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Museums - the best of Saigon's museums

| 11 Jul 2017
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Museums - the best of Saigon's museums
All within easy reach of downtown
11 Jul 2017

A guide to Saigon's best museums - as well as some of the quirky less-visited places. We list three for those with limited time and then others for the museum fiends.

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

Saigon's home to Vietnam's most visited museum, The War Remnants Museum. It's a grim and disturbing telling of the suffering of the Vietnam War from the victor's perspective - but definitely worth visiting.

In addition to the War Remnants Museum, the Fine Arts Museum and the Vietnam History Museum make our list of the city's top three museums. All three are worth a look - though we lament that museums haven't been a priority in Vietnam's tourism and economic development. Most have barely changed in twenty years. Many still have only limited information in English. It feels like the city fathers have forgotten these places exist - except as parking spots.

Some of these museums are also among the city's most interesting pieces of colonial era architecture. So even if the collections are a bit hit and miss, they're still worth a look for history architecture.

 

Our top picks

 

War Remnants Museum

Vietnam's most visited museum tells the tragic story of the Vietnam War from the winning side. Some of the propaganda is pretty heavy-handed. Some of the images and exhibits in the collection - atrocities and Agent Orange affected foetuses - are deeply disturbing. The Requiem photography exhibit is a highlight. 

And then there's the bizarre placement of tacky souvenir stalls...

Still, it's a must see for visitors to Saigon.

Address - 28 Vo Van Tan, in District 3, Ho Chi Minh City


Fine Arts Museum

The dramatic colonial era building that houses the Fine Arts Museum never fails to impress. It once belonged to one of the city's richest men.  There are some wonderful pieces inside too. And there's a sense they're gradually trying to throw off the stifling orthodoxy that prevailed for the first four decades of the museum's life.

97A Pho Ðuc Chinh St., Dist. 1, Ho Chi Minh City

 

Vietnam History Museum

Another amazing piece of architecture, in the city's Botanical Gardens, the Vietnam History Museum focuses on the pre-war period and includes some nice Cham and other pieces. Feels unloved but still worth a look.

2 Nguyen Binh Khiem St, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

War Remnants Museum, Saigon
Photo: Mark Bowyer War Remnants Museum, Saigon

 

Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum
Photo: Mark Bowyer Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum

 

Museum of Vietnamese History, Saigon
Photo: Mark Bowyer Museum of Vietnamese History, Saigon



For museum diehards...

These three museums see very few visitors. Each has something of interest - especially for museum fanatics.

 

Ho Chi Minh City Museum

Die-hard museum folk will enjoy this place. And it's history and architecture are a big draw. This was the residence of President Ngo Dinh Diem prior to his assassination in November 1963. The collection is perhaps less interesting. Not to be confused with the Ho Chi Minh Museum.

65 Ly Tu Trong St, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City


Ho Chi Minh Museum

There are Ho Chi Minh Museum's all over Vietnam. If you only visit one, make it the one in Hanoi's Ba Dinh Square. The Saigon version is an interesting piece of architecture and history. It's where Uncle Ho set off for Europe in 1911  and can be visited while exploring the old banking district and waterfront.

1D Ton Duc Thang St, District 4, Ho Chi Minh City

 

Ho Chi Minh Museum. Ho Chi Minh embarked on his 30 year mission abroad from here in 1911.
Photo: Mark Bowyer Ho Chi Minh Museum. Ho Chi Minh embarked on his 30 year mission abroad from here in 1911.

 

Women's Museum Ho Chi Minh City

Women get better museum treatment in Vietnam than most places. The Women’s Museum in Saigon is less impressive than its Hanoi counterpart - but interesting nonetheless. It remembers the sacrifice and suffering of women in Vietnam’s decades of war as mothers, wives and fighters. It’s around 20 minutes from downtown in District 3.

202 Vo Thi Sau St, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City


Ton Duc Thang Museum

Ton Duc Thang took over as Vietnam’s president after Ho Chi Minh’s death and is a hero of Vietnam’s revolutionary history. This is his museum. It was the residence of South Vietnam’s Premier before 1975 and is an interesting piece of Vietnamese modernist architecture on the Saigon riverfront.

5 Ton Duc Thang St, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

 


 

Mark Bowyer
Mark Bowyer is the founder and publisher of Rusty Compass.
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