Hanoi Attractions

Hotel Quick Finder | Select the date of your stay
  • Maison Centrale in Hanoi - 'Hanoi Hilton'

    Hanoi Attractions

    Maison Centrale in Hanoi, also known as Hoa Lo Prison and the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ housed Vietnamese revolutionaries and American POW during the Vietnam War. The fortress was once a vast colonial-style prison, most of which was torn down in the 1990s.

    Visiting today you will find the small southern section resting alongside a hotel and office complex.

    The prison is still a popular tourist attraction for those on the war history trail. Official records claim inmates numbered in their hundreds although it was not unknown for up to 2,000 prisoners to be crammed into a space reserved for 600 inmates. Around 200-300 inmates were captured American pilots brought to Maison Centrale for interrogation and torture, it was the American prisoners who sarcastically gave the jail its nickname ‘Hanoi Hilton’.

    Hoa Lo Prison today portrays a different side of the horror stories told by former inmates despite the prominently displayed shackles hanging on the walls. Much of the emphasis is on the Vietnamese revolutionaries some of whom were executed at the prison. The American POWs have well documented their own experiences, little of which is available at Maison Centrale today.

  • Most Booked Hotels
    in Hanoi
    Guest Rating From
    1. Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi 4.8/ 5
    2. Tirant Hotel 4.3/ 5
    3. Hanoi Imperial Hotel 4.2/ 5
    4. Sofitel Plaza Hanoi 4.3/ 5
    5. Golden Silk Boutique Hotel 4.3/ 5
    6. Oriental Central Hotel 4.8/ 5
    7. Hanoi Royal Palace Hotel 2 4.5/ 5
    8. Hotel Nikko Hanoi 4.3/ 5
    9. Hanoi Charming 2 Hotel 4.7/ 5
  • Hanoi's Maison Centrale Highlights

    Situated in the centre of Hanoi close to the French Quarter, Maison Centrale was French built for housing Vietnamese political campaigners for independence and was completed in 1913. These campaigners were captured and usually shackled to the floor where they could easily be beaten by guards. Vietnamese prisoners were also executed here by use of a guillotine which today is displayed near the prisons infamous death row.

    The prison was later used for American POWs, usually pilots caught when their planes went down. Today there is little evidence of the time spent here by the former American inmates although a great deal has been written by the survivors including their experiences in the much feared ‘blue room’. The blue room was used for the interrogation and torture of new prisoners and visitors can still see the room today although there is nothing on display here of the horror stories told by American POW’s which included former American presidential nominee John McCain.

    Maison Centrale in Hanoi

    Maison Centrale is accessed via a gate on Hoa Lo Street with the sign Maison Centrale at the entrance. A taxi is the easiest way to get to the prison which is located at the right corner of Phi Ha Ba Trung on the edge of the French Quarter. You can easily combine this visit with a trip to Hoan Kiem Lake which is nearby.

    • Opening Hours: open daily from 08:00 until 17:00 and closed from lunch from 11:30 until 13:30
    • Location: Hoa Lo Street
    Hide Map Show Map
Hotel Quick Finder | Select the date of your stay

Download our free travel guide

Get access to our free travel guides of the best things to do, see and visit, the best restaurants, shops and places to go at night too! All the important basics such weather and travel tips for your first trip are in there.

Print it out to carry around, save it on your phone or use it when you arrive. Just enter your details to get your free PDF Travel Guide and also add you to our free Asia Web Direct Travel Club Newsletter.

Talk to us!

Help us keep this website up-to-date by sending us your comments
or let us know if you wish to advertise on this page.