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Hoa Lo Prison, Hanoi

4.0
#3 of 166 in Historic Sites in Vietnam
Historic Site Tourist Spot
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. Make Hoa Lo Prison part of your personalized Hanoi itinerary using our Hanoi trip builder.
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
7,304 reviews
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4.2
TripAdvisor
  • A unique experience. An opportunity to see and feel the historic events that took place within the prison walls.  more »
  • Lovely thought to preserve this iconic place also well known as Hanoi Hilton.Loved that the preserved the cut out of the sewer where some prisoners tried to escape and the prisoners were invited back ...  more »
  • It wasn't too big, but good bang for your buck. Just remember to be respectful and cover up when you enter the area of remembrance. They provide you with something to cover up.  more »
Google
  • It's worth a visit but don't expect to learn much, or much truth anyway. As you walk through you go from reading how the French supposedly made it hell on earth for Vietnamese resistance fighters to how the ever so kind and generous North Vietnamese then practically converted it to a holiday camp for US pilots. Lots of pictures and footage of Americans celebrating Christmas, playing basketball and stuffing their faces with piles of food (although they were all so skinny, strange that). Funnily enough no mention at all of the systematic abuse, torture and interrogations. Come on, that's the interesting stuff I'd like to learn about. They're doing them a disservice by ignoring that in favour of propaganda. Coming from the UK I like to think our museums generally present unbiased information with the sole aim being to educate. So it's disappointing to find somewhere like this where it seems the aim is to deceive. Although on the flip side I'm now thinking ..maybe our museums are deceitful too?
  • Kids are free. A self walking tour through what remains of the prison. The first 80% takes you through the era of French colonialism. Harsh conditions, the message is brutal treatment. A few unpleasant photos in the room with the guillotine so watch out there if you have smaller children. The last section is devoted to the Vietnam war and has info and images of the American pilot POWs. The message here is that the POWs were treated well. The captured pilots called it the 'Hanoi Hilton'. Worth a visit.
  • Informative museum on the history of the infamous Hanoi Hilton. The actual building is beautiful and more like a villa that a prison. Museum is well laid out and multi lingual displays..I bought the English guidebook, which I didn't use at all during my visit..but it's a nice souvenir that'll I'll read again. Felt the info on good treatment of US to be slightly over the top an suspect biased, definitely left wanting to read into the prison more. Well worth a visit 30k dong entry
  • Great museum in the preserved section of the prison. Covers the colonial past when the French exploited Indochina for its rubber, tin and coal. Several mock ups of life in prison. A small section is devoted to the treatment of American POWs during the American-Vietnam war. Another side of the story. Takes 45-60 minutes.
  • Relatively cheap entry fee. Good place to understand the history of vietnam. Some place could feel eerie.

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