The palace got its name from the events on 30 April 1975 when Communist tanks crashed through the wide gates of this government building, to force the surrender of South Vietnam, end the War and reunite North with South. Thus, the Reunification Palace.
Firstly, the building served as a residence for the French governor-general and then was home to South Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem. The old building was bombed in an attempt to kill him. Following his order, new construction with an underground bunker was built that stands to this day. Ngo Dinh Diem was killed in 1963 by his troops, and he did not see the finished palace that later served to the succeeding president who named it Independence Palace.
What you see first is a big field with perfectly trimmed grass, palm trees, round fountain, and Russian and Chinese tanks parked in the shade of big trees.
Inside, the palace has spacious halls and large conference rooms, a banquet room, a president’s office, and a receiving room for diplomats. Some of them are covered with tapestries and maps used to strategize the next moves during the War. Furniture includes cushioned chairs, heavy marble tables, and marble floors with lavish carpets. Some rooms look deserted. For example, a library with many empty shelves and bedrooms with bare mattresses. But you might discover fascinating items like huge model boats, horse tails, or elephant’s feet. There’s also a movie theatre, a rooftop bar, and a helipad with a UH1 helicopter.
Going down to the bunker, you will see old equipment used for communication, radios, typewriters, and transmitters. There’s also a 2 km long underground escape route leading straight to the airport.
The palace is opened 8-11 and 1-4 every day. The price is 40k and 20k for children, and English- and French-speaking guides are on duty during opening hours. You can also see the palace on every 200,000 VND note.