Ho Chi Minh City, known as Saigon in the past, has always been famous for being the epicenter of all lifestyles, cultures, and extravagance of both the Eastern and Southwestern regions of Vietnam. Whether you’re a domestic or international traveler interested in learning about the history of this Vietnamese land, you should definitely visit Independence Palace at least once. As a living witness to tons of bombs and bullets during the years of war, with people coming and going, those in power rising and falling, Independence Palace has now become a part of life and memory, preserving a piece of the history of the people of Saigon.

Sometimes, a journey back in time can provide you with valuable experiences. Along with DanangPrivateCar.com’s travel insights, find out how much a ticket to explore and visit Independence Palace costs.

Historical Information about Independence Palace

In 1868, the French government began designing and constructing a mansion to serve as the residence for the Governor of Cochinchina in the center of Saigon, which was known as Dinh Norodom. The construction was initiated by the French Governor of South Vietnam, La Grandière, who laid the first stone on February 23, 1868, and completed the building in 1871. From that point until 1945, this mansion was used as the residence and workplace of the French Governors during the period of French colonization in Indochina.

On March 9, 1945, the Japanese invaders overthrew the French colonial rule and took control of Indochina, turning Dinh Norodom into the working place for the Japanese government in Vietnam. However, in September 1945, following their defeat in World War II, the French returned to occupy Southern Vietnam and continued to use Dinh Norodom as their headquarters.

On May 7, 1954, the French failed in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, which forced them to sign the Geneva Accords and withdraw from Vietnam. Subsequently, the United States became involved in South Vietnam, leading to the division of our country into North and South.

The original architecture of Independence Palace

On September 7, 1954, Dinh Norodom was handed over from the French government, represented by General Paul Ely, to the government of Saigon, represented by Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem. At that time, Ngo Dinh Diem changed the name of the palace to Independence Palace. On October 26, 1955, Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem deposed Emperor Bao Dai, established the government of the Republic of Vietnam, and assumed the presidency. From that point, Independence Palace became the residence of the Ngo Dinh Diem family. Due to their autocratic regime and oppression of the people, Ngo Dinh Diem caused much discontent among the populace and internal government dissent in Saigon.

On February 27, 1962, Independence Palace was bombed, causing the entire left-wing of the palace to collapse. Ngo Dinh Diem had the site cleared and built a new mansion on the same grounds. The construction was unfinished when Ngo Dinh Diem was assassinated on November 2, 1963. Therefore, on the inauguration day of the palace on October 31, 1966, the presiding officer was President Nguyen Van Thieu.

On April 30, 1975, tanks from the Vietnamese People’s Army broke through the gates of the palace. When the flag of the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam was raised on the roof of the palace, it marked the liberation of South Vietnam, the reunification of North and South, ending over a hundred years of struggle against foreign invaders.

With its rich and tumultuous history, Independence Palace has become a very special national monument, attracting numerous domestic and international tourists and serving as an important venue for various meetings and events at the city and national levels. After over 100 years of history, Independence Palace still stands proudly, preserving its ancient beauty and harboring many secrets. It is an essential part of the Saigon identity.

Information about Independence Palace

Where is Independence Palace located?

Address of Independence Palace:

  • 135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
  • 106 Nguyen Du Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

Independence Palace in Saigon is also known by various other names such as Dinh Thong Nhat, Dinh Thong Doc, Dinh Norodom. The palace is situated in the central part of District 1, with its main facade on Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, the rear on Huyen Tran Cong Chua Street, the left side on Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street, and the right side on Nguyen Du Street.

The historical site is located at 135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

Ticket Prices for Independence Palace 2023

Does Independence Palace in Saigon sell admission tickets? Independence Palace in Saigon charges an admission fee, and the ticket prices for 2023 are as follows:

Independence Palace admission ticket:

  • Adults: 40,000 VND per person
  • Students: 20,000 VND per person
  • Children: 10,000 VND per person

Independence Palace admission ticket + “From Dinh Norodom to Independence Palace 1868 – 1966” exhibition:

  • Adults: 65,000 VND per person
  • Students: 45,000 VND per person
  • Children: 15,000 VND per person

What are the opening hours of Independence Palace?

The opening hours of Independence Palace are as follows:

  • Visiting hours: Morning from 7:30 AM to 11:30 AM, and afternoon from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM
  • Ticket sales hours: Morning from 7:30 AM to 11:00 AM, and afternoon from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM

How to get to Independence Palace

Getting to Independence Palace in Saigon is quite easy. If you have a personal vehicle, you can simply use Google Maps to search for the palace’s name, and it will provide detailed directions. For a more specific experience while visiting Independence Palace, you can park your car on Huyen Tran Cong Chua Street or in Tao Dan Park.

Private cars provide a simple and quick means of transportation

If you prefer to use public transportation, here are some bus routes that pass by Independence Palace:

  • Route 001 (Ben Thanh – Cho Lon Bus Station)
  • Route 002 (Ben Thanh – Western Bus Station)
  • Route 03 (Ben Thanh – Thanh Loc)
  • Route 04 (Ben Thanh – Cong Hoa – An Suong Bus Station)
  • Route 05 (Cho Lon Bus Station – Bien Hoa)

Furthermore, after visiting Independence Palace and if you wish to explore more places, choosing a reliable means of transportation can save you time. You can consider using the Ho Chi Minh city private car services provided by Danang Private Car’s. Our drivers can pick you up from your hotel in Ho Chi Minh City or the airport and take you to your desired destinations, ensuring a hassle-free experience. Using private car services can be cost-effective and convenient for groups of friends, families, and international travelers, especially when navigating the public transportation system in Ho Chi Minh City might pose some challenges.

When is the best time to visit Independence Palace?

Most of the visitor areas are indoors, so they won’t be significantly affected by the weather. However, to avoid unfavorable weather conditions, it’s best to plan your visit during the dry season, with sunny and rain-free days, which typically runs from around April to December. Particularly, on important national holidays like April 30th, the palace also hosts many meaningful activities.

What Makes the Architecture of Independence Palace Special?

One of the aspects that leaves people in awe when learning about Independence Palace is its incredibly distinctive architecture.

Exterior Overview of Independence Palace in Saigon

Independence Palace is a unique architectural work designed by architect Ngô Viết Thụ. When designing this palace, he aimed to create a culturally significant structure, so all the interior and exterior elements are imbued with traditional Eastern cultural elements and a touch of modern architecture.

Notably, if you pay attention, the architecture of Independence Palace is intentionally modeled after beautiful Hán-Việt characters, as follows:

  • The entire facade of the palace is shaped like the character “CÁT” (吉), meaning good fortune and luck.
  • The top floor has the character “KHẨU” (口) in the shape of a gate, symbolizing the importance of education and freedom of speech.
  • The “KHẨU” (口) character has a central flagpole with vertical lines, forming the character “TRUNG” (中), signifying the need for balance and justice for democracy.
  • The roof’s four-sided awnings have horizontal lines creating the character “TAM” (三), representing the three elements of Humanity, Wisdom, and Bravery in individuals.
  • These three horizontal lines are connected to the vertical lines, forming the character “VƯƠNG” (王) with a tower on top creating a dot, forming the character “CHỦ” (主), symbolizing the sovereignty of the nation.
  • On the front of the palace, the combination of the entire second and third floors, along with the entrance canopy and two wooden columns under the canopy, forms the character “HƯNG” (興), expressing wishes for eternal prosperity for the nation.
Chinese characters are hidden in the architecture of the Independence Palace

The architecture of Independence Palace is also exemplified by a stone flower pattern that simulates bamboo nodes, elegantly surrounding the second floor. This not only enhances the palace’s beauty but also serves to attract sunlight. Inside the palace, all lines and elements are characterized by straight lines, symbolizing the phrase “chính đại quang minh” (great virtue and bright truth) as the foundation.

Interior Inside Independence Palace, Saigon

Independence Palace features over 100 rooms, each decorated according to its specific purpose, often with different architectural styles. Architect Ngo Van Thu added an elegant and refined touch to Independence Palace through stone floral curtains that take the form of vertical bamboo stalks along the hallways on the second floor. These curtains serve multiple functions, including shading from the west, welcoming northern sunlight, wind protection, and subtle coverage.

Furthermore, the interior architecture of the palace maintains straight and flat lines, symbolizing “quang minh chính đại,” a concept of brightness and greatness.

Surrounding Landscape of Independence Palace, Saigon

In front and behind the palace, there are two green parks and artificial lakes, designed to regulate the air. In the early 1960s, this was one of the first architectural projects with an emphasis on green design.

View of Independence Palace from above

The front yard of Independence Palace is an oval-shaped grassy area with a diameter of up to 102 meters, providing a pleasant ambiance as you enter the gate. Additionally, there’s a lotus pond and semi-circular fountains running along the width of the grand hall, reminiscent of Vietnamese temples.

The palace grounds are mostly covered with lush green lawns, old trees providing ample shade, and precious ornamental plants. In the distance, on a raised plot of land in the left corner of the palace, there’s an octagonal pavilion with an open space used for relaxation.

What’s Inside Independence Palace?

Independence Palace is divided into three distinct areas: the permanent area, the thematic area, and the supplementary area. Each area has its unique characteristics, offering visitors different experiences to explore.

Permanent Area

Inside the permanent area of Independence Palace: This area is where the former government’s work and activities took place. Exploring various rooms, including the cabinet, the security council room, the ceremonial hall, the banquet hall, the president’s office, and the offices of officials, visitors will find documents, photographs, and artifacts that vividly and authentically recreate the historical events that transpired in these rooms.

The fixed area inside the palace is where the main government machinery works and operates

Thematic Area

Discovering the thematic area: Large exhibitions and thematic displays are held here. Many photographs taken and recorded in the past, accompanied by guided explanations, help visitors gain a better understanding of the challenges the city faced during various conflicts. In particular, the exhibition “From Dinh Norodom to Independence Palace 1868 – 1966” details the entire construction process and significant milestones of the palace.

This place frequently hosts exhibitions and historical displays

Supplementary Area

The supplementary area: Over the years, a vast collection of rare documents and photographs, difficult to find elsewhere, have been gathered and displayed in this area.

Visitors can learn about a glorious period in the nation’s history through valuable historical photographs.

Each photograph tells a story of the resilient and unwavering spirit of the Vietnamese people in their struggle. Looking at these images, visitors can feel a sense of pride and gratitude toward those who sacrificed and dedicated their lives to building a peaceful life for the people of Vietnam today.

Sights Near Independence Palace

The expected time to fully explore Independence Palace is approximately 2 hours. Therefore, you can combine your visit with some other nearby attractions such as:

Tips for Visiting Independence Palace – What to Keep in Mind

To have a meaningful and complete visit, here are some pocket tips and useful notes for travelers visiting Independence Palace.

  • Where to buy Independence Palace admission tickets? You can easily park your vehicle and then move to the palace entrance to buy tickets directly at the ticket counter.
  • On weekends, it’s advisable to arrive early to queue up for tickets, especially during peak hours because the palace only sells tickets from 8:00 AM to 3:30 PM.
  • Dress neatly and respectably, and avoid clothing that is too revealing or too short when visiting historical sites.
  • Pay attention to maintaining order while touring. Walk in an organized manner to facilitate listening to the guide and avoid disturbing other tour groups.
Remember to adhere to the regulations of the historical site
  • A helpful tip: Don’t wear high heels if you plan to explore both the interior of the palace and the spacious outdoor area. Comfortable low-heeled shoes or sneakers will be much more suitable.
  • Experience tells you not to touch or move any objects, paintings, or exhibits on display in the palace to avoid damage or altering their original positions.
  • Travelers should be aware that some areas of Independence Palace may have signs prohibiting photography or smoking. Therefore, pay attention to the rules indicated on notice boards.
  • During your visit, dispose of trash in the designated areas and maintain the cleanliness of the tour routes and spaces within Independence Palace.
  • When touring the palace on hot, sunny days, it’s a good idea to bring some light snacks and drinks to replenish your energy if you start feeling tired.

Here are our guidelines for visiting Independence Palace in Saigon. We hope that DanangPrivateCar.com’s has provided you with useful information to fully explore Independence Palace. It can be said that Independence Palace is not only a famous tourist destination in Ho Chi Minh City but also a source of pride for the people of Vietnam in general. So, stepping inside to visit Independence Palace will undoubtedly be a memorable experience for any traveler.

The Cu Chi Tunnels were originally a resistance base for our nation during the Indochina War. This place is known as the “city underground” with a labyrinthine system of tunnels, numerous rooms, clinics, storage facilities, and kitchens. Today, the tunnels are not only classified as a special national historical site but also a fascinating destination that attracts a large number of domestic and international tourists who come to explore and learn about the wartime history of the Vietnamese people.

Some information to know about the Cu Chi Tunnels.

Where are the Cu Chi Tunnels located?

The Cu Chi Tunnels are one of the 6 special artificial works in the world and one of the 7 most extraordinary destinations in Southeast Asia. These tunnels are situated in an area on the outskirts of Saigon, along Provincial Road 15, in Phu Hiep Ward, Cu Chi District, Ho Chi Minh City. They are approximately 60 km northwest of the city center. Referred to as the “Land of Steel Heroes,” this place houses a tunnel system stretching nearly 250 km underground. It served as the battleground for the army and people of the South during the resistance against invading enemies, fighting for the independence and freedom of the country.

Cu Chi Tunnels is located on the outskirts of Saigon, about 60 km away

History of the formation of the Cu Chi Tunnels.

The tunnels were formed during the resistance against French colonial rule (1946 – 1948). During this period, the people of Tan Phu Trung and Phuoc Vinh An communes dug short tunnels to hide and store weapons. Initially, each village constructed its own tunnel, but later, to facilitate movement between villages, they interconnected these tunnels to form a more complex and extensive system. Over time, the tunnels expanded to many areas, especially in the six northern communes of Cu Chi, becoming a hiding place for troops and a means of communication between them.

Cu Chi Tunnels were formed during the resistance war against the French colonialists

From 1961 to 1965, the people of the northern communes completed the main tunnel routes and developed many connecting branches. Above the tunnels, numerous combat bunkers, nail traps, bell-shaped pits, and minefields were set up. By 1965, around 200 km of tunnels had been dug and divided into three different levels: the upper level was 3 meters below the ground, the middle level was 2 meters deep, and the bottom level was between 8 to 10 meters deep. From then on, the tunnels were used for shelter, meetings, and storing weapons.

Should you visit the Cu Chi Tunnels?

Although the journey to explore the Cu Chi Tunnels in Saigon holds significant historical importance, it offers various activities and interesting destinations, making it an ideal choice for weekend trips or holidays. With prominent points of interest within the historical site and nearby locations, you can expect to have experiences involving history, culture, and even cuisine.

Tips for visiting the Cu Chi Tunnels for first-time visitors.

Does Cu Chi Tunnels have entrance tickets for visitors?

According to the travel experience in Saigon, the Cu Chi Tunnels do offer entrance tickets, and the prices are quite affordable, at only 20,000 VND per person. If you want to explore the resistance base area, there is an additional fee of 40,000 VND. Moreover, within the tunnels, there are two main areas, Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc, both open during the same hours (from 8 AM to 5 PM), but they have different entrance ticket prices as follows:

  • Ben Dinh entrance fee: 110,000 VND per person.
  • Ben Duoc entrance fee: 90,000 VND per person.

How to get to the Cu Chi Tunnels.

There are various ways to get to the Cu Chi Tunnels, either by public transport or personal vehicles (as you prefer). Here are some options to consider:

Motorbike or car: You can travel in the direction of An Suong Overpass and take National Highway 22, but the route is quite far and complex. It’s not advisable for first-time visitors. However, if you enjoy adventurous trips and want to explore the scenery along the way, riding a motorbike can be a good option.

For first-time foreign visitors, you can book a private car from Ho Chi Minh City to Cu Chi Tunnels with DanangPrivateCar.com. Our driver will pick you up anywhere in Ho Chi Minh City. Additionally, you can also rent a car with a driver in Ho Chi Minh City from us to visit other famous destinations in Saigon.

Bus routes to Cu Chi Tunnels depart from the city center

Bus: This is a popular option for most domestic travelers. You can catch a bus from Ben Thanh Station, take either route 13 or 94 to Cu Chi Bus Station, then transfer to bus number 79 to get to Ben Duoc; or take route 13 or 94 to An Suong Station, and from there, take route 122 to Tan Quy Bus Station, then take bus number 70 to reach Ben Dinh.

When is the best time to visit Cu Chi Tunnels during the year?

Visitors can explore the Cu Chi Tunnels at any time of the year, but it is best to avoid the rainy months. During that time, the weather can be unfavorable with strong winds and heavy rains, which may hinder your touring experience and potentially affect your health.

The attractions to visit in the Cu Chi Tunnels.

The Underground Tunnel Area in Cu Chi.

This is undoubtedly the first place you must visit on your journey. By experiencing the 120m long tunnel system with two floors, you can immerse yourself in the lives of Saigon’s residents during the war, facing the harsh realities of the past. During the visit, you’ll have the opportunity to taste the “specialties” of wartime, such as cassava dipped in sesame salt, a simple yet delicious treat.

Under the Cu Chi Tunnels

The Recreation of the War Zone in the Cu Chi Tunnels.

In this area, you can genuinely feel the overall picture of the bloody battle of the old Saigon. Not only that, but it also preserves models of historical relics and beautiful landscapes of Vietnam, such as the Nha Rong Wharf, Long Bien Bridge, Saigon Bridge, One Pillar Pagoda, and more. Don’t forget to capture some photos to make your trip more meaningful.

War re-enactment area in Cu Chi tunnels

The Shooting Range in the Tunnels.

One of the real experiences when visiting the Cu Chi Tunnels is learning how to assemble and shoot old guns. This area attracts many tourists who wish to try their hand at shooting. The entrance fee is 50,000 VND per person for 60 minutes. Additionally, for 3,000 VND, you can purchase a bullet and test your shooting skills, which is extremely enticing.

Shooting area in the tunnel

The Simulated South Sea Bath Area in the Cu Chi Tunnels.

Just a 15-minute walk from the tunnel area, the simulated bath area promises to provide young visitors with a refreshing and cool experience. You can enjoy a dip in the pool. The entrance fee to the bath area is 20,000 VND per person.

The Trung An Fruit Garden in the Cu Chi Tunnels.

After a long journey exploring the tunnels, you should choose Trung An Fruit Garden as the final destination for some relaxing moments. Trung An is a famous fruit garden in the South, where you can find a variety of familiar fruits such as rambutan, durian, jackfruit, sapodilla, plum, and more.

What activities are there in the Cu Chi Tunnels? Fun games you shouldn’t miss.

At the Cu Chi Tunnels, you can participate in various exciting activities on the ground.

After touring and learning about the significance and important features of the Cu Chi Tunnels, visitors can continue their exploration by engaging in fun games such as mock battles with paintball guns, sport shooting, military-style beer games, enjoying the Cu Chi pool area with water ball games, swimming, slides, canoeing, rowing boats, paddleboats on the Saigon River, or watching a 4D movie.

Explore the Cu Chi Tunnels underground.

The tunnels form a vast and winding underground system with varying depths. As you go deeper inside, you’ll feel like you’re lost in a maze. Inside the tunnels, you’ll encounter various rooms like meeting rooms, kitchens, weapon storage rooms, medical rooms, where our soldiers and people used to live.

Join the paintball game

However, during the exploration, it’s crucial to follow the guidance of the tour guide, as the area is equipped with many secret tunnels and cleverly designed traps. The tunnels are quite dark, and the passages are narrow, allowing only one person to pass at a time, so caution is essential.

What delicious food to eat in Cu Chi Tunnels?

Besides being attracted by the fascinating destinations and activities, when you visit the Cu Chi Tunnels in Saigon, you should definitely not miss the chance to taste the local specialties such as boiled cassava, boiled taro, Củ Chi beef, durian, sugarcane juice, various sweet desserts, and especially the boiled cassava, which seems to be a favorite of almost every visitor. You can find this dish in the underground kitchens, and when you try it in the cramped and humid space, you will somewhat experience the hardship and scarcity that the soldiers of the past endured.

Some small tips for exploring the Cu Chi Tunnels.

  • There are no strict dress codes, but it’s advisable to wear neat, dark-colored clothes to avoid difficulties in washing if they get stained.
  • Prepare a pair of sports shoes for comfortable movement during the tour.
  • Apply insect repellent cream because there are quite a lot of mosquitoes, especially as you go deeper into the tunnels.
  • If you have claustrophobia or high blood pressure, it’s better to avoid entering the narrower tunnels.

Above is the entire experience of exploring Cu Chi Tunnels – an important historical site of the Vietnamese nation. If you plan to visit Ho Chi Minh City, you must definitely include a visit to the Cu Chi Tunnels in your itinerary.