One of our early trips in Ho Chi Minh was to the Museum of Vietnamese History. It was only about a twenty minute walk from our apartment, so we made a light afternoon of it. It’s located at 2 Nguyen Binh Khiem Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1. The building was originally constructed in 1926 and showcases a wide variety of topics.
We came in through a side entrance, which opened into a center garden with fountain. The entrance fee was 15,000 Dong (~ $0.75) each. From here, we had access to a cafe and gift shop, as well as the entrance to the museum itself. While the museum is an interior building, much of it open air and quite spacious.
We came in initially through a tea tasting room. Here they offered a “traditional” tea ceremony where you could try tea – and then they’d try to sell you a pack. We ended up liking the Lotus Tea we tried, and went ahead and purchased a pack of it for 95,000 Dong (~$4.75).
The tea was quite good, and certainly different than what we’re used to and it lasted us quite a while. The next room after that was a room dedicated to tea and the importance it’s played in Vietnamese culture.
From this room, you can proceed on through a circuitous route which ultimately will lead you back to the tea room. We made the mistake of going through the route backwards (my fault) but that didn’t negate from an enjoyable experience.
The exhibits weren’t quite as informative as the National Museum of Korea nor the National Museum of Malaysia, but they were still quite informative. We just might have liked a bit more information on some items that were simply labeled. But most of the large exhibits had explanations in Vietnamese, English, and French.
The museum has exhibits for the Prehistoric Period, Metal Age, Chinese Domination, Oc Eo, Culture of the Mekong, Stone and Bronze sculptures of Champa, Stone sculptures of Cambodia, Ngo, Dinh, Anterior Le, and Ly Dynasties, Tran and Ho Dynasties, Dynasties from the Le to the Nguyen, Tay Son Dynasty, Nguyen Dynasty.
The exhibits were really quite interesting and it gave quite a bit of insight into the Vietnamese culture and their struggles. Some notables to check out are the water puppet theater (which we unfortunately did not see), the mummy of a woman from the late 1800s and the many stone carvings of Buddha and various Bodhisatvas from Cambodia. The museum itself should be allotted at least 2 1/2 or 3 hours to properly check it out.
Once we finished the museum, we headed out the front entrance this time. We saw across the road a pagoda (Den Hung) that we wanted to check out. It was small, only a five minute venture to check out, but still worth looking at.
Next to the museum is the zoo, which we did not check out. We really didn’t have the time to check out the zoo, but we’ve also ready a few things about them not being great to the animals there, and we don’t support that. Hopefully we’re wrong about that.
All in all though, the museum is a nice place to visit during your stay in Ho Chi Minh.