Situated in the North Central Region of Vietnam, Ha Tinh (Hà Tĩnh) Province has become a popular tourist destination because of its historic and cultural sites. The topography of the province is also unique, boasting a range of altitudes due to the mountainous and seaside landscapes.
With stunning natural features, Ha Tinh Province is a great place for adventure and ecotourism. Frequently overlooked for its northern neighbor, Nghe An (Nghê An), travelers can enjoy sightseeing without substantial tourist crowds.
How to Get to Ha Tinh
Ha Tinh Province is bordered by Nghe An Province to the north and the Quang Binh (Quảng Bình) Province to the south. Sometimes combined with the Nghe An Province, Ha Tinh goes by the nickname, Nghe Tinh (Nghê Tĩnh). To the west lies the border with Laos and in the East, the sea meets Ha Tinh’s coast.
With varying altitudes, the landscape of Ha Tinh Province dramatically shifts from the high mountains to coastal plains. Ha Tinh City, the provincial capital, sits at about the midway point along the coast. As a North Central Coast Province, Ha Tinh is a fair distance away from Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh City.
Hanoi is about 347 km (216 mi) to the north, meanwhile, HCMC is about 1,246.6 km (775 mi) to the south. Rather than travel throughout the vast majority of the country, many tourists will reduce travel times by heading to Vinh. The capital of the Nghe An Province, Vinh has an airport where visitors can fly in from Hanoi or HCMC.
Once in Vinh, tourists can travel the last leg of the journey to Ha Tinh by car. The distance between Vinh and Ha Tinh is only about 48 km (30 mi) and most rides will take just over an hour to complete. Public buses, taxis, and private cars are all readily available to take tourists from Vinh to Ha Tinh.
Deriving its name from Sino-Vietnamese, Ha Tinh is most commonly translated as meaning “quiet river”. Most of the province’s most notable history relates back to the time of French colonialism and the uprising of the Nghe-Tinh Soviets.
Beginning in 1930 with strikes and demonstrations, the Nghe-Tinh Soviets consisted of local peasants, workers, and intellectuals who resisted French colonial rule. Named after Nghe An and Ha Tinh Province, much like the nickname of the two, the name Nghe-Tinh was chosen because the majority of the uprisings took place in those two territories.
Armed with nothing more than basic farm weapons, the uprisings started out strongly before shuttering by 1931. The locals were unable to overtake the French military forces and many people were badly affected by famine or suppression. In the aftermath of the revolts, many locals were imprisoned in cells or concentration camps.
Although not fully successful, the Nghe-Tinh Uprisings would be remembered by history and become an important part of the local’s identity in Ha Tinh.
Several decades after the end of French colonization, Ha Tinh would again be affected by conflict. During the Vietnam War, the area was part of North Vietnam and many places would be badly damaged by bombs and artillery. Even today, during seasonal floods, leftover bombs have been unearthed.
Emerging from a difficult past, Ha Tinh Province both honors and remembers its storied history in museums, monuments, and relic sites.
- The highest temperature ever recorded in Vietnam was measured in Ha Tinh Province in 2019 at 110° F (43.3° C).
- Locals in Ha Tinh Province are well-known for having a noticeable and very distinct regional accent.
- Using traditional characters, Ha Tinh is written as 河靜.
Inland from the coast and linked by the National Highway 1A, Ha Tinh City is the capital of Ha Tinh Province. Stretching for many miles, the city has a flat landscape that is interrupted by a large lake and river. Used mostly as a hub for business or transportation, tourism in the city is growing as more travelers pass through the province on their journey through Vietnam’s North Central Region.
Most of the attractions in and around the center of Ha Tinh City are man-made, historical, or religious. Although there are natural spaces in the capital, travelers tend to stick to places where they can learn more about Ha Tinh Province’s history and daily lifestyle.
The main attractions in Ha Tinh City that have become popular with tourists are the Cam Son Pagoda, Cua Sot (Của Sót) Waterpark, Den Chieu Trung (Dên Chiêu Trưng) Site, and Chua Kim Dung Gardens. Striving to become a popular tourist destination, many investors have helped build Ha Tinh City’s hospitality industry.
With 1-5 star resorts and hotels, travelers can live the life of luxury while touring Ha Tinh City. Some of the highest-rated accommodations in the city are the Muong Thanh Grand Ha Tinh Hotel, Vinpearl Hotel Ha Tinh, Thanh Phat Hotel, Songlam Waterfront Hotel, White Hotel, and Ngan Ha Hotel.
A mix of international and local cuisine keeps the restaurants in Ha Tinh City busy with patrons. With a few dozen establishments opening in the capital, tourists won’t have any issue finding a place to eat. When not dining at luxury resorts, travelers can take to the streets to find new and interesting cuisine.
Famous Places in Ha Tinh Province
Away from the capital city, most of Ha Tinh Province shifts from rural to completely remote. Popular destinations in the province are the Ky Anh (Kỳ Anh) District, Vu Quang (Vũ Quang) District, and Hong Linh (Hô՝ng Lĩnh) Town. Quickly becoming areas of new investments, these places are crucial for promoting tourism in Ha Tinh.
Ky Anh District
A rural district near the Hoanh Son (Hoành Son) Mountain Range, Ky Anh is one of the newest places that are on the path to becoming a resort destination for national and international tourists. Drawn to the mountainous landscape, tourists can enjoy fun activities like hiking, swimming, beach lounging, and caving around Ky Anh Town.
On the outskirts of the town, resorts provide luxury accommodation and quality service to their guests.
Vu Quang District
Undiscovered and receiving very few visitors yearly, Vu Quang District is the hidden gem of Ha Tinh Province. Home to only a few villages, the remote landscape is protected by the Vu Quang National Park. Without the crowds, travelers will feel like this remote district is their own private paradise. Tours of the area are recommended with local guides available for hire in the villages and communes.
Hong Linh Town
Another area where investments and tourism are increasing is Hong Linh Town. A gateway to the Hong Linh (Hồng Linh) Mountains, this is one of two towns in Ha Tinh Province. Still undeveloped, tourists staying in the town will have to settle with boutique hotels and hostels. Attractions close to Hong Linh include the 99 Peaks of the Hong Linh Mountains and the Lam River.
With a variety of attractions to keep tourists entertained, Ha Tinh Province is ready to break out onto the international scene. Although tourism in the area is still limited, interesting attractions in the province are Vu Quang National Park, the Ke Go Reservoir, Thien Cam Beach, Deo Ngang (Ðèo Ngang) Pass, and Huong Tich Pagoda.
Vu Quang National Park
Often overlooked, Vu Quang National Park is a protected area in the Laos border region of Ha Tinh Province. Far to the west of the provincial capital, few travelers venture this deep into the province. However, for those that brave the journey, Vu Quang National Park rewards them with pristine, untouched landscapes.
With limited facilities, tourists are encouraged to hire a guide to take them on foot or by boat to the national park’s attractions. If it’s a lucky day, visitors might catch a glimpse of a saola or giant muntjac, which are some of the world’s rarest bovine species.
Ke Go Reservoir
One of the biggest reservoirs in Vietnam, Ke Go, is located in Ha Tinh’s Cam Xuyen (Cẩm Xuyên) District. With the construction of a dam, the artificial lake has become a great recreational spot for tourists to boat or swim. Around the perimeter of the reservoir, hilly inclines have hiking paths that take visitors to special places where they can get a stellar panoramic view.
Additionally, fishing is permitted in the reservoir, but tourists are encouraged to hire a guide to ensure that they are following the local laws.
Thien Cam Beach
Quickly transforming into a tourist area, Thien Cam Beach sits just 40 minutes south of Ha Tinh City. With a few rocky places, most of Thien Cam features wide open sand where tourists can boat, swim, play, and sunbathe. Hotels and restaurants along the beachfront provide entertainment and overnight accommodations to guests.
Busiest during the summer months, the beach is a hotspot for local families looking to cool off from the high temperatures.
Deo Ngang Pass
Straddling the border of Quang Binh and Ha Tinh is the Deo Ngang Mountain Pass. A part of the National Route 1A, the pass carves through the Hoanh Son Mountains to take tourists between the two provinces. The peak elevation of 250 m (820 ft) is a dramatic incline for the mostly flat coastal area.
There are two paths on the pass: an older one and a newer one. The older path has a serpentine road that winds its way through the green peaks. Deemed unsafe for drivers, this road is used only for sightseeing purposes today. Another route that is newer and safer uses a modern tunnel to cut through the mountains.
This path is shorter and it bypasses the steepest parts of Deo Ngang. Less popular for tourism, the new path is used mainly for the transportation of goods.
Huong Tich Pagoda
Resting atop a mountain, the Huong Tich Pagoda is a pilgrimage site in Vietnam where many followers travel to worship Buddha. A large complex, there are three parts to the pagoda including the Upper palace, Thien Vuong Temple, and Holy Mother Temple. Open daily, the temple does host a few festivals throughout the year.
In the area around Huong Tich, travelers can also visit the neighboring temples, Linh Son and Co, or take a boat ride on the Nha Duong Lake.
Throughout the year, Ha Tinh Province plays host to numerous festivals that honor prominent figures, gods, and traditional culture. Impossible to partake in all of the festivals, tourists might be interested in seeing some of the province’s biggest events, which are the Fishing Festival and the Ca Tru Festival.
Hosted by both Ha Tinh and Nghe An Province, the Fishing Festival takes place at the Vuc Rao Lagoon. Locals use traditional baskets and poles to harvest various species of freshwater fish. To the locals, the fish symbolizes good luck, and ceremonies during the festival ask for prosperous crops throughout the year.
A reward is given to the person who catches the largest fish, which is then worshiped by the village. On the first day of November, the Ca Tru Festival gathers hundreds of traditional artists and instrumentalists in Ha Tinh Province. Performances of ceremonial singing kick off the celebrations, which continue for a week.
Preserving the folk music and culture of Vietnam, Ca Tru is an important festival that brings the local communities together and promotes tourism.
Tourism in Ha Tinh Province is typically dependent on location and the weather. On the coast, the mild climate sees a steady stream of tourists throughout the year, even during the hot summer months.
However, in the mountains, the wet season can make paths harder to navigate, so tourism west of Ha Tinh City tends to spike during the dry season, which begins in October and lasts until March. Most of the time, tourists will choose to visit Ha Tinh Province in the dry season, especially if they plan on participating in outdoor activities like hiking or boating.
Boasting immaculate landscapes that remain unknown to most tourists, Ha Tinh Province is a true “off the beaten path” destination. Far from the crowds, travelers can marvel at the mountains, rivers, and lakes knowing that many destinations will be empty of other people.
Adding to the province’s diversity is a rich history and culture that has been preserved and is still displayed by the local people. Truly captivating, Ha Tinh Province is one of the best-kept secrets in Vietnam and one that travelers shouldn’t miss exploring.
Activities near Ha Tinh Province