One of the most unique buildings in the city, it was designed by the award-winning Vietnamese architect Ngo Viet Thu, who was educated in Paris and Rome. It was considered a radically modern building at the time, and today stands out among the surrounding French-style structures in the surrounding area.
Construction began on the new presidential palace in July 1962 on the site of the former Norodom Palace. This was named after the then king of Cambodia and served as the home and offices of the French governors-general during the French colonial period, and later of the first president of South Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem. A few month’s before construction on the new palace began, Norodom Palace was damaged beyond repair by two rebellious South Vietnamese Air Force pilots who flew their bombers over it and bombed it in an attempted assassination of Diem, rather than embark on a raid against the Viet Cong.
For some, more than anything else, the palace symbolizes the end of the war in Vietnam. One of the most enduring images of the war was captured by photographer Neil Davis when, on 30 April 1975, a North Vietnamese Army tank crashed through the main gate. Video of the event was broadcast across the globe as the world sat fixated on their TVs, mesmerized by this important episode in Vietnamese history. Later that day, the transfer of power took place, with President Duong Van Minh, in office for only two days, officially surrendering to the North Vietnamese.
Today, the palace remains very much like it was during its role as the presidential palace. It is still used for official government functions.
Visitors can tour the majestic halls and view the eloquent chambers, meeting rooms, grand dining rooms, the president’s office, and the underground bunker which served as the command center for the president and his staff during the campaign, and the exterior gardens of the compound. The palace even had an escape tunnel that led to the nearby Gia Long Palace.
Both the interior and exterior design are clean and minimalist and the furniture is simple yet elegant. Seeing the unique and modern architecture and interior furnishings alone makes this venue worth the visit.
Visiting hours are 7:30-11:00 AM & 1:00-4:00 PM. Admission is 15,000 VND.