“A gem of an attraction,” proclaims The Culture Trip, the Vietnamese Women’s Museum in Hanoi features “a fascinating costume-heavy display on the many ethnic minorities of Vietnam, a hard-hitting exhibition on women’s role in wartime and an exploration of the much-neglected subject of family life and maternity.” Its ‘Heroic Mothers of Vietnam’ display “memorializes women who lost children during Vietnam’s many years of warfare is particularly moving.” Labelled in English and French, the memories of the wartime contribution by individual heroic women “are most poignant,” says Lonely Planet.
“I found myself alone inside ... The only time I shared the room with other people was when I was at the Women and Society Exhibit, where two female travelers watched an old film playing in one corner. This part of the museum stole most of my time there and left the deepest imprint on my memory. It was filled with compelling stories about the personalities that made a mark during the wars against France and the US-backed South Vietnam. Girls as young as 14 made significant contributions during the war and the photos on display were nothing short of arresting.” - The Poor Traveler
Of all the images in the museum, the most powerful is almost certainly the famous ‘Napalm Girl’ photograph that features Phan Thị Kim Phúc running on a road after being burnt on 8 June 1972. It was an image that “rallied the anti-war movement in the USA and Europe,” notes Asemus, as well as bringing the Pulitzer Prize to photographer Nick Út -- who donated the original to the museum. “For anyone old enough to remember the Vietnam War, the photograph of the naked 9-year-old girl running toward a camera screaming in agony as napalm burned her flesh is seared into the consciousness,” writes Tom Buerkle in The New York Times. “Her image has become a symbol of the barbarity of war that transcends debate about the rights or wrongs of U.S. intervention in Vietnam.”
Oh, but the museum is not the coolest place to visit (literally). “This is actually pretty common throughout the country, and don’t expect a true break from the heat,” says Teacher Trekker. “Many areas are air conditioned or have fans running, but if you’re not directly in front of the blowing air you will instantly start sweating.”