Part of Vietnam’s Northern Key Economic Zone, Hai Duong is a highly industrialized and urbanized city. Now, the provincial capital of the Hai Duong Province is well-known for its green bean cakes and fruit. Hai Duong is also becoming a tourist destination for travelers in the Hanoi Capital Region.
Found within the city are numerous historical artifacts, temples, and museums, which have become popular destinations that teach travelers more about the province’s extraordinary culture.
Industrial Capital in the Red River Delta
The main street in Hai Duong City, Vietnam. Photo by:
Sitting at the midway point between Hanoi and the Haiphong Port, Hai Duong is divided into two parts by the Cái River. On one side of the river, Hai Duong has a thriving urban area, whereas the other side is industrial with rural outskirts. The development of the Hanoi Capital Region has made it much easier to travel between the northern cities.
Hai Duong is connected by road to Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital, and cities like Haiphong, Bac Ninh, and Quang Ninh. The distance between Hanoi and Hai Duong is 73 km (45 mi). Depending on traffic, the drive between the two cities takes 1-1.5 hours. For transport, tourists can arrange for a car rental, taxi, or private driver.
Travelers may also choose to travel to Hai Duong from Hanoi by train, with the fastest ride taking about 1 hour. It should be mentioned that flights are not available between the two cities.
Hai Duong is a city that has had many names and phases throughout the years. Dating back to 1498, feudal Hai Duong encompassed a large area that stretched from Hanoi to the sea. In fact, the name Hai Duong means “ocean sun” in Vietnamese. The modern-day city is landlocked, however, it used to include the areas of what are now the Hung Yên and Quang Ninh Provinces.
Tonkinese horsemen at the passage of the Song Thai Binh. Photo: Manhhai
When Hai Duong stretched to the sea and was first established as a province in 1831, it was named “Thành Dông” or the “East Province”. As a city, Hai Duong has always been an important part of the province since it was established in 1804. Sometimes the name “Thành Dông” is also translated as the “Eastern Citadel”.
For Hanoi, Hai Duong has always been a protector. Defending Hanoi, the city expanded past its job as a protector to become a bustling and industrious capital. Since 1968, Hai Duong has been a provincial capital. First, Hai Duong was the capital of the Hai Hung Province, which was a combination of the Hai Duong and Hung Yên Provinces.
Ultimately, the rapid growth of the area and its industrialization forced the two provinces to separate. In January 1997, the Hai Hung Province was separated to become Hai Duong and Hung Yên. By August of that same year, the Vietnamese government upgraded Hai Duong and gave it Class-1 city status. Hai Duong then remained the capital of the newly formed Hai Duong Province.
After numerous changes throughout the years, Hai Duong’s urban area today consists of 20 wards and 7 rural communes. New highways have made it easier to travel west to Hanoi and east to the coastal city, Haiphong. While industrialism is the city’s strong point, Hai Duong has much more than factories.
Small temple in Hai Duong City, Vietnam. Photo by: .
An important city with a vast history, Hai Duong helps preserve the culture and traditions of the province. Attractive to foreign investors, Hai Duong has become one of the most developed provinces in Vietnam.
- The city covers an area of 71.38 sq km (927.56 sq mi).
- A survey taken in 2019 estimates that 507,469 people live in Hai Duong City.
- Hai Duong City is the midpoint between Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi, and the port city, Haiphong.
Although much of Hai Duong services big industries and factories, the urbanized parts of the city have a variety of tourist attractions that range from museums to parks and temples. Many of the tourist sites are older and tell the story of the province’s history and traditions. There are also a few newer additions to the city since more tourists are visiting each year.
The city’s most popular places to visit are the Kiep Bac Temple, Hai Duong Provincial Museum, Nghiêm Quang Tu – Giám Pagoda, Chi Linh Star Golf Club, and Hô Bach Dang.
Kiep Bac Temple
Spread throughout gorgeous gardens and situated within Chi Linh District, Kiep Bac Temple, is a cultural and historic site. The temple is a quiet place where visitors can spend time away from the city’s hustle and bustle. Normally, the temple isn’t too busy, but during the beginning of the year when there are a lot of festivals, Kiep Bac draws in many visitors.
Hai Duong Provincial Museum
The Hai Duong Provincial Museum in Hai Duong City, Vietnam. Photo by: .
For tourists who want to know more about the provincial history of Hai Duong, one place that should be on their bucket list is the Hai Duong Provincial Museum. Located near the city center, the museum narrates the history of Hai Duong. Also included at the museum are various artifacts from early civilizations in the area and the Muong ethnic people.
A national treasure and open daily, the Giám Pagoda features a 9-story tall lotus tower. Constructed of wood, this ancient pagoda was first built during the Ly Dynasty. In the 14th century, the pagoda and its grounds were restored by Zen Master Tue Tinh. Today, the pagoda stands to honor Tue Tinh and the Buddhist religion. It’s located in the Cam Giang District.
Chi Linh Star Golf Club
Just outside of the city center is the Chi Linh Star Golf Club. Described as a challenging course, the club is well maintained and one of the most popular spots outside of Hanoi to play golf. Tourists can book a tee time with the clubhouse and are provided with locker rooms, shower facilities, and a restaurant. Golfers can hire a caddie and golf cart to make navigating the course easier.
Hô Bach Dang
Hô Bach Dang, the lake at the center of Hai Duong City, Vietnam. Photo by: .
Right at the heart of Hai Duong is lake Hô Bach Dang. Bordered by weeping willows, the lake has a wide shore and multiple picnic areas. A small pagoda at one end acts as a café while just across the boulevard from the lake, there are hotels, restaurants, and shops. Hô Bach Dang is open daily and visitors have the option of walking the perimeter or hiring a boat to cruise the water.
Focused on industrial gains, travelers to Hai Duong City will find that there aren’t any big resorts in Hai Duong, but there are a few boutique hotels. Featuring friendly staff and a warm atmosphere, the best hotels in Hai Duong will ensure that guests are comfortable during their stay. The top-rated hotels in the city are the Mio Hotel, Chau A Hotel, and the Lotus Hotel Hai Duong.
Mio Hotel – Highly rated for its superb location, Mio Hotel is steps away from nearby restaurants and shops. Rooms at the hotel have excellent views of the city as well as AC and a TV. Provided by the hotel are free Wi-Fi, room service, and a 24-hour front desk. Guests can arrange for transportation around Hai Duong at the front desk.
Chau A Hotel – Reasonably priced and centrally located, Chau A Hotel is a great choice for overnights in the city. Clean and comfortable, hotel rooms come with AC, a TV, a private bathroom, and linens. Guests will have access to a computer on-site and there is free Wi-Fi throughout the property. Staff at the hotel have a 24-hour front desk as well as shuttle and room service.
Lotus Hotel Hai Duong – With a bright and modern design, the Lotus Hotel Hai Duong is a popular choice for solo or group travelers. Rooms are spacious and come with a small kitchen setup, TV, AC, and private bathroom. On-site facilities include a shared lounge, private parking, a terrace, and free Wi-Fi. The hotel can also hire a car to transport guests around the city.
Hai Duong City is one destination that frequently gets written about because of the delicious food. Famous for baked goods and fruit, restaurants in Hai Duong also serves up tasty concoctions of local favorites and Western staples. Popular places to eat in Hai Duong are Ba Ba Rang Nhan, Crab Hotpot Shop, Trâu Ngou Quán.
Trau Ngon Quan. Photo: Trâu Ngon Quán Hải Dương
Ba Ba Rang Nhan – Featuring an open eating area and outdoor space, Ba Ba Rang Nhan Restaurant has a diverse menu with local favorites like grilled fish and banana beans. Popular amongst families, Ba Ba Rang is earning a reputation with international travelers as one of the city’s best restaurants. Staff at the restaurant are professional, welcoming, and provide fast service.
Crab Hotpot Shop – Hotpot dishes are a staple in Hai Duong and the Crab Hotpot Shop Restaurant is the best that the city has to offer its guests. Crab is the favorite local ingredient for the hotpots, but the restaurant also serves a variety of seafood and meats. The Crab Hotpot Shop is frequented by locals, but the restaurant also draws in foreign guests too.
Trâu Ngon Quán – Also called the Buffalo Restaurant, this establishment is famous for its buffalo meat dishes. Sauteed, grilled, and steamed, a team of elite chefs create tasty dishes using this unique ingredient. Trâu Ngon Quán also serves a variety of chicken and duck dishes. With open-air seating, the restaurant is the perfect place to spend a summer evening with friends.
As a big city, travelers are safe to assume that Hai Duong celebrates all of Vietnam’s national holidays with grand displays and celebrations. One festival that is newer to Hai Duong and created just to celebrate the city is the Light Festival. To bring even more tourists to the area, the Light Festival celebrates Hai Duong’s status as a first-tier city.
During the Light Festival, the streets of Hai Duong City are strung with colorful LEDs that have been set up in elaborate displays. Open only at night, the festival is normally held during the month of October.
Hai Duong. Photo: Khánh Hmoong
Due to Hai Duong being large and spread on two sides of the river, it isn’t always easy to walk between destinations. While tourists can certainly navigate small sections of the city on foot, sometimes alternative transportation is needed. Taxis and public buses are popular ways for tourists to get around Hai Duong.
Both are readily available throughout the city, and they have affordable rates. Boats are also available for tourists who want to explore the river. If needed, tourists can inquire about transportation at their hotel front desk.
As a northern city, Hai Duong’s weather changes quite a bit throughout the year. A somewhat temperate climate, the city does get colder in the winter with temperatures dropping to the low 60s or upper 50s. The break in heat and humidity makes the winter months a popular time for tourists to visit Hai Duong.
Additionally, tourists may also travel to Hai Duong at the end of the rainy season. November is when the rains begin to stop and the temperatures cool. The least popular time to visit Hai Duong is during the summer months from May to September because of the rain and humidity.
Treated almost like an extension of Hanoi, Hai Duong City is a fun place to explore for travelers who want to break away from the crowds. Surrounded by a beautiful landscape and steeped in history, the city is an ideal tourist destination. In addition, the city’s good food, fun activities, and charming character are guaranteed to keep guests entertained throughout their stay in Hai Duong.
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Keyword: Hai Duong City, Vietnam