Hoa Lo Prison – Where the brutal war history is kept

As a clear testament to a period of history of hardship and hardship, Hoa Lo prison in Hanoi also symbolizes the indomitable and resilient spirit of patriotic Vietnamese children. Besides Con Dao prison, Phu Quoc prison, Hoa Lo prison is likened to “hell on earth” during the war and hardship period.

After more than 120 years since its construction, today, this place has become a place of historical significance, educating about revolutionary traditions for today and future generations.

Hoa Lo Prison, also known as Hoa Lo Prison, was formerly known as Maison Centrale in French, which means Central Prison, while its Vietnamese name is Hanoi Prison. The prison is located in an area bordered by four streets: Hoa Lo, Hai Ba Trung, Quan Su and Tho Nhuom in Hanoi. Today, it belongs to No. 1, Hoa Lo Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi.

Architecture of Hoa Lo prison

At the end of the 19th century, in order to strengthen the suppression of our people’s struggle movements, the French colonialists added a police system and prisons, including Hoa Lo prison (built in 1896). Hoa Lo Prison has the largest and most solid scale in Indochina with an initial total area of ​​12,908m2, including the following system of work items:

  • 1 house used for guarding
  • 1 house used as a hospital
  • 1 house is used as an alms hospital
  • 2 houses used to imprison the accused (not yet convicted)
  • 1 house used to make workshops for carpentry, iron, sewing, leather
  • 5 houses used to hold convicted prisoners
  • 4 cell camps to hold death row inmates, dangerous prisoners, prisoners who violate prison rules.

In 1954, after the liberation of the North, the state managed Hoa Lo prison, which was used as a detention center for law-breakers and detained American pilots who were shot down in the North of Vietnam.

Today, Hoa Lo is just over 2,400 square meters wide, kept and preserved to serve tourists or those who want to learn and see firsthand what the colonial prison was like. Surrounding the prison is a solid wall built of stone 4m high, 0.5m thick, on top of bottle fragments and high voltage wires to prevent prisoners from escaping. At the foot of the inner wall is a 3m wide sidewalk used for guards to patrol around the prison area. The four corners have four watchtowers, capable of observing the entire inside of the patrol road and around the outside of the prison.

Hoa Lo Prison guillotine

During its operation, Hoa Lo prison imprisoned and tortured many soldiers and revolutionaries, they used torture devices, very cruel. Among them is the “guillotine machine”, a torture tool that turned Hoa Lo prison into a “hell on earth”, entered the top 10 scariest prisons in the world and the top 5 scariest destinations in the South East Asia.

The guillotine is the most mentioned horror in Hoa Lo, designed with two iron rods 4m high, with the blade held at the top by a pin, the bottom is designed with a narrow shelf for death row inmates to enter. During the years from 1986 to 1954, this barbaric weapon was transferred from one prison to another in Tonkin.

Hoa Lo Prison Dungeon

The dungeon is considered to be the scariest place in the prison, where prisoners are subjected to fiery slaps, horrible beatings, shackles, shackles, accommodation, hygiene, all in a cramped and toothless space. dark.

Design separate detention spaces that make it impossible for prisoners to sleep, covered with a dark space, those who have been locked here for a while have edema, scabies and lack of nutrients due to lack of hygiene and sunshine.

For female prisoners, the French colonialists had extremely brutal torture methods such as: electrocuting with electricity or using a cane to humiliate political prisoners.

Not only were they tortured by barbaric tricks, prisoners were also forced to do heavy labor such as repairing houses, laboring the places of wardens, pounding rice or doing labor on battlefields.

The prisoners sentenced to death awaiting execution are confined in a separate area, located deep inside the prison complex, having to go through three iron doors.

Opening hours: 

  • Daily 8:00 to 19:00, except for some holidays or other special occasions.
  • Specially, Hoa Lo Prison also has a night tour and experience program from 19:00 to 19:45 every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Ticket price:

  • Adults and children 15 years and older: 30,000 VND/person.
  • Pupils, students, people 60 years old and older: 15,000 VND/person.
  • People under 15 years old, people with disabilities: free.


  • Wear formal clothing, no shorts, off-the-shoulder tops or short skirts.
  • Do not touch artifacts, do not make noise or disorder when visiting.
  • Maintain hygiene, do not litter indiscriminately.
  • Only incense and flowers are allowed in the memorial area.