A visit to the exterior of the Presidential Palace, plus a house Ho Chi Minh lived in from 1954 to 1958, then his so-called House on Stilts, and his car collection, naturally follows a stop at nearby Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum.
Simply follow the crowds when you leave the mausoleum and you'll find yourself at the ticket booth to here, with the first stop in this complex being the exterior of the ochre-coloured Presidential Palace.
Today the palace is the official home of Vietnam’s president, but it was originally the residence of the French Governor-General of Indochina. The ornate 30-room palace, built in Beaux Arts style at the start of the 20th century by French architect Auguste Henri Vildieu, is also used occasionally by the government for state receptions, particularly when heads of state visit. Architectural Digest named the palace one of the 13 most beautiful in the world in 2016.
For obvious symbolic reasons, Ho Chi Minh refused to move into the palace when the French were ousted in 1954, though he did receive guests there. Instead he moved into a modest cottage on the grounds while he waited for a house on stilts he commissioned to be built.
You'll file past the several rooms of the first house, kept absolutely pristine, and a garage where his collection of well-preserved, gleaming cars remain stored behind glass today.
Then you'll go up the stairs of his stilt-house, or Nha San Bac Ho, which he moved into during 1958 and remained living at until his death, just over a decade later. Constructed of polished wood, the bungalow has a light and airy feel, and was built in the style of a traditional ethnic minority house from Vietnam's northwest. As the brochure they've been handing out for years reads, "Uncle Ho's House on Stilts is a symbol of his simplicity and gentleness. There are only some rooms here, but all of them are full of wind, light and fragrance from the garden…" Guards stand ramrod straight underneath the bungalow to maintain order, and visitors are only permitted to peer into the two upstairs rooms from the outside.
The house is set in a stretch of mango tree-filled parkland around a lake. You don't have to follow the lines—take a detour to enjoy a quiet stroll off piste.
By Samantha Brown.
Last updated on 1st April, 2017.
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