Museums and Art Galleries Tour (Self Guided), Saigon/HoChiMinh City

Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam. The city boasts a rich history and culture, which are depicted through its numerous museums and art galleries. This self-guided tour will lead you to some historically unique museums and art galleries, revealing the past and present of this great city and country:
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Museums and Art Galleries Tour Map

Guide Name: Museums and Art Galleries Tour
Guide Location: Vietnam » Saigon/HoChiMinh City (See other walking tours in Saigon/HoChiMinh City)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.9 Km or 3.7 Miles
Author: vickyc
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Southern Women's Museum
  • War Remnants Museum
  • Zen Art Gallery
  • Fine Arts Museum
  • Ho Chi Minh City Museum
  • Ton Duc Thang Museum
  • Museum of Vietnamese History
1
Southern Women's Museum

1) Southern Women's Museum

The Southern Women’s Museum in Ho Chi Minh City is dedicated to the role played by the women of Vietnam in the defense of the nation and their contribution to its development. It also serves as a center for cultural and educational activities for women in the city.

The Southern Women’s Museum is housed in a building that was once the house of Nguyen Ngoc Loan. He was a Director General of Police of the Saigon Government. It became the Traditional House of Southern Women in 1984. A four story building was added and the complex was converted into a museum.

The Southern Women’s Museum consists of three floors and 10 display halls. One section displays the traditional clothing worn by women in South Vietnam. Another section has over a thousand photographs showing their contribution in times of war including active combat. This section also shows the struggle of women against the French colonial rule and the US occupation. Traditional tools used by rural Vietnamese women are also on display. There is a section with photographs documents and letters showing women of modern Vietnam serving as diplomats, politicians and administrators. The building has a meeting hall, a library and a movie theater, and visitors can purchase souvenirs from the museum gift shop.

Hours: Daily 08:00-11:00, 13:30-17:30
2
War Remnants Museum

2) War Remnants Museum (must see)

The War Remnants Museum is currently one of the most popular museums in Vietnam, attracting approximately half a million visitors every year. According to the museum's own estimates, about two-thirds of these are foreigners. US anthropologist Christina Schwenkel wrote the museum attempts to convey historical truths with 'self-representation', presenting images and other features without contextualizing them as other museums do.

The museum comprises a series of themed rooms in several buildings, with period military equipment placed within a walled yard. The military equipment includes a UH-1 "Huey" helicopter, an F-5A fighter, a BLU-82 "Daisy Cutter" bomb, M48 Patton tank, an A-1 Skyraider attack bomber, and an A-37 Dragonfly attack bomber. There are a number of pieces of unexploded ordnance stored in the corner of the yard, with their charges and/or fuses removed.

One building reproduces the "tiger cages" in which the South Vietnamese government kept political prisoners. Other exhibits include graphic photography, accompanied by a short text in English, Vietnamese and Japanese, covering the effects of Agent Orange and other chemical defoliant sprays, the use of napalm and phosphorus bombs, and war atrocities such as the My Lai massacre. The photographic display includes work by Vietnam War photojournalist Bunyo Ishikawa that he donated to the museum in 1998. Curiosities include a guillotine used by the French and South Vietnamese to execute prisoners (the last time being in 1960) and three jars of preserved human fetuses allegedly deformed by exposure to dioxins and dioxin-like compounds, contained in the defoliant Agent Orange.

Why You Should Visit:
To gain extensive insight into the warfare history of the American War from the Vietnamese perspective.

Tip:
Start from the top floor and work your way down – it makes more sense. Begin with hall 2, only then move to 1.
Budget a minimum of 2 hours for this activity (more if you like to spend time reading).
If you're American, expect to read a lot of anti-American sentiment in the exhibition.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 7:30am-6pm
3
Zen Art Gallery

3) Zen Art Gallery

Zen Art Gallery displays the best contemporary works of art in all of Vietnam. Opened in 1999, its aim is to inspire "spontaneous interactions between art and you." Zen Gallery's collections include internationally famous works, with some of the pictures done in oil and traditional lacquer. You will find works by such artists as Dao MinhTri, Le KinhTai, Le Ngoc Linh, and many others.
Hours: Monday-Friday: 10:00 am – 5:30 pm
4
Fine Arts Museum

4) Fine Arts Museum (must see)

The Fine Arts Museum in Ho Chi Minh City is a gallery dedicated to contemporary Vietnamese and international art. Vietnam’s Ministry of Culture has designated it as a First Class National Museum.

The museum was inaugurated on the 5th of September 1987 by the People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City. The building that houses the museum is a grand yellow and white colonial mansion. It used to belong to a wealthy Chinese businessman called Mr. Hoa, who owned the Majestic Hotel and the Tu Du Hospital during the colonial era.

Displays in the museum of art are arranged on three floors. The first two floors house a collection of paintings by contemporary Vietnamese and international artists. The artists featured include Trinh Cung, Do Quang Em, Diep Minh Chao and Nguyen Gia Tri. The third floor is a repository of art created between the 7th and early 20th centuries. Works from the Cham and Oc Eo periods of Vietnamese history are on display here. The museum also has a collection of traditional artworks from different regions of the country including gilded red lacquer artifacts, ceramic pottery and wooden objects with mother of pearl inlays. Both new and established artists are featured, providing visitors with an insight into the evolving art scene of Vietnam.

Why You Should Visit:
To see some amazing Vietnamese artwork on display in a beautiful colonial-era building.
Some paintings will make an impression but it's mostly the sculptures and pottery/ceramics that stand out.

Tip:
You should buy water at the ticket booth before going in, since there's no a/c.
If you have your own water bottle, you can refill it for free on the first floor.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 9am-5pm
5
Ho Chi Minh City Museum

5) Ho Chi Minh City Museum

The Ho Chi Minh City Museum is dedicated to the struggles of the people of the city against the French and Americans and to the ancient culture of the city. It is housed in a colonial mansion that served as the Palace of the Governor of Cochin China during French rule.

The Ho Chi Minh City Museum is located in an old mansion that bears witness to the history of the city from colonial times. It was built between 1885 and 1890 and designed by the French architect, Alfred Foulhoux. During the Japanese occupation of the city during World War II, it served as the residence of General, Yoshida Minoda. It was also a temporary residence of the Vietnamese King Bao Dai.

The Ho Chi Minh City Museum was established in 1975 after the fall of Saigon. The main exhibits relate to the achievements and victories of the communist party of Vietnam including the defeat of the French and later the Americans and American supported South Vietnam. There are also Buddhist relics, objects from archeological excavations around the city and traditional Vietnamese wedding ceremony artifacts. Notable exhibits are two wooden river boats that were used in the 13th century. There is a beautiful and calm garden outside the building which is a popular site for wedding photographs.

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday: 8:00am - 5:00pm
6
Ton Duc Thang Museum

6) Ton Duc Thang Museum

This Museum is dedicated to the life and times of the first president of unified Vietnam Ton Duc Thang. It is located near the Ba Son Shipyard where he once worked as a mechanic.

The Ton Duc Thang Museum was inaugurated on August 20th 1988 to commemorate his centennial birth anniversary. It is located in the former home of Tran Thien Kiem, who was the premier of the former government of South Vietnam. Ton Duc Thang was the first Vietnamese recipient of the Lenin peace Prize. The museum has a collection of over 600 photographs, documents and memorabilia relating to his achievements.

The Ton Duc Than Museum has a small collection displayed in 9 sections. Displays include photographs and exhibits from his childhood, his hometown and school and his struggle for Vietnamese independence and unification. The Con Son Pearl Exhibition Room has documents and photographs relating to the Con Dao prison where he spent 15 years during the freedom struggle. His contribution to the Bolshevik revolution and to the unification of the country is portrayed in the other rooms of the museum. The museum is frequented by visitors interested in the political history of the country and the significant role played by Ton Duc Than in unifying and modernizing Vietnam.

Hours: daily 7:30 to 11:30 & 13:30 to 17:00
7
Museum of Vietnamese History

7) Museum of Vietnamese History (must see)

The Museum of Vietnamese History is a repository of objects dating from prehistoric times to the formation of the communist party in 1930. The building housing the museum is a unique pagoda-like structure designed in Neo Vietnamese style during the colonial era.

The museum is divided into two parts. The first part consists of halls with exhibits from each period in Vietnam’s history. Exhibits in these halls are dedicated to the prehistoric period, the reign of King Hung, the Ly dynasty, the Tran Dynasty, the Le Dynasty, the Tay Son and the Nguyen Dynasty. The second part is dedicated to the cultures of Southern Vietnam like the Oc Eo culture, the cultures of the Mekong River, Cham art, ceramics and pottery, ancient weaponry and the crafts, costumes, utensils and of ethnic minority groups in the country. There is also a small theater within the museum where traditional Vietnamese water puppet shows are held.

Tip:
As noted above, the museum is in two buildings so make sure you go to both.
The cost to get in is very reasonable and they do take credit cards.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 8-11:30am / 1:30-5pm

Walking Tours in Saigon/HoChiMinh City, Vietnam

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Creating your own self-guided walk in Saigon/HoChiMinh City is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
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Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
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Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.4 Km or 3.4 Miles