Reunification Palace in Ho Chi Minh City

Reunification Palace in Ho Chi Minh City

Saigon Independence Palace

Rachel Tran Rachel Tran | Published Oct 16, 2019

The Reunification Palace, also known as Independence Palace, is listed as a historical monument by witnessing great changes of Ho Chi Minh City’s history (formerly known Saigon) and having in itself the essence of Eastern culture. Throughout the heroic battles, this amazing work of architecture had witnessed almost every high and low of the Vietnamese war.

Location: 135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Opening hours: from 07:30 AM to 11:30 AM every morning, and 01:00 PM to 05:00 PM every afternoon.
Entrance Fee: 40.000 VND/adult, 20.000 VND/student; 10.000 VND/child
Note: There are probably other types of entrance fee depending on the section / exhibition you want to visit.
Map to the Reunification Palace:

History of Reunification Palace

The origin of Reunification Palace was dated back in 1858, when the French colonists began to attack Da Nang, starting the war of aggression against Vietnam. In 1867, the French took over 6 provinces including Bien Hoa, Gia Dinh, Dinh Tuong, Vinh Long, An Giang and Ha Tien. In 1868, the French government started to design and build a mansion as a residence for the Governor of Cochinchina in the center of Ho Chi Minh City. When the construction was completed, it was called Norodom Palace.

In front of Reunification Palace
In front of Reunification Palace (@ringchang921)

The Palace was completely finished in 1871, and from 1887 to 1945, many French governors had used this mansion as a place to live and work during the Indochina invasion. By 1945, the Japanese fascist won over France and monopolized Indochina, Norodom Palace became the workplace of the Japanese government in Vietnam.

By the end of 1945, the French colonialists failed heavily in the Dien Bien Phu campaign, they were forced to sign the Geneva Agreement before withdrawing their army from Vietnam. The Norodom Palace was passed between the representative of the French government and the representative of Saigon government on September 7th, 1954, Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem, who decided to change the name of Palace into Independence Palace.

In 1955, Ngo Dinh Diem became the new president of Vietnam, however, he was not a good leader. Ngo Dinh Diem maintained a family-ruled dictatorship, cornering people in strategic hamlets, which not only caused resentment among the people but also caused discontent within the Saigon government. The Norodom Palace was destroyed more than half of the left side by the protesters, so Ngo Dinh Diem had to rebuild the place.

Finally, in the historic Ho Chi Minh campaign in 1975, Vietnam gained their victory and reunited the whole country, the Independence Palace was the place where the Vietnamese Revolutionary Army won their battle. Nowadays, the Independence Palace is a special national monument visited by numerous domestic and foreign tourists. The place is also a meeting destination for guests of all levels and city leaders.

>> Check out: 16 Dos & Don’ts When Traveling in Vietnam

Architecture and Structure

Reunification Palace in Saigon
Reunification Palace in Saigon (@japaneseglobetrotter)

In 1967, Architect Ngo Viet Thu was chosen to implement the design of the Reunification Palace. He was the very first Vietnamese to win the Khoi Award in the category of architecture, and still the only one so far. 

The building was built on an area of 12 hectares, including a large mansion with a width of 80 meters. Inside the Palace, there is a huge living room which can accommodate up to 800 people and a large campus with many trees and lawns.

The architectural beauty of the Palace is also shown by the stone flower curtain in the form of elegant bamboo on the second floor. The stone flower curtain is inspired by the departmental gates of the Hue Imperial Palace, not only enhance the beauty of the Imperial Palace but also shines brightly under the sunlight.

1. Outside

Reunification Palace from outside
Reunification Palace from outside (@theshadesofvietnam)

On the front yard of the Palace is an oval lawn with a diameter of 102 meters. The shape of the green of the grass creates a calming, refreshing feeling for guests as soon as they pass through the gate. Running along the width of the yard is a semicircular lake. In the lake, there are lotus and water lilies, evoking the image of peaceful lakes in Vietnam’s ancient temples and pagodas. 

Outside the fences in front and behind the Palace, there are 2 green parks. The main building has 3 floors, 2 mezzanines, 1 terrace, 1 ground floor, and basement. The total usable area is 20,000m² divided into 95 rooms. Each room has its own function, with architecture and decoration suitable for the purpose of each room. After 1975, some rooms of the main buildings are continued to be used, the rest to serve visitors. This is the largest building in the South in the 1960s and was the highest cost building project.

Independence Palace interior
Independence Palace interior (@barroscurtis)

On the left side of this establishment, which faces Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street, there is an octagonal house with a diameter of 4 meters, built on a high mound with ancient curved tile roofs to make a cool, relaxing place. Around the Palace, there are lush lawns, old gardens, precious potted plants and four tennis courts behind the main building.

The unique feature of this mansion’s architecture was created by the talented architect Ngo Viet Thu. He had harmoniously combined modern architectural art with traditional oriental architecture into the work.

2. Inside

Inside the Palace, the astonishing architecture is beautiful enough to make the grumpiest visitor awe. The hall is estimated by the two sides of the wall of the oats room and the cabinet meeting room, in the front is a large, prominent and solemn wooden staircase. The hall has a high volume of space, wide and airy, simple and condensed decoration. Entering the main gate, one cannot go directly to the palace but must follow an arc around the oval grass as.

Besides the stunning space of the staircase and the hall, each room of the Reunification Palace has a unique and magnificent beauty as well.

Inside Reunification Palace
Inside Reunification Palace @urbanicum
  • The Chamber: The room has a capacity of over 500 people, used to be the venue for meetings, receptions, cabinet launch ceremonies.
  • The room for referring credentials: The most outstanding object in the room is the painting named “Binh Ngo Dai Cao” – meaning “the Proclamation Of Victory”, which includes 40 pieces appearing for Vietnamese peaceful life in the 15th century.
  • Library: This place contains many books and research papers of the old presidents.
  • Strategic Operations Department room: This is the room where military information of 4 tactical regions was gathered. Through the combat map system, the staff would update, monitored and deployed military operations plans.
  • Basement: Beneath the Independence Palace is the basement, which was designed by Lieutenant Colonel, Engineer Phan Van Dien, the Chief of the Independence Palace. The tunnel is 72.5 meters long, 0.8 – 22.5 meters wide, 0.6 to 2.5 meters deep. The rooms in the basement are connected by small concrete casting entrances, armored walls and equipped with ventilation systems.

There are various other rooms that will surely attract the curiosity of visitors, such as the ballroom, the Residence of Presidential family, the movie room, the reading room and many more.

Bunker in Reunification Palace
Bunker in Reunification Palace (@24horasproyecto)

Inside the Reunification Palace, there are other sections opened for visitors. Such as the Thematic area, which is an exhibition area displaying old articles and pictures. Visitors can not only look back at the vivid photos of the past but also learn more about the historical details are hidden in it. Those are the collectibles, the hard work of searching and deepening of the historical experts.

Especially, in the Independence Palace, there is an exhibition area entitled “from Norodom Palace to Independence Palace, 1868 to 1966”. This is an interesting attraction for those who are passionate about learning history because this exhibition area simulates the process of formation, construction, historical landmarks and important events taking place at the Independence Palace.

Another section of the Palace is the additional area. This is the gallery of photos found and later collected. The photos on display here are kept by the people from the resistance times to independence, and then sent to the Palace to preserve and pass on to future generations.

What to See & Do in Reunification Palace?

Besides the absolutely outstanding architecture, visitors are also in love with the unique artifacts displayed inside the Reunification Palace. The artifacts here can be divided into two categories: historical artifacts and artworks.

1. Historical artifacts in Reunification Palace

Artifacts in Reunification Palace
Artifacts in Reunification Palace @prypaz_

The historical artifacts in Reunification Palace represent the heroic history of Vietnam. The objects are well-preserved and held in perfect shape, in order for visitors to watch and admire.

  • The historical helicopter: On the roof of Reunification Palace, there is a display of the UH-1 helicopter of President Nguyen Van Thieu, adjacent to the location of two bombs that pilot Nguyen Thanh Trung threw exploded.
  • The German Mercedes: The German car Mercedes Benz 200 W110 which has the number plate VN-13-78. This was one of the cars of President Nguyen Van Thieu of Vietnam. 
  • The Jeep: The Jeep M152A2 was used by the Revolutionary Forces. The car is special because it used to serve the last President of Vietnam regime – Mr. Duong Van Minh, and took him to Saigon radio station, where he read the declaration of surrender on April 30th 1975.

In addition, there are modern vehicles used in the Vietnam War such as e 390, 843 tanks and F5E fighters. All of these artifacts contribute to making Thong Nhat Palace become a more attractive tourist destination in the hearts of tourists.

2. Artworks

Not only the historical artifacts, but the Reunification Palace also displays various valuable works of art.

  • The oil paintings: There is an oil painting depicting the Vietnamese countryside, drawn by architect Ngo Viet Thu. There is also another oil painting of the sisters Thuy Kieu and Thuy Van when they first meet Kim Trong on the day of Ancestors Day(also known as Festival of Tending Graves).
  • Pottery: There are dozens of ancient Chinese pottery pots during the Ming and Qing period in the Reunification Palace.

How to Get to Reunification Palace

The Reunification Palace is nestled in District 1, which is also the center of Ho Chi Minh City and close to other tourist attractions such as Notre Dame Cathedral, 30/4 Park, Central Post Office, etc. 

Tourists just need to remember that the front gate of the building faces the intersection between Le Duan Street and Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street. In case you can’t find the right address, look for this three-way intersection.

Ask any local people for direction if you travel on your own on motorbikes, buses or on foot. If you are staying at a hotel in District 1, it will only take 15 to 20 minutes to walk to the Reunification Palace. If don’t want to spend time looking for direction, they can call a taxi and tell the driver to take them to Independence Palace. The building really stands out on Saigon streets, so you can recognize it easily.

For those people who try to save money by traveling by bus, there are some certain bus numbers to travel, such as:

  • 001: Ben Thanh – Cho Lon Bus Station
  • 002: Ben Thanh – Western Bus Station
  • 03: Ben Thanh – Thanh Loc
  • 04: Ben Thanh – Cong Hoa – Ben Xe An Suong
  • 05: Cho Lon Bus Station – Bien Hoa

Best Time To Visit Reunification Palace

The historical monument named Independence Palace is opened to visitors at all day of the week, as well as holidays or New Year’s Eve. So one can visit the Palace at any time of the year. But visitors should consider coming to the Palace on special days, such as New Year’s Eve or the Independent Day (September 2nd), because the place will be more lively than usual. 

Things to Note

Because the Reunification Palace is an honorable place bearing the heroic history of Vietnam, so when visiting, visitors need to strictly follow general rules of the management of the monument, as follows:

  • Wear formal clothes, avoid wearing skirts or shorts. 
  • Follow the instructions of the guard and signs during the visit.
  • Do not bring luggage into the monument.
  • Do not bring food or drinks into the monument.
  • Do not bring animals into the monument.
  • Do not bring weapons, explosives, toxic chemicals into the monument.
  • Be responsible if causing any loss to the monument.

The Reunification Palace is not only a heroic symbol of Ho Chi Minh City but also the pride of the Vietnamese. Exploring this historic site will be a memorable experience, especially for foreign visitors who are curious about the heroic past of Vietnam. If you are a history lover, this will be a place that definitely cannot be missed.


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