Did you know over 15 million
international visitors traveled to Vietnam in 2018?
Aside from its beautiful scenery and delicious cuisine, many people travel to Vietnam
to learn about its history. Vietnam War tourism has increased in recent years, and it's not hard to understand why.
Veterans may come for healing or closure. Family members visit to learn about the sacrifices made by their parents or grandparents. Others not personally affected by the war may come simply because they're history buffs.
In this post, we'll reveal the top Vietnam War museums and locations to include in your visit to this fascinating country.
Read on to learn more!
1. War Remnants Museum (Ho Chi Minh City)
Did you know that in Vietnam they refer to the war
as the "American War?" You'll learn that and much more when you visit the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City.
Until 1993, the museum was known as the "Museum of American War Crimes." Here you'll see a collection of tanks, planes, and other equipment used during the war.
Permanent and revolving exhibitions document different facets of the war. It's largely a one-sided depiction of history, but it's still an eye-opening and educational experience.
2. Reunification Palace (Ho Chi Minh City)
Formerly named Independence Palace, this is the official ending site of the Vietnam War.
During the war years, it served as the capitol building for South Vietnam. It was the site of Operation Frequent Wind
, when the US evacuated over 7,000 people by helicopter in just 2 days.
It's also where the tanks crashed down the gates on April 30, 1975, bringing the long war to an end. Even if you only have time for a day tour of Ho Chi Minh City
, this is one war site you don't want to miss.
3. Cu Chi Tunnels (Ho Chi Minh City)
About 50 miles outside of Ho Chi Minh City, you'll find a labyrinth of tunnels used by the North Vietnamese troops.
Some experts estimate the tunnels stretched over 75 miles to the border of Cambodia. They included weapons depots, living quarters, medical facilities, and entertainment areas for the military.
Crawling through these tunnels is an experience you'll never forget (although they may not be ideal if you're claustrophobic)! A visit to the Cu Chi Tunnels can easily be included in a day trip from Ho Chi Minh City
4. Imperial Citadel (Hue)
Originally constructed as a royal palace in the early 1800s, Hue's Citadel is a must-see for any history buff.
This was the site of the 1968 Battle for Hue
, one of the longest and bloodiest during the entire war. Both sides suffered tremendous losses and over 5,000 civilians also died during the 5-week siege.
A tour through the Citadel offers sobering insight into the intense fighting that occurred here. You can still see walls riddled with bullet holes throughout the complex.
5. DMZ Demilitarized Zone (Hue)
Any tour of central Vietnam
is sure to include a visit to the many sites of the DMZ.
An easy day trip from Hue will take you past the 17th parallel, the dividing line between North and South Vietnam. There are dozens of Vietnam War locations scattered in this region, from Khe San Base to the Marine outpost "Rockpile."
You'll cross the Ben Hai River and Hien Luong Bridge, stopping to see plenty of Vietnam War sites along the way. Here you'll really gain a deeper appreciation for what the soldiers and civilians endured during the war.
6. Vinh Moc Tunnels (Hue)
While you're touring the DMZ, definitely include a stop at the Vinh Moc tunnels.
While the Cu Chi tunnels mentioned earlier were built and used by the military, these tunnels were made by civilians. Over 300 people survived by remaining in these tunnels during the six years of the war.
Here you'll see the ingenuity it took to create a liveable space safe from the fighting above. A tour includes living quarters, medical facilities, and other rooms created for survival underground.
7. Vietnam Military History Museum (Hanoi)
Moving north, include a visit to Hanoi's Military History Museum on your itinerary.
Although not as large as the Vietnam War museums in the south, this is a chance to see "the other side" of the war story. You'll find fighter jets and tanks as well as a dizzying collection of guns.
Expect strong but fascinating propaganda as you explore the museum. Finish your visit with a climb up the old control tower for great views of Hanoi.
8. Hoa Lo Prison (Hanoi)
No tour of Vietnam War museums would be complete without seeing Hoa Lo Prison in Hanoi.
Meaning "fiery furnace" or "hell hole," during the war years it became known as the "Hanoi Hilton." Many famous prisoners of war were held here, including former senator John McCain.
But its history stretches back well before then, to the colonial days when Vietnam was part of French Indochina. The prison was well-known for its harsh treatment of prisoners and especially severe interrogation methods.
During your visit, you can see the original French guillotine once used for executions. A tour of the prison is not for the faint of heart, but if you can stomach it, it's one of the most fascinating war sites in Vietnam.
Ready to Visit These Vietnam War Museums?
Whether you have just a few days or many weeks to explore Vietnam
, be sure to include a few of these Vietnam War museums on your itinerary.
The things you see and experience will surely stay with you for the rest of your life.
Would you like to know what else there is to do in this beautiful and captivating country? Click here
for our complete list of Vietnam culture and history tours.
One of them is sure to be perfect for you!