The Military History Museum in Hanoi
Found within the same complex as the Citadel, the Military History Museum is spread across a couple buildings, and includes the famous Flag Tower of Hanoi.
Vietnam regards its military with a lot of pride, and rightfully so. After all, they’ve managed to defeat enemies vastly more powerful, expelling the Chinese, French and Americans from their land. Considering this ample history, we were a little disappointed in the museum. It’s not really bad, and there are some interesting exhibits, but we expected something more grand or comprehensive. Upon finishing the museum in less than an hour, I was surprised. That was it? Did we miss something?
The exhibits are about what you’d expect: mostly propaganda about famous victories, along with photographs from various wars. The focus is squarely on the Indochina War with France, and especially the American War, and there’s scant information about the country’s historic battles with China, or its more recent invasion of Cambodia.
The museum’s most interesting pieces are found outdoors, where tanks, planes and weaponry litter the yard. The centerpiece is a conglomeration of enemy wreckage, cobbled together into a crazy sculpture of destruction. The best place to admire this strange work of art is from the terraces of the Flag Tower. Built by Emperor Gia Long in 1812, this hexagonal tower has become one of Hanoi’s defining landmarks.
The Military History Museum might not have exceeded our expectations, but it’s a quick visit and there are enough things to see to justify the time, and the small price of the ticket.