Trip down memory lane: a secret army base inside Saigon Zoo

By Quynh Tran   April 29, 2020 | 10:06 pm PT
Authorities set up a replica of a restaurant that was inside Saigon Zoo during wartime and was a secret base of the People's Army.
Quan Nhan Huong relic inside the Saigon Zoo in District 1 was one of the secret bases of the Saigon Special Forces, founded in 1963. The restaurant hid military cadres, special forces and was also the place where the leaders met soldiers to give direction and motivate them before the battles.

Nhan Huong inside the Saigon Zoo & Botanical Gardens (Thao Cam Vien) in District 1 is at the exact location the restaurant was when it was a secret base for the People’s Army half a century ago. It was where soldiers held secret meetings before battles.

The person who established the restaurant is Nguyen Van Tung, born in 1913 in Tra Vinh Province. He built the shop with his saved up money and named Nhan Huong after his deceased wife. Saigon Zoo was chosen as where to build the restaurant because it was a crowded place, creating a perfect hideout for officials as they could go in and out easily with drawing much suspicion. In addition, the shop is also conveniently located near the enemy headquarters.

The restaurant was established by Nguyen Van Tung, who was born in 1913 in Tra Vinh Province. He named it Nhan Huong after his late wife.

Saigon Zoo was chosen as the location because it was a crowded place which enabled the troops to go in and out easily without drawing much attention. In addition, it was also conveniently located near the enemy headquarters.

The shop has an area of about 100-meter-square with displays depicts the same over view of this place half a century ago.

The relic has been re-created to look exactly as it did half a century ago.

The restaurant employees were descendants of the owner  who also helped the owner with hiding and keeping this place absolutely confidential.

The restaurant employees were all relatives of the owner, which enabled him to keep the goings-on there confidential.

Replicated models of diners, soldiers and waiters vividly depicts the restaurant when it was packed with customers during peak time. Among the guests are many soldiers and security personnel serving the U.S military forces who had to suspicion about this place it the secret base. 

Among its guests would be U.S soldiers and security personnel, who had no inkling the restaurant was a secret enemy base. 

The bedroom where the Peoples Army of Vietnam used to rest in.

The bedroom Vietnamese soldiers used to rest.

Closer look at the secret base of Peoples Army of Vietnam during war time - 12

Also on display are historical documents, images and weapons. During the 1968 Tet Offensive, the restaurant served as an important base for the storming of the Independence Palace.

Some weapons of the Vietnam special tasks are put on display.

Some weapons used by the communist soldiers are on display.

Nhan Huong Restaurant welcomes guests for free during weekdays and attracts many visitors on holidays. The shop was recognized as a historic structure of Saigon in 2014.Vietnam celebrate Reunification Day on April 30 and Labor Day on May 1.

Nhan Huong Restaurant gets many visitors especially during holidays. The place was recognized as a historic relic in 2014.

Vietnam celebrates Reunification Day on April 30, which this year marks the 45th anniversary after the fall of the Saigon regime.

go to top