Despite its title, Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam is not the current resting place of the revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh. Instead, the capital city of the country, which is Hanoi, houses a Mausoleum fit for the man himself. I took a trip to the excellent Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum ‘complex’ to check it out and see the man himself in the flesh.
How do you get there? My advice is to walk it. I love walking when I travel and this place really isn’t that far out from the old city. You get to sample Hanoi life on the streets, save money, pass by some other landmarks (including the Lenin statue) and you get a real feel for the city. It’s easy enough to find but make sure you take a map with you anyway. The Mausloeum is at Ba Dinh Square in the north west of the city. From the old quarter I headed along Dien Bien Phu street past the Lenin statue then took a left at a roundabout onto Pho Chua Mot Cot. But in honesty it’s signposted and not that far.
When should you go? As early as you can!! The Mausoleum is only open until 10.30 am each morning. This is a strict opening hours so make sure you get up early and head there. We got there around 10 am and that was enough time to join the queue and get into to see Ho Chi Minh himself. However it was a wet day, so that may have affected how busy it was that day. Another few important things to note are that it is CLOSED between September and December apparently for restoration work.
What can you take in with you? When you arrive at Ba Dinh Square there is a centre to leave your belongings if you want. For some reason I actually left my bag there, thinking they would confiscate it on the door, but they don’t. So my tip is don’t leave your bag in. It’s free to leave your bag by the way. But you can take it in with you. Cameras are banned inside the complex, but unlike in Moscow (for Lenin’s tomb) this is not checked so you can keep your camera in your pocket. DO NOT use it inside the Mausoleum. It is also recommended not to wear hats, shorts or inappropriate clothing as these are banned from the complex. Don’t take the risk.
What is there to see? The main attraction is Ho Chi Minh! His body has been restored since his death in the 1970s and you walk in single file round a square room with Ho Chi Minh on your left at all times. The entire process of entering the Mausoleum to exiting it takes less than 5 minutes, but still head early! Photos inside the Mausoleum are totally banned by the way. I can tell you that inside there is a red carpet, he has a beard which has been restored, he is lit up in a dark room and manned by at least 4 guards from the Vietnam army. Behind him are two flags – 1. Vietnam and 2. Hammer and Sickle (USSR communist)
How much does it cost to enter the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum? It’s free. 🙂
What else is in the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex? Actually there’s a lot to see and I was pleasantly surprised. It is quite touristy but you get to see the Presidential Palace, a One Pillar Pagoda and Ho Chi Minh’s House on Stilts. You need to pay a single one off fee to get into this section, which is 20,000 Dong and I have to say this is worth it – I enjoyed it. Here’s a quick overview of the highlights with a few of my photos:
1. The Presidential Palace (formerly Indochina’s General Governor Palace):
You can get as far as the gates and you see this VERY bright Yellow Palace. Ho Chi Minh lived and worked in this complex between 1954 and 1969. The Palace is heavily manned by guards too but you can stand near it like I did for a photo and a decent view!
2. Ho Chi Minh’s Cars!
For car lovers you can see some of the cars that Ho Chi Minh owned, some of them gifts. They are housed in a locked but glazed garage part of his old living quarters.
3. Ho Chi Minh’s Living Quarters
You can see his old house, an elaborate yellow and green house with bedrooms, living room, library and all overlooking an elegant pod. You can’t actually go inside the house but all the rooms have windows or wide glass panels and have been furnished and recreated as they were.
4. Ho Chi Minh’s House on Stilts
This is a house with a lot of charm and an ideal place for the man to relax. Overlooking the pond, this house is on wooden stilts and is where Ho Chi Minh lived and worked from 1958 to 1969.
OK so those are the top 4 things as I saw it. There is also a One Pillar Pagoda, a commercial street selling goods on the way out and a museum. I noted the opening hours the time I visited (August 2012) were – every weekday except Monday and Friday afternoon. In summer it’s open from 7.30 am to 11 am and from 2 to 4 pm. In Winter it’s open from 8 to 11 am and from 1.30 to 4 pm. I enjoyed the experience and recommend it. My thanks to my travel buddies Daeuk and Hiro for joining me on this experience. I loved Hanoi and Vietnam!
I’ve put a few of my videos below for you to check out, but you can also check out my posts on Hanoi’s Bia Hoi Corner and the amazing Halong Bay which is a bus ride away. I also visited Artigas Mausoleum in Montevideo in Uruguay but missed out on seeing Lenin while I was in Moscow and Chairman Mao while in Beijing!
The Queue to get into the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum:
The Presidential Palace at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex:
Ho Chi Minh’s Old House Part 1:
Ho Chi Minh’s Old House Part 2:
Ho Chi Minh’s House on Stilts:
If you want to see all my posts on Vietnam so far, head to the top menu and click Asia then scroll to Vietnam, or just click here – Don’t Stop Living – Vietnam!! Living a lifestyle of travel and hoping my stories and tips encourage you to do the same!