Built in the early 20th century by a French architect, the building was initially a college for military defense during the Republic of Vietnam. It was not until 1986 that the Ho Chi Minh Campaign Museum was established to preserve and exhibit critical historical artifacts used during the Ho Chi Minh Campaign (started in the spring of 1975). This is the best museum in Ho Chi Minh City for a realistic, in-depth lesson to understand the Vietnam War.
Address: 2 Le Duan Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
With a central location in District 1, on the corner of Nguyen Binh Khiem and Le Duan Streets, you can also access other famous attractions nearby after visiting the Ho Chi Minh Campaign Museum. On the opposite side of Nguyen Binh Khiem Street, you can immediately spot the Museum of Vietnam History, the city’s Green Lung, the Saigon Zoo, and the Botanical Gardens. Just a few blocks down Le Duan Street is the biggest and most ancient Catholic church in Vietnam, the Notre Dame Cathedral.
Monday – Friday (The museum only opens on Saturday for tourist groups with advanced booking)
Morning: 7:30 AM – 11 AM
Afternoon: 1:30 PM – 4:30 PM
The museum is still relatively new, and recently discovered artifacts are constantly added to the collection. As a result, the museum may sometimes be closed without prior maintenance notice.
Entrance fee: Free
What to See at the Ho Chi Minh Campaign Museum
The museum has two areas. A 2,200-square-meter outdoor exhibition displays vehicles used during the Ho Chi Minh Campaign. Meanwhile, a 1,500-square-meter, two-story building showcases historical items such as clothes, weaponry, pictures, and battle plans.
Outdoor Exhibition Area
Right after your entrance, you will immediately see the outdoor exhibition area of the Ho Chi Minh Campaign Museum. There are various kinds of military vehicles for both combat and transportation purposes used by the People’s Liberation Armed Forces of South Vietnam during the Ho Chi Minh Campaign, including tanks, aircraft, jeeps, bulldozers, mobile cannons, and missiles.
Most war machines in this exhibition have a solid historical value as many generals and troops used those in essential battles. Some of them even became inspirations in many famous authors’ poems. The exhibition also showcases the remaining parts of a broken enemy aircraft that was shot down.
There is also a statue honoring the soldiers who significantly contributed to the victory on the 30th of April in 1975.
Indoor Exhibition Area
The indoor area is divided into different sections, each exhibiting crucial phases of the Ho Chi Minh Campaign. The Ho Chi Minh Campaign Museum doesn’t just put historical artifacts on display for visitors but also includes life-like, realistic figures for a more vivid experience. There is also a detailed battle plan map to explain the campaign’s developments and strategy.
Phuoc Long Campaign
After entering the main door of the building, to your right is the section dedicated to the Phuoc Long Campaign. It was a significant battle between the Liberation Armed Forces, led by Lieutenant General Du Quoc Dong, against the Republic Military Forces. The original purpose of this battle was only to gather intel on the enemy bases, compare the strength of both sides, and test the reaction of international communities, specifically the United States and former President Richard Nixon himself. The success of this campaign sparked a fire of revolution, increasing the soldier’s morale and leading them to victory in the following movements.
Tay Nguyen Campaign
Next to the Phuoc Long Campaign section is the door that leads directly to the Tay Nguyen Campaign exhibition.
Also known as Operation 255 among military members, this vital battle was the mistake of a general of the Republic Vietnam Army. He deliberately ignored critical information regarding the sighting of the People’s Army of Vietnam, which ultimately contributed to the destruction of the II Corps Tactical Zone.
Within ten days, the People’s Armed Forces in South Vietnam regained control of the Central Highland Area. Many objects showcased in this section, like the mechanical saw, reflect Southern soldiers’ difficulty and danger when fighting in the highland forest.
Hue-Da Nang Campaign
Exiting the room, you will see the Hue-Da Nang Campaign section. The Hue-Da Nang campaign resulted in the demise of the Republic Vietnam Army’s final important line of defense, I Corps Tactical Zone. The People’s Army of Vietnam surrounded their territories, many units turned to surrender, and a large number of weapons and firearms were confiscated.
Ho Chi Minh Campaign
The last section on the ground floor displays the entire Ho Chi Minh Campaign picture. This is where the museum puts its most significant piece: the giant battle plan model of the whole operation. It is impressive not only for its size but also because the model lights up to show the developments of the war through different stages, narrated by the museum guide.
However, the museum’s most prized possession is the Diary of Ho Chi Minh Campaign. The handwritten notes are a national treasure, containing vital intel, like battle strategies, military food supply, and crucial targets.
The Demise of the Republic Vietnam Regime
On the first floor of the building, you will find an exhibition of the downfall of the Republic Regime of South Vietnam. Many artifacts were left behind or confiscated from high-ranking officials of the previous government, including medals, stamps, and personnel records.
There is also a human-size figure reenactment of the famous photograph when President Duong Van Minh of the Vietnam Republic walked out of his building to surrender unconditionally on the afternoon of April 30th, 1975.
Ho Chi Minh Campaign Base of Operation
The final room, to the right of the stairs on the first floor, displays items from the base of operation of the Ho Chi Minh Campaign with pictures of meetings, essential maps of battle strategy, records, and personal clothing. Last but not least is a figurine reenactment of the historical moment when high-ranking officials of the campaign listened to President Duong Van Minh’s surrender on the radio, signaling the end of the Vietnam War.
Summary of the Ho Chi Minh Campaign Museum
The battle plans in the Ho Chi Minh Campaign Museum are evidence of the resilience and intelligence of the People’s Liberation Armed Forces of South Vietnam in their victory against both the Americans and the Vietnam Republic Armed Forces in the Vietnam War.
If you are a history enthusiast, don’t miss out on these amazing historical museums around Ho Chi Minh City, like the War Remnants Museum or the Museum of Vietnam History in Ho Chi Minh City. A great tour to learn more about the Vietnam War is the half-day tour to Cu Chi Tunnels to get insights into the hardship and battle strategies used.