10 Best Museums in Hanoi: A Must-See for History Buffs and Culture Vultures

Must-See Museums in Hanoi

Museums in Hanoi: A Guide to the City's Top Cultural Attractions

Hanoi is capital of Vietnam. It is also a Political – Economic – Cultural – Scientific and Technological center of the whole country. When visiting Hanoi, Museum is one of the most interesting places you should visit. Let us bring you some brief information of top 10 museums in Hanoi.

1. Hoa Lo Prison Museum (Hanoi Hilton)

Hoa Lo Prison Museum

Hoa Lo Prison (Vietnamese: Nhà tù Hỏa Lò) was a prison used by the French colonists in French Indochina for political prisoners, and later by North Vietnam for U.S. prisoners of war during the Vietnam War.
The name Hoa Lo, commonly translated as “fiery furnace” or even “Hell’s hole”, also means “stove”. The name originated from the street name phố Hỏa Lò, due to the concentration of stores selling wood stoves and coal-fire stoves along the street in pre-colonial times.
The prison was built in Hanoi by the French, in dates ranging from 1886–1889 to 1898 to 1901, when Vietnam was still part of French Indochina. The French called the prison Maison Centrale, ‘Central House’, which is still the designation of prisons for dangerous or long sentence detainees in France. It was intended to hold Vietnamese prisoners, particularly political prisoners agitating for independence who were often subject to torture and execution. A 1913 renovation expanded its capacity from 460 inmates to 600. It was nevertheless often overcrowded, holding some 730 prisoners on a given day in 1916, a figure which would rise to 895 in 1922 and 1,430 in 1933. By 1954 it held more than 2000 people; with its inmates held in subhuman conditions, it had become a symbol of colonialist exploitation and of the bitterness of the Vietnamese towards the French.
Following the defeat at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu and the 1954 Geneva Accords the French left Hanoi and the prison came under the authority of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Thereafter the prison served as an education center for revolutionary doctrine and activity, and it was kept around after the French left to mark its historical significance to the North Vietnamese.
During the Vietnam War, it was known to American POWs as the Hanoi Hilton. The prison was demolished during the 1990s, although the gatehouse remains as a museum.
There is now a Hilton Hotel in Hanoi, called the Hilton Hanoi Opera Hotel, which opened in 1999. It was built decades after the Vietnam War was over, but Hilton carefully avoided reusing the dreaded name Hanoi Hilton.
• Address: No. 1, Hoa Lo Street, Tran Hung Dao Ward, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
• Opening hours: everyday, 8: 00 – 17:00 (including festivals and holidays)
• Entrance fee: 30.000VND/person = US$1.40

2. Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

Located on a 43,799-square-metre property in the Cau Giay District, about 8 km from the city center, Vietnam Museum of Ethnology (Vietnamese: Bảo tàng Dân tộc học Vietnam) – known as the city’s best informative and resourceful museum – offers visitors offers an insight into 54 ethnic groups of Vietnam in an effort to preserve cultural heritage and promote socio-cultural diversity within the country.
The outdoor display area exhibits a variety of Vietnamese homes as full-scale replicas, with great attention paid to the varying architectural styles set within the authentic and tranquil gardens.
The proposal for the museum was officially approved on 14 December 1987. Construction lasted from 1987 to 1995, and it was opened to the public on 12 November 1997.
You can occasionally watch Water Puppetry here. It will be one of the most fascinating experiences in Hanoi without doubt.
• Address: Nguyen Van Huyen road, Cau Giay district, Nghia Do, Cau Giay, Hanoi
• Opening hours: Every day except for Mondays, 8:30-17:30
• Entrance fee: 40,000VND / person= US$ 1.80

3. Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum

Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum, ho chi minh

The Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum (Vietnamese: Bảo tàng Mỹ thuật Vietnam) is one of the nation’s most important institutions of culture and learning. Its beautifully arranged galleries house a unique collection of art treasures dating from every era of national life, from early prehistory and classical antiquity through to the epic story of Vietnamese creative genius in the modern age. The Museum’s mission is to preserve, display and inform, building on a keen commitment to research and conservation, and to the sharing of all there is to learn and appreciate about the enduring artistic heritage of the Vietnamese people.
This house (museum) was built by the French in the 30s of the 20th century to provide a place for daughters of French officials from all over Indochina to come to study in Hanoi. In 1962, the Ministry of Culture was assigned to renovate the house with the architectural details of the Vietnamese communal house to display Vietnamese artworks. In 1966, the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum in Hanoi was officially opened to the public.
Ever been to a museum which surprisingly give you inspiration for a wonderful new journey, passion or interests, Vietnam Fine Arts Museum undoubtedly will be the most promising one!
• Address: 66 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Ba Dinh, Hanoi
• Opening hours: Every day except for Mondays, 8:30-17:00 (from 25 May 2020)
• Entrance fee: 40,000VND / person = US$ 1.80

4. Vietnamese Women’s Museum

Vietnamese Women’s Museum (Vietnamese: Bảo tàng Phụ Nữ Vietnam) was established in 1987 and run by the Vietnam Women’s Union which is recognised as one of the country’s most powerful movements.
In 1991, Vietnam Women’s Museum began cosntruction and opened officially to the public in 1995 and had been renovated between 2006 and 2010. More than 1000 materials, photos and objects displayed in the permanent exhibition show the role the Vietnamese women played in history and currently play in arts and in family life. The museum also organizes thematic exhibitions to show changes and development of the contemporary society.
• Address: 36 Ly Thuong Kiet Str, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
• Opening hours: Every day from 8.00– 17.00
• Entrance fee: 40,000VND / person = US$ 1.80

5. Vietnam National Museum of History

The Vietnam National Museum of History (Vietnamese: Bảo tàng Lịch Sử Quốc Gia) was established on the basis of the amalgamation of the National Museum of Vietnamese History and the National Museum of the Vietnamese Revolution under the Decision No. 1674/QĐ-TTg dated 26 September, 2011 of the Prime Minister..
The National Museum of Vietnamese History was founded on the material facilities of the Louis Finot Museum – a museum belonging to the École Française d’Extrême-Orient which was built in 1926 and inaugurated in 1932. In 1958, the Vietnam Government officially took over this cultural institution and converted the exhibition contents from eastern arts into national history. On 3 September 1958, the National Museum of Vietnamese History was officially opened for visitors.
The National Museum of the Vietnamese Revolution was originally the Department of Indochinese Commerce that built in 1917 under the French time. The Museum was officially opened for visitors on 6 January, 1959.
After more than half a century of operation, the entire resources of the former National Museum of Vietnamese History and the National Museum of the Vietnamese Revolution have been merged into a unique museum – The Vietnam National Museum of History as of today.
This is a place to preserve, display, and introduce Vietnamese history from prehistoric to present through a system of extremely rich and valuable documents and artifacts, including many National Treasures.
The first building is at No 1 Trang Tien Street (Vietnamese History from Prehistoric period to Nguyen dynasty, 1945) and the second building is at 216 Tran Quang Khai Street (Vietnamese History from the mid-19th century to present).
• Address: No. 1, Trang Tien – No. 216 Tran Quang Khai, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
• Opening hours: Every day except 1st Monday of each month,
Morning: from 8.00 – 12.00
• Afternoon: From 13.30 – 17.00
• Entrance fee: 40,000VND / person= US$ 1.80

6. Vietnam People’s Air Force Museum

Vietnam People's Air Force Museum

The Vietnam People’s Air Force Museum, Hanoi (Vietnamese: Bảo Tàng Phòng Không – Không Quân) is located on Truong Chinh Street in the Bach Mai District of Hanoi. The museum is on the edge of the disused Bach Mai Airfield.
The museum tells the history of the Vietnam People’s Air Force (VPAF) from its formation in 1954 through to the present day. There is a heavy emphasis on its role in the Second Indochina War (1955-1975) and the Cambodian-Vietnamese War (1978-1989). The museum comprises one main building with displays on the history of the VPAF, biographies of VPAF aces, uniforms and flightsuits, aircraft weaponry and engines, items from downed US aircraft and the forward fuselage of a MiG-21. Outside is a static park with aircraft of the VPAF and the Republic of Vietnam Air Force.
• Address: No.173C Truong Chinh Road, Thanh Xuan District, Hanoi.
• Opening hours: Every day except Friday,
• Morning: from 8.00 – 11.00
• Afternoon: From 13.00 – 16.00
• Entrance fee: 20,000VND / person

7. Vietnam Military History Museum

Vietnam Military History Museum

The Vietnam Military History Museum (Vietnamese: Bảo tàng Lịch sử Quân sự Việt Nam), set up on 17 July 1956, is one of seven national museums in Vietnam.
The museum consists of various buildings. Eras of Vietnamese military history are showcased in different buildings on the complex. The Flag Tower of Hanoi is within the bounds of the complex as well. It is possible for visitors to enter the first two tiers of the tower, however, the spire is inaccessible.
The museum also includes a display of decommissioned, captured or destroyed military equipment and vehicles used by French, Viet Minh, North Vietnam, South Vietnam and the United States during the First and Second Indochina Wars. This display, located right next to the Flag Tower of Hanoi, has become known as “The Garden of Toys”. There is a Highlands Coffee chain store in which visitors can rest, as well as souvenir shops where one may browse various products.
• Address: 28A Dien Bien Phu, Ba Dinh District Hanoi, Vietnam
• Opening hours: Every day except Monday & Friday.
• Morning: from 8.00 – 11.30
• Afternoon: From 13.30 – 16.30
• Entrance fee: 40,000VND / person

8. Ho Chi Minh Museum

The Ho Chi Minh Museum (Vietnamese: Bảo tàng Hồ Chí Minh) does exactly what, given its name, you would expect it to do. Opened in 1990 on the anniversary of Ho Chi Minh’s birth, the Soviet-style museum is a bizarre hagiography brought to life.
This is also one of the most informative museums in Hanoi, undoubtedly in the country, Ho Chi Minh museum is conveniently located in Ho Chi Minh Complex.
The whole museum is an elaborate description of Ho Chi Minh’s life. The museum is a collection of artifacts, miniatures and various gifts gathered nationally and internationally. There is also description written in English and France, as well as guided tours on request.
• Address: 19, Ngoc Ha Street, Doi Can Ward, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
• Opening hours: Every day except Monday & Friday.
• Morning: from 8.00 – 12.00
• Afternoon: From 14.00 – 16.30
• Entrance fee: 10,000VND / person

9. Ho Chi Minh Trail Museum

A throwback to the 1980s, Ho Chi Minh Trail Museum (Vietnamese: Bảo tàng Đường Hồ Chí Minh), about 13km southwest of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, is dedicated to the famous supply route from Vietnam’s Communist North to the occupied South. The displays, including an abundance of American ammunition and weaponry as well as some powerful photography, document all too clearly the horrors of the American War, from a distinctly Vietnamese viewpoint. A short film fills you in on the details and English captions are good, while the recreated tunnels are well worth exploring.
• Address: Yen Nghia, Ha Dong, Hanoi
• Opening hours: Every day except Sunday.
• Morning: from 7.30 – 11.30
• Afternoon: From 13.30 – 16.30
• Entrance fee: 20,000VND / person

10. Hanoi Police Museum – Museum of People’s Public Security

Hanoi Police MuseumThe Hanoi Police Museum (Vietnamese: Bảo tàng Công An Hanoi) is a unique museum that takes you through the periodical history of Vietnam’s much praised police force. The exhibits are lined with numerous photographs, newspaper cut outs, artefacts, brochures and everything that tells about the history of Vietnam’s great police force. The beauty of the museum is enhanced by the various displays of uniforms, weapons, motorbikes, station dioramas and many photographs and documents taking the visitor through a chronological history of the police force. From their efforts to expel the French in 1946 till today while they fight drugs and cyber crime, it’s all on display for the public.
• Address: 67 Ly Thuong Kiet street, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
• Opening hours: Every day except Monday & Sunday, from 8.00 – 16.30
• Entrance fee: Free

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