10 Museums In Hanoi & Saigon With 400,000 Year-Old Artifacts, War Relics & Aircraft

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Museums in Hanoi and Saigon


Aside from all the natural landscapes, great street food, and vibrant nightlife activities that Vietnam has to offer, big cities such as Hanoi and Saigon have no shortage of museums for the culture buffs out there. They are goldmines of ancient artifacts and rare snippets into the lives of our forefathers that help provide us with a deeper insight into Vietnam’s history. 

So, here are 10 museums in Hanoi and Saigon where you can learn about heartbreaking stories of the Vietnam War, browse through art galleries, and marvel at the fascinating rituals of ethnic minorities.


– Museums in Hanoi –


1. Vietnam National Museum of History – with 400,000-year-old artifacts


museums hanoi saigon - hanoi national history museum 1
Image credit: @vv_hkoz

A 10-minute walk from the iconic Hoàn Kiếm Lake, the Vietnam National Museum of History exhibits the history of Vietnam through the ages, from the prehistoric era all the way to the founding of the current government.

hanoi national history museum indoor
Image credit: @vv_hkoz

Formerly an archaeological research institution during the French occupation, the expansive building is a sight for sore eyes in its own right with its French-style architecture.

museums hanoi saigon - hanoi national history museum exhibits 1
Image credit: @jade.phamm

Past the entrance, underneath a tall tower, you’ll find yourself in spacious rooms and long corridors housing over 200,000 artifacts and relics. They are organized in 5 major sections covering several civilizations that have called the land home. Some objects date back 300,000-400,000 years.

hanoi national history museum exhibits 2
Image credit: @jade.phamm

Don’t miss out on the second wing of the museum, across the street from the main building. Exhibits on this side focus on the Vietnam War in the mid-20th century. Expect to see pictures and documents related to President Hồ Chí Minh, General Võ Nguyên Giáp, and other notable political figures of the time.

The good news is, you can enter both buildings of the museum with the same entrance ticket to get 2 viewing experiences for the price of one.

Address: 1 Tràng Tiền Street & 216 Trần Quang Khải Street, Hoàn Kiếm District, Hanoi
Opening hours: 8AM-12PM & 13.30PM-5PM, Daily | Closes on the first Monday of every
month
Entrance fee: VND40,000 (~USD1.74)/pax
Website


2. Vietnam Museum of Ethnology – showcasing the cultures of Vietnam’s 54 different ethnicities


museums hanoi saigon - hanoi ethnology museum - nha rong
Nhà Rông
Image credit: @mai.phuong.phung

The Vietnamese people as a whole consists of 54 different ethnicities, each with their own language, beliefs, and traditions that contribute to our country’s diverse culture. The Vietnam Museum of Ethnology is a tribute to each and every one of them.

hanoi ethnology museum - indoor exhibits
Image credit: @candy_keovilay

The main building of the museum has 12 sections where you can find objects commonly used in the daily lives of different ethnic groups. Browse through replicas that recreate significant activities in their cultures to learn more about their craft, ceremonies, and worship rituals.

hanoi ethnology museum gia rai tomb
Image credit: @davenguyen1989

Meanwhile, the yard is equipped with life-size models of notable buildings of various ethnic minorities. Some of the fascinating houses worth mentioning are the nhà Rông ­– a tall-roofed building often found in the Tây Nguyên region, or the tomb of the Gia Rai people – which is surrounded by wooden statues of human figures performing intercourse.

museums hanoi saigon - hanoi ethnology museum gia rai tomb 2
Image credit: @kim_syril

Address: Nguyễn Văn Huyên Street, Cầu Giấy District, Hanoi
Opening hours: Tue–Sun 8.30AM-5.30PM | Closed on Mondays
Entrance fee: VND40,000 (~USD1.74)/pax
Website


3. Vietnamese Women’s Museum – a tribute to Vietnamese women and their sacrifices


museums hanoi saigon - vietnamese women museum - gold statue
Image credit: Tevo Kearney-James

As you can expect from its name, the Vietnamese Women’s Museum pays tribute to notable women and their roles in our society. Its goal is to raise awareness about gender equality and support disadvantaged women.

vietnamese women museum 2
Image credit: Chloé Di Maria

The museum features 3 major exhibitions, showcasing women’s role in our daily lives, their contribution to the wars, and fashion. Each of these is then divided into smaller sections with various topics. Browse through them to learn information about the marriage practices of different regions around the country, traditional women’s attire of several Vietnamese ethnicities, biographies of great women throughout history, and more.

vietnamese women museum - heroic mothers pictures
A room paying tribute to Heroic Mothers, women who lost their sons and husbands to the war
Image credit: Jeab Jennie

There is also an audio guide service that walks you through the exhibits. Currently, it is available in 5 languages: Vietnamese, English, French, Japanese, and Korean.

Address: 36 Lý Thường Kiệt Street, Hoàn Kiếm District, Hanoi
Opening hours: 8AM-5PM, Daily
Entrance fee: VND40,000 (~USD1.74)/pax
Website


4. Vietnam Fine Arts Museum – intricate art pieces from different eras


hanoi museum of fine arts 1
Image credit: L M S L

The Vietnam Fine Arts Museum promises an educational trip for any art aficionado. Formerly a dormitory for daughters of French officials studying in Hanoi, the impressive 3-story building houses a large collection of art pieces, both modern and ancient.

hanoi museum of fine arts 2
Image credit: Alvin Sartor

There are 5 main exhibitions here: prehistoric art, 11th to 19th-century art, 20th century to modern art, traditional practical art, and folk art. Covering a wide range of topics, objects on display are vastly different in style. Expect to see Cham sculptures and Buddhist statues in one room, and then lacquerware and oil paintings in the next.

museums hanoi saigon - hanoi fine arts museum 3
“Little Thúy” from acclaimed painter Trần Văn Cẩn
Image credit: Minh Duc Nguyen

Some of the most notable art pieces here are Trần Văn Cẩn’s Em Thúy (Little Thúy) – an oil painting of a girl on a chair, and Tô Ngọc Vân’s Two Women And A Child, showing two girls in the traditional Vietnamese áo dài next to a boy. Both paintings are considered representatives of Vietnam’s contemporary art and are acknowledged as national treasures.

Address: 66 Nguyễn Thái Học Street, Ba Đình District, Hanoi
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 8.30AM-5PM | Closed on Mondays
Entrance fee: VND40,000 (~USD1.74)/pax
Website


5. Vietnam National Museum of Nature – collections of rare bugs and herbs


museums hanoi saigon - nature museum
Image credit: Livana Ho

Humbly nestled inside the University of Science and Technology of Hanoi, the Vietnam National Museum of Nature is a hidden gem that even most locals don’t know about. But once you’re inside the university, it’s quite easy to locate. Simply look for the building with a T-Rex model in front of it.

nature museum bug collections
Image credit: cẩm vân

The entire museum consists of only one room, so you likely won’t spend too much time here. Still, the exhibits are quite diverse, featuring fossils, rare bug and butterfly collections, and stuffed animals.

museums hanoi saigon - nature museum 2
Image credit: Tùng Lê Thanh

It won’t cost you a dime to enter, so feel free to drop by for a quick visit if you happen to be in the area.

Address: Building A20, 18 Hoàng Quốc Việt Street, Cầu Giấy District, Hanoi
Opening hours: Tue–Sun 8.30AM-11.30AM & 1.30PM-4.30PM | Closed on Mondays
Website


6. Vietnam Military Museum – war machines and relics from the Vietnam War


museums hanoi saigon - military history museum war machines
Image credit: jinky TravelDiaries

For those who want more insights into the Vietnam war, the Vietnam Military Museum is a must-see. The expansive museum is home to 150,000 documents and relics that retell the stories of our forefathers’ fights to protect our country.

museums hanoi saigon - military museum flagpole
Image credit: Monalissa Mondigo

The museum is located just on the outskirts of the Hanoi Old Quarter. You’ll find it hard to miss, as it’s right next to the Hanoi Flagpole – a major landmark of the city.

museums hanoi saigon - military museum memorial
Image credit: Nelly Nguyen

Greeting you in the courtyard right past the entrance will be two towering fighter airplanes, both of which played critical roles during the Vietnam War in the late 1960s-early 1970s. There’s also a memorial made from the remains of a B52 and other fallen aircraft. It pays tribute to a decisive victory for Vietnam in 1972 and the sacrifices that made it possible.

museums hanoi saigon - military history museum indoor
Image credit: Mario C

Inside, there are rooms preserving weapons, armor, and other items from various feudal eras. But the majority of the exhibits revolve around more recent wars against French and US forces in the 20th century.

Address: 28A Điện Biên Phủ Street, Ba Đình District, Hanoi
Opening hours: Tue–Thu & Sat–Sun 8AM-11.30AM & 1PM-4.30PM | Closed on Mondays & Fridays
Entrance fee: VND40,000 (~USD1.74)/pax
Website


– Museums in Saigon –


7. War Remnants Museum – somber snapshots of the tragedies during the Vietnam War


museums hanoi saigon - war remnants museum
Image credit: Julian Wong

Most international visitors know of Vietnam through the Vietnam War. It comes as no surprise then, that many would flock to the War Remnants Museum for first-hand information regarding this global event.

war remnants museum war machines
Image credit: Bret J.

At first glance, the museum exudes a similar vibe to the Military Museum in Hanoi, with war machines such as tanks, helicopters, and airplanes displayed in the yard. However, the indoor exhibits tell a completely different story.

museums hanoi saigon - war remnants museum graphic images
Image credit: Bret J.

They are a somber reminder of the tragedies war can inflict, especially upon the common civilians. Expect to see graphic, tear-inducing images here, from the effects of Agent Orange – which have left an indelible mark on those affected till this day – to recreations of prisons and torture chambers.

museums hanoi saigon - war remnants museum images
Image credit: Vinny P Mathew

This is a thought-provoking experience that puts you up close and personal with the atrocities of war. Most often, visitors come away with a new appreciation for the peace that they’ve been able to enjoy.

Address: 28 Võ Văn Tần Street, District 3, Hồ Chí Minh City
Opening hours: 7.30AM-6PM, Daily
Entrance fee: VND40,000 (~USD1.74)/pax
Website


8. Museum of Ho Chi Minh City – architecturally impressive building with a wide range of exhibits



Image credit: @tuuyen_hn

Only 1KM from the War Remnants Museum lies the Museum of Ho Chi Minh City. With its convenient location at Saigon’s center, within walking distance from several other attractions, this is a worthwhile stop during your tour of the city.


Image credit: @haaiinn_

Even if you just happen to pass by the area, the museum is a real head-turner. Built all the way in 1890, the impressive French-style building formerly served as the residence of several governors throughout Saigon’s history before it became a museum in 1978, 3 years after the reunification of Vietnam. You’ll likely spot couples taking wedding photos along its corridors and vintage staircases.


Image credit: @khoamom91

Exhibits-wise, the museum boasts an assemblage of galleries dedicated to various topics, from traditional crafts of the people living in the area throughout the ages, to their beliefs, cultures, and art forms. Of course, there is a large section preserving weapons and documents from the Vietnam War as well.

Address: 65 Lý Tự Trọng Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Opening hours: 7.30AM-5PM, Daily
Entrance fee: VND30,000 (~USD1.31)/pax
Website


9. Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum – associated with a local urban legend


museums hanoi saigon - ho chi minh city fine arts museum
Image credit: @minhnhat.eel

Unlike its Hanoi counterpart which houses an expansive collection of art pieces from different eras, the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum mostly focuses on modern and contemporary art. Still, there is a section dedicated to antique sculptures and artifacts.

museums hanoi saigon - ho chi minh city fine arts museum 2
Image credit: @mmiiscx

Aside from the exhibits, the building itself is already worth a visit. Formerly the mansion of an influential businessman in the 20th century, it boasts vintage French architecture with a touch of Asian influence that makes it a popular check-in spot for local youths. Do note that while taking photos with your phone is free, you’ll have to pay VND300,000 (~USD13.08) to use a camera.

ho chi minh city fine arts museum outdoor
Image credit: @nhbd99

The museum also attracts adventurous thrill-seekers for its association with an urban legend. Word on the street was that the businessman who lived here had a daughter who contracted leprosy. As the disease was considered a curse at the time, he had her locked away to protect his family’s reputation. The girl eventually died alone in torment, and since then, some people have claimed to see her ghost roaming the building’s halls.

museums hanoi saigon - ho chi minh city fine arts museum indoor
Image credit: @shianguyen

Of course, these are just rumors that no one has ever been able to prove, but the stories do add a mysterious vibe that intrigues visitors.

Address: 97A Phó Đức Chính Street, District 1, Hồ Chí Minh City
Opening hours: 8AM-5PM, Daily
Entrance fee: VND30,000 (~USD1.31)/pax
Website


10. Museum of Traditional Vietnamese Medicine – showcasing herbs, ancient prescriptions, and traditional tools


museums hanoi saigon - traditional medicine museum
Image credit: Zheng Hao Choo

The Museum of Traditional Vietnamese Medicine is one of those underrated places that doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves, perhaps due to its location outside of the city’s center and relatively small façade. Yet, once past the entrance, you’ll find yourself in a fascinating space designed like an ancient herbal medicine shop often seen in wuxia movies.

traditional medicine museum wine
Image credit: Dee NZ

Across 18 rooms spread over 6 floors are massive collections of vases and pots, herbs preserved in jars, and other tools used in traditional medicine such as scales and mortars. You’ll learn about the origins of Vietnamese traditional medicine, biographies of famous traditional doctors, how herbs, tea, and alcohol were used to treat wounds or diseases, and how prescriptions looked like back in the day.

traditional medicine museum tools
Image credit: Davor Tadic

Some of the exhibits are interactive, providing you with the chance to see what it’s like to stand behind the counter of an ancient pharmacy. There’s also a souvenir shop offering herbal tea and other organic products for sale.

Address: 41 Hoàng Dư Khương Street, District 10, Hồ Chí Minh City
Opening hours: 8.30AM-5PM, Daily
Entrance fee: VND120,000 (~USD5.23)/pax
Website


Notable museums in Vietnam’s big cities to visit


Whether you’re interested in hearing Vietnam’s side of the story during the Vietnam War, or just want to learn more about our culture, crafts, and art as a whole, these 10 museums in Hanoi & Saigon make for worthwhile stops on your itineraries.

With numerous antique items and valuable documents, they promise eye-opening trips that’ll broaden your horizons. 

For more things to do in Hanoi & Saigon, check out:


Cover image adapted from @kim_syril, Zheng Hao Choo, Nelly Nguyen, and cẩm vân

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