Reunification Palace, Ho Chi Minh City
On the morning of 30 April 1975 the 43-hour old government of South Vietnam sat quietly on the second floor of this grand building - then called the Independence Palace - waiting to transfer power to the Northern forces who were crashing through the wrought iron gates below. 'There is no question of you transferring power', they were told by a Viet Cong officer. 'You cannot give up what you do not have.'
It is partly because of the rich history of this building - and partly because of the striking modern architecture - that this building is one of the most fascinating sights in the city. Preserved almost exactly as it was on the day Vietnam was reunified, the building took its current form in 1966 after it had been partially destroyed in an attack by South Vietnam leader Diem's own air force (they really hated him, it seems). Now, the building is a magnificent example of 60s architecture - airy and open with spacious chambers and tasteful modern decorations. The building is still used for official functions.
The most interesting section of the Reunification Palace is the basement - a network of tunnels and rooms, including a war room and a telecommunications room. One of the tunnels stretches all the way to Gia Long Palace, now known as the Revolutionary Museum. Reunification is in District 3, in the heart of downtown Ho Chi Minh.
The Huge Park facing the Reunification Palace (Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street) that ends in front of the Diamond Plaza Mall in Pham Ngoc Thach Street and bisected by le Duan Street is a favorite of Vietnamese Locals for Hanging around and Meeting friends at acquaintances. On Sundays, the park will be full of local people and there will be many motorcycles lying around the periphery as the locals hang around and some even bring along picnic baskets and have coffee on the premises. Admission to the Park is free, just be careful when crossing the wide streets since the motorcycles just swerves in all directions.