Entrance to Traditional Vietnamese Medicine Museum

We set aside at least one day a week (usually Friday) to find and explore new neighborhoods in our adopted hometown of Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) Some of our favorite finds are the museums, temples, street fairs, shops, and other sites that wouldn’t have been on our radar if not digging a bit.

Last week, we made our way over to the Fito Museum – a place dedicated to the history of traditional Vietnamese medicine. It’s one of those fantastic small museums that makes you feel like a local just by finding it. It’s on a crazy, busy street in District 10, the entrance nearly buried behind a clump of bamboo on each side of the door. As soon as you walk in the door all of the noise of the city seems to disappear, and is replaced by a peaceful, almost reverential hush.

The mostly wood, semi-open-air building represents traditional Vietnamese architecture. It’s one of those places that I’d gladly pay the price of admission just to walk through its lovely ornate rooms and halls with wall carvings, beamed ceilings, and spiral stairways. As much as I loved the building, I found myself completely immersed in the exhibits and history of the centuries-old traditional medical practices. I could barely peel myself away from exhibits in one room to move to the next.

There are a total of 18 rooms on 6 floors to explore. Exhibits include botanical paintings of over 2,000 medicinal plants completely covering three walls in one room, and several rooms dedicated to tools such as mortar and pestle, cups, bowls, vases, and knives used to cut, crush, and mix medicinal tinctures. Acupuncture and other practices such as blood-letting and acupressure are also represented. 

Hai Thuong Lan Ong Hung Ye, born in 1720, is called the “Father of Traditional Vietnamese Medicine.” However, several intricate wood carvings and gilded lacquer paintings throughout the museum represent physicians and authors of Vietnamese traditional medicine dating back to the 13th century.

Trying Herbal Tea at FITO Museum in HCMC

At the end of our tour, museum staff told us about, and invited us to try, our choice of one of their medicinal, herbal teas.

The Fito Museum is a place that I recommend to many of my expat friends, and anyone coming for a visit. t’s a fascinating deep-dive into the history and practices of traditional Vietnamese medicine giving visitors that come through the doors another peek into the culture of this interesting country we live it.


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