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Museum of Vietnamese History, Ho Chi Minh City Overview

Located just inside Ho Chi Minh City's botanic gardens and zoo in District 1, the Museum of Vietnamese History offers a compelling glimpse into the rich past of the country. A former museum of Asian studies during Vietnam’s colonial period, it is now solely dedicated to Vietnamese and Asian history. The Museum of Vietnamese History includes an assortment of exhibits like wooden coffins, royal jewellery, and even a mummified body. With 19 permanent exhibitions tracing the history of this land from prehistoric period till just before the colonial era and a traditional water puppet show, it’s a fascinating place to better understand this majestic country. 

Specializing in Vietnamese history and Southeast Asian history before the colonial era, the Museum of Vietnamese History provides a beginner’s guide to understanding Vietnam. Formerly known as Saigon National Museum, it was renamed the Museum of Vietnamese History, though it’s not to be confused with the National Museum of Vietnamese History that is located in Hanoi. The museum, spanning more than 2,000 square kilometres, is located inside Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens area. Even if you’re not particularly a history buff, the museum’s surrounding gardens and promenade make for a wonderfully peaceful experience.

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Exhibits at Museum of Vietnamese History

The displays at the Museum of Vietnamese History are divided into two sections. The first section displays Vietnam’s ancient history. The second section explores the cultural history of the country’s ethnic minorities and the influence of other countries. On entering the museum, the first exhibit begins on the left and the tour moves in a clockwise motion with all displays arranged in chronological order. All the informational display texts are written in English, Vietnamese, and French. The exhibits begin from the pre-historic period with sculptures depicting artefacts like bronze drums, royal jewellery, and even a wooden coffin shaped like a boat that was found in 1961.

The other section of the Museum of Vietnamese History displays exhibits of Vietnam’s ruling dynasties. This fairly large exhibit is in a spacious room, attempting to highlight all the battles of the time like the map of battles with the Yuang Dynasty or a painting of the Battle of Bach Dang. On the wall, there is a quote by the famous Vietnamese general, Tran Hung Dao. The other fascinating artefacts here include Vietnamese music instruments like the danh tranh, cups made of tortoiseshells, and even a lacquered royal bed. You’re bound to be mesmerized by the articulate clothing once worn by the royal members and seeing the way royalty lived in Vietnam.

Curated Collections

The Museum of Vietnamese History features 2 curated collections. The Duong Ha collection is curated by married couple Professor Duong Minh Thoi and Professor Ha Thi Ngoc. This collection, comprising primarily of ceramics, explores Vietnamese cultural history in the 20th century. The Van Hong Sen collection is the collection of the former antique collector, Vuong Hong Sen, who was a researcher for the Blanchard de la Brosse Museum till 1964. This collection includes handicrafts, ceramics, and his published works on display in glass frames.

How to Reach Museum of Vietnamese History

The museum is located on Nguyen Binh Khiem Street, Ben Nghe Ward in District 1, the popular tourist district in Ho Chi Minh City. It is located at the end of Le Duan adjacent to the ‘tourist strip’. Other tourist attractions in the area include Independence Palace (2 kilometres away), Notre Dame Cathedral (1 kilometre away), and Saigon Central Post Office (1.5 kilometres away). You can catch a taxi from any of these places to the Museum of Vietnamese History for around VND 30,000 (INR 100). Alternatively, you can catch a Ben Thanh bus for VND 7,000 (INR 20) to Dai hoc Khoa which is a 5-minute walk from the museum.

Tips

1. There are two booths to purchase tickets: one booth is located next to the museum’s main entrance on Nguyen Binh Khiem Street, and the other is located from the museum’s side entrance beside Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden
2. There are some souvenir shops here selling trinkets, books, postcards as well as other items like silk. If you’re looking for fun things to take back home for friends and family, these are great places to go shopping

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