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!

Independence Palace Saigon- A historical attraction
The front of the Sai Gon Indepence Palace


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.

Independence Palace Saigon- A historical attraction
The Saigon Independence Palace’s location is in District 1

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. 

Independence Palace Saigon- A historical attraction
Visitors are waiting to buy tickets

Tickets for: 

  • 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.

Independence Palace Saigon- A historical attraction
Audio guide service for foreign visitors

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.

Independence Palace Saigon- A historical attraction
Norodom Palace in 1873 (Source: Thanhnien)

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.

Vietnam War

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.

Independence Palace Saigon- A historical attraction
The Independence Palace after a bomb attack in 1962 (Source: Vnexpress)

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.

Independence Palace Saigon- A historical attraction
The tank of Vietnam entered the Independence Palace on April 30th, 1975

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.

Independence Palace Saigon- A historical attraction
The large and green campus of the Palace

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.

Independence Palace Saigon- A historical attraction
The oval lawn and diameter in the middle of the campus

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.

Independence Palace Saigon- A historical attraction
The gate of the Independence Palace

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.

Independence Palace Saigon- A historical attraction
The unique layout with hidden meanings

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.

Independence Palace Saigon- A historical attraction
The palace will bring memorable experience for visitors

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.

Independence Palace Saigon- A historical attraction
The cabinet’s decoration is elegant and modern

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.

Independence Palace Saigon- A historical attraction
There are military maps on the wall of the chamber

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.

Independence Palace Saigon- A historical attraction
A corner of the President’s office

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.

Independence Palace Saigon- A historical attraction
The President Reception room contains traditional and modern architectural styles

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.

Independence Palace Saigon- A historical attraction
The chandelier is one of the most attractive features of the chamber

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.

Independence Palace Saigon- A historical attraction
The painting “Binh Ngo Dai Cao”

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.

Independence Palace Saigon- A historical attraction
The spacious library for reading in the Independence Palace Saigon

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.

Independence Palace Saigon- A historical attraction
One of the outstanding pictures in the exhibition

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.

Independence Palace Saigon- A historical attraction
A part of the basement beneath the palace

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.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independence_Palace

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