No one visits Vietnam and leaves without taking a look at the Reunification Palace. The palace is associated with the Fall of Saigon because of the tank that crashed through its gates and ended the Vietnam War in 1975. The palace seems to have frozen in time since, and features the same antique furniture and telecommunication devices that were used then.
Reunification Palace is a historical monument with a backstory seeped in the darkest days of Vietnam’s past. A tour of Vietnam is incomplete without a visit to this historical monument, also known as the Independence palace.
Reunification Palace Opening Hours
The Reunification palace is open all days of the week from 7:30 AM to 11:30 AM and 13:00 PM to 16:00 PM.
Reunification Palace Entrance Fee
The entrance fee for the Reunification Palace is VND 40,000 for adults and VND 20,000 for children. The tickets can be bought at the main gate.
Reunification Palace Dress Code
There is no dress code as such for visiting the Reunification Palace. However, wearing something polite is suggested.
Reunification Palace History and Significance
Black and white photos of that era show a very different structure from what we see now. The monument that stands today was not built until 1966. The Independence palace was initially called the Norodom Palace. Built in 1873 by the French, the palace was named after the King of Cambodia, Norodom. The palace was, for a brief period-of-time, the residence of the Governor of Cochinchina. Since then the building changed hands frequently as the political situation in Vietnam grew volatile.
World War 2 and Vietnam War In 1945, the Japanese took over the palace after defeating the French. But it wasn't long before Japan was defeated and by the end of World War 2, the French regained control of the palace. However, it was not too last. The French saw defeat again in 1954 at the battle of Dien Bien Phu. The palace was then handed over to South Vietnam’s president, Ngo Dinh Diem. In 1955, Diem moved in and renamed it to Independence Palace. It was during Diem's time that the palace went under a complete makeover. Diem didn't live to see the new palace. He was assassinated in 1963. The palace then on became a residential quarter for the future presidents of South Vietnam; that is until 1975.
History was created at the iron gates of the palace's building when a Vietnamese tank crashed into it at 10:45 AM on 30th April 1975. It was at this very moment that the Vietnam war came to an end. It was finally time for peace and the monument was renamed to Reunification palace, a name that remains to this day.
Reunification Palace Architecture
The architecture does a great job of putting the Reunification Palace's interesting history on display. Covering an area of 12 hectares, the monument is spacious and airy. The palace grounds are lush green and surrounded by trees and two of the original tanks that broke through the gates are still parked there.
The inside of the palace is grand. Composed of five floors, the ground floor has a set of rooms used for meetings and other events. The other floors have a bunch of rooms with antique furniture and all the other possessions on display in a museum like fashion - behind red ropes. The otherwise plain-looking concrete structure is extremely fancy on the inside, replete with a game room, a library, a cinema, a rooftop club and even a helipad.
The most interesting part of the palace is the basement which is exactly like a time-capsule. Built as a bomb shelter, the bunker still has ancient radio equipment, old fans, strategy war maps on the wall and an underground tunnel network. The tunnels are off-limits to the public.
How to Reach the Reunification Palace
The Reunification Palace is situated at a prime spot in Central Saigon. The address is 135, Nam Ky Khoi Nghia street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. For those staying in hotels in District 1, the palace is a 20-minute walk, otherwise a bus can be taken directly to the centre station.
Tips on Visiting Reunification Palace
The palace, otherwise open 365 days of the year, is sometimes closed to the normal public in case of VIP visits or other special events.
There is a security check at the entry point. While luggage is to be left with security, small bags can be taken inside. Dangerous objects aren't allowed.
For history buffs, guided tours of the palace are available in English, French and a few other languages.
Today, the Reunification Palace at Ho Chi Minh City stands tall, carrying battle scars and holding the remnants of one of the darkest periods in Vietnam's history. Extremely well-preserved, it is a must-visit for history enthusiasts.
Photos of Reunification Palace
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