War Remnants Museum

Rated as the number 4 of 83 attractions in Ho Chi Minh City (by members of Tripadvisor), the War Remnants Museum remains as controversial as ever. Over the years it has had several names. How confrontational they have been is directly related to the diplomatic situation at the time.

When it opened in 1975, in the former US Information Agency, it was titled the “Exhibition House for US and Puppet Crimes”. In 1990, as relations between the US and Vietnam thawed, it became the “Exhibition House for Crimes of War and Aggression”. It changed to the current title in 1995 when Diplomatic ties were renewed and the US dropped embargos on the country.

War Remnants Museum - Messages of Peace

Messages of Peace adorn the outer fence of the War Remnants Museum

Located centrally in District 3, at 28 Vo Van Tan Street, the museum is easy to incorporate on an easy day walking around Ho Chi Minh City. It’s just up the road from Tao Dan, one of Saigon’s most pleasant parks and around the corner from the Reunification Palace, Saigon Central Post Office and Notre Dame Cathedral. Large artworks portraying “Peace” adorn the surrounding iron fence.

In the yard surrounding the building you can find military equipment from the period, including fighter jets, helicopters and tanks. There’s also a bit of unexploded ordinance around but don’t worry, it’s been disarmed.

There are over 1500 exhibits on display, organised under 8 themes. They are not all directed at the “American War”. There are exhibits related to the French occupation and other conficts as well. Some are definitely much more confrontational than others. Those exhibits that really made a massive impact on me include:

  • Models of the “Tiger Cages” used by the South Vietnamese goverment to detian political prisoners,
  • Graphic photography of the effects of chemical warfare (Agent Orange, Napalm and phosphorous bombs) and the My Lai massacre,
  • Guillotines used by the French and South Vietnamese to execute prisoners and
  • 3 jars of preserved human fetuses [allegedly] deformed by exposure to components in Agent Orange that was widely used to defoliate large tracts of Vietnam with the hope of flushing out the Viet Cong. Residues of these chemicals have wreaked havoc for generations since.
  • “Requiem”. A homage to photojournalists who died bringing the horror of war to the world from both sides of the conflict.
Visit, learn, ponder and

form your own opinion.

The museum also houses short term exhibitions and displays at times and has several programs to educate younger generations on the terrible nature of war.

According to official estimates, this museum receives over half a million visitors a year, 2/3rds of which are foreigners. Many feel the museum is one-sided and essentially propaganda by the victors. Personally, I think it’s important to remember that this country has been involved in terrible wars. Horrible acts were committed by man against man (and women and children!!). Admittedly bad things were done by both sides but I ask the question. Can you see the Vietnamese side of the story in any American  or French museum? I honestly don’t know as I haven’t visited but I doubt it. I would love to stand corrected by someone who does know so please leave a comment below.

This museum, one sided as it might be, shows the horrific nature of war and the impact on a nation and its people and is an integral part of Vietnam’s history. The real issue I have is that we seem, as a species, not to have learned any of the lessons from the past. We continue to inflict pain and suffering on innocents as we wage war on each other in the name of freedom, religion and greed. If the museum makes you feel a little uncomfortable then that’s not such a bad thing. Maybe as a whole we can influence our governments to stop using aggression to solve “problems”.

The positive thing for me is there appears to be very little resentment by the current generations of Vietnamese. Visitors, including Americans are welcomed with open arms, warm hearts and overwhelming hospitality to this country. Visit, learn, ponder and form your own opinion.

The War Remnants Museum is open from 7.30am – 12pm & 1.30-5pm every day including public holidays. Tickets are 15 000 VND (~75c)

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War Remnants Museum

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War Remnants Museum 10.779422, 106.692073 War Remnants Museum, Võ Văn Tần, phường 6, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam (Directions)

 

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10 Responses

  1. October 21, 2014

    […] can also use this route to get close to Reunification Palace, The War Remnants Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral and Saigon Central Post […]

  2. October 21, 2014

    […] key sites such as Notre Dame Cathedral, the Saigon Central Post Office, Reunification Palace, The War Remnants museum, Ben Thanh Market and Bitexco Financial Tower Skydeck. The central location makes it an easy […]

  3. November 21, 2014

    […] unseen by most tourists. Don’t get me wrong. I think the sites like Reunification Palace, The War Remnants Museum and others are well worth a visit, but you can easily do them by yourself on a self guided walking […]

  4. January 19, 2015

    […] guys have two locations (details below), but I chose the one directly across the road from the War Remnants Museum on Le Quy Don. No real reason except it makes a perfect pit stop on my Day 1 walking itinerary. I […]

  5. February 5, 2015

    […] of the big attractions around town will be open. I confirmed with the War Remnants Museum and Reunification Palace that they are open every day. The theme parks, DamSen (site in […]

  6. March 16, 2015

    […] eyes of it’s artists. The story she reveals is certainly no less confronting than a visit to the War Remnants Museum but is a far gentler […]

  7. March 19, 2015

    […]  2. War Remnants Museum […]

  8. April 16, 2015

    […] of the big sites around town will remain open but some, like Reunification Palace , the War Remnants Museum, the Central Post Office and Notre Dame Cathedral will have special events either at or in the […]

  9. May 24, 2015

    […] totally not into organised tours. I don’t want to see the war remnants museum or anything like that. Taking a trip up the river is pretty special though, especially at sunset. […]

  10. June 21, 2015

    […] bit of everything for everybody.  There are great historical locations like the Cu Chi Tunnels, War Remnants museum, and the Reunification Palace amongst others if you’re a history buff.  There is a very […]

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