Summer Series: Ho Chi Minh City’s Independence Palace
School’s out in Ho Chi Minh City!
That means my writing projects are on hold for the next two months. Instead of paid work, I’m going to be
dragging my family around leading my family on adventures in Vietnam, Australia and Malaysia.
I’m going to try to find time to share short and sweet blog posts about the highlights of our summer activities.
So welcome to the first article in this series.
Ho Chi Minh City’s Independence Palace
One of Saigon’s must-visit landmarks, the palace is as much a shrine to 60s kitsch as it an iconic image of the end of the Vietnam War.
The war ended on April 30, 1975, when tanks crashed through the palace gates and North Vietnamese troops took control of the seat of government. Black and white photographs from that day are displayed in the bunker underneath the palace, and some of the tanks and a fighter jet from the winning team remain in the palace grounds.
It’s officially the Independence Palace, or Dinh Độc Lập in Vietnamese, but it’s also known as the Reunification Palace.
Even though we drive past this place regularly, Miss M had never been inside. The attraction’s long lunch break thwarted previous attempts to visit when friends were in town. So today, the first Monday of the school holidays, it became the destination for our first summer school excursion.
The current building, designed by Vietnamese architect Ngo Viet Thu, was completed in 1966 when the war was in full swing. It was the President’s residence as well as the military headquarters for the war effort.
It’s also pretty ugly, a stark 1960s Communist-style building containing a lot of concrete.
It was built because the former palace, a fancy colonial masterpiece completed in 1871, was bombed in 1962. The damage to Norodom Palace was so extensive President Ngo Dinh Diem decided the new palace should be built.
Miss M’s verdict: BORING!
My verdict: perhaps we should have tried this on a day when a certain person got out of bed on the right side. I found it interesting and I’ve been several times before. The new signage adds to the overall experience.
Highlight for Miss M: the playground at the back of the palace
My highlight: the overall shagadelic-ness of everything, insights into Vietnam’s history
Don’t miss: the cafe behind the palace. If you’re traveling with kids, you can get a table across from the playground. Just make sure you remind them to look both ways before crossing the driveway between the playground and the cafe.
Address: 135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia St, District 1
Entry fee: VND30,000 for adults, VND5,000 for children
Opening hours: 7.30am to 11am, 1pm to 4pm
Time required: 1.5 to 2 hours, including playground and cafe time
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