0 In Art + Museums/ Guides + How-Tos/ Travel/ Vietnam

A Guide to Hanoi Museums

Hanoi has a lot to offer as far as museums go. We went to three: The Fine Arts Museum, Hao Lo Prison and  The Women’s Museum. Take a closer look at those three and let me tell you more information about the other Hanoi Museums.

⋙ Vietnam Fine Arts Museum ⋘

66 Nguyễn Thái Học, Ba Đình, Hà Nội, Vietnam

Open: 8:30 – 5, Daily / Admission: $1.35

This museum contains a beautiful collection of arts that depict the Vietnamese culture and a lot of iconography from Buddishm that are truly spectacular.


Dancing Girl from the 4th – 5th century


Elephants from 6th – 7th century 


Dragons Turning to the Lotus Flower from the 9th century

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Representations of the Bodhisattva Avalokisteshvara

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Buddha Shakyamuni both from the 18th century


Young Girls in the Garden


Fishing in the Moonlight


Procession to the Pagoda


Procession to the Pagoda – detail


Guerrilla with a Bamboo Hat


Thai Nguyen Iron and Steel Complex


In the Mangrove


Long Sleep


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Living Space

You absolutely cannot beat this deal. For less than two dollars we got to see so many amazing works of art and pieces of vietnamese culture.

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⋙ Hao Lo Prison ⋘

Hoả Lò, Trần Hưng Đạo, Hoàn Kiếm

Open: 8 – 5, Daily / Admission: is Around $0.70

The Hao Lo Prison, the same prison that was ironically dubbed the “Hanoi Hilton” by American POWs from the Vietnam War. Although, this is what I went to see the museum for, most of the museum was dedicated to its use in the 1950’s during Vietnam’s struggle for independence from the French. Just to warn you: some of the photos are graphic and can be a bit startling.


The entrance which still has its old French name “Maison Central” which means Central House.

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This is the original door and the uniforms worn by the Vietnamese prisoners


Vietnamese prisoners

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This is a piece of the old plumbing that a handful of men escaped by crawling through.


Vietnamese riots against the French


This image was quite shocking – women’s heads were put on display as a warning. These are some of the horrors of war and imperialism – no matter who is the one taking over. 


These are some of the women who were killed in this prison


An example of the cells

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Looking into the cells through the gated windows.


The memorial wall of the Vietnamese who were killed or suffered here.


The memorial wall of the Vietnamese who were killed or suffered here.

On to the American POW Section of Prison. This was really interesting to see because I’ve always heard the stories of torture by POWs, especially John McCain. I even googled more about it the night I visited the prison to make sure I was remembering correctly, but the displays here were full of tales of the pride they had in the way they treated their prisoners. It was such an odd feeling to hear such a different perspective.

Prisoner’s uniforms and toiletries that were provided


Bed for American POWs


John McCain’s flight suit and parachute 


Vietnamese men swam out into the lake to pull John McCain from the lake where they said his arms were already broken and doctors carefully treated him 


A Thanksgiving Dinner for the POWs


A Doctor caring for John McCain


John McCain’s visit to the prison.


A photo of the original size of the prison. It was so massive!

Visiting Hoa Lo Prison was such an interesting experience. It brought up feeling of sadness and confusion, but I think that even the worst experiences are best to be remembered because there is something that we can learn from them.

⋙ ⋘

⋙ Vietnamese Women’s Museum ⋘

36 Lý Thường Kiệt, Hang Bai ward, Hoàn Kiếm

Open: 8 – 5, daily / Admission: $1.35

I really loved this museum because it really put the women that we saw guiding tours, selling fruits on the street, begging and working in museums into perspective. I loved getting a look at the women who fought for their independence, who work for their children and understanding more about how they fit into their role in society.

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Gift boxes


These are examples of traditional wedding costumes from different cultures within Vietnam. [Above & Below]

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Above and below are examples of propaganda posters from the Vietnam War years (this was a favorite exhibit of mine. In with these were stories of female war heroes. So interesting!)

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From here down are examples of Mother Goddess celebrations, costumes and worship! 

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This museum was a bit more difficult to express through photos as many of the exhibits were videos, sound clips and a lot of reading. It is the perfect place to really start to get an understanding of the role of women in the cultures within Vietnam. This was favorite museum of mine.

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Other museums in Hanoi (that I did not visit) include:

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

Open: 8:30 – 9:30, Tuesday – Sunday / Admission: $1.80

National Museum of Vietnamese History

Open: 8 – noon & 1:30 – 5,  daily / Admission: $0.89

Vietnam Military History Museum

8:30 – 11 & 1 – 4:30, Closed Mon & Fri / Admission: $1.34 

Museum of the Vietnamese Revolution

Open: 8 – noon & 1:30 – 5,  daily / Admission: $0.89

Ho Chi Minh Museum

8:30 – 11 & 1 – 4:30, Closed Mon & Fri / Admission: $1.12

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