Ho Chi Minh War Remnants Museum (Content Warning)

Ho Chi Minh’s War Remnants Museum is one of the most impressive collections of military history that I’ve had the pleasure of viewing. The museum is not just impressive, but highly moving, if you are faint of heart, I would advise caution in visiting due to some of the content of the museum being highly graphic in nature. I have made sure not to upload any photographs displaying content that I regard as being overly graphic. The museum houses some of the key war machines used in the Vietnam War, these are kept in fantastic condition.  They also house a highly impressive collection of Vietnam War weaponry, including weapons ranging from pistols, right through to bazookas, chain guns, and mortars. A key part of the museum that some may have a problem with, is the section of the museum dedicated to Agent Orange and its ongoing effects on the people of Vietnam. This section includes numerous photographs of deformity and diseases caused by the dumping of the chemical throughout the country. They also house several deformed babies that are kept preserved in glass cases. The other key section that may upset some visitors is the room dedicated to war crimes/atrocities, this room features some highly graphic photographs that I have chosen not to include in this article. As well as these sections, the museum also houses an extensive propaganda section with documents from both sides of the war, as well as a torture section demonstrating what POWs went through when captured.

 

 

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Da Lat Surrounding Attractions

Located just outside of Da Lat are several fantastic attractions such as Datanla Falls, Trúc Lâm Temple, Robin Hill and Tuyền Lâm Lake. All of these attractions are within a short driving distance of the city if you rent a bike or scooter. Located at Datanla Falls is an awesome land based rollercoaster that takes you through the forest and down to a cable care. The cable car takes you through a small valley to the falls themselves. The falls are beautiful and are a very relaxing way to spend the day. Trúc Lâm Temple can be accessed via a cable car that departs from the Robin Hill cable car station. The view from the car is stunning and takes you over valleys, hills and alpine forest, ending at Trúc Lâm Temple located on the shores of Tuyền Lâm Lake. The temple complex is beautiful and is surrounded by forest area. Overall you can have a fantastic day exploring these attractions while still spending very little money. The only real cost involved is the roller coaster ticket and cable car tickets, which amount to very little.

 

Marble Mountain and Chùa Linh Ứng

Marble Mountain is located just outside of the city center and is well worth the visit. The site (as the name suggests) is a collection of five large marble and limestone hills, housing caves, and temples. You will find beautiful architecture, statues and art work throughout the complex. You will also find fantastic views overlooking the surrounding area, including the other limestone and marble hills. Chùa Linh Ứng is a large temple complex located out of the city on the peninsula. The complex houses numerous beautiful statues, stunning architecture and one enormous Buddhist statue overlooking the bay. You will need a few hours to cover Marble Mountain and around an hour to see Chùa Linh Ứng, both are highly worth the visit.

 

Da Nang

 

Da Nang is the third largest city in Vietnam and is located in the center of the country on the coast. While Da Nang is not the most touristy city in Vietnam it is an extremely pleasant city. I ended up spending a few days there just because of how nice the city was. Having said that there is plenty to do in the city, such as Marbel Mountain, Chùa Linh Ứng (a large temple complex with an enormous Buddhist statue), the Sun Wheel and beautiful beachfronts. The city is also filled with Communist monuments, propaganda billboards, stunning arty bridges and fantastic restaurants and bakeries. The city has a very livable feeling to it and if I were to live somewhere in Vietnam it would probably be Da Nang. In Da Nang you will also see Vietnamese daily life go on all around you, seeing sights such as scooters transporting massively oversized loads of planks, garden supplies fans and almost anything that you can think of. The city’s attractions will be covered in the following articles.

Hanoi’s Museums

There are two sides to Hanoi’s museum collections, one focuses on Vietnamese history as a whole, while the other focuses solely on Ho Chi Minh. When I say Ho Chi Minh, I mean the man and not the city. Ho Chi Minh has an almost cult-like following in Vietnam, particularly in the North. The perfect example of this is the Ho Chi Minh Museum located in central Hanoi. This entire complex is literally dedicated to the legend of the man himself. The museum’s collection consists of everything from the man’s childhood clothing, through to chairs he once sat on, his childhood house itself, pens he once used to ythng you could think of. There are also some extremely random art pieces replicated throughout the museum and large metal and crystal structures resembling James Bond villains lairs. I highly suggest visiting this museum for a unique experience and a look into the extent of a national cult of personality. The other museum in town, The National Museum of Vietnam, is a more traditional collection of historic pieces from Vietnam’s dynasties passed and also well worth the visit. There are also numerous other museums in the city, many focusing on the Vietnam War that I did not have time to visit.

http://www.baotanghochiminh.vn/tabid/528/default.aspx

http://www.baotanglichsu.vn/subportal/en/Home/mid/29453A92/

Hanoi Art and Culture

Hanoi is a city filled with art and culture. Throughout the city, you can find galleries and studios tucked away down side streets and alleys. Aside from these smaller privately owned galleries, the city has some of its own large public galleries which are highly worth visiting. Aside from art, the city’s traditional culture can be witnessed and experienced in a number of ways. One of the best ways of achieving this experience is to attend a water puppet show at Thăng Long Theater. This remains to be one of the more unusual experiences that I’ve had in my travels and I highly suggest experiencing it. The who involve people behind a screen operating wooden puppets seemingly floating above the water. The show also features live music to accompany the story unfolding through the puppetry. As I stated in my last article, I suggest spending several days in Hanoi to be able to fully explore and take in all that the city has to offer. I spent the better part of a week in town and still feel like I had so much more to see.

http://thanglongwaterpuppet.org/en/

 

Buddha Park/Xieng Khuan

The Xieng Khuan Buddha Park is a must visit while in the region. This is, in all honesty, one of the major highlights of a visit to Vientiane. The park while looking deceptively historic, is actually relatively modern and collected by one man in the 1950s. Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat was a Buddhist/Hindu monk who attempted to integrate the two religions through the use of this park, housing figures from both religions. The park is located about 25km outside of the city and will need to be driven to. I personally rented a bike and drove myself, just be warned that the road there is in terrible condition and is an adventure in itself to navigate. Make sure that if you are in the area, that you take the time to visit the park for a unique experience.