The Fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975 heralded the end of the Vietnam War (referred to in Vietnam as the Liberation of Saigon in the American War), the symbolic moment immortalised in the iconic image of the first North Vietnamese tank crashing through the main gates of the then Presidential Palace (now Reunification Palace, also Independence Palace) with jubilant soldiers proudly flying their flag.
The war (also known as the Second Indochina War) provided the world with many iconic images over a 20 year period, particularly as, for the first time in history, photojournalists were embedded with soldiers in the battlefield and the invention of television meant that events in Vietnam could be beamed into living rooms across the globe in quick time.
Perhaps one of the most iconic and more memorable images of the war was taken by Dutch photographer Hubert van Es on its penultimate day on April 29, 1975 when he miraculously captured the image of South Vietnamese civilians scrambling to board a waiting US helicopter atop the elevator shaft above the offices of the CIA at what is now 22 Ly Tu Trong Street.
For the first time ever since that day, the general public is welcome to make the climb up the stairs or take the short lift ride to the 9th floor to see and experience the very location for themselves.
There is now a small cafe at the top located just under where the “whopping” of the chopper’s blades and rotors would have been at their most deafening.
Especially for history buffs, this site is a must-visit when in Saigon – it has a little bit of everything – history, nostalgia, architecture and some of the best uninterrupted views of Saigon, a city that’s rapidly changing.
Now, over a sticky and sweet caphe sua da in the cool of the tropical morning, or (coming soon) over a beer in the late afternoon, you can take it all in for yourself, no matter how old you are or no matter what turns you on.
Location: 22 Ly Tu Trong St., District 1, HCMC, Vietnam Open daily from 7am
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