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Hai Phong

Hai Phong

 Area:                 589.23 sqkm

 Population:     103,000 million

 Language:       Vietnamese

 Currency:         VND

Hai Phong is a large city with an important seaport of Vietnam. Hai Phong is near Quang Ninh Province to the north, Hai Duong Province to the west, and Thai Binh Province to the south.
Hai Phong Overview
Hai Phong is the main port of northern Vietnam and a commercial and industrial centre and is the third most populous metropolis in the country. It is near Thai Binh province to the south, Quang Ninh province to the north and Hai Duong province to the west.
 
100km from Hanoi, Hai Phong is a lovely city that retains a colonial look. The city is also known as ‘The City of Flame Flowers’ because most of its streets are lined with flame flower trees. Hai Phong also serves as a pleasant base when visiting other north-eastern spots such as Cat Ba and Halong Bay.
 
In Hai Phong, there are many places worth visiting and these include temples, shrines, pagodas and mausoleums. There is also a beach and communal house that tourists often frequent. The town is also known for a handful of festivals, including one which involves buffalo fighting.

Hai Phong History

Hai Phong ranks amongst the largest cities in Vietnam and boasts a busy port with a recorded history dating back to 43 AD. In this year, the city was founded by a female military general, Le Chan, a semi-mythical figure who had been part of a Vietnamese revolution against a Chinese force. She was led by the legendary Trung sisters, who remain heroines today.

 

The city also served as an important coastal defence during the Mac Dynasty (from 1527 to 1592), when it was the second capital. In fact, the city's name can be translated as 'coastal defence'. The Tra Phuong Pagoda (renamed as Thien Phuc) was rebuilt at the request of Dang Dung, the founder of the Mac Dynasty, and dates back to this era.

 

THE NGUYEN ERA

 

Emperor Tu Duc is considered to be the last emperor of Vietnam, with Duc having reigned until his death in 1883. Towards the end of his reign, the An Duong district headquarters were relocated to the Hang Khen Communal House. The current Hang Khen Communal House was built in 1841 and remains one of Hai Phong's most-visited historical sites. The communal house was constructed to remember Ngo Quyen, a celebrated general who led the Vietnamese to victory over the Chinese in 938 AD.

 

DEVASTATING TYPHOON AND FRENCH OCCUPATION

 

One of the most devastating events in Hai Phong history occurred on 8th October 1881, when some 300,000 people are believed to have perished in one of the most violent cyclones in recorded history. This devastation was followed by the French gaining control over Vietnam in 1885 and forming French Indochina.

 

After the French established Hanoi as the political centre of French Indochina, Hai Phong unsurprisingly became its naval centre, being just 125 km / 78 miles from Hanoi.

 

THE VIETNAM WAR TO THE PRESENT

 

Hai Phong hosted North Vietnam's sole port during the Vietnam War and as such, the port was regularly bombed during the conflict. However, US forces were prohibited from attacking the city itself and Hai Phong recovered quickly upon reunification in 1975.

 

It has gone on to become the second-largest economic centre in the north, with agriculture, fisheries and manufacturing all playing a large part in the city's healthy economy. The modern history of Hai Phong has documented a shift towards tourism, with the city now considered to be the gateway to Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

 

STRUGGLES FOR INDEPENDENCE

 

The Japanese were granted access to the city by the French during WWII. Following the end of the war in 1945, Vietnamese attempts to regain independence were quashed. This was one of the bloodiest times in the history of Hai Phong, as French forces took revenge on the city's residents for the death of three French soldiers.

 

They bombed Hai Phong and engaged in house-to-house combat on the ground, helping to spark the First Indochina War.

 
Hai Phong climate and best time to visit
Haiphong has sub-tropical climate, typical weather of the North Vietnam. The city has 4 distinct seasons: spring, summer, fall and winter. The summer is hot and wet; the winter is cold and dry. The average temperature in the summer is about 32,5 °C, and the winter is about 20,3 °C. The average temperature is 23.9%/ year. The average rainfall is 1600-1800mm/year.
While Vietnam is a beautiful place to visit at any time of the year, spring (March and April) and fall (September through December) in the north, where Hai Phong is located, offer the most equable temperatures and best chances of cooperative weather.
Hai Phong Transportation
By plane
The three main airlines serving Haiphong are Jetstar, VietJetAir and Vietnam Airlines. Most routes are domestic but there are some international flights from Bangkok and Seoul. The newly modernized Cat Bi International Airport is located south of the city. Taxis are available as well as public transport.
 
By train
Four trains per day run from Long Bien station in Hanoi; journey time is just over 2½ hours.
 
By bus
Frequent buses run from Lương Yên station in Hanoi (near the old quarter) to Tam Bạc station in the centre of Haiphong. Another option is to take a bus from Gia Lâm station in the outskirts of Hanoi to either Niệm Nghĩa (3 km from the city centre) or Cầu Rào station (~6 km) in Haiphong. Gia Lâm station can be reached from the Old Quarter by Bus 34.
 
By ferry
A number of ferries serve Haiphong, including several daily fast hydrofoils to and from Cat Ba Island. The main terminal is 3 Phà Bính ferry terminal, located at the northern end of Cù Chính Lan street. Beware of touts trying to scam you on this route by selling expansive tickets.
 
By car
A taxi or private car from Hanoi to Haiphong costs about USD80 one way.
Things to do and see in Hai Phong
Du Hong Pagoda
Built during the Le Gia Tong dynasty of the 17th century, this Buddhist pagoda reflects an ancient and respected building style from the 10th century, including Indian- and Cambodian-style roofs in the alter rooms and more recent artistic additions from the early 20th century. The beautifully constructed pagoda is overlooked by a bell tower and is nestled among serene gardens. Visitors can enjoy the peaceful quiet, bring bread to feed the turtles and fish, and revel in the artistry evident all throughout the compound. Please dress respectfully when visiting this holy site.
 
Hong Khen Communal House (Nhan Tho Communal House)
Built in 1717 to honor a Vietnamese hero named Ngo Quyen, the communal house was moved in 1841 from the original Khen Village to its current position on Hong Khen Street. The structure is used as a temple by the community, and it is renowned for the exquisite woodwork used in the construction as well as the 300+ brightly colored dragon images and statues contained within. The site is open to visitors all year round and often houses festivals and religious ceremonies. Find the Hong Khen Communal House in Du Hong Khen Ward in the Le Chan District.
 
Municipal Theater and Municipal Theater Square
Located in Hai Phong’s city center, the Municipal Theater is home to many important celebrations and events throughout the year. Designed by French architects and built using imported materials, the theater is designed to hold up to 400 people. The ceiling of the theater is painted with frescoes and flowers as well as the names of famous writers and artists. Outside, Theater Square provides a peaceful and beautiful oasis from the city, with fountains, flower gardens, and sparkling lights. Call ahead or check with your hotel concierge for public opening times and dates, as these change according to the theater’s event schedule.
 
Hai Phong City Museum
What the museum lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality. Housed in a beautiful Gothic colonial building, the museum displays artifacts from Hai Phong’s past, including finds from ancient nearby tombs, ceramics, taxidermy, and remnants of war in the garden area—all with written English translations. For those looking to understand Hai Phong’s role as an important seaport over the centuries, a visit to this museum is a must. Be advised that it is only open four days a week for a couple hours at a time, and plan your sight seeing schedule accordingly: Tuesday and Thursday from 8am – 10:30am, and Wednesday and Sunday from 7:30pm – 9:30pm.
 
Museum of Military Region III
For those interested in Vietnam’s war history, this museum has it all. Established in 1969 by the Political Bureau of Military Region III, visitors will gain a better perspective of the fierce desire for independence against colonizers and foreign invaders that the native Vietnamese have exhibited throughout the decades, including France’s colonization in the 18th and 19th centuries and U.S. imperialism in the 19th and 20th centuries. Exhibits include fascinating war detritus such as bombs and other weapons. Open Monday through Friday from 7:30am – 11am, and 1pm – 4pm. Closed Saturdays and Sundays.
 
Navy Museum
On the road from Do Son Resort to downtown Hai Phong, the Navy Museum in contained in a ship anchored next to the Rao Bridge. The museum explores Vietnam’s naval exploits in the navy’s quest to gain independence throughout the 20th century, and it is a popular museum sought out by war veterans from both sides of the various wars. The museum is packed with seafaring artifacts as well as information about important Vietnamese naval battles. Admission is free, and opening hours are on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 8am – 11am.
 
Nghe Temple
The Nghe Temple, once a small shrine and later built into a more impressive temple, honors Hai Phong’s founder, the female General Le Chan, who worked under the Trung sisters to help repel Chinese invaders in 43 AD. Locals consider it an important religious site, so please dress and act respectfully. Visitors will be fascinated by the intricately carved stonework that adorns the walls, roof, and steps of the temple. The temple is open all year round.
 
Bao Dai Villa
Originally built in 1928 by the French Governor-General of Indochina, Bao Dai Villa was later offered to Vietnam’s last emperor, Bao Dai, in 1946. The emperor loved to visit the villa during summer excursions to the Hai Phong area, enjoying the exquisite views of Do Son Peninsula. Today, the villa is a hotel where guests can pore over old royal photos, try on royal costumes (and take picture souvenirs), and see Bao Dai’s throne as well as taking in the beautiful views. The villa is open to guests all year round.
 
Hai Phong Travel Tips
With its wide avenues and grand parks lined with colonnaded buildings of a yellowed, aging stucco, Haiphong is like a smaller, more manageable version of Hanoi. You won’t find jaw-dropping sights, but the town is worth a wander and not a bad stop on the way to, or from, the likes of Cat Ba or Halong Bay.
Architectural sights include the classic old city theater, the town’s large cathedral (Nha Tho Lon), an eclectic museum of history, and a museum of the navy. Central An Bien Park is also worth a wander, and the town boasts a few good hotels, one rather high-end as well as affordable midrange and low-end haunts. Do Son Beach is just 21km (13 miles) southeast of Haiphong and a popular getaway for locals or Hanoi weekenders; the beach town hosts the annual Do Son Buffalo Fighting Festival, which is more or less a gory game of bull-baiting, but with lots of pomp and circumstance.
On your way to Haiphong from Hanoi, you’ll pass through Binh Duyen, the industrial district east of Hanoi, where you’ll find big, belching factories churning out Nike and Adidas shoes or name-brand shirts. There’s an enormous Ford factory and other automotive and technical production facilities as well. Nearby, farmers use manual scoops to “cup” water from one rice terrace to the next, true manual irrigation, while just a stone’s throw away, intricate pumps for automotive engines are manufactured by the thousands. It’s a mad world.
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