Results 1-7of 7 Reviews
September 16, 2005
From journal Hectic Ho Chi Minh City
August 29, 2005
For the war historian, the war room is lined with maps showing the progressive loss of territory to the Viet Cong, and there is a great array of photos from the period immediately after the American War.
While it is easy to forget that Ho Chi Minh City is anything other than capitalist, it is tours such as this that remind you otherwise.
From journal Vietnam: See it before it disappears
, United Kingdom
February 2, 2005
The new building has a fantastic late '60s feel to the architecture and an early '70s feel to the décor. The palace has pretty much been left as it stood on the famous day when the first Communist tanks arrived in Saigon on the morning of 30 April 1975 and crashed through the gates of the Independence Palace. An NVA soldier ran up the steps and unfurled a VC flag of the 4th-floor balcony, and the palace was renamed the reunification palace.
The palace is a must-see when in Ho Chi Minh City, not only for its historical importance, but also because it is just a fantastic building stuck in time. It’s also good value at 15,000D (a guide/brochure is 5,000D extra), which includes an English-speaking guide inside that gives you a potted history of the building. There is also a film shown (in several different languages) at the end of the tour. The film, however, is rather unintelligible and will confuse rather than educate.
From journal Ho Chi Minh City
Plymouth, United Kingdom
November 6, 2004
The Palace is no longer used as a presidential palace, which is now in the capital, Hanoi; however, be aware that it is not open when there are official meetings taking place. If you find it closed to visitors, it is well worth making the trip back, especially as it was only 66p each for the entrance fee.
From journal Vietnam Voyage
dundee, United Kingdom
May 9, 2003
It will come as no surprise that the tour focuses on the period of the American War and includes the war room, communications room and a photo gallery of war images. But one of the most interesting things about the building is that it has been frozen in time. Many museums around the world focus on ancient history, but here you get to see the décor and technology from the sixties and early seventies, still maintained as if they shut up shop yesterday.
The tour takes you around many areas of the building, including the obligatory souvenir shop (prices are not bad) and a traditional music demonstration where you get to play the instruments – good fun but a bit out of place here in the palace.
The tour finishes after a walk through the basement, again if you don’t mind a good dose of propaganda then its worth the extra half hour to see the documentary which has some excellent archive footage.
We timed our visit a bit wrong and arrived late morning – unaware that the palace closes for lunch. You need at least an hour to do the tour plus an extra 30 minutes for the film.
From journal Saigon Sights
by Desiree Koh
June 14, 2002
From journal Ho Chi Minh City -- The New Old Asia
February 24, 2002
French Trained Architect Ngo Viet Thu built the Hall at the request of President Ngo Dinh Diem after the previous Norodom Palace (built for the French Govenor in 1868) had been destroyed in 1962 during an assassination attempt on Diem’s life by two members of his own air force. Completed in 1966, 3 years after a more successful assassination attempt on Diem, the palace has a very ‘60s feel to it. Yet despite its stuffy exterior inside it is surprisingly open and airy.
Passing the huge wrought iron gates that stand out front one cannot help but feel part of history as the breaching of these gates by an NLF tank in 1975 and the subsequent unfurling of the North Vietnamese flag from the top of the palace are iconic moments in this nation's history. Wandering through the beautifully manicured gardens, one is struck by the austerity of the exterior and can’t help but feel a certain dread about what lies inside.
Once through the entrance, however, it is an entirely different story as your guide leads you through the airy rooms with there 1970s furniture and decorations still in place one is overcome by the feeling of how kitsch it all is no more so than in the president’s personal movie theatre with its circular sofa. Outback is the president’s personal living quarters, surprisingly Spartan and simple compared to the rest of the palace they provide an insight into the men who lived here.
Finally there is the basement with its bomb shelters and war rooms; complete with radio equipment, large-scale maps and miles of tunnels just the sort of thing that you expect from a military bunker. There are even a couple of little screening rooms where you can kick back and relax in front of a rather dodgy collection of news reel footage telling the story of the war from a somewhat biased view point (but still what do you expect).
You are then unceremoniously dumped back out into the spectacular gardens and the Cong Vien Van Hoa Park, with a vague sense that you have just experienced something surreal. A fascinating look into the schizophrenic nature of this once divided society -- well worth a visit.
From journal Don't Miss Saigon