War Hotels

Vietnam war journalists’ hub: Caravelle Saigon

War stories from the Caravelle Hotel, a vital vantage point for journalists in old Saigon reporting the Vietnam war.

The Vietnam War has been called the first truly televised war – and the Caravelle Hotel in old Saigon was one of its most vital media hubs.

As American involvement in the Vietnam War increased in the 1960s, so did the world’s media attention. International news crews, reporters and photojournalists descended on Saigon, the capital of then-South Vietnam, to beam war stories to the world.

They set up camp in the city’s hotels, especially those on the strategically located Lam Son Square. Media, military and intelligence personnel rubbed shoulders as war stories were sniffed out in the bars and restaurants.

Over 30 years of dramatic history, the Caravelle became a local character in its own right. At times it was a reliable home base for the press corps – and at others it was a target itself.

Many moments of the war were filmed and photographed from its balconies and rooftop.

In this film, veteran reporters share their memories from the early days of the war in the 1960s, through to the fall of Saigon to communist North Vietnam in 1975.

Renowned AP correspondent Peter Arnett, NBC correspondent Jim Laurie, local Vietnamese UPI photographer Hoang Van Cuong and BBC cameraman Eric Thirer, together with John Gardner, once a manager of the hotel, recall the events that unfolded around this extraordinary war hotel.