Like many of Vietnam’s museums, the Can Tho Museum follows a standard format. You have Ho Chi Minh’s large bust at the entrance, then a strange assortment of things on the ground floor, some war artifacts upstairs and the sparse security guard lazing off in a corner.
This doesn’t mean you won’t learn something. Unlike many Western museums, you can get questionably close to things that should probably be better protected, behind a glass case or roped off. This give a strange level of immersion as you get pretty close to the odd khmer instrument, ancient pottery or shattered plane husk.
The entrance to Can Tho Museum is free. Stroll in at your leisure and you have the chance to take pictures if you please. After Ho Chi Minh’s bust, you begin, like most of Vietnam’s museums, with reproductions of old photographers, mainly from colonial times. These have English captions, although they are not of very high quality.
What follows is a strange mix of plant samples, wooden models of boats and other objects, local snake varieties preserved in alcohol, uncovered artifacts, musical instruments of all sorts, traditional Vietnamese, Khmer and Chinese clothing, farming tools, a few full-scale models of Vietnamese homes complete with eerie mannequins.
There are only two floors, and the second is dedicated to mostly American War remnants, photographs and big maps showing soldier movements during various offensives. Weapons, radios, vehicle parts, medals and old currency make for an interesting look-through. There is a corner showcasing the atrocities committed by Americans during the war - although the descriptions do sound subjective, and there is a questionable display of preserved human ears and a skeleton (the English caption reads only that).
There is a side room much like other Vietnamese museums showcasing the country’s labor industry and products, a sort of “Made in Vietnam” room. After the museum, you can stop by Cafe Bao Tang right outside, which provides some shade and ca phe sua da while you figure where to go next.