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IDECAF is French for the Institute of Cultural Exchange with France and is a Vietnamese organization that well preserves the spirit of language and cultural exchanges. Rich in culture with activities and events from France, Vietnam and other countries, visitors can participate in various activities such as watching the annual Francophone Film Festival and visiting art exhibitions. Classes and lectures are also available to visitors and members. Exhibitions are free, movies are cheap at 15,000 VND (about 10 cents), while plays and classes depend on the schedule. -Kevin Minh
Delve into the history and traditions of Vietnam at the Ho Chi Minh City Museum. Built in 1885, the neoclassical building has served as the residence of a number of notable political figures, including President Diem who used the bunkers and tunnels hidden beneath the museum as a refuge before escaping to Cha Tam Church. The museum itself is an architectural gem, and worth a visit for this reason alone. Archaeological remains, art and artifacts illustrate the story of Vietnam across two floors, with much emphasis on the country's struggle for independence, while the historic artifacts spread across the garden are sure to be of special interest to those with a penchant for military history. A traditional museum in every way, the Ho Chi Minh City Museum is a fine place to contemplate the country's storied past.
Housed in a former United States administration building, The War Remnants Museum is one of the most popular and sobering museums in the city. It highlights the suffering of the Vietnamese people at the hands of the French and American forces up to 1975. The photographs of the injured and dead are both haunting and sickening. This is not a politically balanced exhibition, but when you consider the statistics of American versus Vietnamese casualties, that is hardly surprising. This museum is probably too disturbing for children to view.
Situated in a three story building with 10 rooms, this museum pays tribute to Vietnam's women of the South. Visitors here can see artifacts such as clothing, ethnic garments, paintings and jewelry. What is most impressive are the historical accounts of roles that women played in history such as in war. We're not talking about nurses, but women who were in combat, martyrs for their causes. Letters and documents were also preserved capturing the era and the strong rhetoric of these bold women. With free admission, this museum is well worth seeing when visiting Ho Chi Minh City or for a day excursion.
This museum houses an eclectic collection of many of Ho Chi Minh's possessions, including the Uncle's sandals and his beloved Zenith radio (ironically made in the United States). Most of the signs are in Vietnamese. The museum is accessible by ferry from the pier at the end of Ham Nghi Avenue or by crossing the bridge on Nguyen Tat Thanh Street.
With six floors of exhibits, the Museum of Vietnamese Traditional Medicine, or FITO, is a must visit for Ho Chi Minh City. Find yourself walking through the centuries as you learn about the Vietnamese and Chinese medicine used throughout history. The many exhibits offer plaques in both English and Vietnamese. Guided tours are available and are a great to gain a deeper understanding of ancient medicines and herbs once used by healers.