The 10 Best Places in Vietnam to Learn About The Vietnam War

Entrance to the Imperial City at Twilight, Hue, Vietnam
Entrance to the Imperial City at Twilight, Hue, Vietnam | © Rob Whitworth 2012 / Alamy Stock Photo

The Vietnam War was a defining event of the 20th century, and even now, over 40 years later, it still haunts many. Vietnam is a peaceful country these days, but war has left deep wounds on this nation and its people. Here are the best places to learn about the conflict.

1. War Remnants Museum

Museum

War planes in front of the War Remnants Museum relating to the First Indochina and Vietnam War in Ho Chi Minh City, District 3, former Saigon, Vietnam
© van der Meer Marica / Arterra Picture Library / Alamy Stock Photo

This is an absolute must for history buffs who visit Ho Chi Minh City. The military hardware on display brings the conflict to life, and the images inside speak of the horrors of war. This museum was originally built to showcase American atrocities, but the government has since eased its message. Now they want nothing more than a lasting peace for Vietnam.

2. Hỏa Lò Prison

Museum

Recreation of cruel conditions in Hoa Lo Prison Museum in Hanoi.
© Feargus Cooney / Alamy Stock Photo
Americans will know this museum by its famous nickname: The Hanoi Hilton. The original prison held Vietnamese prisoners who were campaigning for independence from the colonial French. Later, during the war with the American-backed regime in Saigon, the north held prisoners of war here – most famously, American Senator John McCain. Today, only the gatehouse remains, converted to a museum to show this site’s tortured past.

3. Củ Chi Tunnels

Memorial, Museum

Cu Chi Tunnels
© Asia / Alamy Stock Photo
While the claustrophobic among you may want to avoid this excursion, it’s definitely one of the best day trips from Ho Chi Minh City. These tunnels are a visceral example of the kinds of sacrifices that people made during the war. You definitely won’t forget this experience.

5. Independence Palace

Building, Museum

A fountain and manicured lawn at the front of the Independence Palace in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
© Sean Hsu / Alamy Stock Photo

This building was where the South Vietnamese government operated from during the war, and it has been remarkably well-maintained. You can see where foreign dignitaries were hosted, as well as the bomb bunker in the basement where the military leadership communicated with its forces. Even the maps are still hanging on the walls.

6. Khe Sanh Combat Base

Museum

Bunkers and trenchs in Khe Sanh combat base (DMZ, Quan Tri province, Vietnam).
© Bruno Almela / agefotostock / Alamy Stock Photo

During the Tet Offensive in 1968, this combat base, located near the demilitarized zone north of Hue, was a name known around the world. It was a pivotal battle between American forces and troops from the north who slipped in through nearby Laos. Though much of the base has been lost to the jungle, there are still bunkers and part of the original air strip to see, as well as some American military hardware.

7. Ho Chi Minh Museum

Museum

Ho Chi Minh Museum, Hanoi, Vietnam, Indochina, Southeast Asia, Asia
© Yadid Levy / Alamy Stock Photo
The life of Ho Chi Minh is the story of modern Vietnam. He is Uncle Ho, the revered figurehead of this country, and the face of national independence. This museum showcases his life, accomplishments and some of the coolest Soviet era art you’ll ever see.

Côn Đảo Prisons

These islands off the southern coast of Vietnam are some of the most beautiful places in the country, but they were also home to torture, abuse and politically-motivated executions for much of the last century. The French were the first to build and use these prisons, but the American-backed regime in Saigon also used them to hold captured soldiers and other political prisoners, including Võ Thị Sáu, Vietnam’s famous guerrilla girl.

Con Son Island prison, Vietnam

8. Hue Imperial Citadel

Museum

Hue Imperial Citadel
© Arterra Picture Library / Alamy Stock Photo
This historic site, which predates the Vietnam War by many years, was where one of the fiercest battles took place during the war, known as the Battle of Huế. Probably the most telling part of the Imperial City, aside from the bullet holes in the walls, is just how many of the original structures American bombers destroyed. The large empty spaces are a testament to how much was lost in this war.

9. Vịnh Mốc Tunnels

Museum

Hue, Vietnam. The Vinh Moc Tunnels in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). These are the actual tunnels.
© Danita Delimont Creative / Alamy Stock Photo
Whereas the more famous Củ Chi Tunnels were used for military purposes, the tunnels at Vịnh Mốc were used by civilians. Approximately 300 people lived and worked in this multi-tiered system of tunnels for over six years, staying underground to avoid American bombers. Trips here are often included as part of a package to other popular DMZ sites, such as the base at Khe Sanh.
landscape with balloons floating in the air

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.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

X
Edit article