The 50 Things You Must Do in Asia

By Hanya Yanagihara - 2013-07-23T16:27:10Z

Photograph by AFP via Getty Images

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Visit the Museum Of Ethnology: Vietnam

The Museum of Ethnology is run by local collector and scholar Mark Rapoport. Rapoport, a medical doctor who first visited Vietnam as a volunteer medic in 1969 and moved to the country in 2001 (84-4-3756-2193). He’s also the co-owner of 54 Traditions Gallery, which sells artifacts, household goods, and antiques from all of Vietnam’s various ethnic groups (30 Hang Bun; 84-90-320-4144). Unlike some other countries in Asia, Vietnam is notably accepting of, even encouraging of, its 53 minority groups. Some of this is practical and some is strategic. First, the great majority of these groups live in Vietnam’s north, on the border with China, and are therefore best not antagonized with such a powerful neighbor. Second, they’re a great tourism draw. Many of the costumes on exhibit at the Museum of Ethnology aren’t from a hundred years ago; some could well be from last week. The durability of these tribes’ signature presentations is astonishing in an age of jeans and T-shirts.

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