The Reunification Palace, formerly known as the Independence Palace, is an historically important building located in the centre of Ho Chi Minh City.
Reunification Palace in Ho Chi Minh City
The Reunification Palace is open to visitors every day, except public holidays, from 07:30 to 11:30 and 13:00 to 16:00, and the entrance fee is 20,000 VND (less than $1 USD).
About the Reunification Palace
The Reunification Palace is built on the site of the Norodom Palace, which was a building constructed by the French colonialists, and completed in 1873, as the residence and office of the French Governor of Cochinchina and later the Governors-General of French Indochina. Following the defeat of the French Armed forces at Dien Bien Phu in 1954 the Norodom Palace became the residence and headquarters of Ngo Dinh Diem, President of the newly formed Republic of Vietnam. President Diem used the Norodom Palace until 1962 when two pilots from the Republic’s own air force bombed the Norodom Palace, instead of the Viet Minh as intended, in attempt to kill President Diem. President Diem survived (for only 19 months until he was killed during a coup) but the Norodom Palace was damaged beyond repair.
T-54 tank that ended the Vietnam War
The Reunification Palace, originally called the Independence Palace, was built on the same site as the Norodom Palace. The design and construction process took slightly over 5 years. The Reunification Palace is large building designed in a brutal concrete modernist style, as was in vogue in Europe at the time, by Vietnamese architect Ngo Viet Thu whose work had been recognised as outstanding by the famous Beaux-Arts school in Paris, at the time recognised as a world leader in teaching architectural design.
Pavilion in the gardens of the Reunification Palace
The Reunification Palace has a large basement with bunkers and command rooms, four levels above ground, and a roof-top helipad. In total 120,000 sqm of floor space. The regime in South Vietnam had different values to those of the austere government of Ho Chi Minh in the North and visitors to the Palace will see opulent rooms, and even a casino on the 3rd level, constructed to cater for the leaders of the Republic of Vietnam. Seeing the inside of the Reunification Palace its easy to understand why even the people of the South had deep misgivings about their own government which appeared to using their hard earned taxes on things to benefit themselves rather than the new nation as a whole.
Wall around the Reunification Palace
The Reunification Palace is most famous as the place where the Vietnam War ended on the 30th April 1975 when a North Vietnamese Army tank broke through the gates at the entrance of the Palace, where the remainder of the government of the Republic of Vietnam awaited their fate. The then President of the Republic of Vietnam, General Nguyen Van Thieu, had fled 9 days earlier thereby undermining the resolve the remaining armed forces of the Republic and handing a much quicker victory to the North. This was an act of cowardice which probably saved a lot of lives. The tank, a Russian made T-54, today sits on the grass near to the main entrance to the Reunification Palace as a reminder of the symbolic point of victory in the war which unified the country.