The Best Historical Sites in Vietnam

Vietnam has a history of thousands of years, which gives it a lot of historical sites. The followings are the highlights destinations.

I. Northern Vietnam

1. Hanoi:

Vietnam Military History Museum:

This museum presents the First and second Indochina wars from a Vietnamese perspective. A large portion of the displays is used to symbolize and reinforce the willpower and determination of the Vietnamese. The museum also has a large compilation of posters, newspapers and pictures demonstrating the global support condemning the Americans in the war.

  • Opens on Monday and Friday
  • Opening Hours 8h00 - 11h30 and 13h00 - 16h00
  • Address: 28 A Dien Bien Phu, Ba Dinh, Hanoi

Hoa Lo prison:

This museum was a prison used by the French colonists in Vietnam for political prisoners, and later by North Vietnam for U.S. Prisoners of War during the Vietnam War.

The displays mainly show the prison during the French colonial period, including the guillotine room, still with original equipment, and the quarters for male and female Vietnamese political prisoners. Exhibits related to the American prisoners include the interrogation room where many newly captured Americans were questioned     

  • Opens every day
  • Opening Hours 8h00 - 11h30 and 1:30 – 5:00 pm
  • Address:01 Hoa Lo, Tran Hung Dao, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi

2. Dien Bien Phu (480 km from Hanoi)

Located in the North West of Vietnam. Dien Bien Phu is a town of rich war history. In 1954, the communist-oriented Vietminh with Ho Chi Minh fought against the French colonial army. It was a decisive battle of the Indochina War.

The most famous historical sites are The Town Museum, the Cemetery of Vietminh Troops, Hill A1, D1 War Memorial, Bunker of Colonel de Castries, the headquarters of General Vo Nguyen Giap. If you want a break between the war monuments, Pa Khoang is a perfect choice where you can rent a boat and take a cruise or experience the local life of ethnic residents around the lake.

How to get there:

  • By flight Hanoi – Dien Bien: there is a daily flight Hanoi – Dien Bien (normally at 14:30) in the afternoon that is operated by Vietnam Airlines.
  • By car: traveling by car normally takes you 11 hours from Hanoi. If you would like to reach Dien Bien from Hanoi, you should stop at some interesting places on the way such as  Mai Chau, Moc Chau.

II. Central Vietnam

1.Hue Imperial Citadel

Compared to Beijing’s Forbidden City, Hue Imperial Citadel was first constructed in 1804, home to the Nguyen Dynasty – Vietnam’s last royal dynasty for 143 years. The complex of the Emperor’s residence, gates, temples, and pagodas was severely damaged under the French rule and during the Vietnam War, and only 20 out of 148 buildings survived.

  • Opens every day
  • Opening hours: 8:00 - 17:30, and  8:00 - 22:00 on Thursday
  • Adress: Hue, Thu Thien Hue, Vietnam

How to get there from Hanoi:

  • Flight Hanoi - Hue (about 1 hour): there are many flights Hanoi – Hue, most of them are in the early morning or late afternoon.
  • Train Hanoi - Hue (about 14 hours) (sleeper train): if you would like to see the landscape out of the window by traveling by train, you should take the day train.

2. Khai Dinh Tomb

Among plenty of royal tombs in Hue, Vietnam’s former capital, Khai Dinh’s tomb sets itself apart from other Nguyen Dynasty tombs with an appealing fusion of Asian and European touches. Constructed over 11 years, the tomb is more like a monument of his excessive wealth which stayed true to his reputation as a puppet of the French colonial government.

  • Opens every day
  • Opening hours: 7:00 - 17:30
  • Adress: Hue, Thu Thien Hue, Vietnam

3. My Son sanctuary

My Son sanctuary which houses Vietnam’s most extensive Cham ruins once served as the religious and political center of the kingdom of Champa for centuries. The fact that it is constantly compared with Angkor Wat of the Khmer kingdom may cause the misleading impression of the natural beauty of My Son Cham ruins. The temples were discovered by the French archaeologists in the late 19th century but later suffered from a heavy destruction from the US bombs.

  • Opens every day
  • Opening hours: 5:30-17:00
  • Adress: Duy Phu Commune, Duy Xuyen DistrictDuy Xuyen, Vietnam

4. Vinh Moc Tunnels

While Cu Chi Tunnels mainly served the military purposes for Viet Cong guerrilla, the impressive network of Vinh Moc underground tunnels, built between 1966 and 1967, were used as bomb shelters for civilians. 300 people sought protection from the US bombing, living and working in the three-level tunnels for six years.

  • Opens every day
  • Opening hours: 7:00- 17:00
  • Adress: Vinh Thach, Vinh Linh, Quang Tri province

DMZ tour

III. Southern Vietnam

1. Nha Trang

The touristy beach town of Nha Trang was home to the Cam Ranh Air Base – one of the most important U.S. Air bases during the Vietnam War. North Vietnamese forces captured the air base on April 3, 1975. Following the capture, the Russian Air Force used the facility as a base until 2002. Today, the old air base has been renovated and serves as the primary airport for Nha Trang.

Many American troops began or finished their arduous tour of duty in Nha Trang, before heading elsewhere in Vietnam. Nha Trang was also a popular place for U.S. soldiers to take leave during the Vietnam War.

The Cam Ranh International Airport is 18 miles from Nha Trang; little of its military past remain.

How to get there:

  • Flight Ho Chi Minh city to Nha Trang (about 1 hour): there are many flights to Nha Trang from Ho Chi Minh City, from early morning to late afternoon.
  • Train (sleeper train) to Nha Trang from Ho Chi Minh city: 7-9 hours

Nha Trang tour

2. War Remnants Museum

It would be a crime to travel to Vietnam without visiting the War Remnants Museum which was formerly known as the Chinese and American War Crimes. Despite being heavily packed with one-sided information, it still reflects important stories about the gruesome effects of war on the country, some of which came from US sources.

  • Opens every day.
  • Opening hours: 7:30 - 18:00
  • War Remnants Museum, 28 Võ Văn Tần, Ward 6, District 3, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam

3. Con Dao Prison Complex

For 42 years since the prisons of Con Dao were shut down, horrific memories still cast a forbidding shadow over this quiet town. Known as “the true hell on earth,” this used to be home to tens of thousands of Vietnamese prisoners who suffered and died at the hands of French colonials at first and later the US-backed South Vietnamese government between 1863 and 1975. Fettered and contorted mannequins bring the bone-chilling experience to reality.

Con Dao Prison, Cỏ Ống Street, Côn Đảo, Vietnam

Con Dao tour


4. Cu Chi Tunnels

Cu Chi Tunnels, a complex network of underground tunnels were firstly built in the late 1940s during the French colonial period and later were expanded in the early 1960s when the US escalated its military presence in South Vietnam to support a non-Communist regime.

  • Opens every day.
  • Opening hours: 7:00 - 17:00
  • Cu Chi Tunnels, Phú Hiệp, Phú Mỹ Hưng, Củ Chi, Vietnam

Cu Chi tour

 Vietnam war memory tour


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