Hai Phong is a major port city in the northern part of Vietnam, very close to Ha Long Bay and only 120 km. away from Hanoi. Most tourists would head to Hai Phong as a jumping off point for the nearby island of Cat Ba. However, what many people don’t realize is that there are actually lots of interesting things that are worth discovering in this charming port city. So if you happen to be in the area, take time to explore the city and discover its many hidden gems!
Overview of Hai Phong
The city of Hai Phong is set in more than 1,527 sq. km. of land area. Because of its strategic location in the north of Vietnam, it has been turned into a major marine port. In fact, it has played a significant role in Vietnam’s political history since feudal times. At the start of the 19th century, the city of Hai Phong started developing and nowadays, it’s one of the biggest commercial ports in the country.
Hai Phong may be one of Vietnam’s largest cities but it’s definitely not as busy as Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh. In fact, the city center is relatively quiet, making it a great place to get away from the busy touristy streets. The city is also home to various shrines, pagodas, and temples. You’ll also find small beaches nearby and other beautiful natural attractions. Hai Phong is also known for its festivals, where you get to witness buffalo fighting and a handful of fun activities and entertainment.
What To See in Hai Phong
As mentioned, Hai Phong is home to some temples, shrines, and pagodas. But aside from these, the city also boasts plenty of stunning natural landscapes. So here are some of the most recommended places to see in Hai Phong:
- Do Son Beach – Hai Phong is home to a few beaches and the most popular among them is the Do Son Beach. The place is also a great spot to indulge in a delectable seafood dinner. If you happen to visit Do Son during the Lunar New Year, you’ll be able to witness the city’s grand festival known as Dao Dau, where people sail to the islands for worship ceremonies and prayers.
- Du Hang Pagoda – Hai Phong is home to a number of religious sites and one of these is the Du Hang Pagoda, also known as the Chua Hang. This is said to be the city’s oldest worship site for Buddhists.
- The Colonial Quarter – most of Hai Phong’s ancient buildings are concentrated in the Colonial Quarter. By simply wandering along this area, you’ll encounter plenty of old but charming buildings belonging to the Colonial era, most especially in the streets of Dien Bien Phu and Tran Hung Dao.
- Nguyen Binh Khiem Temple – another religious site that’s worth checking out is the Nguyen Binh Khiem Temple, which was built in honor of Nguyen Binh Khiem, a famous scholar, poet, educator, and saint of the Cao Dai religion.
- Tien Lang Hot Springs – Tien Lang is one of the most popular hot springs in Vietnam that’s visited by both local and International tourists. The hot spring is known for its abundant minerals and soaking at the water is said to be therapeutic.
- Hai Phong Post Office – the post office of Hai Phong is aesthetically pleasing and has somewhat similar architectural details like the famous Saigon Post Office. Built in 1864, the building is one of the most charming colonial buildings in the city that is truly worth visiting.
- Trang Kenh Cluster – this place basically consists of a cluster of caves, limestone, and rivers, and is definitely one of the most beautiful natural sites to see in Hai Phong. From here, you can find the Trang Kenh temple cluster, leaning beautifully against a mountain.
How to Get To Hai Phong
Since the port city of Hai Phong is located in the northern part of Vietnam, the easiest way to reach the city is from Hanoi. There are plenty of buses in Hanoi that travel towards the city and the journey takes around two hours. You’ll be passing along beautiful sites during the entire journey especially when you cross Ha Long Bay. If you would rather choose to fly to Hai Phong, the nearest airport is the Cat Bi domestic airport.
When To Visit Hai Phong
The best time to explore the charming port of Hai Phong is in summer when the city enjoys pleasant weather. During this time, you can frolic at the beach and enjoy a leisurely walk along the beautiful city streets, which is usually covered with bright-colored flowers. Try to schedule your visit between the months of April and October, where the temperature is around 25 to 37°C. This is also the best time to visit the nearby areas of Ha Long Bay and the Cat Ba Island.