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Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

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The Vietnam Museum of Ethnology is a little out of the way from Hanoi’s main sights, but as one of the city’s best and most informative museums, it’s worth seeking out. If you’re planning on going trekking to the north and northwest of Hanoi, this museum should really be considered essential, but it goes well beyond covering the groups who live there.





The museum is set in three distinct parts. An older indoor area focuses on Vietnam’s various ethnic groups, while a significant portion of the museum behind this is spread across a lovely sprawling garden filled with well-crafted examples of traditional houses from ethnic minority groups. A rather spectacular newer building off to the right features an exquisite Southeast Asian handicraft collection, that as of mid-2017 was only partially complete, with several empty rooms, but is still worth exploring.

Nothing beats a good diorama. Photo taken in or around Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, Hanoi, Vietnam by Samantha Brown.

Nothing beats a good diorama. Photo: Samantha Brown

The older building features exhibits from the everyday lives of Vietnam’s 54 ethnic groups: the Viet (Kinh) and 53 minority groups, who together speak languages spread across five linguistic families. Displays, labelled in English, French and Vietnamese throughout, are both comprehensive and fascinating, covering all the main minority groups. Plentiful audiovisual displays are offered along with more typical museum fare and dioramas. Some items on display are simply breathtaking.

Check out, for instance, Mr Pham Dang Uy’s bicycle, loaded down with 800 wooden and bamboo fishtraps. There’s a 1956-built Cham buffalo cart from Ninh Thuan province, which is able to pull two tonnes worth of goods; funerary statues from Gia Lai; a diorama of an initiation ceremony of the Red Yao in Yen Bai province, and another of Hmong weavers. We particularly liked the various windows from a Black Thai stilt house in Son La province, recreated from 1960s sketches and mounted on a wall of the museum.

Black Thai house windows are on display on the wall at the back. Photo taken in or around Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, Hanoi, Vietnam by Samantha Brown.

Black Thai house windows are on display on the wall at the back. Photo: Samantha Brown

Look out for the educational room where visitors can do various activities. When we stopped by, it was a simple stencil rubbing, aimed more at children than adults, but the staff were keen for us to give it a ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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Vietnam Museum of Ethnology
Nguyen Van Huyen St, Hanoi
Tues-Sun 08:30-17:30
T: (04) 3765 2193 
http://vme.org.vn/home/
Admission: 40,000 dong. Guide: 50,000 dong inside, 50,000 dong outside.

Location map for Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

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