Dating back to 1975 and bearing the politically charged name ‘Exhibition House for US and Puppet Crimes’ until 1990, Ho Chi Minh City’s renowned War Remnants Museum pays tribute to Vietnam’s turbulent past. If an unabridged education in this country’s various conflicts is what you’re looking for, this is definitely the place to find it.
Drawing more than half a million visitors every year, this is one museum that knows how to pack a cultural and historic punch. This place is unapologetic in its approach to depicting the honest brutality and devastation of war. It shines a light on the many atrocities that have unfolded on Vietnamese soil and creates a space to honour the soldiers and civilians who have suffered and perished throughout the country’s long history of armed conflict.
The museum displays thousands of wartime photographs, propaganda posters, revealing documents and historic artefacts, along with a range of more grisly objects. Be prepared to come face to face with a French guillotine, US armoured vehicles, bombs and weapons, and the infamously barbaric ‘tiger cages’ that were used to imprison captured Viet Cong soldiers.
In addition, you’ll find a rare collection of experimental weapons, including US-owned 12-gauge combat shotguns that fire shells filled with thousands of darts. Of particular note is the exhibit dedicated to the victims of the notorious My Lai massacre, one of the most devastating acts of violence against civilians in Vietnam’s history.
A visit to the War Remnants Museum will give you insight into the shocking cruelty and devastation that Vietnam has suffered at the hands of various wars. It’s worth noting that a number of the displays can invoke a strong emotional reaction, and some people may find certain exhibits upsetting, particularly the images and stories of those affected by phosphorus bombs, Agent Orange and napalm attacks.
Nonetheless, a visit to the museum is considered an important cultural experience. The museum is open to the public daily from 7:30am until midday and again from 1:30pm until 5pm. There is a nominal entry fee of approximately AU$1 per adult.