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Unmissable museums in Ho Chi Minh City

28/06/2024

From the long established museums that are managed by state-owned organisations, to the newly opened private museums, Ho Chi Minh City has more hidden gems to explore for anyone. 

Unmissable museums in Ho Chi Minh City

From the long established museums that are managed by state-owned organisations, to the newly opened private museums, Ho Chi Minh City has more hidden gems to explore for anyone. 

As you step into each museum in Ho Chi Minh City, let your curiosity guide you, allowing the exhibits to transport you back in time. Discover the stories behind the artifacts, the struggles and triumphs of the people, and the enduring spirit that defines this remarkable ethnicity.

6 Museums in Ho Chi Minh City you shouldn't miss

1. Ho Chi Minh City’s Museum of Fine Arts  

Few steps away from our Silverland Ben Thanh Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City’s Museum of Fine Arts is worth a visit to view some of the country’s best relics from Cham and Oc Eo cultural eras. You can find some similar pieces of statues from our private impressive collection, which are exhibited permanently in The Myst Dong Khoi Hotel’s lobby.

Ho Chi Minh City’s Museum of Fine Arts

Contemporary art in the museum is divided into two periods of time: from the beginning of the twentieth century to 1975 and from 1975 to the present. Here, you can find a number of modern paintings by famous artists in Vietnam such as Nguyen Gia Tri, Diep Minh Chau, Do Quang Em, and Trinh Cung, as well as in the world in these two periods of time. The paintings and sculptures are mostly about the daily life of Vietnamese people as well as the beauty of famous landscapes of Vietnam. 

The building itself, where the museum of fine arts is located, carries its own story. The building was constructed in 1929 and inaugurated in 1934. The original owner of the building was a Chinese-born businessman named Hua Bon Hoa, one of the wealthiest traders in the South of Vietnam in colonial times. He was also the owner of many other constructions such as Tu Du Hospital, Majestic Hotel, and Emergency Center of Ho Chi Minh City.

The museum is a three-storeyed construction, built in the style of Art-deco architecture, an architectural style that harmonises the most quintessential values ​​from the Asian and European fine arts schools. You can easily see the Chinese design in the elevators, which was decorated like an ancient Chinese palanquin, or the red-tiled rooftop which was in the Yin and Yang style. Moreover, European art appears in colourful glass windows and many other details.

War Remnants Museum in hcmc

2. War Remnants Museum

One of the unique museums in Ho Chi Minh City is The War Remnants Museum, deserves a few hours to visit, a vast exhibition is a harrowing account of the brutal war. Notorious 'tiger cage' prison cells, bamboo torture instruments and graphic photos of chemical weapon victims are laid out over several floors. It's definitely hard going, but it's one of the best things to do in Ho Chi Minh City if you want to understand the terrible suffering of the Vietnamese civilians during the war. 

Even travellers with little interest in the war should not leave the city without visiting. Its absorbing exhibits give visitors an invaluable insight into a defining chapter in the country’s history – and a deeper understanding of present-day Vietnam as a result. 

Some of the images on show are very upsetting, in particular photos of widespread destruction from US napalm bombs and the horrific toxic effects of Agent Orange on Vietnamese citizens. Many visitors may need to take a break between exhibits. The museum also offers the rare chance to see some of the experimental weapons used in the war, which were at one time military secrets, such as the flechette, an artillery shell filled with thousands of tiny darts. Save the lower level for last and let the global anti-war movement display help you leave on a brighter note.

Ho Chi Minh City History Museum in HCMC

3. Ho Chi Minh City History Museum

A pleasing, pagoda-style roof crowns the city’s History Museum, next to the Botanical Gardens. Ho Chi Minh City History Museum was first established in 1929, during the colonial era of French Indochina, is actually the very first museum in Ho Chi Minh City and in the south of Vietnam. Over the years, it has undergone several renovations and expansions yet still preserved its essence.

The 15 galleries inside the museum showcase a diverse range of artefacts and exhibits that illustrate the history of Ho Chi Minh City and the surrounding region, including the time of the Nguyen dynasty, the French colonial period, and the war years. 

Visitors can learn about the history of Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh City through a series of interesting exhibitions. The museum's exhibitions cover various topics, including the city's history, culture, and heritage. Visitors can also see artefacts and items that are unique to the city and its people, such as traditional clothing, pottery, and textiles.

Southern Women's Museum in HCMC

4. Southern Women's Museum

The Southern Women’s Museum located at 202 Vo Thi Sau street, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City. The museum is a dedicated space that honours the remarkable achievements of Vietnamese women. The museum has a total of 27 permanent exhibitions on display, as well as various thematic and mobile exhibitions. One of the captivating exhibitions focuses on the evolution of Ao Dai, the traditional Vietnamese dress. There are 65 items showcasing the changes and refinement of Ao Dai designs throughout history. 

This museum is dedicated to celebrating the accomplishments of Vietnamese women. Through its exhibits, the museum showcases the courage and resilience of women during the historic Vietnam War, offering insights into their daily lives, religious practices, and cultural heritage. The first floor is the most accessible to foreign visitors, with excellent signage in English and French, and displays of traditional crafts and Ao Dai. The other two floors feature photos and stories of notable Vietnamese women in history, as well as the role of women during wartime. Most signages unfortunately are in Vietnamese.

5. Quang San Fine Art Museum 

Located at 189B/3 Nguyen Van Huong street, Thao Dien ward, Thu Duc City, Ho Chi Minh City, Quang San museum is the very first private fine art museum in Vietnam, which opened its door to the public in June 2023. 

Quang San Fine Art Museum

The collection of Quang San Art Museum is considered "unique" in Vietnam with valuable paintings about the art, history and culture of Vietnamese painting. Many paintings here are estimated by art lovers to be worth millions of USD. Viewers can easily visualise the history of the development of Vietnamese painting through the periods, from the French colonial period to the resistance war, peacetime and the country's contemporary painting.

The 3-storey building sits on the Saigon river bank and displays some of 1.300 Vietnamese artworks of high value in terms of national culture and history. The ground floor exhibits artworks of renowned painters and sculptors, from the generation of French artists and professors who travelled and resided in Indochina in the early 1900s to the first graduate classes of the Indochina school of Fine Arts (1925-1945), the special artworks of prominent names of Vietnamese modern arts are displayed in this room.

The first floor includes Exhibit 1A where artworks by the series of artists from the Indochina School of Fine Arts (from 1925-1945) and further, covering other important names of this period who were not trained under the French-established art educational system are displayed. Exhibit 1B focuses on the next 30-year historical period of resistance war against the French colonialist (from 1945-1954) and the American empire (from 1954-1975). The artworks displayed on the second floor belong to the post-war period, after the reunification of Northern and Southern Vietnam (in 1975), and the beginning of the ‘Doi Moi’ (Reform) policy ( since 1986).

Source: Do Hung

6. Do Hung Museum

Inaugurated right in the middle of Nguyen Hue walking street, Do Hung Museum, another private museum in Ho Chi Minh City, opened in early June 2024 and located at 68 Nguyen Hue, District 1. Two museums including the Vietnam’s 54 ethnic groups jewellery museum takes the place on the building’s ground floor, whereas the Nguyen’s Royal museum is on the 8th floor of the same building. 

Visitors will be able to reminisce and feel like they are living in the Nguyen Dynasty palace with original artefacts, utensils – costumes, art, luxurious and beautiful pastimes in the forbidden city with materials such as jade, ivory, silver, porcelain and furniture inlaid with gold, brocade, silk… Follow the historical flow of the 13 kings period of the Nguyen Dynasty.

Museum of Jewelry of 54 Vietnamese Ethnicities was born with 54 collections of original artefacts dating from 2,500 years ago to the 20th century, with materials such as gold, silver, jade, ivory, amber, agate, quartz, lapis lazuli, crystal, pearls, mother-of-pearl, tortoise shell (Nguyen Dynasty) to introduce and reflect the 54 vibrant, beautiful, and unique “colours” of the puzzle, a tapestry of emotions, to domestic and international visitors.

Remember, museums in Ho Chi Minh City are not merely repositories of artifacts; they are living testaments to the Vietnam's soul. Let their stories serve as a bridge to the past, a testament to the nation's resilience, and a source of inspiration for the future.

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