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Ho Lao Prison, Hanoi

The Hanoi Hilton of the Vietnam War

Prisoner possessions

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Ho Lao Prison in Hanoi came to prominence during the Vietnam War and is a must visit for a history buff or anyone interested in learning about the country’s turbulent recent history. American prisoners of war (POW) were housed here and the prison was often (ironically)nicknamed the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ by its inmates. it provides a stark reminder of Vietnam’s devastating past.

Punishment cell Punishment cell

The museum is regarded as a must visit for tourists in Vietnam; you’ll find it in any Hanoi guidebook. The first part of the museum focuses on Vietnam’s struggles for independence from France after colonisation. The French held Vietnamese political prisoners in appalling conditions and this is displayed through a variety of rather disturbing cast iron modelfigures and informative pictures with captions in English, French and Vietnamese. Perhaps the most shocking thing to witness is the original punishment cells; tiny isolated rooms with sloped floors so that prisoners are unable to sit or lie comfortably.

The final part of this museum prison deals with its function during the Vietnam War and has a number of accounts and images from its inmates. Notably, navy pilot and former Senator John McCain was a prisoner here after being shot down over Vietnam.

Outside of the prison Outside of the prison

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