While there are no battle sites, tunnels, bases or so on in or around Hanoi, for those with an interest in Vietnam’s modern wars there are still a few places worth visiting.
For a one-day tour start at the B52 lake, the most easterly site. The remains of an American B-52D, shot down in 1972, sit in the middle of this small lake in the backstreets of Ba Dinh district. It’s not as exciting as it might sound but if you’ve time for a walk it’s worth a visit, as much for the surrounding alleys as the lake itself.
To get there, take Alley (Ngo) 55 off Hoang Hoa Tham and follow it as straight as you can – it twists and turns a little – until you see the lake on your left. Alternatively, from Doi Can take Alley 135, continue through the narrow part of the alley, turn left at the end and then take the first proper right. The lake’s on the right.
Next, walk to the Military History Museum on Dien Bien Phu. It’s quickest to walk through the HCM Compound to the roundabout by the grass in front of the Mausoleum, then to turn right down Dien Bien Phu. The museum covers the American and French wars, as well as the struggles against the Chinese. In addition to numerous photos and remnants from the wars the grounds are jam-packed with tanks, guns and aircraft. It’s like a shoe shop for men.
From there, take a taxi to Hoa Lu Prison, or you could walk it in about 15 minutes. Nicknamed the “Hanoi Hilton”, the prison was used to house Vietnamese political prisoners, as well as French and American prisoners of war, and offers a fascinating and chilling glimpse of prison life.
Finally, walk up to Trang Thi, turn right and keep going past the Opera House to the Museum of the Revolution. As the name suggests, the museum covers Vietnam’s 150-year battle to gain independence and does this in great detail. This is a must-visit for those heavily interested in the history and politics of the country.
Military History Museum
28A Dien Bien Phu Road, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
T: (04) 3823 4264
Hoa Lu Prison
1 Hoa Lu Street (off Hai Ba Trung, behind Hanoi Towers)
Museum of the Revolution
216 Tran Quang Khai St, French Quarter, Hanoi
By Sarah Turner
Last updated on 24th October, 2014.