Introducing Haiphong

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Unlike its two neighboring sites of Halong and Cat Ba, Hai Phong attracts less tourists unless, of course, they arrive in Northern Vietnam by sea. Nonetheless, this seaport city has many charming architectural buildings which were evidently influenced by the early 20th century French colonial style. The old French regime invested a lot of money to build this seaport attraction.

“Hai” means ocean, and “Phong” means to defend. Hai Phong thus can be fierce, its oceans more than once fighting off invaders to protect Vietnam’s sovereignty. But this city with its temples and beaches can be magnificently elegant and rich at the same time. It is nicknamed “Flamboyant city” after the red flamboyant trees which grow abundantly around the city.

Located 120 km to the East of Hanoi Capital, Haiphong, is one of the most developed coastal cities in the country with many natural heritages and charming landscapes. Haiphong shares borders with Quang Ninh province to the north, Hai Duong province to the west and Thai Binh province to the South. The Bach Long Vi Island, which belongs to the city administration, is located in the middle of the Tonkin Gulf.

The topography of Haiphong is diverse, reflecting the long and complicated historical geological process. The northern part of Haiphong has plains alternated with hills, while the southern part of the city has a low and flat terrain of a typical delta inclining to the sea.

What to do ?

There are some remarkable ancient Vietnamese architectural sites in Hai Phong. Du Hang Pagoda, the centre of Buddhism in Hai Phong, is a very pure and graceful temple that was built in 17th century with some renovations being completed afterward. The pagoda contains a lot of amazing woodworks, bronze statues and a bonsai collection right on the front grounds. An array of Buddha and Bodhisattva statues highlight a circular pond of water lilies in a flowery garden and a tranquil towered-grave yard, where the monks who had resided in the pagoda are buried. 

Not far from the pagoda is Hang Kenh Pavilion, which is dedicated to the Vietnamese hero Ngo Quyen who lived in 10th century. Being a Communal House of the Kenh village in the old time, the Pavillion is famous for its wooden bas-relieves, sculptures and special boat-shaped interior. If you would prefer to stroll into the city, your visit should start at the colonial quarter around Dien Bien Phu street and Tran Hung Dao street. From there you can go to the old Opera House and then walk around Tam Bac Lake. There are 5 roofed kiosks on the Eastern side of the lake with fresh flowers sold by smiling girls. On the Southern side of the lake is the exciting Hang Kenh Tapestry which produces woolen carpets for export.

Main attractions

Every visitor who has come to Haiphong will attest that the city has the feel of the true Vietnam. The city is a popular tourist hub that has perfect ferry and hydrofoil links to different destinations like Cat Ba Island and Halong Bay.

The city has a good share of attractions like the Nghe Temple, Municipal Theatre, Du Hang Buddhist Temple and Hang Kenh Communal House. You can join the locals as they watch the Do Son Buffalo-Fighting Festivals at the beach that is held annually and attracts a crowd of over 25, 000 spectators.

Bao Dai Villa – It sits at the top of Vung Hill. The villa was a palace for the last emperor of Vietnam, Bao Dai. It was built in 1928 and the emperor used it mostly during summer. It has since been converted into a hotel where in addition to enjoying the beautiful view of Do Son Peninsula, the guests also admire the pictures of the royal family that are placed n every living quarter. Take a photo in the royal-like costumes as a memento to take back home.

Cat Ba Island – It is located 50 kilometers east of Haiphong. It is very popular with the domestic and international tourists. It can get very crowded with domestic tourists in the months of April and August, and hence skipping it over long weekends and school holidays is advised. The Island has been named the ‘World Biosphere Reserve’ by UNESCO because of its attractive tropical green forests. Enjoy a multitude of outdoor activities here plus fresh air, different kinds of seafood and clear water.

Do not forget to visit Do Son Beach, Du Hang Pagoda, Hai Phong Museum, Museum of Military Region III and Navy Museum.

Essential information