Let’s explore the travel journeys at Phu Quoc Prison – a special historical monument filled with emotions. This is the place that holds great memories of the resilient struggle of the Vietnamese people and the pain caused by the atrocities of the colonial empire. Although the war has passed, the traces at this location still exist, containing everlasting memories in the hearts of revolutionary soldiers and all visitors who come to visit. Join us in discovering and delving deeper into this historical heritage, a place that touches the heart of every guest who comes to visit.
1. Phu Quoc Prison – A Place of Deep Historical Memories
Located at 350 Nguyen Van Cu Street, An Thoi Commune, approximately 28km from the center of Duong Dong town on Phu Quoc Island, Phu Quoc Prison is one of Vietnam’s renowned historical landmarks. During the tumultuous periods of the Indochina War, this place was known as “Coconut Tree Prison” and served as a large-scale prisoner-of-war detention center for the Republic of Vietnam, housing over 32,000 prisoners.
In 1995, Phu Quoc Prison was recognized as a National Historical Monument by the Ministry of Culture and Information. Since then, it has become an attractive tourist destination. Stepping foot here, visitors cannot help but be touched by the stories of wartime struggles and the terrifying memories associated with the periods of French and American occupation. These stories are realistically retold, bearing witness to the cruelty and brutality of the war. Let Phu Quoc Prison bring back to life the historical memories and provide a deeper understanding of the ups and downs of the Vietnamese nation in the past.
2. The History of Phu Quoc Prison Historical Site
2.1. Phu Quoc Prison during the French Occupation: Haunting Memories of “Coconut Tree Prison”
In 1946, when the French took control of Phu Quoc, the largest prison in Southeast Asia was built. Covering an area of approximately 40 hectares, the prison was divided into four zones: A, B, C, and D. It became a symbol of oppression and suffering, surrounded by barbed wire and guard towers. Prisoners were subjected to brutal torture, and under these conditions, 99 communist soldiers sacrificed their lives.
After the Geneva Agreement in July 1954, the management of the prison was transferred back to Vietnam. One might have thought the horrifying story had come to an end, but “Coconut Tree Prison” witnessed a new nightmare, even more brutal and terrifying.
2.2. Phu Quoc Prison during the American – Nguy Regime: Forms of Brutal Torture
At the end of 1955, under the control of the Vietnamese government, a new detention camp was built on an area of about 4 hectares and named “Coconut Tree Prison,” with separate sections for male, female, and elderly prisoners. Here, barbaric forms of torture such as the tiger cage, nailing into the forehead and knees, and high-voltage electric shock were mercilessly used on the imprisoned soldiers.
During this period, thousands lost their lives, tens of thousands were injured and left disabled with incurable wounds. Phu Quoc Prison stands as a poignant symbol of the harshness and cruelty of war upon humanity.
3. Phu Quoc Prison – Present-day Historical Relics
3.1: Battalion 8 Sentry Gate
The Battalion 8 Sentry Gate is a reconstructed structure made of reinforced steel and solid bricks, faithfully replicating the historical appearance of the original gate. Its square shape, situated between two pillars, reflects the historical beauty of the site.
3.2: Prisoner Cemetery
Located approximately 1 km from the detention camp in Zone B2, the Prisoner Cemetery takes a circular form with a monument in the shape of a clenched fist, symbolizing the indomitable spirit of the nation. It serves as a memorial site for those who sacrificed their lives during difficult periods in the past.
3.3: Kien Van Church
Kien Van Church is a remnant with remaining cement columns, covering an area of over 4000m2. It used to be a church within the prison where prisoners and laborers sought faith and hope.
3.4: Supplemental Relics Exhibition House
The exhibition house comprises two rooms. Room 1 contains artifacts and the history of the formation of the prison, while Room 2 displays 100 documentary photographs showcasing various forms of enemy torture and the courageous struggle of the Vietnamese people during the war.
3.5: Zone B2
Zone B2 is currently under reconstruction, covering an area of over 17,000m2. It includes watchtowers, fences, prison gates, tiger cages, kitchen, dining halls, prisoner detention areas, and torture chambers. These structures recreate the harshness of prison life and the heart-wrenching emotions of those imprisoned.
3.6: Martyrs Memorial at Sim Hill
The memorial is designed with two 5m-high wave-shaped sides, symbolizing the departed souls who sacrificed themselves for the country.
3.7: Battalion 7 Sentry Gate
The Battalion 7 Sentry Gate is approximately 4.1m tall and 0.85m wide, serving as a remembrance of the contributions made by Battalion 7 Sentry in the prison’s history.
3.8: Prison Command Headquarters Gate and House
The reconstructed Prison Command Headquarters Gate and House are made of reinforced concrete, providing visitors with a realistic view of the difficult life of prisoners in the past. The main gate is made of strategic steel plates and barbed wire, evoking the pain and suffering of the past.
4. Historical Significance of Phu Quoc Prison
Phu Quoc Prison plays a crucial role as an important historical symbol, bearing the bitter results of the struggles and sacrifices of the Vietnamese people during the Indochina War. It has witnessed the heinous crimes committed by the United States and the French colonialists, with brutal and ruthless torture methods used to break the fighting spirit of the revolutionary soldiers.
Visiting Phu Quoc Prison allows us to glimpse into every corner and hear the stories of those soldiers, understanding the unwavering determination, resilience, and bravery of the Vietnamese people. The prison serves as a vivid historical record, enabling us to deeply empathize with the pain and suffering endured by those who sacrificed for the nation’s independence and freedom.
5. Unmissable Experiences at Phu Quoc Prison Historical Site
5.1: Witness the reenactment of torture scenes in Zone B2
In Zone B2, visitors have the opportunity to witness a realistic reenactment of the brutal torture scenes that once took place in the prison. By narrating the wartime stories through statues of prisoners and soldiers, a deeper understanding and profound emotional connection to the harsh reality of the struggle for independence can be gained.
5.2: Explore the solitary confinement cells and torture chambers
The solitary confinement cells and torture chambers are essential points of interest within the prison. These were the places where revolutionary soldiers were held captive and endured terrifying torture methods at the hands of the colonial powers.
5.3: Learn about the different forms of torture by the US colonialists at Phu Quoc Prison
At Phu Quoc Prison, visitors have the opportunity to learn and gain a deeper understanding of the brutal torture methods employed by the US colonialists, such as the tiger cages with barbed wire, nailing, tooth extraction, and breaking teeth with a hammer, among many other cruel tactics. These methods showcase the cruelty and horror of war and serve as a warning of the devastating consequences of war on humanity.
Enjoying these unique historical experiences, visitors will have the chance to commemorate, pay tribute, and express gratitude to those who sacrificed for the freedom and independence of their homeland.
6. Some notes when visiting Phu Quoc Prison:
- Dress appropriately: As Phu Quoc Prison is a historical site, visitors should wear appropriate and respectful attire to show reverence for the space and significance of the place.
- Limit touching or handling artifacts: The artifacts and structures at Phu Quoc Prison need to be protected and preserved, so visitors should avoid touching or handling them to prevent damage.
- Bring food and drinks: The historical site of the prison is quite extensive, so visitors should bring food and drinks during the visit to ensure convenience and avoid the inconvenience of not finding places to purchase food and beverages.
- Maintain cleanliness: Ensure cleanliness by not littering and adhering to the sanitation rules of the historical site.
- Opening hours and entrance tickets: Phu Quoc Prison is open from 8:00 AM to 11:30 AM in the morning and from 1:30 PM to 5:00 PM in the afternoon. Entrance tickets are entirely free of charge.
Enjoy the historical experience: Phu Quoc Prison holds a wealth of historical knowledge and provides visitors with memorable experiences. Enjoy and explore the historical stories and authentic images at this location.