Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum

Even Uncle Ho needs a holiday. Even while he's away on his annual autumn sojourn in Moscow, his mausoleum in downtown Hanoi still gets the royal treatment.
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Guards at entrance
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Even Uncle Ho needs a holiday. Mind you, and as much as I like the place, I can think of more picturesque places than Moscow as that city heads into winter. Each year, in October and November, Ho Chi Minh, not exactly under his own steam, ventures to Moscow for some TLC, getting spruced up by the Russian team responsible for preserving Vladimir Lenin’s youthful glow.

When Lenin died in 1924, it started a trend in Soviet-bloc and some Communist countries for embalming their great leaders and putting them on public display. It was, of course, so that grateful and grieving members of public could pay their respects. Lenin, Stalin, Ho Chi Minh, Kim Il-sung, and Mao Zedong all received that treatment–although in the anti-Stalin wave in the mid-1950s, Stalin was removed from display and buried next to the Kremlin wall just outside Lenin’s Mausoleum in Red Square. Recently departed North Korean leader Kim Jong-il will apparently be joining them, with Pyongyang announcing plans to embalm his body in a mausoleum complex yet to be constructed in the North Korean capital.1

Ho famously decreed that he should receive no special post-mortem tributes, that he should be cremated and that his ashes should be scattered in the Vietnamese countryside so that he could fertilize the agricultural land. The Vietnamese government respectfully disagreed. Four years after his death, they began construction of this massive marble crypt to house Ho’s embalmed body for public display. It stands on the spot where Ho had read the Vietnamese Declaration of Independence on September 2, 1945, and when it opened in 1975, it became hallowed ground.

Apparently oblivious to the ceremonial similarities they share with the honor guards of royal households, goose-stepping Vietnamese soldiers in white dress uniforms stand watch over the entrance, switching out every hour–even when Ho’s away for his annual holiday. Each guard’s personal history has been carefully vetted to ensure that there’s no past blemish on their record (or that of their family’s) that might disqualify them from the special honor of standing guard here. Tourists are welcome to observe the ceremony, but whatever you do, don’t walk on the grass or cross the yellow line. And absolutely, positively don’t try to take photos inside.

Photos of Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Side Angle
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Guards Marching
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Ba Dinh Square
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum with Vietnamese Flag
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Top of Building
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Building
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Changing of the Guard Ceremony
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Front View
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Goose Stepping Guards
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Guards
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Changing of the Guard
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com

What To Know Before You Go

The military guards take their charge seriously.


  1. Choe Sang-Hun, “Kim Jong-il to Go on Permanent Display,” *New York Times*, 13 January 2012, A7.

Where to Next?



Travel Advice for Vietnam

You can find the latest U.S. Department of State travel advisories and information for Vietnam (such as entry visa requirements and vaccination requirements) here.

The British and Australian governments offer their own country-specific travel information. You can find the British Government's travel advice for Vietnam here and the Australian Government's here.

Health & Vaccinations

The CDC makes country-specific recommendations for vaccinations and health for travelers. You can find their latest information for Vietnam here.

Guidebooks for Vietnam

If you're looking for a guidebook to make the most of your visit, these are some of the most popular ones currently for Vietnam. Some are available in both paper and e-book formats.

Lonely Planet Vietnam 14 (Country Guide)
  • Stewart, Iain (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
Fodor's Essential Vietnam (Travel Guide)
  • Fodor's Travel Guides (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
DK Eyewitness Vietnam: 2019 (Travel Guide)
  • DK Eyewitness (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
DK Eyewitness Vietnam (Travel Guide)
  • DK Eyewitness (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Travel Insurance For Your Trip to Vietnam

I never travel without travel insurance, and I've run into several situations where I've had to make claims. I consider it essential.

But shopping for travel insurance can be a pain and confusing. Thankfully, there are some travel insurance comparison sites that show you a wide range of plans, make it easy to compare coverage, and can save you money at the same time. And the coverage can be much better tailored to your specific needs than the checkbox offering at travel booking sites or through your credit card.

These are some good places to shop for travel insurance for your next trip to Vietnam :

Hopefully, you won't need it, but if something goes wrong, you'll sure be glad you have it!

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