Opening Times: 8.00am - 11.30am and 1.30pm - 5.00pm daily
The Museum of Vietnamese History stands inside the grounds of Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens in the heart of District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. It makes for an interesting distraction and a welcome respite from what can be searing heat. It is normally better to visit Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens during the early morning then as temperatures soar, you may drift into what is an extremely interesting museum. This popular tourist attraction is subject to many sightseeing visits by visitors from all over the world.
The Museum of Vietnamese History is also known as The History Museum of Ho Chi Minh City. It was constructed in 1929 and was originally was called the Blanchard de la Brosse Museum. Over the next 27 years it mainly exhibited ancient art collections from various Asian countries. In 1956 the Museum was then renamed Saigon National Museum and remained as such up until 1975. Then the museum was expanded and has been known as the Museum of Vietnamese History ever since. It is one of the best attractions in Ho Chi Minh City.
The Museum has two distinct sections to it. Part one tells the story of Vietnam’s history from as early as 300,000 years ago. It runs up to the birth of the Vietnamese Communist Party in 1930. The displays are shown in 8 different halls these are entitled:
- The primitive period in Vietnam
- The founding of King Hung’s Dynasty
- The periods of struggle to gain independence (1st to 10th Centuries)
- Ly Dynasty (11th to 13th Centuries XI)
- Tran Dynasty (13th and 14th Centuries)
- Le Dynasty (15th to 17th Centuries)
- Tay Son Dynasty (18th and 19th Centuries)
- Nguyen Dynasty (19th and 20th Centuries)
The second part of the museum showcases themes of historical characteristics of southern Vietnam. These include the Oc Eo culture, ancient culture of the Mekong Delta, Cham art, Ben Nghe, Saigon itself and the ethnic minority groups of Vietnam.
One extremely interesting exhibit is the partially mummified body of an old woman found in Ho Chi Minh City in 1994. This was found in an ancient grave containing two coffins in District 5. The body was lying in a red liquid in a wooden coffin and is in remarkable condition. The other coffin contained just a few bones belonging to a man. The bodies are estimated to be at least 200 years old. The woman’s hands are slender and small and scientist working on the project say that she had enjoyed a comfortable life, the suggesting aristocratic status. It is one of the best preserved mummies in the country and only since being removed from the liquid has certain amounts of decomposition taken place.
If you travel to The former Saigon, make sure you visit the Museum of Vietnamese History