No trip to Hanoi is complete without a trip to Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum which stands in Ba Dinh Square and opened in 1975. Ho was Chairman of the Communist party from 1951 to his death in 1969 and read the Declaration of Independence on September 2, 1945 establishing the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.
Construction began on Sept 2nd 1973 and was completed two years later, inspired by Lenin's Mausoleum but incorporating some Vietnamese styles such as the sloping roof. The exterior is grey granite while the interior is polished grey, red and black stone. A few words are inscribed on the portico, meaning Chairman Ho Chi Minh, while the banner says "N??c C?ng Hòa Xã H?i Ch? Ngh?a Vi?t Nam Muôn N?m" ( "State of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam forever").
The mausoleum is 21.6 m high, 41.2 m wide, The plaza in Ba Dinh Square is divided into 240 squares divided by pathways, and the garden around the museum has over 250 plants that have been taken from all over Vietnam.
Unfortunately photography is not allowed, neither are tank tops, miniskirts, shorts, smoking, eating and drinking. No hands in pockets either. Unfortunately i did not enter the Mausoleum when i first visited Hanoi in 1993 but this time we got up early to join the queues of people, but when we got there it was closed. we asked the officials if it was open the next day but he said it was also closed, and lack of language skills prevented us from knowing the reason why. The body of Uncle Ho is normally flown to Moscow for repair work each year from the beginning of September to the beginning of November. Perhaps this year the he was in Moscow at the time of our visit (late November).
Entrance is free and the Mausoleum is normally open 8 am - 11 am except for Mondays and Fridays. Get there early as there is normally a long queue waiting to have a glimpse of Ho.
Worth visiting, but unless you get there early, expect to join a very long queue which for a large part of the time will involve standing without any shade. I got there very early and so managed to avoid this but even at opening time, it does not take long for it to get very busy.
You need to be aware that dress has to be modest and ladies with bare knees or shoulders will be asked to cover up. Baseball caps and sunglasses also need to be removed. There is strictly no photography and cameras, iPads etc have to be handed in beforehand and are sealed in a plastic bag and returned at the end of your visit. Bags and backpacks also have to be checked in.
You are not allowed to linger and you follow the queue, walking in silence past the carefully preserved body of Ho Chi Minh. I found it to be an almost eerie experience, but one not to be missed. It is fascinating really to see how much the great man really is revered by the Vietnamese people.
This is one of two cautionary reviews from my stay in Hanoi - how not to do it. I hope it is helpful, and while it is stating the obvious, I would have benefitted from it!
The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is what it sounds like: against his will, Ho Chi Minh's body was preserved in much the same way Lenin's was, and it is now on display. It's an impressive building, but I didn't get to see the interior, or the corpse, because I'm an idiot. I didn't realise the following:
It is not open on Mondays or Fridays.
It also only opens until 11.30, so you have to plan to hit that window.
Ah well, I'm keen to return to Hanoi anyway.
It is located in the centre of Ba Dinh Square, which is the place where Vietminh leader Ho Chi Minh, Chairman of the Communist Party of Vietnam from 1951 until his death in 1969, read the Declaration of Independence on 2 September 1945, establishing the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is the most important site in Hanoi for all loyal Vietnamese people. Ho Chi Minh, the nation's hero, is laid out there (against his will, by the way - he wanted to be cremated after his death!). Be prepared to see hundreds of people waiting to get a short glimpse of his body. Uncle Ho is presented there for 9 months - the other 3 months of the year, his body is restaurated in Moscow. His mausoleum is a massive stone building, distantly resembling a Greek temple, but one that was built by the Soviets. It's certainly not a beautiful building, but its sheer size creates respect.
Everybody has to obey certain rules when visiting the mausoleum, such as wearing long trousers, behaving correctly, not taking anything (including your camera) into the mausoleum. Do obey them, as the guards may become unfriendly quite quickly!
Unfortunately, the opening times are not really tourist-friendly: they start at 7.30am and end at 10.30am which is why I never managed to see the Mausoleum from the inside.
Something that didn't really appeal, was to see anyone laying there dead after all these years.
We did want however to visit the Museum across the huge square but it was abruptly indicated by one of the guards a long way from the Mausoleum that we had to go through the security scanner. From there the whole thing went downhill in that without words my camera was taken put in a numbered bag and I and it was marched off some 100 yards to a hut which resembled an ice cream store, nearby the museum. I tried to tell them that I was not going to the Mausoleum but to no avail.
Luckily for me a lady who was directing people towards the Museum saw what was happening and who could speak a little English. She made it clear to me that there was no problems for cameras in the museum and being a member of staff of the Museum, argued with the officials that they must return my camera which reluctantly they did.
Ho Chi Minh was at first the Prime Minister of Vietnam and later on he was chosen by his own people as a president of the country, before he was death he's requested to be cremated and embalmed he wants his body placed in the Mauseleum, probably its a strange situation to see himself lying in one of the place inside, but for the people of Vietnam they are very proud to see their leader in the Mauseleum of Hanoi, his house is just an the opposite side of the complex
We were just on time. They closed the door at 11.30 and open at 2 pm
If you arrive 10 minutes before closing time they let you in. And while you are inside you can stroll as long as you want. But the door outside will be closed, no one can get inside till 2 pm
There are many interesting things to see. But the place is full with Vietnamese
When you exit the complex do not leave immediately. The guards switching out every hour. Tourists are welcome to observe the ceremony
We decided to visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Ba Dinh Square to see the enbalmed body of Ho Chi Minh, the founder of the modern united Vietnamese State.
Ho Chi Minh actually wanted to be cremated and have his ashes scattered in the north, centre and south of the country as a symbol of Vietnam's reunification.
However, upon his death in 1969, Ho Chi Minh's body was enbalmed and work began on a suitable mausoleum. In 1975 when the huge stone mausoleum was finally complete, Ho Chi Minh's body was placed to rest inside.
Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum is the largest memorial in Vietnam is located at the Da Dinh Square. This is where President Ho declared independent for the Democratic Republic of Vietnam on Sept 2, 1945. The body of Ho was cremated in this building. You are allowed to visit this with strict dress codes and behavior. You have to cover your legs with no short or miniskirts. This building and area is strictly enforced by staffs and guards.
Opening hours: 8am-11am everyday except Friday.
Ho Chi Minh is a huge cultural icon in Vietnam and every town seems to have a museum devoted to him (so much so that it appears everything the man touched, used or sat on is now behind glass). While in Vietnam you absolutely must see at least one Ho Chi Mihn Museum AND THE ONE IN HANOI IS THE ONE TO SEE. This museum is in a humongous building and is cleverly put together in a combination of hero worship and modern art.
While the outside of the building is quite imposing it will take you an hour at the most to make your way through the museum. If you visit the museum during the week you have a good chance of seeing entire grade school classes in their white shirts and blue-bottomed uniforms lining up in front of the museum for pictures and a tour.
While your at the Ho Chi Minh Museum make sure to explore the entire complex…including the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the Ho Chi Minh Stilt house, The presidential Palace and the One Pillar and Dien Huu Pagodas.
Most of the visitors to this complex are Vietnamese making pilgrimage to show their deep admiration and respect to Ho Chi Mihn. Uncle Ho, as he is often called, is a communist leader who is revered at the liberator of the Vietnam from Colonialism (from the US, France and Britain)
At the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum has Uncle Ho preserved and laid out under glass for display in grand Communist Style resembling the Mausoleums to Chairman Moa, Lenin and Stalin. The corpse was in Russia for “maintenance” while we were there so we were unable to go inside. I heard its quite something to see so please don’t miss it.
Before leaving your hotel be sure to take a moment to review the long list of dress and behavioral requirements for entering the Ho Chi Mihn Mausoleum. Cameras and bags are not allowed in the Mausoleum and must be checked in at the reception. No Shorts, tank tops or hats. And you are not allowed to put your hands in your pockets.
Touring the entire complex will take a few hours at the most.
I arrived in Hanoi on the 30th September 06, unfortunately by the time i visited Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum he was no longer there! I, like so many others had discovered that the Mausoleum closes for two months (October & November). Apparently this is to allow Ho to undergo "maintenance".
When Ho Chi Minh died he requested that he be cremated and his ashes divided between the north, centre and south. It seems a little ironic looking upon this Mausoleum which is so grand and so at odds with his wish.
The building is certainly imposing and impressive. Although Ho wasn't there when i visited i thought it well worth the time to come and look at the Mausoleum.
Times; (April - Sept, Tues - Thurs 7-30am - 10-30am, Sat & Sun 7-30am - 11am; Dec - Mar, Tues - Thurs 8am - 11am, Sat & Sun 8am - 11-30am). There is no charge for entrance although be warned that anyone who wishes to enter must leave cameras and bags at one of the reception centres. You will receive them back upon exiting the Mausoleum. Also shorts or vests cannot be worn and you must remove hats and also be quiet once inside.
Update; i finally made it inside the Mausoleum (April 07)!! Well worth the queing up, even if you were only in the 'inner sanctum' for a few minutes. Ho is kept within a glass type "container" with an honour guard surrounding it. Quite dimly lit inside, so i suggest those whose eyesight isn't great to wear their glasses! An experience not to be missed.
The austere looking marble edifice that is Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum is one of the most revered monuments in Vietnam. Inside, Ho Chi Minh, founder of unified Vietnam, and the country's liberator from foreign colonialism - eat your heart out western imperialists - or rather his preserved body - is open for public viewing. Unfortunately, viewing times are rather short - 8 to 11 am - and so I missed the opportunity.
The monument attracts a mixed crowd of locals and tourists. For many locals, visiting Uncle Ho is marks the highlight of their visit to Hanoi and it's not uncommon to see locals dressed in their best clothes while visiting the mausoleum.
(The cover picture featuring a young girl dressed in her best pink dress was taken at the park just outside the mausoleum).