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“Don't leave the city without visiting 'Hanoi Hilton'” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Hoa Lo Prison

Hoa Lo Prison
1 Hoa Lo St | Phu Khanh village, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi 10000, Vietnam
04-824-6358
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Private Tour
$50*
and up
Private Tour: Hanoi City Full-Day Tour including...
Ranked #13 of 91 Attractions in Hanoi
Type: Historic Sites, History Museums, Museums
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Attraction details
Fee: No
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: Colloquially known as "Hanoi Hilton," this famous prison has been mostly torn down. A museum occupies the remaining structure.
Cambridge
Top Contributor
120 reviews 120 reviews
24 attraction reviews
Reviews in 60 cities Reviews in 60 cities
79 helpful votes 79 helpful votes
“Don't leave the city without visiting 'Hanoi Hilton'”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 10, 2014

In Europe and the USA we probably know Hoa Lo Prison by the nickname 'Hanoi Hilton' coined while it was used from 1964-1973 to imprison US pilots captured during the Vietnam War. The prison was originally built at the end of the 19th century by French colonialists on the site of a craft village renowned for the quality of its earthenware. Some of these pots, dishes and kettles are on display. You'll also see the guillotine imported from France and the original entrance door with its huge locks and bolts which were also specially imported. I defy anyone not to be moved almost to tears by the sight of rows of shackled prisoners in one of the large detention rooms. These figures have been crafted so finely that they appear almost lifelike. The French reckoned the prison was the most secure in Indochina but even so 100 political prisoners escaped over six nights in 1945 and you'll see sections of the sewer through which they got away. Also on display is the flight suit worn by pilot Major John McCain (a future Senator and 2008 Republican presidential nominee). Photographs give the impression that captured US pilots enjoyed a comfortable incarceration so if you want an inmate's view of life inside the 'Hanoi Hilton' I suggest you search out McCain's memoir to read when you get home. There is an informative guidebook and plenty of information panels throughout the building, obviously written from a Vietnamese point of view. Putting the propaganda aside, a visit to this place is a stark reminder of man's inhumanity to man and I'd highly recommend it. Entrance is 20,000 dong (1 US dollar) and opening hours are 8am to 5pm every day including weekends and holidays.

Visited February 2014
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Brisbane, Australia
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96 reviews 96 reviews
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Reviews in 26 cities Reviews in 26 cities
62 helpful votes 62 helpful votes
“A must see”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 9, 2014

Depressing, realistic and for obvious reasons slanted to the Vietnamese view point. You should not let that put you off visiting "Hanoi Hilton" to see the French built prison that only became famous outside of Vietnam for housing the American pilots. Definitely somewhere you would not want to be sent to and shackled. The guillotine is particularly harrowing and thought provoking Ensure you see the memorial out the back which is carved in stone - very impressive.

Visited February 2014
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Osoyoos, Canada
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21 reviews 21 reviews
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Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
“Good, but misinforming”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 9, 2014

was definatley worth the 20.000 dong

basically all Vietnamese propaganda, on how easy the americans had it in the prison

if your in the area visit it, youll be glad you did

Visited March 2014
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Iligan, Philippines
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271 reviews 271 reviews
56 attraction reviews
Reviews in 49 cities Reviews in 49 cities
216 helpful votes 216 helpful votes
“Interesting, but a slanted viewpoint”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 8, 2014

Because of the history involved here it is an interesting place to visit. But it is important when you go that it is understood it is being used as propaganda. I am surprised how poor the English translation is, since it is an official museum. Information really needs to be updated.

Visited March 2014
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Chiang Mai Province, Thailand
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30 reviews 30 reviews
15 attraction reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
47 helpful votes 47 helpful votes
“Interesting place”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 7, 2014

My friend and I stumbled upon the prison after getting very lost in Hanoi. The prison has a lot of history and only recently has been turned into a museum. Half of the prison has been knocked down for a tower building but whats left is quite fascinating. The displays are in some detail and is easy to follow. Not everything is in English and the guide we bought didnt match the walking sequence of the prison but was a good read once back at the hotel.
It is very cheap to get in and well worth visiting if you have a spare hour or two.

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