One of the oldest art museums in Ho Chi Minh City, the Museum of Fine Arts occupies a gorgeous colonial-era building from 1929. The collection starts with sculptures from the early Funan and Cham kingdoms, dating back as far as the fourth century, but it’s also home to intriguing modern art pieces, many focused on the Vietnam War.
The Museum of Fine Arts is not a common stop on most Ho Chi Minh City itineraries, despite the great-value admission charge. Some travelers head here for the architecture alone, but visiting with a guide who understands Vietnamese art, culture, and history can make a world of difference. A Ho Chi Minh City art tour that takes in more contemporary galleries will give a useful perspective on modern works. Do note that both the building and the artworks can feel a little tired to travelers who are used to better-funded galleries.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Museum of Fine Arts is of interest to history buffs and art lovers.
- The building could be better maintained, and signage isn’t great. Consider bringing a guide who can steer you to the highlights.
- The Museum of Fine Arts has an elevator and is generally accessible to travelers who use wheelchairs.
How to Get There
The Museum of Fine Arts stands in the heart of downtown Saigon, just a few hundred feet south of Ben Thanh Market. Buses head to the Ben Thanh bus station, half a mile (800 meters) away, from all across the city. Alternatively, book a tour or arrange a private driver.
When to Get There
The Museum of Fine Arts is open from morning to late afternoon, Tuesday to Sunday, but closes on Monday. It’s rarely especially busy, but as always in Vietnam, avoid the Tet (lunar New Year) period if you can. Midweek visits are generally quietest—swing by after a morning tour of Ben Thanh Market.
What Art Galleries Should I See in Ho Chi Minh City?
Ho Chi Minh City’s fine arts museum was established in 1987, although the building is almost 60 years older than that. If you’re thirsting for art, Saigon now has even more to offer. Try the Craig Thomas Gallery for contemporary local pieces or the Duc Minh Art Gallery for prewar gems. Alternatively, hit the Factory Contemporary Arts Centre, a hip multimedia space constructed from shipping containers.