Originally built by the French in 1868 to commemorate the establishment of the colony of Indochina, the Reunification Palace (formerly Independence Palace) as it stands today was built during the 1960s. Known in Vietnamese as Dinh Độc Lập or Dinh Thống Nhất, it was most famously the symbolic site of the liberation of Saigon by communist forces that reunited the nation on April 30, 1975.
Vietnam has a long history of conflict, and a visit to the Reunification Palace is essential to an understanding of modern-day Vietnam. As such, it is featured on most sightseeing tours of the city. The structure is a working government building, but it’s also a museum of the historical events that happened there.
Visitors can see the war-command room with its old communications equipment, the F5E fighter plane that bombed the building in 1975, and the tank that rolled through the gates as Saigon fell. Rooms in the labyrinthine basement screen videos about the palace history in several languages. For a comprehensive overview of the war, combine a city tour and visit to the Reunification Palace with a guided visit to the nearby Cu Chi Tunnels.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Reunification Palace is a must-visit for history buffs and first time visitors.
- Visitors may be asked to pass through a security check before entering the building.
- Photography is allowed inside the palace.
- The palace is wheelchair accessible, with the exception of the rooftop terrace.
- How to Get There
- Reunification Palace is situated in the heart of District 1, a short walk from Ben Thanh market. Follow Le Loi away from the market circle and turn left on Nam Ky Khoi Nghia.
When to Get There
The palace is open to the public daily so long as there are no official receptions or events taking place.
Designed for a President
The Reunification Palace was designed as the presidential palace for Ngo Dingh, the president of South Vietnam, after his own air force bombed his old palace (he was quite unpopular). The building has a bomb shelter in the basement, a movie theater, game room, disco, and rooftop helipad. Unfortunately, the president never moved in, as he was killed by his own troops three years before it was completed.