Nghe An travel: how to get there, what to discover, what to eat…

The most important aspect of Nghe An, Vietnam’s largest province, is that it is the hometown of President Ho Chi Minh. It is also home to other unspoilt natural surprises.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

The weather in Nghe An is said to be ideal for tourists during the dry season from December to April, when outdoor activities are not likely to be hampered by rain.

Flower lovers should visit the province from December until just before the Lunar New Year, when large fields of sunflowers are in bloom.

WHAT TO EXPLORE

Nghe An on the north-central coast bordering Laos covers an area of ​​more than 16,400 square kilometers. It would take at least a week to visit all the sights here, but those with limited time can focus on a few iconic attractions.

Nghe An is the hometown of President Ho Chi Minh, so historical complexes and monuments to him and his family are usually at the top of any itinerary.

Located in Kim Lien Village of Nam Dan District. the National Special Relic Site commemorating President Ho Chi Minh is poised to develop into a historic tourism complex under a government master plan.

It covers an area of ​​278 hectares and includes Sen Village, Hoang Tru Village, Mount Chung and the tomb of President Ho Chi Minh’s mother.

A thatched house in Kim Lien’s relic site is linked to President Ho Chi Minh’s childhood. Photo by Huu Khoa

“The complex has attracted the attention of both local and international travelers thanks to its significant historical values. Many foreign tourists, especially from the US and France, visit this place to learn more about the life of the great Ho Chi Minh,” said a representative of Hanoi-based travel agency HelloVietnam Company.

For Vietnamese citizens, visiting Chung Son Temple is a spiritual, patriotic experience.

Aside from this historical aspect, a visit to the province also offers an opportunity to soak up the serene atmosphere of a peaceful Vietnamese countryside dotted with paddy fields, lotus ponds and other rural charms.

Chung Son Temple, where President Ho Chi Minh’s family is venerated in Nghe An Province. Photo by Ngo Tran Hai An

The hotel is located on Ho Chi Minh Road near the Laos border Thanh Chuong tea hill are unlike its famous counterparts in Moc Chau or Da Lat, which are within walking distance. The tea hills in Thanh Chuong district are located on a small peninsula that can only be reached by boat.

More than 50 years ago, the site was an irrigation lake built to irrigate more than 700 hectares of rice fields in Thanh An and Thanh Thinh communes of Thanh Chuong district. The residents only started growing tea a few years ago. Almost 200 households now grow tea on more than 400 hectares.

Tea Hill in Thanh Chuong District, Nghe An. Photo by Ngo Tran Hai An

Thanks to their unique geographic location, the tea hills here have developed into an eco-tourism destination in the north-central region, allowing local farmers to improve their income by offering tourism services.

There are dozens of motor boats ready to take tourists on a cruise for about VND 30,000 ($1.28) per person if they travel in a group. A self-guided excursion costs VND 150,000 ($6.44).

Each boat carries a maximum of 20 people and most boats are invested and operated by local people.

Visitors can stay overnight at Thanh Chuong Tea Hill. There are a number of homestay accommodations that charge around VND 150,000 per night.

A cruise and/or stay at this tea hill allows for a close encounter with the life of the Thai ethnic group. Enjoying their hospitality, you can enjoy local specialties like “Hill Chicken”.

That Pu Mat National Park is part of the Western Nghe An Biosphere Reserve, one of six areas in Vietnam recognized by UNESCO as a World Biosphere Reserve.

The area is still “undeveloped” for tourism, which makes it all the more attractive.

The Pu Mat National Park is surrounded by green jungle. Photo by Ngo Tran Hai An

A trekking tour is the best way to explore the national park, which is currently home to almost 900 plant species, 240 mammals, about 140 birds, 25 reptiles and 15 amphibians.

The most popular trek takes visitors to Kem Waterfall, from where one can descend to Khe Bu Valley or climb Pu Luong Mountain. A round trip takes 6-8 hours for experienced trekkers.

Plunging 150 meters into the middle of the jungle, the Khe Kem waterfall is a breathtaking sight.

A peaceful, tranquil boat tour along the Giang River is a great way to get in touch with nature.

The national park is mainly inhabited by the Thai ethnic minority, who live in houses on stilts.

Their nightly feasts are an event where visitors can sample unique mountain foods, not to mention the joy of dancing the night away with the locals.

It covers an area of ​​almost 10 hectares along the Giang River Ecotourism area Pha Lai is also an ideal campsite in Nghe An.

Pha Lai ecotourism area along the Giang River in Nghe An. Photo courtesy of Nghe An Investment, Trade and Tourism Promotion Center

Part of the Pu Mat National Park, Pha Lai is surrounded by lush green forests with a cool year-round climate that makes it a perfect summer getaway in the north-central region.

Kayaking on the Giang River to explore the Pha Lai Reservoir built 20 years ago to irrigate local farms, a zip line connecting the two banks of the river are other activities you can enjoy here.

The 15 meter high Tham-On Cave in Chau Thuan Township, Quy Nhon District, was identified as an archaeological site in 1975.

Tham On Cave in Nghe An. Photo courtesy of Vinpearl

Three human teeth and several animal tooth fossils have been discovered along with some quartz tools, relics nearly 200,000 years old. It is said that the people in Tham Om Cave were the first people to live in Vietnam.

That Muong Long Gate of Heaven is a beautiful valley surrounded by mountains up to 1,500 meters high in the Truong Son range.

Due to the high mountainous terrain, the air here is cool all year round, with temperatures never exceeding 25 degrees Celsius. Muong Long has been compared to two foggy cities: Sa Pa and Da Lat.

Women of the Mong ethnic minority walk on a road surrounded by white plum trees in the Muong Long valley. Photo by Sach Nguyen

Cloud chasing at the Muong Long Sky Gate and learning about the life and culture of the local Hmong people are not to be missed in Nghe An.

The Central Province is also home to beautiful beaches such as Cua Lo, Dien Thanh and Quynh. Kayaking, kite flying, surfing, windsurfing and fishing trips are fun.

One of the most interesting things to do on Cua Lo Beach is night fishing with local fishermen. You have to be about 50 to 100 m from the shore for this. And the catch of the day is prepared right on the boat when it returns to shore.

Cua Lo Beach. Photo courtesy of Nghe An Investment, Trade and Tourism Promotion Center

WHERE TO SLEEP

The province has several luxury accommodations including Vinpearl Cua Hoi, Muong Thanh Hotel, Saigon-Kim Lien and summer resorts with room rates ranging from VND1 million to VND3 million (US$42.51 to US$127.52) per night.

Nestled in green pine trees, Bai Lu Resort in Nghi Loc district is a great place to stay.

Hai Dang, Xanh, Tien Anh, Pacific Ocean in Cua Lo or Lam Hong, Beijing in Vinh Town are budget options with room rates starting at VND 400,000 per night.

Saigon Kim Lien Resort in Nghe An. Photo courtesy of the resort

WHAT TO EAT

eel porridge is a must-try specialty in Nghe An. Before adding it to the porridge, the eel is fried with lemongrass, chilli and garlic, which makes the dish tastier, fragrant and visually appealing. To make it tastier, add some chopped chili and pepper.

A bowl of eel porridge served at Ms. Ngo’s restaurant on Doc Thet Street in Vinh Town. Photo by Phong Vinh

The dish is served at Ms. Ngo’s restaurant on Doc Thet Street in Vinh Town, Ms. Lieu’s stand on Mai Hac De Street or Oanh Dung Restaurant on Dao Tan Street.

In contrast to the Cake with water fern in Hue, which is made from rice flour, the Nghe An version is made with tapioca starch. The baker needs to knead the dough thoroughly and quickly stuff the shrimp in while the water is still hot to get a delicious batch.

The fried shrimp are spicy and delicious. You can choose from onions, garlic and a spicy, sweet and sour sauce for the toppings.

A plate of Nghe An-style “Banh Beo” water fern cake. Photo by Hoang Anh

The water fern cakes banh beoare served at 54 Phong Dinh Cang Street in Vinh City and Ms. Chau’s booth at Le Van Huu Street.

Banh Muotor steamed rice buns, is a typical dish in Nghe An.

To enjoy this dish at its best, foodies head to the seaside district of Dien Chau, where many families have been preparing it for generations. For locals, this is a breakfast staple.

Banh Muot is usually cut to the length of a finger. It’s white, soft and non-sticky. The aromatic rolls are served hot.

you can have it too banh muot with duck, chicken or beef goulash and braised pork offal.

A serving of “Banh Muot” accompanied by a bowl of eel soup at a restaurant in Nghe An. Photo by Pham Mai Anh

The dish is available at Thanh Phong Restaurant on Hai Thuong Lan Ong Street and Lan Thanh Restaurant on Phan Chu Trinh Street.

Grilled eel is also a must see in Nghe An.

That “jumping squid” caught here by fishermen is another delicacy. Nghe A squid is grilled and served with a chili sauce or a salt and pepper sauce. Many fish stalls on Cua Lo Beach serve this popular dish.

HOW TO GET THERE

Nghe An is located in the center of the North Central Coast, about 290 km from Hanoi and 1,400 km from Ho Chi Minh City.

The most popular mode of transportation from the two largest cities in Vietnam to Nghe An is by plane. There are daily flights to Vinh, the capital.

Vinh Airport also offers flights to and from Bangkok.

The fastest train to Vinh from Hanoi takes 5 hours and 30 minutes. From Da Nang to Vinh, the travel time in 9 hours; and it takes more than one day to reach Vinh from HCMC.

All train journeys allow passengers to enjoy the Vietnamese countryside.

Traveling by bus from Ha Noi to Nghe An Vietnam is cheaper than flying, but the travel time is almost 6 hours. Buses leave Hanoi every hour, so catching one is very easy.

Buses to Vinh depart from My Dinh, Giap Bat and Nuoc Ngam terminals. A ticket costs from 250,000 to 400,000 VND.

The Lam River flows past the village of Khe Bu near Pu Mat National Park in Con Cuong district, inhabited mainly by the Dan Lai ethnic minority of Nghe An province. Photo by Ngo Tran Hai An

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