5 Top Museums to Visit in Hanoi, Vietnam

5 Top Museums to Visit in Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi, Vietnam's capital, is full of fascinating museums where you can learn all about the history and culture of the country. These top five museums in Hanoi are all within walking distance of Hoan Kiem Lake and the Old Quarter.

Hoa Lo Prison Museum (Hanoi Hilton)

 inside the Hoa Lo Prison

inside the Hoa Lo Prison

Hoa Lo Prison was originally constructed by the French to hold political dissidents and suspected revolutionaries in Indochina. It's a dark, dismal, and grim place. The walls were painted grey and black to give prisoners a feeling of despair, and prisoners were chained together with no room to move. A real guillotine stands in one corner, used to execute prisoners.

During the Vietnam War, the prison was used as a POW camp by the North Vietnamese, holding such famous prisoners as US senator and presidential candidate John McCain.

Ironically nicknamed the "Hanoi Hilton" by US prisoners, the Hoa Lo Prison Museum is a depressing place, but an important reminder of a dark period of history. Be aware, though, that the museum does offer a fairly one-sided view of the war.

 French guillotine

French guillotine

Location

1 Hoả Lò, Trần Hưng Đạo, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội

Admission

40,000d

Hours

8:00am - 5:00pm daily

Vietnam Military History Museum

 North Vietnamese tank on display in the museum

North Vietnamese tank on display in the museum

Visit the Vietnam Military History Museum to learn more about the war, known as the Second Indochina War, the Vietnam War in the US, and the American War in Vietnam. Here, dozens of old American aircraft are on display outside of the museum, and tanks, weapons, and other artifacts from the two Indochina Wars are displayed with interesting exhibits inside the museum.

The museum is located next to the old Imperial Citadel.

 fascinating collection of USAF aircraft

fascinating collection of USAF aircraft

Location

28A Điện Biên Phủ, Điện Bàn, Ba Đình, Hà Nội

Admission

Adult 40,000d

Student 20,000d (including ISIC cardholders)

Hours

8:00 – 11:30am and 1:00–4:30pm; closed Monday and Friday

Vietnam National Museum of History

 Vietnam Natinoal History Museum

Vietnam Natinoal History Museum

The National History Museum has two adjacent campuses. One, located in a fairly new building, holds artifacts, photographs, and news clippings about the Communist revolutionaries and rebel leaders who fought against the French and Americans in the First and Second Indochina Wars.

The other building, located in a beautiful old yellow-painted colonial building holds exhibits from Vietnamese history, from stone-age people in Vietnam through the recent Vietnam Empire. These exhibits are excellent, and a wonderful display of the history, art, and culture of the country.

Location

214 Trần Quang Khải, Tràng Tiền, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội

Admission

Adult 40,000d

Student 20,000d (including ISIC cardholders)

Hours

8:00am - 12:00pm and 1:30pm – 4:30pm; closed Sunday and Monday

Vietnam Women's Museum

 female revolutionaries and Vietnamese heroes

female revolutionaries and Vietnamese heroes

The Vietnam Women's Museum is an interesting look at the roll of women in Vietnamese society. One section of the museum describes traditional wedding ceremonies and the traditional lifestyle of Hill Tribe mothers. One very fascinating exhibit shares information about the Mother Goddess religion, a traditional folk religion in Vietnam,.

 Mother Goddess shrine

Mother Goddess shrine

Location

36 Lý Thường Kiệt, Hàng Bài, Hoàn Kiếm

Admission

40,000d

Hours

8:00am - 5:00pm daily

Ho Chi Minh Museum

 Ho Chi Minh Museum

Ho Chi Minh Museum

When you visit Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum and the One Pillar Pagoda, don't miss the Ho Chi Minh Museum, located within the same complex.

The museum shows Ho Chi Minh's life through modern and symbolic exhibits. In one room, a large lotus flower is made out of artifacts recovered from wrecked American aircraft. In another, a large glass pyramid is enscribed with Uncle Ho's words in various langauges. It's difficult to describe, so you really should visit this museum and see for yourself!

Location

19 Ngách 158/19 Ngọc Hà, Đội Cấn, Ba Đình, Hà Nội

Admission

40,000d

Hours

8:00am - 12:00pm and 2:00pm – 4:30pm (no afternoon hours Monday or Friday)

Attending a Hanoi Water Puppet Show

Attending a Hanoi Water Puppet Show

Quán Sứ Temple, the Ambassador's Pagoda - Headquarters of the Vietnamese Sangha

Quán Sứ Temple, the Ambassador's Pagoda - Headquarters of the Vietnamese Sangha