Museums In Vietnam - 20 Unmissable Places Of Vietnamese History & Culture

A visit to a museum is more like taking a stroll down the memory lane where history comes to life, and if you happen to be an art aficionado, then Vietnam has a lot to offer in this regard. The spectacular land rich in natural beauty has also aesthetic beauty in abundance to appeal to the world. 

Here's a list of museums to ease up the task of planning your visits to museums in Vietnam while you are there:

1. Can Tho Museum

Can Tho Museum
Can Tho Museum
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Situated in the Hoa Binh and Tran Quoc streets, in a corner, Can Tho Museum was established in the year 1976. With over 5000 historical artefacts, some of the unique exhibits here are a traditional teahouse, a king size tableau of a herbalist attending to a patient and numerous other artefacts. This museum highlights the life of the three main ethnic minority settlements in the region, namely, Kinh (Viet), Hoa (Chinese refugees) Khymer people who contributed towards the development of the nation in their unique ways. The museum covers an area of 2700 square meters, being the largest museum in the Mekong Delta region. A retired official staff member from Ho Chi Minh city donated several valuable items to the Can Tho Museum in 2006. These include his collection of exotic butterflies, herbs, flowers and insects which have all been preserved in golden amber. The collection also consists of eight brown-banded Buddha statues which seem to appear emerald when rays of light shine upon them.

Location: 1 Hoa Binh, Tan An, Ninh Kieu, Can Tho, Vietnam

Opening Hours: 8:00 AM to 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM

Entry Fee:  Free Admission

Note: The museum is closed on Fridays.

2. Hanoi Contemporary Arts Centre

Hanoi Contemporary Arts Centre
Hanoi Contemporary Arts Centre
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A recent addition to Vietnam's museum space, Hanoi Contemporary Arts Centre which was inaugurated in June 2017. Located in the space of 4000 square meters, the Hanoi Contemporary Arts Centre is in the Vincom Megamall Shopping Centre in Thanh Xuan District's Nguyen Trai Street. There is also a tea shop, a library, a projection room and a storage room inside the Arts Centre. Commonly referred to as the Vincom Centre for Contemporary Art (VCCA), the purpose of the Arts Centre is to provide a platform to the artists to exhibit their work as well as play a crucial role in preserving the country's art and cultural heritage by storing artworks that have immense historical and artistic value attached to them. The VCCA also attracts artists of national and international fame to connect with fellow members of the community and showcase their talents. The VCCA has a state-of-the-art infrastructure that has well-equipped functional rooms where a wide range of activities are frequently hosted such as art seminars, workshops with artisans, movie screenings and review discussions and much more. Visit the VCCA to catch glimpses of the modern Vietnamese art.

Location: B1-R3 Floor, Royal City 72A Nguyen Trai Street, Thanh Xuan District, Hanoi.

3. Museum of Cham Sculpture

Pedestal Buddha Bodhisattva and Monk
Pedestal Buddha Bodhisattva and Monk
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Near the Han River in the Hoi Châu District, Dà Nang in central Vietnam is another place rich in history - Museum of Cham Sculpture. The Champa Kingdom which ruled Southern Vietnam from 192 A.D. to 1697 has left several Hindu-influenced artworks. Henri Parmentier who was a renowned archaeologist in the Department of Archaeology of EFFO was the one who proposed the idea of such an establishment in 1902. The first building which was founded in 1915 was called Musée Henri Parmentier and the two great French designers were M. Deleval and M. Auclair. Seeking inspiration from Parmentier, they used some aspects of conventional Cham architecture in the building which opened to the public in 1919. Before the construction of the building, the place which was locally referred to as 'garden of sculptures' had a collection of Cham sculptures from different parts of the country such as Da Nang, Quang Nam and others over a period of 20 years. Since then, the Museum of Cham Sculpture has undergone expansion in two different phases. In the mid-1930s, the museum received two new galleries which were to exhibit artefacts collected between 1920s and 1930s specifically. During this expansion, Henri Parmentier suggested the Museum should showcase the artefacts based on the areas from where they had been found initially. Thus, the exhibits were arranged area wise - My Son, Tra Kieu, Tháp Mam, Dong Duong, Quang Ngãi, Quang Tri, Bình Dinh and Kon Tum. Later in the year 2002, the museum was expanded to more stories of approximately 1000 square meters where an office of staff, a library, storage area, a workshop for restoration were further added. This is the place that houses the most extensive collection of Cham sculpture, a vast range of around 300 terracotta and stone masterpieces, dating from the seventh to fifteenth centuries and is worth a visit.

Location: So 02 duong 2/9 phuong Bình Hiên, Dà Nang, 55000, Vietnam

Opening Hours: 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Entry Fee: 30000 VND per adult and 5.000 VND per student. No entry fee for children below the age of 16.

4. Hoa Lò Prison Museum

Hoa Lo Prison Museum in Vietnam
Hoa Lo Prison Museum
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During the French colonial rule over the country, this place was a prison in French Indochina where political prisoners were kept. Later during the American war, U.S. prisoners of war (POWs) were locked here, and around this period, it was now referred to as Hanoi Hilton in the local circle. In the 1990s, the prison was demolished with a part of the prison that serves as a museum today. The H'a Lò Prison Museum showcases the prison life during the French colonial rule, such as the separate quarters for male and female political prisoners. There is also a guillotine room which has the original equipment that was used to carry out the executions. To highlight the life of American prisoners, one can see that the interrogation room looks very comfortable from where it received the name 'Hanoi Hilton' because the prisoners were treated with great care as in the case of a good hotel. There are also pictures in the Museum reflecting American prisoners gardening, playing chess, raising chickens, shooting pool and enjoying sumptuous meals. However, there are indeed published memoirs of inmates who describe various acts of torture during their time at the prison. The prison was established in the year 1896 and was intended to house around 450 inmates, but there are records that there were over 2000 prisoners in the H'a Lò Prison in 1930. Visit the museum and check out the displays of American pilots who were shot down or captured during the American war, including pilots Pete Peterson and Senator John McCain.

Location: 1 pho Hoa Lò, Tran Hung Dao, Hoàn Kiem, Hà Noi 100000, Vietnam

Opening Hours: 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Entry Fee:  30000 VND per individual

5. Hanoi Museum

Bells at Hanoi Museum
Bells at Hanoi Museum 
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With more than 50000 artefacts, the Hanoi Museum is an establishment spread over a total 54000 square meters. Located in the  Nam T? Liêm district of Hanoi, Vietnam, the Museum is the perfect place to witness Vietnam's history that goes back up to 1000 years with glimpses of the country's culture, history, architecture and heritage. On the occasion of the Millenial Anniversary of Hanoi, the Museum was inaugurated in 2010. You can also marvel at the unique architecture of the building which represents an inverted pyramid.

Location: Pham Hùng, Me Trì, Nam Tu Liêm, Hà Noi 100000, Vietnam

Opening Hours: 8:00 AM to 11:30 PM and 1:30 PM to 5:00 PM

Note: Photography is not allowed inside the museum.

6. National Museum of Vietnamese History

Clothing displays at National Museum of Vietnamese History
Clothing displays at National Museum of Vietnamese History
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The building for the National Museum of Vietnamese History used to be an archaeological research institution during the French colonial rule. Located in the Hoan Kiem district of Hanoi, the French School of the Far East was renovated in 1920, and further architect Ernest Hebrard redesigned the building between 1926 and 1932. Endowed with a rich historical background that goes back up to 300000 to 400000 years, the Museum has aggregated Vietnam's prehistory with more than 200000 exhibits until the 1945 August Revolution. The Museum is divided into five major sections which establish a timeline of the revolutions and event that led to the founding of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. The building is pagoda shaped and has elements of French and Chinese architecture. Some of the exhibits that are significant crowd-pullers are from the Hung era, Ho Dynasty, Neolithic mortuaries, Nguyen dynasty's emperors' decorated thrones and dresses, a shipwreck which happened near Cu Lao Cham Island. One of the must-see sculptures here is of Quan Am, the Goddess of Mercy and you will be astonished to see that it has 1000 eyes and arms.

Location: 214 Tran Quang Khai, Tràng Tien, Hoàn Kiem, Hà Noi 110000, Vietnam

Opening Hours: 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM and 1:30 PM to 4:30 PM

Entry Fee:  20000 VND per individual

Note: The National Museum of Vietnamese History is closed on Mondays.

7. Vietnam National Museum of Fine Arts

Display at Vietnam National Museum of Fine Arts
Display at Vietnam National Museum of Fine Arts
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Being the largest fine arts museum in the region, Vietnam National Museum of Fine Arts showcases a wide range of artefacts collected from various historical eras. For the lovers of folk arts, the Museum has abundant of folk narratives demonstrating the mind-blowing art of the 20th century. The themes of these artworks are concentrated on martyrdoms, military strategy, patriotism and other lines of defence that has been used by the country over the years. There is also a section dedicated to individualistic artists where they have explored the territories of abstract art and impressionism. The famous painter Nguyen Do Cung was the one who proposed the landmark to be established as a museum of fine arts in 1963.

Location: 66 Pho Nguyen Thái Hoc, Dien Bàn, Ba Dinh, Hà Noi, Vietnam

Opening Hours: 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM

Entry Fee:  10000 VND per individual

8. Museum of Vietnamese History

Museums in Vietnam
Museum of Vietnamese History
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Build by Auguste Delaval in 1926, Museum of Vietnamese History was earlier known by the name of Musée Blanchard de la Brosse. The Museum showcases Vietnam's history from different eras under the rule of various dynasties. The artifacts which are on display in the Museum of Vietnamese History cover a variety of historical subjects such as the Prehistoric period (500,000 years ago to 2879 BC); Chinese rule and the freedom struggle in the Red River Valley (179 BC - 938 AD); Stone and bronze artifacts from the Champa Kingdom, Metal Age (2879-179 BC) which includes exhibits from the Dong Son culture of northern Vietnam and the Sa Huynh culture of central Vietnam, Óc Eo culture of the Mekong Delta region, Cambodian stone sculptures (9th-12th centuries); Ngô, Dinh, Anterior Lê, Ly dynasties (939-1225); Tran and Ho dynasties (1226-1407), artifacts from the Lê, Nguyên, Tây Son dynasties.

Location: 2 Nguyen Binh Khiêm, Ben Nghé, Quan 1, Ho Chí Minh, Vietnam

Opening Hours: 8:00 AM to 11:30 AM and 1:30 PM to 5:00 PM

Entry Fee:  15000 VND per individual and 40000 VND if you want to click pictures inside the Museum.

9. Museum of Sa Huynh Culture

Oils lamps at Sa Huynh Culture
Oils lamps at Sa Huynh Culture
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In the Quang Nam Province of central Vietnam, Museum of Sa Huynh Culture is located in Hoi An showcasing the Sa Huynh culture with its fantastic terracotta work. The people of Sa Huynh culture were said to be the first people who settled in the port town and established business ties with South India, China and Southeast Asia. The exhibits here narrate tales about their rituals related to the cycle of life and death and their burial practices. You will also find information about how the region developed and prospered with the help of its association with other cultures. What you must see here is a unique collection of artefacts from the Bai Ong region which is a place on the Cham island as it traces the history of the Sa Huynh culture to 3000 years.

Location: 149 Tran Phú, Phuong Minh An, Hoi An, Quang Nam, Vietnam

Opening Hours: 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Entry Fee:  15000 VND per individual and 40000 VND if you want to click pictures inside the Museum

10. Ho Chi Minh City Museum

Ho Chi Minh City Museum in Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh City Museum
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Commonly known as the Gia Long Palace covers an area of two hectares at the corner of Lý Tu Trong and Nam Ky Khoi Nghia streets. Considered among popular tourist destinations in the country, Ho Chi Minh City has witnessed the country's history unfolding over the years. Built-in 1885 by the French architect Alfred Foulhoux as a museum to display products was completed in 1890. With the changes in the governance, the establishment also underwent several changes over time. It was in 1954 when the last king of Vietnam, King Bao Dai named it as Gia Long Palace. The architecture of the building is done brilliantly where the two floors of the building are designed in a European-Asian style whereas a segment front side of the building is influenced by Western style. The Gia Long Palace has a secret tunnel which was constructed by President Ngo Dinh Diem in 1963. This is a significant attraction in the museum for tourists. Divided into six rooms, the tunnel is said to have the capacity to withstand 500 kg bombs and cannons.

Location: 65 Ly Tu Trong, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City 70000, Vietnam

Opening Hours: 7:30 AM to 6:00 PM

Entry Fee: 10000 VND per individual

11. Hue Museum of Royal Fine Arts

Museum of Royal Fine Arts
Museum of Royal Fine Arts
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Located in the An Dinh Palace which has undergone renovation in the recent years, you can find this Museum in the former imperial capital of Vietnam, Hue. The building was a resident for Emperor Bao Dai and his family who renounced his throne in 1945. Visit the Hue Museum of Royal Fine Arts and be amazed by some stunning paintings, ceramics, silverware, furniture, weapons, royal clothing and porcelain. The Museum captures the true essence of Vietnam's imperial past which had different dynasties and the artwork during their era. The Museum is built over an area of 6330-metre squares. There are over 10000 artefacts on display in the Museum. There is a collection of artefacts on display from the Nguyen Dynasty which ruled in 1802.

Location: 03 Le Truc, Phu Hau, Thanh Pho Hue, Thanh Pho Hue Thua Thien?Hue, Vietnam

Opening Hours: 7:00 AM to 5:30 PM

Entry Fee:  22000 VND per individual

12. Museum of Trade Ceramics

Art Museum of Trade Ceramics
Art Museum of Trade Ceramics
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To know more about how the region started its trade ties with neighbouring regions such as India, Japan, China, the Philippines and Thailand, Museum of Trade Ceramics is where you should plan a trip to. While the Museum will give you an idea about the trade origins, it will also provide a narrative of the history of the town of Hoi An in central Vietnam. The building in which the Museum is located is a redecorated Vietnamese wooden house which also holds importance for the Japanese traders regarding architecture similarity to the homes that one would pass by in Kyoto. There are over 430 items from different parts of the world including the Middle East. Make sure you have a look at the infamous shipwreck exhibit that occurred in 1733 and impressive pottery work from the times of the Chinese Tang Dynasty.

Location: 80 Tran Phú, Phuong Minh An, Hoi An, Quang Nam, Vietnam

Opening Hours: 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Entry Fee:  There is no entry fee to the museum

13. Vietnam People's Air Force Museum, Hanoi

Antonov in Air Force Museum
Antonov in Air Force Museum
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Located on the edge of the Bach Mai Airfield which is not operational anymore, Vietnam People's Air Force Museum, Hanoi, will take you for a walk down the memory lane where you will get to know about the Vietnam People's Air Force (VPAF) journey - right from its formation to their present-day status. You will also get a chance to understand how the VPAF played a crucial role in the Indochina War and the Cambodian-Vietnamese War. The Museum has a fascinating display of Aero L-29 Delfin, Antonov An-2, Cessna A-37 Dragonfly, Douglas A-1 Skyraider H model, Cessna O-1 Bird Dog, Bell UH-1 Iroquois H model, McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II B model, Kamov Ka-25Bsh, Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17F, Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21MF & PFM, Mil Mi-6 Hook-A, Shenyang J-6, Shenyang J-5, Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighter, Mil Mi-24 Hind A and Zlin Z-26. Along with the history of VPAF, there are also uniforms, aircraft weapons, flight suits, engines and parts of drowned US aircraft on display as well. If you are a war entry enthusiast, you must visit the Vietnam People's Air Force Museum, Hanoi.

Location: 0 Truong Chinh Street, Hanoi, Vietnam

Opening Hours: 8:00 AM to 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM

Entry Fee:  23000 VND per individual

Note: The Museum is closed on Fridays.

14. Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

Communal House Model at Vietnam Museum of Ethnology
Communal House Model at Vietnam Museum of Ethnology
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Vietnams has 54 officially recognised ethnic groups, and as a tribute to their culture and tradition, Vietnam Museum of Ethnology is spread over an area of 43,799-square-metre. The construction of the museum started in 1987 and ended in 1995 whereas the proposal for the museum was laid down in 1987. The exterior of the building which is a replica of the Dong Son drum was designed by the architect Ha Duc Linh who belongs to the Tay ethnic minority whereas the French architect Véronique Dollfus was the mastermind behind the interiors of the building. The Museum has a total 30000 objects on display for which an enormous amount of 285,000 USD was allocated for acquiring the historical artworks. The Museum also organises exhibitions annually highlighting the culture of different ethnic groups.

Location: Nguyen Van Huyen, Quan Hoa, Cau Giay, Ha Noi 100000, Vietnam

Opening Hours: 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM

Entry Fee:  5000 VND per individual

Note: The Museum is closed on Mondays.

15. Vietnam People's Air Force Museum, Ho Chi Minh City

People's Air Force Museum in Ho Chi Minh City
People's Air Force Museum in Ho Chi Minh City
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Another interesting spot for war history buffs, Vietnam People's Air Force Museum, Ho Chi Minh City, is located on Duong Thang Long in the Phuong 4 District of Ho Chi Minh City. This Museum also highlights the history of VPAF and their role in the county's biggest wars. Some of the aircraft on display are Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21MF, Bell UH-1 Iroquois H model, Cessna U-17A, Cessna A-37 Dragonfly, Mil Mi-8 Hip, Mil Mi-24 Hind A and Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighter.

Location: Phuong 4, Ho Chi Minh City 70000, Vietnam

Opening Hours: 7:30 AM to 11:00 AM and 1:30 PM to 5:00 PM

Entry Fee:  No entry fee

Note:  The Museum is closed on Mondays.

16. Vietnam National Museum of Nature

Vietnam National Museum of Nature
Vietnam National Museum of Nature
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The substantial biological, geological and anthropological specimens of the region are all being documented and showcased at the Vietnam National Museum of Nature. For all the nature-lovers, this is where you will come across various specimens of all living and extinct organisms. The Museum also organises events to disseminate knowledge and raise awareness among the public about the rescue of different animal and plant species. Visit this place for the love of flora and fauna, and we can assure you that you will be satisfied.

Location: Nha A20 - so 18 - Hoang Quoc Viet, Nghia Do, Cau Giay, Ha Noi, Vietnam

Opening Hours: 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM

Entry Fee:  20000 VND per individual

Note: The Museum is closed on Mondays

17. Vietnam Military History Museum

Vietnam Military History Museum
Vietnam Military History Museum
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Established on July 17, 1956, Vietnam Military History Museum is built on an area of 12800-meter squares. It is among the seven of the national museums in Vietnam and encompasses various buildings depicting different military eras in the country. There is also a section exhibiting the weapons and vehicles which were used by the US against the country in the Second Indochina War. The infamous Flag Tower of Hanoi is accessible to the public up to the first two floors and is located inside the Museum premises. The Museum showcases the Indochina war narratives from the Vietnamese people. Tourists can also relax at the Highlands Coffee outlet on the premises and enjoy a well-made Vietnamese coffee. There is also a souvenir shop where you can pick up a few collectables to take back home.

Location: 28A Dien Bien Phu, Dien Ban, Ba Dinh, Ha Noi, Vietnam

Opening Hours: 8:00 AM to 11:30 PM and 1:00 PM to 4:30 PM

Entry Fee:  40000 VND per individual and 30000 VND for the use of cameras

Note: The Museum is closed on Mondays and Fridays

18. Vietnam Museum of Revolution

Vietnam Museum of Revolution
Vietnam Museum of Revolution
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The Museum is founded in August 1959 in a building which was earlier being used by the Trade Department of Vietnam before being converted into a museum. The two-floored building was refurbished into 30 galleries with more than 40000 artefacts The Museum which is built in the Tong Dan area covers a wide array of topics through its exhibits such as Vietnam's freedom struggle from the French Colonial rule under various communist parties formed during those periods.

Location: 214 Tran Quang Khai, Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem, Ha Noi 110000, Vietnam

Opening Hours: 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM and 1:30 PM to 4:30 PM

Entry Fee: 10000 VND per individual and 30000 VND for the use of cameras

19. War Remnants Museum

Main Building of the War Remnants Museum of Ho Chi Minh City
Main Building of the War Remnants Museum of Ho Chi Minh City
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Now this place requires some real cojones to explore and see the enormous collection of retrieved items from the Vietnam war. The Museum is maintained by the Vietnamese government and has several themed rooms in the buildings. The kind of military equipment that you can expect to see here is a UH-1 "Huey" helicopter, M48 Patton tank, an F-5A fighter, a BLU-82 "Daisy Cutter" bomb, and an A-37 Dragonfly attack bomber and an A-1 Skyraider attack bomber. You will also see the tiger cages here which were used for the political prisoners who were tortured for interrogation purposes. There are also several photographs displaying the war atrocities such as the use of chemicals, napalm bombs and the effects of Agent Orange. These photographs were donated to the museum by a renowned war photojournalist.

Location: 28 Vo Van Tan, Phuong 6, Quan 3, Ho Chi Minh 700000, Vietnam

Opening Hours: 7:30 AM to 6:00 PM

Entry Fee:  15000 VND per individual

20. Vietnamese Women's Museum

Ao Dai Collection in Vietnamese Women's Museum
Ao Dai Collection in Vietnamese Women's Museum
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This is one of the unique places in Vietnam which opened its door to the public in 1995. Why we call it special because it houses more than 28000 objects celebrating the achievements of Vietnamese women in the shaping up the country and their active involvement in arts and as a caretaker of families. The Museum also hosts frequent exhibitions that highlight the role of women in modern Vietnam. The idea behind this establishment is to raise awareness about the country's cultural heritage and the contributions of women to it. The Museum is divided into four major segments - permanent exhibition, the special exhibition, the Discovery room and the Museum shop. The items on display here are made of wood, textiles, paper, leather, horn, soil, pottery and glass. The items have been collected over the year by Vietnam Women's Union and belong to women who identity is known to the public.

Location: 36 Ly Thuong Kiet, Hang Bai, Hoan Kiem, Ha Noi, Vietnam

Opening Hours: 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Entry Fee: 30000 VND per individual and 30000 VND for the use of cameras

For an admirer of the arts, Vietnam is the ideal destination to plan a trip. Going to museums with your family and friends is not only a fun experience but also enriching, and if you are going to Vietnam, one of the best things about the place is its rich historical and cultural history. Whether it is the persisting decades of war or the country's emergence from those wars and creating a name for itself on the world map, there is indeed a lot to explore here. Although there are tourist spots such as Ha Long Bay and Hoi An to name a few, to know the detailed history of the country which goes back up to 4000 years, the most touristy approach is to visit the museums and enhance your understanding of Vietnam's heritage. With so many museums in the country, there is a need for some planning to cover all of the museums mentioned above, so, what are you waiting for? Get started!

This post was published by Deepshri Mishra

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