From war to religion, Vietnam’s culture and history has been shaped by women. Visit the Women’s Museum in Hanoi to learn the important roles they played then and now, and feel empowered as you celebrate stories of strength and survival.
Walk through the bustling streets of Hanoi and you’ll discover endless fashion and art that celebrates femininity, and hear the stories of heroines who fought for liberation. In the faces of businesswomen lining the street markets selling their wares, you’ll see modern-day resilience of women living and working far from home to support their families. Hanoi’s Women’s Museum is testament to all this and more, celebrating the women of this vibrant, colourful city and country, detailing their role in many aspects of Vietnamese culture and history.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
One local visitor said she takes friends and foreigners there to teach them. Ms Diep, 30, lives in Hanoi. She told Culture Trip: “For me, the museum is a place to keep the traditions alive and to remind the next generation of the great merits and sacrifices of the previous women. You get to know lots of stories of individual women.” Here, we take a look at a few of the museum’s teachings on the culture of Vietnamese women.
Historically, the women in Vietnamese families were expected to fulfil many roles, from baker or fisher to teacher or businesswoman. Even when they had to earn money by working in the fields, they were still expected raise children – so they strapped them to their backs as they laboured. This still happens now.
The museum highlights the many skills and jobs women have traditionally taken on over the years – such as sewing and weaving, making pottery, fishing, foraging, and agriculture – and gives a sense of not only their importance in home and society, but also their strength.
Many of these women are from rural areas of Vietnam that, due to financial circumstances, have been forced to move to the city to work and live in boarding houses. The resilience to hardships is born from love and the instinct to protect. A market worker in the museum’s short film says: “I miss my home. But I do this for my family, for my children.”
Interestingly, many Vietnamese people of different religions such as Taoism and Buddhism worship a female God, alongside their more mainstream beliefs. They pray to The Mother Goddess: a mother figure who looks after all, and is believed to bring positivity, good health and fortune to the daily life of her followers. She is worshipped in temples where people leave offerings on alters, and at festivals with music, costume and creations made from votive paper. One worshipper quoted on a placard within the museum said: ‘Whenever we are happy and joyful, we come to Her, and whenever we feel sad, we talk and share with Her.’
They say the Mother Goddess is a supreme deity who has been reincarnated as Heaven, Earth, Water, and Mountains and Forest. Followers strive for a pure heart, to always promote goodness in thoughts and deeds. It’s based on a folk belief and has been adapted over the years with social change but the primary belief remains that she’s a mother to everyone, who always protects and supports, and provides a peaceful and prosperous life.
Vietnam has a strong identity and women follow customs closely to this day, from how different ethnic groups within the country celebrate marriage, to evolving fashion and its shaping of society’s view of femininity. Fashion has a strong impact on female identity in Vietnam, evident in the multitude of shops lining the streets that celebrate colour, fabric and creativity. You’ll see women walking around in stylish summer dresses or power suits; others in more traditional outfits that proudly represent their national pride and have done so throughout history, like the Ao Dai.
The Ao Dai, a national garment of tight silk over loose trousers with varying colours and designs, features in the museum. It was created for both sexes but is now primarily worn by women and is seen to symbolise female beauty. The shaping is described as ‘the eternal silhouette of Vietnam’. Certainly, you’ll see women wearing the stunning pieces all around the country.
Visitor Mia Hang said: “This museum is dedicated to preserving and introducing tangible and intangible values about Vietnamese women from tradition to modernity. You learn how the beauty of the soul blends with the shapes and aesthetics in Vietnamese women’s costumes.”
War and politics
Women played a vital role in Vietnam’s war for independence. Not only did they produce munitions and sustain agriculture in their homelands, many fought on the frontlines and led guerrilla forces in both wars with great success.
The museum documents the lives and triumphs of many of these incredible women. One example is Mrs Ngo Ba Thanh, who was the President of the Women’s Committee for the Right to Live in Peace and Dignity, and went on a hunger strike against the war. She was known as ‘Rose in the Barbed Wire’ in the press and eventually became the vice president of the Vietnamese Women’s Union. The museum tells her story and others, even showcasing original poems written by female prisoners during the war. It’s captivating.
One of the best things about Hanoi’s Women’s Museum is its celebration of individual women and their struggles. It tells stories from heroines in history who dominated war, to mothers and wives who made great sacrifices for those they loved.
Perhaps the most powerful of all is the wall of portraits of those with the title ‘Heroic Mothers of Vietnam’. These are women who lost their children, husbands or their own lives during the country’s reunification. They were ordinary women in extraordinary circumstances. Their stories represent every Vietnamese woman today and throughout history, who fought battles big and small to bring happiness to the lives of those and others.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.