Historic landmarks among other attractions have become an essential part of Vietnam tours. They hold a deep connection with thousands of years of Vietnamese history. Among other historical events, the Vietnam War is one of the most recent with many memorial and war artifacts remained. It was not just a fight between the US and Vietnam, but it involved other countries. Going through important monuments and their relations to the war in your Vietnam tours could help you to understand the Vietnam War better, and why it is still mentioned and talked about much today.
The Vietnam War in the 20th century left with many unspoken consequences for the countries and people that involved in the battles and the controversies continued to the present. A part of history and the truth about the war have recently been revealed in the 10-episode documentary “The Vietnam War” of Ken Burns and Lynn Novick on PBS. To the Vietnamese, this was the fight to defend themselves and their country. To U.S. government at that time, it was the tactics and fight to control and to leave their impacts on the world’s economy and politics.
The U.S. government played many roles in the Vietnam War; they gave financial/military aid and consulted to the French and the government of South Vietnam between 1948 and 1963, and escalated to Vietnamization from 1964 to 1973. In Vietnam, the Vietnam War ended as a legend of defensive war with tales of heroic actions of the Vietnamese soldiers and people, but there were also painful stories about many who lost their lives in the war. Lasting pains and suffering continued after the war, like the minefields left in Quang Tri Province or the Agent Orange Dioxin that infected the people causing congenital disabilities and their future generations, were the damaging and deadly costs of war.
Not only Ho Chi Minh City but all throughout Vietnam, from North to South, many places have historical locations to remind people of the complications and atrocities of the war.
The Cu Chi Tunnels were started during the Vietnam and French war (1945 - 1954) as shelters for the soldiers. The gates’ width was only enough to let a person in, about the length of a person's shoulder, and the doors and entrances were covered up with dirt and camouflage leaves so that the French army couldn’t discover them. There were small holes and paths to let air flow through different rooms. The tunnels had many ways connected to various locations, like an intricated underground spider web, and were disguised carefully to misdirect the enemy and to escape when one shelter discovered. However, tunnels at Cu Chi were mostly used in the Vietnam and American war, especially in 1966, when the American raged through places and destroyed all the task force base in Vietnam. Vietnamese soldiers and villagers in the areas dug up the earth near their homes and continued to expand the tunnels maze days and nights. It was an enduring effort in how they secretly transported and hid all of the dirt that was dug up to other places. It is said that they used it to cover bomb holes, make anthills, or dumped the soil into paddy fields and grew vegetables with them.
How to get to the Cu Chi Tunnels:
Cu Chi is about 45 km Northwest of Ho Chi Minh City, so you can use the bus, motorbikes, cars, or boats to get there. It usually takes 2 hours for each trip. For more details on how to get there, check our local guide on the best Days trips from Ho Chi Minh City.
You also may want to check out our Cu Chi Tunnels Private Tour.
The museum was established on September 4th, 1975 to exhibit pieces of evidence of the adverse war. It has over 20,000 documents, exhibits, and films; among them, over 1,500 documents, exhibits, and films are categorically displayed in 8 themes. The 8 permanent exhibitions are “History Facts”, “Photo Collection and Commemoration of Vietnam and American war”, “ Vietnam - War and Peace”, “Agent Orange in Vietnam War”, “War Crimes”, “The Consequences of Agent Orange in Vietnam War”, “The World on Vietnam’s Side”, “The Victims of Prison from Ngo Dinh Diem to Nguyen Van Thieu’s Time”, “Tiger Cages”, and an outdoor exhibition.
Other irregular exhibitions that in the past are also displayed, such as “Children, Women, and Love in wars,” “The Agent Orange’s Victims,” “Hiroshima - the Catastrophe of Nuclear Bombs,” and “Vietnam Post-war.” On the museum's ground floor, there is an area selling souvenirs made by Agent Orange infected victims. The proceeds go back to supporting those needed. If you don’t have enough time to go to real landmarks in Vietnam, you should include this museum in your Vietnam tour to understand the Vietnam War and to get a general view of the war throughout different periods.
Address: 28 Vo Van Tan, Ward 6, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City
Opening hours: 7:30 AM - 6 PM
Price: VND 15,000
How to get to the War Remnants Museum:
It is near the city center, so you can easily get here by motorbike, car, or taxi. If you want to go on a private tour with our local guide, War Remnants Museum and Reunification Palace are places included in our day tour in Ho Chi Minh City.
During the French colonial days, they used this building as their primary office during their Indochina colonization from 1887 to 1945. The Japanese invaded and took over Vietnam as their colony in March 1945, but in September 1945, the French returned, took back the palace and used it as military headquarters in Vietnam.
In 1955, Ngo Dinh Diem won in an election over King Bao Dai and moved to the palace along with his family. The Reunification Palace, or Independence Palace at the time, was seen as a symbol of South Vietnam, so it was the target of many attacks and assassination attempts. In 1962, an aircraft bombed the palace and destroyed the left side of the building; Ngo Dinh Diem decided to leave the palace and had it rebuilt completely. But he was later killed in 1963 in a protest. After that, his successors moved in the palace, and the longest to live in the Independence Palace was Nguyen Van Thieu.
As a part of the Ho Chi Minh Operation, on April 30th, 1975, the war officially came to an end when the North Vietnamese soldiers ramped the tanks into the iron front gate and put up the North Vietnamese flag on the roof of the building symbolizing the reunification of the country.
Address: 135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Opening hours: 7:30 AM - 11 AM and 1 PM - 4 PM
Price: VND 40,000
This attraction is not popular like those in Ho Chi Minh City, but it is the tour that allows you to understand the Vietnam War differently. The war was not just between Vietnam and the U.S., but it involved so many other countries; one of them was Australia. The ANZAC site was where the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps used as their primary base force during the Vietnam War. It is located in Vung Tau. To go from Ho Chi Minh City to Vung Tau, there are many means of transportation you can choose from such as the bus, motorbike, taxi, and speedboat. For more details on how to get there, check our Vung Tau Travel Guide.
In April 1966, the Australian Squad Number 1 came to Phuoc Tuy Province and built their task force base on Nui Dat Mountain, which is about 8 km to the Northeast of Ba Ria City. Over 5,000 soldiers served at Nui Dat, but they were sent to operations in other places most of the time. To build this task force, Brigadier Oliver David Jackson got the agreement from the Chief of Phuoc Tuy. Over 4,000 people that resided in Long Tan and Long Phuoc had to be relocated to other places. Long Tan and Long Phuoc were the two places that had been known as the secret base of the Viet Cong and were obliterated in 1966.
Location: Huong Lo 2, Long Phuoc Ward, Ba Ria City
Long Tan Memorial Cross is a unique memorial in Vietnam because it is not used to remember the Vietnamese soldiers who lost their lives in the Long Tan battle, but it is a momentum of the Australians for their soldiers. This place is significant to Australian visitors, especially the Australian veterans who served in the Vietnam War. The history of this site dates back to 1966 when the Long Tan battle happened. The fight is considered to be the most fatal to ANZAC, with 17 soldiers dead and 25 injured, and for the Vietnamese army as well, with 250 deaths.
Every year, on August 18th, Australian veterans hold a memorial for their friends who lost their lives at this place, but they are only able to do so in small groups with no media publication because this area and the history of it is still a sensitive subject in Vietnam.
Location: Long Tan Ward, Dat Do District, Ba Ria City
Long Phuoc tunnels were initially a small shelter of a villager. He then helped the whole village create tunnels to protect themselves and their assets during the bombings in 1949. In April 1963, the system was reinforced and expanded to 5 communities: Dong (East), Tay (West), North (Bac), South (Nam), and Phuoc Huu. There were food storage rooms and emergency safe houses that the soldiers could hide and survive underground for days from the bomb attacks. The tunnels were 300 meters in length, 2 - 3 meter underground, 1.5 - 1.6 meter in height and only 0.6 - 0.7 meter in width. Recently, lightings were installed, and cement walls were built in the North and West tunnels so that they could safely be opened to tourists.
Location: Tinh Lo 52, Long Phuoc Ward, Ba Ria City
Opening hours: 7:30 AM - 5 PM
The Historical Monument Chin Ham is about 6 km to the Southwest of Hue's city center. It has 8 shelters and one house for the guards. It was built by the French to store their weapons and other assets in 1941. When the Japanese took over, they took all of the weapons out and abandoned this place. It was not until Ngo Dinh Diem's time that this area was used again.
To strengthen the power of the government of South Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Can, younger brother of South Vietnam's first president Ngo Dinh Diem, reinforced the place to become a prison and locked up all patriots in these shelters and even students in Saigon who protested in the war.
There are 10 tiger cages used to torture prisoners; each tiger cage is 2-meter long, 0.9-meter wide, 2-meter high with 18 iron stakes. The cells here were so small that the prisoners had to take turn sitting so that others could have space to lie down. The temperature in the cells was intense during the summer and winter; it was either boiling hot or freezing cold.
Location: At the foot of Thien Thai Mountain, Thuy Xuan District, Hue City
Opening hours: 7 AM - 5:30 PM
Entrance fee: Free
How to get to the Historical Monument Chin Ham:
It takes 20 minutes by taxi or motorbike to get here from Hue City center.
Get an online bus ticket to make your travel easier:
Quang Tri is the location of the 17th parallel, a line that divided Vietnam into two parts during the Vietnam War. In Quang Tri Province, you can find many historical monuments, such as Khe Sanh Combat Base, Ta Con Airbase, McNamara Line, Doc Mieu Base, Truong Son Cemetery, Hien Luong Bridge, Ben Hai River, Vinh Moc Tunnels, Thach Han River, Lang Vei Special Forces Camp, Con Thien Base Camp, Ho Chi Minh Trail, and Con Co Islands. This is an area you must include in your Vietnam tours to understand the Vietnam War when you visit Vietnam's Central.
Khe Sanh Combat Base was a place where the 170-day battle broke out, marking the victory of South Vietnam's People's Liberation Armed Forces. Ta Con Airbase at Khe Sanh was the most critical military point of the U.S. Army from 1966 to 1968.
The McNamara Line was built in Doc Mieu Base as an effort to detect and create obstacles for the People's Liberation Armed Forces of South Vietnam.
Truong Son Cemetery is one of the largest cemeteries in the country with over 10,333 graves of the Vietnamese soldiers who passed away in the fight against the U.S. Army.
Hien Luong Bridge on Ben Hai River was the exact location where the North and South of Vietnam divided during the war. After the Geneva Accords in 1954 that ended the Vietnam and French war, the area within 5 km to the North and South from Ben Hai River became the demilitarized zone.
The Tunnels at Vinh Moc have a total length of 2,034 meters, 0.6 - 0.8 meter in height, 0.9 meter in width, and 3 levels with the most in-depth level measuring 23 meters underground.
Location: The DMZ is about 100 km to the Northwest of Hue
Tour price: VND 550,000+, depends on the tour you book and their inclusions
How to get the Demilitarized Zone:
The DMZ is about 2 hours away from Hue by motorbike. Other routes you can take by train or bus departing from Hue to Dong Ha and then going from Dong Ha to the DMZ by motorbike or taxi. Taking the train will take you 1.5 hour and VND 40,000 - VND 80,000 for the ticket cost. You can also book a 4-hour bus of Hoang Long for VND 270,000+/person.
On the morning of March 16th in 1968, after the gun and machine-gun attacks of the U.S. Army, Charlie troops had entered Son My Village. Many people, including the elderly, women, and children were cruelly killed in this massacre because the U.S. Army thought that they were members of the People's Liberation Armed Forces of South Vietnam.
Adjacent to the old village, there are two new buildings - a school and a cultural center - established with the sponsorship from the Vietnam War’s veterans. The history of this place is one of the painful evidence of immeasurable war crimes.
Location: Tinh Khue Ward, Quang Ngai City
Opening hours: 7 AM - 5 PM
Entrance fee: VND 10,000
How to get the son My Memorial:
From Saigon to Quang Ngai: a 17-hour drive
Price: VND 300,000 - VND 500,000/ticket
Phuong Trang - depart from the Mien Tay and Mien Dong bus stations
Tel: (+84) 1900 6067
Chin Nghia - depart from Mien Dong bus station
Tel: (+84) 908 147 194
From Hanoi to Quang Ngai: a 17-hour drive
Price: VND 320,000 - VND 500,000/ticket
Hoang Long - depart from Hanoi
Tel: (+84) 978 600 558
Chin Nghia - depart from Nuoc Ngam bus station
Tel: (+84) 908 147 194
If you want traveling time, you can take a flight from other major airports in Vietnam and transit at Chu Lai Airport, Quang Nam. From Quang Nam, you can change to a Hoang Long bus (VND 150,000/ticket) to go to Quang Ngai in 2 hours. And from Quang Ngai bus station, it will take about 25 minutes to Son My Memorial by motorbike or taxi.
The village is not a historical place, but a tour to this place will enhance your understanding of the Vietnam War’s consequences. The war was the agony to not only Vietnamese, but anyone involved even for decades after it was over. In November 1990, a group of veterans gathered, including George Mizo (former President of the Committee), George Dustin (former Vice President of the Committee), Len Aldis, and Takeo Yamauchi and planned for the establishment of a village in Vietnam with the “desire for peace and reconciliation.” In April 1992, the project was officially named Vietnam Friendship Village. It has been home to not only the Agent Orange infected children but also the Vietnamese veterans. There are facilities for medical treatment, education, and recreation in the villages. The village welcomes a large number of visitors such as veterans, tourists, and students who want to learn about the war and advocate for world peace.
Address: Van Canh Ward, Hoai Duc District, Hanoi
We recommend contacting their office to arrange a schedule before visiting.
• Friendship Village Office: (+84) 24 3837 4527
• Director Dinh Van Tuyen: (+84) 989 000 889
How to get the Vietnam Friendship Village:
The village is 15 km from the center of Hanoi. It takes 40 minutes by motorbike or car to get to the village. You can use a taxi or private transfer to get there, and you need to ask for the taxi fare clearly before getting on to avoid scams from taxi drivers.
In Ho Chi Minh City, there is also a similar project initiated by the Ho Chi Minh City Association of Victims of Agent Orange. The Lang Cam (Orange Village) establishment project was started in July 2015 with plans to be completed by 2018. The village will provide accommodation, vocational school, and therapy care for Agent Orange victims.
See more interesting Museums in Hanoi.
The tiger cages were secretly built in 1940 by the French. Besides the jailers, no one was allowed to know the passage that led to the tiger cages. The prisoners did not know their location so they could not escape either. At the beginning of the 1970s, 5 students were put to jail here but released under the pressure of the Student Association’s protests in Saigon. The 5 students had the chance to memorize the location of the tiger cages when dodging the rain for one hour on the opposite side of the prison on the day they were released. After that, they wrote a letter to the House of Representatives of South Vietnam to reveal the dark secret of this inhumane prison. The gate to the tiger cages was hidden and disguised in the prison’s vegetable garden. Don Luce, an American journalist, then published this scandalous news on Life magazine and shook the world media.
US Senator Tom Harkin along with other Congressional Representatives visited the prison under such pressure and discovered the tiger cages were precisely described in the students’ letter. As the horrifying truth was brought to light, the tiger cages were forced to close down, releasing the 480 hostages. Some of them were moved to other prison cells, and some were sent to mental institutions. It was one of the most severe crimes against humanity in the Vietnam War.
Location: On Con Son Island of Con Dao archipelago, 210 kilometers to the South of Vung Tau City
Opening hours: 8 AM - 5 PM
Entrance fee: VND 30,000 for the French Governor’s Residence (it is used as a museum now)
How to get to the Con Dao Prison:
There are direct flights from Ho Chi Minh City to Con Dao Island. If you depart from other cities, you will need to transit at Ho Chi Minh City.
If you are in Vung Tau, you can also go to Cat Lo Port and use the boats to get to Ben Dam Port on Con Dao. Ticket price: VND 450,000/ticket.
If you don’t have the chance to go to Con Dao Island, you can go to the War Remnant Museum in Ho Chi Minh City and see a replicate of this prison.
Phu Quoc Prison was the largest prison used in Vietnam War with 14 blocks, over 500 cells, and held about 40,000 prisoners. The prison today has been reinforced and replicated the prison used in Vietnam War. The cell’s ground was made of concrete so that the prisoners had no escape, and the metal roof made the temperature in the room change drastically between days and nights. The statues and replicas here reveal the cruel punishments the jailers carried out on the prisoners, so you may want to consider carefully before taking children or yourself here because some of the materials could be quite disturbing and graphic. The punishments took many forms such as putting the prisoners in a bag and leave them on a heated pan, make them roll over metal spikes, expose their eyes to strong light that could cause blindness, or bury the prisoners under the hot sun.
Location: An Thoi District, Phu Quoc Island, 90 kilometers offshore, to the Southwest
Opening hours: 8 AM - 11:30 AM and 1:30 PM - 5 PM
How to get to the Phu Quoc Prison:
From Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi, you can use the airplane to fly directly to Phu Quoc Airport or transit at Rach Gia Airport to take the speedboat. The boat departs at Vinh Moc Port (Nhon My Ward, Ke Sach District, Soc Trang Province).
Speedboat ticket price:
VND 280,000/ticket for adults
VND 200,000/ticket for children
VND 240,000/ticket for the elderly
VND 210,000/ticket for the disabled
Find where to stay in Phu Quoc:
Besides Ho Chi Minh City, you can take optional tours to other places like Hanoi, Hue, Quang Ngai, Quang Tri, Vung Tau, Con Dao, and Phu Quoc to understand more about the Vietnam War. If you have the chance to take a tour all the way from North to South Vietnam, make sure to visit these places in our comprehensive Vietnam War travel guide. Each location contains pieces of history that when putting them together you may see a part of what happened in the war, the historical battles, war crimes, the civilians, and the war heroes.
I will never forget the surreal experience in the Con Dao Prison. I can never expect how the past would have been like for the people of Vietnam during the wars. A very worthwhile experience indeed if you're looking to learn about the Vietnam's history