1. Overview of Independence Palace Saigon
The Independence Palace is one of the most attractive historical destinations in Ho Chi Minh city (Sai Gon). In 1868, the 150-year-old architectural work was built by La Grandière, a French Governor in South Vietnam. Thus, flows of visitors visit the place to know more about Vietnam’s history during many up and down periods. The work was recognized as a national historical and cultural relic in 1976. Let’s explore the Independence Palace in Sai Gon with Mekong Smile Tour!
The historical relic is located at 135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. Another address is 106 Nguyen Du Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. The Independence Palace is also near the Saigon Central Post Office and Notre Cathedral Dame. It borders other 3 streets: Huyen Tran Cong Chua Street in the back, Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street on the right, and Nguyen Du on the left.
Opening hours and entrance tickets
The palace opens for a visit from 7:30 am to 11 am and 1 pm to 4 pm every day (including Vietnamese holidays) from 7:30 am to 11 am and 1 pm to 4 pm. Buy your ticket at the office to the right of the main gate, then follow the instruction sign inside the office to enter the main hall.
- Exhibit and palace: Adult: VND 65,000/person; Vietnamese University Students: VND 45.000/person; Child: VND 15,000/person
- Palace admission ticket: Adult: VND 40,000 /person; Vietnamese University Students: VND 20.000/person; Child: VND 10,000/person
- Guided tour: VND 350,000/group less than 25 people
- Electric car: VND 15,000/pax
Audio guide services
There is an audio guide service with six available languages (English, French, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese) for tourists to understand historical places more completely. Visitors will be provided with a headset to listen to the presentation in their preferred language.
2. Independence Palace Sai Gon goes through the history
The colonial era
At that time, the palace was named Norodom and belonged to the French governors as their residence and office.
The post World War II
When World War II occurred, Japan’s governors took over the palace and it become the headquarter for Japan’s officials.
In 1955, the Norodom palace was renamed the Independence Palace by the Ngo Dinh Diem regime. The Palace was also the main office and residence of Ngo Dinh Diem and his family. However, in 1962, a rebellious bombing seriously destroyed many parts of it. As a result, Ngo Dinh Diem ordered Architecture Ngo Viet Thu to design and build the new palace. After the assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem, the Independence Hall became the home and office of Nguyen Van Thieu from 1967 to 1975.
After Vietnam War
Moreover, on 30th April 1975, the building witnessed a historical moment when the Vietnamese flag fluttered on the roof of The Independence Palace in the 1975 spring offensive. The event marked the milestone of the unification of Vietnam. Since then, the palace’s name was officially renamed Reunification Palace (Dinh Thong Nhat), and controlled by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
3. Exploring the campus of the Independence Palace
The tranquil and peaceful atmosphere on the campus
The Independence Palace has a total area of is 4,500m2 and a total usable area of 20,000m2. The historical building includes three main floors, two mezzanines, a terrace, two basements, and a ground floor used as a helipad. The surrounding is vast and fresh because of the green wooden trees and the lawn. Many old trees here are from the French colonial period.
There is an oval lawn with a diameter of 102 meters in the front yard of the Palace. The diameter combines with a vast forest creating a solid for the building. Inside the campus, there is a semicircular lake following the length of the yard. People grow lotus and water lilies in the lake, creating a peaceful scene just like typical ancient temples and pagodas in Vietnam.
The meaning behind the arrangement of the architecture
The architecture arranged the layout of the Independence Palace delicately based on Eastern philosophy. The designer uses Chinese characters to convey best wishes to Vietnamese people.
Particularly, the whole plane represents the word “吉(Jí)” in Chinese – good things and luckiness; the center area reflects the word “口 (Kǒu)” to promote education and freedom of speech. The flagpole is just like the line in the middle of the word “口 (Kǒu)” and makes the word “中 (Kun)” a reminder of loyalty.
The surrounding porches, the balcony porches, and the vestibule porches describe three dashes meaning “三 (Sān”) – number 3, representing humanity, cleverness, and virtue. If you connect three dashes with a straight line, you will see the word “王 (Wáng)” – King.
When combined with the upper flagpole as a dot, you can see the word “主(Zhǔ)” – possession. The designer intends to declare the national sovereignty of Vietnam. The front of the palace creates the word “興 (Xīng)” – prosperity, which is the prayer for wealthiness.
4. What to see inside the palace
After restoring and rebuilding, the palace reflects the beauty of modern and Asian architecture. Visiting the palace, visitors can admire the delicate architecture and furniture of different rooms. In addition, they can watch artworks and other artifacts in the palace. Passing through the main gate, visitors walk along an arched trail around the lawn to reach the palace. The palace has many rooms with different beauty and roles.
On the first floor
On the first floor, there is a cabinet that has enough seats for over 500 people and is used for important meetings, receptions, and cabinet launch ceremonies.
Besides, the State Banqueting Hall where presidents host noble events with a capacity of 100 guests welcomes every visitor.
The second floor
Moving to the second floor, visitors can explore the National Security Council Chamber where the President met his councilors and generals. They hang military maps about the war situations in Vietnam on the walls.
Besides, visitors can drop by the Presidential Office to have a look at the office where the president works. Especially, there is a private place for family members of the presidents to live – the Residence of the Presidential Family.
Then, the President Reception room will amaze visitors because of its elegant architecture. The room includes two parts: one part for foreign countries’ ambassadors and the other for the Republic of Vietnam governors.
The third floor
The last floor includes The First Lady’s Reception Room where the First Lady met her guests, the representatives of a nation or international organizations. The decoration is simple but elegant and cozy.
Moreover, the credentials room displays 40 paintings describing the peaceful Vietnamese life in the 15th century. One of the most outstanding paintings is “Binh Ngo Dai Cao” – the Victory Declare.
Other interesting parts of the palace
The library has many books and research papers on former presidents. The soldiers take responsibility for updating, operating, and deploying military operations by the military map systems. Also, the palace has rooms for entertaining activities, such as the ballroom, the cinema room, and others for the presidents to recreate.
Apart from these rooms, the Thematic area displays many articles and photographs from the past. Thus, visitors can learn about historical events behind the arts. Visitors should not miss the exhibition area named “From Norodom Palace to Independence Palace, 1868 to 1966”. The section shows the formation, historical milestones, and events; occurring at the Independence Palace.
The two basements
Besides, there are two basements beneath the Independence Palace Saigon. Lieutenant Colonel Engineer Phan Van Dien, also the Chief of the Independence Palace, was responsible for designing the basements. The basement has a tunnel 72.5 meters long, 0.8 meters wide, and 0.6 to 20.5 meters deep. Each basement room links with a small entrance and is equipped with armored walls and ventilation systems to protect presidents.
5. Notes when visiting the Independence Palace Saigon
Because the Independence Palace is a national historical site, visitors must comply with the regulations here. Visitors will be held accountable if they cause any damage to the palace.
- Dress formally and do not wear skirts or shorts.
- Follow the guard’s instructions and the signs during the tour
- Do not bring luggage/ food or drinks/ animals/ weapons, explosives, or harmful chemicals into the monument
- Take responsibility if you cause any damage to the monument.