Believing that the Presidential Palace was too grand for him, Ho Chi Minh, on becoming president of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1954, arranged for a modest wooden structure to be built in a corner of the palace’s extensive grounds. Modeled on an ethnic minority stilt house, this unassuming two- story structure is known as Nha Bac Ho or Uncle Ho’s House. Next to the stilts and surrounded by plants are the tables and chairs that were used by members of the politburo during meetings with Ho Chi Minh.
Wooden stairs at the back of the house lead to two rooms: a study and a bedroom, both kept just as they were when the great man was alive. The study has an antique typewriter and a book- case. The bed room is even more spartan, with a bed, electric clock, an oldfashioned tele- phone, and radio as the only concessions to comfort. Surrounding the modest house are carefully tended gardens with weeping willows, mango trees, and fragrant frangipani and jas- mine. Ho Chi Minh lived here from 1958 to 1969.
Close to the presidential stilt house, the Botanical Gardens boast two lakes and abundant greenery, as well as a perma- nent sculpture exhibition.