One of the most popular attractions in the city of Ho Chi Minh is the War Remnants Museum. The museum details the pain and brutality that the Vietnamese have experienced during the Vietnam War. It showcases numerous photos, paintings, weapons, and wax exhibits depicting the life of the prisoners while held in captivity during the war.
If you are visiting Vietnam to learn more about the country’s colorful history, the War Remnants Museum should be first on your list of places to visit. The museum offers an in-depth insight into the history of Vietnam while highlighting the horrors of war. So here’s what you can expect when visiting the War Remnants Museum.
War Weaponry and Prison Cells
The War Remnants Museum sits in a 5,400 square meter land area and the exhibition area occupies around 4,522 square meters. Upon entering the museum, you’ll immediately notice fighter planes, helicopters, artillery pieces, infantry weapons, and other military equipment used during the Vietnam War. At the right-hand side of the museum, you’ll find different bombs and ammunition, including gigantic bombs that are truly fascinating to see up-close. These bombs were dropped on Vietnam grounds during the war.
On the other side of the main hall, you’ll find the most interesting exhibit in the museum, the prison cells. Here, you’ll encounter wax exhibits depicting the torture that the prisoners have endured while in captive. There’s a separate cell for women that is called the “oven” since it’s small and stuffy and has only one tiny door. While in captive, women prisoners are said to take turns to stand close to this door in order to breathe fresh air.
You will also find machinery with a heavy blade used for beheading some prisoners. There are also tiger cages, said to be the deadliest form of torture that some prisoners have gone through. These small cages are made of rusted barbed wire built in different sizes. The cage is too small but they are used to keep several prisoners. During the cold season, the prisoners are tied to each other through leg cuffs. Thus, they have to do all personal activities together, such as urinating, eating, bathing, etc. Indeed, the scene here is very heart wrenching yet it’s a great way to learn more about the sufferings of the Vietnamese and the effects of the Vietnam War.
Photo Exhibits and Agent Orange
The two floors of the building house the different photos and paintings representing the war. Here, you’ll find different images taken by wartime photojournalists who were tasked to cover the war. There are also news clippings, propaganda, and documentaries. Aside from the different photographs, you’ll also find the statement of the US Air Force and the Word Peace Council regarding the war.
One of the highlights of the exhibits is Agent Orange. It’s a chemical used by the US forces during the war that has caused devastating effects to the country. There are said to be 20 million gallons of the herbicide that were sprayed over the grounds of Vietnam and have destroyed a million acres of land and mangrove forests. But what’s disheartening is the fact that the chemical has also affected millions of people. According to the Vietnam government, about 4 million Vietnamese were exposed to these harsh chemicals and suffered from serious illnesses. Some of them suffered from mental illnesses, hernias, cleft palate, and others have extra toes and fingers. The stories of the Agent Orange victims are truly heartbreaking to read and something that you might remember for the rest of your life.
Visiting the War Remnants Museum
The War Remnants Museum welcomes more than a million visitors each year. It’s located in District 3 of Ho Chi Minh and a walking distance from some of the other famous attractions in the city. The Independence Palace is only 5 minutes from the museum and about 10 minutes walk away from the Saigon Central Post Office and the Notre Dame Cathedral. It’s opened from 7:30 AM to 12 PM and from 1:30 PM to 6 PM every day, including holidays. Entrance to the museum costs VND 40,000 per person or around $2.
The War Remnants Museum is very controversial and many would claim that it’s a propaganda against the Americans since the exhibits are mostly one-sided. Whatever your view or reaction about the museum, it’s still something that is worth visiting if you’re in Vietnam. Whether it is the Americans that are to be blamed or not, we can’t deny the fact that a lot of innocent lives were lost and millions have suffered because of what happened during this part of the country’s history.
At the end of your tour of the museum, you will surely have lots of realizations. It will make you understand the war from the perspective of the Vietnamese, who were greatly affected by the devastating effects of the war. This is not something that you can learn just by reading about it from the pages of a book.