traditional beauty, Ho Chi Minh City spellbinds them by its modern life and colourful lights. Although Saigon is now very bustle and busy with high buildings and trendy lifestyle, there are some spots that is visible for history. Independence Palace (also call Reunification Palace) is a witness. It tells you what you want to know about architects and history elements of Saigon from the past to now.
Foundation and History
Independence Palace is a famous historical witness which passed though the two fierce wars against the French and American colonists. The Palace name originally is Norodom Palace and Palace of Indochina Governor General. It launched during period of 1868 and 1871 by French. Officially using as home command centre of Governor General. After 1954, the palace was under control of Old Saigon government – Ngo Dinh Diem and rename as Independence Palace. In 1962, it is heavily destroyed by bombs so it was replaced by a new building. After liberation day in 1975, President Duong Van Minh and members surrendered without condition. Independence Palace becomes historical witness of Vietnam like Long Bien Bridge in Hanoi.
After demolished by bombs, Reunification Palace was designed by Ngo Viet Thu and it had features mixing between Western and Eastern styles. It becomes a must- see place when you take part in Ho Chi Minh City. This architecture retained until now and is a witness of history. The palace lay on an area of 120,000m² with a surface area of 4,500m². It has a basement, 3 main floors, 2 mezzanines, one terrace, and one upper floor with total 95 rooms. Each room decoration based on its function, including 33 room guest houses, 2 exhibit rooms, and many entertainment services like tennis courts, octagonal house.
Independence Palace overview from the high
On the first floor of Reunification Palace, there are the cabinet meeting room and the banquet room, the home, reception, and workplace for the President of Republic of Vietnam on the second floor, entertainment room in the third floor, and the fourth floor is ballroom for parties. Because it is visible intact so tourist can see most of areas of palace.
Highlight of Independence Palace
However, the design of the complex is not as appealing to tourists as all the historical events related to this building. Inaugurated in 1966, the new palace quickly became the major headquarter of Saigon government. It is quite proud to say that Independence Palace witnessed many significant historical events, especially the rise and fall of other 3 presidents of Southern Vietnam. Wandering around its rooms, visitors may see various important moments in the past of Vietnam like the valuable artworks.
Tank No. 390 run over Independence Palace gate on April 30, 1975
For examples, oil painting depicts the landscape of Vietnam in banquet room; the water color painting “Vietnam nation” in State-reception room; “Binh Ngo Dai Cao” painting depict the peace of the country in the 15th century; 2 precious lacquer paintings was made by artist Nguyen Gia Tri theme “Lotus” and “Ke cuc”. The building now becomes a museum, where visitors can view the F5E fighter plane. Consequently, it bombed the palace on 8th April 1975 and tank 390 got into the palace on Liberation Day. Thanks to its historical events, the Palace is more and more attractive to tourist over the year.
Its current address is at 135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. It is really easy to to recognize it from the far. The reason why is that the front gate of Independence Palace borders three-way intersections. It includes Huyen Tran Cong Chua Street in the back, Nguyen Thi Minh Khai on the right, Nguyen Du on the left. Famous and located right in the city centre so you can take motorbike, taxi. Or you simply take a walking to visit Reunification Palace from centre of Ho Chi Minh city.
UH1 helicopter on the top of Independence Palace
The Independence Palace opens daily including holidays from 8.00 am to 11.00am as well as 1 pm to 4 pm. You can buy tickets at the main gate with the rate of VND 40,000 (approximately US$ 2) per visitor. You may be also required to be checked for security reasons. In addition, you should visit Independence palace with a professional guide to learn more. And you will have deep understanding about history, art work of this Palace. You can take Ho Chi Minh City tour or Cu Chi and Ho Chi Minh tour to compare historical sites. If you do not take tour in advance, guided tours are available in English, Japanese, French, and even Chinese at the gate of Reunification Palace.
1 day in Saigon Tour
With Independence Palace, you should spend about 2 hours to visit and take photos. It is very nice. But you are advised to visit other famous and must-visit destinations for Ho Chi Minh City trip in one day. It does not waste your time. For examples, nearby Independence Palace is Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica- showing the influence of French civilization and Christianity over Saigon without entrance fees. A popular place you should not miss if you pass through Independence Palace is Saigon Central Post Office. This Old Office is still retained architecture of French Colonial. Make sure you will have deep picture in Saigon Post Office if you like to take photos.
After that, very close to Reunification Palace, it is a green park with lush trees, which gives you a cool place to walk around and relax. Then, you can take taxi to go to War Remnants Museum to see historical truth in the period of Vietnam-American War. Do not ignore big market to shopping in the late afternoon or enjoy street food at walking street near the Independence Palace.
After all, the historical value and originality of its architecture make the Reunification Palace one of the most interesting sites in Ho Chi Minh City. Independence Palace has become to “must-see” point for tourists who have a chance to take part in Ho Chi Minh City travel. It also plays important role to promote Ho Chi Minh tourism to the world.