Inside Vietnam: Cambodia Laos
War Remnants Museum and Reunification Palace

War Remnants Museum and Reunification Palace

Learn about Saigon's fascinating combination of colonial, post-colonial and post-Vietnam War history through its architecture and museums.

Get to grips with Vietnam War history at two of Ho Chi Minh City's most significant sites relating to that era. The Reunification Palace, constructed on the site of the former colonial governor's official residence, is worthy of note both for its architectural merits and its historical significance. On 30th April 1975 a Northern Vietnamese tank drove through the gates, and officially accepted the surrender of the Southern Vietnamese, thus finally bringing the Vietnam War to a conclusion. Similar T-54 tanks are still parked symbolically on the lawn of the Palace today.

Inside, the 1960s palace is unexpectedly kitsch - with a cinema, rooftop nightclub, helipad, and retro card-playing room (described in the Lonely Planet as 'shagadelic'). The president's quarters have been preserved, including his collection of model boats, horse tails and elephant feet - while the basement houses a wartime telecommunications centre. Equal parts eclectic and fascinating, the palace provides a highly unusual look at the Vietnam War era.

The War Remnants Museum is the best place in Saigon to learn about the Second Indochina War - as well as the First Indochina War involving the Viet Minh and French colonialists. The name of the museum was changed from the original 'Exhibition House for US and Puppet Crimes' to the slightly less inflammatory 'Exhibition House of Crimes of War and Aggression', before finally becoming the War Remnants Museum after the easing diplomatic relations between Vietnam and America in 1995.

Occupying several buildings and outdoor courtyards, visitors to the museum can see military equipment including helicopters, fighter planes, tanks and bombs - perfect fodder for history buffs young and old. There are also numerous displays detailing the events of the war and its aftermath, including affecting photographs and displays in English, Japanese and Vietnamese. The perspective on offer is very much one of the victorious Vietnamese, but nevertheless interesting for visitors more familiar with the story told from the other perspective.

When to go:

War Remnants Museum and Reunification Palace

located in Ho Chi Minh City

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