Friday, March 30, 2012

Vietnam - Reunification Palace (Ho Chi Minh city)

This place is rich in history. It symbolizes the French colonialism, the independence of Vietnam and finally the reunification of North and South Vietnam.

In 1975, these North Vietnamese (Russian T-54) tanks breached the gate of this palace signalling the end of american backed South Vietnamese government. These are the actual tanks enshrined at the entrance of the palace compound. The other tank 843 is located beside tank 390.

Before the fall of Saigon (Ho Chi Minh) city, the occupants of this palace left hurriedly to avoid the incoming communist North Vietnamese army. A replica of the helicopter that airlifted the South Vietnam president before its fall can be seen st the rooftop.

After the fall of Saigon, the North Vietnamese regime and its allies in the South have decided to preserve the place in the same way as it was when the North Vietnamese tanks crashed through its main gate. Thus, the palace can be considered as enduring symbol of the fall of Saigon.

Inside the palace are countless deserted rooms, halls, library, offices and even theater and lounge. If you don't have any idea on how the 70's look like then you need to visit this place. Once inside, it seems that you have been transported back to the 70's. An added treat is the eerie feeling especially when there are less tourists around.


Receiving room

an "old-school" bar
lounge set

Projection room

When my wife and  I visited this place, there were several big buses filled with students thus we limit our visit to the upper floors only while the students and other tourists gathered in the basement and lobby where the war room is located. We used the staircase in exploring the different floors of this building.
The entrance fee is 15,000 Dongs and free guided tour can be arranged at the lobby. Initially, we joined a group of tourists with English speaking guide but due to time constraints we decided to leave the group and explore the building on our own pace. Anyway, you can find the historical details about this building on the net. Be aware though that you are not allowed to touch any display and sometimes entry is forbidden in other rooms. 

From the roof top, the view was splendid and magnificent. Ho Chi Minh city was initially conceptualize by the French to be the "Paris of Asia" and even after several wars I can see that some European touch have been left behind. If you have sturdy legs, you can walk to this place coming from Ben Thanh market area. The surrounding area is also nice to explore. In front of this palace is Notre Dame church and the post office.

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