Museum of Ethnology

On a dusty highway, set apart from Hanoi’s romantic lakes and leafy boulevards, is one of Vietnam’s most modern and insightful museums. The Museum of Ethnology opened in 1997, and it documents Vietnam’s 54 ethnic groups. It’s an essential stop for culture lovers and anyone keen on exploring Vietnam’s heritage.

Although the majority of the museum’s treasures are in the main building, the gardens and their life-size replicas of traditional homes are equally compelling. Although it’s possible to glean a lot of information on one’s own, hiring a guide adds context and depth to the experience, as well as revealing details about how the tribes are placed in Vietnam’s overall cultural fabric.

The Museum of Ethnology is more interactive than most in Vietnam, and there are photos, videos, costumes, tools, and ceramics that bring each story to life. There’s a free water puppet show on the grounds, which makes for an entertaining break, as well as an excellent non-profit gift shop that sells high-quality souvenirs. Sales of these souvenirs go toward community support for minorities.

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