Vietnam is well known for it’s wars. They kicked out the French, the Chinese and the Americans at some point in history. When you are in Hanoi it might be interesting to visit the old prison there, also known as the Hanoi Hilton prison. There are no longer prisoners locked up though. It is the famous Hoa Lo prison build by the French colonialists in the Indochine era in the late 1800s and was completed early 1900.
The initial capacity was for up to 600 inmates, although many more were locked up, far beyond the capacity. The prison came under Vietnamese authority after the French last some significant battle and the Geneva accords. Later it was used by North Vietnam to lock up American POW soldiers. Most of the prison has been demolished at some point in the past, but there is still a part left as a kind of museum.
How to get there
You can visit the prison by taxi or just take a cyclo, a bicycle taxi, which will bring you in about 20 minutes from Hanoi’s tourist old quarter to prison. The prison was called the Hanoi Hilton by the American prisoners of war. It might be good to take a guide who tells you the story of the prison in detail. All its history and architecture. TV’s are hanging on walls, showing war time news and images and stories.
I have to inform you that the Vietnamese government is very strict in giving one sided information and propaganda. You will see that both in the war museum in Saigon, and in the Hanoi Hilton prison. The TV’s are talking about how much the Vietnamese government respected the Geneva accords with treatment of POW’s and how cruel the other side was. The official stand of the Vietnamese govt is that all stories by POW’s are made up. So be prepared for the propaganda.
All in all Hoa Lo (Hanoi Hilton) is an interesting place to visit because of its architecture and history.