Talking about the museum, you may think of the tedious buildings filled with not so interesting samples, lying solemnly behind the glass wall. Sounds like a horrible place to visit, isn’t it?
However, it is not the case for these best 10 museums in Hanoi. If you want to have a better understanding of Hanoi, Vietnam in general, museums are definitely the places you must go and take a look. You will be surprised by the colorful, mysterious and lively atmosphere of Hanoi museums. Don’t hesitate to get a chance of traveling back in time with us.
Explore the top 10 museums of Hanoi
We will get started with a very special museum: Hoa Lo Prison reconstructed from the original Maison Centrale’s base. Hoa Lo Prison basically was built by French colonialists to jail Vietnamese political prisoners.
Even though most of the buildings were demolished during wartime, a part of Hoa Lo Prison was converted into a one-of-a-kind museum in the whole Hanoi.
Hoa Lo Prison gate
Touring around this museum will give you a brief description of how the prison got both the nicknames “Hell’s Hole” (the literal meaning of “Hoa Lo”) and “Hanoi Hilton”.
You will go through small and barely lit jail rooms and see the brutal and horrible living conditions of Vietnamese prisoners by the sight of chained human-like puppets and the torture rooms. The torture equipment is all displayed, even the notorious original guillotine that will give you chills and shivers.
You will go through jail rooms and see the brutal and horrible living conditions of Vietnamese prisoners
On the other hand, the museum also exhibits the quarters for American prisons. These quarters are well-equipped with accommodations and pictures showing a really hotel-like life of the Americans: playing chess, raising chickens, playing football,... Other objects on display including letters, used personal belongings and so on.
This museum will give you a piece of truth and a bit of thought about the Vietnam War. The entrance ticket will be 20.000 VND (about 1 US$) and tour guides are available. The museum open daily (even on holidays) from 8:00 to 17:00.
However, you should take consideration if your group has children since they may not cope well with the visual and audio materials presented in the prison.
The scary guillotine inside Hoa Lo prison
>>> Take a FREE WALKING TOUR including Hoa Lo Prison <<<
Next, we will go through one of the largest museums in Hanoi – the Vietnam Museum Ethnology. If you are interested in the diversity of ethnic groups in Vietnam and are curious about the colorful culture of Vietnam, this is the right place for you.
Nhà Rông - A big house built in each village of Vietnamese ethnic groups for important meetings
Unlike most museums, Vietnam Museum of Ethnology is not an only indoor exhibition, there are full-scale replicas of traditional village homes of the 54 ethnic Vietnamese groups outdoor. The greatest thing is you can practically go into the house and take a lot of photos. If you were a fancy architecture, this would be a must-visit museum for you in the whole of Vietnam.
Inside the exhibit building, you can see various things from traditional clothes, household utensils, examples of tribal art. This is how we can introduce the symbolic and religious rituals and traditional way of life of each group to the tourists and natives alike. You will be caught in a Wonderland filled with color, aliens and mystery.
Weaving activity is a long-term and strenuous work
The ticket price of Vietnam Museum of Ethnology is 40.000 VND (2 US$), Vietnamese, French and English tour guides are available. If you want to bring in your camera, it will cost you an additional 50.000 VND (2.5 US$).
And here are small tips for you: you should bring some water, a hat and sunglass because you will spend time outside, under the direct sunlight. You should also wear comfortable clothes (avoid high heels and skirts) if you want to climb in the replicas of traditional houses.
Another one-of-a-kind museum is the Vietnamese Women’s Museum, a museum dedicated only to women. It was rated as top 25 interesting museums in Asia and ranked 1st tourist attraction in Hanoi. Is this enough to stir your curiosity?
A rock grinder - An rudimentary way to grind rice, seeds,...in the past
Vietnamese Women's Museum will give you the most insightful knowledge about Vietnamese women, from their clothes, their habits and their ways of life. There are three permanent exhibits, including Women in History, Women in Family and Women in Fashion. Each of them will give you light to an aspect of Vietnamese women and their contribution.
More inside of the museum
The specialty of this museum is the display on the “Heroic Mothers of Vietnam”. This display is in order to commemorate women who lost children and family members during Vietnam wartime, which will bring you to tears.
The exhibit is reserved on the top floor of the museum for an impressive schedule of temporary exhibitions. You should check out the schedule of the display before visiting the museum.
The display “Heroic Mothers of Vietnam”
The entrance fee for the Vietnamese Women’s Museum is 30.000 VND (1.5 US$). you can enjoy free audio guide in Vietnamese, English and French. The museum opens daily from 8:00 to 17:00.
>>> Discover Hanoi Women's Museum in HANOI MUSEUM TOUR. It's FREE
Now, we will go to a famous museum to commemorate the life of our great leader: Ho Chi Minh Museum. This museum will give you a chance to know more about the life of Ho Chi Minh and the struggle of the Vietnamese to win the war.
Ho Chi Minh huge bronze statue placed in the middle of the museum
The museum is basically divided into 8 chronological parts of the display. You will be invited into a journey of Ho Chi Minh’s life, from upbringing, youth to a national hero and greatest leader of Vietnam. With this, you will have a chance to get a better understanding of the beloved father figure of our country.
In the museum, artifacts, miniatures, letters and communications related to his life and work will be displayed. The museum is considered to be brilliantly bizarre, intriguing, informative and just plain weird.
Clothes, books and some writings used by Uncle Ho
However, the opening hours of the Ho Chi Minh Museum are a bit tricky. It opens daily, from 8:00 to 12:00 and from 14:00 to 16:30. However, on Monday and Friday, the museum only opens from 8:00 till 12:00. The ticket for foreign tourist is 40.000 VND per pax (2 US$). The tour guide is also available.
The Ho Chi Minh Museum is a part of the Ho Chi Minh Complex, so we offer Ho Chi Minh Complex & Temple of Literature Walking Tour just for you, so you can have the best experience while in Vietnam.
If you are interested in Vietnamese art forms, welcome to Vietnam Fine Arts Museum, the house of traditional, religious, modern and contemporary Vietnamese art.
Take a look into the museum
The museum’s artworks are displayed chronologically, from ancient Champa carvings, 20th-century folk paintings to 21st-century abstract works. You can see various schools of art in this museum: abstraction, impressionism, folk narratives are the most common here.
One of the best and most famous artwork is the sublime effigies of Guan Yin, the 1.000-armed and 1.000-eyed Goddess of Compassion.
Numerous of unique artworks
Much like other museums in Hanoi, you can visit the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum with a cheap entrance fee of 40.000 VND (2 US$). The museum opens from 8:30 to 17:00 daily and only closes on Tet Holiday. The tour guide is also available.
>>> Get your FREE ITINERARY PLANNING in Hanoi <<<
Yet, Vietnam National Museum of Nature is a must for any nature-lover. The museum will bring you along a journey of 3.6 billion years of evolution. This is one of the leading museums about nature in Vietnam.
Some beautiful arts about animals outside the museum
Even though the display site is quite small, but the design and decoration are really nice, warm and friendly. Most of the specimens are, of course, glass-cased, but you can find models of giant species outdoor. In total, there are around 1.400 unique samples showing the formation of life throughout 3.6 billion years are now exhibited.
You can bring your kids here to learn about the amazing natural world
In the museum, you can register to watch 3D movies about space, marine, dinosaur, insect, fish and human evolution. The opening time is from 08:00 to 11:30 and from 13:30 to 16:30 daily, no entrance fee.
Hanoi Museum will definitely give you a deeper understanding of Hanoi city. Hanoi Museum exhibits the past and present of Hanoi with thousands of artifacts relating to the capital and this is the largest and the most modern museum in the whole country.
The pyramid-upsidedown architecture of Hanoi Museum
Hanoi Museum will impress you with the unique architectural design of an inverted pyramid. This museum has miniature models of Hanoi in many eras: Tien Thang Long area, Phung Nguyen Grave, the map of Co Loa, Dong Son culture and other pictures of Hanoi.
A large number of antiques from the whole country are being displayed in this museum, you can see artifacts such as bowls, vases and labor tools collected and displayed here. From that, you will be able to understand a part of Vietnamese colorful and diverse culture.
Ancient drum in the Ly Dynasty
The opening time is from 08:00 to 11:30 and from 13:30 to 17:00 daily, no entrance fee.
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Now, we will introduce you a really special museum: The B-52 Victory Museum, dedicated to displaying the wreckages and aircraft shot down during the Vietnam War.
Artillery - the most modern weapon Vietnam Army used in the war
In this museum, you will have a chance to see the history of the Vietnamese revolution, the First Indochina War and the Vietnam War, Operations Rolling Thunder, Linebacker and Linebacker II and the air defense of Hanoi. The outdoor models include the wreckage of a B-52D rumored to be shot down during Operation Linebacker II and various air defense equipment.
The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 08:00 to 11:30 and 13:00 to 16:30. There is no entrance fee.
Old pilot equipment displayed in the museum
In case you are a military fanatic, the Vietnam Military History Museum is a suitable destination for you. It is one of the seven national museums of Vietnam. An interesting fact is that the Flag Tower of Hanoi is located inside of the museum grounds.
You can also visit the Flag Tower located in the museum's ground
There are various buildings in the museum complex, each will display artifacts related to an era of the Vietnamese military history. Visitors can enter the first two tiers of the Flag Tower, however, the spire is inaccessible.
The museum also offers exhibits of decommissioned, captured or destroyed military equipment and vehicles used by the United States and the NVA during the Second Indochina War.
The exhibits mostly consist of artifacts and little description or explanation, you should prepare yourself a bit of the First and Second Indochina wars to understand artifacts and the references within the notecards better.
The body of the B52 plane fell in Hanoi
The entrance fee is 40.000 VND (2 US$), but there is an additional fee if you want to use your camera. The museum opens every day, except for Monday and Friday. The opening hours are from 8:00 to 11:30 and 13:00 to 16:00.
The history of Vietnam was built by wars, so it is easy to understand the huge number of military-related museums in Hanoi. The Vietnam People's Air Force Museum is also a good choice for tourists.
The instrument panel of an aeroplane used in the war
The museum presents the history of the Vietnam People's Air Force (VPAF) from its formation in 1954 to this day and mainly about its contribution in the Second Indochina War and the Cambodian-Vietnamese War.
The display area will show you artifacts about the history of the VPAF, biographies of VPAF aces, uniforms and flight suits, aircraft weaponry and engines, items from downed US aircraft and the forward fuselage of a MiG-21. The outdoor exhibits include models of aircraft used by VPAF from the day of its formation till today.
The museum opens daily, except for Friday. The entrance ticket will cost you 20.000 VND (1 US$). You can come to visit the museum from 8:00 to 11:00 and from 13:00 to 16:00.
>>> If you are interested in the history of the Vietnam War, let’s check out our Hanoi War Sites Walking Tour to see more!
Museums in Hanoi have different opening time, so you should check out carefully. They often close at noon, so you should visit the museums early in the morning and afternoon.
Generally, the tour guide service is available in most of the museums, but the service fee is not the same and excluded from the ticket fee. If you’d like to have a tour guide, you should contact the ticket office or museum staff to book.
You should ask the museum staff if you can use your own camera in the museum. Some museums prohibit taking photo, others allow it with a fee and some museums have no regulations about using camera.
Don’t touch the exhibiting objects or try to trespass the models without approval. If you do so, you may cause damage to the objects and models and be fined.
Usually, the museums prohibit eating and littering in the display site. Therefore you should refrain from eating and trashing in the museum. It will be great if you can help to keep the museum clean.
So that is all of our recommendations for you in case you want to have a museum trip in Hanoi. We hope that you find this article useful and will have a great time in Hanoi.
If you want any further advice and information, feel free to contact us, the AZ Local Trip team. It is our pleasure to help you!
Based on choices of travellers earlier this year