Ho Chi Minh, or Sai Gon, is the largest economical city in Vietnam, located south of the country. When coming to Ho Chi Minh City, one of the historic sites – also an indispensable destination on your sightseeing list – is the Independence Palace Saigon in District 1.
In 1858, the French colonialists attacked Da Nang, starting the war of invasion in Vietnam. That is the source of the independent palace. In 1867, the French occupied 6 provinces in the South of Vietnam including Bien Hoa, Gia Dinh, Dinh Tuong, Vinh Long, An Giang and Ha Tien. In 1868, the French colonialist officially created and designed for the Viet Nam Southern President in Sai Gon center.
Not the Ben Thanh market or the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Independence Palace is the most popular place for foreign tourists. In 2009, the Vietnamese government recognized this place as one of the national historical monuments in need of protection. Let’s explore the Independence Palace!
The history of Ho Chi Minh City Reunification Palace
The Independence Palace was the Vietnamese general Ngo Dinh Diem’s political base – until 1963, after his death. In 1975 – the Vietnam war ending, the whole world was overwhelmed by the historical events at this palace gate. A North Vietnamese Army tank’s image crashed through the independence palace entrance, ending the prolonged Vietnam war and reunifying the country. In other words, this event is considered a memorable and historic milestone of the Vietnamese nation; the government of Vietnam is entirely independent.
When visiting this Independence Palace, you can see two historic tanks used by the Northern army to occupy this palace. In the previous period, this place was the residence and working office of the Governor of France in Cochinchina. The palace has a large and lush green campus, secret rooms, and many precious antiques. This Independence Palace is currently used as a history museum that welcomes tourists to visit every year; simultaneously, it is the venue for important political and diplomatic events, including the APEC Summit.
Independence Palace (also known as the Reunification Palace or the Reunification Palace) is located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, with an area of nearly 12 hectares in District 1. Today, you can go to the palace via routes, including Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Huyen Tran Cong Chua, Nguyen Du, and Nam Ky Khoi Nghia 4 ways surround the mansion.
Local people often call this place the GovernorGovernor of Cochinchina. The Independence Palace was started in 1868 by a French architect, then completed in 1871. Initially, the palace was called Norodom Palace. From 1871 to 1887, the Governor of Cochinchina used here as his main headquarters; since then, it has also been known as the Governor’s Palace.
After the second world war, Norodom Palace became the gathering base of the French Army in South Vietnam. In 1955, the Ngo Dinh Diem government took over and officially changed its name to the Independence Palace. In 1962, due to war damage, the Independence Palace was forced to be repaired and rebuilt. After the North Vietnamese army’s victory on April 30th, 1975, the Vietnamese government renamed it Reunification Hall. Today, this country’s people are still called here by both the Independence Palace and the Reunification Palace.
On the Independence Palace’s inauguration, October 31st, 1966, the ceremony was chaired by Nguyen Van Thieu, Chairman of the National Leadership Committee. From this day on, the newly built Independence Palace has become the President of the Republic of Vietnam’s residence and working place. President Nguyen Van Thieu lived in this Independence Palace from October 1967 to April 21st, 1975.
Nguyen Van Thieu (1923-2001) was the President of the Republic of Vietnam from 1969 to 1975   and was Lieutenant-General of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. He came from the French National Army’s first martial arts training, then graduated and became an officer serving the French Union Army. Later, Nguyen Van Thieu was trained and trusted by the US. After the 1963 coup toppled the Government of Ngo Dinh Diem, he served as Chairman of the National Leadership Committee of the Republic of Vietnam from 1965 to 1967. He became President of the Republic of Vietnam from 1967 to 1975.
Reunification Palace Architecture and Structure
In 1967, architect Ngo Viet Thu was selected as the designer of the independent palace. He is the first and only Vietnamese in history to win Khoi Nguyen in the category of architecture. The villa is built in a land area of 12 hectares with a large central palace with a width of 80 meters.
You can admire a large hall room with up to 800 people with luxurious rooms with modern Western-style when entering. Outside, the palace is surrounded by green grass and many large trees. This palace architecture’s unique beauty is also reflected in the elegant bamboo curtains with flowers vignette on the second floor. They are inspired by the gates that block the rooms in old Hue palace – a combination of traditional Vietnamese indigenous culture with Western-style and radiant in the morning light.
Let’s admire this palace’s beauty from the outside in to feel the charm of this place.
What does the outside of Independence Palace look like?
In front of the palace is a large oval-shaped lawn with a diameter of 102 meters. The lush green grass color brings relaxation, refreshing, and pleasant for anyone visiting this place after stepping through the great gate.
The courtyard is a large, semi-circular lake along the palace’s length, which regulates the air and creates a balance in this place’s spatial architecture. There are flowers close to the lake’s Vietnamese people – lotus flowers and lilies – a peaceful scene like ancient temples in Vietnam.
Outside the palace, at the fence in front and behind the palace, are two large green campuses, you can go for a walk in the summer, the temperature inside the palace is relatively cold compared to the outside. The main house on campus includes three floors, two mezzanines, one ground floor, one cellar, and one terrace.
The independent palace’s total usable area is about 20,000 square meters, divided into 95 separate rooms. Each room is used for its purposes, with architecture and decoration suitable for each room’s needs. Since 1975, only a few of the palace’s total 95 rooms have been used in government activities; the rest are allowed to visit and serve tourists.
It can be said that this is the largest project with the most budget source in the 1960s in South Vietnam during the length of the war.
From the left side of the palace, you can see Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, where you can admire an octagonal house with a width of 4 meters and built on a high mound with old curved, tiled roofs. , used as a calm, relaxing place for the GovernorGovernor or politicians in the past.
Surrounding the palace are green lawns, large old trees, and many rare and well-cared trees. Besides, there are four tennis courts behind the main building. The uniqueness in the architecture of the independent palace was created by talented architect Ngo Viet Thu. He has harmoniously combined Eastern and Western architecture to create impressive beauty for this project.
How about the inside structure of Independence Palace?
Inside the palace, visitors will be amazed at the architecture and interiors’ exquisite and impressive beauty. The palace hall is divided by the swallow room and meeting room, in front is a large wooden staircase, imposing and beautiful. The gallery has a high, complete, and airy space, with simple and condensed decoration. Entering the main gate, tourists cannot go straight to the independent palace but have to go around the front oval lawn’s back.
In addition to the splendor inside the hall and the staircase that is the palace’s highlight, each room in the Ho Chi Minh Independence Palace is built with a beautiful architecture according to each owner’s use.
- The Chamber room: a room can accommodate up to 500 people, were held the political meetings, receptions, or premieres of the government of the South republic were held in the past.
- The referring credentials rooms: the room scored by the picture of BNH Ngo Dai Cao – this is considered the first Declaration of Independence of Vietnam in the 15th century by great poet Nguyen Trai, with 40 pieces of description. The peaceful life of the country and historical stories at that time.
- Library room: contains documents and a large number of research books by ancient governors
- Strategic Operations Department rooms: This is a service room specialized for military items, gathering four South Vietnam strategic regions. Through the regional and operational mapping system, the GovernorGovernor and commanding generals will closely follow the war situation and implement related activities.
- The basement of the palace: below the Independence Palace is a large basement, designed and built by the Chief of the Independence Palace – Lieutenant Colonel, Engineer Phan Van Dien. The cellar length is 72.5 meters; 0.8 to 22.5 meters wide; depth 0.6 to 2.5 meters. A small concrete entrance connects the rooms in the basement with an armored wall with ventilation.
Also, the palace was inhabited by the Nam Ky governors in the past, so it was designed to add the ballroom, dining room, the Governor’sGovernor’s family residence, cinema room, reading room, and many other rooms.
Inside the Independence Palace Saigon, there are many other areas open to visitors, including pictures of old books and newspapers, and a symposium. Here, visitors can admire the vivid photos of the past and learn more about the heroic history of Vietnam. That is the result of the collection and research of historical experts from Vietnam and the world.
Inside the palace, there is also an exhibition area displaying the history of the Independence Palace’s history and development in the historical length with the name “from Norodom Palace to Independence Palace, 1868 to 1966”. For tourists who love history and culture, you absolutely cannot ignore this place with simulations of the design, construction process, important landmarks, and historical events associated with the palace.
Another area of the Independence Palace is the complementary area. This place stores the photos and documents collected later. They are previously kept and taken by locals in Ho Chi Minh City from the resistance war to the victory, and subsequently sent to the palace for conservation and transmission for future generations.
What things should you see and do at the Reunification Palace?
In addition to the outstanding and attractive architecture, visitors to the palace will be impressed with the unique objects displayed inside the Independence Palace. They can be divided into two categories: calendar artifacts and works of art.
What are the signature features of the historical artifacts in Reunification Palace?
As the name implies, historical artifacts help present the history of the Vietnam war, its people or historical events, or corresponding historical milestones. These objects are carefully preserved and regularly preserved for visitors to admire and enjoy.
Helicopter: This is the helicopter on display on the roof of the independent palace with UH-1 number of President Nguyen Van Thieu. It is placed close to two bombs exploded by pilot Nguyen Thanh Trung in the past.
Mercedes car of Germany: This car is a Mercedes Benz 200 W110 German design with license plate VN-13-78. That is the car that President Nguyen Van Thieu used when he was still in charge of Cochinchina.
Jeep car: Jeep with license plate M152A2 used by the forces of South Vietnamese networks. In particular, this is the car used by the last President of the Republic of the South – Mr. Duong Van Minh, taking him to Sai Gon Radio, where he read the declaration of surrender to the North Vietnamese government on April 30th, 1975.
Besides, modern vehicles used in the Vietnam War are also on display on the Independence Palace grounds, including the E390 tank, the 843 tank, and the F5E war aircraft. That is one of the Independence Palace attractions for tourists in several foreign countries over the past decades.
What are the Independence Palace artworks that attracted visitors?
In addition to historical artifacts of timeless cultural value, the Reunification Palace also displays many valuable works of art, including:
Paintings: Many oil paintings are hanging in the palace, painted by architect Ngo Viet Thu, depicting the scenery of a peaceful and beautiful Vietnamese village. Incredibly, there is the oil painting Thuy Kieu and Thuy Van in the first meeting with Kim Trong – also known as the Ceremony of the Tomb (a prominent detail in the famous work of the great writer Nguyen Du – the great poet of the background. Vietnamese literature)
Pottery objects: In the Independence Palace, visitors can admire dozens of ancient pottery valuables from the Ming and Qing dynasties of China.
How to go to the Reunification Palace in Ho Chi Minh City?
Today, the Independence Palace is located in District 1 – the center of Ho Chi Minh City and close to other tourist attractions such as Ben Thanh market, Notre Dame Cathedral, April 30th park, or the center post office.
The palace’s front gate faces the intersection between Le Duan Street and Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street. Nam Ky Khoi Nghia is one of the most significant streets in Sai Gon; you can go along this way. In case you are hard to find the address, look for the direction of this 3-way intersection.
Get the locals’ help to find your way to the palace by motorbike, bike, walking, or nearby bus stops. If you stay at your hotel in the heart of District 1, it will take you 15 to 20 minutes to walk because the palace is outstanding in the city’s heart – if you notice the three sides facing the main street. Or you can save time by taking a taxi, using the Grab app, and getting you there quickly.
To save costs, you can choose to take the bus. List of some fixed pen car pickup spots, you can refer to:
- Number 001: Ben Thanh market – Cho Lon Bus Station
- Number 002: Ben Thanh market – Western Bus Station
- Number 03: Ben Thanh market – Thanh Loc
- Number 04: Ben Thanh market – Cong Hoa – An Suong bus station
- Number 05: Cho Lon us station – Bien Hoa city
When is the best time to visit the Reunification Palace in a year?
Independence Palace is open to welcome guests all year round, including holidays, national day, weekends, and New Year’s Eve. Visitors to Sai Gon can visit the Independence Palace whenever they want.
The weather in South Vietnam is relatively mild and cold all year round; you don’t need to worry about this city’s climate. However, if possible, consider visiting the Independence Palace for special events in this country for exciting experiences, such as Vietnam’s National Day, September 2nd, New Year’s Eve, or award day Southern launch April 30th.
In Sai Gon, there are two distinct seasons: rainy and dry seasons. The rainy season usually starts in April and lasts until the end of November every year; you should pay attention to bring an umbrella or raincoat when going out on the street. Sudden rains in the city can get you wet and uncomfortable.
Somethings to note when visiting the Independence Palace
When visiting any historical site or cultural site, the first thing you need to keep in mind is the rules of that place. The Independence Palace is one of the most important national landmarks, so there are a few rules you need to follow:
- Reunification palace dress code: Wear dignified, polite clothes; avoid shorts, tank tops, and miniskirts.
- Pay attention to the signs and instructions of the guards when visiting the Independence Palace.
- Do not bring luggage when entering here.
- It is strictly forbidden to bring food and drinks on the premises of the Independence Palace.
- It is strictly forbidden to bring explosives, chemicals, and animals inside.
- Visitors should pay attention to avoid damage to objects in the palace. If it happens, visitors will take full responsibility.
Reunification Palace entrance fee
The ticket price is about 2 dollars. As follows:
- Adult: ~ $ 2 (40,000 VND)
- Student: ~ $ 1 (20,000 VND)
- Child: ~ 50 cents (10,000 VND)
Besides, you may have to pay additional entrance fees depending on the exhibition area you want to visit.
The Independence Palace is open from 7:30 AM to 12:00 AM and 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM every day of the week. You can purchase a ticket to the Independence Palace’s main entrance and undergo a security check before starting the tour. Guests receive free guidance in Chinese, English, French, and Japanese.
Independence Palace is a heroic symbol of Sai Gon city and an important historical witness of the great victory of the Vietnam war. Discovering the independent palace will bring you memorable memories, especially for foreign tourists who love Vietnamese history and want to learn about the country; this is a place not to be missed.
The center associated with the Independence Palace is also a powerful symbol of old Sai Gon. Tourists stopping Sai Gon can conveniently visit the monuments around here. Indeed the moments of seeing this relic will help you better understand Vietnam’s history and the heroic events of this nation. Through decades of establishment and development, Sai Gon has become an attractive tourist destination in the world. With relics preserved and preserved over the years, they have witnessed an unforgettable journey and significant changes in the city in particular and Vietnam in general.
Traditional oriental beauty combined with modern Western reforms, Sai Gon, is a crossroads between past and future, in which the Independence Palace is a piece of crucial evidence.
Welcome and see you in Sai Gon!