Vietnam Museum of Ethnology in Hanoi

While over 85% of the modern Vietnamese people belong to the Kinh ethnicity, the country is home to 53 other ethnic minorities living in more secluded areas. Each has their own language, beliefs, and lifestyle, yet they all contribute to shaping the Vietnamese culture as a whole.

For culture and history buffs keen to learn more about the people of Vietnam, the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology in Hanoi exhibits relics, real-life models, and picture galleries reflecting the lives of different ethnic groups that’ll give you a glimpse into how diverse Vietnamese culture really is.

Indoor space with exhibits of daily life objects

vietnam museum of ethnology
Image credit: Bảo tàng Dân tộc học Việt Nam – Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

Opened in 1997 and located west of the Tay Ho Lake, the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology’s main building is shaped like a Đông Sơn drum – inspired by the bronzework of northern Vietnamese Đông Sơn communities.

museum of ethnology indoor exhibits
Image credit: Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

The main building of the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology is divided into 12 sections that pay tribute to all 54 Vietnamese ethnic groups. Here, you can find objects commonly used in their daily lives on display, as well as replicas and dioramas that recreate important activities in their cultures, such as their crafts, rituals, and ceremonies.

Image credit: @muffinsandmountains

Each exhibit comes with a sign providing information about it in Vietnamese, English, and French.

museum of ethnology ritual recreation
Image credit: @candy_keovilay

There’s also a second building dedicated to exhibits about different ethnic groups in the Southeast Asian region.

vietnamese ethnic clothing
Ethnic communities’ traditional outfits are displayed here
Image credit: @kftv

Again, you can drop by to learn more about their daily lives, social structures, arts, crafts, and spiritual beliefs.

Image credit: Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

Outdoor space with life-size house models

museum of ethnology nha rong
Image credit: @mai.phuong.phung

Outside, the expansive yard houses many life-size models of the signature buildings of various ethnic minorities. One of the highlights here is nhà Rông, a type of house popular in the Tây Nguyên region, characterized by its tall roof. A nhà Rông is considered the administrative center of a village, and is where all important events take place.

museum of ethnology - gia rai tomb
Image credit: @davenguyen1989

Another fascinating building is the tomb of the Gia Rai people, which is surrounded by statues of couples performing intercourse.

Image credit: @kim_syril

The statues reflect the Gia Rai community’s customs of celebrating death and life together.

museum of ethnology - e de house
Image credit: @ashika_laughs

Indeed, the celebration of fertility and birth is a common theme in the beliefs of many ethnic groups. The Ê Đê community, for instance, display wooden carvings of a woman’s breasts in front of their houses underneath a crescent moon – another symbol of femininity. The carvings reflect the Ê Đê people’s high regard for both fertility and female powers, as their society is a matriarchal one.

museum of ethnology event - calligraphy
Image credit: Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

Aside from the regular exhibits, the museum also hosts events during special occasions. In February 2019, for instance, there was an event to commemorate the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, where visitors got to enjoy live demonstrations of calligraphy writing and bánh chưng making, as well as participate in traditional games such as tug of war and stilt-walking.

Visit the Museum of Ethnology in Hanoi

With its expansive collection of relics and exhibits, the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology is a destination that culture or history enthusiasts should not miss out on in Hanoi. A trip here is sure to broaden your horizons.

Address: Nguyễn Văn Huyên Street, Cầu Giấy District, Hanoi
Opening hours: Tue–Sun 8.30AM-5.30PM | Closed on Mondays
Telephone: 02437562193
Admission fee: VND40,000 (~USD1.73)  (adults), VND20,000 (~USD0.87, college and university students), VND10,000 (~USD0.43, high school students or younger)
50% off for elderly and disabled visitors, and for visitors from Vietnamese ethnic minority groups
Free for children under 6, severely disabled visitors, donors, ICOM, Friend Of The Museum, and journalist cardholders

Learn more about Vietnamese culture here:

Cover image adapted from @eric_tavernier, @kim_syril, and @kim_syril


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