Visit the museum “for its location and architecture” as much as its collection, recommends Rusty Compass. Set in the Botanic Gardens in the centre of the city, the History Museum was built in 1929 “in a style that fuses Asiatic and French influences,” and the building and its surrounding gardens “provide an all too uncommon escape from the bustle of the city.” Highlights include “valuable relics taken from Cambodia’s Angkor Wat; a fine collection of Buddha statues; the perfectly preserved mummy of a local woman who died in 1869, excavated from Xom Cai in District 5; and some exquisite stylised mother-of-pearl Chinese characters inlaid into panels,” reports Lonely Planet. And although the displays in the 15 rooms cover every period of the country's history, “signage is not clear so it's difficult to work out the significance of some exhibits without a guide,” says Frommers.
You can chart the country's history from prehistoric times, says Vietnam Travel. “There are some fantastic examples of sculpture and art from the Cham and Oc Eo civilizations, statues of Buddhas from across the region, collections of porcelain and art from various historical periods and a even a mummy found preserved in Saigon,”it notes, and the narratives on the walls “go some way to helping the visitor understand the many periods of Vietnamese history, with only a few gaps.”