Foreign tourists explore historical sites during holiday break

By Bich Phuong, Tu Nguyen   May 1, 2023 | 06:00 am PT
Foreign tourists explore historical sites during holiday break
Australian tourist Sarah Scotti (R) and her husband ride motorbikes in the outskirts of Hanoi, April 30 2023. Photo by Anh Tu
Foreigners are visiting war-themed museums and historical sites in HCMC to get an insight into Vietnam’s Reunification Day (April 30) while in Hanoi others enjoy a quiet time.

Despite the scorching weather, with temperatures soaring to 37 degrees Celsius, people, mostly foreign tourists, queued up to buy entry tickets to the War Remnants Museum in District 3 on Reunification Day (April 30).

Zoe, a British woman on her first visit to Vietnam, said visiting historical sites like the Independence Palace and War Remnants Museum taught her about the history of April 30 and she feels passionate about it.

Inside the museum, she spent time reading about Tan Hiep Prison, one of the six largest in southern Vietnam and where Vietnamese soldiers used to be jailed during the war.

British tourist Zoe visits the War Remnants Museum in HCMCs District 3, April 30 2023. Photo by Bich Phuong

British tourist Zoe visits the War Remnants Museum in HCMC's District 3, April 30 2023. Photo by Bich Phuong

"There is a lot of interesting historical information that I never knew. I felt a little creepy when reading stories about victims of Agent Orange and the hardships that Vietnamese soldiers had to go through in prison."

Grainne and Ciaran, a couple from Ireland, said they had "mixed emotions" after touring two floors of the War Remnants Museum.

When reading about the U.S.’s war crimes and looking at the pictures and artifacts displayed in the "War Crimes" room, the couple shed silent tears.

It was their first visit to Vietnam too.

The hot weather notwithstanding, their cultural experiences were very interesting, they said.

On April 29 and 30 a group of tourists from the Philippines visited the 110-year-old People’s Committee building, which opened its doors to visitors for the first ever time.

They said they felt honored and lucky to be the first foreign tourists to visit the place.

In Hanoi, foreign tourists realized the atmosphere was quieter than normal as locals were holidaying.

Nics from the Netherlands and her husband had arrived on April 26 when the streets were still bustling with people and traffic.

She and her husband visited a water puppet theater and a few bars and said "there was nothing to complain about."

Australian Sarah Scotti and her husband arrived in Hanoi on April 29.

In addition to the crowded pedestrian plaza near the Hoan Kiem (Sword) Lake, other tourist attractions the couple visited were quite deserted during the holiday.

The couple booked a half-day motorbike tour to explore Hanoi.

Their tour guide took them to Long Bien Bridge and Hoa Lo Prison, historical symbols of Hanoi, before leaving the old quarter for a lesser-known destination called Banana Island in Tay Ho District.

Sarah said she preferred the holiday atmosphere in Hanoi to Melbourne.

Vietnamese have a five-day holiday for the Hung King's Death Commemoration Day on April 29, Reunification Day on April 30 and Labor Day on May 1 and two days’ compensation since the holidays fall on a weekend.

The country received over 3.6 million foreign visitors in January-April, equivalent to 62% of pre-pandemic numbers and nearly half of the full-year's eight-million target.

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