While somewhat inconveniently located, this museum is absolutely worth making the effort to reach.
If you're planning on going trekking to the north and northwest of Hanoi, this museum should be considered essential.
The displays, labelled in English throughout, are both comprehensive and fascinating, covering all the main minority groups you're likely to come across on a trek. Plentiful audiovisual displays are offered along with more typical museum fare.
The best part of the museum, however, is found outside to the rear. Here in a lovely green garden you'll find well-crafted examples of traditional houses in ethnic minority regions. The Banhar communal house with its impossibly high roof and creaking bamboo floor is a stunning piece of work, with nary a nail used in its construction. It's also delightfully cool even in summer. And don't miss the replica of a Giarai tomb with its cheerful, rather well-endowed, fertility symbols carved from wood.
Back inside, be sure to check out Mr Pham Dang Uy's bicycle, loaded down with 800 wooden and bamboo fishtraps. Also on display: shaman masks, a recreation of the Sapa market and a ruler to measure pigs. We'd been looking for one of those.
Guides are available for a fee and you’ll have to pay more if you want to take photographs or video.
The museum is easily reached by the number 14 bus followed by a 10-minute walk down Nguyen Van Huyen Street.