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

By Quynh Tran   April 30, 2020 | 01:06 pm GMT+7

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.

The Vietnam War: Reasons for Failure – Why the U.S. Lost

Interviewing James William  Gibson, author of the famed book The Prefect War.

In this groundbreaking book, James William Gibson shatters the misled assumptions behind both liberal and conservative explanations for America’s failure in Vietnam. Gibson shows how American government and military officials developed a disturbingly limited concept of war — what he calls “technowar” — in which all efforts were focused on maximizing the enemy’s body count, regardless of the means. Consumed by a blind faith in the technology of destruction, American leaders failed to take into account their enemy’s highly effective guerrilla tactics. Indeed, technowar proved woefully inapplicable to the actual political and military strategies used by the Vietnamese, and Gibson reveals how U.S. officials consistently falsified military records to preserve the illusion that their approach would prevail. Gibson was one of the first historians to question the fundamental assumptions behind American policy, and The Perfect War is a brilliant reassessment of the war — now republished with a new introduction by the author.

(Introduction of The Perfect War on

Have you ever seen so many elephants?


Update: June, 18/2017 – 09:00

National heroes: Somewhere in the Central Highlands around 1963 as captured in a still frame by journalist Wilfred Burchett on a visit to the liberated zones of South Việt Nam. Photo courtesy of George Burchett

by George Burchett

In April 2015, I was invited by the Cercle des Francophones (Francophone Association) of Hà Nội to present the film Loin du Vietnam (Far from Việt Nam) at the Hà Nội Cinémathèque. The film was made collectively  in 1967 by some of the great names of new French cinéma: Joris Ivens, William Klein, Claude Lelouch, Agnès Varda, Jean-Luc Godard, Chris Marker and Alain Resnais, in support of Việt Nam’s resistance to US aggression.

I was familiar with the film, but decided to do some extra research for the occasion. Tiếp tục đọc “Have you ever seen so many elephants?”

Phim tài liệu Mỹ: Nơi cất giữ tốt nhất những gì đã xảy ra giữa hai dân tộc

LĐCT – 24 VĨNH QUYỀN 6:57 AM, 15/06/2017 

Sau sáu năm thực hiện, từ tháng 9 năm 2017 bộ phim tài liệu The Vietnam War (Chiến tranh Việt Nam) gồm mười phần với tổng thời lượng 18 tiếng sẽ lên sóng truyền hình toàn nước Mỹ qua hệ thống PBS (Public Broadcasting Service, mạng truyền thông công cộng bất vụ lợi với 349 đài truyền hình thành viên tại Hoa Kỳ).

Phim tài liệu Mỹ: Nơi cất giữ tốt nhất những gì đã xảy ra giữa hai dân tộc ảnh 2Cảnh trong phim The Vietnam War

Như vậy, cùng với giải Pulitzer 2016 trao cho tiểu thuyết The Sympathizer (Cảm tình viên) của nhà văn Mỹ gốc Việt Nguyễn Thanh Việt, bộ phim mới đang được giới truyền thông dành nhiều quan tâm này cho thấy người Mỹ vẫn chưa thể quên Việt Nam dù cuộc chiến tranh giữa hai nước đã được cho là kết thúc hơn 40 năm. Đó cũng là một trong những lời bình mở đầu bộ phim. Tiếp tục đọc “Phim tài liệu Mỹ: Nơi cất giữ tốt nhất những gì đã xảy ra giữa hai dân tộc”