The Tran Hung Dao Museum is 48 km from Qui Nhon, just off Highway 19 which heads towards Pleiku.
We can only recommend a visit if you happen to be passing by. And even then...
The museum is on a well-tended set of grounds -- you'll be greeted by a larger-than-life statue of the man himself. The museum is directly behind him, but you'll find a paucity of electrifying information about what makes him so famous. The displays contain some legends in English, but even the Vietnamese-only materials don't really tell the story. There are grainy black and white pictures that look like they were taken in the 1950's of places where historical events happened in the 1790's. In other words, overgrown fields. There is some weaponry on display, and some court statuary dating from the period -- heavily restored -- as well as some parchments and some coins. We learned very little about the mighty Tran Hung Dao. One of the curators treated us to a five minute history lesson -- it was hard to understand his English, and he emphasised dates and numbers over insightful information in his recounting of the tale. We left wishing we'd found a good book on the subject rather than trekking all the way out here.
There is a temple next door with nine golden statues of Mr. Tran and his court mandarins -- they are quite exquisite and almost make the trip worth it. There's also a clean and spiffy rong house, built for display purposes, much like the 'real' ones you'd see built by local Banhar tribes in the south-western provinces of Vietnam along the Laos border. A rong house is a tall, rectangular, A-frame structure on short stilts, used traditionally as a celebration and meeting place, and as sleeping quarters for adolescents. Access to a rong house is almost invariably via two wooden ladders, cut from whole logs, shaped to indicate a man and a woman. There are some traditional instruments and artefacts on display inside the house.
To the left of the museum is a theatre featuring performances of traditional music and martial arts, specifically vo binh dinh, a local variant of kendo with bamboo sticks. They charge 200,000 dong per performance and you can arrange one on arrival -- they last 30 minutes. The entrance fee to the museum is 10,000 dong.
To get here, take Highway 1A north from Qui Nhon 21km to Binh Dinh. The intersection for Highway 19 is marked by a sign that says 'Thuy Nha May IALY,' which is in Gia Lai province, so you're headed in the right direction. From the turn it's another 28 km to the well-marked turnoff, right to the museum, 5 km further down -- there's another sign marking the final left turn and you can see the museum grounds from the road. It's helpful to learn the word for museum bao tang.
Last updated on 23rd July, 2007.