VietnamCulture and HistoryWho was Ho Chi Minh?

Who was Ho Chi Minh?

Ho Chi Minh played an important role as the leader of the Vietnamese Revolution to fight against French colonials. He inspired the Vietnamese with the hope of independence throughout the war with the American army. In an issue of TIME’s Top 100 in 1998, he was among the hundreds of people who affected the world in the 20th century. His impact on Vietnam’s history was so significant that Ho Chi Minh’s ideology became required in most universities and colleges in Vietnam.

Read more about the Vietnam War

A Brief of Ho Chi Minh’s Early Life

Ho Chi Minh’s real name is Nguyen Sinh Cung. He was born and lived with his family in Nghe An Province. He used many years of his birth during the war to protect his identity from the French government, but the official year of his birth was 1890. As a young child, he was a talented boy and loved playing traditional activities such as flying kites and fishing with other children. He was also good at Chinese writing, which was very important for studying Confucianism in his time. Later, his father changed his name to Nguyen Tat Thanh, and it is among the many names he was known by.

Ho Chi Minh’s Life and Achievements


Nguyen Tat Thanh Thanh had worked as a teacher in Phan Thiet before he came to Saigon to live and went abroad. On June 5th, 1911, in the Dragon Wharf, he applied to work for the French ship Latouche Tréville as a kitchen helper to travel to Western countries and see the development in those countries. While on his journey of experience and earning a living with many jobs, Nguyen Tat Thanh learned about the successful revolutions in colonial countries. In 1917, the famous success of the October Revolution in Russia affected him, and he started learning about Marxism-Leninism. He realized it would be essential and suitable for the revolutions of social classes leading to the liberalization of Vietnam.

Ho Chi Minh young

In 1919, Nguyen Tat Thanh participated in the Social French Party and supported the movements of French workers. In June 1919, on behalf of the Vietnamese in France, he sent the Vietnamese’s requests to the Versailles Conference to force the French government to recognize the equal rights of Vietnam at that time. Unfortunately, it was refused.

In December 1920, at the 18th conference of the Social French Party, he decided to take part in the International Communist group and joined in the establishment of the Communist French Party. That means that Nguyen Tat Thanh had officially followed and advocated Communism. During this time, he was also a journalist. He wrote many posts in newspapers describing the crimes of French colonialists and spreading how successful the movements of people in other colonial countries were. These articles were secretly transported to Vietnam and reached many Vietnamese.

On June 30th, 1923, Nguyen Tat Thanh came to Russia and studied Marxism-Leninism. He was honored to be offered an important status in the International Communism Group in Eastern Asia and had a mission to observe some revolutionary movements in Asian countries. In 1925, he founded the revolutionary Vietnam Youth and wrote articles to teach Vietnamese youth about Marxism-Leninism. Finally, he convened all Communist groups to unify them into the Vietnam Communist Party.

After 30 years, he returned to Vietnam in 1941 to lead Vietnamese movements directly and make a lot of revolutions with the name Ho Chi Minh. It was one of the last among his many aliases.

Ho Chi Minh first president of Vietnam 3


In 1945, the Japanese had to withdraw from Vietnam. On September 2nd, Ho Chi Minh then voted to be the first president of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, took the chance to hold the ceremony to read the Declaration of Independence in Ba Dinh Square in front of many Vietnamese. This event marked the North of Vietnam had been officially independent, and Vietnam had been recognized by other communist countries before the French were going to invade the country again. In 1954, the massive failure of the French army in Dien Bien Phu forced them to sign the Genevé agreement and withdraw from Vietnam.

Ho Chi Minh first president of Vietnam 4

In September 1960, at the 3rd national conference of the Labour Vietnamese Party, Ho Chi Minh became the chairman of the Executive Committee of the Party Central Committee. Following his leading directions, Vietnamese people were setting socialism in the North of Vietnam, supporting the fight against the U.S. army and reunifying with the South of Vietnam with the hope that Vietnam would become socialist.

Unfortunately, he passed away when he was 79 years old on September 2nd, 1969, before the Vietnam War ended. However, the Vietnamese still fought against the U.S. army and succeeded in reunifying the country.

Check out these books about Ho Chi Minh

Monuments of Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam

The Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh

Ho Chi Minh mausoleum

Address: 19 Ngoc Ha Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi

Opening Time:
It is open every day except for Mondays and Fridays. The opening time depends on the seasons:

  • Summer (From April 1st to October 31st):
    From Tue to Thu: 7:30 AM – 10:30 AM
    Saturdays, Sundays, and National Holidays: 7:30 AM – 11 AM
  • Winter (From November 1st to March 31st):
    From Tue to Thu: 8 AM – 11 AM
    Saturdays, Sundays, and National Holidays: 8AM – 11:30 AM

Free entrance

This mausoleum’s construction officially started on September 2nd, 1973, in the place where Ho Chi Minh used to read the Declaration of Independence on September 2nd, 1945, the center of Ba Dinh Square. You can visit and see the embalmed body of Ho Chi Minh preserved inside the mausoleum.

See our complete guide for visiting the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

The Museum of Ho Chi Minh (Hanoi)

Ho Chi Minh Museum Hanoi

Address: 19 Ngoc Ha Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi

Opening Time:
Morning: 8 AM – 11:30 AM
Evening: 2 PM – 4 PM
It often closes on Mondays and Friday afternoons.

Ticket price: VND 25,000/person

who was ho chi minh hcm museum 4 1

The museum exhibits some furniture, clothes, shoes, etc that the president used in the past. You also see many pictures and historical documents describing Ho Chi Minh’s lifestyle and local activities when he was alive. Vietnamese students frequently come here to learn and study about President Ho Chi Minh. It is close to the mausoleum and Ho Chi Minh’s stilt house, so they are usually included in one tour. You can pay another VND 40,000/person to visit the stilt house behind the mausoleum.

Read more about the Ho Chi Minh Museum in Hanoi

The Museum of Ho Chi Minh (Ho Chi Minh City)

Ho Chi Minh Museum Dragon Wharf 1

Address: 1 Nguyen Tat Thanh Street, Ward 12, District 4, Ho Chi Minh City

Opening time: From Tuesday to Sunday
Morning: 7:30 AM – 11:30 AM
Evening: 1:30 PM – 5:00 PM

Free entrance

The museum is the original Dragon Wharf, where Nguyen Tat Thanh left Vietnam and started his road to fight against the French colonialists. Until now, it has been preserved as the Museum of Ho Chi Minh, exhibiting Ho Chi Minh’s historical documents, stories, and articles. You can also have a good view of the city and the Saigon River from this old port.

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Ho Chi Minh statue

Many tourists wonder why there are two names for the main Southern city of Vietnam. Is it Saigon or Ho Chi Minh? Which name is correct? This is the answer for you.

After the April 30th, 1975 historical event, Vietnam became officially an independent nation. To remember President Ho Chi Minh’s achievements in the war, the government changed the name “Saigon City” to “Ho Chi Minh City” in 1976.

Portrait of Ho Chi Minh

Most public schools and governmental offices hang a portrait of Ho Chi Minh as a reminder to follow his good virtues.

Ho Chi Minh’s portraits on Vietnamese banknotes
Ho Chi Minh’s portrait at Saigon Central Post Office

You may also notice his photo printed on the notes of Vietnamese currency. Another place you can find his picture is in Saigon Central Post Office or any state institute and government office.

Summary of Who was Ho Chi Minh?

The life of President Ho Chi Minh was often taught to many generations in Vietnam as a lesson and value of a patriot, someone who had lived and devoted his life for the country’s sake. He was a real hero of the Vietnamese in the Indochina Wars and Vietnam War, so most people respect and take pride in him as the iconic person of the country.

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