Hanoi’s Historic Hoa Lo Prison Night Tour



Launched in July 2020, the Hoa Lo Prison night tour operates every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, commencing at 7 PM and lasting for approximately 90 minutes. Both the museum and the night tour place a strong emphasis on showcasing the experiences of the Vietnamese revolutionaries who were detained here during the French Colonial Era.

Originally constructed during the French Colonial Era under the name “Maison Centrale,” Hoa Lo Prison served as a confinement for Vietnamese revolutionaries and political dissidents. It played a pivotal role in the lives of many leaders of the Vietnamese resistance. The name “Hoa Lo,” which translates to “stove,” “fire kiln,” or “fiery furnace,” originated from a nearby village renowned for producing various casseroles and portable earthen stoves. Eventually, the French repurposed this area to establish the prison and court complex that stands today.

Today, the remaining structures of this historic prison have been transformed into a museum, and a nighttime tour named “Sacred Night – Glorious Vietnamese Spirit” has revitalized its mission of preserving the rich history associated with this renowned location.

Tour Highlights

  • Watch many historical reenactments, such as bomb fallings, the rumbling of planes, gunfire, and so on.
  • Watch in real life the imprisoned life in small 1.8m x 1.8m cells.
  • Watch a heartbreaking film about the prison break of Nguyen Phong Sac and his wife Hoang Thi Ai in 1945.
  • Enjoy the touching scene of a female soldier giving food to the escape people.
  • Receive special spiritual gifts from the organizer – the dessert made from the last eagle tree in Hoa Lo Prison.

Detailed Itinerary

06:00 PM: Our driver and tour guide will pick you up at your hotel and transfer you to Hoa Lo Prison.

06:30 PM: Check in at the prison.

07:00 PM: Start Hoa Lo Prison night tour. You will be provided with a set of headphones, granting you the guide’s instructions and immersing yourself in a personalized journey. Following a brief overview of Hoa Lo’s history, you enter through the gates, where there is a detailed model reconstruction of the prison during its heyday. Beyond this point, the true experience begins. The tour skillfully employs a landscape of carefully crafted lighting and sound, enveloping visitors in the prison’s life. Through dimly lit settings and ambient sounds, a somber and oppressive atmosphere is created, offering visitors a glimpse into the harsh conditions and suffering endured by the prisoners who would later become revered Vietnamese national heroes. It’s a moment to marvel at their unwavering resilience and indomitable spirits.

Male prisoner cell block in Hoa Lo prison

Male prisoner cell block

The tour guides you to the male prisoners’ cell block, a stark room with bare concrete walls and a bucket latrine tucked in the corner. Here, prisoners were chained in two rows on long stone tables. With just 15 minutes allocated each day for movement and hygiene, this room might as well have constituted the entire world for the revolutionaries, who spent their days shackled at the ankle and sandwiched among their fellow inmates. The room is populated with life-sized replicas of these prisoners, illuminated by the sole bright lights in the vicinity, revealing the toll of starvation and torture etched on their ceramic faces.

Tunnels in Hoa Lo Prison

Tunnels in Hoa Lo Prison

The indomitable spirit of these individuals is further exemplified by a series of daring escapes from the prison, with a special focus on the most famous one. In 1951, 17 death row inmates managed to cut through prison bars, escape through tunnels, and emerge into the sewer system. Upon exiting the sewer, they encountered a patrol of soldiers, and only 5 of them survived to join the resistance. Visitors on the night tour have the unique opportunity to see the very tunnels through which they made their daring escape, complete with a replica of inmate Vo Duc Chinh cutting through the bars.

You will also explore the solitary confinement cells, where the most troublesome prisoners were subjected to punishment. In the female cell block, you can learn about the life of martyr Nguyen Thi Quang Thai, the first wife of General Vo Nguyen Giap, who was imprisoned until her passing.

The journey leads visitors from darkness to the prison courtyard, where they are treated to a musical performance composed by the renowned musician and artist Do Nhuan, dedicated to the memory of Hoa Lo’s prisoners. Additional highlights of the tour include a preserved French guillotine used for inmate executions and a tropical eagle tree (Bang), from which prisoners harvested almonds, created medicine, and crafted flutes and chopsticks. The tour concludes at a memorial space honoring the prisoners who sacrificed their lives for Vietnam, where visitors can offer incense and sit in silent contemplation.

Tea, pastry, and jello made from Bang leaves

Tea, pastry, and jello made from Bang leaves

Following the tour, you will be invited to enjoy a cup of tea, a pastry, and a jello made from Bang leaves, offering a refreshing respite from the emotions stirred during the experience.

09:00 PM: End of the Hoa Lo Prison night tour. You will be transferred back to your hotel in Hanoi.

Included: Transportation, English-speaking guide, and entrance fee.

What's included

  • Transportation with A/C
  • Tour guides at places (English speaking)
  • Entrance fees

What's excluded:

  • Personal expenses
  • International flights
  • International travel insurances
  • Other expenses

Cancellation by Customer

  • 30% of total package price should be deposited once the booking is confirmed
  • Cancellation received less than 72 hours prior arrival date or No show: full charge the total package rate
  • Cancellation received from 4 days to 14 days prior arrival date: 50% of total package tour charged
  • Cancellation received from 15 days to 20 days prior arrival date: 10% of total package tour charged

Children Policy

  • 50% discount for child under 6 years accompany with 2 full paying clients, staying in same room with parents
  • 75% charged for child from 6-11 years accompany with 2 full paying clients, staying on extra bed
  • The above children rates are applicable for booking made with 2 adults and a maximum of 2 children occupancy in a room.
  • Child age of 12 years up is subject to adult rate



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  • No Booking & Cancellation Fees

Adult (age 11+)

Child (age 4-11)

Infant (Age 0-3) Free

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