Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum, Hanoi - review by Rusty Compass
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Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum, Hanoi

| 12 Sep 2013
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Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum, Hanoi
Ba Dinh Square, Hanoi. Enter at Southern end near Ho Chi Minh Museum.
Mornings only 8-11am. Closed Friday and Monday. Closes in November
Free of charge. No cameras or bags. Modest dress required.

Our rating
12 Sep 2013

Ho Chi Minh's Mauloleum is the imposing Soviet style block in which President Ho Chi Minh’s embalmed corpse lies. Located at the centre of historic Ba Dinh Square, thousands of locals and international visitors line up to pay their respects each day.

Note: The information provided in this review was correct at time of publishing but may change. For final clarification please check with the relevant service


At the centre of the vast Ba Dinh square sits Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum. Each day hundreds of locals and foreigners line up to see Uncle Ho's embalmed corpse in what has become an important rite for any visitor to the capital. 

Photo: Mark BowyerHo Chi Minh Mausoleum, Hanoi
It was at this spot on September 2 1945 that Ho Chi Minh declared independence for Vietnam under the approving watch of hundreds of thousands of his countrymen and women. His Viet Minh troops had collaborated with US forces in the defeat of the Japanese in World War II and a handful of US OSS intelligence officials were on hand to wish him well. His Declaration of Independence borrowed heavily from the American version.

Ho assumed that the climate of self determination for colonies expressed by President Roosevelt during the post war period would extend to his people. He also assumed that the strong resistance mounted by his men against the common Japanese enemy would put his cause on the right side of history with Allied victors. Soon after though, he and his forces were back in the mountains fighting for their independence once again. The French, who had handed their colony to the Japanese during the war, now wanted it back. It took almost thirty more years and millions of lives for Ho's dream of a united Vietnam to be realised in 1975.

When President Ho Chi Minh died in September 1969, it was his wish to be cremated. The clique that succeeded him had other ideas however. They wanted the enduring endorsement from the nation's father that only a grand authoritarian symbol would provide. So, in the tradition established with Lenin's Tomb in Moscow and with the help of experts from the Soviet Union, they embalmed Ho and created  an imposing edifice at the city's heart.  The dissonance of such a heavy tribute sitting within metres of Ho's humble cottage seemed not to attract the attention of the country's leaders - at the time ensconced in war with American and South Vietnamese troops.

The Mausoleum opened in 1975 and is hallowed ground for Vietnamese. They line up in the hundreds each day for a glimpse at the suspiciously wax like corpse. The Vietnamese text inside the mausoleum recites one of Uncle Ho's most oft quoted sayings - "Nothing is more precious than independence and liberty". And the large green boards on either side of the mausoleum exterior read - "Socialist Republic of Vietnam forever" and "President Ho Chi Minh lives forever in our lives and work".
Mark Bowyer
Mark Bowyer is the founder and publisher of Rusty Compass.
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