History Museum of Ho Chi Minh City

Written by Michael Turtle

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle. A journalist for more than 20 years, he's been travelling the world since 2011.

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle and has been travelling full time for a decade.

History Museum of Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

When we think about the history of Vietnam, it’s often easy just to focus on the Vietnam War, which had changed the face of the country by the time it finished in 1975.

But when it comes to the history of Vietnam, the war is just a tiny blip, and there was plenty before it that shaped it more significantly. For thousands of years, this land has been ruled by different cultures and, even in more recent centuries, different dynasties.

It’s all of this that is explored at the History Museum of Ho Chi Minh City. Despite having the city’s name in its official title, this is actually a museum looking at the history of the whole country.

Courtyard of the History Museum of Ho Chi Minh City

After a brief look at the the prehistoric era and bronze and iron age, the museum gets into the different periods that have defined Vietnam over the past thousand years or so.

If you’ve already travelled through other parts of Vietnam, then many of the things you’ll see at the Museum of History will sound familiar, because these various dynasties and rulers tended to have their power centres in different parts of the country.

If your first stop is Ho Chi Minh City and you’re about to embark on a trip through Vietnam, this will help give you some background.

I think this is one of the best things to do in Ho Chi Minh City if you want to understand more about the broader story of historical Vietnam.

It’s certainly the best presented museum in Ho Chi Minh City, with good signage and lots of interesting artefacts.

Inside the History Museum of Ho Chi Minh City

For most people, the details of Vietnam’s long story aren’t things we learn about in school or elsewhere, so I really recommend taking this opportunity to get a foundation to help your travels here.

What’s here?

The building was originally constructed in 1929 to be a museum, so there’s a natural flow to the design, with the rooms laid out around a central open-air courtyard.

The first two rooms of the History Museum look at the prehistoric period and then very early Vietnam.

Then there are six rooms that look at the main dynasties the ruled over the country, from the early Le Dynasties, to the influential Ho Dynasty, and finally to the Nguyen Dynasty.

History Museum of Ho Chi Minh City
History Museum of Ho Chi Minh City

Interspersed between some of these rooms are sections dedicated to other cultures, like the Champa, the Oc Eo, and the Khmer.

There are excellent collections of sculptures and other artefacts from this periods that allow you to see the impressive detail in the artwork of the time.

Within the museum complex, there’s a water puppet theatre and you can buy a ticket to see one of several shows that are run throughout the day.

The Museum of History also has a cafe if you need a break.

How to visit?

If you’re exploring District 1 by foot, then I would recommend combining a visit to the History Museum with the Jade Emperor Pagoda and possibly also the Central Post Office and Notre Dame Cathedral.

Take note, though, that the museum is closed in the middle of the day.

Although you can spend as long or little here as you like, with plenty of exhibits to look at, I think it will take about an hour to see it properly.

There’s no need to book in advance and there’s enough information available that a tour isn’t necessary (although, of course, you’ll always get something extra from a guide).

Where is the History Museum of Ho Chi Minh City?

The History Museum of Ho Chi Minh City is in the northern part of District 1, in the same block as the Saigon Zoo.
The official address is 2 Nguyễn Bỉnh Khiêm, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam.
You can see it on a map here.

How do you get to the History Museum of Ho Chi Minh City?

You’ll be able to easily walk to the Museum of History from parts of District 1.
If you’re coming by public transport, you can use bus numbers 6, 14, 19, 45, 30, 52, and 56.
If neither of those options suit, I would recommend just getting a taxi or a Grab, which should be around 70,000 dong (US$3) from Ben Thanh Market, for example.

When is the History Museum of Ho Chi Minh City open?

The History Museum of Ho Chi Minh City is open from Tuesday to Sunday: 8:00 – 11:30 and 13:00 – 17:00.
The museum is closed on Monday.

What is the History Museum of Ho Chi Minh City entrance fee?

A standard ticket for the History Museum of Ho Chi Minh City is 30,000 dong. For children aged between 6 to 15, it’s 15,000 dong. Children under 6 are free.

You can find more details at the official website of the Ho Chi Minh City Museum of History.

Is it worth it?

Of all the museums in Ho Chi Minh City, this is my favourite. While the others can be a bit confusing and overwhelming, the History Museum of Ho Chi Minh City is really well put together.

The first thing that you’ll appreciate is that there are great information signs, that have just the right amount of useful information that’s easy to understand.

But beyond that, there’s also a really good collection of things to see. The items from the various historical figures are in good condition and offer impressive insights into the time.

The wooden sculptures from the Champa culture are remarkably detailed, for instance, and the statues from the Oc Eo time are some of the oldest wooden statues in Southeast Asia.

History Museum of Ho Chi Minh City
History Museum of Ho Chi Minh City

I also appreciate that there isn’t too much to see here. Rather than bombard you with more than is necessary or with boring repetition, there’s just the right amount for you to get an impression of the historical period before you move on to the next.

What else?

The Museum of History is at the northern end of District 1, and there aren’t too many other main tourist sites in the same area (unless you count the Saigon Zoo, which it’s connected to).

However, it’s only a ten-minute walk to popular places like Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office, or in another direction to the Jade Emperor Pagoda – so it’s easy enough to combine with other sightseeing.

If you’re interested in other museums in Ho Chi Minh City, these ones are worth visiting (although I don’t think they’re as good as the Museum of History) and are all in District 1:

  • War Remnants Museum: Over several levels, this museum tells the story of the Vietnam War from the point of view of the victorious Vietnamese, which means painting the US as aggressors. Most of the exhibits are just photographs and some are quite gruesome, although there are also some planes and tanks in the outside area.
  • Ho Chi Minh City Museum: Exploring the history of the city, there are a number of rooms with different exhibitions, although unfortunately there’s a lack of good signage interpreting what you’re seeing. The building, once used as the governor’s palace, is interesting to see from the inside, though.
  • Museum of Fine Arts: There’s a good collection of pieces here, spread across dozens of rooms that cover different styles and eras. While there’s not much that would be considered internationally significant, there are excellent explanations about some of the Vietnamese artists who are showcased.
War Remnants Museum, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

You’ll find plenty of places to eat near the Museum of History – one of the most interesting options, close to the Jade Emperor Pagoda, is Banh Mi Bay Ho. It was featured in Netflix’s Street Food series, so has become quite a hit with locals and tourists.


Ho Chi Minh City is super busy but accommodation around District 1 will save you a lot of transport hassle.


For a modern and quiet hostel, I would suggest the awesome Tam Social Enterprise Hostel.


A comfortable budget option is Tripwriter Hotel… and I like the name!


For a stylish design hotel, you should try Cinnamon Boutique Hotel.


And if you want to splurge, I think one of the coolest hotels is The Myst Dong Khoi.

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