Spend time exploring the Hanoi museums, arts and culture scene and you’ll discover a mix of wares on display and entertainment options. Museums like the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology provide insights into traditional cultures from the north of the country, while out on the streets of Hanoi you can experience modern-day trends as you shop for handmade silk and silver items.
Hanoi’s museum collection wouldn’t be complete without a representation of its military past. Expect displays dedicated to the memory of the Vietnam War. If you prefer to sit back and be entertained then seek out the Hanoi Opera House and the Water Puppet Theatre.
Vietnam is home to 54 different ethnic groups. Many of these groups are situated in the north of the country, not far from Hanoi. The Vietnam Museum of Ethnology gives you the chance to learn more about their cultures. Displays include clothes, jewellery, and everyday artefacts that demonstrate the way of life in North Vietnam. Outside, there are replicas of houses for you to explore.
Built from 1901 until 1911 by the French, the Hanoi Opera House became an important part of Vietnamese political history. Today, it's also an important part of the country's cultural scene. Local and international artists take to the stage to perform in front of the 600-strong audience. You can catch ballets, classical orchestrations, Vietnamese opera, and traditional folk music in this beloved venue.
Stepping inside a French Colonial building with the words ‘Maison Centrale’ by its entryway will give you a grim but necessary glimpse of the Vietnam War. This building is Hoa Lo Prison, where Vietnamese revolutionaries and American prisoners of war were kept. Today, it’s a museum that commemorates the fate of these prisoners.
If you're interested in history and the military, you should visit the Vietnam Military History Museum in Hanoi. It houses a large collection of tanks, fighter planes, weapons, and other war relics. There are also accounts by former soldiers who fought in the Indochina wars. Drop by Huu Tiep Lake after your museum visit to see a B-52 plane that was downed during an air raid.
When it was built in 1070, the Temple of Literature Hanoi became Vietnam's first university and was dedicated to the Chinese philosopher, Confucius. Today, this beautiful place still attracts students from around the country who want a bit of good luck during exam time. Although you can’t explore the whole campus, you can walk around its many courtyards and pavilions, enjoying the quiet atmosphere and rich history.
The Vietnam Women's Museum is dedicated to promoting gender equality through education. It exhibits items relevant to women's lives such as traditional attire, pottery, and other everyday objects. Moreover, it showcases the roles that women played throughout Vietnam's rich history. The museum has five floors, each with a different theme, and is definitely a must-see when visiting Hanoi.
The Fine Arts Museum of Vietnam has a collection that spans two buildings, which were formerly used by the French Ministry of Information. Now you’ll find information about paintings, sculptures, and other fine art pieces by Vietnamese artists. Some of these artworks draw on themes of patriotism and military strategies, while others are more recent abstract pieces that are well worth a look.