Among the many sites of interest in Hanoi are numerous museums detailing the cultural heritage and often tumultuous history that occurred in Vietnam. Anyone with an interest in the Vietnamese people’s struggle for liberation will find an abundance of exhibits, relics, and wreckage from those traumatic conflicts that still define the nation today.
Depending on what information you’re interested in learning, here are 20 of the best museums in Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi, in no particular order.
1. Ho Chi Minh Museum
As an homage to modern Vietnam’s founding father, the Ho Chi Minh Museum details the life and history of former President Ho Chi Minh. Passing beneath the Soviet-style façade replete with hammer and sickle, you’ll enter a sizeable collection of memorabilia recounting not only the famous revolutionary’s timeline but also that of Vietnam as well.
Spread across five floors, you’ll find many documents, photos, and exhibits considered to be of great national importance and pride. In fact, visitors are required to show their respect through their conduct and attire.
Address: 19 Ngoc Ha, Doi Can, Ba Dinh, Hanoi
2. Vietnam Museum of Ethnology
The Vietnam Museum of Ethnology is a tribute to the 54 ethnic groups that make up Vietnam’s rich cultural heritage. The museum features extensive displays of tribal art, handicrafts, and architectural examples; including full-scale replicas of a Viet house and a Tay stilt home in its lovely gardens.
For the benefit of international travelers, the written descriptions have been translated into English and French.
Address : Nguyen Van Huyen, Quan Hoa, Cau Giay, Hanoi
3. Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum
This former boarding school has been converted into the premier Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum. The museum houses a range of artistic offerings ranging from ancient times to our present era. Here you’ll find paintings, ceramics, lacquers, and textiles on display, all showcasing the rich cultural tapestry of the Vietnamese people.
Guided tours in English and in French are available for international guests.
Address: 66 Pho Nguyen Thai Hoc, Dienn Ban, Ba Dinh, Hanoi
4. Vietnam Women’s Museum
Run by The Women’s Union of Vietnam, the Vietnam Women’s Museum colorfully illustrates the vital role of women in Vietnamese society. More than a thousand artifacts are on display across five floors, providing a visual narration of the contribution of women to the nation in a myriad of ways.
Ornate textiles and jewelry from various ethnic groups make this tasteful museum a visual treat. A moving collection of film and photographs is one of the museum’s highlights.
Address: 36 Ly Thuong Kiet, Hang Bai, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
5. Vietnam National Museum of History
This converted structure with an Indochina architectural motif houses the Vietnam National Museum of History’s vast collection of artifacts ranging from the Stone Age to modern times. In its various sections, visitors can admire displays featuring relics from the Tran, Ho, and Nguyen Dynasties.
This is the place to see the complete history of the nation, right up to its communist iteration today. With over 200 thousand artifacts, you won’t find a more comprehensive collection of Vietnamese history anywhere.
Address: 216 Duong Tran Quang Khai, Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
6. Vietnam Museum of Nature
Situated on the campus of the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, the Vietnam National Museum of Nature is a popular destination for schoolchildren and tourists alike. Though relatively small, this museum offers exhibits detailing the evolutionary model of life on Earth, from insects to dinosaurs to the human race.
With over 1,400 species on display, it’s a fascinating look at the natural world, especially as captured in the fossil record.
Address: 18 Hoang Quoc Viet, Nghia Do, Cau Giay, Hanoi
7. Hanoi Museum
Easily recognizable for its inverted pyramid shape, the Hanoi Museum houses a collection of items specific to the 1,000-year history of the city itself. Inside, a spiraling ramp provides access to three levels of exhibits that house over 50 thousand artifacts on display, including sculpture, coins, pottery, paintings, and more.
Outside, the grounds feature a series of water pools in a garden setting, which pairs well with the unique architecture that is part of the attraction for visitors to this museum.
Address: Pham Hung, Me Tri, Nam Tu Liem, Hanoi
8. Hoa Lo Prison Museum
The Hoa Lo Prison Museum is better known in the West as “The Hanoi Hilton”, the ironic nickname given it by American prisoners of war. Originally built by the French in 1896, much of the museum’s focus is on Vietnam’s efforts to liberate itself from French rule, as is evidenced by the guillotine on display that was once used to behead captured Vietnamese revolutionaries.
The museum also contains displays focusing on downed American pilots, including the late Senator John McCain.
Address: 1 Hoa Lo, Tran Hung Dao, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
9. Vietnam Military History Museum
If war history and military hardware are your thing, the Vietnam Military History Museum will be right up your alley. An outdoor courtyard houses some of the larger artifacts on display, such as the wreckage of a B-52 bomber, several vintage aircraft, and a tank that participated in the infamous invasion of the Saigon Presidential Palace that marked the end of the Vietnam War.
Inside is a collection of photographs and weapons, along with a diorama of the famous Battle of Dien Bien Phu, which sealed Vietnam’s independence from France.
Address: 28A Dien Bien Phu, Dien Ban, Ba Dinh, Hanoi
10. Vietnam Museum of Revolution
With a colonial design appearing right off the streets of Paris, the Vietnam Museum of Revolution pays tribute to the country’s struggles to achieve its independence. Chock full of revolutionary propaganda, the over 40 thousand items on display recount the Vietnamese people’s journey to break free from the Chinese,
French and American hegemony. Inside are exhibits displaying weapons, posters, and other items that played a role in Vietnam’s revolutionary history and nationalistic fervor.
Address: 25 pho Tong Dan, phuong Trang Tien, quan Hoan Kiem, thanh pho Hanoi
11. Museum of Armored Forces
If after visiting the museums listed above you still haven’t gotten your fill of military vehicles and paraphernalia, the Museum of Armored Forces should be able to satisfy your craving.
Boasting an impressive collection of period-era tanks, visitors can get up close to these mighty machines of war that now serve as a source of national pride. Inside the building are displays showcasing weaponry and other relics of war in a classic communist party design style.
Address: 108 Hoang Quoc Viet, Nghia Tan, Cau Giay, Hanoi
12. Ho Chi Minh Road Museum
For a more focused look at an intriguing aspect of the Vietnam War, the Ho Chi Minh Trail Museum provides an in-depth look at one of the most crucial factors that tipped the scales in favor of the North Vietnamese. The Ho Chi Minh Trail was actually a collection of trails running along the border with Laos that proved to be a critical artery for supplying the Vietcong.
This museum offers insights into the effects, logistics, and political ramifications of this network through a series of artifacts and photojournalistic pieces.
Address: Yen Nghia, Ha Dong, Hanoi
13. Air Force and Air Defense Museum
This military-centric museum celebrates the Vietnam People’s Air Force and its contributions to the nation’s wars. Covering history from its inception in 1954 to the present, aircraft buffs can enjoy exhibits detailing everything from vintage flight suits to actual aircraft engines.
Outside, on the Vietnam People’s Air Force Museum grounds, is a park containing numerous helicopters and fighter jets that played a part in the nation’s air power over the decades.
Address: 173C Truong Chinh, Khuong Mai, Thanh Xuan, Hanoi
14. B-52 Victory Museum
Zeroing in on the history of airborne attacks in Vietnam, the B-52 Victory Museum celebrates the tenacity of Vietnam’s air defenses, particularly during notorious American bombing campaigns such as Linebacker, Linebacker II, and Rolling Thunder.
The main attraction is the wreckage of an American B-52 Stratofortress whose tail section now adorns the lawn in front of the museum. Fittingly, the museum also boasts a wide array of surface-to-air missiles that were responsible for bringing down such a powerful aircraft, along with the usual war memorabilia on display.
Address: 157 Doi Can, Ngoc Ho, Ba Dinh, Hanoi
15. Museum of Artillery
Following the theme of specialized military history, the Museum of Artillery focuses on the hardware that provided much of the firepower of Vietnam’s armed forces over the years. While focusing on guns and artillery pieces, there are also other examples of military hardware on display.
Address: 463 Doi Can, Binh Phu, Ba Dinh, Hanoi
16. Geological Museum
This small gem (pun intended) is of interest to those with basic knowledge and curiosity in the field of geology. The catalog primarily consists of a variety of stones, including samples of Vietnam’s mineral wealth, displayed under glass. There’s some signage in English but probably not enough if you don’t already have a working knowledge of the mineral world.
Address: Department of Geology and Minerals,6 Pho Pham Ngu Lao, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
17. Ancient House
This historic home-turned-museum exists to preserve the architectural heritage of one of the few remaining examples of a traditional home in Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Visitors can take in various design features and their meaning, all while enjoying the authentic vibe and classic furnishings that adorn it.
Address: 87 Pho Ma May, Hang Buom, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
18. Hanoi Police Museum
If your tastes run towards law and order, a surprisingly popular destination in Hanoi is the Hanoi Police Museum.
As the name would suggest, this small museum features exhibits showcasing police uniforms and hardware while also detailing the development of the force and its role during the war. Entry is free, so you won’t risk anything more than a little of your time and you may find it more interesting than it initially sounds.
Address: 67 Ly Thuong Kiet, Tran Hung Dao, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
19. Nguyen Van Huyen Museum
This museum documents the life and career of Professor Nguyen Van Huyen, a key figure in the history of education in modern Vietnam. The museum spreads across four floors and features photos, diaries, and other items that narrate the life of this influential and prominent political figure.
While not a must-see, the exhibit would be of interest to those who wish to learn more about the people who shaped the modern nation and the effect that national endeavor had on their lives.
Address: ngo 98 Duong Lai Xa, Thon Lai Xz, Hoai Duc, Hanoi
20. Museum of Anthropology
Part of the University of Social Science and Humanity, the Museum of Anthropology zooms in on this specific field of study. Its mission is to preserve and promote cultural and historical resources, and it does so by means of its modest exhibits.
Address: 336 Nguyen Trai Street, Thanh Xuan, Floor 3, Block D, Hanoi