You, Me & Friends ” Culture & History” ***Hoa Lo Prison-Hanoi Hilton***

Vietnam & The Lost City of Angkor

Oct19: We spent the afternoon exploring the infamous “Hanoi Hilton”. The pseudonym came from the locals when the US airmen that were shot down had to be treated by Geneva convention rules, which were far better than any of the local civilians were living.

Originally known as Hoa Lo Prison, this sombre structure served as a maximum security prison built by the French when they occupied Indochina; housing prisoners of war, political dissidents, and revolutionaries. Notably were the revolutionaries who attempted to oust the occupying French Government by poisoning the water supply. Before they could do it, they were captured and incarcerated for life or until the guillotine.

Today, the Hanoi Hilton stands as a poignant reminder of Vietnam’s tumultuous past, offering visitors a glimpse into the harrowing experiences of those who were held within its walls. Walking through the museum, visitors can explore the stark prison cells, which once confined American pilots like Senator John McCain, who famously endured years of captivity during the war. Nowadays, the cells are occupied by poor miserable mannequins, who represent the Vietnamese interned by the French in harsh conditions.

Despite its grim history, the Hanoi Hilton also serves as a symbol of resilience and reconciliation. In addition to showcasing the harsh conditions faced by prisoners, the museum highlights the efforts made towards reconciliation between former enemies, with exhibits commemorating the exchange of prisoners and promoting peace and understanding.

While a visit to the Hanoi Hilton may evoke a range of emotions, from solemn reflection to admiration for the resilience of the human spirit, it offers a valuable opportunity to delve into Vietnam’s complex history and gain a deeper understanding of the impact of war on both sides.

For travellers interested in history and seeking a deeper connection with Vietnam’s past, a visit to the Hanoi Hilton is a poignant and thought-provoking experience that is sure to leave a lasting impression.




Oh my gosh, we all had a fantastic day out. Thank you so much. I really didn’t expect to like all those weird and wonderful snacks during the "Curious Food Train" activity, and didn’t think they would all participate. The staff all keep thanking us for such a great day. Looking forward to next years event!