My 5: Ho Chi Minh Complex, Hanoi.

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1. Ho Chi Minh Complex, April 2018. Visitors to Hanoi should set aside a whole morning and a good chunk of the afternoon for all things Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam’s much-loved father of independence. Having paid my respects to Uncle Ho’s embalmed body at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the next step was to tour this complex, where the great man lived and worked as president during the mid 1950s until his death in 1969. My self-guided wander started here outside The Presidential Palace, built by French colonialists in the early 1900s before being taken over by the Vietnamese government in 1954.  

2. Ho Chi Minh Complex, April 2018. He apparently refused to live in The Presidential Palace; instead setting himself up here in a comparatively modest cottage next to his office and state meeting rooms.

3. Ho Chi Minh Complex, April 2018. Although a simple man at heart, he did have a love for antique cars and you can check out what remains of his beloved collection. The green number was a gift from The Soviet government.

4. Ho Chi Minh Complex, April 2018. In 1958 he left his cottage to move into this traditional stilt house, especially built for him in the style of an ethnic minority house from Vietnam’s northwest. Facing the pond and surrounded by hedges, a small garden and leafy mango trees, it’s an idyllic spot and one Ho Chi Minh stayed until his final days.  

5. Ho Chi Minh Complex, April 2018. Entrance to the complex costs 40.000VND (£1.30/1.50/$1.75). You’ll need to pay extra for access to The Ho Chi Minh Museum. The place keeps funny and changeable times so check ahead to avoid disappointment. In summer the opening hours are 07:30-11:00 & 13:30-16:00, while in winter it’s 08:00-11:00 & 13:30-16:00. The complex is closed Mondays and Friday afternoons.

This is just one of three sections of the Ho Chi Minh Complex, so why not also take a look at My 5 on Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

For more on Vietnam’s amazing capital, check out more My 5s from around Hanoi

Like these? Then why not have a leaf through my articles from across Vietnam.

 

My 5: Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum – Hanoi, Vietnam.

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1. Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, April 2018. In case you’re wondering, it can be a complicated business going to see the embalmed bodies of revered national leaders. Remembering only too well my many failed attempts to go and see Chairman Mao in Beijing (no bags, no cameras, no shorts, no sandals, no arms and legs day, closed for unspecified reasons), I made sure I was fully prepared when I set off to pay my respects to Vietnam’s legendary leader Ho Chi Minh. Waking up extra early, I hailed a moto from the old quarter and off we sped with hopes of getting a not-too-diabolical place in the queue.

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My 5: La Place Cafe, Hanoi.

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1. La Place Cafe, April 2018. Looking for a tasty, affordable breakfast in Hanoi with a cracking balcony view? You’d do very well indeed to find a better option than La Place, with its winning location in the old quarter’s pretty Au Trieu Street.

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My 5: Vietnamese Women’s Museum, Hanoi.

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1. Vietnamese Women’s Museum, April 2018. Hanoi boasts a wonderful collection of museums, so many in fact that this modern building in the old quarter’s Ly Thuong Kiet Street often gets overlooked. Run by The Women’s Union of Vietnam, the museum showcases the many roles of women in Vietnamese society and culture.  

2. Vietnamese Women’s Museum, April 2018. Check out the free photo exhibition in the outer courtyard, which features some amazing shots of women all around the country celebrating the end of The Vietnam War. To get your ticket for the museum itself, head into this large reception area. There are free lockers to store bags and valuables.

3. Vietnamese Women’s Museum, April 2018. The museum’s exhibitions are spread out across three floors, detailing women’s roles in family, history and fashion. Information comes in English and French.

4. Vietnamese Women’s Museum, April 2018. By far the most interesting part of the experience was reading about the individual stories from some of Vietnam’s most heroic ladies. There’s even a little wall of fame and video in tribute to those who made huge sacrifices during Vietnam’s long fight for independence.

5. Vietnamese Women’s Museum, April 2018. There are also some excellent propaganda prints on display! The museum is open daily (except Mondays) from 08:00-16:30. Entrance tickets are priced at 30.000 VND (£0.95/€1.10/$1.30).

For more on Vietnam’s amazing capital, have a look at more My 5s from around Hanoi

Like these? Then why not have a leaf through my articles from across Vietnam.

 

My 5: Old Propaganda Posters & Paintings, Hanoi.

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1. Old Propaganda Posters & Paintings, April 2018. I was on my way to the Vietnamese Women’s Museum when I happened across this famous Hanoi store specializing in Vietnam War era artwork. I’d seen quite a few shops pedaling communist propaganda prints, but it was immediately clear to me that this place, with its immense collection of works in all shapes and sizes, was the real deal.

2. Old Propaganda Posters & Paintings, April 2018. The store is managed by a Hanoi-born mother (Tuyet) and daughter (Kim Chi) who’ve been running the business for over seventeen years! I was surprised to learn that they had no online presence at all and according to Kim Chi this was a tactical decision. “We people to come to Hanoi” she smiled, “come to the store and meet us and learn about Vietnam history!”

3. Old Propaganda Posters & Paintings, April 2018. While I may not agree with all of the messages depicted in the posters, it’s almost impossible to deny the aesthetic beauty with their angular Soviet style and striking color schemes. The more I flipped through the hundreds of rice paper prints stacked up on the main table, the more fascinated I became.

4. Old Propaganda Posters & Paintings, April 2018. Richard Nixon features a lot, in various grotesque guises. I must have leafed through hundreds during the half an hour I spent in there and honestly I could have picked up a dozen or so to take home.

5. Old Propaganda Posters & Paintings, April 2018. In the end I decided to be sensible and purchase my favorite three. While I’ve decided not to reveal how much I paid for my swag (out of respect for Tuyet & Kim Chi), I will advise you to negotiate as you may be surprised by what you can get! The store, which is just steps away from St. Joseph’s Cathedral, is open daily from 08:00-22:00.

For more on Vietnam’s amazing capital, have a look at more My 5s from around Hanoi

Like these? Then why not have a leaf through my articles from across Vietnam.

My 5: Hoa Lo Prison, Hanoi.

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1. Hoa Lo Prison, April 2018. What an amazing, horrifying, fascinating and beautiful place this former prison is, located in Hanoi’s Hoa Lo Street just a fifteen minute walk from Hoan Kiem Lake. Established in 1896 by French colonialists, the centre was used to detain, torture and execute Vietnamese political activists and freedom fighters.

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My 5: Long Bien Bridge & Railway Station, Hanoi.

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1. Long Bien Bridge & Railway Station, April 2018. You’ve gotta love the entrance to Hanoi’s famous Long Bien Bridge: Rusting iron gates, black graffiti, slumped motorbikes, an abandoned kebab station and a confused looking dog. Which was actually reassuring, after all I’d come to get an authentic feel for one of Hanoi’s most iconic structures and its gritty past.

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