Nicknamed the "Hanoi Hilton" by U.S. soldiers during the Vietnam War, Hoa Lo Prison has seen generations of Vietnamese revolutionaries who fought against French colonialists. The prison was built by the French in 1896. By the 1930s, nearly 2,000 political prisoners were incarcerated in the cells originally constructed to hold no more than 450 inmates--in fact, hundreds of prisoners broke away over the years through the sewage system. During the 1990s, most of the prison was torn down, leaving only the gatehouse for the museum. See the notorious French guillotine, a ghastly relic of French colonial presence in Indochina. The exhibits include U.S. Senator John McCain's flight suit, which he wore when he was shot down and rescued by locals in 1967. Find out how to plan Hanoi trip without stress by asking Inspirock to help create an itinerary.
Tours To Hoa Lo Prison
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Shore Excursion: Best of Ha Noi City from Ha Long Cruise Port BOOK WITH VIATOR FROM $169
Duration: 7 to 12 hours
Hoa Lo Prison Reviews
We visited this as part of a walking tour with Hanoi Kids. Helped having a guide to explain a little about the place. Having said that lots of signs on the exhibits . It whiles away a couple of hours. more »
A scary place ( as you'd expect), the broken glass topped walls give an initial taste in what is to come. Intimidating conditions from the French rule through it's time as the Hanoi Hilton. Never... more »
Being able to experience "hell on earth" is very special and a must-see in Hanoi. Be aware that some of the information is not for the squeamish, and seeing one of the real, used guillotines with pictures of beheaded prisoners is also one of the exhibitions. The way the museum is made, I would definitely recommend getting one of the audio guides which you can borrow for only 50k VND per guide for English or French, because then you get to hear first hand witness experiences about what happened at the prison. Almost all information is in Vietnamese, English and French, which makes it possible to "enjoy" the museum as a foreigner and understand what happened there. Definitely recommend going.
Authentic, interesting, and the placards are informative. Definitely worth shelling out a little extra for the audio guide here, a much richer experience. A little more info on it than I had the free time for, but rather that than the opposite! Considering the political context and history here, they do a fair job of showing more than one side if the place, and emphasizing the positive relationships that Vietnam has ultimately built and is still building with the world, providing a good counterpoint to so the sad, bleak and terrifying episodes from the past. Hopefully visitors leave with a greater appreciation for the Vietnamese struggle for independence and their current hospitality.
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