When I arrived in Ho Chi Minh City last year, I was excited about the chance to visit the war museum, as it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Vietnam. When I arrived at the museum it was just past noon, and they were closed for lunch hour. I was able to see the helicopters, fighter jets, tanks and armored personnel carriers in the front of the museum on the grounds. I was really looking forward to sitting in one of the choppers and having photos take with all the old war machines, but I would have to wait until lunch hour was finished.
After chilling out in a coffee shop for an hour, I returned to the museum, there were plenty of people pouring into the museum by that time. I spent over an hour walking around the outside of the museum, I was quite intrigued by all the old helicopters and tanks. It was just like what you have seen in all the old Vietnam War movies, such as Platoon, Full Metal Jacket or Good Morning Vietnam. They also had several torture devices and restraints on display, including the infamous "tiger cages".
There was plenty of literature on display, telling about all the well known atrocities committed by the American soldiers during the war, really heavy stuff. I found the anti American propaganda was at times a little over the top, and as a Canadian I am never one to defend my neighbors to the south. I was very impressed with the outer grounds of the museum, however when I went inside to see what was on display, I was a little disappointed. There were a lot of photos on the walls, and a few guns in display cases, but overall I think you could get a similar experience from a book full of photos.
There were quite a few people walking around outside the museum that had apparently lost limbs from landmines during or after the war. They were selling books or other souvenirs, when I bought a book from one of these vendors, I asked him if I could get a photo of the two of us. The man scolded me, and told me that it was wrong to exploit people in such a way, and he refused to be photographed. I thought this was a little much, I mean if he was so concerned about exploitation, what was he doing standing in front of the biggest tourist attraction in Saigon selling books? If he was working at a noodle shop, I would have understood his point, but I thought it was a little hypocritical. Never the less, I respected his wish not to be photographed.
I am glad I had the chance to see the war museum, especially all the tanks and choppers in the yard, I would say it was worth the visit. I wasn't very impressed with the displays inside the museum, but there were some graphic photos that I will never forget as long as I am on this earth. I would think that if you are traveling to Ho Chi Minh City, you wouldn't want to miss out on this attraction. It is very easy to get there in a taxi from the Pham Ngu Lao district, only a few dollars in a taxi.
Copyright © 2012 TravelMozo