Known as the “Red Pheonix Flower City,” Hai Phong is the perfect amalgamation of amazing natural beauty with proud Vietnamese culture and traditions. Founded by French colonists, the traces of the origin of this magnificent city go back to 1888.
Today, it’s not only one of the largest cities in the country but also a major hub for technology, science, education, and culture in Vietnam. Hai Phong is definitely worth adding to your northern Vietnam itinerary, and spending a few nights in addition to Hanoi. A day trip just won’t do the region justice.
Hai Phong’s best things to do
The beautiful coastal city experiences a humid subtropical climate, with sunny weather in the summer, which is perfect to hang out around the beach, and dry weather in winter, which is ideal to go exploring. Apart from the immense natural beauty and scenic landscape, Hai Phong has a lot more to discover.
For starters, there’s a couple of luxury resorts in Hai Phong that are destinations in their own right. Let’s take a look at some of the most fun and interesting things to do around the city.
Here are the top things to do in Hai Phong, Vietnam, in no particular order:
1. Head Out for the Cat Ba Island
It’s impossible to experience Hai Phong to the fullest without visiting the Cat Ba Island. The whimsical Cat Ba Island, situated around 50km to the east of Hai Phong, is the perfect place to relax, unwind and admire the picturesque nature of the region.
With fresh air, clear waters, friendly residents, tasty local food, and outdoor activities, this place has something for everyone. You can also laze around any of the beaches, go swimming or diving and have fun in the water. Cat Ba Island is one of the biggest attractions of Hai Phong so make sure you reserve a day to visit this stunning place.
Address: Cat Ba Archipelago, Lan Ha Bay, Northern Vietnam
2. Visit Du Hang Pagoda
Du Hang Pagoda dates back to the 17th century when it was built as a Buddhist temple during the times of the Ly Dynasty. Although being reconstructed a few times, it remains a true representative of Vietnamese culture and tradition. Today, it features a bell tower, various Buddha statues, and carving of the Guardians. You can also spend time in the lovely tower garden, peacefully walking under the shade of big trees and admiring the bountiful bonsai collection.
Address: 121 du Hang Street, Le Chan District, Hai Phong 35000
3. Trek on the Elephant Mountain
If you’re up for a little hike, make sure Elephant Mountain is on your list of places to visit. This majestic complex of rocky mountains is shaped like an elephant lying down. It offers the opportunity to marvel at the scenic beauty of the surrounding landscape. Apart from that, it’s considered to be a historical relic of the Hai Phong city.
Elephant Mountain has unique attractions like interesting caves, ancient buildings and ruins of pagodas. At the top of the mountain, you can check out the “Fairy Chess Board”. Some old relics found on the mountain, for instance, tone axes and chisel from the ancient Viet civilization, are as old as 3,000 years.
4. Explore Trung Trang Cave
Trung Trang Cave is nothing less than a mystical sight right out of a storybook. About 300 meters in length, this whimsical cave is a natural wonder of Hai Phong. Uncover Trung Trang cave during your visit to Cat Ba Island.
Along with Trung Trang, there are several other caves that you can explore, including Kim Cuong, Hang Luon and Gia Luan. Right across the caves, you’ll find Cat Co Beach, where you can spend the evening, contemplating the spectacular sunset.
Adress: Đường xuyên đảo Cát Bà, Trân Châu, Cát Hải, Hai Phong
5. Revisit History at Hai Phong Museum
If you’re a history enthusiast and enjoy learning about ancient civilizations, make sure you visit Hai Phong Museum. While the items displayed at the museum may not account for a huge collection, there are enough artifacts to sneak a peek into the past of Hai Phong and its role during the wars.
The collection displayed at the museum also signifies the importance of Hai Phong as a crucial seaport. The building itself was erected in 1900, following the Gothic-style architecture. Keep in mind that Hai Phong Museum has somewhat unusual opening hours so make sure you take that into consideration before heading out to the museum.
Address: 66 Điện Biên Phủ, Minh Khai, Hồng Bàng, Hải Phòng
6. Spend a day at the Monkey Island
Also known as Cat Dua Island, Monkey Island is one of the top tourist attractions in Hai Phong. Apart from the untouched natural beauty of the island, the monkeys living on the island make it one of the most fun and interesting places to visit. There are even hotel accommodations on the island, with the Monkey Island Resort (affiliate link) being one of the best.
You can go for a hike or a stroll and see adorable monkeys all around the island. While it is generally safe to wander the island, it is advisable to keep your distance from monkeys. Admiring these beautiful animals from afar in their natural habitat is a thrilling experience that you shouldn’t miss out on.
It’s worth mentioning that tourism services in the area are not fully developed. While this may seem like a disadvantage, it also means that you can enjoy the truly untouched natural beauty of the island. You’ll experience fewer crowds, which only adds to the overall experience.
Address: Cat Ba, Cát Hải, Hai Phong
7. Check Out Bao Dai Villa
Bao Dai Villa was the Summer Palace of the last emperor of Vietnam, so you can imagine how magnificent the building must be. The Villa was built by the French General Governor and was later offered to the emperor. Today, it has become of the best tourist attractions in the city.
It has been remodeled as a hotel and attracts thousands of local and foreign tourists every year. Gaze at the vintage photos of the royals and explore the living quarters. The main attraction, however, is the throne. Guests are also allowed to try on royal costumes and take memorable photographs.
The villa is built on top of Vung Hill, surrounded by a picturesque landscape. This means you can enjoy the mesmerizing views of the Do Son Peninsula and admire the beauty of the region.
Address: Vạn Hương, Đồ Sơn, Hai Phong
8. Get a Suntan at Do Son Beach
Whether you want to unwind under the sun or indulge in water activities, Do Son Beach is the prime place for you. During the colonial times, this beach served as a resort town for influential Vietnamese and French families. Today, it’s open to the public so you can spend time hiking, laze around the beach or indulge in any of the many beach activities, including diving and kite flying.
The beach also has a casino where you can enjoy gambling with family or friends. The place is also famous for the traditional Buffalo Fighting Festival, which is held here every September. For all these reasons, Do Son Beach is the perfect place to get an insight into Vietnamese culture and coastal beauty.
Address: Khu du lịch Đồ Sơn, Vạn Hương, Đồ Sơn, Hai Phong
9. Explore Nghe Temple
Vietnam is known for its rich historical values. Therefore, most tourist attractions have some cultural, religious or historical significance. Nghe Temple has all three! Devoted to Le Chan, a warrior woman famous for the insurrection of Hai Ba Trung, Nghe Temple is worth exploring.
It’s located in Me Linh Ward, Le Chan, around 500m to the southwest from the Municipal Theater of Hai Phong. Explore the intricate and remarkable stonework including stone elephants, stone horses, and stone ornate bed. The site holds religious values so you can expect to see local worshippers in the area. In short, this is just the right place to experience Vietnamese culture.
Address: Lê Chân, An Biên, Lê Chân, Hải Phòng
10. Dig into Vietnamese History at the 3rd Military Region Museum
If you’re history enthusiast or interested in learning about the wars in Vietnam, make sure you visit the Museum of Military Region 3. Learn about the hardships and struggles of Vietnamese people during the numerous wars. There are a lot of eye-opening exhibitions including various collections of weapons used in the times of war and even bombs.
Address: No. 254 Le Duan (Lê Duẩn) Street, Kien An (Kiến An) District, Hai Phong
11. Go Fishing at Tam Bac Lake
When you’re in Hai Phong, don’t miss out on the chance to take a peaceful, romantic walk along Tam Bac Lake. You can go fishing at the lake to take your experience to the next level. On the eastern side of the lake, there is a small flower market run by locals. Here you can treat yourself with fresh flowers or get them for your partner.
Within walking distance of the lake, you can find the statue of Le Chan. While you’re there, make sure you pay a visit to this magnificent sculpture. At 19 tons, it’s considered to be one of the heaviest brass-cast statues in Vietnam.
These are just some of the things that you can do in Hai Phong. Try them all to make the most of your visit!