Hanoi Museum of Geology
- Thousands of crystals, rocks, and fossils
- Interesting, big, and free
- Rock and gem shop
- A few minutes walk from Hoan Kiem Lake
Just to the southeast of Hoan Kiem Lake, there is a museum called the Geological Museum. What makes this museum worth visiting for tourists is that it is a few minutes walking distance south of Hoan Kiem Lake in the Old City of Hanoi, and there are hundreds or thousands of specimens of fossils and rocks to look at, and it's big and free.
If you are really interested in rocks or fossils, you could probably study in the museum for hours. But if you are not, maybe you can just look at the nuggets, gem crystals, and interesting fossils.
An interesting fossil in the femur of some big dinosaur (it isn't named, maybe they don't know) that is about 3 or 4 times the length of a human femur. This suggests the animal was perhaps about 3 or 4 times taller than a human.
There are also displays of crystals such as rubies or different types of beryls, different kinds of quartz crystals, and many other kinds of gemstone mineral crystals.
The museum is sort of low tech, and it isn't fancy. But the collection is big enough to make the museum stand out as an attraction in the area. However, most tourists don't know about it. It isn't listed on major Hanoi travel sites, and the museum doesn't have a big English sign in front.
When you come in off the street, just walk into the three-story museum. There is no ticket window. You'll probably see someone sitting at the desk near the door, and you can ask for information or a brochure.
You'll see a globe near the door with a cut away section showing what they think the center of the earth looks like. To the right of the globe is the big femur bone.
The collection on the first floor covers five themes: The Earth and Solar System, The Geological Evolution of Vietnam, The Mineral Potentiality of Vietnam, Main Geological Processes, and The Geological Relationship Between Vietnam and Other Countries.
You'll see some rubies there. Rubies were discovered in an area more than 200 kilometers southwest of Hanoi in the late 1980s. That caused a ruby rush, and now Vietnam is a major ruby producer in the world.
You might want to buy some specimens at the gift shop at the entrance. The prices are probably competitive with what is available at any private store. There are spinels, garnets, amethyst, beryls, aquamarines, and black tektites. For rubies the prices start at about 5 USD per specimen.
The second floor is probably more for geological research. The floor covers four themes: the Geological Structure of Vietnam Mainland, the Mineral Resources of Vietnam, Geology and Mineral Resources of the East Sea and Shelf of Vietnam, and Geological Maps.
The third floor has special collections. The three themes are: Fossils, Minerals and Rocks, and Geological Publications.
While you are in that area, check out the Opera House that is around the corner, and the Museum of History that is across the street.
The Opera House is a major French construction project. It was finished in 1911 and is one of the architectural highlights of Hanoi.
The Museum of History is one of central Hanoi's major tourist attractions.
- Address: 6 Pham Ngu Lao Street
- Location: Behind the Opera House and opposite the Museum of History. On the same block as the Hanoi Hilton.
- Hours: 8am to 5pm week days (closed for lunch from noon to 1pm); open only in the afternoons on weekends.
- Walk: Walking from the Old City is easy. From Lo Su Street on the northwestern shore of Hoan Kiem Lake, walk south down Ly Thai To Street. When you get to Trang Tien turn left and walk about 200 meters to Pham Ngu Lao, then turn right and walk about 150 meters.
- Bus: There are two bus stops near the corner of Pham Ngu Lao and Trang Tien. Bus 34 stops a little to the east of the corner; and at a bus stop on the busy street called Tran Quang Khai about 100 meters to the right of that corner, you can catch 3 or 24 from the Old City.