Also known as Independence Palace, Reunification Palace is a place of great significance not only in Ho Chi Minh City but also throughout Vietnam. Declared a National Cultural and Historic Relic in 1976, this fascinating building is set on sweeping grounds that play host to historic war tanks and fighter jets.
Following the 1962 bombing of his private residence, Norodom Palace, the then-president of South Vietnam ordered the construction of a new palace – complete with an impenetrable bomb shelter, of course. The result was Independence Palace, which was later renamed Reunification Palace.
It is best known as the site of the end of the Vietnam War, which came on April 30, 1975, when a North Vietnamese tank ploughed through its wrought-iron gates. Thus began the process of reuniting North and South Vietnam, which gave Reunification Palace its name.
These days, the palace, which is set on 120,000 square metres of lush green grounds, is one of Ho Chi Minh City’s most popular tourist attractions. An excellent example of both Vietnamese and French 1960s architecture, the building is surrounded by manicured gardens and green lawns with an ornamental fountain taking pride of place.
The palace draws in excess of one million visitors every year. Guests are welcome to explore the many rooms, including the presidential reception Rooms, the Ambassador’s Chamber, the Presidential Office, the State Banqueting Hall and the Cabinet Room. Don’t miss the impressive Conference Hall, which can accommodate 500 people. Decked out in rich red fabrics, this grand hall is still used today for official receptions.
Another must-see is the surprisingly kitsch Games Room, where 1960s nostalgia reigns supreme. On the rooftop, you’ll find a nightclub, while the basement is home to historic war rooms and underground tunnels. Be sure to visit the ground-floor theatre room, where a fascinating documentary about the history of the palace plays out for visitors.
Reunification Palace is open daily from 7:30am until 11am and again from 1pm until 4pm. A nominal entry fee applies, with self-guided and guided group tours available.