VietnamActivities & AttractionsAo Dai Museum in Ho Chi Minh City

Ao Dai Museum in Ho Chi Minh City

In Vietnamese culture, ao dai is a symbol, like a kimono in Japan or hanbok in Korea. On January 22nd, 2014, the Ao Dai Museum in Ho Chi Minh City was officially opened, a result of the 10-year dream and effort of designer-artist Le Si Hoang. Since then, the museum has established a name among must-visit attractions in Ho Chi Minh City.

Ao Dai Museum – An Exceptional Cultural Experience

Located in District 9 (now Thu Duc City), a Ho Chi Minh City suburb, the Ao Dai Museum offers a theatrical view of rural Vietnam. Besides the bountiful paddy fields leading up to the main gate, the entire grounds of Ao Dai Museum are as pretty as a picture. There’s a lotus pond with fruitful water coconut trees, various big, old trees providing shelter from Vietnam’s heat, a fresh herb garden between the green grass, ducks quacking in their coop, and even a canal – where motorboats occasionally roam by. Upon visiting the museum, you’re not paying for the history lesson alone but also for an enjoyable day in the peaceful atmosphere of the Vietnamese countryside. Don’t forget to try a monkey bridge while you’re here!

There are three main exhibitions inside the Ao Dai Museum and two extra ones.

Ao Dai’s transformation

The first and most extensive exhibition is on ao dai history and ao dai from benefactors, mostly celebrated Vietnamese singers and performers.

The right aisle shows ao dai samples in chronological order, which are original designs from different periods. As you walk along the wall, you will gradually learn how the ao dai takes on its alluring form nowadays and the wonderful variations of it, such as Japanese-inspired ao dai and Filipino-inspired ao dai.

The development of ao dai’s designs throughout history
Ao dai for queens from the Nguyen dynasty – a replica of Nam Phuong queen’s ao dai
A lemur ao dai from the 1940s, which used to be a family heirloom preserved through the wars

The one on the left shows ao dai worn in daily life. From ao dai of Ms. Linh Nga (dancer), Ms. Cam Van (cook), to well-known singers like Ms. Bach Tuyet and Ms. Phung Ha… Aside from that, visitors get to see ao dai worn by worshippers of many religions as well.

Ao dai for royalties vs. Ao dai for the servants

At the front of the first exhibition are two displays of ao dai tailor’s workplace and ao dai fabrics, so visitors can get a more in-depth insight into how complicated the process of making an ao dai is.

A replica of the traditional ao dai tailor’s workplace
Various materials used in making ao dai, including voile, brocade, silk…

Keep in mind that you can’t use flash while taking photos since it may damage the quality of the fabric.

The houses are built to resemble Hoi An old town

Ao dai in arts

The second exhibition is about ao dai used during special occasions and Vietnamese music performances, such as Quan Ho folk music, Vietnamese folk opera, The Royal Refined Music of Hue (nha nhac cung dinh Hue)… and variations of Vietnamese conical hats and wood slippers, which are both traditionally worn with ao dai.

The highlight is that it’s built into separate identical houses. These houses are designed to look like Hoi An old town, both on the exterior and interior.

A display in one house showing types of Vietnamese conical hat and wood slippers

Southeast Asian inspirations

The last main exhibition consists of two displays: one of ao dai with a Southeast Asian flag pattern and one called “brocade and flowers.”

The ao dai was tailored with inspirations from Southeast Asian countries’ flags

Other exhibitions

After a tour of all the above, you’ll visit two smaller exhibits of Cham pottery and Vietnamese women’s undergarments throughout time. This exciting addition is loved by many visitors for its sheer uniqueness.

Cham pottery shown at Ao Dai Museum
Taking pictures is not allowed inside the exhibition of Vietnamese women’s undergarments

Last but not least, for those traveling with their young ones, the Ao Dai Museum offers a kids’ playground, where they can draw, paint, and make their own ao dai lanterns.

How To Get To Ao Dai Museum

Address: 206/19/30 Long Thuan Street, Long Phuoc Ward, District 9

Opening hours: 8:30 AM – 5:30 PM (closed on Monday)

Ticket price: VND 100,000/person (US$ 4.5)

(Children under two years old and the disabled: free)

Ao Dai Museum’s front gate is hidden at the end of a small alley

Ao Dai Museum is about 22 kilometers from District 1. Due to this unfavorable location, the travel options available are quite scarce:

  • Public Bus: Take bus number 88 to the Trai Nhim stop (220, Long Thuan Street, Long Phuoc Ward, District 9) and walk for 10 minutes.

This is your most economical choice, as the bus fare is only VND 6,000. However, expect to travel for approximately 2 hours.

Look up the bus routes on the bus map app, HCMC MCPT official site, or this map.

  • Taxi: Fare varies among brands.

Taxi in Ho Chi Minh City is a convenient way to travel quickly, especially when you’re not familiar with the streets. But beware of a charge of up to VND 400,000 for an hour-long ride.

  • Ride-hailing apps: Depending on apps and time, the fare will vary.

This choice is ideal for those scared of dangerous taxi scams in Ho Chi Minh City, since you’d know the price first. You only need to have sufficient mobile data – 3G/4G in Vietnam and an app. Unfortunately, many drivers don’t speak English.

Parking: free.

Or, for your convenience, book a private local guide who can show you around with safety. No more worries about getting lost. Plus, you can learn about Vietnam’s culture from the fountainhead!

Check out more fun things to do in Ho Chi Minh City:

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Summary of Ao Dai Museum in Ho Chi Minh City

The Vietnamese Ao Dai not only preserves cultural values but also serves as a historical witness. During your trip to Ho Chi Minh, if you are into fashion and traditional clothing, you should pay a visit to the Ao Dai Museum to learn more about Vietnamese cultural values.

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